Macedonia: One mile to go

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The delivery of Macedonia’s response to a questionnaire brings
Skopje closer to the EU, say Biljana Stavrova
and Robert Alagjozovski
in Transitions Online.

Macedonia’s aspirations for European Union membership received
another boost on 14 February when its delegation submitted over
14,000 pages to the EU in Brussels in response to an EU

It took the Macedonian government four months to answer the
roughly 4,000 questions put to it by the EU. The questionnaire is a
standard procedure for countries seeking eventual membership in the
Union. It contained questions on the rule of law, market economy,
human and minority rights, the realization of the Framework
Agreement that ended the country’s brief armed conflict in 2001,
the free flow of people and capital, and similar topics. The
answers were expected to give a clear picture of the current
situation in Macedonia and will serve as a basis for negotiations
on candidate status and eventual membership.

Macedonia hopes to be admitted to candidate status before the
year is over. 

“We’ve done our job,” Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski said on 1
February after the process of responding to the questionnaire was
completed. “From our friends and partners in Europe we expect a
fair chance and candidate status.”

Thanking all those who had helped in the process, Buckovski said
that answering the questionnaire had proved that “the Macedonian
administration can work according to the European course.

“We came out more organized and more coordinated and got a real
vision of where we are and what should be done. These 14,000 pages
could be the foundation of our European construction,” Buckovski

At the 14 February ceremony, the EU’s Enlargement Commissioner
Olli Rehn said, “this is a great day for Macedonia, but I expect
even greater days,” according to Macedonian television A1.

All-party consensus

In addition to high-level meetings, an exhibition of ethnic
cultures, a cocktail reception, and a concert by celebrated pianist
Simon Trpcevski, singer Tose Proeski, and other Macedonian stars
were planned for the handover ceremony.

The final question Macedonia had to negotiate with Brussels was
how many persons the official delegation could bring to the
ceremony. Through its Skopje office, the European Commission
protocol department made it clear it considered the size of the
proposed delegation to be excessive given the “symbolic” nature of
the event.

The Macedonian government then reduced the delegation to 32
persons, including 17 officials. Prime Minister Buckovski will be
accompanied by several ministers, including deputy prime ministers
Radmila Sekerinska and Musa Xhaferi, as well as Liberal Party
leader Stojan Andov as a representative of the

Another point Buckovski had to settle before his trip to
Brussels was how to achieve an all-party consensus on EU

On 10 February he assembled 14 political parties “aiming to
unite the powers on the road to Europe and to realize the common
project,” according to the invitation.

Even though the main opposition parties objected that the event
was “vulgar political marketing” since “[we have] proved our
devotion to EU integration many times before,” they still sent
their representatives.

The meeting resulted in a joint declaration and an initiative to
create two new bodies to monitor EU integration: a parliamentary
council chaired by an opposition representative and a national
forum led by the civil-society sector.


To read the full text of the article, visit the Transitions Online website.

Subscribe to our newsletters