Serbia and North Macedonia and Albania, through the "Open Balkan" to the integration into the EU

Željko Šajn
Source: Kosovo Online

Writing for Kosovo Online: Zeljko Sain, Politika's special correspondent from Skopje

At today's meeting in the Prohor Pcinjski Monastery, where the 120th anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising and the creation of the Krusevo Republic was marked, the two presidents of the fraternal nations of Serbia and North Macedonia, Aleksandar Vucic and Stevo Pendarovski, recalled that the people of these two countries together had won a victory over the fascist occupier and that their common goal today was to achieve European integration with the "Open Balkan" initiative, together with Albania, as a common strategic goal.

On that way, North Macedonia faces the blockade of Bulgaria, whose history records that it was on the side of the fascist coalition under Hitler's hegemony. This neighbor disputes the Macedonian identity and language, and conditions North Macedonia with a new change in the Constitution in order to let it continue on its way to European integration.

Let us remind you that at the first session of ASNOM (Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia, on Ilinden in 1944, a decision was made to join the Republic of Macedonia to the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia, which was also joined by Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia with their two provinces. - Vojvodina and Kosovo. ASNOM was declared the supreme legislative and executive body, the highest state authority in democratic Macedonia when the Macedonian language was declared official.

Today, seventy-nine years later, this country is in an extremely unfavorable position when it comes to achieving strategic goals, primarily European integration. In very unfavorable political conditions in the world, which is struggling to preserve peace, a real political stampede is expected in North Macedonia on the internal level, which comes from Europe by imposing constitutional changes on North Macedonia as a condition for joining the EU. If it does not fulfill that request, it is threatened with international isolation and remaining on a desert island.

North Macedonia had already burned itself on good neighborly relations when it fulfilled the demands of Greece and changed the Constitution and the name of the state. However, even though it was a condition for joining the European Union at the time, despite the promises, that goal was not achieved, but the country faced a new condition in order to achieve the same strategic goal. Its European path is now traced by Bulgaria. Only Serbia has always stood by North Macedonia, like today in Prohor Pcinjsko, among the first states to recognize its independence. After the church dispute was resolved, these two countries had no open issues, and the fraternal relationship was proven both during the coronavirus and during the economic and energy crisis. These two countries, together with Albania, are building their future on the foundations of the "Open Balkan", with the same ultimate goal: achieving European integration.

The "Open Balkan" initiative was created at a time when Europe turned its back on the Western Balkans, halting European integration. Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia showed all the strength of harmony and compromise solutions, overcoming all prejudices and being guided exclusively by the prosperity of their citizens. The "Open Balkan" initiative succeeded without Europe in preserving peace in the Western Balkans and re-invigorated the Berlin intergovernmental regional initiative.

While the countries of the "Open Balkan" are fighting together for their place under the European sun, Brussels has its own views, Bulgaria has conditioned North Macedonia to change the Constitution again by November and introduce Bulgarians into it as a constitutive element, in order to start its accession negotiations with the EU. Otherwise, North Macedonia will bring "itself" into the isolation zone. The demands of Bulgaria, as an EU member, towards North Macedonia are fully supported by official Brussels, especially Paris, and Berlin. On the other hand, Europe did not make any announcements about the actions of Bulgaria’s state leadership and the revival of fascist ideology on the Macedonian territory by its Bulgarian neighbor.

It is also known that Rama criticized Brussels for not doing anything to improve relations between Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

But today, its future depends on the new change of the highest state act. The price of the ticket for the "European ship" is not cheap at all, and its departure in November, with or without the Republic of North Macedonia, is getting closer. The Franco-German proposal for the settlement of the Macedonian-Bulgarian dispute, which implies the fulfillment of the Bulgarian demand and the change of the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia, created a rift between the political parties of North Macedonia. For the largest Macedonian opposition party - VMRO-DPMNE - this condition is not acceptable, and a large number of Macedonian citizens, who have tasted the hypocritical politics of Brussels and the West after the Prespa Agreement, also agreed to this position.

Since without the opposition, the Government cannot vote to change the Constitution, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, invited, in May of this year, Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, and offered him participation in the government and five ministerial positions so that in return the country would continue its journey towards the EU. However, Mickoski did not accept that proposal, because he did not want to share power with the largest Albanian party - DUI, emphasizing its involvement in corrupt and criminal activities. In addition, the following fact should be taken into account: VMRO-DPMNE lost power in 2017 because five minutes before midnight DUI canceled the coalition agreement with VMRO-DPMNE and formed a government with the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, after which the leader of the VMRO-DPMNE party and former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski fled the country to Hungary, where he enjoys political asylum.

Today, the DUI party is facing a split between two parties, based precisely on the topic of corruption and criminal activities of its leading members. However, both currents of this party support the change of the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia, in order for the country to gain European perspectives. Therefore, two days ago, party leader Ali Ahmeti announced on Twitter that all ministers from the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) would resign so that VMRO-DPMNE would vote for changes to the Constitution.

These resignations are conditioned by the opposition's vote in the Assembly to change the Constitution, where the Government has already sent a proposal to amend the highest state act. DUI, as announced by Ahmeti, renounces the post of Prime Minister during the preparation for the parliamentary elections. According to the Przina Agreement, a hundred days before the scheduled parliamentary elections, a Government is formed, which also includes members of the opposition. The announcement that he will resign, in the interest of constitutional changes, was announced by the Speaker of the Assembly, Talat Xhaferi, also a member of the Albanian parliamentary party DUI.

Yesterday, all ministers from the DUI party in the executive branch signed their resignations and submitted them to the Prime Minister. On the other hand, Albanians from the same party who are in the judicial and legislative authorities did not submit conditional resignations. The public is not yet aware of what further steps Prime Minister Kovacevski will take.

However, Mickoski considers such resignations, which do not have any legal effect, to be just a political trick, and he again insists on quick extraordinary parliamentary elections, and that constitutional changes take place only after they are held. Altan Grubi, the Deputy Prime Minister and a high-ranking official of the DUI party assessed Hristijan Mickoski's behavior as his effort to ensure that there is no Albanian in power.

On the other hand, there are unofficial speculations that VMRO-DPMNE, if it wins the elections, could form a government with the wing of the DUI party that broke away from Ali Ahmeti, whose withdrawal is expected after the new parliamentary elections. It is also possible that the victory of VMRO-DPMNE would end the 20-year rule of the DUI party, and Albanians would be offered the rights in government from the Ohrid framework agreement and five ministerial positions. Creating a coalition with a Macedonian party could be a new surprise and lead to the creation of a new history on the political scene of North Macedonia, which would avoid all possible consequences from the EU and the USA.