David McAllister: The European Parliament’s report on North Macedonia
The new European Parliament’s report looks at the Commission reports from 2019 and 2020, and it comes two and a half years after the last report.
North Macedonia’s has a strategic orientation and commitment to EU integration, as manifested by the continued implementation of accession-related reforms and the work on resolving bilateral issues with neighbouring countries. I call on EU Member States to stand by their commitments and to show clear political will, enabling the Council to approve the negotiating framework and hold the first intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia as soon as possible to prevent further delays. This would confirm the credibility, objectivity and reliability of the accession process.
It is important to uphold the rule of law through judicial reforms and the consistent prosecution of high-level corruption and criminal networks. Continued proactive efforts are required to tackle organised crime and corruption in a systematic manner and through systematic prevention measures, financial investigations, prosecution of financial crimes, including money laundering, and financing terrorism, and adoption of appropriate sanctions. Progress has been achieved in addressing widespread corruption.
The authorities of North Macedonia need to continue and intensify their efforts to combat radicalisation and terrorism, and to address the issue of foreign terrorist fighters through the continuous cross-border exchange of information and increased cooperation.
I call for additional measures to improve the transparency of political party financing and ensure democratic, competitive and representative intra-party functioning mechanisms, including through proper independent oversight.
I commend the engagement of the governing and opposition parties in the Sobranie on key decisions in the common national interest. A stronger policy dialogue between all political parties is a prerequisite of good governance and legislative functionality. All parties in the Parliament should remain constructive, refrain from using nationalist and inflammatory rhetoric and engage in political dialogue in good faith, especially on key health, economic, social and political efforts aimed at tackling the COVID-19 crisis.
The Jean Monnet Dialogue (JMD) process is important in building confidence, strengthening democratic culture and enhancing parliamentary capacity by facilitating a political dialogue within the Sobranie. I welcome the constructive cross-party engagement in the JMD, and the commitment to implementing its conclusions and convening its fourth round.
The government must prioritise the public administration reform by embedding and systematically applying merit-based standards in public appointments and promotions, advancing the culture of transparency, professional independence, accountability, integrity and equitable gender and ethnic representation across the civil service and state-owned enterprises.
Social cohesion should be advanced through the implementation of the ‘one society for all’ strategy. The authorities need to address the remaining challenges of discrimination, exclusion and underrepresentation. All minorities in North Macedonia must be provided adequate support and live free from intimidation or any kind of discrimination. Inclusive policies have to protect the fundamental freedoms and rights of all citizens, with special attention to women, youth, persons with disabilities.
Let us give full support for enhanced regional cooperation. I appeal to all parties to ensure the full and consistent implementation in good faith of the Prespa agreement with Greece and the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, as both are an important part both of bilateral relations. The partners should continue engaging and resolve bilaterally all outstanding bilateral issues that do not have a bearing on the accession process. They need to act in a constructive manner, and to refrain from actions that might undermine European integration and the EU’s wider interests.