By Gunther Fehlinger
The Euro for Albania
It is time for Albania to adopt the Euro as currency same as Montenegro and Kosovo did it successfully in 2002. The Euro for Albania is the tool to show all in the EU, Albania really wants to join and is ready for it, even fast-tracking the Euro as currency. The Euro for Albania is key for peace between Serbia and Kosovo as it makes the potential peace offer by the EU for Serbia to get the Euro as currency in exchange for recognition of the Republic of Kosovo more credible and the pressure on Serbia rises if Albania adopts the Euro. And it is good economics to adopt the European currency to integrate faster in the EU Internal Market and it is anyhow obligatory for EU Members to use the Euro. The standard EU enlargement process is not working NATO Ally Albania is blocked on its way to EU membership by a Bulgarian veto against North Macedonia, xenophobic prejudices against a Muslim majority country in the EU, and general enlargement fatigue in Western Europe, as if Albania would be responsible for the lack of leadership in EU lacking the will to reform in Brussels today. But Albania needs EU membership for the next level of economic, social, and political development only possible inside the EU cohesion and regulatory framework. So how to break the deadlock? Now at the start of the 3rd Mandate of Edi Rama, with a clear majority and strong international and domestic backing, there is one tool to show Albania is ready for Euro and no longer ready to wait. Simply adopt the Euro as currency in Albania. Montenegro and Kosovo did that 20 years ago in March 2002 and are very successful by using only the Euro. Albania’s GDP is 15 Billion $ so not a major risk for the 15 trillion $ GDP Eurozone. The Euro is already the reference price for property purchases and in the tourism sector. Albania as an EU Candidate is fully integrated into the EU trading system and the banking sector is fully digitalized and ready for the Euro. Adopting the Euro would be the best tool to show a reluctant EU that Albania really wants to join and inspire Albanians to trust an EU future, stay in Albania and stop the strong trend to join the EU directly. The Euro as a tool for peace Albania adopting the Euro in 2022 would hopefully inspire North Macedonia and Bosnia to adopt the Euro as well. Both have a Euro pegged currency so technically transition is easy. And doing so would make the possible EU peace offer for Serbia to adopt the Euro as the price for the recognition of the Republic of Kosovo more credible. The Euro for Serbia is the only widely visible and fast deployable tool to smooth the reactions sure to occur if Serbia recognizes the reality and accepts the statehood of Kosovo. So Albania can game change the reality of recognition of Kosovo by Serbia. If Serbia rejects such a peace offer, European partners can make clear Serbia’s EU candidacy will be frozen as in the case of Turkey. And the NATO Membership and EU Candidate Status of Bosnia and Kosovo will result in Serbia being isolated alone in the Balkans, Serbia alone outside NATO, Euro, and EU. If we want to keep the toxic status quo of the failed dialogue we can continue for a decade more but if we want peace this is the way. The Eurozone is enlarging – Euroized Albania can have a positive impact Croatia is now joining the Eurozone in 2023; Bulgaria in 2024, Kosovo and Montenegro use the Euro since 2002, Greece and Slovenia are in Eurozone, so the reality of South-Eastern Europe is the Euro. If just Romania could be convinced to join in this mandate and reverse the postpone to 2028 the 3 Eurozone rejecters Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic could be isolated and might reconsider and Albania adopting the Euro will have a positive impact on the debate. The Euro as the currency for all Balkans is possible and Albania can lead the way. The Euro as a tool for European unification From the Werner plan of 1969 to Maastricht in 1992 European currency integration was always the shortcut once political unification was stuck. This was the compromise for German and European unification and the Euro in Maastricht. Sure, all are united against change and prefer the status quo, but is the status quo of EU, EU Enlargement, peace in Balkans, and progress with EU integration satisfactory today in 2021? I guess not. Time for progress. The global role of the Euro Much is talked about that. And yes the Euro has a role as 2nd global currency but if we do not recommend our currency to our own eastern periphery and if we reject the Euro as currency in the fragile region between EU and Russia and Turkey how serious will Russia, China, India or even our allies in USA and UK takes us in the 2020s? And will the world take the Euro more seriously if we all in the EU and in future EU use it and use it successfully? Albania adopting the Euro will help the debate in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, and ultimate Serbia and so the EU and the Euro will be more relevant globally and it starts in Albania. The Euro is not the alternative to political EU Membership Sure, all NATO Allies who use the Euro and comply with CFSP should join the political Union EU fast. I call for Montenegro to be in EU 2024 and if Albania and North Macedonia adopt the Euro, let us take them to the EU and show the world, post-Brexit EU is EU30. The Euro for Albania now to accelerate EU accession of Albania, best Albanians voting for European Parliament in 2024. And if Serbia accepts the Euro and recognizes Kosovo, the road to EU Membership for Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia is open, possible for 2029 and this opens the way for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to join the EU. A new European consensus for Albania starts with the Euro Albania needs Austrian style pre-accession European Consensus bipartisan and the Euro as a tool to unite the Albanian political elite behind the European project and adopt the Euro in Albania. This way Albania can overcome its internal division and contribute to European enlargement and so to the EU future. So, Albania can game change Europe by adopting the Euro and so please Albania contributes to the EU to a better, more united future, unified by the Euro as we lack the courage for the conventional way – let us reverse engineer enlargement now. Albania, adopt the Euro now! Let us unite Europe by the Euro!
The Euro for North Macedonia now!
30 years of crisis with Greece, solved in historic Prespa Peace in 2018. Soon, 16 years EU Candidate since December 2005. Now 3 times vetoed by Bulgaria, a NATO Ally in political meltdown feeling empowered to veto EU enlargement. Meet North Macedonia, a country that changed its name, made peace with each neighbor in the last 20 years from Albania, to Kosovo, Serbia to Bulgaria and Greece only to be stuck again in 2021 and told to wait and reform. Reform? Macedonia has a better land Kataster than Greece, is globally among the best in digital construction permits, and has reformed about everything that can be possible reformed but stays stuck in a standstill due to the issue of the founders of a terrorist cell in 1893, fighting together against Ottoman Empire Colonialism were identifying more as Macedonian or Bulgarians. And who can build what monument for them? A vexed, even toxic issue is hard to make sense for anybody who is neither Macedonian nor Bulgarian but has the explosive power to block North Macedonia for decades to come without massive USA and EU nudging. Shall the USA do all the heavy lifting for peace in the Balkans, alone, again? All in the know, know, the USA made the Prespa Peace possible. While Greek and Macedonian leaders beamed in Prespa and shared the fame, the heavy lifting in Athens and Skopje Parliament and politics was done by American power. Even with such massive American support and the EU doing its modest best, the majority in both decisive votes was razor-thin. Would it not be about time that the EU doing more given the fact that the USA has done so much for peace and achieved NATO Membership and now it is about EU Membership blocked by EU Member Bulgaria? At least the EU could allow its future members to use the European currency? Is that too much to ask? Must the USA do again all arm twisting in Skopje and Sofia to focus hearts and minds while the EU is distant, missing in action, waiting for the next Nobel peace prize nomination? Meet the Macedonian Dinar – stable pegged to Euro! The Macedonian Dinar is stable, pegged to the Euro for 2 decades. Bulgaria is now in Euro, Greece obviously is, Kosovo has the Euro as currency, same as Montenegro, just Serbia and Albania has their own currency in the region. Macedonia has an advanced digital payment system and technically is ready for the Euro. At 13 billion GDP Macedonia is not a major risk for the Eurozone. So why not roll out the Euro right now and fast? Meet the North Macedonian Dinar Part of the Prespa Agreement is to change all state symbols to North Macedonia, as there will be new paper currency printed for the North Macedonian Dinar. What a wasted opportunity. Instead of using Prespa to transfer Macedonia into European North Macedonia by adopting the Euro, well now a new currency for an EU candidate country instead of the Euro for North Macedonia? Why not go all-in right now? Have we recently lost the trust in the EU and Euro? How come our EU leaders do not recommend our tools for our partners? An Apple CEO recommending Nokia phones would hardly win the hearts and minds of shareholders. As Ursula von der Leyen has affirmed the EU promise of Membership just an issue of when, well why not front-load the accession and make the Euro reality for Macedonians consumers, investors, for all who buy, sell and pay something in North Macedonia and so to make Europe reality in every daily transition and inspire the people, citizens and consumers and investors that North Macedonia is a good place to stay for people and capital and now and not in a distant future? No 14 Billion GDP economy of North Macedonia is no risk for the Eurozone 13 Trillion $ GDP Eurozone is not at risk by 14 Billion North Macedonia using the Euro. Even if Albania, Bosnia, and Serbia all adopt the Euro it adds 113 Billion GDP to the output of countries using the Euro. That is about the GDP of Slovakia and less than what Germany and Austria spent in 18 months on Corona relief. And the economic adaption of the price and costs system has already happened in the last 20 years of Euro pegged currency and EU accession preparations. Macedonia cradle of peace Macedonian can kick-start a process leading to lasting peace in Balkans by adopting the Euro now. Rolling out the Euro in North Macedonia now in 2022 together with Albania and Bosnia adopting the Euro parallel to EU offering The Euro to Serbia to for recognition of Kosovo is much more credible if all Balkans is in the Euro. So just Serbia will be isolated by the Dinar, alone in Balkans without the Euro as currency. An offer Serbia can not resist or reject for long and so there will be peace in the Southern Balkans, secured inside NATO, united inside the EU, and prosperous by the Euro and who will benefit more from peace and accession than Macedonia? 200 years of Macedonia issue from Vienna Congress to today, a constant Macedonian crisis solved now forever by adopting the Euro and so game-changing the Balkans from constant conflict to peace long term. And the Euro was the dealmaker for France accepting German unification and so why not deploy the Euro as a tool for peace in the Balkans. About time for peace in 2021…