Launching of Macedonia's talks for the European Union membership depends on the country's reforms process. In principle the accession talks may start in 2008, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel told to a group of Macedonian journalists on Wednesday.
- Slovenia on its part will support this policy, which I do not believe will be simple. The situation within EU is rather complex, accompanied by enlargement scepticism. However, we have all supported the conclusions of Thessaloniki Summit, which say that Western Balkans belongs to Europe, Rupel said.
He considers that the real time for launching Macedonia's EU entry talks is in 2008/2009. It may happen during Slovenia's Presidency with the Union - January 1, 2008 - pointing out that it is not up to Slovenia only.
Commenting the recent visits of Euro-enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn to Macedonia, Rupel said his words should be taken very seriously.
- He has seen many countries on their way to membership and his words are not ill intended, but aimed to stimulate people to address serious problems. I do not dare to criticise the Macedonian Government, but would like to point out that bringing one country closer to the EU is a serious job that should be done, Rupel said.
He also reminded of the general EU recommendations to all candidate countries, which include solid administration, democratic organization, rule and respect of human rights.
Rupel considers that the Ohrid Agreement offers an opportunity for Macedonia to join the union, as the country has been working truthfully on multiculturalism and real minority rights.
Rupel also reiterated Slovenia's support of Macedonia's aspirations to join NATO.
- NATO leaders have commended Macedonia's achievements at the Riga Summit, Rupel said, adding that NATO on its part expects from Macedonia to cooperate, contribute to the stability of Southeastern Europe. This year Macedonia is also expected to boost its cooperation with NATO and increase its presence in the Alliance's operations, Rupel said.
Rupel expressed hope that member countries of the Adriatic Group could join NATO together.