'Dateless' Macedonia Gets 3rd EC Endorsement for Starting EU Talks
The European Commission has endorsed the Republic of Macedonia for EU accession talks for a third consecutive year even though the Balkan country continues to have no date for starting the much coveted negotiations.
In a set of annual reports released Wednesday, October 12, the Commission reported on the progress towards EU accession made by the Western Balkans, Turkey, and Iceland over the past year.
The Commission, which first recommended that Macedonia begin accession negotiations back in 2009, reiterated its recommendation. However, Macedonia continues to have no date for starting the EU talks as the Council of the European Union has repeatedly put off grating the country a date, largely because of its name dispute with Greece.
Macedonia is registered at international organization as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia because of the dispute, rather than Republic of Macedonia at Greece's insistence, which fears the name Macedonia might spur territorial claims for its northern regions.
Speaking before the Foreign Policy Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels Tuesday, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said the continuing name dispute has reduced Macedonia's reform motivation and progress, which is why the dispute needs to be resolved.
He further noted that freedom of speech and freedom of media remain a major problem for Bulgaria's southwestern neighbor.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to sufficiently fulfil the political criteria for starting accession talks, the EC noted.
"Further efforts are needed to ensure effective implementation, in particular concerning judicial and administrative reform, fighting corruption and freedom of expression in the media. Dialogue between the government and the opposition needs to be strengthened in order to ensure the smooth functioning of institutions and to allow the parliament to play its full role," the Commission said.
It added that in Macedonia "weaknesses in the rule of law continue to impede the proper functioning of the market economy," while Macedonia stills needs to achieve progress in applying EU legislation in areas such as taxation, public procurement as well as social policy and employment.
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