Zbogar: Macedonia’s 2018 report much better than previous ones

Macedonia by the European Commission was given a clear recommendation to start accession negotiations and a much improved wording compared to previous progress reports, EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar told a news conference after the publishing of the 2018 progress report in Strasbourg.

“I congratulate the citizens of the country on making a very important step forward to secure a clear recommendation for the opening of talks. It hasn’t been easy on the country, which has endured difficult times in the past few years. I believe that with joined efforts of all stakeholders in the country, the Parliament has improved, the government got engaged in all areas noted in our report. All of this is reflected in our report and as a result, the Commission has given a recommendation,” stated Zbogar.

It is expected now reforms to continue and to intensify, he noted.

Asked how the European Commission could deliver, once Macedonia has already delivered making a progress, if the name dispute remained unsettled, the EU Ambassador said that the name issue in the report itself was defined as something that needed to be resolved ‘as a matter of urgency.’

“Good neighborly relations are an important principle in the report and are defined as a matter of urgency. The Commission has been encouraged by discussions within the negotiations and the confidence building measures. The renaming of the airport and the highway and kick-starting the second stage of the Stabilization and Association Agreement were mentioned as confidence building measures, but negotiations are continuing. We have to wait a little and see,” stated Zbogar adding that the process of settling the name row should be closely followed in coming months.