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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > April 2005 > OSCE, Permanent Council No 552: EU statement in response to the head of the OSCE spillover monitoring mission to Skopje and the EUSR
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OSCE, Permanent Council No 552: EU statement in response to the head of the OSCE spillover monitoring mission to Skopje and the EUSR

Date of Speech : 21-04-2005

Place : Vienna

Speaker : Jacques Reuter

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

The European Union welcomes the joint presence of the Head of the OSCE Spillover Monitoring Mission to Skopje Ambassador Carlos Pais and the EU Special Representative Ambassador Michael Sahlin at the Permanent Council, which comes as natural follow up of the close cooperation between our two organisations on the ground.

The European Union fully agrees with the concerns expressed by both speakers on the conduct of the recent municipal elections in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The European Union welcomes the generally calm political climate that prevailed throughout the electoral process. At the same time we are gravely concerned by the irregularities witnessed by the International Election Observation Mission and reported by ODIHR after each round of the local elections, that key OSCE commitments and CoE standards guaranteeing universal and equal suffrage and ensuring the secrecy of ballot were not met. Free and fair elections, in line with international standards, are an essential requirement for further progress towards the EU. In the period between the rounds and despite strong calls from the international community- the authorities did not adequately address the identified shortcomings. Consequently, serious irregularities such as stolen ballot papers, ballot box stuffing, intimidation, group and proxy voting and identical signatures on the voter list extracts, were again noted in a number of areas. The Union agrees with both speakers that such extensive and persistent irregularities are a reflection of the poor functioning of the rule of law and the judiciary.

The European Union, while awaiting ODIHR’S final report, underlines the importance of ensuring that all incidents are thoroughly investigated and all necessary measures taken to ensure that elections in the future will fully meet international standards. The next test in this respect is the Parliamentary elections that are due to take place in September 2006. The European Union welcomes the stated readiness of the authorities to cooperate with ODIHR in addressing the serious shortcomings in the electoral process and we stand ready to assist in this regard. Furthermore, we would like to reiterate our support for the Euro-Atlantic integration efforts of the country and, in this respect, encourage it to work constructively towards finding mutually acceptable solutions on outstanding issues.

The European Union expresses appreciation and thanks Ambassador Pais and his staff for the work they have done during the period covered by the report. Indeed in a period of prolonged political upheaval, the European Union commends the Mission for fulfilling its tasks with professionalism. Regrettably some issues, such as equitable representation, decentralisation as well as primary and secondary education became victims of political pragmatism. By contrast, one of the fields where good results have been achieved is media development and this was evident during the recent local elections when media coverage was recognised as satisfactory and balanced.

We agree with Ambassador Pais’ assessment that the last November referendum as well as the Presidential and local elections have delayed the reform and decentralisation process in the country. It is now time to recover lost ground and address urgent reform issues, in particular with regard to the rule of law and the judiciary, local democracy and strengthening of the economy. We call upon all political forces in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to follow up on a consistent and sustainable reform process, which will also bring the country closer to the EU. We urge the authorities, with the assistance of the International Community including the OSCE Mission to further progress in these areas.

On a more positive note, the European Union expresses its satisfaction for the continuing stability in the country and the fact that the government coalition partners have, on a number of occasions, displayed political maturity that has greatly contributed to the peaceful resolution of incidents, as in Kondovo. In this respect, the Union would like to recall the positive role the Mission’s Field Stations have in defusing tensions locally and their important confidence building and early warning work.

The European Union fully supports the priorities set by the Mission for the future. The Mission has rightly made its top priority bringing Rule of Law and the Judiciary closer to international standards. We also agree that the second major priority for the Mission is to assist the government in the decentralisation process, a fundamental element in the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The European Union encourages the newly elected municipal leaders to do their utmost to contribute to this endeavor.

Finally we would like to thank the EU Special Representative and his staff for the work which they have done in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to stress the importance which the EU attaches to his stabilizing role.

The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia* align themselves with this statement.

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process

This page was last modified on : 22-04-2005

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