Sunday, March 11, 2007

Macedonia urged to overcome inertia in reform process

Over the past two months, Macedonia has been criticised by EU and NATO representatives for lack of political dialogue and a stalemate in the reform process. One of the strongest statements came from EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who said in February that reforms have come to a dead end.

While Skopje has gained the status of an EU candidate country, its further progress towards membership is not a done deal, Rehn warned. The accession timetable, he said, depends on moving ahead with the requirements.

"The EU is consistent on Macedonia joining the EU, but not as an immediate process, rather a process connected to meeting the membership criteria," Rehn said. "Our expectations had risen after Macedonia received its candidate status."

"You cannot afford to go one step forward and one step back," the commissioner added.

Responding to the criticism, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski pledged that the pace of reforms would accelerate, with new laws to be forwarded to Parliament by July.

At the same time, Gruevski insisted that progress is being made in implementing the Ohrid Framework Agreement. This year alone, he said, the government is going to hire as many minority members as it has in the past four years combined.

He also stressed that each government session devotes at least two hours to the European agenda and a special session on the EU is held once a month.

Both the government and the opposition Social Democrats have come up with similar proposals for acceleration and harmonisation of Macedonia's legislation with that of the EU. These include special sessions dedicated to European laws and limits on parliamentary discussions.

Under a government proposal, bills should only be explained and defended by one government representative. Opposition deputies, however, would be allowed as much speaking time as needed.

According to the National Programme for Adoption of European Legislation, about 320 laws should be adopted by 2010. That amounts to about 80 laws annually, or one new law every five days.

No comments: