13 јуни, 2024
ПочетнаОПШТОHappy 20th anniversary

Happy 20th anniversary

On the March 22 was the 20th anniversary of the submission of the request for the EU membership of the Republic of Macedonia. On that date in 2004, the then Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Branko Crvenkovski, submitted the request for our country’s membership in the European Union (hereinafter referred to as the EU) in Dublin. Can you believe it’s been 20 years? And where are we now as a country after those 20 years?

Every time we should first try to find the fault within ourselves as to why we aren’t members of the EU until now, that is in the incompetent political elites. But I can’t help but remember one old Macedonian song or to be more precise a verse – Europe the whore of Babilon. I want to say that more and more often I wonder if and how much Europe is to blame for where we are now as a country and region.

I am trying to remember what is different from twenty years ago in our small and beautiful Macedonia.

We have about 50 kilometers more highways. The exact number of people that left is unknown. I’m saying people, not Macedonians. If I’m not mistaken, the number of pupils in primary education in Tetovo has decreased by about a hundred comparing the beginning of this school year (I apologize for the exact number) and the beginning of the second semester. I believe that the number of pupils is decreasing almost everywhere in the country. Which means that young and working people had left the country. What else is different? We have more shopping malls, with new shopping brands in them and yet we still go to Thessaloniki for shopping. We found ourselves at the top of the list of the most polluted cities in the world. Lots of new buildings everywhere have been built, both where they should and where they shouldn’t have been. Incompetent administration. Destroyed public health.

The feeling is that all the countries around us are moving forward and we are still standing in one place and even in some areas of life we are going backwards. Perhaps the best thing that happened is that we became a member of NATO, so our territorial integrity as a country is guaranteed.

I am convinced that membership in the EU is the right thing and that is why there are negotiations and it is negotiated by chapters in order to harmonize the laws, rules and way of functioning of the country with those of the EU countries. How can we forget that democracy does not mean anarchy, but it means the rule of law and equality are a must, and to get there we need a lot of work and reforms. That’s why we need these negotiations with EU.

Yes, it is true that no government of independent Macedonia has done enough to move forward and get the country closer to Europe, but the fact is that the powerful European countries through the EU are practicing strictness over us. First, Greece blocked us because of the country name, then France didn’t allow us to start negotiations because of changing the membership criteria, now our western neighbor blocks us, that is, it directly interferes in our internal affairs. They want us to write them down in the constitution, but they do not offer reciprocity. Surely many think like me that this is not all and that a new request or new criteria for membership will come out. It’s just not fair.

Not moving forward has led to many parts of the system being under-defined, the gray area has become normal, our critical thinking as nation and enthusiasm has been killed. It has left us with two choices. Either bow our heads (so that the saber does not cut it) or to leave Macedonia. The education system is on its knees, the judiciary and the justice department are an unprecedented disgrace and what is strangest to me is that all this has become our new reality and normal.

A friend of mine was recently visiting relatives in Germany and when I asked him how it went, he answered me this. “Germany is thousands of years ahead of us in all areas. They have problems as a country, but they will overcome them and they will still be ahead of us by thousands of years.”

In relation to the EU and the negotiations with them, neither Albania nor Serbia aren’t in a better position and it is the new alliance called Open Balkans that gives me hope for a better tomorrow.

I will paraphrase one of the prime ministers from the neighborhood that in order for Europe to want us, we need to show results and evidence that we have changed and that we rightfully consider ourselves part of the European family of nations. Until now, the countries of the Western Balkans have proved themselves powerless to assert themselves and become part of the EU.

I think that with the single labor market and the compliance of the laws between countries, as well with the joint support of the local economy, we will all move towards a better life for everyone in the Balkans. I am not saying to stop negotiating with the EU, on the contrary. European money should be used for road infrastructure with joint projects. Then, the countries need to negotiate a common security policy of the countries of the Open Balkans. A further joint fight of the countries against crime, corruption and the gray economy will contribute to the economic development of all of us and will (at first) reduce and maybe even stop the emigration of young people from these regions.

Imagine, with open borders and with a highway, from Belgrade to Ohrid people will be able to travel by car in six to seven hours. Let’s connect with a highway from east to west, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea. A high-speed railway from Serbia to Thessaloniki will be a condition for economic well-being. Education must follow business and be better, and better health will mean a better life for everyone.

I honestly think that through regional development, the EU itself will recognize the region as important part and invite us all to become their members. There is a saying that applies to ecology, but it can also apply here. “Think globally, act locally.”

I am not conspiring any new Yugoslavia or Balkan Union, but I think that both Europe and the USA are aware that if SFRY with all republics in this federation (an economically and socially developed country that was in 1990s) had become a member of the then Economic Community, there would not have been bloodshed, wars and the regression of the entire region for a minimum of fifty years. Aware of that mistake, the entire region will have to develop first and then join the EU together.

М-р Раде Чоловиќ

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