S&Ds: high time for Albania & FYR of Macedonia to start EU accession talks

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The Socialists and Democrats welcome the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with both Albania and the FYR of Macedonia. In recognition of efforts made by both countries to carry out reforms, we call on the member states to approve the Commission’s recommendation. We are disappointed by the status quo over Turkey.
 
Commenting on the Enlargement package Victor Boştinaru, S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, said:
 
“It’s a very important day for Albania and FYR of Macedonia and a clear signal for all the regions of the Western Balkans that the efforts pay off. We have always said that the future of the European Union includes, without doubt, the Western Balkans. We trust that the recommendations made today will further encourage the countries to continue down the path of reforms.
 
“The European Union should now put the words into action - fostering more regional co-operation, ensuring the implementation of reforms while strengthening its credibility in the region and promoting a sustainable social and economic model in the Western Balkans’ countries. In order to ensure this we need the EU presence, more initiatives, programmes and investments and more resources allocated.
 
“Last but not least, as I remain convinced that Turkey is still a partner for the Union, it is essential to be credible on our condemnation on the human rights abuses.”
 
 Knut Fleckenstein, S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs and the European Parliament rapporteur on Albania, said:
 
“Albania fully deserves this positive recommendation. The country is undergoing a comprehensive reform of its judiciary that strongly underlines its European ambition and boosts progress on other key priorities as well. Furthermore, Albania's experience with this reform will be useful for other countries in the region too. I count on the European Council in June to take the country's accession process further. This commits Albania to maintain its level of ambition and tackle the remaining tasks without further delay.
 
“Over the past months, the FYR of Macedonia has proven its genuine political will to catch up with the reforms. The Commission's readiness to acknowledge this huge reform effort should be paired with a continued support for implementation of the Urgent Reform Priorities. It will also be important to build up a strong consensus for EU-related reforms between government and opposition, politics and civil society. The Commission's unconditional recommendation for opening accession negotiations, which it had first given in 2009, will firmly tie the country on the path of accession-related reforms. Time has come to advance on the pending name issue as well.
 
“We regret that for the first time, it was not possible to have the enlargement package reports presented and debated in the committee of foreign affairs. We call on the Commission to ensure that the elected members of the Parliament are fully and timely informed.”
 
 S&D MEP Kati Piri, European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, added:
 
“The Commission's analysis of last year's developments in Turkey is grim, as expected. However, the European Commission fails to draw any political consequences. The delusion of EU membership is kept alive, even when a new constitution has been approved which fails to safeguard the basic principles of a democracy. The Commission missed the opportunity to send a clear message to president Erdoğan that his policies will have consequences for Turkey's EU accession process – as the EP already did last year.”