SKOPJE, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Macedonia deserved recommendation for the opening of European Union (EU) membership negotiations, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said here Wednesday, while presenting the European Commission Progress Report of Macedonia to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
"Macedonia has gone a long way in spite of the many challenges and is now on the European path. There are positive changes, renewed feeling of transparency, energy and hope. You feel good vibrations in the country and this must be rewarded," Hahn said.
"The Macedonian government must continue on the reforms, especially in the judiciary system," he said.
Meanwhile, Zaev said for Macedonia to receive a clean recommendation is a strong incentive for achieving the difficult, but attainable goal such as the start of EU membership negotiations.
"This year's recommendation is pure (and) unconditional. Macedonia fulfilled the basic democratic criterion for starting the negotiations. We will work harder until June in order to get the date for the negotiations," Zaev said.
On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini recommended that member states open accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia.
Macedonia is formally called Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the UN. Macedonia is also the name of a northern province in Greece and Athens is worried that the use of the same name by the neighboring state could lead to territorial claims.
The solving of name row that exists between two countries is seen as main obstacle that Macedonia has to overcome in order to make progress towards the European Union and NATO integration.