Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel has just said that Macedonia has “real chances” to become the next candidate for EU membership.
This would be no big deal — the Slovenes have long had a soft spot for the Macedonians — except that Rupel is wearing two hats right now; he’s also Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. And he’ll be hosting the OSCE Ministerial Council this December, in Ljublana. That means he speaks with a lot more gravitas than just another small-country foreign minister.
“I cannot say when Macedonia’s entry talks will be launched, but express hope that the country will soon acquire the candidate status,” Rupel said. “Slovenia will support Macedonia’s candidate status, which may happen in December.”
But wait! There’s more. We all know the British Labor Party is meeting in Blackpool, right? Well, Tony Blair took a few minutes off to meet with Macedonian Prime Minister Buckovski, who is visiting Britain this week.
The meeting was private, but afterwards Buckovski said that Blair assured him that the EU enlargement process will go on — and that Britain “pledged support” to Macedonia’s candidate status.
Macedonia. Small, poor, obscure. Two million people, of whom between a quarter and a third are mostly-Muslim Albanians.
I was going to write a middlin’ long post about Macedonia’s relations with its neighbors. Bulgarians see Macedonians as dopey but lovable country cousins. The Serbs see them as dopey and not so lovable; they feel the Macedonians left them in the lurch during the breakup of Yugoslavia, and then there’s this whole festering dispute about the autocephalous Macedonian church. Slovenia is a major investor there, and Slovenes see Macedonians as an interesting source of cheap labor, without the baggage that, say, Croats or Serbs might bring. The Greeks, of course, still have their knickers in a twist about the name “Macedonia”, and are still occasionally threatening to veto Macedonia’s NATO and EU aspirations. The Turks…
…never mind. I’m just too weirded out by the whole thing right now. Maybe later.
Macedonia. An EU candidate.
[shakes head, goes looking for some cold mineral water]