Mass demonstration in Macedonia

The political crisis in Macedonia has intensified. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Skopje on Sunday calling for Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to resign. The unrest in the country comes as no surprise to commentators. They see Macedonia pushed into a corner by its neighbours and neglected for far too long by the EU.

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Der Standard (AT) /

EU has grossly neglected Macedonia

The EU is also to blame for the escalation of the crisis in Macedonia, the left-liberal daily Der Standard writes: "The delayed integration of the south eastern European states into the EU and Nato not only runs counter to the member states' and the Union's own best interests, it also creates insecurity, especially in the Balkans, and gives Russia the option of interfering in the region once more. Although the Greek crisis could have provided the opportunity to make Athens back down in the name dispute and prevent Macedonia from sliding towards aggressive nationalism, no one has taken advantage of it. Now the EU wants to punish the government in Skopje by no longer recommending accession talks. We can safely assume that this regime couldn't care less about that."

Večer (SI) /

Macedonia pushed into a corner by neighbours

The Macedonian crisis is a result of the country having been marginalised by its neighbours over the years, the daily Večer explains: "Unlike the other former Yugoslav republics, Macedonia became independent without bloodshed in 1991. Even back then some felt that did not bode well for the new state. Only a few years later conflicts broke out between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, which were put an end to with the help of the EU's mediation and the Ohrid Agreement. But even before that the country faced the dangers of its neighbours' appetites. Not just the threats of a Greater Albania or a Greater Serbia. Its neighbours that now belong to the EU and Nato also have ambitions of their own. ... To this day Greece still refuses to recognise the right of its northern neighbour to use its own name. Consequently Macedonia has been prevented from initiating accession negotiations since 2005, and in 2008 it was prevented from joining Nato. Pushed into a corner like this, Macedonia has gradually become a no man's land."

Kapital (BG) /

Bulgaria also at a loss over riots

Bulgaria's government is considering imposing tighter monitoring of border crossings to neighbouring Macedonia. Just one week before the mass demonstration in Skopje shootings broke out between the police and an armed group in the northern Macedonian city of Kumanovo. Bulgaria's reaction is laughable, the daily Kapital contends: "The Macedonians have just as little interest in fleeing to Bulgaria as the Bulgarians to Macedonia. Such stupid measures are proof of the state's utter inability to analyse the situation in the neighbouring country and come up with a clear-sighted, appropriate response. ... The biggest problem is that Bulgaria isn't able to help Macedonia on the key issues of democracy and the rule of law."