May 10 2019

Are Turkey and North Macedonia breaking up? - Balkan Insight

Relations between Turkey and North Macedonia are being tested as Skopje pursues closer ties with Greece and turns a blind eye to the presence of members of Gülen movement that Turkey blames for a failed 2016 putsch, Balkan Insight said on Friday.

Turkey has repeatedly asked North Macedonia to take action against the Gülen movement, but Skopje has failed to act, the website said.

Thousands of followers of reclusive U.S.-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen have fled Turkey to Balkan countries since the 2016 failed coup in which some 250 people were killed.

Balkan Insight said Turkey’s defence minister last month told North Macedonia that Ankara would support its membership of NATO if it would do more to co-operate in the fight against the Gülen movement.

Before the coup, the secretive Islamist movement ran hundreds of schools in Turkey and across the world, including in the Balkans, encouraging graduates to enter influential jobs in the civil service, judiciary, military, police and media. Turkey’s government accused the Gülenists, its former allies, of trying to set up a parallel state. Turkey has closed Gülenist schools on its own territory and put pressure on other countries to do the same.

North Macedonia's new policy of seeking close ties with Greece also risks its relations with Turkey, Balkan Insight said. Turkey, a centuries-old rival of Greece, is embroiled in a number of territorial and diplomatic disputes with its western neighbour.

Citing Turkey's dispute with Greece over Cyprus, the website said North Macedonia would "sooner or later have to choose sides".

https://balkaninsight.com/2019/05/10/strains-emerge-in-north-macedonias-alliance-with-turkey/