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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

20.06.11: Füle shows Macedonia yellow card - 13 views

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    In an unprecedented move, Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle has warned Macedonia that the country could lose its EU candidate status if no progress is made on the path to reform and if the EU hopeful keeps on taking actions considered by Greece as "provocations".

    The warning came in a TV interview given by Füle to Macedonian TV channel A1, one of the few media outlets with a critical voice and which the government is reportedly trying to silence.

    Füle was asked to comment on the decision by Nikola Gruevski's government to erect a statue of a 'warrior on horseback' resembling Alexander the Great in the centre of Skopje, which has sparked fury in Greece. Over the weekend, the 12-meter high statue was finally assembled.

    The commissioner said that not only in bilateral affairs, but also in normal life any person should avoid doing things seen by its neighbour as a provocation.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.11.10: Hungarian Presidency eyes Schengen and EU enlargement - 0 views

  • Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the Schengen area and Croatia membership of the European Union are among the top priorities of the incoming Hungarian EU Presidency, government officials told EurActiv in Budapest ahead of the executive's official visit to the European Commission on Wednesday (17 November).
  • Hungary will assume the EU presidency for their first time in January 2011. Budapest is keen to do well, especially on EU enlargement, which could impact upon the sizeable Hungarian minorities who live beyond national borders.
  • The enlargement of the Schengen area to include Romania and Bulgaria is on top of the presidency's agenda. However, the admission date of March 2011 "is likely to be delayed," admitted a Hungarian government official. Nevertheless, the presidency will work to help facilitate the accession of both Southern Balkan countries to the area of free movement of citizens within the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.11.10: EU enlargement reports reveal mixed progress for Balkan states - 0 views

  • The European Commission's latest progress reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia have revealed wide variation between these neighbouring Balkan states and mixed progress towards EU accession requirements.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Poor governance
  • The governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is one of the most complex problems facing the Balkan region, according to the European Commission's latest progress report on the country.
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  • Croatia: Praise for anti-corruption and competition policy Compared to its hefty critique of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the commission's assessment of Croatia is much more encouraging. The country made "steady progress" towards meeting the remaining criteria needed to conclude the accession talks that began five years ago. However, the commission does not give a target date for accession.
  • Kosovo: Weak judiciary and lack of media freedom Kosovo is reported to have made progress on meeting political criteria and decentralisation has improved. Even though there has been some progress towards eliminating corruption and organised crime, Kosovo continues to suffer from these problems. The commission has mainly expressed disappointment about the state of Kosovo's judicial system and the lack of media freedom – the judiciary remains weak and the appointment of judges is politically influenced.
  • Macedonia: Unsteady progress and paralysed by naming row Macedonia fulfils the political criteria for EU membership but has made "uneven" progress with reforms during the last year, the commission report on the country concludes. In 2009, Macedonia had been praised for its reforms, prompting Brussels to recommend the start of accession talks with the EU. Negotiations were then blocked by Greece because of the unresolved name dispute between the two countries. This year, the commission is more critical but does not revoke last year's opinion on the start of accession talks.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.11.10: A first look at the European Commission progress reports on enlargement due t... - 0 views

  • "The EU's enlargement process has gained new momentum since the [European] Commission adopted its last progress reports, notwithstanding the many other challenges the Union faces." These are the opening words of the European Commission's Enlargement Strategy, which will be officially presented next Wednesday (10 November) together with the progress reports for the Western Balkan counties, Turkey and Iceland. WAZ.EUobserver has seen the report in advance.
  • "All need to focus on good governance, improving the rule of law, speeding up economic reform and improving their capacity to adopt and implement the acquis. Several complex problems remain, including the governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the name question concerning the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Open bilateral issues remain and differences over Kosovo's status have held up regional co-operation," the strategy underlines.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.09.10: Brussels concerned by Macedonian attitude - 0 views

  • It is time for a decision on the Macedonian name issue' was the message delivered in no uncertain terms by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov during a meeting in Brussels. Macedonia received a positive assessment from the Commission last November on its general preparedness for EU membership, clearing the way for the country to start EU membership talks. In the EU Council, however, the move was blocked by Greece, which is grumbling over the long-standing name issue.
  • Brussels diplomats say they are confused by the Macedonian attitude. For a long time, Greece had been the hesitant party, trying to avoid a solution. "This time, the position of Greece is very clear, we have the impression that they have moved and made an effort in the right direction and we wait for Skopje's response which is not coming", one diplomat said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.09.10: Macedonia name dispute: Time to decide, says Barroso - 0 views

  • European Commission President José Manuel Barroso urged Macedonia and Greece to resolve once and for all their twenty-year dispute over the EU hopeful's name after meeting Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov in Brussels yesterday (9 September).
  • Greece views the official name used by Skopje – the Republic of Macedonia – as an open challenge to its own region of Macedonia and, as a result, is blocking the country's EU accession talks and its entry into NATO (see EurActiv LinksDossier). "I understand the extreme sensitivities of this issue, but I call on all sides to resolve this obstacle as quickly as possible. It's time to decide. We believe now it is time to decide on this issue of the name," stated Barroso. Since November 2009, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou have been holding direct talks, with UN mediation, in an attempt to break the deadlock. Seemingly, progress has been made.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.06.10 Belgium to take merit-based approach to EU enlargement - 0 views

  • Although Belgium is among the most cautious in the European Union when it comes to enlargement, there is a good chance that its forthcoming EU Presidency will be particularly productive in this policy area. At their presentation of the upcoming Belgian presidency's priorities last Friday, Yves Leterme, Belgium's caretaker prime minister and its foreign minister, Steven Vanackere, sounded much like their colleagues from the Netherlands - and not just because they spoke Dutch. The Belgian approach to enlargement is similar to the stance in the Hague: no promises, no dates, just "strict and fair" rules.
  • The next six months could mark important progress for the Western Balkan countries despite Belgium's cautious line. Croatia could close all but one of the negotiation chapters. Macedonia is close to getting a date for the opening of accession negotiations with the EU. Montenegro can count on a positive "avis" (opinion) from the European Commission for its candidate status. The Serbian application could be forwarded to the EU commission for an opinion on Serbia's readiness to become a candidate as well. Kosovo might receive some kind of a roadmap for its Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania can hope for visa liberalisation before the end of the year. Croatia is well-placed to close all its negotiation chapters, with the exception of the famous No. 23 on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, which will remain to be concluded during the Hungarian Presidency in the first half of 2011. Still, problems could emerge with othe chapters, for example competition. Macedonia is close to finding a win-win solution to its name dispute with Greece. Talking to WAZ.EUobserver, EU diplomats in Brussels expressed cautious optimism that the name problem could be solved in the next months. This would allow the EU finally to set the date that Skopje has been waiting for since 2005 - for formal negotiations to start on Macedonia's entry into the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.06.10: Macedonia to add 'Vardar' to its name | EurActiv - 0 views

  • According to reports, Macedonia is close to finding a formula to defuse its long-standing name dispute with Greece, which has prevented the former Yugoslav republic from starting EU accession talks and has kept it outside the NATO alliance.
  • However, it remains to be seen whether Skopje will agree to use its new name erga omnes – meaning in the country's "relations with everyone". So far, Skopje has insisted that the name Macedonia could be kept "for internal use" and that countries which have recognised Macedonia with its constitutional name would continue to use it.It also remains unclear whether Macedonian citizens could continue to be referred to as 'Macedonians' or 'Macedonians of Vardar' instead. A 'dual use' would help Skopje avoid having to amend its constitution and change all its national documents, including passports. Greece does not recognise Macedonian passports and until recently issued visas to their nationals on a separate sheet of paper.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.04.10: Greece floats solution for Macedonia name dispute - 0 views

  • A senior Greek official has indicated that Athens is ready to accept the name 'Northern Macedonia' for its northern neighbour, in a development that could bring an end to the 19-year-old title dispute that has hampered Skopje's EU membership ambitions.
  • The Greek administration also insists that the issue must be resolved before Skopje can enter into EU accession discussions, a process that requires unanimous support from the bloc's full complement of members.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.02.10: EU enlargement blues, eyes on Croatia, FYROM, Turkey - and Greece - 0 views

  • Sweden remains committed to EU enlargement, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said, even while reiterating the key role Sweden plays, saying membership in the bloc “is the best way to safeguard our values and national interests in an increasingly complex world.” He noted that “by allowing the doors of the EU to remain open, we make a considerable contribution to peace and democracy on our continent,” citing the Western Balkans, where there has been considering disagreement over whether countries riddled with corruption, economic woes and failure to catch accused war criminals should become part of the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.02.10: Commissioner calls for 'deeds' in Macedonia name dispute - 0 views

  • A solution to Macedonia's name dispute with Greece should be found in the coming four months, so as to start EU accession negotiations under the Spanish EU presidency, enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said during his visit to Skopje on Friday (19 February). "There is a unique opportunity to find a solution and it should be seized. I am fully committed to supporting the talks, which along with the required political will, should lead to a solution," Mr Fuele told local media after meeting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
  • It is still unknown how Greece's current financial and economic troubles will have an impact on the Macedonian name dispute. Athens is currently under tremendous pressure from big eurozone countries such as Germany and France to cut back spending and provide accurate data on its deficit, while facing unprecedented scrutiny by the European Commission. Some diplomats suggest that this offers a window of opportunity which should be seized, while others say that because of the painful economic measures, Athens will be even less inclined to compromise on the name issue, a matter of national pride.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.02.10: Croatia's accession negotiations set to conclude this year - 0 views

  • The European Parliament has given a positive overall verdict on last year's efforts by Croatia and Macedonia to qualify for EU membership. In resolutions debated and approved yesterday (10 February), MEPs also took note of the limited progress made by Turkey in meeting EU membership criteria.
  • Concerning Macedonia, MEPs backed the Greek government's suggestion of a "symbolic and motivational target date of 2014" for the EU accession of Western Balkan countries, in a resolution drafted by Slovenian Zoran Thaler (Socialists & Democrats) and adopted by 548 votes to 45, with 35 abstentions.
  • European UnionEuropean Parliament: Resolution on the 2009 progress report on Croatia European Parliament: Resolution on the 2009 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia European Parliament: Resolution on Turkey's progress report 2009
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.02.10: Parliament urges EU to open accession talks with Macedonia - 0 views

  • MEPs on Wednesday (10 February) urged member states to open accession talks with Macedonia, a call backed by the new enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele. In three separate reports, the European Parliament gave the thumbs up to progress made by Zagreb and Skopje towards EU accession, while Ankara's performance was deemed more modest.
  • The parliament urged member states to take a decision "at the summit in March 2010" and "expects negotiations to begin in the near future." Mr Fuele said the decision was not only in the interest of the Balkan country, but also of "strategic EU interest," since it would "enhance the EU perspective for the wider region" – a message he would convey to member states and Skopje. Slovenian Socialist MEP Zoran Thaler, the parliament's rapporteur for Macedonia, warned of the negative regional consequences of this stalemate, comparing the Western Balkans to a bicycle: fine as long as it's moving, "but if it stays still, everything falls over
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.01.09: MEPs sya continuing reform would ensure candidate states are on track - 0 views

  • Parliament gives a positive overall assessment of last year's efforts by Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to qualify for EU membership, but also underlines that Turkey has made only limited progress towards meeting the "Copenhagen" EU eligibility criteria, in resolutions approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
  • Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Turkey must continue reforming to stay on track for EU membership. Key issues, such as the rule of law, freedom of expression, good neighbourly relations, treatment of ethnic minorities and the fight against corruption and organised crime, must still be addressed. The Foreign Affairs Committee adopted three resolutions on the progress made in 2009 by Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,  drafted by Hannes Swoboda (S&D, AT), Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP, NL) and Zoran Thaler (S&D, SL) respectively.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.12.09: Three Balkan countries to get visa-free travel by Christmas - 0 views

  • Serbs, Macedonians and Montenegrins will be able to travel visa-free to Europe from 19 December, EU interior ministers decided on Monday. EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said the move was a "big step in terms of EU integration and Europeanisation of the civil societies in these countries" and added that the other Balkan countries could join the visa-free regime once they met the conditions.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.11.09: Regional fallout from Macedonia name dispute - 0 views

  • Media reports citing unidentified senior sources in Brussels are claiming that the European Commission is to urge Athens and Skopje to come up with a solution to the dispute about the use of the name Macedonia by December 7 2009 – failing which Macedonia may find its hopes for an early start to EU membership talks receding. Macedonian foreign minister Antonio Milososki has written to European Union foreign ministers urging them to support the opening of EU membership negotiations with his country. He cited the European Commission’s recommendation to this effect. "The opening of negotiations with the Republic of Macedonia would substantively encourage the other countries in the region to further pursue pre-accession reforms and it will furthermore confirm the credibility of the EU’s enlargement policy," Milososki said in the letter
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.11.09: The pace picks up on EU enlargement into the Balkans - 0 views

  • EmailSharePrint Back to Brussels Blog homepage The pace picks up on EU enlargement into the Balkans November 13, 2009 3:59pm Enlargement of the European Union is, almost imperceptibly, moving forward once more.  EU foreign ministers are expected next week to forward Albania’s membership application to the European Commission for an opinion.  This is a necessary technical step on the path to entry - small, but important. The Commission is already preparing opinions on the applications of Iceland and Montenegro.  The opinions will take quite some time to deliver - longer for Albania and Montenegro than for Iceland - but the machinery is now in motion. There are signs of progress elsewhere, too.  For a long time Serbia’s efforts to draw closer to the EU have been held back by the refusal of the Netherlands to permit implementation of Serbia’s EU stabilisation and association agreement.  The Dutch insist that Serge Brammertz, the chief United Nations war crimes prosecutor, must first of all declare that Serbia is fully complying with its efforts to capture war crimes suspects - principally, Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander. Brammertz is due to hand his latest report to the UN Security Council in early December, and the Serbian government appears confident that it will be positive.  That would remove the Dutch veto and allow Serbia to make a formal application for EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.10.09: EC recommends Macedonia start EU negotiations (SETimes.com) - 0 views

  • EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn presented in Brussels last Wednesday the new European Commission (EC) report on Macedonia, assessing the country's progress towards kick-starting its EU membership negotiations. "Now we can recommend the opening of negotiations for membership", said Rehn. The positive recommendation comes after the EC said Macedonia "has made satisfactory progress in fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria", according to Rehn. Macedonia "achieved convincing progress and substantively addressed key reform priorities".
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.10.09: EU gives green light for Macedonia accession talks - 0 views

  • EU commissioner Olli Rehn, in charge of enlargement, said the Macedonian government should see the move as "very strong encouragement" to "finally settle the name issue," however. The reference concerns an 18-year old dispute between Macedonia and neighbouring Greece about the use of the name Macedonia. Croatia, hoping to join the EU in 2011, is "nearing the finishing line" after years of negotiations, said Mr Rehn, but needs to further tackle corruption and organised crime "before negotiations can be concluded." The commission report urges Turkey to do more to ensure freedom of expression and freedom of religion as well as bolster the rights of women and trade unions. Ankara has been lagging far behind Zagreb in its EU progress in part due to poor relations with EU member Cyprus, with whom it still has to fully implement a customs agreement. Progress is also slow due to a lack of enthusiasm on the part of several member states for Turkish membership and the pace of Turkish domestic reform.
  • Of the remaining five entities - Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo - that want to join the EU, Mr Rehn had the most to say about Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war-torn country was recently given an ultimatum by the EU and the US to sort out internal problems between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs by 20 October. Defining the country as of "paramount importance for the region and for the European Union," Mr Rehn said that Bosnia and Herzegovina could only consider an application for EU membership once it "can stand on its own two feet." "No quasi-protectorate can join the EU," he said, spelling out that the Office of High Representative would have to be closed down first. The post was created as part of the peace deal that ended the 1992-1995 war in the country, and can only be closed after a positive international assessment. Meanwhile, the Serbian government, which is being pushed to arrest two war crimes suspects from the 1990s, was praised for being "stable" and "demonstrating" a high degree of consensus on EU integration as a strategic priority." But even as the EU tries to bind all of the countries of the western Balkans and Turkey ever more closely through political and economic ties and the promise of eventual membership, there are continuous doubts about whether it has the political appetite to go through with another large round of expansion. Apart from Croatia, strongly supported by Germany and where EU membership is virtually assured, internal EU question marks remain over the rest.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.07.09: EU's visa-freedom dividing Balkans - 0 views

  • The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. The main carrot for ordinary people during this millennium has been visa-free travel after some 17 years of isolation. On 15th July 2009, the European Commission submitted its proposal on visa-free travel for citizens of Western Balkans countries. After a non-binding opinion of the European parliament on the EC proposal the Council comprising EU interior ministers will take the official vote and at best case free travel to Schengen area could be possible January 2010. But not for all! European perspective will be true only for some when visa ban still will be existing for some countries or even to some ethnic groups inside a country. Instead of connecting people of western Balkans with western Europe the EC proposal will divide again people according their nationality or location. From EU’s side the reason for division is seen technical related to common standards; from western Balkan’s perspective the reasons for division can be seen political or even related to religion.
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