Bundestag: Macedonia needs to accelerate reforms

Macedonia is making progress on the EU path, atmosphere in the country has been positive and it is well prepared for the start of the accession negotiations, but still not ready for Union membership, heard a debate Macedonia Between Hope and Anxiety in the German Bundestag, organized by the Southeast Europe Association, Deutsche Welle reports.

Matthias Lüttenberg, head of the Division for Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe at the German Federal Chancellery, saluted the courage of Prime Minister Zaev in solving problems with Bulgaria and Greece at the start of his term.

He said Germany was committed to the settlement of the dispute with Greece, referring to the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to the referendum, and “is now prepared to provide support through advice and financial support.”

“We want to support the future. We will send advisers to the Macedonian government. We want the country to be stable and make progress,” said Lüttenberg.

He expects similar support from the EU towards Macedonia’s economic recovery, but also to make the country more attractive for foreign investors,in which the rule of law is the main prerequisite.

Reinhard Priebe, chair of the EU Senior Experts’ Group on Macedonia, said that if the Prespa Agreement is not ratified in Greece, then EU must open membership negotiations regardless of the name dispute, urging Skopje to resume with reforms.

Christian Hellbach, director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey and EFTA states at the Federal Foreign Office, said failure of the Prespa Agreement would be bad news for the country, since loyalty to the country among a portion of the population in Macedonia depends on the country’s Euro-Atlantic progress.

“I fear that nationalistic or ethnic narratives will resurface. Stability will suffer if Macedonia fails to make progress,” warned Hellbach.

Regarding Nikola Gruevski’s escape and his asylum in Hungary, he said the case could make the position of current VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski easier.

“There are signals coming from Mickoski that he would support the Prespa Agreement,” said Hellbach.