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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement of President Barroso following his meeting with Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Press point

Brussels, 27 October 2010

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Gruevski to the European Commission. We had a very good working session which has been useful in advance of the Commission's Annual Enlargement Package on 9th November where we will produce a report.

Last year we made a positive recommendation to start accession negotiations and we have granted visa free travel for the citizens of your country, Prime Minister. This was a clear recognition of the efforts made on political dialogue reform of the judiciary and police. It was also an encouragement to push ahead for a resolution on the name issue.

We now need to keep up the momentum in all these areas.

In particular we have to move forward on the name issue. The time to deliver has come. The country should not miss this historical opportunity. Identity questions are certainly important, but it is even more important that the past does not hold the future hostage. I call on all sides to resolve this obstacle as quickly as possible and I am hopeful that this will be the case and that the name issue will be settled. I think it is very important for your country, for the region and for all of us in Europe

I have also outlined to Prime Minister Gruevski of the need to keep the pace of the reform process and to build a consensus between all relevant political parties in promoting these reforms.

Important measures are needed to consolidate political dialogue, the independence of the judiciary and to reduce corruption and organised crime.

I have also taken note of the measures which the Prime Minister will take to uphold the visa free travel arrangements. I would like to thank you for your comments on this issue, Prime Minister. The vast majority respect these arrangements but there have been some problems. It must be made clear that visa free travel does not give a right to seek asylum or to work in the EU.

We are seeing important progress in the region. Croatia is edging closer to EU accession, we have just seen a historic breakthrough on talks between Serbia and Kosovo. We now want to see progress on the name issue between your country and Greece. This is what the people of the region expect. You can count on the Commission and I hope we will witness important decisions very soon.

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