EU and Russia dip their toes in Macedonia crisis

  • Elisabeth Gheorghe
  • 10.3.2017 17:04

Following December 2016’s snap elections, protests and a constitutional crisis over electoral results emerged in Macedonia. Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov snubs a new coalition of nationalist VMRO-DPMNE and Albanian DUI parties to seize parliamentary reigns, having secured a majority. VMRO-DPMNE called for snap elections on 4 March. DUI now formally backs a Social Democrat-led opposition government, after policy negotiations with VMRO-DPMNE failed.

NATO, the US, the EU, and Russia dispensed contradictory statements on 2 March. The West advised Ivanov to grant the coalition. EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini stressed democracy’s weight, avoiding "an inter-ethnic conflict". Albania, Kosovo, NATO, and US ambassador to Macedonia emulated Mogherini. Russia stated the crisis is Western-backed, by promoting a ‘Greater Albania’, suggesting latent regional corollaries. Ensnared by both blocs’ mediatory attempts, nationalists contend it could endanger Macedonian sovereignty.

In October 2016, Russia was accused of allegedly backing a coup on Montenegro’s government, after NATO greenlighted Montenegrin membership. The same year Bosnia-Herzegovina submitted its EU candidacy application. Whilst Turkey and the GCC attempt to increase regional influence, EU leaders maintained Russia’s behaviour as more precarious at a 9 March meeting. The Western Balkans stands at the prospect of orbiting towards Brussels, Washington or Moscow’s spheres of influence.

About author: Elisabeth Gheorghe

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