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Kyuchyuk: Western Balkans remain EU`s only other prioority bessides coronavirus

EP’s Standing rapporteur for North Macedonia Ilhan Kyuchyuk told MIA that besides the crisis of coronavirus pandemic, the European Union’s only other priority is the integration of the Western Balkans.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament (AFET) adopted by a wide majority the European Parliament’s recommendation report on the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans ahead of 2020 Summit, which is likely to be postponed to June and be held in the form of a videoconference, said Kyuchyuk, who is shadow rapporteur for recommendation report in addition to Croatian MEP Tonino Picula, who is rapporteur.

“The European Parliament is only discussing coronavirus related issues, so far the only thing outside the topic that we have voted on is the recommendations for the Western Balkans, we have not voted on anything else in the past month,” Kyuchyuk said, adding that an important signal for the region is its access to the EU Solidarity Fund, a fund that is exclusively available to EU member states.

The report that was adopted by the Committee on Monday should also be adopted at a plenary session, which has not yet been scheduled. Kyuchyuk is confident that the report would be adopted by a wide majority at a plenary vote, having in mind that AFET adopted it with 58 votes in favor and seven against.

The report, forwarded to the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, to the European Commission and the European Council, recommends candidate countries to continue the reform process and EU integration process. Freedom of the media, the fight against corruption, rule of law and the democratization of societies, remain key priorities of the European Parliament. MEPs are also demanding the candidate countries to be engaged in the European Commission’s major project – the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The EP recommendation report also underlines that negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania should begin as soon as possible, after EU leaders decided to give green light to open accession negotiations with the two countries in March.

Kyuchyuk is confident that if it hadn’t been about the coronavirus crisis that hit Europe, the first intergovernmental conference between the EU and North Macedonia would have taken place in June. The intergovernmental conference formally marks the opening of the negotiating chapters. Now, he said, the optimistic scenario is for the conference to take place after the summer holidays, given that for now there are no announcements of meetings with physical presence within the EU agenda. However, he underlined, MEPs are informed that the European Commission is already working on the negotiations framework, which establishes the guidelines for the accession negotiations.

“The main topics always include democratization and human rights. North Macedonia has done a lot, surely there are things that remain, but a lot has been done without anyone officially requesting it from North Macedonia – as the law on public prosecution, something that the Netherlands demanded, but was not formally listed. Economic issues, digital transformation are important topics that will be part of this process,” Kyuchyuk told MIA.

Kyuchyuk called on the government and opposition as well as civil society to actively work in setting up the Macedonian side for the negotiations, as it is a long process that needs to be prepared as soon as possible.

Тази публикация е достъпна и на следните езици: Bulgarian