admin1 – June 6, 2005 – 1:33pm

We are preparing an assessment on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's application for full membership in the EU, and we plan to finalize this assessment by the end of this year, so that the negotiations for the country's membership in the EU could start on time.

EU Commissioner Olli Rehn stated this after the meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski in Finland, "Vreme" reports.

With regard to the dilemmas on whether the constitutional crisis would postpone the process for expansion of the EU, Rehn said at the press conference with Buckovski that expansion and ratification of the constitution are two separate processes.

"We should stick to our current commitments to the Western Balkans joining the EU, the aspirant countries fulfilling the criteria, and making sure that the process for expansion of the EU is not obstructed," Rehn said.

Prime Minister Buckovski stressed that Macedonia expects a clear message that the process will continue.

"By giving the status candidate to the aspirant countries, Europe will become stronger and more united. The Republic of Macedonia must continue with the reforms. The problems in Brussels, France, and Netherlands should not divert our attention from our primary aim. We expect Macedonia to demonstrate its real capacity, to implement the reforms in the legislation in accordance with the EU standards, and to implement the Copenhagen criteria," Buckovski said.

The Macedonian prime minister met with Commissioner Rehn on his private property in Mikkeli, Finland.

EU Commissioner Rehn stated that the name dispute is a bilateral issue for which talks are led within the frames of the UN. He also said that this would not influence or be included in the EU's assessment on Macedonia's application for EU membership.

"I encourage both countries to resolve this problem, which will not affect the EU's assessment on the country's integration into the EU," Rehn said.