|RELATIONS WITH INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS|
|RELATIONS WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION|
|EU - Western Balkans Summit - Historical event for the Republic of Macedonia |
European integration is the ultimate goal of the Republic of Macedonia. Though Macedonia was the first country in Southeast Europe to sign the Association and Stabilization Agreement with the EU, still everyone in the state is aware that the integration process will not come over night and will not proceed that easily. " I dare say that a decade will be necessary for Macedonia to adjust itself, and get prepared for future EU membership. I don't see any reason why Macedonia should not be a full member of the EU by 2010 or 2015," Minister Srdjan Kerim says.
The most significant moment since the beginning of the negotiations for Macedonia's integration in the European Union took place during the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb.
This historical moment was actually marked when initiating of the Agreement for association and stabilization between Macedonia and the EU. Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and Euro-commissioner of Foreign Affairs Chris Patten signed the agreement. Now, the agreement is to be ratified by the Macedonian parliament and the Parliament of 15-EU member countries, after which it will become operational.
Since the beginning of the negotiations with EU and up to today, Macedonia has taken major steps in the realization of one of its most important priorities regarding its foreign policy - the EU accession.
|Brief overview of Macedonia's approach to the EU|
The Republic of Macedonia started the negotiations with EU on December 1995. On that day, EU Council of ministers unanimously approved the mandate for negotiations on signing of Euro-Macedonian Agreement for cooperation and trade. Macedonia had to wait for four years to finally obtain the signature of the temporary agreement in New York ; the Greek veto, which stopped Macedonia's approach to PHARE, was eventually lifted.
The Republic of Macedonia and EU signed the agreement for cooperation on April 29, 1998 in Luxembourg. On behalf of the Macedonian Government, Branko Crvenkovski, former Prime Minister, signed the agreement, jointly with Hans van Mierlo, Netherlands' former Chief of diplomacy representing on the occasion the European Commission.
European Parliament adopted the text of the Agreement for cooperation between EU and the Republic of Macedonia at the beginning of October in Brussels, and it was applied on January 1, 1998.
Europe expressed its support to Macedonia by opening the European Commission office in the country in March of 1998, and by appointing Jose Pinto Teixeira as for its first resident envoy. According to the statement of Teixeira, delivered after the opening of the office in Skopje, his presence in Macedonia will contribute to strengthening the existing contacts between the European Commission and the Macedonian government in the areas of economic cooperation and political dialogue.
In March 1999, the Government established the Working Committee for European Integration whose main goal is to bring closer the national legislation with EU laws.
On May 31, 1999, the European Commission proposal for negotiations for stability and association, first with Macedonia and Albania, and later with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Yugoslavia was supported by EU's Council of ministers. Once the feasibility sudy had been prepared by the European Commission, EU Foreign Ministers, decided on June 21, 1999 that Macedonia was now ready to fulfill the requirements mentioned in the stabilization and association agreement.
|On September 18, 2000, the EU's Council of Ministers adopted the European Commission's proposal to open the market towards the Balkan countries. On March 7, 2000, the diplomatic mission of the EU in the Republic of Macedonia changed of status, from a simple Office it became a Delegation. |
This Delegation is led by Jose Manuel Pinto Texeira.
The process was finalised with the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement on April 9, 2000 in Luxembourg, between Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and Ana Lind, Foreign Affairs Minister of Sweden, for the EU." The Stabilization and Association Agreement as well as the visit of Mr. Powel are more than strong signs towards the international community, showing clearly that Macedonia is seen as a real and objective leader within the region," Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said.
The signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement was followed by the signing of an agreement for free export of goods from Macedonia to the EU, with exemption from the wine and lamb meat.
In an interview for the Macedonian Agency of Information, presented by the Agency Director Mr. Vebi Bexheti, Prime Minister Georgievski qualified the initialing of the Agreement with EU is a historical moment.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski qualified the Agreement between Macedonia and the European Union as "historical".
He said that Macedonia has been waiting for this moment for 10 years and that it was the main priority of its foreign policy. "The significance of this act also concerns the other Southeast European countries as well as the EU, which is becoming more and more open to the Balkan countries," Georgievski said.
"We will be a country - model for good international cooperation and regional activity," the Macedonian Prime Minister said.
Referring to the previous agreement for cooperation and financial support between Macedonia and EU, Georgievski said that it proved to be successful.
"The customs-free export for Macedonian products to the EU member-countries provides conditions for fast development of the Macedonian economy," Georgievski pointed out.
He stressed the fact that Macedonia is the first country with which the EU has made an agreement for association and stabilization. "Macedonia will be one of the leading countries in the region in regard to this process," he said.
Speaking on the same topic, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski shared his intention to consolidate that process by setting up new institutions which would allow Macedonia to become a true EU partner. In that process, the Macedonian President said, we will also need foreign help.
"With the best effort invested, we can join the EU within 10 years," said Dragoljub Lazov, General Director of National Lottery.
"The Association and Stabilization Agreement, signed on April 9, 2001 with the EU, is going to speed up the Macedonian economy, and the Macedonian institutions as far as their integration process is concerned. Of course, Macedonia will need time. I am not an expert in forecasting events neither developments on the international scene, but I dare to say that a decade will be necessary for Macedonia to adjust itself, for full EU membership. I don't see any reason why between 2010 and 2015, within these five years, Macedonia should not become full member of the EU," Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Kerim stated.
|Brief history of the European Union|
European Union is a union of 15 member countries.
On May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, proposed the establishment of a Coal and Steel Community.
Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands became members of the Community on April 18, 1951, Treaty of Paris.
The six countries on March 25, 1957 established the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, in Rome.
Denmark, Ireland and Great Britain joined the Community on January 1, 1973.
Greece became the tenth member of the EEC on January 1, 1981 while Portugal and Spain became members on January 1, 1986.
Austria, Finland and Sweden became members on January 1, 1995, while on January 1, 1999 the Euro became joint European currency in 11 countries.
On October 13, 1999, the European Commission suggested negotiations for the enlargement of the EU to 12 new countries