Former European Commission’s Director-General for Enlargement Pierre Mirel explains that Macedonia should have been separated from Albania with regards to setting a date for commencing the EU accession talks, and says he regrets France’s decision to postpone this process.
– It is not so terrible for Albania if it is postponed for a year, because the “vetting” process is still ongoing and is not a big problem. I’m sorry for France’s decision to postpone the process, as Macedonia needs support for the upcoming referendum and immediate opening of its EU accession talks would have been a reasonable gesture, Mirel says. Macron says internal reforms are needed, yes, we know that well, but the reforms can be done in parallel with the accession negotiations, Mirel says. The former director is certain that the member states will not block the date for negotiations for Macedonia next year, despite the election results in the European election in May.
Mirel doesn’t exclude the possibility for Macedonia to outrun Serbia when it will enter the negotiations with the EU. He also underlines the need for the European Commission to hold to the so-called ‘new approach’ to the accession talks, which means that chapters of the EU acquis covering the rule of law and judiciary are to be opened first. This approach also means more effective supervision of the process for implementing reforms, he says.
He also expressed grave concern over the Kosovo partition statements and warned that such a scenario brings security risks to Macedonia and the region. In the interview, the former chief for the Western Balkans says he is amazed by the European Commission’s lukewarm reaction following Thaci’s statements and Vucic, and believes that Brussels should warn of the risks posed by the possible split of Kosovo.
– I instantly think of Republika Srpska, but also of the Albanian community in Macedonia, and the Croatian cantons in Bosnia who might say that they want to be part of Croatia. But this goes even further: the Hungarians in Slovakia, we supposed that also Russia in Transnistria would take this as an example, says Mirel.
Mirel says that the positions on Kosovo’s territorial integrity have been established since the Rambouillet negotiations, but does not exclude the option that rhetoric is a “negotiating tactic” on the Serbian side to pressure Kosovo for the Association of Serb Municipalities. But that this tactic is not good and brings risks.