Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gruevski-Hoon: Britain backs Macedonia on EU and NATO, but it must do its homework

Britain wants to see Macedonia in the European Union but its Euro integration will depend on speed of the reforms which should be conducted, British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon said after the meeting Wednesday with the Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski.

Britain strongly supports Macedonia in the process of enlargement in the EU and NATO reminding that the country received candidate status during UK's presidency of the EU.

- However the candidate status is only the first step towards full-fledged membership. EC today will present the Progress Report of Macedonia where acknowledgement for the achieved progress will be given as well as the steps that the country should undertake in the future. What I have seen from today's meetings with the Macedonian officials is that the government is prepared to undertake all steps to achieve the wanted goal, Geoff Hoon said.

On journalist question whether is it real Macedonia next year to receive a date to start the negotiations with the EU, Hoon said that setting up dates is not in favour either for EU or for candidate countries.

Also Gruevski considers that it is not time to speak about dates. - Macedonia should focus on fulfilling home tasks and then to request what it's coming, PM Nikola Gruevski said.

Gruevski and Hoon signed today the Agreement between the Governments of the Republic of Macedonia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on double taxation avoidance and protection from tax evasion in relation to income tax and capital tax.

Hoon assessed that the agreement is a step forward in good bilateral relations. - The relations between the Great Britain and Macedonia are excellent but they could be strengthened especially in context to the EU and NATO, Hoon said.

Gruevski said that they discussed the Macedonia's preparations for NATO membership, the reforms, which are being conducted by the Macedonian government needed for Euro-Atlantic integration, the problem that Macedonian citizens have with EU visa regime, the Framework Agreement implementation and situation in the region with an accent to Kosovo.

Hoon also met with Deputy Prime Ministers Gabriela Konevska - Trajkovska and Imer Selmani and FM Antonio Milososki.

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