President Stevo Pendarovski warned that Macedonia risks approaching the Turkish record for most years spent fruitlessly waiting to open its EU accession talks. In a diplomatic round table, Pendarovski pointed out that Macedonia has been waiting to open its EU accession talks for 17 years, since it became a candidate country in 2005, and this disillusionment with the EU leads to an increase in skepticism.

Macedonia was not allowed to open its EU accession talks despite the humiliating name change, that was supposed to be the key to resolving this deadlock.

Enlargement has been de facto frozen for several years now. If we are being honest, Europe has turned inwards and is working on how to reshape its own future. Much of the foreign policy resources are preoccupied with Ukraine, but we need special attention on the Balkans, Pendarovski said.

He warned that anti-EU rhetoric is on the rise, and could become dominant in the region, if it hasn’t achieved that already. Some source of hope for Pendarovski are the statements coming from the leaders of France and Germany who, he said, continue to support EU integration of the Balkans.