Political crisis in Macedonia - A Test case for EU mediation capacity

The ongoing political crisis in Macedonia was the subject of a debate hosted by CEPS on June 20th. The succession of crises and sporadic eruptions of violence that have convulsed the country in recent years highlight the challenges facing the EU in its effort to maintain the country on the EU integration track and motivate it to complete much-needed reforms. The High Level Accession Dialogue, launched by the European Commission in 2012 with much optimism, did not yield the expected results, with the eruption of violence in the Parliament in December 2012 marking a watershed in the country’s slide towards authoritarian rule and anti-democratic behaviour.

Implementation of the political agreement of June-July 2015, which was signed by the four main political parties and represents the latest EU mediated effort at resolving the crisis, remains weak with many of the prescribed ’root and branch’ reforms as yet unfulfilled. Even the Special Prosecutor tasked with investigating the wiretapped conversations revealing abuse of power and large-scale corruption and criminal acts allegedly perpetrated by senior ruling party and government officials, has not been able to operate effectively, due to obstruction from the ruling party including blanket Presidential pardons, which have since been revoked. The debate raised more questions than produced answers as to what more should the EU be doing to ensure that the country fulfils its reform commitments and restores the rule of law. It also highlighted the limitations in the EU’s mediation capacity and in the institutional mechanisms it chooses to use.