Ex-ambassador: No EU negotiations this year a cause for concern for Macedonia


If the Council of the EU fails to deliver a positive decision before the end of the year, it means there will be no accession negotiations because next year is a lost year, says the former EU ambassador to Macedonia, Erwan Fouéré.

In an interview with MIA, Fouéré, who is Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Brussels-based leading think tank CEPS, welcomes the 'remarkable' efforts of the government, but also points out its shortcomings.

The ex-ambassadors says he has great hopes that the Council of the EU in June will approve the opening of negotiations with Macedonia even if the name talks are not concluded.

"If Greece still refuses despite all the efforts made by the Macedonian government, gestures of good will and good faith, if they still block a positive decision for a date (to launch membership talks), I think it shows that Greece does not have the interest of the Western Balkans at heart," Fouéré tells MIA.

He adds that the EU has time by the end of the year to give green light.

"If there is no positive decision before the end of the year, then it means there will be no negotiations because next year is a lost year because of the change of the commission mandate, because elections in European Parliament. I do hope that the Mogherini statement in Skopje about the European Council in June acting on the EC recommendation will come true. I hope it will be the case, otherwise it will be a very negative message for Macedonia, it will make the position of the government very difficult also," notes the EU diplomat.

Fouéré says he welcomes the commitment of the government in Macedonia in the past 11 months since its appointment, but he also warns that the administration must focus on reforms within the country and their implementation as much as it is focused on repairing the country's external image.

"I believe they are spending a bit too much time on external image, trying to improve that, and not enough focus is put making sure that the reforms are adopted and also record of implementation. There is really an effort to make sure that there is no repeat of any of the very negative decisions and behavior of the previous government", he says.

As regards the languages law, Fouéré warns that the government must make an initiative to send the law to the Venice Commission as soon as possible, MIA reports from Brussels.

"I regret they didn't take the initiative to send the law to the Venice Commission prior to the vote in Parliament. I think it was a mistake. Now that the law has been adopted, but it hasn't entered into force because the President refuses to sign it, the law should go to the Venice Commission as soon as possible and the Commission has urgent procedures. Whatever the recommendations are, they can be incorporated. I would be a perfect response to the opposition who are still claiming that the law is anti-Macedonian," he states.

Also, the former representative of the Union to Macedonia advises the government that it shouldn't be tempted to go to elections too early. 

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