The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) urges the European Council to open negotiations with the Republic of Macedonia at its coming meeting on 19/12/2013. Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership since 2005 and fulfills all criteria to the start negotiations. Taking into account the internal and external difficulties it has faced in the past two decades, the Republic of Macedonia has done exceptionally well in strengthening democracy, reforming its economy and judicial system.
UMD urges the members of the European Council to set a date, without further delay, for the start of negotiations with Macedonia in early 2014. As Greece takes over the EU Presidency next month, 10 years after it spearheaded the Thessaloniki agenda, the start of negotiations will greatly benefit Macedonia as well as the entire Western Balkans. After all, the purpose of the Thessaloniki Agenda was to see the whole region in the EU by 2014.
As the European Commission has suggested, Macedonia does need improvement in several areas, mainly media freedom, the rule of law and public administration. However, UMD believes that a set date for the start of negotiations will give a positive impulse to the Republic of Macedonia to continue implementing the necessary reforms that will bring the country closer to accession.
UMD also acknowledges the fact that more cooperation is needed with Macedonia’s neighboring countries. However, UMD underlines that such cooperation is based on reciprocity, mutual respect and understanding. In particular, reciprocity is necessary in the protection of national and linguistic minorities in Macedonia’s neighboring countries. Such recognition would significantly improve the good-neighborly relations in the region.