Howitt: Many other serious problems than the Name Issue to be solved in order FYROM to get a date for opening accession negotiations
An important revelation took place during the meeting of the National European Integration Council in FYROM on Monday.
Richard Howitt, British MEP and rapporteur for FYROM at the EU revealed that there is a certain number of EU member states – other than Greece and Bulgaria – that also do not believe FYROM has met the Copenhagen criteria.
Up to now the government of Nikola Gruevski promoted for years the false claim that only Greece and Bulgaria were against FYROM’s Euro-Atlantic path.
The British MEP’s statement put effectively an end to this false claim. However Mr Howitt did not mentioned the names these EU member states who believe FYROM should not be set a date for opening accession negotiations with the EU.
Mr Howitt stated, “The comments I make in Brussels clearly show that this country cannot remain in a status quo. It is not right to refuse this country’s aspirations for membership year after year. The position of the EC, of the EP and my personal position is that the Copenhagen criteria have been met enough. But it also fair to say that some EU member states – not only your neighbors but also a number of other countries – disagree with this. This is what we need to discuss before December – what we should do to convince these countries that the Copenhagen criteria have been sufficiently met.”
Mr Howitt added regarding the freedom of media and journalist Tomislav Kezarovski’s case that this was a very important and sensitive issue that Brussels was very much concerned about.
Newspaper Sloboden Pecat wrote on its front page on Wednesday that Mr Howitt has turned his back on the FYROM’s Government and that the European Union’s support for Nikola Gruevski’s Government is melting.
The paper commented that unlike last year, this year Mr. Howitt is much more critical of the government and that it is high time the government admitted that the EU support for FYROM started declining.
The newspaper made another revelation. According to Sloboden Pecat, Mr Howitt said in no uncertain terms that the name issue is not the only reason why FYROM is not set a date for opening accession negotiations and that there are many other serious problems, such as the selective judiciary, the absence of political dialogue and the restrained freedom of media.
Nano Ruzin, a former ambassador of FYROM, also stated that Brussels has realized that the country has lost touch with reality and that it is turning into a soft dictatorship, which is by no means in keeping with the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Former foreign minister Denko Maleski also stated, “They should understand how serious our situation is. After what Howitt has said, it should be clear to them that the EU support for us is melting and that this is not just a problem with the two neighbors, but a much more serious crisis between the Union and our country.”