Interviews and Speeches

Interview with ANSA. Poposki, we need political will

29 October, 13:28
by Beniamino Pagliaro



(ANSA) - SKOPJE - Macedonia retries the 'European race' and hopes for a breakthrough in Brussels in order to overcome the main obstacle to starting negotiations, which is still in Athens. Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki, speaking to ANSA, mentioned a ''path which has been regarded as necessary for years'' and describes as ''excellent'' the cultural and commercial relations between Macedonia and Greece. But ''some Greek decision maker'', and somebody in Brussels, does not consider the process as a matter of urgency. ''We do not have the power to change'', Poposki said.
Macedonia was granted a candidate status in 2005, ten years after the historic agreement with Greece on the name dispute.
But since then, little has changed. The centre of Skopje has been modernized with new impressive buildings, and dozens of statues, which are part of the process of strengthening national identity. The country's economy - two million inhabitants - continues to grow: the International Monetary Fund estimates an increase in GDP by 3.4% in 2014 and by 3.6% in 2015. However, the Republic of Macedonia, which has already overcome the financial crisis, needs reforms and the entry into the European club.
''It's time for Macedonia to be allowed to start EU accession negotiations, but this does not happen because the decision is in the hands of the Member States, and at least one is politically opposed'' said Poposki, underlining that the European Commission ''has been recommending this step for six consecutive years'' and that the international Court of Justice ''considered Greek attitude illegal''
''Some Greek decision-maker still thinks that blocking Macedonia's bid to join Nato and the EU might be useful to gain Macedonia's acceptance of some concessions which are groundless and in fact illegal'', Poposki added. Anyway, unless the block becomes too expensive even for those who are implementing it, it's very difficult to change the result. ''It's a matter of political will''.
The conservative minister of Nikola Gruevski's cabinet, confirmed by the vote in April, recognizes that today Macedonia is not ready to join Europe, and economy - even though unemployment is at 28% - is not the greatest obstacle. ''What we really need - Poposki stressed - is a credible negotiation process, so when the time will be ripe for Macedonia's Eu accession, we will be prepared and the atmosphere between the EU28 will be fine''. Macedonia is seeking EU membership but does not share the Bulgarian neighbours' guarded approach on South Stream Pipeline.
''We are in favour of having more gas supplies of gas and South Stream is definitely one of the ways to achieve this goal in our region'', Poposki said. Skopje also looks favorably upon Federica Mogherini's new role at the helm of foreign affairs in Europe. ''She's definitely one of the most important assets in this area. Mogherini is a smart decision maker and knows that a postponement strategy in finding the solution to a problem is no longer sustainable'', Poposki declared. (ANSA).