The abrupt decision by France to postpone any discussion of North Macedonia joining the European Union is reverberating in an already unsettled region.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia had staked his political career and his country’s future on resolving a three-decade-old dispute with neighboring Greece over his nation’s name.Credit…Pool photo by Epa, via Shutterstock
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Only two months ago, the leader of the small Balkan nation of North Macedonia was riding high, feted by world leaders, praised by the head of United Nations for offering a rare bright spot in an otherwise troubled global landscape and on the shortlist for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had staked his political career and his country’s future on resolving a three-decade-old dispute with neighboring Greece over his nation’s name. And through often tortuous diplomacy and against great odds, he had succeeded.
But as he sat outside his office in the capital city, Skopje, that all seemed far away.
“I am breaking inside,” he said.
The name change was expected to clear the way for talks on North Macedonia joining the European Union, but last month, France vetoed those discussions, arguing that the process of enlarging the bloc needs to be rethought.