OP/ED: Energy crisis: The Balkans one step closer to collapse – They receive European indifference

OP/ED: Energy crisis: The Balkans one step closer to collapse – They receive European indifference

By Renato Lekka*

Just as the planet is trying to recover from the pandemic, it is suddenly hit – or rather not so much – by the energy crisis. The problem as a whole has not yet presented itself, but countries are trying to shield themselves.

In the Balkans again, the difficulties are very acute, with this winter being one of the most difficult in their modern history. The Balkan countries do not have much to hope for from the EU, as there is no common coping policy in sight for the member countries either. It should be remembered that at the ’27’ Summit in Ljubljana, the EU’s powers that be postponed the accession of the six Western Balkan countries to the EU to the indefinite future. This has naturally brought great disappointment both to the governments of the countries and to the societies. The leaders of the member states not only did not set a date for the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, but also rejected the Slovenian presidency’s proposal to complete the accession process by 2030.

Albania

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said his country is in a state of emergency due to electricity supply. During his speech, Rama said the decision was influenced by developments in the European electricity market, which has become much more expensive in recent weeks. The Albanian government has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Arben Ahmetaj to manage this situation, who will now have the right to make decisions regarding energy companies.

According to experts, the country must now find a viable solution in order to resolve the current crisis. Ahmetaj has announced a programme to support households and small businesses. One of the solutions being considered by the Rama government is the partial nationalisation of the electricity company.

North Macedonia

In North Macedonia, Zaev sees his party sinking in the local elections.  In the first round VMRO DPMNE won in at least 20 municipalities out of 80 across the country while Zaev’s party won in just 9. The election made Zaev promise that by the end of the year the price of electricity would not change. Of course, the North Macedonian prime minister – like Rama – has warned his people that his country faces a major economic crisis. In North Macedonia they were expecting a positive development at the last summit. Zaev is in a slump and ” wants to be caught somewhere” for the next day.

Serbia

Serbia is in an extremely difficult situation. Vucic says that he finds it hard to sleep at night because what his country will experience in the coming period is very difficult for him. “I don’t sleep at night. What we are living is not easy. We will have a huge issue with energy prices,” Vucic said recently while speaking to his people. The truth is that in the previous period the Serbian President tried to find a communication with Putin about gas prices. For his part, the Serbian President wants to create conditions for renegotiation. This is not in sight.

European indifference

Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia are receiving an incredible indifference from the EU the likes of which has never been seen before. On the one hand, it is understood that the member states are facing a major crisis, but on the other hand, Europe should have learned lessons from the past, as Russia and Turkey have a strong interest in the region. It is not excluded that countries that are candidate countries, seeing the collapse of the energy crisis approaching, will be driven to another kind of solution, at least for some time. A solution which would be at odds with European principles and values./ibna

* Renato Lekka is a journalist