Besimi in Washington: The best solution is the parallel negotiations with the EU and Greece

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Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European integrations Fatmir Besimi said that the best way out of the current blockade for Macedonia in the European Union would be to allow a parallel process of negotiations with the EU and talks with Greece over the name issue. Speaking to the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, where he is for the traditional Prayer Breakfast gathering, Besimi said that he remains an optimist that Macedonia will advance toward the EU.

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“I believe that there is a way to solve the name issue. We need to work more at home, and with Greek politicians. Our partners and friends from the international community should help in this process. That is the way, because Greece doesn’t benefit without a solution, without integrating the region in NATO and EU. Greece could take on a role of a regional leader in integrating the Balkans. This would be a winning scenario for both sides”, Macedonian Radio Television reported Besimi’s comments in Washington.

Asked by American regional experts and professors if Macedonia has a realistic perspective to advance toward the EU, Besimi said that Macedonia is prepared to open accession negotiations, adding that the delays, over past six years when Macedonia was first declared ready to open negotiations, were not good for the stability of the region, including Greece. “NATO and EU membership is an investment”, Besimi said.

Greece has vetoed the opening of accession negotiations for Macedonia since 2009, when the European Commission first gave the green light. Greek Governments have demanded that Macedonia change its name, adding a geographic qualifier that would be used both internally and internationally, and has refused to join in direct high level negotiations to solve the issue.

Besimi added that continued work on reforms needed for EU accession is also delayed because the largest opposition party SDSM boycotts Macedonia’s Parliament. Most of SDSM representatives have joined the boycott since April’s early general elections. Besimi said that this is an issue for the Eurointegration Council, which is normally chaired by a representative from the opposition.

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