After our time in Kosovo with the many unique encounters we moved on. On our “round” which started in Albania and will lead us over the Valbona Gorge over Kosovo to Northern Macedonia, Skopje and then over Lake Ohrid back to Albania, Tirana and finally Durres, we arrived in Macedonia.
First of all I would like to explain that the country has only been called North Macedonia since 11.01.2019. This unusual name change came about because Greece finds it illegal that the Macedonians regard “their” country as the “real” Macedonia. Because Macedonia is, strictly speaking, the name of a region similar to Kosovo and also includes part of Greece and Bulgaria. Greece used its veto to prevent Macedonia from joining the EU. The Social Democratic government, newly elected in 2017, gave in to grotesque demands to start EU accession negotiations as soon as possible and changed the country’s official name to “Northern Macedonia”. A humiliation for many of the locals. This decision meets with general rejection on the part of the Macedonians and also fuels rejection of the EU. In my following texts I will speak of Macedonia out of understanding for this displeasure.
The general refusal of the EU during the vote in October 2019, which caused vetoes from France, the Netherlands and Denmark to prevent accession negotiations from even starting, caused great disappointment and incomprehension in Macedonia and destroyed confidence in the EU’s promises. People here are rightly asking themselves why they (not only) had to take this step when negotiations have been postponed indefinitely or even cancelled. And this despite the fact that, according to the EU Commission, they have fulfilled the conditions for the opening of accession negotiations.
This issue is omnipresent in all the countries of the Eastern Balkans. Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Northern Macedonia are increasingly losing confidence in the international community and are considering founding their own cross-state unions to promote the economy and development of their countries. We can now understand this very well and the image of the “promised EU”, which promises improvement for all states, is beginning to crumble. It is understandable that the fundamental criteria must be met and that the rule of law and the implementation of fundamental rights must be guaranteed. In Macedonia this process has progressed very far and a positive signal from the EU could have provided the necessary motivation to continue along this path. It should not be forgotten that a country is far from being a member of the EU once accession negotiations have begun. Not by a long shot! But it would be a sign. And it would have strengthened confidence in the EU and not fundamentally shaken it.
So much for the current, tangible and omnipresent political situation.
The entry was again very unproblematic and already at the border we received tips for the best sights. It is very funny when the strict border officials suddenly start to beam and rave about the advantages of their country full of passion. Since Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is very close to the border, we drove right there. We landed in a parking lot that was very littered and not very inviting in an industrial area. After a small discovery round it was clear that we would not stay here! So we continued our search. It is always a bit tiring to find a nice place in a strange city, only with Google Maps and often costs a lot of time. When it gets dark, it becomes even more difficult, because you can estimate your surroundings even less. IOverländer could not help in this case, so we had to search ourselves. When we came back to the car, we met Nikola. A very friendly Macedonian who was just about to hang a note on our windshield. He explained to us in plain German that he and his wife had just come from their German course and had seen our number plate. They wanted to invite us to dinner to talk German with us. What a sweet and cordial way. We exchanged numbers and were happy about such a greeting in this country!
Nevertheless we had to find a place for the night. We simply drove to the big fortress overlooking Skopje and found the parking lot in front of the entrance appropriate. A parking lot with a view over the whole city. There you go, it works. After a small exploring walk by the old part of town, finally it was Saturday evening and the flair of the city and the warmth (it was again clearly warmer than in the Kosovo) lured us, we crawled tiredly, happily and a little wistfully (I at least, since we had left my dearly won Kosovo) into the bus.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator