Macedonia told to solve internal political row to open EU doors

The Commission has called on Macedonia’s governing party to engage in ”constructive dialogue” with the ethnic Albanian minority party to solve an ongoing political rift. Despite the tensions, Vice-President and Minister for EU Affairs Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska thinks that Macedonia is ready to open EU accession negotiations. She spoke to EURACTIV Slovakia.

Krisztina Nagy, Spokesperson for Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that Macedonia should step up its efforts ”to achieve stable, well-functioning democratic institutions in the country. This is the only way to progress with the reforms that are crucial for the country’s European aspirations and its economic development.”

She added: ”In our experience it is essential to achieve broad backing across the political spectrum for the implementation of the reforms. And this is the reason why a constructive dialogue among all parties is important”, Nagy said on 18 July.

The comments were issued after an internal political row led the ethnic Albanian opposition party – the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) – to leave parliament, along with the Party of Democratic Prosperity, on 16 July – in protest against the ruling centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party. Xhevat Ademi of the DUI argued that VMRO-DPMNE was not sticking to an agreement, which had put an end to the DUI’s parliamentary boycott in May.

Nagy said: ”The agreement that was found between DUI and the ruling party is certainly an important step in the right direction. However, it is not up to the European Commission to comment on the details of that agreement or how this agreement between two political parties should be implemented.”

”The Commission has made it very clear that it is important to have a constructive political dialogue in the country. We believe that in a democracy, parliament is the best place to represent and to defend one’s political positions. In that sense the return of the DUI to the parliament was a welcome step.”

On 17 July, Guevski met with Commission representatives, who called on Macedonia to make progress on reforms, especially concerning the rights of the ethnic Albanian minority. The prime minister also met with the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, who ”welcomed the progress achieved on the national political dialogue and pointed to the importance of functioning relations between state institutions”.

Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska, the Macedonian vice-president dealing with EU affairs, nevertheless thinks that Macedonia will soon be fit to join the EU. Speaking to EURACTIV Slovakia in an interview, she said that her country hopes to start accession negotiations in 2008, and is working hard to fulfil the necessary political and economic criteria.

According to Konevska-Trajkovska, once Macedonia joins the EU, it would seek to defend the position of small member states and ”their ability to influence European policy”. She thinks that the EU should ”establish itself as a valid international player” and supports the creation of a new EU foreign affairs representative in order to ”face the challenges of globalisation” and work on a level playing field with the US, Russia and China.

On the issue of Kosovo, the vice-president said that her country supported the Ahtisaari plan, which foresees a form of supervised independence for the Serbian province. Konevska-Trajkovska fears that if the issue remains unresolved, it ”will remain a problem for the stability of the region”. She concludes with a positive outlook, saying that at the end of the day ”both sides [Serbia and Kososov] are looking for a European perspective and one day they both want to become EU members”.

To read the full interview, please click here.

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