EP wants Macedonia entry talks to begin
Talks on the accession of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the European Union should begin immediately despite its long-running name dispute with Greece, MEPs have said.
For historical and territorial reasons Greece opposes the use of the terms Macedonia and Macedonian because it creates ambiguity with the northern Greek region of the same name. But MEPs agreed this argument should no longer block EU membership negotiations.
A European Parliament resolution passed today by 506 votes to 44 said that MEPs "regret that the Council has not taken a decision on the opening of accession negotiations". They also expressed concern about the country's growing ethnic tensions, high unemployment, corruption and lack of press freedom. Elections are scheduled to take place in June. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been an official candidate for EU membership since 2005.
Meanwhile on a visit to Croatia today the President of the European Commission JosÚ Manuel Barroso said he was "looking forward to welcoming Croatia as the 28th EU member state as soon as possible".
Following a meeting with the country's Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, Barroso added: "Croatia has made great – I would even say historic – progress over the past years. I stressed the importance of keeping this dynamic. Croatia must tackle the last difficult reforms before the accession process can be concluded. Now is the time for Croatia to walk the final mile. I know that this final stretch is often the hardest. But it can be done. And with the necessary reforms, we will be a family of 28 member states soon."