Tuomioja: Macedonia has worked to approach the Union
Finland stresses fulfilment of the EU membership criteria, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja stated after having met with Teuta Arifi, Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia, in Helsinki on 1 November.
In the mid-1990s, the EU set the goal of gradual rapprochement between the Western Balkan region and the Union. Of the countries in the region, Croatia will become the 28th Member State of the European Union in July 2013.
Finland has been among those supporting enlargement and has emphasised that enlargement increases stability in Europe. Particularly in the Western Balkans, enlargement of the European Union is also a peace process.
In the view of Finland, all of the candidate countries should be able to proceed in their rapprochement with the EU in accordance with their own achievements. Accession negotiations with the candidate countries bring harmonisation of their legislation and administrative procedures so that they correspond to European Union requirements.
“Macedonia has done good work to fulfil the accession criteria and has made progress on the reforms,” Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said at a press conference held together with his Macedonian colleague, Teuta Arifi.
“It is good that Finland supports the entire Western Balkan accession process,” said Deputy Prime Minister Arifi, who also serves as the country’s Foreign Minister. The Macedonian minister was satisfied with the European Commission’s annual overview of enlargement policy, published in October. In its report, the Commission recommends the starting of accession negotiations with Macedonia and Montenegro, as well as the granting of candidate country status to Serbia.
“It is important now to Macedonians to turn a new leaf and to get a date when the accession negotiations would proceed to the next stage,” Arifi continued, summarising her country’s expectations of the EU summit in December.
During her visit, Arifi also met with Antti Kaikkonen, Vice Chairman of the Grand Committee of the Finnish Parliament. In addition, she gave a talk, entitled ‘Contemporary Challenges of the Republic of Macedonia in the Context of the EU Perspective’, at the European Commission Representation in Finland.