Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Priebe: Date for starting EU entry talks with Macedonia not specified yet

It's not possible to set the date for starting the EU accession talks with Macedonia for the time being, said Reinhardt Priebe, the Head of the European Commission Directorate for Western Balkans.

On the sidelines of a two-day conference on Economic Co-operation and Investment Opportunities in Southeast Europe, staged by Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, Priebe stressed that the European Union has not yet set the starting date for accession talks with Macedonia.

"No date has been set. We co-operate with the Macedonian government and next month we will publish an evaluation report on the progress the country has made thus far in the process of reform. The report will specify the areas that require additional work to meet the accession criteria," Priebe said.

Asked to comment the reforms that Macedonia has wrapped up, Priebe stressed that the country has a lot of work ahead.

"It's obvious that the country should focus on implementation capacity. It's a small country with small administration and an extensive EU agenda ahead," Priebe said.

In the course of the conference, European Commission's Director for Western Balkans underlined the need to boost regional co-operation among the countries in the Western Balkan, adding that EU candidate-countries should address the open issues, press ahead with judicial reform and seek modalities to fight corruption in order to boost foreign investments.

He underscored that the wider international community should be involved in the region, particularly in the process of Kosovo status settlement. Priebe reckons that timely settlement of Kosovo status would be in the interest of the entire region.

Priebe said Croatia has made a significant progress in terms of EU integration process, adding that the EU expects the country to be ready for entry by the end of 2010.

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