Early in his term, and during the preceding Colored Revolution, Zoran Zaev and his SDSM party have enjoyed nearly universal international support. The high watermark here being his signing of the 2018 Prespa treaty with Greece and the imposed name change.
But, with the deed done, and with the subsequent issue with Bulgaria again complicating Macedonia’s EU prospects and revealing a major flaw in the strategy, Zaev saw his international contacts dry out. It’s been a long time since Zaev had an official billateral visit. The last official state visit was to the Czech Republic nearly three years ago. Visits to Macedonia have also ended, coincidentally around the time when the major Racket scandal revealed that the Zaev regime is deeply involved in extortion of businessmen using the also once internationally acclaimed Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva (currently waiting to begin serving out her seven year prison sentence).
Meanwhile, the VMRO-DPMNE party, which has been under open international pressure for years, is rebuilding its ties. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski just concluded a three stop tour of the region, during which he met with the top leaders of Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia, who also head the sister parties of VMRO in the conservative EPP group.
During his meetings with Viktor Orban, Janez Jansa and Andrej Plenkovic, Mickoski raised the problem with Bulgaria, which has blocked Macedonia from opening EU accession talks and demands major concessions on issues of history and national identity. Mickoski solicited the help of the fellow conservative leaders in the region to overcome the issue, while also acknowledging the many failings of Macedonia – in areas such as fighting corruption – that have come under the Zaev regime.