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Heading towards GDPR in 2018– Enhanced rights for citizens in the EU

Jasna Čošabić, PhD

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One thing is certain for 2018. It will be marked with a milestone change in data protection for persons in the EU. Not only for EU citizens, but for anyone in the EU. And such protection will have effect not only in the EU, but its long-arm effect will bring duties for its compliance world wide. It will affect not just businesses in the EU, but the companies in the USA, China or Australia. Now, it has been clearly recognized, what has been in the air for some time, that when protection of human rights in the cyber sphere is at stake, earth bound borders are being overcome. And so is the classic international law. General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’), which is about to be applicable as from 25 May 2018, will bring major changes in data protection introducing enhanced rights for individuals or data subjects, complex duties of compliance for those processing personal data (controllers and processors), as well as high fines for breaches (up €20 million or 4% of annual turnover).

The need for overall data protection comes parallely with the fast rate growth in information technology tools. Persons and their personal data become overly exposed either willingly, or at least subconciosly willingly. By giving our personal data to social networks we choose to publish them either with limited number of known persons or without limitation. We might give our bank account number when purchasing online, delivery address or submit our phone number when applying to certain job. Our IP address is visible whenever approaching certain web location. Butdo we accept that another employer calls us, instead the one we gave our phone number to? Did we ask for our inbox to get loaded with offers that we did not ask for? Or more extremely, what if our bank account is approached without our authorization? In the world of digital technologies, the right information means power. The race for economic growth means a race for more customers turning into a search for valid e-mail addresses, phone numbers and other personal information in order that a product or a service is offered and eventually sold. Key to reaching customers becomes a hunt for personal information. But that hunt has limitations.Limitations are made to protect the rights of natural persons, data subjects, such as theright to access data, right to rectification, right to erasure, right to restrict, right to data portability, right to object, etc.

Whose rights are protected?

Or what is ratione personae jurisdiction of the GDPR? The persons protected under GDPR are called data subjects, identified or identifiable natural persons (Article 4, para 1) who are in the Union (A3, para 2). The Regulation opted for a location of a data subject as a criterium for protection under GDPR, instead of a more formal approach such as EU citizen, or legal resident of the EU, thus making an extensive approachtowards any person who is in the Union.

What counts as personal data?

Personal data that is subject of protection mechanism of the GDPR is any information relating to data subject. (A 4, para 1). When deciding which information can be considered as personal data, it is important that the information is able to identify the person, or that it is identifier. An identifier or a personally identifiable information (PII) may be obvious such as name, identification number, but also location data, or other factors that may be connected to certain person such as physical, psychological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity. So, thedata which may be come under the domain ‘personal data’are defined broadly in order to cover all possible identifiers which do not necessarily need to be recognizable at first hand. On the other hand, according to the GDPR principle of ‘data minimization’, no excess data should be processed but only minimum of data necessary for the purpose of processing.

Right to access data

Right to access data is a prerequisite for all other rights. It is an opening gate to an array of data protection rights. In order that a person may request that his data are rectified, erased, restricted, portable, or objected, one first must to get to know if and what data are collected. Data subject has further the right to know the purpose of processing, to whom the data will be disclosed, period of data storage, to be informed about the right to complain, or to request rectification or erasure or restriction of processing (A 15). Recital 63 stresses out the importance of data access concerning health, insight into medical records, treatment. The controllers are advised to provide remote access to a secure system which would provide the data subject with direct access to his or her personal data, but to the extent that rights and freedoms of others are not adversely affected.

Right to rectification

Data subject may request the rectification of inaccurate personal data, completion of uncomplete personal data (A 16). The precondition for exercise of the right to rectification is the right to access to data, which is needed for the data subject get to know the personal data kept about him/her, at first hand. This gives the data subject role of a “controller” of his/her personal data, and should be also favored by controllers for pointing to data flaws.

Right to erasure or the right to be forgotten

The milestone Google v. Spain case, has brought a practical effect to the right to be forgotten, then provided for in Data Protection Directive 95/46 (Article 6(1)(c) to (e)), but it also introduced its long arm territorial reach, which was echoed in other legal systems as well, and upon which, the lead search engine Google,later enabled its users to request the erasure of the personal data across the globe (https://forget.me/ ). The Court of Justice of the EU, has outlined in the said judgment, that ‘even initially lawful processing of accurate data may, in the course of time, become incompatible with the directive where those data are no longer necessary in the light of the purposes for which they were collected or processed. That is so in particular where they appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to those purposes and in the light of the time that has elapsed.’ (para 93)

The right to erasure under Article 17 of the GDPR follows the wording and the intention of the said case, providing for the possibility of requesting erasure when the personal data are no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected or processed (para 1a). However it adds also a more wide approach, introducing, inter alia, lack of consent, as a grounds for requesting data erasure, or objection by data subject, giving thus more subjective approach to the right of erasure, putting the will of the data subject at the outset when opting for erasure of private data, of course unless public interest requires otherwise (right of freedom of expression and information;official authority; public health; scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes; for the establishment, exercise or defense of legal claims (A 17 para 3)) .According to GDPR principle of ‘transparency in processing’ of personal data, controllers are to inform the data subjects on the existence of the right to rectification or erasure and the right to data portability (A 13(b)). They should also strive to inform any other controllers who might have come in touch with such data, to erase any links or copies or replications of personal data in order that the right to be forgotten is strengthened in the online environment.

Right to restrict

Persons or data subjects shall have the right to restrict the processing (A18) if they contest the accuracy of personal data, if the processing is unlawful but they do not want erasure. Restriction, contrary to erasure, leaves the data, but with restricted access. Suggested methods for restriction of data are temporarily moving the selected data to another processing system, making the selected personal data unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published data from a website. The restriction of data should be clearly indicated in the system (Rec. 67), and data subjects should be informed in case of lifting the restriction.

Right to data portability

A new right recognized by the GDPR is right to data portability (A20). It gives the data subjects right to be sole proprietors of their data and puts obligation on controllers to lay that data in structured, commonly used and machine-readable format, and to enable data subjects to carry them or to transmit them to another controller of processor. GDPR differs two kinds of acquired data which is the subject of portability right. Those are data that are deliberately provided by data subjects, such as data when opening e-mail account, bank account, social network profile, shopping account. Such data are disposed of, pursuant to a consent or a contract. And on the other hand,there are data that have been collected by controllers or processors themselves, i.e. by automated means.

It also includes right to have personal data transmitted directly from one controller to another. For example, if one person decides to change his electricity provider, he may request his provider to transmit his data to another provider. That puts data subject in a position to administer his data and to have a controller act upon his demands. The ability to transmit data from one service provider to another, puts also an important accent to healthy market competition, although that comes as a secondary consequence, while the primary aim is to have data subjects in control of their personal data.

Right to object/Profiling

Data subjects are given right to object on processing personal data, including profiling (Art 21 re A 6 (1) e, f), when such processing is carried out in the public interest or for legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party. When data subject objects, the controller shall no longer process the personal data. However, if controller demonstrates compelling legitimate grounds for processing which override the interests, rights and freedoms of the data subject, it may continue to process the personal data.

What refers to profiling? Profiling is described in Recital 71 of the GDPR as automated processing aimed to evaluate the personal aspects of a natural person in order to analyze or predict data subject’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests,reliability or behavior, location or movements, where it produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.Profiling may be used for tax purposes in which case it is in a public interest. But profiling may also be used with a purpose of direct marketing.

We are often faced with internet offers recognizing exactly our needs or interests filling our inbox sometimes to our delight, but sometimes not. Pop-ups, ads, and other kinds of direct marketing is displayed to us on the basis of our past searches, and is result of automated profiling. If a person objects to profiling for direct marketing purposes, then processing will be stopped. There may not be a compelling interest of the controller in this regard.

GDPR makes difference between profiling as a result of processing personal data, and issuing a decision based on profiling.Decision making on the grounds of profiling may be done even without the consent (or contract) of the data subjectif it is expressly authorized by Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject, including for fraud and tax-evasion monitoring and prevention purposes (recital 71A 22). However, data subject’s rights, freedoms and legitimated interests must be safeguarded. The phrase “authorized by Union or Member State law” goes in line with the permissible restrictions of rights of data subjects, and corresponds to ‘in accordance with law’ concept outlined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Human Rights Charter to which Recital 73 of the GDPR refers.

Restrictions or derogations

Rights of data subjects are not absolute ones and may be restricted under certain conditions. GDPR provides the list of possible restrictions in public interest, which follow the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter. The fair balance between the individual rights and public interest demands must be carefully pondered, in order that proportionality of burdens is not infringed, and that democratic society principlesare safeguarded.

Procedural recourses available to data subjects

It is important that such an act provides not only for material rights but also for possibility of procedural guarantees attained to those rights. There are three types of procedural recourses under the GDPR: judicial remedy, complaint to supervisory authority and out-of-court proceedings and other dispute resolution procedures.

Right to effective judicial remedy (A78) is envisaged to be exercised in Member States, so national systems are to provide for such recourse.

A complaint to supervisory authority is an administrative remedy that shall be dealt with by supervisory authorities in Member States. (A 77) A judicial remedy is also possible against a decision issued in such proceedings (A78), and in case of administrative proceedings taking excessive time.

But out-of-court dispute resolution (A 40) gives a range of possibilities. From classic alternative dispute resolution modalities, such as ombudsman institution and mediation services, to new online dispute resolution possibilities (ODR). ODR EU web-based platform was created by European Commission in February 2016 in order to provide the citizens with faster and less expensive online resolution of disputes, which originated in online purchases. ‘Out-of-court dispute resolution’ in GDPR is given broadly, so it will be interesting to see how the ODR system will respond to any dispute instituted by a data subject in the light of the GDPR.

There are many steps ahead of us and much has already been done, with a view to provide compliance with GDPR. Rightful interpretation of GDPR provisions is also very important. Article 29 Working party has issued series of guidelines on data portability, consent, data protection officers, data protection impact assessment, etc. In addition to direct effect of GDPR as a regulation,some Member States like Austria, Germany, Belgium, have enacted national laws in that regard.Another important issue isa long-arm effect of GDPR when speaking of EU-USA transfer of data, and its relation to Privacy Shield agreement. Supervisory authorities in Member States must prepare for their crucial position in dealing with complaints, breaches, etc. Companies and businesses must get ready and data protection officers are going to be very much needed workforce.

So, the great stone of GDPR is already rolling, urging all affected players to catch speed, or the sanctions will be sky-high. We are heading towards the start of a great albeit challenging story of thorough and profound data and human rights protection.

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Ethnic tensions in Montenegro

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On Sunday, July 7, the citizens of Montenegro had the opportunity to witness another incident, that is, the open provocation of radical Albanian elements in Montenegro. Traditionally, on the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, in Svac, near Ulcinj (a town on the southern coast of Montenegro) liturgy is served at the ruins of a 1, 000 year-old medieval church.

The Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral held this year the liturgy in Svac, but at the entrance to the locality, where the ancient church is located. As the Montenegrin police, at the request of Albanian politicians, did not allow the liturgy service in the church. At the gathering, strong police forces were present, especially on the entry to the site.

Priest Slobodan Zekovic, who served the liturgy, stated:

“We are no strangers here, we come here for decades. We come here on the foundations of our statehood and spirituality. With a single goal, not to forget our holy ancestors, aware of the graves that are here. I am sending the blessing of Metropolitan Amfilohije, who was supposed to bring the hand of St. John the Baptist. But, due to tensions, that will be done next yеаr. The President of the municipality said that the access to the site has been banned until December, because archaeological research is being done“.

However, last year also there were tensions in Svac. Then, about ten local Albanians blocked the road, so that Metropolitan of Montenegro and Littoral Amfilohije and the believers of the Serbian Orthodox Church could not come to Svac. The leader of this group was Hadzija Sulejmani, a member of the Ulcinj Assembly and a member of the Democratic Party of Albanians. Sulejmani tried to explain his shameful act by saying that the church has never been an Orthodox holy place, and that he, as a Muslim and a representative of the Ulcinj municipality, does not allow access to the church.

Everything becomes much clearer after seeing a monument that the local Albanian politicians set up in 2005 in the form of a memorial plaque, which says: “In the name of our ancestors Illyrians who founded this ancient town of Svac as the legacy of our Albanian culture …” In other words, then the Albanians marked their territory and now slowly begin with violent means to “defend” it.

History is clear about the Svac. The city of Svac has never been the city of Illyrians, and especially not the city of Albanians. In 2012, the Ministry of Culture of Montenegro started exploring Svac. The research team, led by archaeologist Mladen Zagarcanin, discovered Serbian and Roman pottery in the same layer, which clearly shows the centuries-long presence of Serbs in that area. Stefan Nemanja, the Serbian Grand Prince (Veliki Župan), merged Svac to Serbian Grand Principality (also known as Raška, lat. Rascia) in 1183. When the Mongol hordes in 1242 conquered and demolished the city of Svac, it was restored by the Serbian queen Jelena, the wife of King Uros, who lived in Ulcinj at the time. For architectural decoration, the painters and masters are brought from Serbian Grand Principality Raška (lat. Rascia) . The remains of the Church of St. John are still visible in the city today, where still writes that it was built in 1300. In 1571, the town of Svač was completely destroyed by the Turks. However, what is important to mention is that the Albanians took part in the destruction of the Svac, together with the Turks. So today we have come to a crazy situation that the people who ruined Svac, and that’s the Albanians, want to acquire the historical heritage of that medieval city. In a doctoral dissertation “The influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the creation of the Albanian nation”, Bulgarian historian Teodora Toleva, who studied the Vienna imperial archive, writes:

”After thorough studying of the archives we may claim that at the beginning of the 20th century the Albanian population did not still represent a formed nation. The ethnical groups in Albania live isolated; they do not have connections between themselves, except when fighting. The possibilities for their convergence were practically nonexistent; murders are common, even for the people from the clan. There were two basic dialects in the country that were so different that people could hardly understand each other. There was no unique literary language, but more than twenty different manners of writing in local dialects. The coefficient of literacy did not even exceed 2%. The population belonged to three religious confessions – Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics. The Albanians did not have national awareness, they did not have general interests, they did not express solidarity and they did not develop in the direction of waking the national feeling. Hence, at the beginning of the 20th century there was no Albanian nation.” Toleva also noted that:

“At a time when Vienna decides to implement a new plan for Albania, there are about twenty different transcripts of Albanian dialects. Three are basic: one uses the Arabic letters, the other is Cyrillic, the third is Latin. ” Official Vienna also had a decisive influence on the unification of the Albanian language. A letter that the Albanians still use today was accepted at a congress in Bitola in 1908. The decisive role was played by the Austro-Hungarian consul Karl. Grammar, literary books, history books, all printed in Vienna. The promotion of the Albanian language was carried out at every step. The reason why Austro-Hungary did all this was Serbia, which was then the main enemy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Through the creation of the Albanian nation, the Austro-Hungarian Empire wanted to weaken Serbia. And,  they did it.

Today, the Austro-Hungarian Empire policy has been taken over, dominantly by the United States and United Kingdom, but also from some other Western states.  The main goal is to create Greater Albania. Recently, the self-proclaimed Kosovo and Albania decided to implement a common foreign policy. Unlike the West, which supports that unlawful act, which raises tensions in the Balkans, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned that act.

“The provocative steps of Tirana and Pristina, which are in line with the realization of the concept of ‘Greater Albania’, cause serious concern. In this context we see the signature on July 2, the Albanian-Kosovo agreement on unification of diplomatic missions in third countries. We note that the US and EU prefer not to respond to such destructive measures and to effectively cover the ‘Greater Albanian events’ that are destructive for the region “, stated Russian Foreign Ministry.

In accordance with the support from the West, political representatives of Albanians in Montenegro every day behave more and more insolently. The current Montenegrin authorities do nothing to make Albanian politicians know that they have to respect the laws of Montenegro. While Serbs in Montenegro are strictly forbidden to display Serbian flags, Albanians in the places where they are majority display Albania’s national flag. Albanians every day show more clearly that Greater Albania is the only thing that would satisfy their national interests. The recent event that happened in Svac is something that previously could be seen in Kosovo and Macedonia. Therefore, now, while the fire is still weak, it is necessary to extinguish it. Otherwise, the Greater Albania’s fire can swallow both Ulcinj and other parts of Montenegro.

 From our partner International Affairs

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New “executive branch” of EU and Russia: EU hostile, but not united

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The recent decision by the European Council to nominate Ursula von der Leyen of Germany for the post of European Commission Chairperson and Christine Lagarde of France for President of the European Central Bank has caused many eyebrows to raise. Nevertheless, since this “feminist” set of candidates will surely receive the approval of the European Parliament, it’s these people that Russia will have to deal with. (Nominees for the posts of European policy chief  and president of European Council – Josep Borrell of Spain, and Charles Micheln of Belgium – became less of a surprise: their victory in the European Parliament is a sure thing too.)

Significantly, both the “prime minister” and the “foreign minister” from the European Union’s new team have been spotted making outrageously averse remarks regarding Russia. Ursula von der Leyen, holding the post of Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, said less than a year ago that one ought to speak with Russia from a position of strength. In response, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu advised Ms. von der Leyen and other Germans to ask their grandfathers what happens when Germans try to speak with Russia from a position of strength. Josep Borrell, speaking in an interview with the Spanish El Periodico, described Russia as “an old enemy” of Spain and Europe that is somewhat  “posing a threat again,” whereas China, in his words, is but a “rival”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted by demanding that Borrell account for these words, which clearly do not fit into the framework of friendly relations between Russia and Spain. The EU’s foreign policy chief-to-be came out of this situation with an elephantlike grace, chiding the Russian Foreign Ministry for “excessive” reaction and explaining his position by saying the following: “I said that Europe’s old defender – the United States – is no longer defending it, causing the rise of Europe’s former rival – the USSR “. Thus, the European diplomat has managed to strengthen a prejudice-based lie (about Russia as an enemy) with another (about the notorious “attempts by Putin to restore the USSR”). And there is a third lie – a hint at the now dishonored theory of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia. For someone  burdened with the responsibilities of the head of European diplomacy, there seem to be too many prejudices and stereotypes. In all likelihood, these new representatives of the EU will not be easy to deal with.

Nevertheless, the near victory of von der Leyen and the removal from the race of the Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans, and representative of the European People’s Party (i.e.”Democratic Christian”) Manfred Weber of Bavaria, speaks of serious differences, bordering on hatred, within the EU. After all, it’s these two nominees (plus Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager, who served as European Commissioner for Competition) that were considered favorites for the post of  European Commission chief right up to the G20 summit in Osaka. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who openly supported Weber’s candidacy and wanted the job of European Central Bank chief for the current head of the German Central Bank, Jens Weidmann, appears to be on the losing side, given the current layout of forces. Even such a well-informed player in European affairs as George Soros, predicted on the platform of the globalist Project Syndicate that in the event of Weber’s “failure” to head the European Commission, Merkel’s ambitions would be offset by the appointment of Jens Weidman. But this just didn’t happen: the EU’s top finance position went to Christine Lagarde.

Why did the options planned for so many weeks for the above mentioned candidates, which cannot be seen as 100% losers (Timmermans will remain vice-chairman of the European Commission, and Weber is set to become chairman of the European Parliament) were dropped?

The European Union makes it no secret that countries of the “Visegrad group”, first of all, Poland and Hungary, came out against Timmermans. And this is no wonder: it was Timmermans, as vice-president of the European Commission, who “oversaw” Poland’s punishment for its “sins against democracy” and has called for sanctions against Warsaw if it does not abandon so unwelcome for the EU judicial reform. As for Hungary, Timmermans was as harsh with its Prime Minister Viktor Orban. As a result, even Andrei Babis, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, which did not have time, unlike Poland and Hungary, to experience the negative rhetoric of Timmermans, said bluntly: “Timmermans is not the person who can unite Europe.”

As it happens, by voting against Timmermans, the current Polish leadership took revenge for their own failure last year, when they made an attempt to remove Donald Tusk, former Polish prime minister considered to be EU-loyal political opponent of the current ruling party in Poland, “Law and Justice”.

Thus, the current choice of candidates has become a sign of ever increasing instability and unpredictability of the European Union, including in its relations with Russia. In my opinion, two trends are gaining strength at the same time. Firstly, the selection of candidates for top jobs in the European “mainstream” is based, among other things, on the principle “who speaks harshiest of Russia will win” ( this guaranteed success of von der Leyen and Borrell). Secondly, as Eastern European countries are slowly gaining weight, their attitude towards Russia ranges from hostile ( Poland and the Baltic States) to neutral and conciliatory ( Hungarian Prime Minister Orban).

The Orban factor, according to a variety of reports, became a key one for “not supporting” Manfred Weber’s candidacy on the part of France, which eventually led Weber to defeat. President Macron did not conceal his discontent with the fact that Weber, as head of the European People’s Party faction in the European Parliament, did not exclude Viktor Orban and his party Fides from this faction.

The French newspaper Le Monde carries detailed reports on the issue. For the French president, who deems Orban, along with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini,  his personal enemies over disagreements on migration issues, any means will do to fight against the Hungarian politician. Le Monde carries reports about Macron’s attempts to cut down EU payments to the Hungarian budget due to Hungary’s unwillingness to bear its share of the migration burden on the EU. And although Macron has not succeeded in these attempts,  the battle between the “progressists” (Macron) and the “traditionalists” (Orban and the Visegrad Group, which is behind him) is driving the main wedge into the European Union, including its position towards  Russia. Both the elections to the European Parliament and the differences over the candidacies for the “executive branch” of the European Union have clearly demonstrated this. 

From our partner International Affairs

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North Macedonia and Albania not allowed even in EU “waiting room”

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The recent decision by an EU summit to postpone until October the solution on welcoming in Albania and Northern Macedonia as new members marks yet another setback for the European Union, which testifies to lack of unity among its members. Both Albania and Northern Macedonia have done all they could in the past few years to prove their loyalty to NATO and the West with a view to secure early admission to the European Union. Albania has joined NATO and supports Kosovo separatists, while the former Yugoslav regional capital Skopje chose to change the name of its country from Macedonia to Northern Macedonia, despite the unconvincing results of the de facto failed referendum on this issue in February this year. All these efforts were not rewarded, not even by a formal announcement on the start of the membership talks.

The matter is that European capitals make no secret of the reasons for such a postponement: the parliaments of Germany and the Netherlands opposed the entry of Macedonia, and Albania in particular. These parliaments have thereby refused to implement the recommendations of the European Commission of May 29 which advised member states to speed up the process of welcoming new members into the Union from countries of Western Balkans.

Instead of information on the beginning of the negotiations, Macedonia and Albania received a humiliating communiqué of the European Council, calling on these “hopefuls” of the EU membership to do more to secure the rule of law, strengthen democratic institutions, etc.

Macedonians and Albanians feel deceived also because the EU’s Commissioner for Enlargement, Johannes Khan, promised last year that membership negotiations would begin in June 2019 if both countries carried out reforms of their judiciaries and security services.

Albanian Prime Minister Edie Rama said that his country has fulfilled the reforms required by Brussels and that Tirana has thus earned the right to enter admission negotiations.

“I want to say that the European Union should proceed from geostrategic and geopolitical considerations, and it also should take into account the achievements of candidate countries,” – Prime Minister Rama was quoted as saying on June 11, 2019. “If candidate countries deserve to be admitted, the European Union should not deny them this right.”

The Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, went as far as stating that postponement of negotiations on his country’s accession to the EU could lead to the fall of his government and the victory of nationalist forces “hostile to the European Union”.

Behind all these statements lies demonization of Russia and the attempts to present it as a “destabilizer” of the situation in the Balkans, just as it was done by  Montenegrin leader Milo Djukanovic, who accused Moscow and so-called “Serbian nationalists” of an attempt to stage a coup in his small country for the purpose of preventing Montenegro from entering NATO.

The version of what happened was provided by a Montenegrin court, which blamed leaders of the opposition Democratic Front for an attempt to seize power in Podgorica with the help of two dozen Serbian militants. The court described the incident as a typical conspiracy and a “high-profile process” in the style of Andrei Vyshinsky. Nevertheless, the Western press has accepted this version, telling its to readers about plans by wicked Russians and Serbs to kill Mr. Djukanovic, who positioned himself as a Serbian-Montenegrin nationalist during the “Yugoslav Wars” of the early 1990s.

Will North Macedonian Prime Minister Zaev succeed in performing the same trick, will the EU accept his version that “forces hostile to the European Union” will take over if his country does not join the European Union in the near future? It seems that the European Union is skeptical about Zaev’s “warnings”. It knows only too well that Zaev himself came to power as a result of a Macedonian “color revolution” that removed the former leader Nikolu Gruevsky, who led the left-wing party VMRO-DPNE. This party is still the largest opposition party in the parliament of Northern Macedonia.

Shortly after coming to power Zaev reoriented the country to NATO, hoisting a NATO flag in front of the Macedonian government building.  Taking advantage of people’s hopes for joining the European Union, Zaev ensured the victory in the presidential election of his henchman Stevo Pendarovsky. But now that the prospect of starting negotiations looks remote and indefinite, Zaev and his entourage may indeed face a destabilization. The position of Albanian government of Edi Rama, who is facing powerful protests across the country, is hardly better. 

From our partner International Affairs

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