Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia

  The Republic of Macedonia considers that the UK presence (political and military) in the Balkans is very important and has a key role in the processes of preventing the conflicts, stabilizing the Region and encouraging the commitments of these countries for their NATO and EU integration.

  The Republic of Macedonia is forging ahead with reforms necessary to make Euro-Atlantic integration a reality. The stability and prosperity of Macedonia on a crossroad in South East Europe are of great significance not only for the Region but for the whole Europe.

  The Republic of Macedonia expresses satisfaction with the traditionally good bilateral relations with the United Kingdom and their positive development.


  The EU-membership is an idea that unites and inspires everybody in Macedonia—the Government, all political parties and all citizens. The Republic of Macedonia was the first state in the Region to conclude a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU in 2001. It entered into force on 1 April 2004, and, again, it was the first Agreement of this kind to enter into force.

  In September, the Government adopted a National Strategy for European Integration of the Republic of Macedonia. This Strategy sets out the fundamental aims, policies and priorities in the process of acquiring membership of the European Union.

  On 1 October 2004 the European Commission President Mr. Romano Prodi handed over to the Government a Questionnaire which is a part of the dialogue with the Union after the submission of the Application for membership in March 2004 in Dublin. At the moment, Macedonia is preparing replies to an impressive number of questions on political, economic and technical issues, which will allow the Commission to formulate its Opinion if the country is ready to undertake the rights and obligations of the membership. In this regard, for Macedonia, the support of the United Kingdom will be very important in the efficient implementation of the procedure and in the process of answering the Questionnaire, as well as in the entire process until the final integration in the EU. This support will have an immense significance especially during the British EU-Presidency (second half of 2005) when the European Commission will be finalising the Opinion.

  The European Council in Feira expressed its clear position that the future of the countries in the Region is in the EU. The Thessalonica Agenda "Western Balkans: moving towards European Integration" of 2003 confirmed the European perspective on the Western Balkan countries and enriched the stabilisation and association process with new instruments: the European Partnerships, and access to Community programmes, TAIEX and Twining. With its proactive approach and programmed identification of priorities, the Republic of Macedonia will benefit from these instruments in the EU integration process. This approach will be used to prepare for the membership negotiations. British support in this context will be very useful.

  Macedonia expects that the real political commitment of the EU for the integration of Macedonia and the other SAP-countries will be implemented in the new financial framework of EU for the period 2007-13 which will be on the agenda for negotiations during the Dutch and the British EU-Presidency.


  The Republic of Macedonia has clear and strong commitment to be a part of the North Atlantic Alliance and together with all member states of the Alliance to advance and guarantee its own stability. There is overall political and civic consensus in the country concerning this strategic goal.

  For only two years, Macedonia has achieved what for many seemed impossible: from consumer of the Euro-Atlantic military security, Macedonia has begun to contribute to the advancement of the regional and global security. Today, the Republic of Macedonia today is a part of global anti-terrorist coalition. Macedonian soldiers, together with the coalition forces, take an active part in securing the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  Nine years ago, the Republic of Macedonia did sign up for the Partnership for Peace program of NATO and took an active part in the program's initiatives, and recently, through the Adriatic partnership, did achieve excellent regional cooperation.

  In this year's Summit of NATO in Istanbul within the Final communique of the Summit, the members of the Alliance noted: "We celebrate the success of NATO's Open Door policy, and reaffirm today that our seven new members will not be the last. The door to membership remains open. We welcome the progress made by Albania, Croatia and Macedonia in implementing their Annual National Programmes under the Membership Action Plan, and encourage them to continue pursuing the reforms necessary to progress towards NATO membership. We also commend their contribution to regional stability and cooperation. We want all three countries to succeed and will continue to assist them in their reform efforts. NATO will continue to assess each country's candidacy individually, based on the progress made towards reform goals pursued through the Membership Action Plan, which will remain the vehicle to keep the readiness of each aspirant for membership under review."

  It is an extraordinary success for the Republic of Macedonia and represented an additional motivation to continue energetically on its way towards NATO expecting to receive an invitation for membership in the next round of NATO enlargement.

  The United Kingdom had a leading role in the NATO-military missions in the Region (IFOR, SFOR and KFOR). The missions were and they are very important for the prevention of conflicts and stabilization of the Region.

  The United Kingdom had a Brigade Headquarters in the NATO's first mission in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001 with "Operation Essential Harvest" which the main aim was to collect voluntarily surrendered weapons from insurgent ethnic Albanian rebels. In January 2004, Brigadier Dennis Blease assumed the appointment of Commander NATO Headquarters Skopje and NATO Senior Military Representative in the Republic of Macedonia. He directs the NATO Advisory Team. Its main purpose is to provide support and assistance to the Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM) General Staff with the military aspects of their NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) and Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. From the 1 September 2004, British Embassy in Skopje assumed the role of NATO Contact Point Embassy in Macedonia for a period of two years. Through the annual bilateral programme, the UK also provides assistance in areas such as English language training and defence management.

  Macedonia appreciates very much all support (bilateral and in the framework of NATO) from the United Kingdom concerning the preparations for the membership into NATO and hopes that it will continue in the future.


  The Framework Agreement is a prime political priority for the Republic of Macedonia and it is being implemented in accordance with the Framework Agreement Implementation plan adopted in 2003. This Agreement was the source for the introduction of significant changes in the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia in 2001 which focused on a higher level of inclusiveness of citizens who are members of the non-majority communities, particularly of the Albanians, as a non-majority community of over 20% of the population in the country.

  The forthcoming decentralization process which is a part of the implementation of the Framework Agreement requires fundamental reforms in the management of local affairs. At a local level, this means strengthening local capacities in the planning and management of local resources, whereas on a central level it means strengthening the role of the state in strategic planning and national resources, whereas on a central level it means strengthening the role of the state in strategic planning and national resource management, as well as strengthening the monitoring function regarding the application of laws.

Visa regime for the Macedonian citizens

  A particularly important interest of the Republic of Macedonia is to see the EU visa regime for its citizen liberalised and than in the near future abolished. The measures that the Republic of Macedonia needs to undertake in order to make progress on this issue go beyond the special measures in the area of visa policy and relate to the overall policies in the sphere of justice and home affairs, the harmonisation of national legislation with that of the EU and its practical application. The project on new Macedonian passports aligned with the EU standards will be implemented in parallel with these measures.


  The Republic of Macedonia has an interest to resolve the question about the overcoming the differences with Greece about the constitutional name—the Republic of Macedonia. The talks between the representatives of the two Governments are going on in New York under auspices of the UN. Despite this issue, Macedonia and Greece have excellent bilateral relations particularly in the economic field. The position of the Government is using the constitutional name by all countries and international community, and the right of Greece to use a name which will be acceptable for both countries. The Republic of Macedonia appreciates the fact that the United Kingdom uses the constitutional name of the country—the Republic of Macedonia in bilateral relations.


  Macedonia is committed to openness, cooperation and the establishment of links with neighbouring countries, as well as with the countries in the closer and wider region. Actually, the Republic of Macedonia is the most prominent advocate of regional cooperation in Southeast Europe. This means that Macedonia is active in regional trade liberalization, the establishment of a regional power supply market, the intensification of the common fight against organized crime and corruption and the establishment of the regional migration and asylum forum. The Government considers regional cooperation to be a genuine need of the countries in the Region and a complementary factor on its way towards Europe.


  The principled position of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia is that the rule of law, the respect of human rights, the return of the refugees to their homes and especially the rights of minorities and the strengthening of civil society should be established in Kosovo. The basis of all discussions on Kosovo remains to be the Resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the UN. The Republic of Macedonia gives its full support to the international community in the implementation of the set standards, which will enable the rule of law and the normalization of the situation. The Agreement on Demarcation and Delineation of the State Border between the Republic of Macedonia and than the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) signed in February 2001 has entered in force in June 2001. The Government position is that the demarcation of the northern border in the section towards Kosovo was to be completed prior to the start of the talks on the final status of Kosovo.

Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia

12 October 2004

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