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Monday, March 19, 2018, 

EP's Friends of Macedonia group gets fresh impetus


Brussels, 7 March 2018 (MIA) - A meeting of the renewed Friends of Macedonia group in the European Parliament (EP) was held Wednesday in Brussels, the first one under the chairmanship of Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen and the first one after the formation of a new government in Macedonia.

At an inaugural ceremony of the informal EP group, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and MEP Baalen said they commended the support of this group consisting of 43 MEPs that openly backed Macedonia and its EU integration ambitions.

"Re-invigorating the Friends of Macedonia group three years after its formation is a genuine signal of the support to the new face of the Republic of Macedonia: democratic, forward-looking, problem solving and European," noted Dimitrov.

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Hans van Baalen, MEP of the liberal ALDE party, said he hoped for a swift solution to the name issue with Greece, which would allow Macedonia to prosper further.

"It seems Macedonia is seriously considering the issue and a compromise should be found. We should convince our Greek friends that there is a state called Luxembourg and a province with the same name in Belgium, the Netherlands also has one and there is an English province as well. And there never was an issue. They should accept the fact that the name will always contain something that involves Macedonia, and it should be acceptable for Athens. I believe it also matters to Greece for things to get back to normalcy," van Baalen told MIA.

Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovatchev, vice-president of the EPP, echoed similar views as regards a name settlement. He is set to visit Macedonia soon as part of a delegation of the European Parliament.

Macedonia, he said, can count on the EP's support. But, the MEPs have to explain to their national governments that enlargement towards the Balkans is vital.

"The EU needs to convince the citizens in Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands that the enlargement process is in the interest of all of us, it isn't only in the interest of the Western Balkan countries. The region is a non-security zone, a zone that is prone to different influence from other countries, something which is not good for the EU," MEP Kovatchev stated,

After the meeting, FM Dimitrov is scheduled to meet with the EU's foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini. ba/17:04


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