At the end of the visit to Brussels, it seems as if the Macedonian delegation was hit by a cold shower.
After receiving praise for the Government’s commitment to reform, expressed at the end of the fifteenth meeting of the Stabilization and Association Council (SA) between the country and the European Union, there is still no guarantee that in June the country will be given the green light for starting negotiations with the EU.
After meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn expressed their satisfaction with the dynamics of the reform process, but at the same time they were clear – they asked Macedonian politicians to change the mentality of their political behavior.
In this regard, European Commissioner Hahn emphasized that the country has not yet completed reforms in the judiciary, intelligence services and public administration.
“Today (March 19, 2019) we have heard a lot about the progress, however, I must encourage you to continue, and not to slow down all those efforts. The changes in legislation are positive and necessary, but we want to see a permanent change in the mentality and behavior. This is something that is much more important in terms of a successful EU membership process,” Hahn said.
After the meeting in Brussels and the high representative, Mogherini, praising the energetic approach that the Government put into the reform process, said explicitly that there are weaknesses that need to be corrected in the near future.
“The change is not just to bring EU laws, but to implement them. I am convinced that North Macedonia will remain committed to its work in the coming weeks, months, years, and we will give our entire support for the implementation of the reform agenda …” said Mogherini.
Furthermore, European leaders made it clear that the EU will closely monitor the election process, warning that the presidential elections must be flawlessly organized and crystal clear. They called for both the government and the opposition to be accountable, because their part in the election processes will play a crucial part for the start of negotiations in June.
Carefully listening to the warning signals from the European duo Hahn & xaMogherini, Prime Minister Zaev promised that the government will work on reforms at a faster pace.
“In the upcoming period, we will work even more, even better, together with the opposition and all MPs in the North Macedonian Parliament to fulfill all the remaining tasks that can influence the decision in June,” said Zaev.
Meanwhile, the working groups of the government and the opposition failed to agree on the draft law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which could resolve the status of the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO). A new attempt to reach an agreement on the future of the SPI will take place on Friday (March 22, 2019), when another meeting between the working groups is scheduled to meet.