Constructive dialogue around the French proposal, parties with different views
The European proposal for unblocking our European integrations was tabled yesterday at the meeting of party working groups, where ideas were to be exchanged about how the Parliament and the Government should act on it in the next phase. As the Vice Prime Minister for European Affairs, Bojan Maricic, said after the meeting, although different positions on many issues were presented, it was held in a constructive spirit.
- It was a good initial meeting with these positions and I think that in the coming days we should continue to talk, whether in the evening, tomorrow or the following days there is a desire to discuss this topic, said Maricic, pointing out that the mechanisms for the protection of our national identity.
According to Maricic, the goal is to ensure that with the European proposal we will not have further endless blockades.
- If we conduct the negotiations well, we can finish as a member of the EU in the next few years, by the end of this decade, Maricic emphasized.
The coordinator of the parliamentary group of SDSM, Jovan Mitrevski, said after the meeting that they sent their proposal-conclusions to all the parliamentary groups, which should be adopted in relation to the information that the Government should send to the Parliament.
- At a session in the Assembly, the conclusions should be voted and they are in the context of what is our strategic determination and that we should exclude bilateral issues from the negotiation framework and oblige the Government to take into account the determination of the uniqueness of the historical, cultural, the linguistic and educational peculiarities of the Macedonian people. I look forward to those proposed conclusions that we will discuss these days. This is a serious process for the state, it is being resolved, we all decide together in which direction the state will move, we make a decision about the future of the state, Mitrevski said.
But on the other hand, the vice-president of VMRO-DPMNE, Aleksandar Nikoloski, after the meeting, presented a series of remarks of this party towards the EU's General Position on the negotiation framework and the EU's Common Position on the accession negotiations.
Part of the comments are requests to delete points from the documents, such as the one for the respective unilateral declarations of Bulgaria and the country on the Macedonian language, exclusion of the Good Neighbor Agreement with Bulgaria and the annual reviews for its effective implementation from the Negotiating Framework and rejection of the conditionality of the opening of the negotiations by clusters with a change to the Constitution, but that they start immediately.
Nikoloski said that they are ready at any moment to discuss the adoption of their demands, which, according to him, protect all national and state positions.
MP Arber Ademi from DUI stated after the meeting that the essence is that the Macedonian language will become part of the official languages of the European Union and this is crystal clear in the negotiation framework.
- We have the negotiation framework, we will have the start of negotiations. It is predicted that we will immediately start the screening process, it is clearly predicted that every other EU member state will go through this screening process, it took eight, 12, 20 months, but I expect that if we manage to do constitutional amendments, by the end of December we can have a second intergovernmental conference and open the first cluster and chapter and get into the essence after the screening process that we will go through together with the Republic of Albania, Ademi added.
Elmi Aziri from the Alliance for Albanians clarified that the meeting discussed a possible joint proposal for a conclusion from the Assembly, and they agreed to continue the talks.
- We will see how things will go, we are in an extremely important moment for our country, we should not miss this chance because we have been waiting for years for the Republic of North Macedonia to start the negotiations for joining the EU. This is hope and we need to materialize it as a country in the sense of resting the negotiations, Aziri said, adding that it is not time for emotional decisions, but for rationalizing all the difficulties that can be an obstacle on the European path.
The leader of the DS, in turn, advocated for the adoption of conclusions following the proposal with broad support in the Parliament.
- The conclusions should oblige the Government to make an attempt to incorporate what is contained in them into the negotiation framework and into other documents, and if it fails, it would mean that it cannot give its consent to the proposal, Trajanov said.
He stressed that DS, LDP and DOM are preparing conclusions, which they will present during the discussion of the political parties, but according to him, a terrible handicap is that they still do not have the protocol, which is key to whether the framework will be accepted or not.
Earlier, after the meeting with the German special representative for the Western Balkans, Manuel Saratsin, Vice Prime Minister Maricic said that we should be wise and not set up barriers.
– It would not be responsible to reject this proposal in which we have achieved our key requirements and hope that we will be offered another better one. In the right moments, we really need wise and statesmanlike decisions, said Maricic, adding that we have before us a European proposal for the start of negotiations with the EU, which includes all Macedonian positions and remarks, with which the negotiations will begin immediately after its approval.
He announced that the Government is carrying out the consultations according to the French proposal and the protocol with Bulgaria, and in the coming days it will find a way to complete them and how to ask the Parliament for its opinion.
- We are here to explain and assure them that this is really a proposal that is better than the one originally proposed and that it is worth considering and that this opportunity should not be missed. We don't expect everyone to be convinced, but we expect there to be a critical mass that will be convinced that this is a good proposal so that we can go further, emphasizes Maricic.
For his part, Saratsin said that by accepting the French proposal, it is possible to immediately start the process of accession negotiations of North Macedonia to the EU without further delays and without the possibility of blockages.
- Germany is on the side of North Macedonia and will strive to actively revive the European perspective of the Western Balkans, indicated Saracin.
He said that the door to the accession of North Macedonia to the EU with this agreement is wide open, and to enter through this door is not easy, but it is a decision of our politics and our country.
– I know that this is a difficult moment for you and for people, but at the same time it is also a moment that brings a certain hope within itself. I believe in Macedonian politics and people and that together we will continue on the path to the EU, Saracin added.
According to Saracin, this agreement is good because the demands of the Government of North Macedonia are taken into account and it foresees the process of accession negotiations to start immediately without delay.
The leader of VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski, said last night before the beginning of the "Ultimatum - No thanks" protests that with a smart, rational approach, everything can be changed in the "French proposal".
– You can negotiate as our Government negotiates and take us into the abyss and not have a second option while falling into the abyss. Will we accept that option until we are in the abyss – no, no thanks. That is why we say no to assimilation. And instead of consulting with us, they conducted exhibitionistic negotiations. I will remind you of the Lisbon Declaration back in the early nineties, when Macedonia was becoming an independent state, there was a conclusion that the name of the state should not contain the word Macedonia, and then it was changed. So, with a smart approach, a rational approach, an approach that is a national Macedonian approach, everything can be changed, said Mickoski.
Regarding the claims that the Macedonian language in the French proposal is "not clean", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced last night, stating that such allegations are incorrect, dangerous, mislead the public and harm the interests of the state.
- We inform the public that the Macedonian language is indisputable and is not conditional in the proposal of the negotiating framework, which, among other things, has been translated (and published) into Macedonian by the translation services of the Council of the EU. Paragraph 22 of the proposal unequivocally states that the EU law will be translated into the Macedonian language: "North Macedonia will have to make timely translations of the EU law (acquis) into the Macedonian language before the accession and will have to train a sufficient number of translators and interpreters needed for proper functioning of EU institutions after its accession", the announcement states.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the practical confirmation of such indisputable use of the Macedonian language will be the signing of the Agreement on Frontex, with a standard clause where the Macedonian language is specified (without footnotes or explanations) and this and similar agreements in the future, as well as the translation of the right to EU in the Macedonian language during the membership negotiations, the Macedonian language will be included on the same level in the group of official languages of the EU, after our admission to the Union.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, commenting on the French proposal to unblock our European integration, said that we should push the country forward, because it is good to be on the European road and to open opportunities for attracting investments.
– What is your alternative? Will they burden you on every next one? Of course. They will ask the Bulgarians about something, they will ask others about something else. You will always find something. But push your country forward. In the end, whether someone will open a cluster for you more or a cluster less, is not an essential question, it is not the most important. But it is good to be on the European road, it is good to open opportunities for attracting investments. That's important, that's good, said Vucic in an interview for Sitel television.
Vucic believes that although there will be obstacles on the European path, they should be solved and removed one by one and that the European proposal should not be rejected before thinking carefully about national interests.
- I normally cannot tell you whether the proposal is good or not, let the people of Macedonia decide that. I can only say one thing, when we were accepting the Brussels Agreement in 2013, it was a very difficult agreement for us with many items that people in Serbia did not want to hear or accept. Macedonian citizens, I will say again, they know better than me whether something is good or not for the national interests of their country. I'm just asking people to think, to think about not accepting or rejecting something a priori, Vucic pointed out.
He called on the Macedonian citizens to set things up sensibly, because that's the only way they will understand what they gain and what they can lose with the start of negotiations with the Union, pointing out that the European path is difficult, but the progress of the country will be of essential importance for everyone. .
The American ambassador to the country, Kate Marie Burns, at the ceremony at the American Embassy on the occasion of the 246th anniversary of the independence of the United States, that as North Macedonia will continue to climb the hill towards a more secure European-integrated future, it will have to face difficult challenges.
– The dilemmas they create are unique to your country and your journey, but you are not alone in facing them. The United States is with you on that climb, Burns said, adding that as the two countries face new challenges, they will tackle them together as allies, partners and friends.
On the other hand, the spokesperson of the European Commission, Ana Pisonero, stated that North Macedonia will have to go through another round of explanatory screening for the EU regarding the legislation adopted after 2019.
North Macedonia and Albania had explanatory screening meetings for the legislation from 2018 to 2019. These meetings started in September 2018 and lasted less than a year. The purpose of the explanatory screening is for the European Commission team to present the EU legislation, known as "Acquis communautaire", to the candidate countries that are preparing to start negotiations. After the explanatory one, the bilateral screening follows, a phase in which the candidate country participates actively, unlike the explanatory one, where the main role is held by the European Commission.
– According to the conclusions of the Council, the European Commission carried out the technical explanation of the EU legislation (Acquis) between 2018 and 2019. So that the explanatory screening will focus on the new EU legislation adopted since then. This will be followed by a bilateral screening where the Commission will review, together with the negotiating countries, those areas of the EU legislation where progress is needed, Pisonero told MIA.
EU legislation is constantly increasing with new legal solutions and court decisions. Given that there has been no explanatory screening for North Macedonia and Albania since 2019, both countries will have to pass this before being invited to the bilateral screening, which should last about two years.