The EU has “invented” a new tool to help the Republic of Macedonia move away from serious deterioration of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. That tool is called “high level dialogue”. As stated in the beginning of this process, the EU and the MK government started a comprehensive process and active political dialogue was starting on the rule of law, public administration, freedom of media, election laws and functioning of market economy. What will happen?

Xhabir Deralla

Republic of Macedonia was given the candidate status for EU membership in 2005. For seven years, the country has got into real trouble while “structures” were (pretending or not) trying to move forward in reforms. The reality of Macedonia is precisely described in the five issues raised at the recent start of the “high level dialogue” between EU and Macedonia, represented by the EU Commissioner Štefan Füle and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Commissioner Füle concisely has set the (old) new agenda for the government to start a comprehensive process and active political dialogue in the areas of rule of law, public administration, freedom of media, election laws and functioning of market economy. These five areas are, indeed, the areas which the current government has deteriorated and seems to continue doing so.

High level dialogue started in March and is due to continue on May 7. A third and probably the last visit of the EU Commissioner in the frame of these dialogues is due in September. What is Gruevski going to present in May that he couldn’t present in March? None on the bright, lots on the dark side.

For years, the Macedonian government pretends to make moves towards the EU integration, having only the name dispute with Greece as the main excuse for wrong and destructive policies. In the years behind us, the government fails to respect human rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech and independence of media. The whole country is persistently and thoroughly politicized.

Public institutions and administration, business and economy, culture, society, security, educational and employment policies, birth control (you name it) – everything depends on the political parties in power or, more precisely, on the few people holding political power in the name of their parties and voters.

The “high level dialogue” is the new tool of Brussels to make one more attempt to help Macedonia get back on its declared EU track. In the country, the ruling politicians are spinning this new approach of the EU Commission as one more success of the government in “actually opening negotiations” (Ali Ahmeti, DUI, coalition partner in March).

The Prime Minister and his team didn’t miss mentioning that everything is fine with Macedonia and it’s only the irrational name dispute with Greece that holds the country back. Irrational and damaging it is, indeed, but the “high level talks” process opened in March and due to last only a few months did not put this problem on top of the agenda. To the contrary, the five issues stressed by Commissioner Füle are clearly indicating that the country faces the most serious problems internally and – institutionally.

However, there were some tiny hopes that something will change after the first visit of Commissioner Füle, at least a bit. Those tiny hopes were blown after the discouraging statements issued by the Prime Minister in the media close to the government.

Then, Gruevski dismissed any hopes of any accession to NATO or EU, due to the name dispute. Period.

By doing so, he once more diverted the whole bunch of internal problems caused by misconducts of his Cabinet and himself to the field of this bilateral dispute. The external enemy is there, Greece, so let’s squeeze the maximum out of it.

Just as the economic and financial crisis in EU and the world was used to justify terrible economic policy of the government. The economic policy is presented as an example of the most successful one in the country; EU and the rest of the world should learn from our government on how to deal with crisis.

Other problems in the society, the deterioration of democracy and rule of law are areas that were diverted by invention of internal enemies, such as the Albanian nationalist extremists, Islamic fundamentalists, traitors among Macedonians who want to surrender the name and identity, etc.

Just like in the good old times of communism…

Deadline for taking immediate steps towards reforms are being contantly breached. The EU Commissioner came back as promised. And left empty-handed. Actually, the empty-handed ones are the Macedonian citizens.

We are facing additional troubles meanwhile. They include the killings of five in April, and the arrests of alleged Islamic terrorists among ethnic Albanians that followed; further politicization of the administration and judiciary; collapse of the negotiations between journalists and the government; and so on.

Well, the Commissioner could spare his time and plane ticket money both the first and the second time. Right after his second visit, just as the previous time, the government and the spin doctors acted with a clear message - changes won’t happen.

They were never meant to happen.

Investments from Qatar in oil exploration in Macedonia should be expected, instead.


Statements in March...

EU Commissioner Štefan Füle: “We wish to work with you so that your EU membership becomes reality. I assure you that I am dedicated to supporting your reform process. I am convinced that your future is in the EU and that together we can reach truly sustainable and visible progress in reforms and EU accession.”Prime Minister Gruevski said that his government wishes to continue with reforms in all areas, and that he hoped this would be noted once the European Commission publishes its progress report for 2012. He also said that the goal was for his country's accession talks with the EU to start "as soon as possible this year".

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