EC praises Macedonia, but Also reiterates Reforms aren’t Finished

Praise for the reforms, but also a reminder that they’re still not finished were the messages sent by the European Commission after the 15th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between Macedonia and the European Union, held on Tuesday in Brussels. Despite the very positive reaction of the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to the dynamism of reforms and government’s awareness that changes mean not only adoption of laws, but also quality and sustainability of reforms, the EU’s Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, reiterated the obligations the country still hasn’t fulfilled, including judicial reform, fight against corruption and security service reform. “We have heard today a lot about the progress. So, I’m very confident, but, nevertheless, I have to encourage you to continue, not to, so to say, slow down all these efforts. Changes in legislation are a positive step, a necessary one, but we want to see also lasting change of mentality and behaviour. This is what is, so to say, even more important in terms of having a successful process with membership to the Union at the end,” Hahn stated. Apart from praising the government’s energy when it comes to the reforms, Mogherini hopes the country will be able to sustain that in the coming period. “This will require all political forces in the country to work jointly and constructively on the reform agenda. The inclusive approach remains essential. Wide consultations should obviously continue. We also expect the opposition to act constructively and we trust that they will demonstrate a sense of responsibility, capacity to overcome divergences so that the country, as a whole, can meet the citizens’ expectations on the European integration process,” she stated. Also, Mogherini sent a message to all parliamentary parties that political differences should be addressed within Macedonia’s institutional frameworks. According to her, the stabilisation, that is, normalisation of the country’s democracy will matter to the EU. According to PM Zoran Zaev, the registered progress in the reform process is precisely a strong argument for a start of negotiations in June, on the basis of an expected positive recommendation from the European Commission for that. “In the period ahead, we will work even more, even better, together with the opposition and all MPs in North Macedonia’s Parliament on achieving all remaining tasks that can have an influence on the decision in June,” he stressed. Mogherini and Hahn see the presidential elections as an obligation for all parties in terms of the election process being will organised and showing their democratic maturity. The reform process, Macedonia’s road to integration and the presidential elections were among the topics also at the meetings Zaev held with Mogherini and Hahn the same day.