Mangova from Athens: the EU has strong support among the citizens of the region, but the belief that the countries of the region will soon become part of the Union is declining

Ilina Mangova at the conference in Athens/Photo: Alexis Tsipras Institute

Ilina Mangova from the International Republican Institute (IRI) at the International Conference for Peace and Sustainable Development in Athens, spoke about the relations with the EU of North Macedonia and the countries of the region.

Mangova pointed out that EU integration still has strong support among citizens, however, due to the attitude of the Union, the faith among citizens that they will soon become part of the EU is decreasing.

"Support for EU integration is still high, from 60% in North Macedonia and BiH to 92% in Albania. However, what is important now is to take into account people's faith in the EU's intentions to offer membership to the countries of the Western Balkans. This, of course, declines, as the wait is long and people lose hope and do not see the EU's intentions as serious. Thus, the highest faith is in Kosovo, with 63%, then Montenegro with 59%, and then it decreases in Albania with 54%, and the lowest are North Macedonia with 34% and Serbia with 30%," she said.

Mangova assessed that the European Commission is the biggest and most friendly ally of the Balkan countries, but expressed fear that if this situation of relations with the EU continues, then the mistrust of the citizens will grow.

"If the situation continues as it is now and lasts too long, then distrust will increase even in the most supportive countries. We have been monitoring public support in North Macedonia since 2000 and then, support for EU integration was 92%, and now it is 62%, which is a huge drop, and if this situation continues in other countries, then support will begin to decline even more. People hope for a European way of life and therefore want to be part of the EU. Distrust in the institutions is so high that people expect and want to join the EU to ensure that there will be someone to help the institutions to be strong, deliver for the citizens, and thus get European standards of living and European standards for the functioning of the institutions" said Mangova from Athens.

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