Western Balkans: end to sensitive name dispute is a major milestone for Europe
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Western Balkans: end to sensitive name dispute is a major milestone for Europe

Western Balkans: end to sensitive name dispute is a major milestone for Europe | News | European Parliament

Leading MEPs on EU-Western Balkans relations praise parliamentary decisions in Athens and Skopje to approve the name ‘Republic of North Macedonia’, set to end a long-drawn name dispute.

Following the parliamentary votes in Skopje on 11 January and Athens on 25 January to officially rename the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the ‘Republic of North Macedonia’, EP Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE) and EP rapporteur for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, SI) hailed the final steps taken in implementing the so-called Prespa agreement.

“We commend the immense statesmanship, determination and political courage of the leaders and confirmed by the parliaments of both countries. Unblocking a seemingly unresolvable dispute has taken intensive diplomatic efforts and the compromise would not have been possible without the support and responsibility shown by political and civic actors across the two countries”.

“By sending a strong message of reconciliation, the two neighbours are setting an example for the whole neighbourhood and are creating a partnership that will benefit people across the region and their future aspirations. The EU stands ready to continue its support for further Euro-Atlantic integration of the soon-to-be Republic of North Macedonia”.

“We look forward to legally finalising the ratification processes in the two countries, fostering an enhanced bilateral and European partnership and continuing to jointly tackle common challenges”.

“The implementation of the Prespa Agreement has the potential to bring the Western Balkans ever closer to the EU. We will continue to urge the European Parliament to support the political and parliamentary leadership in Skopje to fully implement all EU-related reforms. We call upon the EU capitals to acknowledge the continuing progress made by the country and to open the EU accession negotiations in June this year”.

Coming up

An EP Foreign Affairs Committee delegation is set to visit Skopje from 28 February to 1 March to assess the ongoing reform efforts in the country and participate in the opening of the 2nd Jean Monnet Dialogue for peace and democracy with the Speaker and parliamentary leadership of the Sobranie (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s parliament).

Background

The Sobranie’s approval on 11 January 2019 of the amendments to the Constitution and constitutional law signals that the leadership in Skopje has delivered upon the country’s key commitments under the Prespa Agreement. The decision will enter into force following the Greek parliament’s ratification of the agreement and once the Accession Protocol for NATO membership has been signed and ratified. The new official name for the country – Republic of North Macedonia – will be applicable after all the ratification processes have been completed.