Stability in Macedonia has many different meanings. Europe’s architecture, South East Europe’s stability, NATO enlargement, regional cooperation and global balances are all related to Macedonia’s stability. However, Macedonia’s “Greek Issue” threatens all these equations…
Macedonia is determined to speed up and do its best to overcome all challenges on its path of accession to the EU in 2009. Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Bocevski also verifies this determination with his statements.
If Macedonia achieves this it will not only be a big step for itself. Macedonia will also be a big step for the EU, NATO, Balkans, and the global system. Since December 2005, Macedonia has a new and special place in the EU accession process. Macedonia, that has assumed the candidate country status, is now waiting for the EU Council to start the accession negotiations. Skopje, has experienced a disappointment in previous months.
Against all expectations, it failed to start the negotiations with the EU Council in December 2008. Because according to the Commission, as indicated in the last progress report, Macedonia has not yet completed the political criteria that are vital for the accession negotiations. Of course, that was not the only reason, because if political criteria were fundamental in the accession process, many EU member countries today would be left out of the Union.
The basic reason forcing the Commission to assume a “reserved” position is the ongoing “name” dispute between Greece and Macedonia. Greece’ objection to Macedonia’s name is a great problem challenging this country’s accession to the EU, because Greece is determined to veto Macedonia until the dispute is resolved. Ivica Bocevski’s statements show that Macedonia is aware of its responsibility towards itself and the international community.
Likewise, Bocevski’s saying that his country “is ready to start negotiations tomorrow if the EU were to want that way”, and that “it is high time for the EU to get in gear and start negotiations” presents the truth without leaving space for further comment. However, the Greek approach reminds of some question marks, because officially Athens is supporting the “EU membership of all Western Balkan countries” but it accuses Macedonia for being “populist” and wants it to change its name…
Though it is not the subject of this article, it is also known that Athens has also delayed the EU process of Albania. Therefore, although Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis’ saying that “without Balkans the EU would have a missing part” is realist, however when she says that “in the process of integration to the EU, Greece’ neighbors should leave all the past conflicts behind and make contact with the whole world”, the “problem” presents itself. Because there are many things hidden in Athens’ saying “past conflicts”.
When Athens says “past conflicts” in the Balkans, it wants only “some” problems to be solved “the way Greece wants”. Already, at a conference on European issues in European Policy Center in Brussels in January 26, 2009, Bakoyannis accused Macedonia for “choosing the name Macedonia” and for openly “ using nationalist rhetoric and conducting outdated implementations”. Previously, Athens had also criticized Macedonia for naming a toll-road after the national hero “Great Alexander”; as if Macedonia had to name the road after “Haris Aleksiu”.
Previously, Greece blocked the beginning of negotiations in Macedonia’s accession process. Also in April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Athens also blocked Macedonia’s entering the NATO. Although, a new meeting under UN mediation is scheduled for next month, because of the tough stance of both countries, the observer delegation do not have the smallest spark of hope for improvement in near future. Greece’ supporting the EU membership of all West Balkan countries is not totally a wrong argument, because Bakoyannis has a very different approach about Serbia.
Bakoyannis spoke different on Belgrade’s still not handing Ratko Mladic who is responsible for the Srebrenica massacre –to justice: “We cannot let a war criminal take the new democracy hostage”… Macedonia does not have a problem like “Srebrenica” or a case like “Mladic”. Macedonian democracy and Serbian democracy are coeval. Greece has a responsibility to respect the interests of EU and NATO, of which it is a member. The interests of EU and NATO require Macedonia’s accession.
In this case, it would be useful to remember Agatha Christie novels’ main logic in order to understand this enigmatic policy of Athens. In Agatha Christie novels, one needs to ask two basic questions fid out the murderer : 1-Whose gun is still hot? The murderer is definitely not him/her. 2- Who does this murder –in fact- serve? This is actually the important question to ask…