IBNA Op-Ed/Who do the bells ring for in Brussels?

IBNA Op-Ed/Who do the bells ring for in Brussels?

By Fatmir Besimi

Deputy prime minister for European Affairs in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

It would be more than in a movie, more than our dreams for a brighter future for us all…: European Council decides to launch European Union accession talks.

This decision is strongly based on the significant progress marked in all domains of the European agenda. Our country meets the criteria of Copenhagen for a functional democracy and a market economy which can face competition in the European market and has built credible institutions with a high democratic capacity. The judicial system is effective and non selective, media are independent and freedom of speech equals the level of countries with a developed democracy. State administration is professional and non political, with an adequate and fair representation of all communities, with the opportunity to develop their career based on quality.

There’s a clear division between the state and the party and the electoral process has gone by without any complaints. The opposition has accepted the election result and a democratic debate is being held in parliament about Euro-Atlantic vision. Relations with neighbors see a constant progress, by successfully overcoming all differences and by solving all pending issues.

Cross ethnic relations are considered to be as the best ones in the region and they must be an example of the cohabitation and trust even for EU member countries.

A very special day.

I am making my final preparations in the office before coming out on a press conference to inform the citizens about the news from Brussels and the activities ahead until the full EU accession.

I’m also waiting a phone call from Brussels to synchronize declarations, but I hear the ring… Ohh…!”-This was the alarm bell that ruined this beautiful mosaic ahead of the first meeting with the Commissioner for Foreign Policy and Security of the European Union.

Please God, make this dream a reality! The visit in Brussels finalized a number of meetings that I held in European capitals before the December meeting of the European Council, in order to demonstrate our engagement for a European future.

At the same time, we must inform-not to say report-about the challenges and the consequences of not finding a way out of the current status quo.

I asked the commissioner help for the solution of the name dispute. In order to improve dialogue with Brussels, I vowed in finding the necessary forms. Creative, I would say. Some of the ideas were: the opening of chapters 23 and 24, rule of law and fundamental rights and chapter 35 in the framework of which would be conveyed the progress of negotiations with neighbors; modalities of the involvement of the EU in facilitating the solution of pending bilateral issues with neighbors; and a subsidiary in the Stabilization and Association Agreement after the tenth anniversary of its implementation, in order to offer new investment opportunities.

The Council did its part-it welcomes the fact that the European agenda remains a strategic priority and agrees with the assessment of the Commission that our country has a high level of harmonization of its laws with those of the EU and meets the political criteria to a satisfactory extent.

The Council takes into account the recommendation of the Commission to launch the EU accession talks and it will go back to this issue at any time next year, when there will be an evaluation for progress in terms of reforms, in the context of high level dialogue for accession and concrete results about the solution of the name dispute. Even this time, the council didn’t hesitate to clearly recall our concessions and the importance of the independence of the judicial system, freedom of media, political dialogue, cross ethnic relations and good neighboring relations!

Who are these bells ringing for in Brussels!?

Is it perhaps an alarm that reminds us that we must wake up, remove this image which is not at all good for us and start a new reality and enjoy a new European day? Bells are ringing! Was this a dream or a nightmare? I continue to believe that one day, our children along with those in London, Paris and Berlin will live this dream in Brussels!

* The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line