WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 14, 2009 – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) congratulates the Republic of Macedonia for receiving a positive report from the European Commission recommending the start of accession negotiations to the European Union.
Today, the European Commission, in its annual enlargement strategy report, indicated that the Republic of Macedonia met the 1993 Copenhagen Criteria, in addition to the “8+1 Benchmarks” necessary to receive a positive recommendation for the start of accession negotiations.
“2009 has been a good year for Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration,” said UMD Chairman of the Board and Vice President Aleksandar Mitreski. He continued, “After 2008, it became very obvious to Brussels that the Greek veto at the NATO Bucharest Summit only had a destabilizing effect, and that the proper way to build stability and encourage reform was to recognize the hard work achieved by Macedonia over the years. While we regret that Macedonia did not join NATO, we are happy and very proud that Macedonia is advancing on the EU integration front.”
Greece vetoed Macedonia’s accession to the NATO alliance in April 2008, in an unprecedented instance of a bilateral dispute hindering the enlargement of a Euro-Atlantic institution. The use of such bilateral disputes as fodder for vetoes was, however, clearly condemned in the EU enlargement report, which encouraged states to seek mutually agreeable solutions in good-faith, and with the best interests of Europe in mind.
“Momentum is on Macedonia’s side,” said UMD Director of Public Policy Boban Jovanovski. “Earlier this year, the EU granted visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone for Macedonian citizens, effective January 1, 2010. Today, Macedonia obtained a long-awaited recommendation to begin accession negotiations with the European Union. Both of these steps are recognition from Brussels of the hard work accomplished by Macedonia and the dedication to common values that Macedonians have with the wider European family to which we have belonged for millennia,” Jovanovski continued.
“This is a moment for Macedonia to celebrate. However, Macedonians must not let their momentary euphoria cloud their judgment regarding their strategic national interests, first and foremost, maintaining our constitutional and ancestral name: Macedonia,” added UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “The United Macedonian Diaspora fully supports Macedonia’s entry to NATO, the European Union, and all other relevant international organizations, however, as stated numerous times, our position is unequivocal: we reject any change to the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia and its people. Furthermore, we expect that recognition from Brussels comes as recognition for work accomplished, and not as a Trojan horse meant to influence the outcome of a bilateral dispute,” Koloski said.
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