IBNA Special Report
Skopje, January 21, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Naser Pajaziti
A strong debate has taken place between MEPs in the proceedings of the European Parliament foreign committee , after the presentation of the draft resolution on FYR Macedonia.
Reactions and strong criticism addressed to FYROM and its policies have dominated the debate in the European Parliament in the last couple of days.
EU office in Skopje says that Ivo Vajgl MEP has presented the draft resolution on FYROM which recommends the EU Council to launch accession talks with this country.
Most of the criticism has come from neighboring countries such as Greece and Bulgaria, but also from Cyprus and other countries, that have addressed their criticism for the gridlock of the process of European integration of this country and for what they called a non serious approach in solving domestic problems.
Cypriot MEP Eleni Teoharu declared that FYROM is not launching talks with the EU not because of the dispute with Greece, but due to its domestic problems.
“This country cannot launch its EU accession talks because it has domestic problems that are more and more worsening the political and social crisis. There are other problems such as democracy, minority rights, judicial system and the name dispute with Greece cannot be blamed”, declared Cypriot MEP.
But, Spanish MEP, Javier Nart has retorted by saying that maturity is needed to overcome the current name dispute.
“If the borders of this country have been accepted and if there is no territorial tension, it’s not fair to block the country for the ninth time in a row. This is a precedent which will further complicate the situation. I call on each of us to show maturity”, declared MEP Nart.
Bulgarian MEP, Angel Dzambaski from the Bulgarian party VMRO-BND said that other communities in FYROM must have the right of self determination, mentioning the Bulgarian community, which is not recognized as an ethnic group and enjoys no rights.
“Urgent changes are needed in order to recognize the Bulgarian community, that enjoys no rights for the use of the mother tongue and national symbols, the right of forming political parties or other rights”, declared the Bulgarian MEP.
Former head of Slovakian diplomacy and MEP, Eduard Kukan said that he’s not happy about the fact that from one year to another, European Parliament discusses the same situation in FYR Macedonia, adding that MEPs are aware that the consequences may be fatal.
“The majority of European Parliament, European Commission and the European Council have agreed on starting the negotiations, but the decision is put aside and cancelled due to the name dispute. I agree with Mr. Vajgl that the name must not prevent the recommendation for the opening of talks. We call on the EU head of diplomacy, Mogherini to engage in order to find an acceptable solution for Skopje and Athens”, said Kukan.
Representative of the European Commission, David Kulen, who is head of Department on FYROM in the Directorate of Enlargement Negotiations, said that the Commission believes that the opening of negotiations will contribute for the process of reforms, but according to him, in FYROM there’s a lot of influence of politics in state institutions, independence of the judiciary system and the media.
“The absence of the main opposition party in parliament worries us and the duty of the majority and opposition is to make sure that the debate takes place in parliament. Reforms in education and constitutional reforms require wide consensus, while constitutional amendments must respect human rights and must also tackle money laundering”, said Kulen.
Former rapporteur on FYROM, Richard Howitt said that he strongly supports the draft resolution which proposes the launch of talks with FYROM.
“We play an important role for the cooperation of the two sides. It’s necessary to have reconciliation, although there are problems with corruption, freedom of media and the judicial system, but these are problems of the entire region. We must not say that these are problems that prevent the start of negotiations”, declared Howitt.
The debate on this issue will continue at the end of this month, because several MEPs have submitted their amendments for the draft resolution.
In next month’s plenary session in Strasbourg, the European Parliament is expected to vote this draft resolution, which recommends the start of negotiations for EU accession. /ibna/