Macedonia's EU Membership Looks Likely But Time Frame Uncertain - EU Lawmaker
Faizan Hashmi 2 days ago Mon 14th January 2019 | 06:49 PM
Macedonia's NATO accession looks very likely after its name change, while the time frame of EU accession is more uncertain despite improving chances of membership, Chair of the European Parliament's Delegation to the EU-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Joint Parliamentary Committee Alojz Peterle told Sputnik
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Saturday that Macedonia will soon become a member of NATO and then of the European Union following the parliament's approval on Friday of the constitutional amendments necessary to rename Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia.
"While NATO membership could soon be a reality, EU membership will require further reforms in a number of areas. Therefore, I would assess the chances as positive, but the timeline is uncertain, especially with regard to EU membership," Peterle said.
The lawmaker noted that name change means the resolution of the decades-long dispute with Greece, which will open the door for the EU and NATO membership as Greece will no longer oppose it. According to Peterle, the approval of the name change deal both by Macedonia and Greece will demonstrate an excellent example of cooperation between parties to achieve a solution for the Balkans' EU aspirations.
"Countries in the Balkan region should realize they are not in competition with one another, but could partner together to achieve bloc progress in key areas. The successful conclusion of the name change will bring fresh impetus to the region and countries will begin to see that progress towards the EU is a real possibility," the lawmaker added.
The Macedonian parliament on Friday approved a constitutional amendment to rename the country after almost three decades of dispute with Greece. The Greek legislature is expected to ratify the deal on the name change, lifting the veto on Macedonian entry to the European Union and NATO.
Inside Macedonia the issue has generated controversy, with September's referendum failing to garner a sufficient turnout and in Friday's parliamentary vote 81 out of 120 members of the parliament supported the amendments, with the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party calling for snap election and saying that the constitutional amendments had been approved in a criminal and illegitimate way with the use of pressure, blackmailing and threats.