Hahn: Do not jeopardize the future of Macedonia over party-political considerations

Brussels, 30 July, 2018 - 18:47 (META) 

I call on all political actors to work constructively to achieve this goal and not to jeopardize the progress made due to party-political considerations, said EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn told Macedonian politicians in an interview with EurActiv.

He says that Macedonia has made the most progress in the past year by overcoming the deep political crisis by democratic means.

“The country has made considerable progress in implementing the Przino Agreement and reform priorities under the new, reform-oriented and pro-European government. Particularly noteworthy are the efforts of the government under Prime Minister Zaev for good neighborly relations. After the friendship treaty with Bulgaria, finally after 27 years of futile efforts under UN mediation, the name dispute between Skopje and Athens has been settled. This historical agreement marks a significant step towards the realization of the country’s Euro-Atlantic perspective”, says Han, referring to the country as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.

He recalls that the success of the agreement till requires a referendum.

“I therefore call on all political actors to work constructively to achieve this goal and not to jeopardize the progress made due to party-political considerations. It is about the future of this country, therefore the referendum on the agreement with Greece and the new name should be carried out as soon as possible. The ratification and a successful referendum are essential steps on the way towards NATO- and EU-membership”, emphasizes EU Commissioner Hahn.

Asked if 2025, which is listed as the year for the EU’s possible enlargement strategy, is too far for countries that want to be part of the Union, Hahn points out that this indicative date is not too far away because the reforms to adapt to EU standards take a long time. He says that it is not just about legislative changes , but also about their actual application.

Hahn: I’m confident that negotiations with EU will start next year

Brussels, 27 July, 2018 - 11:21 (META) 

Talking to European newspaper “Politico Europe”, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn says he is “very confident” that the negotiations with Macedonia and Albania could start next year.

In the interview, Hahn explains that the process of vetting the countries before negotiations has already begun.

“This is a very comprehensive work and I hope we can conclude it in a year to 14 months. The aim is really to get a green light by all member states middle of next year,” said Hahn recalling the EU Council’s agenda in June 2019 to return to the start of negotiations with Macedonia and Albania when member states are expected to give the green light if the conditions set are fulfilled.

For Macedonia these conditions relate to the reformation of the security services, public administration and the fight against corruption, including high levels of crime.

The European Commissioner also addressed the French blockade of enlargement, which has irritated most of the member states and the European Commission.

French President Emmanuel Macron believes that the EU should focus on reforming itself before it can expand, an argument where Hahn draws a parallel. The EU Commissioner points out that citizens of Western Balkan countries “have the right to become (EU) members” and that the EU “faces a choice between exporting stability to the region or having instability imported into the bloc”.

“My point is maybe a little different from President Macron, maybe we can convince him that both have to be done in parallel,”Hahn told Politico Europe.

One of Hahn’s warnings why the EU needs to be refocused on the Balkans is that other major powers are increasingly turning to the Balkans. Although Russia is often mentioned in this context, the EU Commissioner also talks about the increase of Chinese investments.

Hahn is concerned that Beijing could turn countries in the region into “Trojan horses” that would one day become EU members. One of the examples cited by Hahn is the construction of a highway in Montenegro, financed by China.

“I think we should be aware about the strategic concept by China and react in an adequate manner. I think this will be one of the great challenges of Europe,” said Hahn.

Hahn and Dimitrov to discuss “What does the next decade hold for the Western Balkans” in London

London, 3 July, 2018 - 17:11 (META) 

On the margins of the London Summit, which will be held on Monday and Tuesday at Chatham House, the British Royal Institute for International Affairs, a panel discussion will be held on the topic “Beyond Berlin: What’s does the next decade hold for the Western Balkans?”.

The event will be co organized by Chatham House, the European Fund for the Balkans and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).

Senior EU officials, as well as experts from Europe and the region, will discuss the future of the Berlin Process, as well as the influence of Russia, Turkey and the United States in the region.

In the first panel, introductory remarks will be delivered by EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn and Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. The panel will discuss the progress of the Berlin Process and perspectives and opportunities for the region, as well as failures in the process. They will also discuss how the EU can improve communication with the citizens and the political elites of the Western Balkans.

Discussion will be attended by Christian Danielsson, Director General of the European Commission’s Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Zoran Nechev, Head of the Center for EU integration, the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” from Skopje, Srđan Majstorović, President of the Governing Board (CEP) from Belgrade and Milica Delević, Director of Governance and Political Affairs at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The panel will be moderated by professor Richard Wittman of Chatham House.

The second panel will discuss the influence of non-EU actors in the Western Balkans, such as Russia, the United States and Turkey. Introductory remarks will be given by Catherine Ashton, the former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the current Senior Adviser at Chatham House.

Participants in the second panel will be Tena Prelec, an expert from the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Nikola Burazer, executive editor of the portal “European Western Balkans” and Florian Bieber, Professor at the University of Graz and coordinator of the Balkans in Europe Advisory Group (BiEPAG).

Zaev – Hahn: Preparations for screening begin, the process must be inclusive

Brussels, 28 June, 2018 - 19:35 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, accompanied by Deputy Prime Ministers Radmila Šekerinska, Bujar Osmani and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, met with EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, this afternoon.

The government reported that at the meeting they began preparations for the screening process (Screening of the acquis) regarding the current situation and the chapters that were of note, along with a date for negotiations. Also discussed was the envisaged series of steps ahead for the implementation of the agreement with the Republic of Greece, as well as the main points for strengthening the reforms in the chapters that are expected to be launched in June, next year. The chapters, i.e. the areas where progress still needs to be made, are; the rule of law, judiciary and fundamental rights.

The two delegations expressed confidence that the genuine partnership with the European Commission will continue and both agreed on a joint proposal for negotiating a framework that will realistically represent the situation in the Republic of Macedonia, and will bring about the most important priorities for the reforms in the upcoming period.

“The joint conclusion of the meeting was that this process should be maximally inclusive to animate all the structures in Macedonian society, in order to create the best teams who will work on aligning the chapters of the European “acquis“. The joint message from the meeting is that there is no time for celebration, there are 365 working days for intensive work in order to achieve the historic task of successful and swift negotiations for EU membership for the Republic of Macedonia”, reads the government statement.

Zaev on a two-day visit to Brussels, meetings with Tusk, Hahn and Stoltenberg

Brussels, 28 June, 2018 - 11:29 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Deputy Prime Minister Radmila Šekerinska, Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov are on a two-day working visit to Brussels, stated the government’s press office.

Today, during this working visit, the government delegation will meet with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. They will have a joint statement for the media, and will also meet with the Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

Prime Minister Zaev today in the afternoon will address the Crans Montana Forum at the session entitled “Southeastern Europe and its accession to the European Union”.

Tomorrow, a meeting is scheduled with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, followed by a joint press conference..

During the two-day working visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Zaev will participate in the working meeting of the Party of European Socialists.

Vajgl: Ivanov must not be just a representative of his party, but the entire state

Brussels, 20 June, 2018 - 18:09 (META) 

MEP and observer for Macedonia in the European Parliament Ivo Vajgl is asked to comment on the position of President Gjorge Ivanov concerning the agreement with Greece, he said that the EU has repeatedly sent him a message that Macedonia must look to the future.

“The obligation of politics, political parties and the president of the state is to take care of the perspectives of young generations. This perspective is most secure with EU membership, and even in NATO. So, there should not be any dilemmas about what the position of the President of the country is, he should not be representative of his political party, but for the whole of Macedonia and of all Macedonians. It’s a message for Ivanov. It would be very useful both for Macedonia and for him, how will people remember him when he understands it”, said Vajgl for MIA.

Hahn: I believe that all political leaders will show courage for the next steps.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn welcomed the ratification of the agreement by the Parliament.
“This is the first step from many others to full implementation. I believe that all political leaders will show leadership and courage for the next steps”, Hahn wrote on his Twitter account.

Hahn: Citizens of future Northern Macedonia deserve a European future

Resen, 18 June, 2018 - 11:25 (META) 

“This is a historic day, because the citizens of the future Northern Macedonia deserve a European future,” said EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn in Oteshevo after signing an agreement between Macedonia and Greece in Psarades on the Greek side of Lake Prespa.

He reminded that a lot of work remains, because as one process finishes, another begins.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said she personally hopes that in two weeks there will be a date for starting negotiations with the EU, and today’s signing of the agreement between Macedonia and Greece is a positive sign.

She added that now both countries have a lot of work to implement the agreement and that the EU will be available at every step of the way, because implementation is not only important for both countries, but for Europe as well.

Hahn: It is inappropriate for the president to refuse a conversation with the prime minister, responsibility is needed

Brussels, 14 June, 2018 - 12:09 (META) 

It is inappropriate for the head of state to refuse to talk with the prime minister or with the foreign minister, in order not to receive first-hand information, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn said in an interview with MIA.

“I think the prime minister and the foreign minister have fully respected the constitutional guidelines and I can only urge the president to take responsibility immediately. This is not a matter of acceptance, but in a democracy we can expect to hear people discuss among themselves and should not forget that the head of state is in some way a model for many people in the country. The president, directly elected, has a special position and responsibility, and he should be aware of this, otherwise he hurts the office of the president”, Hahn says.

He also told the opposition that they should carefully study the agreement.

Mogherini, Hahn and Tusk congratulate Zaev and Tsipras for showing leadership and determination

Brussels, 13 June, 2018 - 21:05 (META) 

In a joint statement, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn congratulated the Prime Ministers of Macedonia and Greece, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras for their determination and leadership in reaching a historic agreement on the name dispute, and said that it is a great day for Europe.

Mogherini and Hahn said that the achievement belongs to the leaders of countries, their teams, but first and foremost, it belongs to all the citizens of both countries and of Europe as a whole.

“Together, we must now make good use of the window of opportunity that has been pushed wide open to accompany and consolidate the winds of peace and cooperation in the entire region.  The European Union perspective of the Western Balkans, reaffirmed recently at the Sofia Summit, remains the most powerful stabilising force for the region, and we have an interest and responsibility to make good use of it. It was also a crucial incentive for this agreement, in the spirit of good neighbourly cooperation. We now look forward to the Council endorsing our recommendation of 17 April to open accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in June. The European Union encouraged and supported the negotiations from their very beginning. We will now accompany the next steps with all our means in the same spirit of dialogue for our common European future”, reads the joint statement.


President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, expressed his sincere congratulations to the two prime ministers on his twitter profile, saying that the two had made the impossible, possible. He shared the same message in English, Macedonian and Greek.


Special rapporteur for Macedonia in European Parliament, Ivo Vajgl, said that it is now crucial that the agreement is supported by the vast majority of political parties and the people of both countries. “With an agreement over the name, the door is now open for Macedonia (the Republic of Northern Macedonia) to receive full membership in the EU and NATO. EU and NATO members should welcome the deal as an opportunity to continue the enlargement process to all the countries of Southeast Europe”, said Vajgl.

Mickoski told Hahn that there is corruption and inefficient institutions in Macedonia

Skopje, 18 April, 2018 - 17:30 (META) 

The president of VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski met with EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn today, at the party headquarters where they discussed the European Commission’s report on the integration process of Macedonia towards the European Union and the situation in the country economically and politically.

The party reports that Mickoski has indicated to Hahn that the European path is the only way for the Republic of Macedonia to move in, for a better standard and progress for the citizens and as a way to protect national and state interests.

“The return of the positive recommendation that the previous government of VMRO-DPMNE received since 2009, and lost, as a result of the imposed political crisis in the last 2 years, whose actors today are part of the government, together with the recommendations mentioned in the report, should help to improve the situation and raise the criteria in several spheres in the country. The opposition essentially improved the quality of the reform laws, proving that it placed state interests as a top priority, but also that it remains to pay attention to their implementation, something that depends on the government itself”, says Mickoski.

According to him, there are causes for concern regarding the situation with the noted corruption in the institutions led by SDSM, the inefficiency of the institutions, the bureaucracy, the unreformed court system, organized crime, the insecurity of the citizens, the opening of trials against opponents of the government, pressure on the media, and other forms of pressure.