Radmila Sekerinska - Gerald
Since 2001, Macedonia had been one of the most impressive success stories of European policy in the Balkans. It had:
"moved within a short period away from the brink of ethnic war, implementing even the most challenging provisions of the Ohrid Peace Agreement. To support this process, the EU deployed all of the instruments in its Common Foreign and Security Policy: an EU Military Mission, an EU Police Mission, an influential EU Special Envoy, a European Agency for Reconstruction and, above all, a credible promise of eventual EU accession."
In late 2003, ESI worked closely with President Trajkovski as Macedonia prepared itself to apply for EU membership. Some member states had advised Macedonia that it was "too early" to apply. Two years later, in November 2005, the European Commission concluded that Macedonia had become
"a functioning democracy with stable institutions which broadly guarantee the rule of law and human rights. Its implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement has contributed to major political and security improvements."
In December 2005, when candidate status for Macedonia once again appeared uncertain, ESI published another discussion paper warning about the effects on the region of a negative decision:
"The signal this would send to the Balkans would be devastating. It would mean that the EU was reneging on commitments solemnly undertaken at Thessaloniki, and that the SAA process had been nothing but an elaborate charade.
If Macedonia, which concluded an SAA four years ago and has successfully dealt with the legacy of ethnic conflict, is now rebuffed, what prospects are there for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia or Kosovo, which are far behind Macedonia? A negative decision this week would leave the EU and its members without credibility or leverage in the region."