Scholz’ visit to Southeast Europe: 19 years after EU accession promises for the region, still no tangible progress. Bulgaria names “cultural center” after Nazi collaborator.
SOFIA/SKOPJE/BERLIN (Own report) – Prior to the EU Commission’s decision whether to grant Ukraine the EU candidate status, the accession process in Southeast Europe remains bogged down. Over the weekend, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ attempt, to persuade Bulgaria to lift its veto on the planned accession negotiation of North Macedonia, proved a failure. The Bulgarian government justifies its veto with ethnic claims, according to which, the population of North Macedonia belongs to the “Bulgarian peoples” without viable autonomy. Skopje must thus confess its “Bulgarianism.” Sofia has named a “Bulgarian Cultural Center” in the North Macedonian city of Bitola after a Nazi collaborator, who had led the fight for the Greater Bulgaria cause in collaboration with Nazi Germany. The fact that, 19 years after the EU’s formal promises of accession, not even the necessary negotiations have been initiated, has provoked great resentment in North Macedonia. Skopje says that the EU must realize, that not promises, but actions are what count. Read more
Observers see the EU’s influence waning in non-EU countries of Southeastern Europe. Think tanks headquartered in Berlin propose sanctions for “kleptocracy” against the countries of the region.
BERLIN/SKOPJE/BELGRADE (Own report) - The EU should add "kleptocracy" to its sanctions regime and extend the sanctions’ provisions to the Western Balkans. This is being proposed by the Berlin-based think tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), in answer to the EU's waning leverage in Southeast Europe. For instance, observers rate the recent resignation of North Macedonia's Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, as a serious setback for Brussels. Zaev had made considerable concessions to be admitted to the list of candidates for EU accession negotiations, but had been ignored by the EU. Observers diagnose further setbacks in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the CSU politician Christian Schmidt has been installed as the - non-elected - High Representative endowed with extensive powers, and in Serbia, where opinion polls indicate overwhelming approval for close cooperation with Russia and China, accompanied by a very critical opinion toward the EU. Read more
BERLIN/ATHENS/SKOPJE (Own report) - With her visit to Athens, beginning tomorrow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is continuing a series of unprecedented interference by NATO and EU members into the domestic affairs of two Southeast European countries - this time in a dispute over a name between Greece and Macedonia. Because of Greek objections, Macedonia is known internationally as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In line with a June 17, 2018 agreement, the country is to change its name to North Macedonia. Because the renaming is a prerequisite for the country's admission to NATO and its negotiations for EU membership, the NATO war alliance and the European Union are urging that the name change process be sped up. This is also the reason behind Merkel's talks in Athens. The West is exerting massive pressure, and justifying renaming the country with allegations of Russian interference. The renaming is in violation of the Macedonia's referendum results and is dependent upon the votes of the opposition in the Macedonian parliament's forthcoming final vote. Corrupt methods are obviously inducing members of the opposition to vote in favor of changing the name. Read more