Macedonia: PM Zaev Renews Bids To Join EU, NATO

By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

On a visit to Brussels, Macedonia’s new Prime Minister Zoran Zaev promised to revitalise his country’s stalled Euro-Atlantic integration process and expressed hope for an invitation to join NATO.

Macedonia’s new government will work hard to convince the EU to revive accession talks by this autumn, and to address Greece’s objections to the country’s NATO accession, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told top EU and NATO officials in Brussels on Monday.

“Our goal is to secure sufficient progress in the key reform areas by autumn” to convince the European Commission to restore its recommendation for the start of EU accession talks with Macedonia, Zaev told media after meetings with European Council President Donald Tusk, EU diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini and EU commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Macedonia got a recommendation to start EU accession talks in 2005 and was almost invited to join NATO back in 2008. However due to its unresolved name dispute with neighbouring Greece, progress has been stalled since then.

Over the past two years, since the country became mired in a deep political crisis, the EU additionally conditioned the recommendation with demands for the holding of democratic elections and the fulfillment of urgent reform priorities drafted in the so-called Priebe report.

During his trip to Brussels, Zaev, who was accompanied by Macedonia’s Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, also met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

After meeting Stoltenberg, Zaev said that there were several options for making progress on NATO integration.

“We hope that we can become a NATO member even under the provisional UN reference [the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM, by which name Macedonia is known in some international institutions due to Greek objections],” Zaev said.

Another alternative, Zaev said, was that Macedonia would receive an invitation to join NATO very soon, conditioned with an obligation to settle the long-standing name issue with Greece during the time needed for all 29 NATO members to ratify the decision.

Some observers believe Macedonia’s new government could use increased US and EU interest in the Western Balkans due to Russia’s growing impact in the region to get an invitation to join NATO sooner rather than later.

Speaking for the EU, commissioner Hahn said that he was glad to see Macedonia’s long-running political crisis finally overcome with the December 11 elections and with the subsequent formation of a new government.

He stressed the importance of rapid reforms, particularly in the judiciary and security institutions to allow the rule of law, as well as a quick solution to the name dispute with Greece.

Hahn promised help, announcing that he would send a group of experts led by Reinhard Priebe to Macedonia again in July to assess reform priorities and assist the government. He also promised help with the name dispute.

“I can assure you that we will do everything so that this [name] issue is addressed in a way that we indeed find a solution enabling us to start negotiations, providing that Skopje is making the necessary progress,” Hahn said.


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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

One thought on “Macedonia: PM Zaev Renews Bids To Join EU, NATO

  • June 19, 2017 at 9:36 pm
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    There will be zero tolerance with FYROM. If Zaev wanted to mend relations with Greece he would have announced the demolition of the grotesque Italian made Hellenic reproduction statues that litter the FYROM landscape, the renaming of the airport in Skopje, the renaming of the highway, the renaming of the football stadium, the removal of the repulsive Baroque Hellenic style facades, the correcting of school carriculum, the removal of the Hellenic symbol on the national flag, the removal of all greater Macedonia maps from government institutions and a heartfelt apolgy to the nation of Greece for his nation being vile for the last two and a half decades. Cultural theft cannot be forgiven easily. Actions speak louder than words. Greeks do not want to hear politicians trying new age diplomacy that they learnt in their political science classes. Dimitrov, Šekerinska, Zaevand all the Slavic Fyromians currently running FYROM are just as dogmatic about an exclusivity of the name as the Gruevski ultra nationalists. There is no scope for negotiation with these antiques. Greece is the victim here. Our history has been hijacked by Fyromian Slavs. Leave our history alone. It’s not a good fit for you. You cannot pronounce nor read the Ancient inscriptions for they are in Greek. If FYROM wants exclusivity to the name Macedonia they will have to change their official language to Greek for this corresponds with the Ancient Macedonian language. We Greeks embrace everyone as a Hellene as long as they speak Greek. You cannot have Bulgarian speaking Slavs of FYROM claiming they are Antiques. It’s ridiculous.
    Sekerinska can sit around bagging the VMRO for their crimes but she is just as bad. She claims she is a Slav and a non Antique and in the same breath attacks Greece for not recognizing FYROM. I thought that her hair incident would have knocked some sense into her. Dimitrov has also had a go at it. The fool was part of the negotiation team under Gruevski. He failed miserably because he too will never give up the name. These Slavs are like a dog with a bone but in their case the bone is plastic and has zero marrow.
    They know what they have to do and it will never happen. The constitutional name will not change because the antiquated population of FYROM will never vote for it. They have had way too many history lessons from Milenko Nedelkovski. The vile sneaky tactics of attempting to be admitted to NATO and the EU under their provisional FYROM name won’t work either. They are fruitless attempts at diplomacy that not only waste time but also soak up tax payers efforts. Think twice FYROM before attempting negotiations with the Greeks on their history. The Albanian, Roma and Turkish birth rate is twice that of the Slavs. While you lot are busy fixating about exclusivity of your name and your antique culture the non Slavic population of FYROM will become a majority group within their ancient wonderland. The last census was in 2001, these so called minority groups were are 35% collectively. I would hate to think what they are at now. 16 years of fertile breeding has to be worrying for the new government. Back off our history you deluded farm animals.

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