Last Thursday, a man who has been starting to play games of power in the EU, with slow withdrawal of Angela Merkel, did not support the opening of accession talks for North Macedonia (and Albania). The European Union has internal issues, he explained, and first has to focus on solving them. ‘Historic mistake’, that was the reaction of the Head of the European Commission. The EU needs ‘a reformed enlargement process, a real credibility and a strategic vision of who we are and our role’, said Macron. The other 27 leaders did not see this as an issue that would prevent this Balkan country from more hard work, but at least with a European vision. Does Macron know better? Or is he trying to square up to Merkel?
Did the French president really make a historic error in his attempt to present himself as the new top dog? His unspoken veto unquestionably has multi-level implications. The hopes and dreams of North Macedonia were thrown into the trash. The country has had one of the most painful periods in its recent history in an attempt to make way for the European path. This Thursday might have been their only window to come closer to the West. Big geopolitical dogs are certainly ready to attack their piece of meat once again. They have, for a short period of time, lost their huge influence over this country, but now they can strike the wounded animal again. Russia? China? First come, first served? One thing is for sure: the playground is open again.
It is, of course, crazy to imagine that North Macedonia is the only one to suffer this defeat. The message that was sent to other (potential and) candidate members in the Balkans is: no matter how hard you try, we can (and will?) bring you down. Why then would they turn to the EU? Also, the question of resolving Serbia-Kosovo case might get another perspective, with Greece-North Macedonia issue resolution being treated like it has. Big actors are in play, but it would be dangerous not to take into consideration the feelings of disappointment and betrayal. In the games of power, they can bite back. The bite-marks are usually in the shape of Russia…
… who signed an agreement with Serbia to start building a nuclear center there. But that’s another story.