On October 15, the General Affairs Council may decide whether to issue a starting date for EU Membership negotiations with Albania – the first in line to join – and North Macedonia, who is is second in line, and last for the time being. Or is it? Serbia, which so far has registered the best performance in adapting to EU standards in matters of EU practices and legislation and the only country in the area with a real state structure, is not being considered at this time.

Here one can see the short-sightedness of the Commission “system.” The Commissioner for Enlargement has not included Serbia in the list of potential candidates although it should be the first to start negotiation talks because unofficially, the EU is nervous about its good relations with Russia. While this is true, this relationship seems to mostly be about commercial relations ,which would give the opportunity to the bloc to open a second channel of dialogue with Russia, in parallel with Germany. Of course Berlin does not like potentially losing its exclusivity on the matter.

To start negotiating with Albania is like the United States starting negotiations with Colombia (Medellin, etc.) to become the 51st star in the American flag. (As a side note, poor Puerto Rico has not yet become a state.)  Of course, the European drug cartels through their influence and ‘influencers’ (and their endless cash) are able to exert significant pressure on the decision making centers of Europe. Because we must be realistic, Albania is among those that is producing, but others are doing the marketing of the produce in Europe.

Accordingly, we are looking forward on October 15, to see if Member States allow Brussels to initiate start entry talks with Tirana in the near future.

The current government of North Macedonia, desperately needs to get a date for accession negotiations as its government thinks it is the only way to survive politically, as do dozens of NGOs who are supporting it. This does not mean that by getting the date the government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev will survive for long as its survival very much depends on its Greek neighbors. Under the Prespes Agreement, Greece committed  to not obstruct the course of North Macedonia towards NATO,  but there is controversy in that agreement which Athens, sooner or later, should settle. Indeed, while the official name of the country is ‘North Macedonia’ its citizens are ‘Macedonians’ and the language is ‘Macedonian’, which does not make much sense, except to Zaev’s party and that of former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with a few exceptions.

For this anomaly to be settled, a confusion which may result to future long-term controversies, the two countries must first agree on the deactivation of Article 28 of the Prespes Agreement which does not allow the modification of the agreement (one day the historians will learn which party proposed that provision.) Then the two countries should agree to change the nationality and the language to ‘North Macedonian’. Otherwise the situation for North Macedonia will remain potentially unstable vis-a-vis the bloc, as the present or any future Greek government will have the power to block or delay any talks, for any reason, and if one looks for reasons it can find many, starting from the various facets of the “rule of law”. Because as we know, it is political realities and agendas that drive new countries to be accepted into the EU when technically, the candidate countries fall short. And in technical terms they often have.

Some see the current drive for enlargement as an intentional diversion from the real issues in Brussels.  Reality is that the European Union is not now in the position to see any further enlargement happen, unless it settles checks and balances in its own house after the Brexit issue (if, when and how) has cleared.

Furthermore, it cannot seriously consider any new enlargement before it absorbs the shock of the enlargements starting 2004. And this is only the beginning. Think that both proposed members of the von der Leyen Commission that were rejected by the European Parliament (so far) come from former communist countries (Hungary and Romania, for the time being).

For the time being we look forward to the October 15 meeting of the Council, with an eye on Albania. The conclusion of the meeting will very much depend on the effectiveness of the various ‘influencers’ (no, not social media stars) who will confront  the determination of certain Member States, such as France and the Netherlands that have been negative about  setting  a date for starting accession talks.