October 14, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – On October 12, 2011, the European Commission released its 2011 Progress Report on Macedonia, which recognized progress in all reforms undertaken by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, including an improvement in political dialogue, and significant praise of macroeconomic policy. Though the EC stressed a stronger push is needed for reforms in the areas of the public administration, rule of law, and media freedom, it recommended a start to accession negotiations again, for the third year in a row.
“Given the EC’s recommendations in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Progress Reports to open accession negotiations, the only legal step for the Council of Ministers would be to follow these recommendations, and not allow Greece’s intransigence towards Macedonia cloud their judgment,” said UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov.
UMD urges the EU Council of Ministers to take the EC’s recommendations into consideration when they meet in December, and to open accession negotiations with Macedonia, regardless of Greece’s ongoing veto threats.
UMD believes the EU has lost significant credibility over its mishandling of EU-Macedonia relations and it is jeopardizing regional stability. Furthermore, the lack of an EU Head of Delegation to Macedonia appointment has added to the increasing levels of Euro-skepticism. Aside from the EU’s general failure to solve its ongoing debt crisis, UMD believes this increased sentiment in Macedonia is a clear result of the failure to open accession negotiations. A positive decision in December would help to repair public opinion towards the EU, re-invigorate Macedonia’s efforts to meet reform targets, and eliminate the potential for greater regional instability.
“Macedonians must uphold their strategic national interests; first and foremost, maintaining our rightful, constitutional and ancestral name: Macedonia,” added UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “UMD supports Macedonia’s efforts to join relevant international organizations such as the European Union in principle; however, as stated numerous times, we reject any change to the name of the Republic of Macedonia, or continued threats to the identity of the Macedonian people, both in the Republic of Macedonia, and in neighboring EU/NATO states such as Greece, Bulgaria and Albania. We expect a positive response from the Council of Ministers to come in recognition of hard work accomplished, not as some kind of Trojan horse, meant to influence the outcome of Greece’s unilateral dispute against Macedonia’s name and identity.”
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