The European Parliament has given a positive overall verdict on last year's efforts by Croatia and Macedonia to qualify for EU membership. In resolutions debated and approved yesterday (10 February), MEPs also took note of the limited progress made by Turkey in meeting EU membership criteria.
Accession negotiations with Croatia could be wound up in 2010 and Croatia's successful accession would give a "positive impetus" to the process of integrating the rest of the Western Balkan region within Europe, say MEPs in a resolution drafted by Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda (S&D).
It was adopted yesterday (10 February) at a Strasbourg plenary session by 582 votes to 24, with 37 abstentions.
MEPs are nonetheless concerned that public support for membership is diminishing in Croatia.
Croatia is expected to "co-operate fully" with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and allow the Court access to documents requested for use in war-crime trials, the resolution said (see EURACTIV LinksDossier).
Arrangements for solving the bilateral border dispute with Slovenia "have created the momentum to open all remaining chapters," the resolution mentions (EURACTIV 12/01/10).
Parliament recommends that the Council should decide "as soon as possible" to open the "Judiciary and Fundamental Rights" chapter of the negotiations (EURACTIV 30/11/09).
Macedonia talks to begin 'in the near future'
Concerning Macedonia, MEPs backed the Greek government's suggestion of a "symbolic and motivational target date of 2014" for the EU accession of Western Balkan countries, in a resolution drafted by Slovenian Zoran Thaler (Socialists & Democrats) and adopted by 548 votes to 45, with 35 abstentions.
MEPs expect the negotiations with Macedonia "to begin in the near future". Parliament asked the Council to confirm at its March 2010 summit that it had accepted the Commission's recommendation that negotiations be opened (see EURACTIV LinksDossier).
On the issue of the country's name, Parliament asked the governments of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece to "redouble their efforts at the highest level to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the name issue" (EURACTIV 04/02/10).
Turkey made 'limited efforts'
Progress on concrete reforms remained limited in 2009, said a resolution on Turkey drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten (European People's Party).
Parliament recalled that the opening of negotiations in 2005 was the starting point for "a long-lasting and open-ended process".
MEPs deplored the non-implementation of the Additional Protocol to the EC-Turkey Association Agreement for the "fourth consecutive year". "Failure to do so may further seriously affect the process of negotiations," they warned (EURACTIV 26/11/09).
The Turkish government should contribute "in concrete terms" to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, MEPs also said (see EURACTIV LinksDossier).
MEPs appreciated the diplomatic efforts made to normalise relations with Armenia but asked for the relevant protocols to be ratified (EURACTIV 12/11/09). In addition, they acknowledged Turkey's role in regional security (the Black Sea and the Middle East).
Parliament welcomed the signature of the Nabucco pipeline agreement and called for the opening of the energy chapter in its accession negotiations (EURACTIV 06/10/09).