Balkans

  • Macron's Belgrade Pivot

    French President Emmanuel Macron visited Serbia on July 15, the first such visit of a sitting French head of state since former President Jacques Chirac in 2001, only months after the fall of the regime of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević. While the international landscape has seen dramatic shifts in the two decades since, including a return of great power politics, the European Union’s attitude toward the Balkans has changed less than many might think. While Serbia and Montenegro have opened EU accession talks with Brussels, the region seems as distant from the EU as ever.


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  • North Macedonia and Greece Look Forward to Common NATO Future

    As NATO marks its seventieth year, it is also looking forward to welcoming its thirtieth member: the Republic of North Macedonia.


    The agreement between Greece and the newly-named Republic of North Macedonia, which ended a twenty-seven-year dispute between the two countries, “sends a clear message that we can resolve disputes through dialogue, by good faith… and using history not as a prison but as a school,” Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said on April 3. He said that the success of the two Western Balkans neighbors’ reconciliation can be a “blueprint for the Balkans — the powder keg of Europe in the past — to help resolve the other very difficult disputes that still exist” in the region and around the world.


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  • North Macedonia Negates NATO Skeptics

    Ahead of last year’s decisions on changing the name and disputed symbols in what was then commonly called Macedonia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made clear the stakes. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Stoltenberg warned Skopje. “Either [Macedonians] support the agreement and they can join NATO, or they don’t support the agreement but then they won’t join it. They cannot get both.” Government representatives of North Macedonia working the issue confirmed they had been informed in no uncertain terms it was now or never.

    Although turnout in the non-binding referendum was lower than hoped , the parliament of North Macedonia approved the landmark Prespa Agreement on January 11. From there, compared with the twenty-seven years of diplomatic wrangling  with Greece over these matters, it was a mere blink of the eye until the leaders of [soon-to-be-called] North Macedonia were getting a standing ovation at NATO headquarters as they and allies signed the formal accession agreement in February.


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  • Macedonia Signs NATO Accession Protocol: ‘We Will Never Walk Alone Again’

    The signing by NATO’s twenty-nine members and Skopje of an accession protocol that would make the future Republic of North Macedonia the Alliance’s thirtieth member represents “a victory for stability, security, and reconciliation in the Western Balkans,” according to Michael Carpenter, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.

    “Today the Western Balkans have turned a page,” said Carpenter. “Common sense and regional reconciliation have prevailed over divisions and discord.”


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  • Name Deal with Greece Gives Macedonia a ‘Second Chance’

    Macedonia’s entry into NATO can help revitalize the Alliance, the country’s foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on February 5.

    “NATO is a family that is about security, stability, predictability, and a better and more peaceful world,” Dimitrov said, adding that “for you on the inside it is probably easy to forget how cold it is on the outside.”


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  • A 'Monumental Day for the Western Balkans'

    On January 25, the Greek parliament approved a deal that will see its neighbor, Macedonia, renamed to the “Republic of North Macedonia”—a move that ends a twenty-seven-year dispute between the two Southeastern European countries.

    The deal—known as the Prespa Agreement—was reached between Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in June 2018. The Macedonian parliament approved the deal on January 11. The agreement paves the way for the newly-minted North Macedonia to join NATO and potentially the European Union.


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  • Greek Parliament Approves Macedonia Name Change Deal

    Greece’s parliament narrowly approved a deal on January 25 that would see its northern neighbor change its name to North Macedonia and Athens lift its opposition to Macedonian accession to NATO and the European Union. The deal passed in a 153-to-146 vote.

    The deal—known as the Prespa Agreement—was reached between Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on June 17, 2018. The Macedonian parliament approved the necessary changes to the constitution on January 11.


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  • Macedonian Parliament Endorses Name Change

    Macedonian lawmakers on January 11 approved a set of constitutional amendments that will see the name of the country changed to the Republic of North Macedonia, potentially opening the way for the Balkan country to join NATO and the European Union.

    “Today, the people of Macedonia secured their future and assured their place in the heart of Europe,” Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson said. “No longer will their nation be on the transatlantic alliance’s periphery, stuck in a geopolitical limbo. With an historic parliamentary vote approving constitutional amendments to fulfill the obligations within the Prespa Agreement with Greece, Macedonians have determined their own destiny.”


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  • Vajdich Quoted in Washington Post on peace effort between Serbia and Kosovo


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  • Kosovo's President Pushes For Peace Deal With Serbia

    Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, reaffirmed his commitment to a peace agreement with Serbia at the Atlantic Council on November 30 saying a successful deal would have “transformative power” for his country and the region.

    “Our institutions will finally have to focus on internal reforms: the fight against corruption and crime, jobs and the economy,” Thaçi said.

    “Finally, a chance for new leadership will emerge. A leadership that will only work for the future,” he added.

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