Erhard Busek: Macedonia is getting farther from European integration
I am aware of mediator Niemetz’s comments, but I am also aware of PM Gruevski’s comments to me, that there is no progress on the name issue
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Lately you have participated at SEEMF conference that was held in Skopje in October this year, whose focus was the situation with the media, among others in Macedonia as well. What are your impressions regarding the media situation in Macedonia?
The media situation is overshadowed by the open political problems for Macedonia, especially the state name case. Also some distance to the European integration process can be registered, which is understandable by the long way to go. I think, there should be a more open discussion concerning the position of Macedonia in the region and what is done right and wrong.
Taking into consideration your present and previous knowledge as expert for the South East Europe, do you have optimistic views about the EU integration of the countries in the Balkans which are aiming to become part of the EU family?
I think, it is a mistake to be negatively impressed by the statement of Jean-Claude Juncker concerning five years without enlargement. The reason is, that the countries of the region can do everything to do the necessary transformation process, which is in many cases behind that what is really necessary. If results are achieved and the regulations are following the principals of the European Union, nobody can refuse the countries of Southeast Europe from the European Union. I have optimistic views, that the Balkans become a part of the EU family, because the general political situation is forcing the integration to stabilize Europe towards the other parts of neighbourhood.
Recently, new documents with a new proposition for the name issue “Upper Republic of Macedonia” appeared in the macedonian public, which allegedly came from the mediator Niemetz. The Government denied that there is any progress with the name issue. Are you optimist that the name issue will be solved in the near future?
I am aware about the comments of mediator Niemetz, but I am also aware about the comments of Prime Minister Gruevski to me, that there is no progress on the subject. I am very much fighting at every opportunity within the member states of the European Union, that they shall push both partners (Macedonia and Greece) to come to a solution. If you are not able to do so, how can we settle other problems of greater importance?
According to you, is Kosovo part of the problem or a solution for further democratization and progress of the countries in its’ surrounding?
Kosovo is not the problem and the solution for further democratisation on progress of the countries and its surrounding. It is a special problem between Kosovo and Serbia. I think, there should not be the mistake done to use Kosovo for other political activities. Democratisation has to be done in Kosovo, but also in all the countries surrounding.
There is still fear in the region from the possible spreading of ISIS in this part of the world. Do you believe that the terrorist attacks on religious grounds could be transferred in the Balkans as well?
Terrorist attacks on religions grounds can be transferred everywhere, not only to the Balkans. Therefore it is necessary, out of security reasons, to have a view on it. This is not only the job of the governments. I think, it is also a job of other religions and in general of a democratic and humanistic education.
In Austria universities are autonomous in checking students’ knowledge and that is the best way
You are well known as a important reformer of Austrian universities. At the moment there is huge dissatisfaction in Macedonia because of the attempt of Macedonian government to involve system of state exam for checking the knowledge after second and forth year of studies. Students have held protest against this. What is the system of checking the knowledge at the Austrian universities and do you believe that this is the best way how to have better educational system?
In Austria the university are autonomous in checking the knowledge of the students. I think, it is the best way. It can be assisted by comparisons with the universities in neighbouring countries or in whole Europe. The Bologna system is in a certain way very helpful an this can be also a help for a better educational system. A competition with other university systems in Europe is extremely helpful, because you can see strengths and weaknesses of your own system. It is very important to do so, because otherwise you will loose gifted students to other parts of Europe