February 6, 2019
This is how Dr. Vankovska, TFF Associate for over 20 years, succinctly has responded to an inquiry by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. And on this very day, Macedonia signed its accession protocol to NATO.
Let’s make clear a few things: first, the so-called Prespa process, in which the Republic of Macedonia had to change its name and the constitution, had primarily been inspired by wider geopolitical reasons and run by Western power centers.
In my view, the collateral damage of this – alleged Nobel Peace Prize worthy – success is the internal political situation and stability.
Second, if the NATO enlargement process teaches us anything it is that the political will of the member-states has dominance over the declared criteria for admission to the Alliance. It seems that everything is set now (unlike 2008) so there is no doubt that Macedonia’s accession to NATO is certain.
Objectively speaking, the country finds itself in an extremely difficult economic, political, inter-ethnic and military situation. The preparedness is maybe in rapid decline but it does not matter for Brussels because the Second Cold War requirements are predominant.
Let me give you a few facts that are not convenient for the Macedonian government to admit:
• the highest ‘success’ of the current Minister of Defence is the procurement of boots for the soldiers (yet there were no budgetary means to provide boots for the whole army contingent);
• the country is in a free economic fall the second year in a row;
• according to Transparency International the corruption level is skyrocketing;
• the same applies to the democracy index and media freedoms;
• the inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic tensions are increasing.
However, throughout the years the general public has made a secular religion out of NATO, i.e. the majority citizens see the Alliance as a heaven on earth, and expectations are so high and unrealistic that it won’t take long before the current government will prove unable to manage the extremely high expectations.
Actually, I expect the country to soon face serious internal challenges precisely in the next couple of years, i.e. while the accession process will have been completed and crowned with one more member state.
As it seems NATO will embrace one more weak state with a lot of internal problems and instability, but it won’t matter for its general goals and aims.
And to the great disappointment of the Macedonian citizens, it will soon become clear to them that the NATO membership does not lead to a better life quality, rule of law, higher employment rate, internal stability, and progress.
However, all these challenges will have much greater impact on Macedonia’s EU accession prospects, which would be thorny and uncertain for both external and internal reasons.