On October 10, the European Union Commission (EU Commission) released its annual Progress Report for Macedonia’s EU candidacy. The report includes detailed recognition of Macedonia’s progress in various areas of development, and, for the fourth time in a row, reaffirms that Macedonia meets all necessary criteria for accession negotiations to begin. However, the EU Commission does not have the power to exercise its recommendations on behalf of the whole EU. UMD strongly urges the EU Council to act upon its responsibilities and finally extend a date to Macedonia to start its accession negotiations.
“This bait and switch process has become all too familiar. Each year, for the last four years, the EU Commission confirms that Macedonia has met every criteria for accession talks to begin, and each year, the recommendation is later ignored by the heads of state at the EU Council, due to purely political objections by Macedonia’s southern neighbor,” said UMD Board Chairman Stojan Nikolov. “Unless the EU has decided to uphold its own rules and has decide to stop breaking the very principles that it preaches to others, this year will most likely be no different, demonstrating the deeply dysfunctional EU accession procedure.”
Despite significant praise for Macedonia’s progress, the Report makes some rather contradictory statements regarding the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA).
The report acknowledges some very serious policy problems, such as increased segregation in the school system along ethnic lines and under-representation for non-Albanian ethnic minorities in public service jobs, such as the Roma and Turks. UMD believes that these problems, and many more, are directly related to critical flaws in the OFA. The Report repeatedly states that the OFA is “an essential element for democracy and the rule of law in the country.”
“The OFA is not the bedrock of a strong multicultural Macedonia but rather the Macedonian Constitution is guaranteeing equal rights to all Macedonian citizens. On the contrary, the OFA has had opposite effects. Due to the OFA, civil servants in Macedonia are being hired simply to satisfy ethnic quotas and not based on objective job criteria. UMD wants all Macedonian citizens to enjoy equal rights, according to the highest international standards,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski
Throughout the Report, Macedonia is referred to as “former Yugoslav,” in deference to Greek objections, along with a reiterated call for UN-sponsored “name talks” to continue, in hopes of a “mutually acceptable solution.” Unlike previous EU documents, however, the adjective Macedonian is used twice. The Report does mention the International Court of Justice judgment of December 5, 2011 in Macedonia vs. Greece, but downplays its importance in the relations between both countries.
“In the 21st century, a democratic European country is denied the most basic right to self-determination. It has been twenty years since communist Yugoslavia has died; yet, the EU wants to keep it alive by insulting the citizens of Macedonia with the use of the shameful reference. The European values for which Macedonia strives for should not be used as a blackmail to force the country to change its constitutional name, which would be hypocritical at best,” added UMD Vice President and Advisory Council Chair Aleksandar Mitreski.