Week in Review: Stuck in the Slow Lane

Will They, Won't They

North Macedonia's PM Dimitar Kovacevski (L) accompanied by ministers, leaves a press conference after announcing that his Government has accepted the so-called French proposal to resolve the dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, July 16, 2022. Photo by EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

North Macedonia heads for an uncertain year in 2023, with much at stake. No sooner had the Balkan country formally opened EU accession negotiations in 2022, it already finds itself in the position of having to fight to keep them open.

One of the conditions for opening negotiations in 2022, set by Bulgaria, was the inclusion of the ethnic Bulgarian minority in the North Macedonian constitution. The SDSM-led government now faces the challenge of securing the two-thirds of votes needed to ratify these changes in Parliament. Votes that it does not have, unless it wins over or co-opts some, or part, of the opposition. Ironically, the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE may be willing to strike a deal, assuming it can get concessions in the form of early elections.

Read more: North Macedonia in 2023: All Eyes on the Constitution (January 25, 2023)

Crisis Management

Barricades in north Kosovo, December 11 2022. Photo: BIRN

Kosovo ended 2022 on a sour note, with barricades in the Kosovo Serb populated north being removed just days before New Year's eve and tensions - particularly inter-ethnic tensions - still palpably elevated as 2023 got under way. The wounding of two Serb youths on Orthodox Christmas eve by an off-duty member of the Kosovo Security Force in an enclave in the south of Kosovo only served to underline this.

2023 seems to offer plenty of challenges, lots more tensions and little optimism for...

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