By Gjakush Kabashi*
It comes as no surprise saying that Macedonia won’t enter NATO in near future, which is easily concluded by anyone with basic political logic and daily reading of serious newspapers. Few would be surprised by the fact that ethnic Macedonian leaders are not convinced the country belongs to NATO.
The biggest surprise – not for everybody – is that ethnic Albanian politicians are not that willing to see Macedonia in NATO, as proven by turning this declared priority into a detail for campaign and political trade.
With the crisis in Ukraine escalating, some calculate that Macedonia might benefit and enter NATO, despite the name issue. Yet, this won’t happen for several reasons.
First, the Balkans is already ringed by the Alliance and Macedonia offers no comparative advantage.
Further, official Skopje has missed far better chances, such as the indisputable argument of its military contribution in Afghanistan, proportionally higher than many NATO members.
Third, after all the flirting with the East (unsuccessful, so far), there’s no serious argument proving that the political elite in both ethnic camps is genuinely committed for integration in the Alliance.
Finally, if the name issue can’t be resolved without external pressure, it is certain that such pressure won’t target Greece, due to its role in NATO’s east wing in the Syrian war, but also in light of the Cypriot issue, which is far more important than Macedonia in the geostrategic sense, with greater global interest for a quick solution.
Clearly, NATO and its key members have plenty of issues home and across borders, but let’s not forget that it’s Macedonia seeking membership in the most powerful political and military alliance, not the other way around.
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves how it is possible that within ten years, Macedonia turned from a preferred candidate into a failed case. As a reality check, Montenegro didn’t exist as a country in 2004; today, they offer their sea potential pressing for a membership.
Without having such readiness to face the reality, a blame game is launched, accusing others for the failures.
Without underestimating the importance of the name issue, Macedonia’s official policy provides few arguments proving its stated commitment.
In the case of Ukraine, for one, there’s no such commitment at all. Macedonia has made no single official statement aligning its positions on Russia, with those of NATO members or the United States as the key supporter.
In the public sphere, it’s impossible to ignore the obvious coordination of the pro-Government media that report Ukraine’s events as a translation of Russia Today, Moscow’s main propaganda tool.
There might be some explanation for all of this. Yet, it’s impossible to excuse the role of the Albanian ruling politicians, who have no evidence to back their stated Euro-Atlantic commitment, save for some unessential visits and senior level photo-sessions.
Nobody expects them to resolve the name issue – although this was promised by the Albanian participant in the Government some six months ago – but at least they can stop swapping the major geostrategic commitment for government seats or express profits.
Looking back at the events in some twenty years or so, it will be impossible to hide the Albanian contribution in this epic failure.
Excluding the folklore-history and domestic glorifications, we will have to face the truth, just as nowadays we are ashamed by some decisions of the past leaders in key historic moments.
Meantime, we’ll learn how politics functions in the hard way. After the time wasted in comparisons that Switzerland survives without being out of NATO, or poems of the Albanian sun rising in the West, we will wake up understanding that without integrations we have ended up as Moldova.
* Graduated law in Skopje in 2008. MA (Distinction) Intl Relations and Security, University of Westminster, Chevening scholar 2011/12. Assistant Political Advisor at the EU Delegation in Skopje (2008-11) and Political Advisor at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Skopje (2011). Over ten years’ experience of translation / interpretation in Albanian, Macedonian and English, worked with over 70 clients in the country and abroad)
** The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line