VISA FREE TRAVELLING IN 2009?
Macedonia obtains assurances by the European Commission that 2009 is the year when Macedonian citizens will be able to travel to EU member-states and the Schengen Zone visa-free, said Vice Premier Ivica Bocevski at Sunday's Government session.
"Macedonia is at the finish line from the aspect of the visa liberalization process. We have received confirmation from the European Commission that Macedonia is ahead of all other countries within the process. We are currently the only country that has a national visa center, biometric passports and national center for integrated border management. Now the Union has to pass a political decision", stressed Bocevski.
According to him, integrated border management has been fully realized, which is the last prerequisite for visa regime liberalization.
Besides a general assessment, the European Commission will also provide an evaluation on the eight benchmarks given by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.
"We have reached a 90-percent completion of benchmarks, and I expect the EC to note serious reform progress", added Vice Premier Bocevski.
He said that Macedonia should focus, in the next two weeks, primarily on the adoption of the changes in the Constitution and the Electoral Code.
"The most important thing in the next 10-15 days is for political parties to abide by their word, so that changes in the Constitution and Electoral Code are adopted, thus giving weight to the EC Progress Report", emphasized Bocevski.
According to him, most of EU-tagged laws envisaged for 2008 have already been adopted, whereas the remaining are in Government or Parliament procedure.
Pertaining to the EU assistance within the CARDS projects, Bocevski underlined there is a 97-percent use, while accreditation of national institutions on IPA funds would be encircled in 2009.
The agenda of Sunday's open Government session also includes NATO accession priorities, Framework Agreement implementation, as well as issues within the economic policy, political system, human resources and sustainable development.