North Macedonia As A Test-Case For Europe’s Credibility

Europe's Futures Panel Discussion
Panels and Discussions

North Macedonia - after the historic Prespa Agreement reached with Greece in June 2018 - has been blocked from moving forward on its EU accession path from October 2019 by France and since last year by Bulgaria. Albania's EU fate is coupled to that of North Macedonia.

This issue has a broader significance for the EU enlargement policy as well as for the credibility of the EU as a peace project and for its declared geostrategic goals.

To explore multiple aspects of North Macedonia’s situation in the framework of the EU's foreign and security policies, the following distinguished panelists will convene:

Ruzha Smilova is an assistant professor at the Political Science Department of Sofia University „St. Kliment Ohridski“, where she teaches the history of political ideas and contemporary political philosophy, and a program director at the Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS). Her academic research is focused on such issues as the authority of democracy, normative and positive theories of democracy, and the relation of media and democracy. Recently she focused on liberalism and its critics, studying the ideology of illiberalism, the causes of populism and nativism, as well as the challenges to democracy and civic rights in Europe. At the CLS she is involved in research and policy-related projects on voting behavior, participation in politics, quality of representative institutions, among others. Dr. Smilova holds a doctorate from the Central European University in Budapest. Her dissertation “A reason-based justification for liberal-democratic authority” received a CEU university award in 2006.

Nikola Dimitrov is the former Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia. Previously, Mr. Dimitrov was Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia from 2017 to 2020. During his term as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, the General Affairs Council of the EU agreed upon opening the accession negotiations with North Macedonia. In the period 2014 to 2017, he was a prominent member of The Hague Institute of Global Justice, and since 2011 has been a member of the Permanent Court for Arbitration in The Hague. From 2009 to 2014 Dimitrov was an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Macedonia to The Hague, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Permanent Representative of Macedonia to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Mr Dimitrov is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute for Security, Defense and Peace Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy at the "St. Cyril and Methodius" University. In 1998, he acquired a Master of Law Degree at the King’s College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, after graduating in 1996 as the best student of the generation at the Faculty of Law of the University in Skopje.

Zoran Nechev is is a leading regional expert on relations between the European Union and candidate-countries from the Western Balkans, the external dimensions of justice and home affairs and on corrosive capital and malign influences. He has been working as an associate fellow at DGAP since July 2021. Zoran heads the Center for EU integration of the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” from Skopje, North Macedonia. Zoran is also an academic guest at the Center for International and Comparative Studies at ETH Zürich, and has worked at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris. He is currently a PhD candidate at Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, as well as a 2021/22 Europe’s Futures Fellow of IWM and ERSTE Foundation.

Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Acting Rector and Permanent Fellow and the head of Europe’s Futures programme, hosted and moderated the event.


Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action is IWM’s strategic partnership initiative with the ERSTE Foundation aiming to understand and address challenges posed to Europe and the European Union by the eroding of democracy, rule of law deficiencies, migratory pressures or climate change.