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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Gjorge Ivanov, President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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Brussels, 9 September 2010

I'm very pleased to welcome President Ivanov to the European Commission. This was an important meeting because we are now starting to prepare the annual progress reports that we will publish in November.

We have discussed the country's accession process and the need to consolidate the internal reforms. I have also welcomed the President Ivanov's efforts to strengthen relations with key neighbours. This is very important for the stability of the region.

Last year we made a positive recommendation to start accession negotiations and we have granted visa free travel for FYROM citizens. This was a clear recognition of the efforts made, and it was also an encouragement to push ahead for a resolution on the name issue.

Unfortunately this has not yet happened. I know that efforts are being made through the UN process and in direct talks with Greece. I understand the extreme sensitivities of this issue, but I call on all sides to resolve this obstacle as quickly as possible. It's time to decide. We believe now it is time to decide on this issue of the name.

I have also outlined to President Ivanov the need to keep the pace of the reform process. Important measures are needed to consolidate political dialogue, the independence of the judiciary and to reduce corruption and organised crime and I thank President Ivanov for the very comprehensive information that he wanted to share with me regarding these matters.

The Commission remains committed to FYROM's European aspirations and looks forward to open accession negotiations as soon as the Council so requests. I hope to see important decisions taken in the coming months to make that possible. I am confident. I want to underline that I am more confident now than I was some years ago so let's try to see if those who have an interest in this matter can really make a final effort to bridge differences and we can make progress because I think it is indeed time to decide.

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