EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2016

Western Balkans

35 - Macedonia

Grade: C+
Unity 3/5
Resources 2/5
Strategy 2/5
Impact 2/5
Total 9/20
Scorecard 2015: C- (7/20)

The EU intervened to broker a solution to a political crisis, while Macedonia came under pressure from the influx of refugees

A major political crisis erupted in Macedonia as demonstrators took to the streets in Skopje to protest against Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s government, following a scandal over wiretapping of citizens. The EU – represented by Commissioner Johannes Hahn and several MEPs – intervened to broker a deal between the main political parties.

The agreement included a commitment from the Social Democratic Party to return to parliament, which it had boycotted since the 2014 elections. It also included provisions on power sharing, terms for an investigation into the wiretapping controversy, new elections in April 2016, and a list of priority reforms, with clear deliverables that the EU expected from the government. At the end of the year, it was unclear whether the agreement between government and opposition had the potential to defuse the country’s political crisis.

Macedonia was shaken by a violent incident on its border with Kosovo in May. Clashes between Macedonian police and a Kosovo Albanian armed group left eight police officers and 14 gunmen dead. Macedonian authorities charged 30 people with terrorism after the clashes. Leaders called for calm and emphasised that the clashes should not be seen as inter-ethnic.

In 2015, Macedonia became a focus of EU attention as the flow of refugees intensified. Initially, the authorities facilitated the movement of refugees entering the country from Greece on their way to northern Europe. But as borders started closing to the north, Macedonia imposed restrictions on those who could enter the country.

No progress was made in the year on the dispute over Macedonia’s name, with Greece arguing that the name belongs to a Greek province. Greece continued to block the opening of EU accession negotiations with Macedonia and membership of NATO.