Nieuws-items E.T.M. (Erik) Meijer
08-09-2009Onderscheidingen voor EuroparlementariŽrs
25-05-2009Nederlandse EuroparlementariŽrs voor transparante EU
14-05-2009SP'er Erik Meijer ijverigst in Europa
12-03-2009Europees Parlement wil datum voor start toetredingsonderhandelingen MacedoniŽ (en)
12-03-2009Europarlement wil haast met MacedoniŽ en KroatiŽ
MEPs urge EU to decide on Macedonia accession talks - Hoofdinhoud
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS Ė MEPs adopted a resolution on Thursday (12 March) calling on member states to set a date for opening accession talks with Macedonia this year.
In a resolution adopted by MEPs with 478 votes in favour and 92 against, the European Parliament said it "regrets Öthat, three years after it [Macedonia] was granted the status of candidate for membership of the EU, accession negotiations have not yet started, which is an unsustainable situation having demotivating effects for the country, and risks destabilising the region."
The parliament "urges the Council [the EU member states] to accelerate this process by deciding on a date for the beginning of accession negotiations, during the current year [provided that other conditions are met]."
"We have to recognise that in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia things are not going worse than in other countries," said Dutch MEP Erik Meijer, referring to the problems with corruption and organised crime in the small Balkan country.
He said it would be at least 2017 before Macedonia makes it into the bloc, so negotiation may as well as start now.
Upcoming elections Ė 'moment of truth'
Macedonia was granted the status of EU candidate in December 2005, but accession talks have not been opened ever since, mainly due to Greece.
Athens has refused to recognise its neighbour's constitutional name - the Republic of Macedonia - since it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
This is because a northern region in Greece is also called Macedonia and Greece believes allowing Skopje to use the name will open the way to territorial claims. It also believes the appellation is part of its own historical heritage.
Greece has been blocking Macedonia's NATO bid for the same reason.
EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn stressed that "free and fair" presidential and local elections later this month and in April would be a key condition for Macedonia to be allowed to start accession talks, after violent incidents marked last year's general elections.
"I share [MEPs'] regret that, three years after the country achieved candidate status, accession negotiations have not yet started," Mr Rehn said in the parliament's plenary in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
"The key outstanding condition is the ability to meet international standards for the conduct of free and fair elections ÖThe presidential and municipal elections in March and April will be a moment of truth," he added.
Time 'running out' for Croatia
MEPs also approved a Croatia resolution "deeply regretting that [Croatia's] accession negotiations have been effectively blocked for a considerable time because of bilateral issues."
Due to a dispute between Croatia and Slovenia on their common land and sea border Ljubljana has been blocking almost a third of the chapters of Zagreb's EU accession package.
But the parliamentarians said they were "confident that the goal of concluding negotiations in 2009 ...can [still] be achieved," provided that the Croatian government implements the needed reforms in fields such as corruption and organised crime, as well as administrative and judicial reform.
The Czech EU presidency expressed less optimistic views saying it was "concerned" about the stalemate between Slovenia and Croatia on solving the dispute and noting that "time is running out" for Zagreb to finish talks by the end of this year and become an EU member by 2011.