EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2015

Western Balkans

29 - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Grade: C-
Unity 3/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 2/10
Total 7/20

EU states observed a dramatic deterioration in FYRoM’s stability in 2014, but did not intervene beyond crisis management.

The situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM), an EU candidate country since 2005, continued to worsen in terms of the country’s democratic foundation, institutional functioning, and inter-ethnic relations. And in its regional relations, no progress was made on the name conflict with Greece. Overall, 2014 confirmed FYRoM’s stalled Euroatlantic and EU integration prospects and Europeans failed to launch any initiative to break the deadlock.

April’s parliamentary and presidential elections were criticised by OSCE/ODIHR for failing to meet OSCE commitments throughout the campaign, such as separation of state and party, media neutrality, or redress through complaint procedures. The main opposition bloc led by the Social Democratic Party started a boycott of parliament in May, accusing Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s government of election fraud. In December, the country’s political crisis worsened, as a parliamentary committee initiated procedures to oust absent opposition MPs.

Gruevski’s government made little progress in implementing EU accession standards and concerns about democratic rollbacks grew. The European Commission’s Progress Report, in unusually harsh terms, highlighted backsliding in some areas and criticised political interference in judicial powers, media control, and electoral irregularities. However, the Commission repeated its annual (since 2009) recommendation to open accession negotiations, although it did express regret about the “backward steps of the past year”.

Another point of concern was the fragility of inter-ethnic relationships and the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid peace agreement. Amid a general ratcheting-up of ethnic hate speech, the country witnessed major protests by the Albanian community in Skopje and violent incidents in the wake of the Monstra case, in which six ethnic Albanians were sentenced to life imprisonment for the alleged murder of five ethnic Macedonians. A self-proclaimed National Liberation Army movement claimed responsibility for shelling a government building in October. Moreover, the main Albanian parties, the Democratic Union for Integration and the Democratic Party of Albanians, continue to be at loggerheads. European member states, meanwhile, remained relatively disengaged, undertaking some crisis management but otherwise waiting it out.