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European Commission


Skopje, 17 September 2012

Press statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following his meeting with Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

''İt is a pleasure to be in Skopje for the third time this year to be pushing forward the agenda of HLAD. A lot has changed since our first meeting in March including the time we keep media waiting for the end of the meeting. This only shows how substantive and important our discussions are.

Today, we reviewed all the progress that has been made through the Dialogue since its launch in March. In this period, the Dialogue acquired two characteristic features: commitment and partnership. Hopefully a third one will be coming soon: full implementation of the achieved results.

We have already made progress on some important issues and what is important is that the progress has been achieved on the basis of a roadmap adopted by the government.

We have jointly succeeded in the Dialogue and ensured that the country has kept the focus on its European perspective. Therefore it is important that all political forces remain committed to European integration. I also came with certain concerns over parties appealing to their own ethnic base at the expense of the political stability.

More than 10 years after the OHRID Framework Agreement and 20 years after independence you have established a unique system, a sound basis for different communities to live together. The future lies in a shared vision for your country. The European Union and the OHRID Framework Agreement are two key elements of that vision and İ encourage you all to participate in taking it forward.

İt is important that the results of the 3rd round of the HLAD will feed into the Progress Report the Commission will publish next month. The Dialogue has given you a very good platform to show what you can do. The Member States are watching with great interest. So, it is good that the government has approved the draft law on decriminalisation of defamation. But the work must continue, including the appropriate revision of the criminal code.

Regarding another key issue - electoral reform - a number of amendments have been prepared which aim at improving the legislative framework for elections.

We also discussed the importance of good neighbourly relations - for the first time in the framework of HLAD. You should strive to continue improving the relations with all your neighbours constructively and emphatically, taking on-board also sensitivities of the partners.

Prime Minister Gruevski informed me about the recent developments on the name issue with Greece. I encouraged him to remain focused on taking forward the dialogue in order to find a solution.

To conclude, I want to stress that the HLAD is not an empty or self-serving exercise: through it we provided the recipe on how to make the start of negotiations a reality. The end result depends on how you perform and deliver up to December, when Member states will decide next steps in the accession process, but also beyond - for the benefit of the country and its citizens.''

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