AB Genişlemesi Kaput…(english)
As New Europe wisely predicted in recent weeks, neither
Albania nor North Macedonia received a date at the EU Summit to launch
negotiations for their EU accession.
Both countries needed the date, particularly Albania as it
would practically legitimise its role as one of Europe’s leading marijuana
producers. North Macedonia was hoping for good news to help stabilise its
government. As New Europe anticipated, however, France – which was informally
backed by at least five other EU members – refused to grant a date to both
That’s it…the end of the story, for the time being.
New Europe observed the interventions of EU Commissioner
Johannes Hahn, who openly supported North Macedonia. We at New Europe presume
his backing came, not because he cares about the stability of Zoran Zaev’s
government, but because as an Austrian, it is his duty to protect the
investments of his country in North Macedonia.
Indeed, the good Commissioner, who was obviously
disappointed, told Reuters that “It’s becoming harder and harder to provide a
proper explanation (for the delay). If we agreed with our partners on the steps
to take, and our partners are delivering, it is then our turn to deliver.”
We were astonished reading the Op-Ed by four sitting foreign
ministers from Poland the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary which urged the
bloc to grant a date to Tirana and Skopje. The four ministers were,
consequently, all from former Communist Eastern Bloc nations where they
mastered the art of fabricating stories and disinformation.
In the Op-Ed, the four foreign ministers made the case to
Western European readers that both North Macedonia and Albania should be
morally remunerated because they were bombed during the 1990s Yugoslav Wars.
One minor detail, however, neither Albania nor North Macedonia was ever bombed
during those bloody conflicts. Bosnia and Serbia, two countries that also
should be granted EU membership, suffered heavy damage from those wars and key
elements of their infrastructure were targeted and partially destroyed.
Regarding Russia’s influence in the region, Albania and
Montenegro are full NATO members already and North Macedonia is set to join
before the end of this year. It is stupid to think that the Russians can
continue to play any role in these three countries. On the flip side of that,
neither Bosnia or Serbia are in NATO and there are plenty of Russian interests
in each. If the bloc truly cares about Russian infiltration into the Western
Balkans, Bosnia and Serbia should begin rapid entry negotiations.
Last but not least, we want to ask the four foreign minister
from Eastern Europe and ask: “What were the benefits for the EU when we let in
11 former Communist states, three of which were full republics inside the
What we got were terms that were introduced into our
vocabularies – for example, the word ‘oligarch’. Did the EU-15 have an oligarch
before? We familiarised ourselves with corruption, unfair justice, and
authoritarian rule – all of which we see today in several of the former Eastern
Bloc. In the business field, we did not open new markets, but we allowed unfair
competition with the EU-15. And although all of the members should apply the
same rules, the newcomers needed to enforce rules in their own way, relaxed and
without many controls.
Europe must enlarge with Europeans who share the same values
and culture. Indeed, how many potential candidates for EU membership meet the
European moral principles that emerged from the French Revolution, Greek
philosophy, and Roman law?
The rise of France
To give a date to Albania and North Macedonia about starting
entry negotiations to the EU is not a big deal. Once given, negotiations to
conclude the 35 chapters of the acquis, if ever concluded, could well require a
decade. Therefore, for the bloc to grant a date, is irrelevant.
That the EU, the applicants claim, had promised to give a
date after Skopje and Tirana carried out reforms is not a serious argument as
Albania still remains a major centre for narcotics trafficking and North
Macedonia continues to suffer from issues relating to the rule of law which are
far below Europe’s minimum minimorum.
The question, however, is not about why they weren’t granted
a date, but why the irrelevant became an issue and created divisions within the
bloc. Obviously, there was a reason that unrelated to the applicants, who in
this case, had their “15 minutes” of fame and that was it.
The issue now is who will fill the vacuum left by the UK
after its withdrawal from the European Union at the end of this month. Brexit
implies major structural changes for the remaining 27 EU members. Those new
roles will require new equilibria.
Two years ago the future of the bloc was looking very
German. At that time, Germany, more powerful than ever before, step by step,
drove the UK out of the union and was getting ready to replace London as the leader
of Europe’s foreign affairs, as well as its political and defence issues.
EU foreign policy was strictly the domain of the UK, which
at the time imposed the establishment of the European External Action Service,
the EU’s foreign ministry, which was entrusted to Lady Ashton who filled all
key sensitive positions of this new service with British diplomats. The UK also
had the undisputed leading role in the Union on matters of defence.
In politics, the UK was also substantially influential and
despite the fact that London never participated in the common currency, the
Director of the Euro Directorate of the Commission was British.
Once Brexit became a reality, Germany appeared to be the
natural successor for the British in these specific fields.
The soup, however, turned sour as traditional political
parties in Germany began rapidly losing ground. Angela Merkel – who had been
the political engine for Germany, and of the bloc as a whole – was marginalised
and extreme elements entered German political life. This later signified the
rise of the extremes all over the bloc.
Brexit is a process that cannot be reversed, and the vacuum
it is leaving behind will be filled. Germany will certainly maintain the
economic leadership of the bloc, but it is unlikely that it will take over
leadership in foreign affairs, politics, and defence. All are political matters
and after the marginalisation of Merkel, Germany is rather weak, the more so
now that German linear thinking and Cartesian logic cannot meet the challenges
that Europe has to confront.
This is the vacuum the United Kingdom will leave behind
after leaving the EU and France is the potential candidate to fill it. Paris
has a long tradition of being active in foreign affairs and France is the only
Member State among the 27 which has a very serious arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Given the circumstances, France has now the opportunity to
vindicate the political leadership of Europe.
To take such a positioning requires a struggle as Germany
will not step back easily. To this effect, France has to confront Germany and
its supporters on political grounds and it seems that it opted to confront
Berlin on a rather harmless and irrelevant matter – the granting of a date to
start enlargement negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania.
As a result, France first upgraded the irrelevant to
important and won the first battle over a matter that has relatively little
collateral damage, although we will need to monitor Tirana and Skopje next
It remains to be seen how President Emmanuel Macron, who has
already capitalised on the matter, will continue and what will be his next