FYROM: Five powerful EU countries left the informal group of FYROM friends in Brussels

FYROM: Five powerful EU countries left the informal group of FYROM friends in Brussels

Skopje, November 3, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Nikos Fragkopoulos – AMNA

Five EU member-states have left the so called “Friends of Macedonia” group disappointed by the fact that political players in FYROM are unable to reach an agreement to resolve the deep political crisis which the country has entered, writes the well-informed news portal of Skopje, “Novatv”.

The informal group of friends Macedonia consisted of 15 member states of the EU (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Slovakia) but recently five of them (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Great Britain and Belgium) left it, the portal reports in a correspondence from Brussels.

As the website notes, this group of Macedonian friends in Brussels, despite its informal nature, clearly reflects the political positions of the governments of the countries of which it is made up, regarding the European prospects of FYROM, which it heavily supported. However, with the escalation of the political crisis in Macedonia, several powerful EU countries have lost their patience.

The representatives of Greece and Bulgaria in Brussels regularly had a problem with these 15 countries which put them under strong pressure to not present obstacles to the European course of FYROM and allow the unconditional start of FYROM’s accession negotiations with the EU, the Novatv website reports citing a high-level diplomatic source in Brussels.

However, lately, the “pressure” of the 15 countries of the group of Macedonian friends has almost vanished, because Athens and Sofia are no longer the obstacles to the commencement of accession talks between FYROM and the EU but the problematic internal situation in FYROM which forces many EU countries to appreciate that the European Commission should withdraw its recommendation to open accession negotiations with Skopje or address a serious warning, says the website “Novatv”.

In 2005 FYROM received candidate country status for accession to the EU while the European Union, from 2009 to date has sent a recommendation six times to the European Council for the country to begin accession talks with the EU. However, the European Council It has not adopted these recommendations.

In the following days the Commission will publish annual progress reports on candidate countries to the EU (Turkey, FYROM, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina). As noted by several media in Skopje, the report containing the most criticism will be FYROM’s due to the political crisis in the country and the decline of democratic processes.

The question that concerns the political and diplomatic circles in Skopje is whether in its progress report for FYROM, the Commission will maintain its recommendation to the European Council to start accession negotiations with FYROM as the deadlock in talks between the government and the opposition to resolve the political crisis remains.

As several media report in Skopje the Commission will likely maintain its recommendation to open accession negotiations but on condition of faithful implementation of the agreement to resolve the political crisis in the country.

It will be a “conditional recommendation” of sort, something that is unprecedented on the part of Brussels. According to the media in Skopje, it is possible that the European Commission draws up a further progress report on FYROM in the first half of 2016, dedicated to the state of implementation of the agreement on resolving the political crisis in the country.

The leaders of the four biggest parties in Macedonia had come to an agreement on July 15, to resolve the political crisis through the mediation of the EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn. However, the implementation of the Agreement, which provides for early elections in the country in late April 2016, has stalled.

The EU has warned that if FYROM political leaders fail in coming days to agree on the implementation of the agreement, the latter is in danger of collapse and the holding of early elections in April 2016 will be questioned.