According to Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, it is not easy to ignore Macedonia’s case in 2019. “I don’t think we in Europe have the luxury of not consolidating success stories, because we don’t have too many,” he told the Financial Times. As Dimitrov added in the text, it will be “difficult to talk . . . with a straight face” about ever-closer ties between Brussels and his region if EU member states failed to confirm a conditional decision to launch the accession process. The failure of Macedonia’s EU membership bid would risk alienating reformist forces in the western Balkan region while encouraging autocrats, Florian Bieber, Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria, said.