Wien, 3. December 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: "Support for a speedy opening of accession negotiations"

Vienna, 3 December 2009 – „The last positive progress report of the EU Commission is an important milestone on Macedonia’s way into the EU. Austria remains a strong proponent of Macedonia’s EU perspective. Therefore, we shall continue to give our full support to a soon opening of the accession negotiations", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger after his meeting with the Macedonian  Deputy Prime Minister Vasko Naumovski in Vienna.

The abolition of the visa obligation as of 19 December is a clear sign of a further Europeanization of Macedonia: "This brings a new kind of freedom to all citizens of Macedonia, especially to the young, to experience Europe themselves. Visa liberalization proves that the European perspective is not merely lip service but a concrete proposal. However, only successful reform efforts will lead to concrete progress. This step should therefore provide an important impetus for the next stages on Macedonia's path to reform", said the Foreign Minister.

Spindelegger also congratulated Macedonia on the completed border demarcation with Kosovo: „This is a welcome step toward greater stability in the region and a successful example of sensible neighbourhood policy for the entire Western Balkans“. With regard to the conflict between Greece and Macedonia over the name of the latter, the Austrian Foreign Minister expressed his hope for a consensual solution between the two states. At the same time, the Minister made it clear that „This sensitive bilateral matter must not have any influence on Macedonia's path toward EU integration ".

The Foreign Minister also reaffirmed the good economic relations with Macedonia, pointing out to Austria's role as the largest foreign investor. „Strengthening of the rule of law and an impartial administration of justice are indispensable requirements for Macedonia to remain attractive as a destination for foreign investors" explained Spindelegger, who also pointed out to the pending legal dispute with the Austrian energy group EVN: „EVN is the largest foreign investor in Macedonia. The course of these proceedings will therefore send a broader signal to other foreign investors. The latest EU progress report on Macedonia also points out to the necessary reforms in the energy industry. We therefore expect that the Macedonian side will take the right steps, and that the proceedings will be based on the European standards of due process. In any case, Austria will continue to closely monitor the situation".

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