Why Macedonia lost a chance to open negotiation talks with EU?

Time: 11:30 a.m. CEST

One year later after the June 2 agreement at the Residence of the European Union in Skopje’s neighborhood Przino, European Commission on Enlargement, Johannes Hahn is in Jordan for the Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting. On his official Twitter account there is no statement until now for the process he started one year ago in Skopje. From the shared optimism on June 2, 2015 after daylong talks with political presidents of the four parliamentarian parties in Macedonia, only traces remain 365 days later. Hahn arrived in Skopje on June 2 last year to unlock political dialogue and concluded that processes with the July 15 agreement. At the tiny-side street “Zelengora” in Skopje with one of the most magnificent views on Skopje’s panorama, crowed of reporters and media crews disturbed the quiet life in the neighborhood, while waiting for the talks outcomes.

One year later, the key segment of the agreement, early elections would not happen, as envisaged with the agreements. In one year, the institutions and political parties in Macedonia managed to form the Prosecution for the intercepted conversations and move a step with the electoral reforms. The last one who mentioned agreements of Przino as still existing and valid document was a director in the EU Directorate for enlargement, Christian Danielsson, when he visited Skopje on May 27, 2016. Danielsson urged political parties to implement the urgent reform priorities, an extensive report prepared by the former Director of the internal security and home affairs in the European Commission, Reinhard Priebe.

Several days after, former Prime minister Nikola Gruevski, yesterday during a news conference said, state institutions “are fully focused,” about  urgent reform priorities fulfillment. Gruevski announced drafts in media sphere, administration, security, and judiciary, which should respond to the requirements and said the institution are in the stage of “preparation of many amendments, decisions, measures.” Even though, Gruevski is not Prime minister since January 18, 2016, yesterday he stated, the opposition would have an offer to take part in the process. “There will be a process of inclusion for the opposition,” Gruevski said.

Meanwhile, the interim Prime minister, Emil Dimitriev accepted the resignations of the ministers and deputy ministers of the opposition SDSM and they are not part of the government, as it was agreed with the documents of Przino talks last year. The opposition now focuses on the pressure from the streets and with protests and protests marches pushes for rescinds of all presidential pardons given by President Gjorgje Ivanov for 56 state officials. Ivanov withdrew some decisions after large pressure from foreign diplomats and a wave of protests across Macedonia already in the second month.

Yesterday, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe’s and Euroasian Affairs in the State Department Bryan Hoyt Yee said in a statement for the Macedonian language service at the Voice of America they “hope the elections will be as soon as possible, no later than 2017. “ Yee said coordinated the EU and other partners are going to make “a lot of pressure,” and help to government and political parties “to find necessary solutions.” The pressure and the help will be toward pulling the pardons, adoption of laws on media reform, or respect for the work of the special prosecution. No one yet reacted to Hoyt’s statement, while opposition’s SDSM president Zoran Zaev on Wednesday said there is a time until October to create the conditions for credible elections.

But, less is clear how is that possible considering the suggestions that came of the Hahn’s office for international review of the voters’ list, one of the hurdles in the political talks between the government and opposition. Overall, setting three steps back the process of the political talks, which should have ended during last year, means falling down on the issues of the de-politicization of the public administration, rule of law, freedom of the media, lustration and implementation of the 2013 report on the events of December 24 in the Parliament. With that, even local elections, which term is in spring 2017, looks too-optimistic target for a new date on general elections.

Macedonia lost a chance. The country did not use properly the possibility for opening of the Chapters 23 and 24 in the frame of the high-level accession dialogue. When arrived on June 2 last year, Hahn brought the bag of promises. The bag remains closed for Macedonia, as the country with staked EU integration, not only because of the disputes on the name issue, but also because of the shortages in the domestic political process. The process of opening the chapters remains closed. All promises and verbal guarantee given by the political factors on for “elimination of external influences over judiciary, respect of fundamental rights, “ and at least “a professional, reliable, and efficient police organization,” vaporized. Although, the verbal commitments still exists.






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