EUROPEAN “NON-PAPER” AND POLITICAL DICE
By Bardhyl ZAIMI
June is likely to be a dramatic month for the political scene. As soon as the European Commission once again recommends the opening of accession negotiations, the “fever” of waiting is more and more present. Everything will depend on the Council of Europe, which must decide whether to start talks with North Macedonia or not. Things began to be complicated at the moment when some of the EU member states still showed no readiness for a decision that could actually even determine the fate of the current government.
In a statement, Prime Minister Zaev announced that if there was no date for starting the talks in June, he would hand over his mandate as prime minister. This statement of the Prime Minister had different interpretations in public. For some analysts, this statement was misunderstood well, while others interpreted it as a kind of pressure on EU member states to take into account any complications that may arise on the political scene and which can indeed end with early parliamentary elections.
From the representatives of the government, the appointment of the date for EU membership negotiations is also considered a kind of gratitude for the whole difficult political process through which North Macedonia has passed within two years. This fact was also highlighted by many European officials who were more vocal in giving a date for the start of membership negotiations. According to them, North Macedonia has fulfilled all the necessary conditions for opening negotiations. Opposition parties, on the other hand, have expressed skepticism that North Macedonia will receive a date in June, as announced by the ruling parties. According to them, the delay of the date is related to the reform process, in which the current government failed.
Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party reiterated their view that if the start of the talks is postponed, the country must go to early elections. They are convinced that the government has failed already with the date setting story.
Political and diplomatic equations this month seem to cross the borders of North Macedonia. On the domestic political scene, the usual clashes of power and opposition occur, while many geostrategic positions must be coordinated within the EU, which will seal the start of the talks. And, this political process seems to be related to the different approaches that European countries have for the involvement of Balkan countries in the EU.
The “train of history” metaphor has always been present in the Balkans. After the lost time in the ruins of the transition, it seems that the countries of this region entered another phase of “historic emergencies” to catch the “last train” in the EU. These “emergencies”, in fact, face the conceptual divergences that EU member states have with the process of integration of Balkan countries into the European family.
It seems that the entire history of the Western Balkan countries is focused on one month this year, June, which was announced as a symbol that separates one era from another. Unfortunately, June as a waiting time is projected in the style of the Hamlet dilemma “to be or not be”. An unnecessary drama that is more related to the internal mathematics of political parties than the process that involves European integration.
European Union has long demonstrated its commitment over two decades on the path of North Macedonia towards bringing closer the European family both as a concept and a standard. For this difficult process that began in the early years of democracy until now, the EU has invested hundreds of millions of Euros.
Beyond the logic that rules here, the EU has always invested in incorporating good practices and standards that are in the function of harmonization and full integration with that institutional value system, which has always been a recommendation. While the EU understands integration as a process of affirmation of good policy, the local institutional actors, as well as other politicians, seem to understand integration as a date.
But the dice of political battles are thrown away, and political developments in the future seem to depend on this June game. This month of “historic” decisions can be seen from other optics. It seems that the leaders of the government parties “in this dice game” have set their credibility in relation to promises to the public. Exactly, this logic “or…or” makes political development unpredictable. Between this credibility shown as a promise and a possible delay in the talks, June is like a sword of Damocles. The journey that gives this month tons of tragedy is almost always condensed into apocalyptic forms.
Perhaps only several months may be questioned, but political institutions have decided to condense the whole meaning of Europe in a month, within that typical Balkan fatality, and not within the horizon of permanent engagement, which means changing itself initially.
That Europe is the concept of diversity is best shown by the debate on the opening of talks with North Macedonia and Albania. Not all countries are ready to schedule the date. Meanwhile, thirteen EU member states, most of the new members of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Italy and Austria, will call on up to 28 EU countries to start negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Earlier it was reported that Poland was preparing non-paper that in some way represents a form of pressure, suggesting that the dilemma of some, that the EU first needs reform and then enlargement, is wrong.
On Thursday this week Prime Minister Zaev is expected to meet German Chancellor Merkel. A lot seems to depend on this meeting. In the meantime, there were announcements for early elections in the public if there was no date for starting the talks. The EU Ambassador to Macedonia, Zhbogar also said that it was not too late to do something. One lobbying, explanation and argumentation can influence the final decision of the 28 EU member states. Even “non-paper” remains in this function. However, June will be a long month with many events!
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