Macedonia del Norte

Desde la caída del Muro de Berlín hace 30 años, los líderes occidentales han sostenido consistentemente que no hay problemas en el continente europeo que no se puedan resolver a través del compromiso con la Unión Europea o una expansión del proyecto europeo. Pero esa perspectiva histórica parece estar cambiando, debido a una combinación de problemas internos de la UE y la indiferencia norteamericana.

Para empezar, puede parecer extraño que Estados Unidos fomente la pertenencia a un club que pertenezca a otro. Pero, desde su posición de liderazgo dentro de la OTAN -la principal organización de seguridad europea-, Estados Unidos siempre ha respaldado los esfuerzos europeos por consolidar la unidad política y económica en el continente.…  Seguir leyendo »

En medio del vodevil del Brexit, el Consejo Europeo del 17-18 de octubre no consiguió acordar la apertura de negociaciones de adhesión a la UE con Albania y Macedonia del Norte, Estados candidatos desde 2005 y 2014. La decisión de posponer el inicio de las negociaciones al menos hasta 2020 dejó ver un profundo malestar en la burocracia de Bruselas, que había apostado fuerte por esos países. El presidente del Consejo Europeo, Donald Tusk, afirmó que se sentía avergonzado por una decisión que “no es un fallo, es un error”. Por su parte, el comisario de ampliación, el austriaco Johannes Hahn, señaló con sorna tras la reunión que “no era un momento glorioso para Europa”, y la alta representante, Federica Mogherini, habló de “error histórico”.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is little doubt that Brexit is a strategic disaster for the European Union. But too few seem to understand that the E.U. is heading toward another strategic disaster — this time in the Balkans.

Last week, France intervened to veto the opening of E.U. accession negotiations with North Macedonia, against the repeated recommendation of the European Commission and the will of other member states. In doing so, it might have brought the E.U.’s decade-long strategic approach toward the Balkans crashing down.

Since the end of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, an E.U. priority has been to bring long-term stability to this troubled part of the continent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Au Conseil européen du 18 octobre, la France vient, une fois de plus, de s’opposer à l’ouverture des négociations d’adhésion avec la Macédoine du Nord et l’Albanie. Une décision qui, en reniant la promesse de l’Union européenne (UE), va saper sa crédibilité et provoquer une onde de choc dans les Balkans, où le retour de la France depuis 2017 avait été perçu comme un signe positif pour la stabilité régionale. Et ce, alors que le gouvernement de Skopje [capitale de la République de Macédoine du Nord] venait de prendre des décisions politiques historiques dans une région fragile, avare de réconciliations.

En effet, lorsque la République de Macédoine devient indépendante avec l’éclatement de la Yougoslavie, en novembre 1991, la Grèce impose qu’elle soit reconnue comme « l’Ancienne République yougoslave de Macédoine » (ARYM), ce que l’UE accepte.…  Seguir leyendo »

La temporada literaria ya está en marcha. Al menos por lo que toca a la Unión Europea. La pasada semana, uno tras otro, los europeos dieron a luz dos textos. Si bien no alcanzan el rango de cánones literarios, esos escritos son el reflejo del preocupante estado del mundo, en el que (¿aún?) la UE no ha renunciado definitivamente a imprimir su marca. En todo caso, a salvar su incomparable way of life.

En su reunión en la cumbre, el jueves, los líderes de los Veintiocho adoptaron un plan quinquenal que traza la “nueva agenda estratégica” de la UE. Y, al comenzar la semana, el paquebote diplomático que es la Alta Representación de Política Exterior, dirigida por Federica Mogherini, sometía a aprobación otro tocho: una reforzada puesta al día de la Estrategia global de la UE, adoptada tres años antes… 48 horas después del referéndum sobre el Brexit.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man passes campaign posters reading 'For a European Macedonia' in Skopje on 29 September 29. Photo: Getty Images.

With a turnout of less than 40 per cent, the result of the referendum on whether to approve a change of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYR Macedonia) official name to the Republic of North Macedonia is a setback for the country’s government. It had hoped to use approval of the change to normalize relations with Greece and clear a major obstacle to FYR Macedonia’s pursuit of EU and NATO membership.

But the referendum also highlights two enduring problems for the EU: its toxic relationship with electorates and the stalling of enlargement as its main policy towards the western Balkans.…  Seguir leyendo »

Con el otoño abriéndose paso en Europa, es tiempo de cosechar los frutos de meses de arduo trabajo diplomático en los Balcanes. El día 30 de septiembre, se celebrará un referéndum consultivo en la Antigua República Yugoslava de Macedonia que podría llevar al país a adoptar el nombre de “República de Macedonia del Norte”. Una amplia victoria del “sí” —combinada con una elevada participación— reforzaría enormemente a los partidarios del cambio en el Parlamento macedonio, que deberá pronunciarse sobre la necesaria reforma constitucional. En caso de aprobarse, será el Parlamento griego quien tendrá la última palabra.

La adopción de este nuevo nombre no representaría un mero ejercicio de economía lingüística, sino que pondría fin a 27 años de tira y afloja entre los Gobiernos macedonio y griego.…  Seguir leyendo »

After an astonishing 27 years at odds, in June, Macedonia and Greece reached a dramatic breakthrough in negotiations over what’s known as the Macedonia naming dispute. The dispute was, yes, over the former Yugoslavian nation’s name — but over much more as well, as we’ll see below. And after all that time, the June agreement solved the dispute simply: by renaming Macedonia as the “Republic of North Macedonia.”

What was at stake here — and why did resolving it take nearly three decades? Examining the long and complicated process can teach us a few practical lessons about international mediation.

A brief history of the naming dispute

In 1991, Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia and wrote into its constitution that its name was the Republic of Macedonia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesting the use of the term Macedonia to describe the Republic of Macedonia, the small republic north of Greece’s northern province of Macedonia, in Athens this month. Credit Costas Baltas/Reuters

Huge demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki recently have shaken Greece’s politics and threatened its coalition government. After years of austerity and the humiliation of depending on foreign loans, many Greeks are rejecting the idea of their country sharing the name of its northern province, Macedonia, with a small northern neighbor, the Republic of Macedonia.

This decades-long controversy has undermined the role that Greece, as a member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, could play in the Balkans. Even as a new government in the Republic of Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, appears keen on compromise and United Nations-mediated negotiations intensify, the issue could drive Greece’s domestic politics, as it has in the past.…  Seguir leyendo »

People protest the use of the term “Macedonia” in any settlement of a dispute between Athens and Skopje over the former Yugoslav republic’s name, in Athens on Sunday. (Dimitris Michalakis/Reuters)

Winston Churchill is thought to have said that the Balkans have produced more history than they can consume. The saying has been repeated by practically everyone who has had reason to deal with the region, for good reason.

The issue on the table now is about the legacy of Alexander the Great, who died in Babylon some 2,300 years ago, and the right to use the term Macedonia.

For more than a quarter-century, the mere existence of the Republic of Macedonia has infuriated Greeks who claim its neighbor’s name was stolen from the Greek province that borders Macedonia to the south.…  Seguir leyendo »

On a beaucoup parlé des Balkans dans les années 90 : l’éclatement de la Yougoslavie, entre des Serbes ultranationalistes, qui se réclamaient de la légitimité «yougoslave», et des Républiques fédérées comme la Croatie, la Slovénie, la Macédoine ou la Bosnie, qui réclamaient plus d’autonomie, voire l’indépendance, a abouti à une guerre atroce qui a marqué durablement les contemporains. De siège de Sarajevo en épurations ethniques, notre presse et nos écrans furent saturés de ce qui se passait à nos portes – avant la réplique kosovare à partir de 1999 et l’intervention de l’Otan. Depuis, les Balkans sont calmes : une à une, les ex-Républiques socialistes fédératives entrent, ou espèrent entrer, dans l’Union européenne en s’intégrant à des espaces économique et juridique qui sont, peu ou prou, nôtres.…  Seguir leyendo »

A series of dramatic events have been unfolding in the small and historically peaceful Balkan country of Macedonia. Although these events have received much less international attention than Brexit, French elections or even the Eurovision contest, they have significant implications for the rest of Europe and should garner greater attention.

Here’s the background

Macedonia is one of the states that emerged peacefully from the former Yugoslavia, and borders Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. In 2015, Macedonia’s conservative government was accused of using the national security services to wiretap up to 20,000 people for its own political gain. To defuse the scandal, the European Union stepped in to help the four main political parties — the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, the Social Democrats, and two small ethnic Albanian parties — negotiate next steps.…  Seguir leyendo »

The trouble in the Balkans today is not Russian meddling, though there is some of that, but a special case of the malaise afflicting Eastern Europe: unchecked executive power, erosion of the rule of law, xenophobia directed at neighbours and migrants and pervasive economic insecurity. The pattern varies from country to country but is palpable from Szczecin on the Baltic to Istanbul on the Bosporus. The countries of the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia – have long tended to follow patterns set by their larger, more powerful neighbours. They are doing it again.

The ability of the European Union (EU) to fix problems in the Balkans is hamstrung when the same troubles persist within its own borders, sometimes in more acute form.…  Seguir leyendo »

As summer ended, Macedonia declared a state of emergency and temporarily closed its borders with Greece and Serbia. The small Balkan nation joined much of Europe in a panicked, poorly considered and awkwardly implemented response to the asylum tragedy. Macedonia is a bit player in that crisis, which is assuming the dimensions of a new Voelkerwanderung – a mass movement of people the scale of which has not been seen on the continent since the Roman Empire crumbled. But as summer turns to fall, Macedonia must  quickly and constructively address its own domestic crisis, or risk violent confrontations.

Two shocks hit early this year: a scandal over leaked wiretaps that revealed a state apparatus captured and corrupted by the leading party; and a battle in the ethnically-mixed town of Kumanovo between police and ethnic-Albanian gunmen, many from Kosovo, that produced the region’s largest loss of life in a decade.…  Seguir leyendo »

From a distance, it looks deceptively like summer camping season in this country’s capital. Men play cards and drink beer by their colorful tents across the street from Parliament. A larger, younger crowd encamped in front of the government building listens to lively music.

In reality, this is the last thing Europe needs: a new Balkan crisis with proven potential for deadly conflict.

The campers by Parliament are stalwarts of VMRO, the main governing party since 2006, summoned to support controversial Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Those before the government center are from the opposition, especially its largest faction, the Social Democratic Party.…  Seguir leyendo »

Macedonia at the Crossroads

“Have you ever been stuck in an elevator?” a Macedonian politician asked me recently. We were in Skopje, his country’s capital, where huge public protests have raged over the last year, including demonstrators occupying the government square and, in the Parliament, a nearly yearlong boycott by the political opposition. “Can you imagine being stuck like this for 20 years? This is what happened to us.”

He had a point. Macedonia, a Balkan country of some two million people, roughly 30 percent of them ethnic Albanian, managed to steer clear of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, but that doesn’t mean it has been tranquil.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last year, I turned down an ambassadorial posting to Moscow and ended my 18-year diplomatic career. Serving my government and my country, Macedonia, had become very different things, and I felt there wasn’t much I could do from within to make a difference. Recent events have only reinforced this view. Once praised as a success story in a region riven by war, Macedonia is in crisis and urgently needs European Union intervention.

In February, Zoran Zaev, head of the opposition Social-Democratic Alliance for Macedonia, or SDSM, accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of orchestrating the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including judges, foreign ambassadors, opposition politicians, journalists and police officials.…  Seguir leyendo »

In reacting to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, President Obama has reassured exposed NATO members Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia of firm U.S. support, but he has shown little inclination to show needed leadership by putting another integral element of NATO policy on the agenda of September’s Cardiff summit: enlargement of the alliance. Obama’s hesitation, which has allowed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to put off the question of enlargement until next year, is unwise and unnecessary.

NATO enlargement, a bipartisan effort that has spanned the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, has been one of the most successful U.S. foreign policy achievements of the past two decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angelina Jolie’s new film, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” is about the ethnic tensions that produced the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II. The film has already won two awards and is an emerging box-office success, attesting to the enduring interest – and perhaps mystery – that the Balkans hold for international audiences who were as horrified as they were confused by the events of the 1990’s.

For those of us who lived and worked in the region during that turbulent decade, the post-Yugoslav wars remain fresh wounds. As Jolie’s film so ably shows, neither the international community nor local leaders made a concerted effort to prevent bloodshed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Gregorio Morán (LA VANGUARDIA, 29/07/06):

Si a Ankara hay que verla como ciudad musulmana emergente y centro de un planeta en expansión como es Turquía, ¿qué pinta Tetovo? ¿Dónde demonios está Tetovo? Para acercarse a Tetovo, primero hay que situarse en los Balcanes, un volcán de erupciones periódicas. Luego ir a Macedonia, ese país cuyo solo nombre provocó una confrontación con Grecia, que tiene por capital una bonita ciudad provinciana llamada Skopje, y que constituye una de las sociedades más conflictivas de la explosiva región balcánica. Porque Macedonia es un país con dos sociedades, dos religiones, dos lenguas, dos maneras de ser, dos tradiciones, y así sucesivamente en todas las facetas de la vida, y eso sin contar otras minorías de turcos, búlgaros, gitanos… Macedonia es una nación con dos países, el macedonio y el albanés, y eso tiene un valor especial cuando en España se discute si somos varias naciones en un solo país.…  Seguir leyendo »