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EU And Macedonia Begin Preliminary Talks On EU Integration

Macedonia and the European Union have begun preliminary talks aimed at reducing the length of negotiations for full EU membership -- a process that has been stalled by Greece because of a decades-long dispute over the Balkan country's name.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said the talks with Macedonian authorities on March 15 aim to maintain the pace of reforms the country must implement in order to join the EU.

Reforms needed to bring laws in line with EU norms focus on Macedonia's public administration, the rule of law, media freedom, election processes, and economics.

Macedonia became an EU candidate in 2005. But Greece objects to the start of formal accession talks, arguing the name "Macedonia" implies territorial claims against the northern Greek province of the same name.

With reporting by AP
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