European Western Balkans

Hahn: EU needs to endorse the start of negotiations before summer

SKOPJE – The EU needs to give the green light for the start of North Macedonia’s accessions negotiations before the summer, says European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn in his interview with MIA.

As he explained, resolving the long-standing dispute over the name with Greece as well as signing the treaty with Bulgaria, North Macedonia demonstrated that problems can be solved in the Western Balkans with leaders dedicated to serving the interests of the country and its citizens. In addition, the country is absolutely ready to start accession talks with the EU, says Hahn.

Regarding the reforms set by the Council last year that North Macedonia needed to make, Hahn underlines there has been remarkable progress, adding that North Macedonia took important steps to fight against corruption.

“Overall, check and balances have been restored, consolidating democracy, rule of law in the country. Media professional and organisations report on improved climate regarding the freedom of the opinion,” Hahn states.

He also points out that reforms have been carried out in a transparent manner, where both opposition and civil society have been involved in the process.  A positive development that has been noticed on the ground especially during the Presidential Elections only demonstrates that the country has engaged in a comprehensive transformative process which covers all areas from policy to society, Hahn says in an interview for MIA.

According to him, the accession process is not a one-way street, let alone, it is a process where both sides have equal responsibilities.

“If countries such as North Macedonia fulfil the tough conditions this needs to be acknowledged by taking them forward on their path towards the EU. As I always say – if our partner countries deliver, our Member States have to deliver, too,” says Hahn.

Furthermore, he explains that this should not be seen as a reward but as an encouragement for the whole region to keep on with the reform process, because the integration into the EU is the investment in EU stability.

Nevertheless, he reminds North Macedonia still has a long way to pass in order to become a full member of the Union. Hahn believes the country has shown its dedication to the Euro-Atlantic integrations and due to that, it deserves the opening of negotiations, MIA writes.

In the light of that, Commissioner Hahn thinks that green light is necessary so the reform process and Prespa Agreement should consolidate, otherwise the reforms could slow down.

“If the EU does not deliver its part, citizens might lose confidence in the European perspective. The reforms dynamics might be weakened, not only in North Macedonia but in the whole region. This cannot be in the EU’s interest,” Hahn concluded for MIA.

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