For the second time this year, Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation (JHS) arranged a study visit to Brussels for youth from the Macedonian ruling party, VMRO-DPMNE. The study trip, which lasted between 26 and 29 November, included visits to EU and NATO. The participants, mostly students, were members of the youth branch of the VMRO-DPMNE or active in local politics. (more…)
Finally it was time for the first out of two Summer Schools. About twenty young politicians from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Sweden met August 15-19 in Nynäshamn in Sweden to dig deeper into the principles of democracy. Nigel Ashford, professor at the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University in Washington DC, was the chairman of the conference and seminars were based on his book “Principles for a Free Society”, written exclusively for the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation. (more…)
Macedonia is one of the current candidates for a future EU membership. More than 85 percent of the population supports a membership in both EU and NATO. But before entering either of the two organizations, the sensitive naming dispute with Greece must be resolved.
As part of the EU integration project in the Balkans, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation invited youth politicians from the party in power in Macedonia – VMRO-DPMNE – to a conference in Brussels, February 7-10, 2012.
The group of enthusiastic young politicians visited major EU Institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
In the Parliament, they met with Anna-Maria Corazza Bildt, who described her work as a Member of Parliament. At the Commission, EU experts Willem Noë and Mark Corner summarized the history of the Union.
The participants’ key area of interest was, as is to be expected, the enlargement of the EU. The Macedonians were eager to receive information about when their country could become a member, but understandably no-one could give them anything but a general timetable for the process.
Moreover, discussions about membership were in focus during the meetings at the NATO headquarters. Due to security matters, Macedonia regards a NATO membership as even more important than a membership in the EU. In 2008 the country was ready to join the European/North American defense alliance, but was blocked by Greece.
“In our country, everyone discusses politics”, one of the participants said. 21 years have passed since declaring its independence and Macedonia is still in an extensive transition phase. However, one thing is clear: the wish to be part of Europe is one of the top priorities of the new generation.
On May 13-14, 2011, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation organized a round-table conference with leaders from cooperation partners in the Balkans. The conference focused on the continued integration of the Balkan states into Europe as well as other aspects of the European Union.
“The Countries in the Balkans have to push for membership. The EU never invites anyone to join,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, MP and member of the Hjalmarson Foundation board. Her view was shared by the participants. (more…)
80-90 percent of Macedonians is for the EU and also NATO membership, said Vasko Naumovski, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs in the Macedonian government when he, on November 17, spoke at a breakfast meeting arranged by Hjalmarson Foundation. Vasko Naumovski spoke in reference to the European Commission’s annual Enlargement package, presented on 8 November, and the progress made in Macedonia. “Sweden welcomes the accession negotiations with Macedonia,” said the Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at the time when the EU report was released.
A group of diplomats and moderate members of Parliament were invited to listen to Vasko Naumovskis views on EU membership. The picture he gave was multifaceted. On the one hand, the Macedonian progress is mainly in the political sphere, on the other hand, Greece still stalling the membership negotiations. This applies to the name Macedonia, which also is the name of a province in Greece:
“It is as if Russia would oppose Europe called Europe since much of Europe is in Russia. Or that Moldova can not be called Moldova since there is a province in Romania with the same name”, said Vasko Naumovski. When asked what the name issue means for ordinary people in Macedonia, he replied: “In opinion polls 80 percent of the respondents answer that national identity is more important than membership in the EU and NATO.”
Vasko Naumovski added that he and his government is certainly willing to compromise to resolve the name issue; to overcome this obstacle to EU membership. And by the way, he said, this was already done in 1995 when Macedonia changed its flag. He was cautiously optimistic, explaining that today the Prime Ministers of both countries meet to talk. This was unthinkable just a few years ago. Nothing concrete has yet come out of this. “But of course we are willing to compromise!”
May 7-8, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged a round table conference on the EU integration of the Balkan countries. The participants were high level politicians from the Foundation’s sister parties in four Balkan states. The group consisted of some 20 politicians including two ministers – the Macedonian Minister for Foreign Affairs Antonio Milošoski and Genc Pollo, Albanian Minister for Innovation and ICT.
Among the issues discussed at the conference were membership and security in the Balkan region. Göran Lennmarker, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the Foundation, reminded the participants that although the path to a membership may seem endless to the Balkan countries, the situation was once the same for the Baltic states. Today, those countries are all EU-members.
Numerous participants noted that Sweden is the most enlargement-friendly member of the Union. In addition, they emphasized that this, the third Balkan conference arranged by the Foundation, constituted an excellent opportunity to “openly discuss problems and exchange experiences among friends”.
The participants discussed obstacles on the path to full EU membership – such as bilateral conflicts. Nevertheless, the participants agreed that there is indeed a development in the right direction.
– Since we met last time, we have achieved visa freedom for, for example, Serbians, said Nikola Lazic, Serbian parliamentarian and International Secretary for the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).
The participating parties where Albanian Partia Demokratike e Shqipërisë, Bosnian Partija Demokratskog Progresa and Stranka Demokratske, VMRO-DPMNE from Macedonia and Serbian Demokratska Stranka Srbije and G17Plus.