Macedonia tightens EU timetable

Macedonia’s name dispute with Greece must not be used as an excuse for failing to fulfil EU reforms, the country’s minister in charge for EU affairs says.

During her first adress before the Parliamentary Commission on the EU, Teuta Arifi announced a September 5 deadline for all ministries to complete the reforms that Brussels has requested for this year.

The European Commission is to issue its annual progress report in October and Macedonia hopes that it will contain, for a third time in a row, a recommendation for the country to start its EU accession talks.

But this summer Brussels noted several issues that Skopje’s government must fix if a positive report is to be secured. These are mainly shortcomings concerning the judiciary, profesionalisation of the civil service and ensuring greater media freedom.

“We received a list of short-term requirements from the EU enlargement directorate,” Arifi said before the parliament commission. “A good deal of them are already in their final phase [of completion] and I think that we will have a positive portfolio.”

Arifi took up the job in June after the early general elections held that month.

She noted at Thursday’s meeting that solving the name dispute is another “crucial” issue that Brussels hopes will be settled, but that “other obligations in terms of harmonization [of the local legislation] with the European laws, should not be underestimated”.

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