European Western Balkans

Macedonia is at a turning point, political stabilization and reforms are essential for the path to Europe


SKOPJE – During a two-day visit to FYR Macedonia, in the framework of a wider mission in the Balkans including Albania and Serbia, a delegation of the S&D Group led by their president Gianni Pittella met the leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), Zoran Zaev, the minister for foreign affairs, Nikola Poposki and the leader of the Albanian party Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Ali Ahmeti.
The S&D Group delegation was composed of the vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, Knut Fleckenstein, and S&D Group spokesperson on foreign affairs policy, Richard Howitt.

Following the visit, Gianni Pittella said:

“FYR Macedonia is at a turning point. There is no plan B. The stabilization and reforms guaranteed by the Przino agreement are the only way to create the conditions for a concrete progress along the path to Europe.

“The inclusive political agreement must therefore be implemented in full and good faith. The Urgent Reform Priorities have to be implemented as well. We call on all political leaders to take into account the country’s interests. Decisions on outstanding issues – among others; Law on Government, approving additional prosecutors, to Special Prosecutor – should be taken without any further delay.

“We highly appreciate the SDSM and in particularly Mr Zaev’s constructive approach, showing wise and deep leadership. This must continue. Future Ministerial positions must not be abused and wiretaps should be handed over to the Special Prosecutor. It is not only the future of FYR Macedonia which is at stake, but the greater dream of being part of the European family.”

S&D Group spokesperson on foreign affairs and parliamentary mediator on the current political crisis in FYR Macedonia, MEP Richard Howitt, added:

“It is already too late for the European Commission to be able to simply reproduce the positive recommendation of recent years for EU accession talks to start, and a direct result of the crisis is that I expect next week’s EU progress report to contain qualifications and conditionality.

“The lesson for politicians in this country is that they cannot expect every deadline be to be flexible, every agreement to be subject to change, every negotiation the opportunity for delay and obstruction.

“Statements from European Commissioner Hahn and in the joint statement from the Ambassadors of the U.S. and of EU countries make it quite clear that the responsibility for failure to honour the agreements at present lies principally on the governing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) party.

“We cannot remain silent or neutral in these circumstances, we do not lessen our own commitment to the people of this country and its European future, but we do insist that it is the people and the situation here which will suffer most if the political agreement is not honoured in full by all parties and for all time.”

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