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Brussels, 23 June 2011

Statement by Commissioner Štefan 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 had a constructive and forward-looking discussion covering all main issues related to the accession process of the country.

Together with HR/VP Catherine Ashton, I have welcomed the competitive, transparent and well administered parliamentary elections of 5 June, especially as regards the election day itself. Now we are looking forward to a smooth process of government formation. It is important for the country to get back to work.

We agreed on the next steps in the EU-related reforms: effective implementation of the reform of public administration and of the judiciary, the fight against corruption, and ensuring freedom of expression of the media. I stressed that it is also very important that the work on the Ohrid Framework Agreement and the Roma moves forward.

I reaffirmed that the Commission stands ready to support the new government in these areas and we have agreed a number of meetings in the coming weeks to work together on these priorities. I will be participating at the beginning of September in the Conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Ohrid Framework Agreement.

2011 can be a year of opportunity for the enlargement process in the Western Balkans and we want to make sure that Skopje is among those countries in the region that are leading the way towards deeper EU integration. The European Commission made a recommendation to start accession negotiations in October 2009. This recommendation is still in force and for it to continue to be valid the country needs to continue making progress on the necessary reforms.

That is why resolving the name issue remains essential. Both sides should continue to be engaged, either under the auspices of the UN, or through direct talks. Prime Minister Gruevski updated me today on the state of play of the talks.

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