European Western Balkans

Schausberger: Resolving bilateral disputes prerequisite for joining EU

Franz Schausberger; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

VIENNA – Franz Schausberger, Special Envoy of the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, said that the agreement over a decades-long dispute about the name of Macedonia could provoke a series of positive consequences for the region and the whole of Europe, and stresses that resolving bilateral disputes is the most important precondition in approaching the EU.

Schausberger, in the text for the „Prese“, pointed out that if the agreement between the prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Aleksis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, according to which the new name of that former Yugoslav republic would be “Republic of Northern Macedonia”, would really apply, this would end not only the dispute between these two countries, but would also have consequences for the whole part of the continent. It would, as he adds, also signal that the EU can successfully play its role as a peace mediator, despite the enormous difficulties in its own ranks.

Schausberger emphasizes that the enlargement strategy, presented by the European Commission on 5 February, has sparked dynamism in the Western Balkans, which must not be underestimated.

The agreement would, if ratified, cause a series of consequences – for Macedonia it would remove a significant obstacle on the road to accession talks with the EU. That would, according to Schausberger, mean that the negotiations would be open with Albania, as both countries are jointly appointed in the EU strategy. However, he points out that Albania first has to show serious work on judicial reform.

End of the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece could give a new impetus to the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, he said.

Schausberger emphasizes that a viable solution to bilateral disputes among candidates for admission to the EU from the Western Balkans is a prerequisite for accession to the EU. The EU is not ready to bring unresolved conflicts into the Union.

Schausberger points out that it remains to see whether the Macedonian-Greek solution will have a positive impact on the solution of other numerous unresolved issues among the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He hopes that member states, primarily skeptics from France, the Netherlands and part of Germany at the EU summit in late June, will acknowledge the progress in the Western Balkans and give the green light to start accession talks with Macedonia and Albania.

In any case, he notes that the encouraging development of the Macedonian question, contributes to the peaceful development of the complicated and unstable part of our continent and, in general, peace in Europe.

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