Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Delivered in Plenary - 6th April 2011

Mr President

This year we celebrate 30 years since your country, Greece, became a member of the EU. As a confirmed philhellene, I believe Greece has contributed massively to our Union. It has gained a great deal too, so why Greece would continue to deny the same benefits to its neighbour, Macedonia, simply on the base of its name, is quite beyond me and many from my country.

It is time other Member States took a much firmer line with Greece on this matter. Having received a massive package of debt refinancing from the EU to prevent its euro-based economy from collapse, Greece is hardly now in a position to hold hostage the whole enlargement process with its neighbour. Macedonia as a candidate has waited long and patiently for accession negotiations to start. It would be a disaster now if continued delays result in Macedonia turning inwards and abandoning its EU and NATO membership ambitions.

This is a genuine risk given Macedonia’s domestic political fragility and its imminent elections. We need to send a strong signal of support to the forces of reform and progress in Macedonia. Failure to do so would resonate negatively throughout the Western Balkans, a region where EU membership prospects are the glue that binds these fractious countries together.