Le Monde: betraying Macedonia, France discreditied themselves and the EU

Le Monde: предавая Македонию, Франция дискредитирует себя и ЕС

At the European Council meeting on 18 October France once again opposed the start of membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. This decision breaks a promise the EU undermines its credibility and may cause further turmoil in the Balkans, where France in 2017 was seen as a factor of regional stability. And this is despite the recent adoption of the Skopje historical political decisions in unstable and in need of reconciliation in the region.When Macedonia gained independence after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece has insisted that she was called “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. The EU accepted it.12 June 2018 premiers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras agreed on a new official name of the country: North of Macedonia. Historical dispute was closed.Overcoming ethnic conflictsIn Athens made a courageous decision, despite the opposition of the opposition (she is now came to power) and the protests of the nationalists. No less courage shown and in Skopje, where a fragile coalition of the Prime Minister replaced the nationalist Nikola Gruevska (2006-2016), whose authoritarianism was based on the rewriting of history and the installation of infinite statues “Macedonian heroes”.Despite the often violent opposition, both the Prime Minister has made ratification of the agreement in Parliament, which was filled with the spirit of compromise in the name of European commitments. Skopje has had to deal with a powerful external enemy, the Russian Federation, which hostility by the Treaty, opening the way for NATO in Macedonia.The painful disintegration of Yugoslavia was accompanied by the emergence of new nationalist and authoritarian forces. With the exception of Macedonia, which was able, with the support of the EU and NATO to avoid the outbreak of civil war between the Slavic majority and Albanian minority, who signed in 2001 Ohrid agreement.The EU noted that the achievement of the agreement on stabilization and Association in the spirit of “the European perspective”, which was opened for the Western Balkans at the Thessaloniki summit in 2003. Macedonia filed at the time an example of overcoming ethnic conflicts, to move to the promised European integration.“In the name of Europe”In 2005 Macedonia got the status “candidate” for EU membership, however strong the resistance of Greece in connection with the name negates the prospect of negotiations. The fact that the expansion requires a unanimous decision. Veto of Athens contributed to the approval for ten years of the nationalist, authoritarian and corrupt regime, which also gave a fine alibi for the postponement of the accession process.From 2016, the government of Zoran zaeva changed all of that with the help of the judicial system reform and fight against corruption, as demanded by Brussels. In parallel, it launched a policy of good neighbourliness, which led to an agreement with Greece about the name of the country and the Treaty of friendship and cooperation with Bulgaria, which brought an end to a painful and complex history.All this — “in the name of Europe”. It would therefore be logical if the European Council launched at the meeting of 29 June 2018 accession negotiations with a country that has fulfilled all strict requirements of the European Commission.However, France and the Netherlands considered that the deepening of reform is a precondition for such talks. President Makron in 2018, dampened hopes by saying that the EU needs to carry out reforms before the adoption of any new members. Although the European Commission also stated that “the EU must become stronger and stronger before further expansion,” France has erected it into an absolute, opposing it almost in a neurotic way. We often talk about the costs of enlargement, but forget about the price of his absence.Biggest disappointment of the Balkans, This position shocked not only Macedonia, but also those countries that are reluctant to spend real reform and alter the old saying that the Communist States of Eastern Europe: “the EU pretends that he wants to take us, we pretend to carry out reforms!”At the conference of ambassadors on August 27 Emmanuel macron has urged “to send new forces to the Balkans, to prevent non-European countries to take our place in the game.” Whatever it was, 18 October in Brussels, France has required a review of “framework for negotiations” for more transparency and reforms, while Macedonia and Albania to deepen these reforms in a difficult political environment.The best is the enemy of the good: that opening talks would allow the EU to fully use its soft power to promote reform and overcoming nationalist disputes.Moreover, the Bundestag, on the initiative of the German government, were in favor of it by majority of votes. It turns out that after Greece’s veto, the only enemy is France. And this is more than a mistake. She not only leads to the isolation of France, and discreditied EU violated the word.Tough decision of the Council of Europe will entail a severe disappointment in the Balkans. Russia, China, Turkey, and other predators will take advantage of this vacuum. As for France, which has strong historical and economic ties in the region, she just lost a significant part of its credibility and undermines the credibility of the EU.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that “membership is a contribution to the struggle for peace, security and stability in Europe.” It will be hard to confirm this in practice, as the EU has broken its word and can be costly to pay for it.

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