Prof Goran Ilik addressed the issue of the EU accession states from the Western Balkans by highlighting the case of North Macedonia. The presentation aimed to familiarise students with the constitutional changes North Macedonia has undergone in the last thirty years since gaining independence to meet the criteria for joining NATO and the EU.
The lecture has evaluated the reforms North Macedonia has embarked on, starting with the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which has redefined the Macedonian political system towards consociational democracy and a new consensus-orientated political culture. Also, a pivotal moment in the path towards EU membership was the Prespa agreement(2018). As a result, the county changed its name to North Macedonia, which led to Greece lifting its veto, and North Macedonia successfully joined NATO. In 2020, the EU invited North Macedonia to open the accession talks. However, a bitter disappointment followed, as Bulgaria vetoed the start of the accession negotiations with Macedonia, claiming that the Macedonian language has Bulgarian roots, which the government of North Macedonia failed to recognize in the Constitution. Although the dispute with Bulgaria halted the start of the negotiations with the EU, the Commission evaluated in favourable terms the moderate progress achieved by North Macedonia to meet the Copenhagen criteria. One of the conclusions of the lecture was on the disappointment of North Macedonia’s citizens and how one country’s veto power can keep the EU captive and prevent the EU from acting as a normative power.
The lecture ended with a Q and A session with the students.