Skopje: “Differential treatment towards Balkan countries by the European Union (EU) and an indifferent approach in investments to connect east and west has opened up avenues for Russia and China, the two lurking super powers to stake their claim on Europe” said the Macedonian President while strongly accusing the EU. President Gjorge Ivanov issued a stark warning that if the policy of European Union does not change, they would have no options, but to align with the east.
10 countries in south and east of Europe are referred as ‘Balkan nations’. These include Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Out of these only Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia are the 4 countries with the membership of European Union. The proposal to accept rest of the 6 countries as members of the European Union is now known to be still unresolved. The proposal of Macedonia to be inducted as a member of EU was submitted in 2005, however it has not been approved mainly due to opposition from Greece.
Since Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, the relations of Russia and Europe have been tensed. Many European leaders and analysts have constantly issued warning of Russia preparing to attack Europe. Russia’s constant support to the right-winged groups and to opposition parties in Europe along with its assumed meddling in elections of European countries has led the European Union to expresses severe resentment towards Russia.
On the other hand, since past few years the European countries battling economic recession and other adversities had to allow Chinese investments. Over the period of 16 years, China has invested more than 100 billion Euros in direct investment (FDI). Last couple of years, the Chinese investment has heavily increased in major companies and projects catering to basic amenities, ports, rail service and real estate.
Given such a background, the criticism by Macedonian President has proven to be worthy of attention. In an interview to a British daily, President Ivanov quoted the 19th century German Emperor Bismarck, ‘one who has control over the banks of Vardar River can control Europe and middle east’. Also ‘One who has control over the relations of Europe and Middle East can also control the relationship between Asia and Europe’. Quoting so, President Ivanov reminded EU of the history and that ‘Vardar’ is recognised as big and important river flowing through Greece and Macedonia.
Macedonian President expressing his clear displeasure thrashed EU by stating that the actions of the European Union show that they have forgotten Bismarck’s words. EU has either forgotten its promise to include the Balkan countries which are part of Europe, or is trying to run away from its promise. It almost appears that EU are inviting Russia and China to ‘come and fill the vacuum’ created in Balkan countries. He also drew attention that it is time to implement project like ‘European corridor’ like the Chinese investment in European countries like Macedonia.