The announcement from French President Emmanuel Macron that the Balkan countries will not join the EU as full members but as part of his plan for a “multi-speed Europe”, could not have come at a worse time for Dimitar Kovacevski’s campaign to use the allure of the European Union for yet another demand for national concessions from the Macedonians. Kovacevski had an entire public relations campaign planned over the announcement cajoled from European Council President Charles Michel that the Balkan countries could be allowed to join by 2030, when Macron, who already vetoed Macedonia’s EU accession talks once, said that the membership will not be actual, full EU membership.

So, to respond to this new crisis, Kovacevski took to explaining Macron’s statement. In his reading of the statement, “multi-speed Europe” does not mean that member states will have different levels of political power and influence in the EU, but it means that the candidate countries will join “at different speeds”.

If we adopt the necessary decisions in the Parliament, in 2030 we will be the first Western Balkan country which will join the European Union. There is no better example of the multi-speed idea. But if we don’t adopt the necessary decisions, it means that Montenegro, Serbia and Albania will move ahead of us and we will remain with Bosnia and Kosovo. Do we want to remain in this company?, Kovacevski said, deliberately changing the meaning of the concept of “multi-speed Europe” to make it appear that it relates to the speed with which the candidates will complete their accession talks.