European Parliament call for opening accession talks with Macedonia in June 2019

Belgium – Excluding several extremist votes from Greece and Bulgaria, vast majority of MEPs at last night’s debate prior to voting on 2018 report on the Republic of Macedonia, called for opening EU accession negotiations in June, however reminding that the country must continue with the same pace of reforms.

Ivo Vajgl, Macedonia Rapporteur in the European Parliament, as well as other MEPs, reminded that not only Macedonia, but also the European Union should hold to the promises in EU integration process. He greeted the Prespa Agreement called for it to be completed in the Macedonian Parliament, expressing beliefs that the EU accession talks will begin in June 2019.

“This requires an inclusive democratic atmosphere, everyone needs to cooperate, the judicial system needs to be modernized, rule of law to be respected, space for free media to be created, journalists to be protected and effective fight against corruption and organised criminal to be conducted,” Vajgl said.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn noted that the country has returned to the Euro-Atlantic path and welcomed the adopted constitutional changes, calling it a courageous move, which he expects will continue without any delay.

Strengthening reform momentum is important in the interest of the citizens, Hahn said, reminding on endorsing three conditions set out in the EU Council conclusion in June – independent judiciary and fight against corruption, control over intelligence and security services and public administration reform. Reforms, which are necessary to fulfill to open accession negotiations, he added.

Three MEPs from Romania, which is to take over EU Presidency as of Jan. 2019, strongly supported opening accession negotiations with Macedonia.

“Macedonia is EU candidate country, which ensured highest level of compliance with the European rules,” Romanian MEP Victor Boştinaru said.

Cristian Dan Preda from EPP called on Greece to show more understanding towards Macedonia, especially after sharp criticism of several Greek MEPs like Sofia Sakorafa, who stated that she would not support Vajgl’s report on Macedonia.

MEP Konstantinos Papadakis of the Communist Party of Greece said that Ivo Vajgl’s report was “a breach of the EU” and that it represented “succumbing to large capital for the interests of European monopolies.”

Representative of the Austria EU Presidency Karoline Edtstadler reminded on remaining reforms that are necessary to open accession negotiations and urged on finding way to ensure continued work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.

Concerning granted asylum in Hungary to the ex-PM Nikola Gruevski, Vajgl said that the approved asylum represents “unacceptable interference’ by the Hungarian authorities.

“I am concerned about Gruevski’s case, Hungary must return him immediately, Hungary is setting a dangerous precedent with this,” Romanian MEP Victor Boştinaru said.

Cristian Dan Preda accused Hungary of becoming “a country for asylum of corrupt people” citing Romanian cases. “What Orbán did is not a support to Macedonia,” he added.

László Tőkés, Fidesz MEP, said that Hungary continues to support Western Balkans enlargement including Macedonia.

“We reject the fact that the Socialists and Greens use Gruevski’s case for an ideological attack on Hungary,” Tőkés said, referring to voting on amendments today.

He said that Hungarian move is best understood in context to “migration activities and Soros lobbying.”

“Granting asylum was in accordance with the legal procedure, and everyone agrees that additional efforts are needed to protect the judiciary from political interference, Tőkés said.