Macedonia: Name not the only thing keeping it out of the club

ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images For months, Greece has been threatening to veto Macedonia’s admittance into the EU, all because the two can’t agree on the name issue.  But with violent outbreaks pock-marking Macedonia in the weeks before its June 1 elections, it appears the tiny Balkan state might just knock itself out of contention before Greece ...

595050_080514_macedo_810676792.jpg
595050_080514_macedo_810676792.jpg

ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images

For months, Greece has been threatening to veto Macedonia’s admittance into the EU, all because the two can't agree on the name issue.  But with violent outbreaks pock-marking Macedonia in the weeks before its June 1 elections, it appears the tiny Balkan state might just knock itself out of contention before Greece even gets the chance.

ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images

For months, Greece has been threatening to veto Macedonia’s admittance into the EU, all because the two can’t agree on the name issue.  But with violent outbreaks pock-marking Macedonia in the weeks before its June 1 elections, it appears the tiny Balkan state might just knock itself out of contention before Greece even gets the chance.

Last month, Macedonia’s parliament moved to disband and hold snap elections after months of deadlock (and the occasional headlock) over reform issues and rights for its 25 percent Albanian minority.

Since the beginning of the campaign last Sunday, a member of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) has been stabbed to death and members of the rival Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), have been beaten, shot at, and had their offices attacked. In the latter cases, the DUI has blamed the violence on DPA supporters.

EU leaders have expressed concern over Macedonia’s pre-election troubles, saying that “violence has no place in an election campaign.”  

This seems like an awfully understated response on the part of the EU, for whom Macedonia is quite close to the front of its new membership queue. 

A candidate country since 2005, Macedonia is on track for EU membership in the coming years. But if the country can’t better control its pre-election tensions, is it really ready?  After all, as Bulgaria has shown, EU membership is not just going to make crime and corruption disappear.  But on the flip side, the promise of an EU future may be the only thing keeping countries like Macedonia on track toward an eventually stable government.

So back to Greece and its veto-happy approach to its northern neighbor. Is prolonged regional instability really worth it for one little modifier?

Lucy Moore is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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