A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman, of the next generation.
James Freeman Clarke

In less than a year, Macedonia’s EU accession has passed from a strong prospect to a dangerous halt. Despite the pending name issue with Greece, that shadowed the country’s European aspirations, Macedonia seemed to be on the good track when, in last October, the European Commission recommended the opening of accession negotiations. It was likely that Greece would put a brake in the process in the European Council, but there was hope that the recommendation would stir both countries’ politicians towards a consensus. This, however, never came to happen, leading to Greece’s blocking of the negotiations in December.
It is obvious that Greece will never allow Macedonia to be a member of the EU and NATO with its current constitutional name, as it is obvious that Macedonia needs to be a part of these institutions in order to become a modern and developed nation. Following James Clarke’s quote, from a statesman’s point of view this would be a no-brainer, but in today’s politics there are few who can call themselves as such; in Macedonia, there are none.
Since the majority of the Macedonian people (according to a recent poll, two thirds) prefers to maintain the country’s name to joining these institutions, no prime minister would dare their political career by giving in to Greece; I dare saying that whoever penned a deal with Athens regarding this issue would never win an election in Macedonia – ever. And this is, probably, the main reason why this issue has been dragging for almost 20 years: the politicians who refuse to settle this matter with Greece gain political benefits from it. To be as blunt as I possibly can: they aren’t thinking of their country’s best interests, they are thinking of their own best interests.
This is not an exclusive problem of Macedonia, but it becomes particularly serious in a country with obvious economic limitations. It is a rare sight when politicians make options that are good for the country if those decisions go against the will of the majority of the voters. I understand that this is a very sensitive matter, that touches deep in Macedonians’ hearts, but 20 years is a very long time, more than enough to reach a deal, specially since this delay is crippling the country’s economy; if it hasn’t happened yet it is mostly due to the fact that whoever signs such an agreement is politically dead.
We can not elude ourselves to think that Macedonia can afford the luxury of not being an EU member state; that is not an alternative, especially in the long run, when all its neighbours will be a part of the Union. And to become a member, the name must be changed. This is not a solution that pleases the Macedonian people, I know, but it’s the only one. However, it will take something that this country probably doesn’t have to reach a compromise with Greece: a statesman, some one who thinks of the country’s future rather than his own, who thinks of the generations to come rather than the elections to come. Looking at Macedonia’s recent past and at the current government (and its opposition) I’m afraid we will have to wait for a long time until we see a such a leader making the decision this country doesn’t want but desperately needs.

Автор на текстот : Андре Вал – граѓанин на Европската унија кој живее и работи во Република Македонија.