IBNA Interview/Zekolli: Consensus is yet to be reached on the issue of the name

IBNA Interview/Zekolli: Consensus is yet to be reached on the issue of the name
In an exclusive interview for IBNA, former ambassador of FYROM to OSCE, Arsim Zekolli talks about the intensification of talks concerning the issue of the name and how a solution can be reached. He believes that the process of negotiations is heading to its final solution, but, according to him, not a lot of explanations are offered and there’s a lack of transparency. “At the same time, regardless of the epilogue of the talks with Greece, the solution of the name contest doesn’t imply an immediate accession in the NATO or a launch of talks with the EU”, diplomat Zekolli says

Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti

We find ourselves in an important phase regarding the name. Are you expecting a positive epilogue and a solution?

I would like to believe that we’re close to a final solution. However, the fact that this government and the previous one are not transparent, does not contribute in strengthening the belief that everything is going according to the pledges made by PM Zaev. There are many gaps in the way Macedonia is approaching this issue and nobody is offering explanations. First, there was no clear consensus within the SDSM-BDI coalition, within SDSM itself and in relation to the opposition for the eventual agreement to undergo referendum. If a referendum will be held, how will it be held, because we don’t have a State Election Commission? If it is done through a bilateral agreement, minister Kotzias rejects such possibility, because agreements between governments may be abolished in case of government changes. Meanwhile, we see that ratings for SYRIZA and SDSM are dropping. In the end, the adoption of the agreement through parliament may not be successful due to the rigid stances of the opposition in Skopje and Athens.

What if there is no consensus and a solution?

SDSM copies BDI, meaning it focuses on international affairs more than it does on domestic affairs. Both parties, SDSM and BDI try to cover up the lack of results with some international achievement such as the solution of the name dispute, NATO accession and the EU accession talks. As a result, if the negotiations fail, then this will unmask Zaev’s and Ahmeti’s failures in the domestic plan. This is where they differ from Gruevski, who focused on domestic affairs more than on foreign affairs.

Is Zaev’s new government working a lot on the reform plan and recommendations issued by the international community on the reforms?

The government wants to give the impression that it is working hard. I fear although Mr. Zaev is declaring that he wants NATO and EU accession, he is in fact trying to capture the state.  SDSM will end up like BDI, a party which is based on party’s interests, corruption and incompetence. As a result, the international community will create more obstacles in the country’s integration path.

How do you see the EU’s evaluations on Macedonia in the latest strategy published on Western Balkans?

I see them as a continuation of other failed plans initiated by the European Union toward Macedonia and the region, starting with the Copenhagen criteria, HLAD package and the Berlin Process. The only motive of these strategies has to do with the fears from the penetration of Russia, Turkey, China and Saudi Arabia in the region.

Another element which makes me skeptic about the approach that Brussels follows in the Balkans relates to the security policies in Europe and the EU’s desire to remove the US’ influence in the region. The presentation of incentives such as the one for a European army (PESCO) will also have an impact on the process of NATO accession, given that NATO is dominated by the US and Turkey has a very strong influence on it.

However, a key moment for the future of the EU in the region and the region in the EU and NATO depends on the realities that exist in each country.  /balkaneu.com/

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