OSCE Permanent Council No. 604
EU statement in response to the Head of OSCE Spillover Monitoring Mission to Skopje, Ambassador Carlos Pais, and the EUSR and Head of the EC Delegation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ambassador Erwan Foueré
- The European Union welcomes the Head of the OSCE Spillover Monitoring Mission to Skopje, Ambassador Carlos Pais and the EU Special Representative and Head of the European Commission Delegation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ambassador Erwan Foueré, at the Permanent Council and thanks them for their comprehensive reports. Their joint presence comes as a natural follow up of the close co-operation between our two Organisations on the ground.
- The EU is pleased to note that encouraging developments have taken place in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as pointed out by both speakers. The granting of candidate status by the EU last December consolidated the European perspective of the country, encouraging it at the same time to continue and enhance the necessary reforms.
- We agree with both speakers’ assessment that the long overdue recent adoption of the Unified Electoral Code, incorporating relevant recommendations from ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, constitutes a major step forward. We couldn’t agree more either that all domestic stakeholders having actively participated in the preparation of the Code, should now work for and focus on its correct implementation and make the upcoming parliamentary elections in full compliance with the OSCE standards. In this context, we believe that a substantial ODIHR observation mission would be important. We commend the OSCE Mission for taking the lead on IC co-ordination, including with the EUSR, as well as for its continuous and tireless efforts in assisting and supporting the authorities during the whole electoral reform process and now at the implementation stage ahead of these elections. Like Ambassador Pais, we underline that political leaders must set an example and should publicly remind their followers of the democratic rules and standards expected from an EU candidate country.
- Furthermore, the EU commends the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s authorities for their efforts in the right direction in the areas of anti-trafficking and fighting organised crime, through the adoption of a National Referral Mechanism and the opening of the first NGO-managed Safe House for victims of trafficking. It notes with satisfaction that the media sector continues to improve. The adoption of a Broadcast Law and a Law on Free Access to Information, as well as the readiness of the authorities to take decriminalisation of libel and defamation one step forward confirm this positive trend. It is also pleased to note that the implementation of Decentralisation process unfolds better than expected and that the Education sector continues to progress. The support of the Mission in both these areas is highly commendable.
- On the other hand, we share the speakers’ concerns regarding the rule-of law area, the inherent weakness of which still hinders the progress in inter-ethnic relations and economic development. Although there have been formal advancements, like the relevant Constitutional amendments which led to the adoption of the Law on Witness Protection, the Law on the Training Academy for Judges and Prosecutors and the amendment on the Law on Public Prosecutor, a lot needs still to be done. The capability of the judiciary has to be up-graded in order to respond to serious crimes, especially those requiring expertise on International Humanitarian Law. In this regard, the adoption of the very much needed Law on Courts and the Law on the Judicial Council has to be finalised on time, in view of the expected transfer of several cases from the ICTY to the domestic jurisdiction. We urge the country’s authorities to rise to the challenge, making use, as appropriate, of available international assistance.
- The EU regrets that efforts at passing a Law on the Police have been stalled by the political agenda, hoping nevertheless that those efforts will be renewed as soon as possible building on the best practices and lessons learned, with the aim at strengthening the accountability and credibility of the police, enhancing its capabilities to fight transnational organised crime and bringing it closer to the European standards.
- The European Union stresses the importance it attaches to the full implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The EU remains convinced that, by implementing the wider reform agenda, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would strengthen its rapprochement to the European Union. We would like to reiterate our support to the efforts of the country to move closer to the EU and, in this respect, encourage it to work constructively to ensure regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations towards finding mutually acceptable solutions on outstanding issues.
- The EU expresses appreciation and thanks to Ambassador Pais and his staff for their valuable work during the period covered by his report. The EU believes that the Mission should retain its present structure including its Field Stations in order to be able to successfully fulfil its tasks and mandate.
- Finally, we would like to thank the EU Special Representative and Head of the European Commission Delegation, Ambassador Foueré, and his staff for the work which they have done, in close co-operation with the OSCE Mission, and to stress the importance which the EU attaches to his stabilising role.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA country Iceland, a member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process