Monday, 27 January 2014, Athens, Greece
PARTICIPATION IN COSAC
In the framework of the Greek Presidency of the European Union, the Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, Mr. Hajrula Misini participates in the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of the Parliaments of the European Union – COSAC, held in Athens, Greece.
The Conference was opened by the President of the Greek Parliament, Mr. Vangelis Meimarakis, who underlined that this Presidency is held in a period when the economic and financial conditions in many Member States of the Union, as well in Greece, are more difficult and more complex, but that Greece will try to fulfil its priorities besides that fact that in this period the elections for the European Parliament will be held.
At the Conference the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Greece, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos presented the Program and the Priorities of the Greek Presidency with the Union in the next 6 months.
Referring to the enlargement of the Union with the Western Balkan countries, he underlined that Greece has always stood for and supported the idea for the entrance of these states in the Union, starting from the Thessaloniki Summit in 2013, when the well known Thessaloniki Agenda was adopted, which for the first time gave European perspective of this region. Mr. Venizelos also referred to the Agenda 2014, dedicated in the enlargement with the Western Balkan states, which was also its initiative. In this context, as a success of the Greek Presidency, he noted the opening of the accession negotiations of Serbia with EU on 21 January 2014.
In the discussion following the presentation of Mr. Venizelos, there were many questions on the Greek priorities which mainly referred the healing of the European economy, but also questions on why the enlargement is not among the priorities of Greece.
In this regard, the Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, Mr. Misini, asked why, Greece, as well known promoter of the enlargement, today, when it is presiding with the European Union, unfortunately, does not have the enlargement as its priority.
Mr. Misini referred to the 5 positive recommendations by the European Union and the European Parliament for opening the accession negotiations with the European Union, as an argument that we have fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria. He also requested Greece to be our audible supporter, since this will change the atmosphere of the two states, and will contribute in the better image of Greece in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as in the framework of the European Union, and certainly this will be a historic step forward for the Republic of Macedonia.
Minister Venizelos answered that Macedonia will open the negotiations once the fundamental criteria of the European Union are fulfilled, such as the rule of law, the freedom of the media, respect of the human rights and freedoms.
He also underlined that the lack of opening the negotiations with Macedonia and the Union is not connected with the bilateral issue, i.e. the usage of the name Macedonia, since this issue should be resolved in the framework of UN and that Greece is constructive and makes efforts to find a geographic qualifier aiming to а distinguish the area in the Republic of Greece, which is also called Macedonia.
He reminded that he spoke on this topic with the President of DUI, Mr. Ali Ahmeti and that Greece is constructive in the process of resolution of this dispute.
As a positive momentum in the relations with Macedonia he noted that fact that that the mutual economic relations are good, if one takes into consideration that Greece is the biggest foreign investor in Macedonia.
The Conference also referred to the role of the European institutions in strengthening the contacts with the European citizens.