SKOPJE – Macedonia is just a step away from getting a date to start the EU accession negotiations, and for joining NATO, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said, stressing that the dispute with Greece will be resolved, which will strengthen the identity of the state and its citizens. However, these comments are not entirely justified.
Zaev at an extraordinary press conference in Skopje estimated that the friendship between Greece and Macedonia was never greater than it is now.
“The identity of the Macedonians will be confirmed by the new name. The state needs leadership and progress, not just empty words”, Zaev said.
He confirmed that the last word about the name of that former Yugoslav republic will be had by citizens in a referendum, and that “true patriots” are those who, as he said, “lead the country forward”.
“Resolving this dispute, means entering NATO for us. The region could not afford us to move backwards. Macedonia is on the right track, all reached reforms are recognized in all EU countries. We have shown the world that the political crisis is behind us”, Zaev said.
However, he did not confirm that the new name “Northern Macedonia” was agreed to, saying that nothing has yet been agreed.
“There is another conversation with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and when we achieve anything new, I will share that with the citizens”, Zaev stated and reiterated that he is firmly in line with the fact that citizens will vote on the new name of the state in a referendum.
On the other side, Zaev’s statements prompted the reaction of the Greek government who also confirmed that there was no agreement and that the Greek government’s position was always very clear.
“The precondition for Macedonia’s integration into NATO and the EU is an agreement on a new name that will contain a geographical term or historical reference, or a position, which also requires constitutional changes”, as Tsipras stated.
Tsipras also stated following: “However, even before this ping-pong on both sides, it became clear that there was an obstacle to the final solution. This is nothing but a problem within Skopje, where Zaev is not in a position to impose anything. He did not provide a consensus on constitutional changes. In other words, the opposition so far did not accepted any of the names that were offered during the negotiation process, which could be accepted as constitutional”.
Despite Zaev’s claims, in which he is known for making out of step with reality, there is no consensus within Macedonia over what any change of name would substantively be.
What’s really interesting is that Zaev rose to power after a forced change-over of power in Skopje, as the result of years of US pushing its Soros organized and funded NGO’s on the ground. In several instances, these took the form of mass protests. The former government pushed back with counter-protests, creating an 18 month stalemate which finally say the rise of the US’s hand-picked man, Zaev.
To the point, euroskepticism is growing in both Macedonia and, riding a wave that placed in Tsipras in power, in Greece as well. In order for Macedonia to be accepted into the EU, Greece would have to agree to Macedonia’s proposed new name, whatever that may be. However, neither large sections of Tsipras’ own party, nor a growing consensus among Macedonians, really care to see Macedonia enter into the EU.
Likewise is the case with NATO – natives to the region generally see a rise of NATO activity as a destabilizing rather than stabilizing factor, considering that Yugoslavia and the Balkans alliance, and the Warsaw Pact, together created a balanced and stable region until the 1990’s. Since then, the region has been plagued with economic instability under the matrix of neo-liberal economic reforms and austerity.
Therefore, the ‘name’ controversy over Macedonia has spared the country from entry into the EU and NATO. Furthermore, as tensions between the US and EU grow, the relationship between the EU and NATO is in the process of significant change.