‘Bulgaria has always supported Macedonia in a very sincere way both for EU and NATO membership, and has always extended a helpful hand along this process’ stated PES President Sergei Stanishev at a press conference on the 2015 European Parliament resolution on Macedonia, organized by the European Parliament Information office in Sofia, Bulgaria. MEPs Andrey Kovatchev (EPP/GERB) and Angel Dzhambazki (ECR/VMRO) also took part in the event.

Sergei Stanishev reminded of the Bulgarian support for Macedonia in 2008 when Greece vetoed Macedonia’s NATO accession because of the unresolved name dispute. ‘It was indeed due to position of Bulgaria that the NATO summit conclusions explicitly stated that as soon as the name issue is resolved, Macedonia will become a NATO member’. Stanishev also underlined that the Bulgarian demand for a bilateral treaty on good neighbourly relations with Macedonia is based on good will and friendly intentions towards our western neighbour, that it is the policy of several consecutive governments and that this is an important criterion for EU membership for every country willing to join. Stanishev, who is also Vice-president of the EU-FYROM Joint Parliamentary Committee, added that the society in Bulgaria expects a good will on the side of our western neighbour for signing of the treaty.

Sergei Stanishev highlighted that this year’s EP resolution pays special attention not only on numerous policy recommendations of the functioning of the state but also on the serious political crisis in the country. ‘Ever since May 2014 when the last parliamentary elections took place, the opposition does not participate in the work of the Parliament. This has a negative effect also on the EU-FYROM JPC, as the Macedonian Parliament is not fully represented and in this way is not speaking on behalf of the whole country. ‘Alas, instead of seeing improvement in relations between government and opposition in the last few months, we see growing confrontation’, Stanishev stated.

PES President Stanishev pointed out that the 2014 Commission progress report expresses serious concern over issues like selective justice, pressure exercised by the ruling power on media as well as the way elections are conducted. ‘These are all issues covered by Copenhagen criteria for EU membership. Prolongation of the status-quo may seriously hamper Macedonian EU integration’.

Stanishev added that the EU integration of the Western Balkans is of particular importance to the Party of European Socialists. In his words, the EU project would not be complete until the process of EU accession of the Western Balkans countries is completed. ‘As a EU member it is in our best interest that our western neighbours also become EU members, this is of key importance also for the whole region’ Stanishev concluded.