Source: Macedonian daily Utrinski Vesnik
Translated by UMD Staff
Strasbourg — In Strasbourg, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki had a working breakfast with Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), and a few European Parliament members, currently in session.
Minister, what did your discussions with Mr. Davis include, considering that the CoE plays an important role in giving their opinion concerning candidate countries for European Union (EU) membership?
That is precisely why we appreciate the input of the CoE, because it is a venue where candidate countries can achieve good results and present themselves in a positive light. In my opinion, Mr. Davis is a friend of Macedonia who wants to help and see the country advance. In particular, we discussed projects we are currently working on with the respective CoE bodies, such as the law on religious freedoms, for which we await the recommendations from the Venice Commission.
It is our great pleasure that our Ambassador to the CoE, Eleonora Petrova-Mitevska, is the president of a major commission, the Commission for Education, Culture, and Sport. For a country like Macedonia, this is a conspicuous position from which we can provide some constructive input in the organization.
You arrived in Strasbourg from Brussels, where you and Prime Minister Gruevski met with EU officials. In Brussels, you heard the same criticism about the lack of a political dialogue that Commissioner Rehn addressed to the government during his visit to Skopje. DidyoualsodiscussthiswithSGDavis?
I believe that the CoE, the EU Commission, and the EU Parliament, as close collaborators, are in constant communication. In any case, the criticism we received is well-intentional and comes from friends that can advise us well and give us additional motivation so that Macedonia can achieve better results. I think that in the end we will all be very pleased. The results are measurable and therefore Macedonia will be able to note its success, and above all, to meet the needs and expectations of its citizens in its advancement towards EU integration.
The Macedonian public is anxiously following the activities in the CoE, especially concerning the minority rights of Macedonians in neighboring countries. Did you discuss the case of OMO “Ilinden”-PIRIN, or the situation of Macedonians in Greece?
On this subject we had discussions with our delegation and we are thus far pleased with the latest recommendations by the CoE. Our position is clear: in the Balkans there are no ethnically homogeneous states, this is clear at least to us. This is slowly beginning to catch on around us as well. The solution to these minority problems are the European standards; nothing more, nothing less. In that sense, I think the Council of Europe does a good job.
In Strasbourg you will have a meeting with some MEPs. What will you discuss with them?
I want to meet with as many people as possible and present Macedonia to them: our goals, our expectations, challenges, etc. I want us to exchange opinions concerning regional developments such as the impending Kosovo status. It is also good to know more people.
The European Parliament is debating the report of the special commission on CIA operation in European countries. In this report Macedonia is criticized for not conducting a serious inquiry into the case of Khaled Al-Masri. At the same time, it asks the Assembly to conduct an investigation. Will this come to be?
The good news is that Macedonia appears in the second group of countries, not the one where there is strong evidence of countries’ direct involvement. Nonetheless, the recommendations will be taken into serious consideration by the Assembly. It asks the Assembly to form a commission that will conduct an internal inquiry and we leave the decision to the better judgment of the Assembly, and I am confident that such a commission, if formed, will do an excellent job.
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