March 15, 2012 – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) welcomes the resolution approved by the European Parliament, urging the European Council to set a date for the start of the negotiations on Macedonia’s EU accession.
This resolution reflects the positive recommendations of the 2011 progress report by the European Commission. In April 2011, the European Parliament approved a similar resolution, but the European Council disregarded it, due to pressure from the Greek government.
Notably, a Greek-led group of dissenting MEPs tried to remove the adjective “Macedonian” from the resolution, but they ultimately failed. Richard Howitt, an MEP from the United Kingdom, stressed the recommendation not to exclude the adjective “Macedonian” in future reports, and described the opening of EU negotiations with Macedonia as “an opportunity not to be missed.”
Furthermore, Howitt stated: “The longer we prolong the gap between the candidate status and negotiations, the less creditable EU policy becomes in the Balkans.”
It is apparent that the decision of the International Court of Justice over the application of the Interim Accord influenced the vote, with an overwhelming majority supporting the resolution. The vote passed by a margin of 582 to 70.
Hungarian MEP GyorgySchopflinlamented the absurdity of the parliamentary debate with certain Greek MEPs, adding: “I can notrecalla singlecountry where suchpressurewould have been applied over its name.I find it inexcusable, that aname dispute witha member statecan be usedto preventMacedoniafrom joiningEUmembership negotiations. I do not see ‘a country’sname’anywhere in the Copenhagencriteria… (that we are even having this)wholedebate …is acompleteshame.”
UMD President Metodija A. Koloski said: “We recommend that the European Council respect the resolution of the people, who are represented by the European Parliament in this resolution. We also ask the European Council to respect the International Court of Justice, which, last year, confirmed Greece’s blatant violation of international law over its so-called ‘name dispute.’ The name dispute is a domestic political problem in Greece, and a separate issue from the Republic of Macedonia’s membership in international institutions.”
The European Commission for Enlargement Stefan Fule is visiting with Prime Minister Gruevski in Macedonia on March 15, 2012.