Majority and opposition exchange accusations ahead of the EC progress report

Majority and opposition exchange accusations ahead of the EC progress report

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, October 1, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

Ahead of the publication of the progress report by the European Commission on FYROM, political debates are taking place in Skopje about the expectations on the progress of the country in meeting the criteria needed for the EU accession.

A part of the media have reported that the country will lose the recommendation for the start of accession negotiations, while pro government media have reported that the country will continue with this recommendation for the sixth time.

These dilemmas have intensified debates and accusations between political parties, which blame each other for the failures in the aspect of European integration.

Contradictions between majority and opposition

Lidija Dimova from the commission for European integration at the largest opposition party LSDM (Macedonian Social Democratic League) told IBNA that the government is responsible for the failure and halts in the European integration aspect and that its policies are endangering the recommendation for the start of negotiations with the European Union.

“In relation to the possibility that Macedonia may lose its recommendation, prime minister Nikola Gruevski must point the finger toward himself, because the country is going toward destruction in many fields such as: 86 places dropped in the freedom of media, politically influenced courts, the lack of the division of the state from the party, intimidation and pressure against the administration, lack of capacities and the elimination of irregularities from elections”, said Dimova.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Popovski said that the opposition is to be blamed for every negative report coming from Brussels.

“Their scope and political action has been clear, because through boycott, they created a negative image and they are to be blamed for jeopardizing the European integration process. But, we don’t want to comment any further, until we see the report”, declared foreign minister Nikola Popovski.

Fatmir Besimi, deputy prime minister for European integration and senior official of the Albanian party in the governing coalition BDI (Democratic Union for Integration) says that the country must meet its obligations for accession and deliver all the reforms.

“We are expected to deliver all the obligations in terms of the judicial system, political dialogue, freedom of speech and media, cross ethnic reports and Ohrid Agreement, election reform and good neighboring relations. These are domains that will be mentioned in the report and will be a priority for the period to come”, declared Besimi.

Experts expect a negative report

Experts of European affairs and political developments in Skopje are expecting a negative report from Brussels.

University professor Mersel Bilali says that this report will include criticism and negative evaluations for political issues and other domains which have been problematic. “So far, European Commission has been tolerant toward Skopje, avoiding complaints for blockages in different domains, in order to make the name dispute a priority. But, this time, we have a change of course and the EC will unveil a number of complaints about the political crisis and the lack of dialogue, lack of reforms, the failure to deliver obligations in relation to cross ethnic relations and neighboring countries and other critical issues”, says Mersel Bilali.

Nikola Dujoski, expert of political affairs, says that this time, the political crisis may be more present in the progress report. He adds that the situation that the country finds itself in the political plan, is sending negative messages on the development of democracy in the country.

“Of course the report will present this as a critic. Europeans do this in a diplomatic way, but there will be complaints. Opposition is not in parliament and this is a big minus for the democracy in Macedonia, regardless of the side that has contributed the most for such situation”, said Dujovski.

Support for European integration among the citizens falls

Due to the constant political deadlocks and deadlocks in the process of European integration, citizens in FYROM are also in a dilemma as far as the EU accession is concerned. But, this situation has led to a fall of the support for this process. Based on a recent study conducted two months ago by European Integration Training Centre-EITC  in Skopje, the two largest communities in the country, Macedonians and Albanians are divided over the issue of European integration.

“91% of Albanians believe that accession would be in the best interest of the country, while the low support includes those who are closer to VMRO-DPMNE, namely 53%”, says Lupco Petkovski from EITC.

Meanwhile, in terms of the dilemma as to whether the European Union is an alternative for FYROM or not, 75% of Albanians see the European Union as the only alternative for the country, while only 33% of Macedonians share this opinion.

The progress report is expected to be announced on October 8, while so far, as far as European integration processes are concerned, the country has managed to be recommended for the start of negotiations for EU accession. /ibna/