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EU enlargement commissioner to visit North Macedonia days after snap poll called


EU enlargement commissioner to visit North Macedonia days after snap poll called

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Photo: RFI/Laurent Geslin

Skopje will host European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn in the aftermath of French President Emmanuel Macron’s veto of EU accession talks with North Macedonia.

The only head of state to veto accession negotiations, Macron reasoned that the EU needed to sort out Brexit and reform enlargement rules before accepting any new members. His refusal came despite North Macedonian reforms that improve judiciary function and combat organised crime and after the country changed its name to fit in with EU norms.

Soon after Macron’s veto, leaders in North Macedonia agreed to hold snap elections on 12 April 2020. Threatened by imminent NATO expansion to the country, Russian influence in North Macedonian politics is expected to increase as elections approach. The Kremlin’s interventions in North Macedonian politics are likely to take the shapes of spreading disinformation and targeted campaigns that ignite nationalist and anti-EU sentiment.

Right-wing elements friendly to Moscow will be emboldened to launch narratives of an overbearing and hostile EU as the election approaches, playing into Moscow’s hands. With the EU’s credibility at stake, Hahn will be intent on maintaining the institution’s image in North Macedonia by highlighting his support for Skopje’s accession.

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