Positive Overall Verdict for Macedonia, Croatia

The European Parliament has given a positive overall verdict to Croatia and Macedonia for their efforts in the EU accession process last year.

In resolutions debated and approved in Strasbourg on Wednesday, the European Parliament commended the work undertaken by the two countries, according to a parliament press release issued after the resolutions were adopted.

The Parliament also noted areas where improvement was needed in both countries, including rule of law, freedom of expression, good neighbourly relations, treatment of ethnic minorities, women’s rights and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

The resolution for Croatia, which was drafted by Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda and was adopted by 582 votes to 24, with 37 abstentions, noted that accession negotiations for Croatia could be completed in 2010.

The motion commented positively on the movement toward a resolution with Slovenia on the bilateral border dispute, adding that these efforts “have created the momentum to open all remaining chapters” of the accession negotiations.

During the debate on the resolution, MEPs expressed concern that public enthusiasm for Croatia’s accession to the EU was decreasing.

The parliament asked the European Council to confirm, at its March 2010 meeting, that it accepts the Commission recommendation that accession negotiations with Macedonia be opened.

Macedonia was expecting to acquire a start date for its negotiations with the EU at the December 2009 Council meeting, but Athens blocked the move because of its unresolved name row with Skopje over the use of the name Macedonia. Athens insists that Skopje’s formal name, Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims against its own northern province with the same name.

The parliament resolution on Macedonia was drafted by Slovenian MEP Zoran Thaler and adopted by 548 votes to 45, with 35 abstentions.

MEPs also adopted a resolution on Turkey’s progress in the EU accession process in 2009.

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