German chancellor Angela Merkel has praised judicial reforms in Macedonia as well as steps to improve transparency and resolve the former Yugoslav republic’s name dispute with Greece.
“In the last ten years, the solution has not been as close as now and it would be wonderful if the remaining difficulties can be bridged,” she said during a news conference with her Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev.
It would, but the dispute with Greece is only one of the many obstacles to the Balkan nation’s EU accession.
Central and Eastern European countries want to speed up the EU accession of Western Balkans.
Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov warned this week, “If there’s no enlargement now, there’ll be no other time for enlargement… Otherwise what China, Russia, Turkey are planning for the region, they will start today.”
Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó agreed, calling the 2025 target date set by the European Commission for the accession of Montenegro and Serbia “very late”.
Daniel Berman, who occasionally writes for the Atlantic Sentinel, poses an interesting question at his blog, The Restless Realist: Why not break up Bosnia?
The current situation seems untenable. Bosnia is divided in two: an autonomous Republika Srpska for the (mostly Orthodox Christian) ethnic Serbs and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the (Muslim) Bosniaks and (Catholic) Bosnian Croats.
The federation is itself divided into ten autonomous cantons, five of which are Bosniak-ruled, three Croat and two mixed.
This division, which emerged from the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian War, has kept the peace but entrenched ethnic divisions. Parties are organized along ethnic lines. Every political appointment must be considered within the context of ethnic politics. Serb nationalists perennially demand more autonomy from a central government that is already one of the weakest in the world. Some dream of one day joining neighboring Serbia, where their nationalist counterparts would be glad to annex the Bosnian enclaves as compensation for giving up ethnic-Albanian Kosovo.
These political obsessions have left Bosnia’s economy in a sorry state. Nearly half the population is officially unemployed. 40 percent lives below the poverty line.
Montenegro signed an accession protocol with NATO this week. 28 foreign ministers from the alliance’s existing member states signed the treaty earlier this month to clear the way for the Balkan state’s entry.
Expanding the alliance at a time when tensions with Russia are high due to the Atlanticist ambitions of another country in Eastern Europe — Ukraine — might strike some as unwise.
Montenegro, with its population of 600,000, also seems to offer NATO little. It has just 2,000 soldiers along with two frigates and four light ground-attack aircraft inherited from the former Yugoslavia.
While the world was looking at the Russian military campaign in Syria, Russia may have scored a victory in Europe: the government of Valeriu Streleț in Moldova was toppled by a vote of no confidence initiated by pro-Russian parties in the Chișinău parliament. Meanwhile, opposition protesters clashed with police in Montenegro’s capital and the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, visited Moscow. It seemed as if Russia had been on a winning streak. But in reality, Vladimir Putin has too many battles to fight and his own strategy — if there is one — put him under pressure. In fact, Russia is winning only where it does not have to have a strategy.
On 29 October, the government of Moldova had to resign after a successful vote of no-confidence in the parliament. It did not come as a surprise. The country had been in a turmoil since May, when a report by the Kroll company about the “heist of the century,” a scheme that resulted in the theft of $1 billion, one-eighth of Moldova’s GDP was made public. The report accused Ilan Shor, a 28 year-old banker, of orchestrating the theft.
A precarious power-sharing agreement that has kept the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina for two decades is threatening to break down as the large Serb minority seeks further autonomy from the Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats who make up the majority of the country. Read more “Ethnic Serbs Undermine Bosnia Power Sharing”