Macedonia received a clear and unconditional recommendation to start talks regarding the country’s membership with the EU, explained EU Ambassador Samuel Žbogar during a press conference at the EU InfoCentre in Skopje, after a live video link with Brussels of the presentation of the European Commission Progress Report on the Western Balkans and Turkey.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, explained that the EC recommends that the European Council decide to start accession negotiations with Macedonia and Albania, in light of recent progress achieved, while retaining and deepening the current reform trend.

For Macedonia, it is crucial that further progress be made with the fulfillment of urgent reform priorities, said Mogherini.

“This step forward, made today for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania is a step forward for the entire region of the Western Balkans. Our strategic focus and engagement brings practical progress and benefits all the people in the region. The work surrounding the reforms and modernization must continue, in the interest of partners and the European Union”, said Mogherini at the presentation of the Progress Report.

Meanwhile, Hahn said the new report is recognition of the progress made.

“Our policy of enlarging continues to be the main engine that drives reforms in the Western Balkans. It modernizes the economies and societies of the region, making it more prosperous and more stable, which is of vital interest to the EU. The recommendations for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania that we are giving today, are in recognition of the progress made. This is an important step forward, but it is clear – and this applies to all Western Balkan countries – there are no shortcuts on the road to the EU. There are several big holes left. We need to be aware that reforms, especially in regards to the rule of law, are being implemented more dynamically and that they provide real results. These reforms are not “for Brussels”, but for an effective judiciary, an effective fight against corruption and organized crime, an efficient public administration, a stronger economy will directly contribute to the region and its citizens, as well as Europe as a whole”, stated Hahn.