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MEMO/11/192

Brussels, 24 March 2010

Statement by Commissioner Stefan Füle following his meeting with Mr Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Today I met with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. We discussed a number of issues regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's European accession path and the political situation in the country.

I underlined that 2011 is an important year for the whole region. The countries there should spare no effort in creating a positive momentum for enlargement and it is important that Skopje is an active part of it. It is therefore essential that the name issue is solved. Otherwise there is a tangible risk that the country could fall behind in the accession process.

The country has also to maintain the momentum of its own reform agenda. I pointed to the need for Skopje to make further progress on political dialogue, judiciary and public administration reform, fight against corruption and freedom of expression. These issues have already been underlined in our progress report 2010 and need to be addressed in a sustained effort in the coming months. We agreed to step up our efforts for a comprehensive and joint monitoring of the process achieved, bring the EU agenda back to a prominent place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's reform efforts through open interaction, including a regular high-level accession dialogue.

With regard to the political dialogue, I called on Prime Minister Gruevski, as I do also on the leader of the opposition Mr Crvenkovski, to redouble their efforts to find an agreement on how to resolve the current difficulties. I expect the serious discussions held recently to be built upon. It is key to have consensus on the country's objectives. It is also key that elections are conducted in full transparency and in line with international standards.

During our discussions, I stressed that freedom of expression is fundamental and that journalists must be able to express their views freely. The Commission does not intervene in individual judicial cases but expects due processes and non-selective application of law.

I also indicated in our meeting that the 10th anniversary of the Ohrid Framework Agreement is an opportunity to take stock of progress made in its implementation, bring all communities of the country together and to renew the commitment to address the ongoing challenges.

Lastly, on the post-visa liberalization monitoring, I requested a review of the measures that the country is taking to prevent abuses of the visa regime. Countries benefitting from visa-free access to the EU need to take all necessary measures to limit unfounded asylum applications.


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