Macedonian PM meets Tusk, says expects date to start EU membership talks soon

Macedonia expects to secure a date soon to start membership talks with the EU and will step up its efforts to implement the reforms needed to join the bloc, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Friday. Macedonia won its candidacy status in 2005. However, the accession talks remain blocked by Greece due to a decades-long dispute about the name of the former Yugoslav republic. Greece says the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over its northern region which has the same name. Since he took over last year, Zaev has stepped up efforts to resolve the dispute. “We have never been closer to receiving a date to open membership talks with the EU,” Zaev said in Skopje after meeting Donald Tusk, head of the European Council. Solving the name issue “will open the doors to begin membership talks with the EU and to enter NATO,” Reuters quoted Zaev as saying.