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Statement by President Drnovšek on the occasion of the visit by the Macedonian President
Brdo by Kranj, 02/15/2005 | press release, statement
President Dr. Janez Drnovšek today received Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski. After the talks, Dr Drnovšek gave the following statement to the press (unedited version):
The President of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr Crvenkovski, and his delegation visited us today. This is an opportunity to stress again in our discussion, the exceptionally close and friendly ties between our two countries, and to confirm our interests in continuing with close cooperation between Slovenia and Macedonia in the political and economic spheres as well as other fields. We have much in common from the past, many connections remain from our former common state, and therefore it is our wish to continue building a common future in Europe, in the European Union. In our talks, we devoted some attention to this topic.
Slovenia supports the endeavours of Macedonia on its European path so that it may soon gain the status of a candidate country for EU membership. We also endorse its endeavours for membership of NATO. We also spoke at length about the situation in the region. We know that the stability of the Republic of Macedonia is very important for the stability of the entire region, therefore we were interested in the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement, the implementation of the foreseen decentralisation, in view of the fact that local elections will be soon held in Macedonia. All of this is important for Macedonia to solidify its position as a multi-ethnic state in order to be as stable as possible and to set an example for other countries in the region, to establish what the international community has been striving for since the very beginning. Namely a democracy with several ethnic situations which manage to find such mutual relations and balances that allow them to coexist within a sound country with economic and political prospects.
Slovenia will do its best to assist in such endeavours and provide help through its experience, in particular that gained on its European path, to realise Macedonia’s European perspective as soon as possible.
Slovenian President Dr. Janez Drnovšek was asked by an STA journalist for a comment on yesterday's announcement by the Macedonian President that Macedonia would join the EU in 2010.
President Dr. Janez Drnovšek replied by offering the following: “Maybe he would like to comment on his statement himself. I would like to add that it is very difficult in today's Europe to set time limits, goals, frameworks. But it is completely understandable that a country hoping to become a member of the European Union sets goals for itself and for the EU. In this way it can plan its activities, since a lot of work needs to be invested in amending legislation and in institution-building. I therefore think it is right for Macedonia to have goals, even if they are ambitious. After all, it is always better for them to be ambitious than to be lacking in courage. There is, at present, a certain void in Europe regarding prognosis on actual membership. The accession of ten new member states, i.e. the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 has not yet been fully digested so to speak. And it is expected that the EU will also embrace Romania, Bulgaria and then Croatia. For the moment, there are no clear time frameworks from then on.
This will be put on the agenda as the next step. But everything will also depend on the political situation in Macedonia, in the region; on whether the concept of ethnic balance laid down by the Ohrid Agreement will remain valid; on whether Macedonia will thus be a stable, successful country. If it is politically stable, both domestic and foreign investments will follow together with accelerated economic development. The fact of the matter is that economy and political stability reinforce each other and are greatly interdependent. All of these are factors that will, in the end, help determine the actual date of the Republic of Macedonia's accession to the EU.”
A Macedonian journalist asked Dr Drnovšek about Slovenia's support to Macedonia, and he replied:
“Slovenia is already backing Macedonia in its European endeavours; we can safely claim to be lobbying on its behalf and will continue to do so. We are aware of Macedonia's significance for the region. I have already mentioned that we have established many links, and we count on preserving them in the future. Economic exchange, too, is important for both our countries. But we also boast many interpersonal ties. Furthermore, Slovenia tries to maintain a somewhat more favourable visa regime and is discussing the issue with the European Commission. In the end, of course, the European Union has a common visa policy to which all of the members must adhere. But we will do everything in our power to ensure that the visa regime for Macedonia is as favourable as possible during the transition period, while Macedonia is preparing for full membership in the EU. With regard to other conditions for membership: all candidates and present members had to go through a complex and demanding process of adjusting their systems to the EU. Legislation needs to be harmonised in numerous areas, and institutions have to be set up that are comparable to those in the EU and are necessary in taking this process forward. Slovenia is helping Macedonia with its expertise, experience and knowledge, and is even managing the twinning project in Macedonia. We will try to be of optimal help also in the future.”
Journalist of the Slovene daily Dnevnik: What is your opinion of the standstill in Slovenia's recognition of Macedonia's name? Would you follow the American example?
Dr Janez Drnovšek: “Slovenia finds itself in a specific situation in this respect, too, since it has always used the name of Macedonia, the Republic of Macedonia. This used to be preceded by the term "socialist", which was later dropped. We continued to use this name rather by default, and find it normal for each country to have the right to its name. We would like to see Greece also concede to this principle and that a solution could be found, since it would be a pity to encumber further discussions on Macedonia's path towards the EU with this matter. We truly hope this issue will soon be solved. We thus hope that the American example may trigger the final resolution of this question.”