A meeting of the EU-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Joint Parliamentary Committee was held on 26 and 27 November during EP’s plenary session in Strasbourg.


In his speech Sergei Stanishev who is Vice-President of the JPC on the EP side said that good neighbourly relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia are a matter of political will of both sides, and reminded: ‘Bulgaria was the first to recognise the statehood of Macedonia and we have always supported its EU and NATO membership. As Prime Minister at the time I supported Macedonia’s NATO membership during the Summit in Bucharest in 2008. We are all one family in the Balkans but efforts should be made by all sides’.


During a bilateral meeting with Macedonia’s Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Beshimi Stanishev called for the signing of a Treaty between the two countries on cooperation and good neighbourliness without further delay. ‘We must show political will instead of seeking excuses as finding reasons to postpone it will always be easy. We see media campaigns against our country. We need clear treaty-based relations so that we can settle the issues between us in a democratic manner’.


There were early parliamentary elections in our western neighbour country on 27 April. The main opposition party SDSM decided not to participate in the new parliament as they suspected election results manipulations. For the same reason the EU-FYROM JPC lacks the legitimacy to take decisions as its composition is still not completed and does not represent the interests of all Macedonian citizens.


Speaking on the internal political situation in Macedonia, Stanishev called the ruling majority to be more active in the negotiations with the opposition. ‘As far as we know, the opposition has 5 key demands: interim government to be formed, changes to the Election code, clear distinction between government and party business, no pressure on media and census to be conducted in order to eliminate the ‘dead souls’ from the electoral lists. You may not like all of them but the responsible position of a government would be to start negotiations and show good will for cooperation. This is in the interest of all citizens. The idea to hold partial elections only for the vacant places in the Parliament would only deepen the political crisis. I cannot judge whether the decision of the opposition to boycott the Parliament is right or not, we also had a similar situation in Bulgaria while we were in government, but it never occurred to me to deprive the opposition from its mandates’.


Stanishev also commented on the European Commission’s progress report and the OSCE report on the elections and said that there are positive results but they also give numerous recommendations for more media freedom and fair election process. Reacting on this, the Macedonian members of the JPC said that they have issued a declaration calling on the opposition to return to the parliament. In turn, Stanishev replied: ‘Brothers, it won’t work only with declarations. You need to give a clear signal that you are ready to negotiate so that the opposition has a reason to engage’.