UMD Expresses Disappointment Over European Union Council of Ministers’ Conclusion

 BRUSSELS – December 9, 2009 – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) expresses its disappointment over yesterday’s conclusion by the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers to revisit opening of Macedonia’s accession negotiations during the Spanish Presidency in the first half of 2010.  The Council further concluded that a mutually acceptable solution on the “name issue” is essential, hinting that the solving of the “name issue” may be a prerequisite to opening accession negotiations.  Nonetheless, UMD remains optimistic that the Spanish Presidency will bring positive developments in EU-Macedonian relations and keep the bilateral issue between Greece and Macedonia separate from opening of accession negotiations.  UMD is grateful to the EU member states that provided their unprecedented level of support to Macedonia prior to and during the meeting of the Council of Ministers.

UMD President Metodija A. Koloski and UMD European Representative based in Paris Claude Zoran Spasevski concluded a two-and-a-half day visit to Brussels today where they held meetings with the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, members of the European Parliament, NATO representatives, Macedonian Ambassador to NATO, Ambassador Kire Ilioski, and the Macedonian Mission to the EU. 

“The Republic of Macedonia has, in good faith, requested accession to the EU based on its satisfaction of the requirements set down by the EU for all prospective members. On the other hand, the Hellenic Republic has opposed Macedonia’s accession on the grounds that its name represents an implicit threat to the territorial integrity of Greece.  At the very least, our disappointment is tempered since the decision is not completely ‘Bucharest-style’ and open-ended,” said Spasevski.

At the April 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania, Greece vetoed the Republic of Macedonia’s invitation to join the Alliance, with NATO promising Macedonian membership only once the “name issue” is resolved.

“The moment of truth for the European Union, as a body that upholds justice, transparency and the dignity of each individual member state has arrived in the form of this dispute: Whether it is nobler to reject an entire people whose country’s name represents an alleged threat to a neighboring state, or whether it is just to simply accept the assurance of the Republic of Macedonia whose constitutional provision forswears any territorial designs on its neighbors,” commented Koloski.

 “Macedonians have the right to live equally and in harmony with other European inhabitants and Macedonia has earned the right to open accession negotiations for membership into the EU.  Yesterday’s decision is an unfortunate one for the democratic EU institutions,” concluded Spasevski.

UMD continues to fully support Macedonia’s membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions and will work together with Macedonia to assist the country on its path to integration.  UMD encourages Macedonia to continue its important reform agenda necessary to improve the socio-economic stability of the country, and hopes that the Macedonian citizens will not be discouraged.  Macedonia is a leader among the Western Balkans in fulfilling the requirements for full NATO membership and opening of EU accession negotiations.  UMD hopes that NATO and the EU will recognize Macedonia’s chosen path to be fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.

Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is the leading international non-governmental organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., UMD has an office in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada and representatives in Paris, London, Brussels, Vienna, Kiev, St. Petersburg, and Stuttgart.