In the time when the pre-election political “ketman” continues on the domestic political scene, it seems that the process of enlargement, namely the opening and continuation of EU membership talks, has already passed in a completely different context dictated by France. However, France has reaffirmed its clear support of the European perspective for the Balkan countries, while at the same time promoting the idea of ”gradual and encouraging” negotiations.
Author: Bardhyl Zaimi
In politics, things do not happen according to a necessary agenda and orientation. North Macedonia, despite the boasting of each Government, has long been in an eternal transition labyrinth that has consistently produced irresponsible and deeply utilitarian political elites. In most cases, the means of maintaining power or coming to power have not been chosen. Not only once it has been trumpeted over the irreversible path to EU, but it has been a graffiti of populist uses rather than a structured vision that essentially implies a profound transformation throughout the institutional system, which has at all times suffered from positioning and party politics.
Regardless of the EU’s permanent political and financial commitment, North Macedonia, within the previous two-decade boundaries, has not achieved to internalize sustainable politics, which would be consisted with all recommendations, which were published every year in European Commission reports. The schematic political approach, completely barren in the idea of promoting European practices, has created an already unbearable labyrinth in which proven patterns of failures return to citizens’ hopes of a better life.
In addition, within this time a hyper-reality is created by political elites that is at all times sold as a kind of “progress” towards European values. In essence, this hyper-reality remains a paradoxical fabrication of the political elites that insists on imposing a perception on the citizens too, who, already faced the bitter economic and social reality, have no voice to oppose and deconstruct it as a permanent propaganda. This hyper-reality ironed out in the propaganda machinery of the political elites is at all times imposed as “good governance”, depending on which party is in power.
They are the same parties playing in the same absurd scene of systemic failures. Endless political feuds that preserve within themselves the “longevity” of the extortionate elites, who sometimes for “principled” reasons know how to convert and change sides, depending on the survival coefficient and the space given to ensure continuity on the power thrones.
The corridors of institutions are filled with these political and economic “elites” that agree on a continuity “compromise” always at the expense of the citizens and at the expense of genuine progress that should really take place during these traumatic transition years. In the absence of coherence in the establishment of good governance practices and in the absence of democratic capacities, these “eternal elites” who know how to convert, often, precisely in these corridors of public property extortion, project divisions of various kinds, which are then lowered to the citizen’s level.
Dozens of times change have been promised and dozens of times the avaz of a “Ketman” has been continued, as described by the Polish Nobel laureate, Ceslav Millosh in his book, “The Captive Mind”. Undoubtedly, this kind of political “ketman” is out of any real perception of political, economic and general social developments that enable approximation with European standards, which have never been posted as recommendations by the European Commission.
It seems that these political improvisations that have dominated the past period will no longer be able to pass, despite the fact that in the pre-election campaign phase is seen the same ritual of repetition, of outdated policies that apply to domestic use, but not even for a new moment that is emerging on the horizon in the EU negotiation process.
France has already submitted a non-paper to EU member states, an informal document seeking to renew access to the EU enlargement process for the Western Balkans. Through this document, France requires that the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European family to be done in seven phases and not with chapters as it was so far. In essence, this new approach implies a reversible process that relates to the fact that if at a given stage in a given area there are deviations; it means that the process can be returned for consideration.
The new approach also implies a gradual approximation. The process will no longer be based on chapters, but on some stages that the state must go through. According to the new methodology, which is structured in seven phases, strict conditions will be set for each phase for the candidate countries. Indicators will be taken from all European institutions in the relevant and main fields and the situation is presented in the field of justice. This approach would provide tangible benefits, while emphasizing the necessity that except the increase of the financial support that will be further added in order to avoid foreign influences.
Paris also predicts additional financial assistance in the pre-accession process of the Western Balkan countries. This means more pre-accession instruments, but also access to structural funds now reserved only for member states. While this document has been welcomed with much curiosity and dilemma, it seems that in itself implies a correct approach and many aspects it could be considered advantageous to aspirant countries, as they will have access to EU structural funds in advance.
It is not known what other countries will be reflecting on this new approach to the enlargement process, but one thing remains clear that this process in the future will not endure the improvisations that have long been present in North Macedonia in terms of meeting the standards required by the EU.
Opportunity to return the process, emphasizing that a return principle should be established to address situations where the candidate country, fully or partly, no longer meets certain criteria or ceases to fulfill the commitments it has made.
The Government welcomes any ideas that will contribute to a faster start of North Macedonia’s negotiations with the EU and will make negotiations more efficient. The opposition has commented the new approach differently. VMRO-DPMNE’s leader, Hristijan Mickoski has stressed that with France’s non-paper, the path to EU membership is even longer. According to him, the non-paper shows that Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev has distorted the truth as far as internal reforms are concerned.
By the time the pre-election political “ketman” continues on the domestic political scene, it seems that the process of enlargement, namely the opening and continuation of EU membership talks, has already passed in a completely different context dictated by France. However, France has reaffirmed its clear support for the European perspective for the Balkan countries, but at the same time has promoted the idea of ”gradual and encouraging” negotiations.
It is now clear that the enlargement process is in another phase of the debate dictated by France. There is no dilemma that the negotiation process will be much more difficult, but not without concrete effects on the way.
The coherence in reforms will be key to success on the road to EU membership. Perhaps the time has come to realize that without substantial and substantive commitments there will be no progress in the process of opening negotiations and membership. The political ‘Ketman’ may be temporarily valid on the domestic scene, but in no case will it seem to be perceived in this new context being created within the EU and implying a verified matrix of change in all areas.