FYROM edging closer to joining EU

The European Parliament yesterday boosted the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) hopes of joining the European Union just two days before face-to-face talks between Skopje and Athens. The Foreign Policy Committee of the European Parliament approved the amendments to FYROM’s progress report, clearing the way for Skopje to receive an accession date in March, when EU foreign ministers are due to hold their next summit. The European Parliament asked Athens and Skopje «to double their efforts at the highest possible level to reach a mutually acceptable solution.» FYROM’s progress report was approved by 76 Euro MPs, with five voting against and five abstaining. The figures suggest that few of the deputies share Greece’s concern about allowing FYROM to join the EU. MEPs gave their approval just 24 hours after FYROM’s Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki proposed steps to improve relations with Greece, which has threatened to block Skopje’s EU bid over the long-running name dispute between the two countries. Speaking in Slovenia on Tuesday, Milososki suggested that FYROM and Greece could open embassies on each other’s territory and that a new border crossing between the two countries be opened to facilitate trade and travel. «We have these initiatives and we want to stimulate Greece,» he said. «We want to make a step forward regarding the name issue.» Milososki is due to meet with Greece’s Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas tomorrow on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan in London. FYROM has been pushing for talks between the two countries at a prime ministerial level.

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