EU Enlargement: Crisis-Hit Macedonia’s EU Future in Limbo

Written by | Friday, May 27th, 2016

Macedonia’s future in the European Union is getting more and more distant as the country is increasingly unlikely to meet its accession goals amidst the deepening political crisis. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is experiencing a wave of demonstrations that broke out after it had been revealed that the then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had spied on the opposition. The first signs of unrest began to escalate at the beginning of last year when Mr Gruevski and other members of the ruling party were accused of corruption.

The parliamentary elections were originally planned for 5 June but they were put off indefinitely last week by the parliament. The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), the opposition party, said that it would boycott the poll until the government cleans up the electoral register by removing thousands of inactive voters. The EU supported this condition and said that elections should not take place under the present conditions.

Germany is especially concerned about the recent developments. German Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, commented that he is “extremely concerned” by the unfolding political crisis, adding that the government is “currently seeing political leaders acting in a way that is not becoming of a country that wants to join the EU”.  The United Kingdom has also amplified its pressure on Skopje to end confrontation, when it warned the country that “negotiations with the EU and NATO” would be put at risk.

FYROM applied to become a EU member in 2004 and shortly afterwards, the Stabilization and Association Agreement, which provides a comprehensive contractual framework for EU relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, took effect. In 2005, the country was granted the candidate country status and in 2009, FYROM’s nationals were granted a visa-free travel to the Schengen.

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