By Stefan J. Bos
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he resigned Friday to pave the way for a new caretaker Cabinet and to organize an early election. The government leader stepped down because he is furious about his nation’s inability to join the European Union.
Zaev asked for a snap vote, saying he wanted to express “disappointment and outrage” on the EU’s failure to start membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania last year.
France, backed by Denmark and the Netherlands, strongly opposed membership talks. They demanded an overhaul of the EU’s procedures before admitting new members.
That came as a disappointment for North Macedonia, which till recently was known as Macedonia. The Balkan nation changed its name to take away objections from neighboring Greece against its EU ambitions.
NEW TENSIONS EXPECTED
Prime Minister Zaev warned that the EU’s inability to expand would lead to new nationalistic tensions in the volatile Balkans, which had several wars in the 1990s. "If they turn out the lights from the stars of the European Union, it will be dark here," he said.
"In that case, we will lose ourselves. There is soil for radicalism and nationalism to rise again, which will mean big damage to the Balkans. When the Balkans have a problem, Europe has a problem," the prime minister warned.
Zaev’s Social Democrat-led government took office in 2017.
But with his country’s European future uncertain, it remains unclear how much support Zaev’s party will receive in the upcoming vote.