18th Feb 2019

Macedonia keen to start EU talks by 2006

  • Macedonia wants to be the next Balkan country to join the EU (Photo: European Commission)

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia wants to become the next Balkan state to start membership negotiations to join the EU - eventually joining the bloc in 2010.

It let this ambitious timetable be known on Monday (14 February) as it handed over its response to a European Commission survey on the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Macedonia applied for EU membership last March and the government’s reply to Brussels’ questionnaire is another formal step on the path to opening membership negotiations.

The Commission will now prepare its opinion on the readiness of the country to start entry talks and will probably present its view to EU member states this autumn.

Speaking to journalists after formally handing in the vast document of 14,000 pages, Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski said he hoped member states would agree that his country could launch negotiations in early 2006, so that it could ultimately join the EU four years later.

"There is a unity and cohesion among our citizens and all the political parties, that becoming a candidate country and later achieving full EU membership, is the only path for us to follow", he said.

However, although he praised Macedonia's "steady progress", Commission President José Manuel Barroso refused to comment on any timetable for the next steps by the EU.

"We have a goal, we have a right direction and we’re there to support you, but it’s too early to speculate on the date of accession", Mr Barrosso said.

Long way to go

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could be the third Balkan country to join the EU after Slovenia – which joined last May – and Croatia, likely to open negotiations this spring.

However, Zagreb still needs to prove that it is co-operating with the Hague Tribunal on war crimes in former Yugoslavia, which is a condition applied to all the former Yugoslav states in a package of pre-accession called the "Copenhagen" criteria.

Macedonia, independent since 1991, was not involved in the war in former Yugoslavia, but co-operates with the Hague on a case regarding the conflict with ethnic Albanian militants in 2001.

Albanians form the largest ethnic minority in the country with 2 million, accounting for about a quarter of the population.

Minority issues, as well as judiciary and economic reforms will be under the spotlight as Macedonia prepares for the opening of EU negotiations.

And, its official name, FYROM, is also expected to cause headaches, given its long-term dispute with Greece.

Athens was the last EU country to recognise the independence of the ex-Yugoslav country, fearing that its name implied territorial ambitions towards the northern Greek region of Macedonia.

Commenting on the issue, Commission President Barroso said that Skopje should seek a bilateral deal with Greece, as it will need a unilateral agreement with all the member states to proceed towards EU membership.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  2. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  3. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  4. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  5. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  6. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  7. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying
  8. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April


EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  2. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  3. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  4. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  5. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  6. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  7. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  8. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us