“Macedonia is not ready for EU membership - it conducts anti-Bulgarian policies”. This message propelled tensions between Sofia and Skopje to new heights.
“Let’s stick to honest policies and common values.” That’s what Macedonian authorities urged in response. For both countries, “obsessions” over the past amount to alarming nationalism, while experts explain inability to cope with the issues of today - like economic crisis or rule of law - fuel Euroskepticism.
Such resistance illuminated in letters of protest to UN’s cultural watchdog over what intellectuals describe as “appropriation of Bulgarian language, history and culture by the republic of Macedonia”. In Sofia, however, Macedonian Culture Minister signed a UNESCO declaration for safeguarding intangible heritage, including history, languages, traditions, folklore.
It was namely Turkey which poured even more fuel to the “fire” of EU enlargement this week, when Premier Erdogan warned that if by 2023 Turkey is not member of EU, it will withdraw its candidacy. He declared this in Germany, whose Chancellor opposes Turkey’s accession.
It’s a hypocritical debate, as such “openness” has so far proven to be a mere façade.
But EU was never meant to be a union, based on certain religion or ethnicity. So, experts say, if EU wants to regain badly needed confidence, it should first and foremost focus on economic recovery and rule of law.