Negotiations with the EU as a punishment?
By Denko Maleski
The presidential elections have to be smooth and in a democratic atmosphere, which will be a recommendation for starting a negotiation process with your country, a diplomat of an important European country told me at a lunch. You know, he adds, that we write reports on the political situation in the country and we are often faced with a dilemma what to write in them. If we write the truth, we reduce the chances of you getting closer to the EU, if we lie, we feel uncomfortable because we behave irresponsibly. The diplomat sincerely says this encouraged by my critical attitude towards my own political reality and asks me how to solve the dilemma: to tell the truth or to lie. Suddenly, my criticism of the Macedonian reality is failing, and I try to prove to him that without connecting our wagon to the European locomotive and without starting to work on the chapters under Brussels’ supervision, the chances of getting ourselves out from the Balkan realities with our own strength are small. A small country like ours cannot make major disruptions for an alliance of over 500,000 inhabitants, but ties with the alliance can change our lives and realities in the Balkans from the root. You have to think more politically, I say. For a Balkan country, EU membership is part of a peace plan through which the conditions for a democratic transformation of the political, legal and economic system are to be created. Ask yourself the question the same way as the first US envoy to our country in 1992, Ambassador Robert Frowick did, and you will easily solve the dilemma. He then called Macedonia, “a baby from tar”. These are words that describe a (bad) situation in one country and they tell the West two things: you will regret if you get involved and help and you will regret if you do not get involved and help. In the end, however, prevails the feeling that they should do something for us.
When I think, it is in the basis of all Western interventions in our internal affairs: the realization that without their engagement things will become worse. So, you suggest lying in the reports, the diplomat says. Not to lie, but to see the “big picture,” I answer. Finally, starting the negotiations with the EU is a political decision of the member states that should be aware that if they give a date to a country they think is not completely ready, they may regret it, but if they do not give a date they will regret even more. When writing the report I will try to somehow decrypt what you have told me, he says laughing, the diplomat whose country may be one of the main obstacles to starting negotiations with Macedonia in 2019. Especially now since the UK withdraws from the EU. Namely, so far, the “market” called enlargement has been in the midst of insisting on deepening the relations between the states of several member states and the British insistence on enlargement. Now, we are left without the British politics, so dominant one will be the one of deepening and strengthening the criteria for admission. Today, the Union is moving in the direction of strengthening and deepening relations between members, before the enlargement. We should not be angry with countries that want stricter criteria for admission to their union, and even less with their representatives in the country who write the reports. They see all the defects of our lives, just as we see them and their dilemma is of honest people: to lie or to tell the truth. For, as the diplomat tells me, if we write that everything is all right, your politicians relax, they show us the same reports, and tell us: Do you see what has been written in the reports, everything is fine! And we and you know that it is not like that.
Do you know what, I say to him, thirty years of independent country are sufficient proof that that is all the Macedonian politics can do alone and nothing more. And I repeat that the big dilemma is how to connect the Macedonian wagon to the European locomotive, as these are our potentials, this is our energy. There were times when I thought differently. Somewhere at the beginning of independence I said that as a nation and as politics we should overcome ourselves if we want to succeed as a small country. How to “overcome oneself”? Is there such a thing? There might be but we are not made of such material. All experience teaches me that we are what we are. And we will be a very long time if we are left to ourselves. Staring at my computer monitor, I am thinking about something that I missed to tell the diplomat: do not think that with a recommendation to start negotiations with the EU you have given bad politicians power, think that you punish them that way and you will feel better.
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