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EU Urged To Begin Macedonia Accession Talks Before June End

4/8/2013 5:17 PM ET

EU member states are expected to open EU accession talks with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia before the end of June 2013, the Foreign Affairs Committee said on Monday. Incidentally, Macedonia was granted EU candidate status in December 2005.

In a vote on the Macedonia's 2012 progress report, MEPs called on the EU enlargement Commissioner to assess the cost of non-enlargement, including key risks for the country should the current status quo persist.

The resolution, drafted by Richard Howitt (S&D, UK), was adopted by 39 votes to 13, with no abstentions. It is likely to be put to a vote by the European Parliament as a whole at the May plenary session in Strasbourg.

MEPs noted in the resolution that the start of negotiations could prove to be a "game-changer," giving positive impetus to further reforms and promoting favorable relations with neighbors. They hailed Macedonia's constructive role in its relations with other enlargement countries, particularly the recent meeting between representatives of Skopje and Sofia governments.

The committee also stressed that the inability to solve the name dispute with Greece has blocked Macedonia's road to EU membership, and called for definitive conclusion under the UN auspices without delay.

MEPs fully supported the recent agreement unblocking the deadlock in the domestic politics after a series of disturbing events in December, which saw a third of Macedonian MPs and journalists forced out of the parliament.

They said all political forces in Macedonia must respect its parliament as a key democratic institution for discussing and resolving political differences, and called for a comprehensive reform of the parliament's procedures.

The MEPs also voiced concern about the ongoing tensions in inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia, stressing that political dialogue be stepped up to eliminate the risk of a polarization of society along ethnic lines. They called on the Macedonian government to send clear signals that discrimination on the basis of national identity is not tolerated in the country.

The Commission also stressed on the need for further effort to enforce anti-corruption legislation, ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in practice and overcome widespread self-censorship among journalists.

by RTT Staff Writer

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