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A Big Step for a Small Country: Montenegro Starts Accession Talks, Macedonia Is Lagging Behind

Published on , , Sofia

A big step for the small Balkan state and a smaller step forward in the enlargement process. That is how can be described the news that on Wednesday, October 12, the European Union has officially launched accession talks with Montenegro. A day before visiting Podgorica, in order to personally deliver the news to Prime Minister Igor Luksic, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule backed the Commission’s decision in the following way:

Montenegro has worked hard. We have seen real progress, including in the judicial reform, revising the electoral law, media freedom, anti-discrimination and the fight against corruption and organised crime. I am therefore proposing today to open accession negotiations with Montenegro.”

The Commission reports that Montenegro, which officially gained candidate status last year, since October 2010, when the country received a recommendation to start negotiations, a lot had been done but a lot more work remained, especially in the rule of law area. “The Commission proposes a new negotiation approach in this area, which would include early addressing of the issues related to the judiciary, fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security,” the report reads.

According to EurActiv's sources, the new approach will mean the negotiations to start on chapters 23 and 24, "Judiciary and fundamental rights" and "Justice, freedom and security", at a very early stage and the opening of new chapters to be made conditional on the advance on these chapters, which is a completely new experiment in the accession negotiations.

With this new approach, the Commission is apparently trying to avoid what already happened in the recently closed negotiations with Croatia, which closed the most difficult chapters just before finalising the talks themselves. Besides, there was a similar experience with Bulgaria and Romania before. According to EurActiv, the decision to open negotiations with Montenegro could also mean that the EU is trying to show that the enlargement process will not be completely halted after Croatia’s entry because of all the other problems in Europe. Besides, it is also thought that Montenegro, in spite of the large scale of corruption in the country, is actually quite a tiny country, whose problems could hardly shake the entire EU.

Macedonia – momentum lost

And while some say the decision on Montenegro was done in order to avoid losing the momentum, for Macedonia, also a candidate country, everyone says that the country has already lost its momentum and this is the reason why it has not received a date to start negotiations.

Concerning the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, we maintain our recommendation to open accession negotiations. The prospect of European Union accession has been a driver of the reform process. However, with the continued impasse over the name issue, the motivation for reforms has diminished, the Commission says.

There has been some progress over the past year. Core challenges remain, notably: independence of the judiciary, reform of public administration and fighting corruption. Freedom of expression remains a serious concern. It is, therefore, crucial that there is progress on the name issue. A solution is long overdue. Opening negotiations will benefit not only the country and the region but the EU as a whole. Another year should not be lost.

Moving the accession process of this country to its next stage will benefit the momentum of reforms and the climate of inter-ethnic relations, and will impact positively on the region,” the report reads. According to the European Parliament's Rapporteur on Macedonia, MEP Richard Howitt, quoted by EurActiv, next year will be crucial for Skopje to demonstrate renewed impetus in the reforms designed to prepare the country for EU accession, but proper recognition should be given to achievements as well as criticisms.

One of the areas, where no progress has been made again, is the dispute over the country’s name with neighbouring Greece. The Commission reminds that solution is long overdue and that all efforts should be invested so that it is resolved without delay, so that this does not impact negatively the good neighbourly relations.

15 October 2011 09:05
Pressure is growing for a UK Parliament veto of Croatia accession. It would be difficult to justify this to the British people when the EU is in a state of collapse! As for the others, no chance at present; nothing to do with the ridiculous name dispute, just that we cannot afford more poor countries at present. However we must try to incorporate them in some stronger form of association. 
15 October 2011 10:54
Macedonia is lagging behind because of Greece ... but day after day the procents from sitizens which support EU are shrinking... We will change our name Macedonia when all Europian countries will change their country name and Europe then will call  "Afro-pe"
15 October 2011 16:09
Do these European bureaucrats realize that everyone sees through their thinly disguised hypocritical needs for reforms in Macedonia? Do they think that we are so naive not to see through their double standards rhetorical manipulation? Do they really believe that we do not understand their farcical game? They partitioned Macedonia in 1913 affording good chunks of our land to their benefactors and client regimes with little or no regards for the Macedonian populace; now, these same fucked up pencil-pushers are trying to sell us worthless currency of goods and promises. The hell with all of you m.f.
Anonymous II
15 October 2011 18:02
The EU is a joke!  It is only a pretense for Berlin and Paris to control the continent.  Now those two countries want all of the small members to help bail out the French and German banks.  Let the Germans and French citizens, who profited from the EU the most, bail out the banks themselves.   How farcical it is for the EU to tell candidate states how to get their sh#t together.
15 October 2011 21:48
EU is demanding that,Macedonia improve on independent judisiary,freedom of expression and fighting corruption.Lets take freedom of expression;The owner of A1 TV station was working for a foreign state.The evidance is in the 130 million payout by Greece to this media corporation.Had fought againts its own people(state) without paying a dime to the state,and when they were told to pay,they ignored it.The fact that the Republic of Macedonia did not take them to justice in hopes they will comply with the law,but they refused.Once the owner was jailed and his station closed,the EU complained of luck of freedom.How about corruption?Macedonia did follow the legal avenues in this matter,but again the EU had to condemn governments actions.Where does the EU stand on these issues?Is Greece the sole EU?When is the EU pimping for Greece will end?Greece is not worthy to be in the European family.They have highjacked Macedonias history,they have highjacked the EU,when is the EU going to wakeup and do the right thing? It is high time for EU to expell Greece for babricating history as they have done with their finances.Is Europe going back to 1913?Is Europe trying to completly destroy the Macedonian existance as Greece has been trying since 1913?No one can change ones nations identity,culture or language.We are who we feel are,we are who we are,Macedonians.Greece is occupying part of our homeland,Macedonia occupies no one.EU can't even come to terms to even mention Macedonia in their report.Shame EU,the people of Macedonia do not deserve that kind of treatement just because Greece said so.Greece is the biggest whore in Europe,congratulation for your support to a state that still uses terrorist acts againts the indigenouse Macedonians under Greek occupation.Is this EU?
16 October 2011 17:10
"No one can change ones nations identity,culture or language"
aahahahahhaahahahhh... Then why you are still on the map?!? Because you doing it every day after youre created since 1945.
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