In the waning days of some American administrations, its attention and devotion to foreign policy issues subsides, as the president pays more attention to his legacy and his pet projects. In the case of the Obama administration, one not known for its foreign policy acumen, this situation is more pronounced.

Still, the world turns and foreign policy issues do not go away. In the case of the Syrian refugee crisis and its effects on southeast Europe, the situation worsens. It is high time for Congress to finally take up the mantle and show that America can and will take a leadership role.

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A case in point is Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic that, from the ashes of the Balkan Wars, has blossomed into an independent, democratic, prosperous and pro-Western nation that is an aspirant to the EU and NATO. However, Macedonia is literally drowning in refugees from the Middle East and beyond, a massive strain on that nation’s security and economic resources.

Macedonia has become a victim of its own geography, as well as of the disaffection of Greece, its neighbor to the South. Macedonia stands as the Southern gateway to Europe. Last year, 750,000 refugees, who initially landed in Greece, made their way largely unimpeded by Greece -- to the border with Macedonia.   

Although, Macedonia has done its best to convey this mass migration and has lived up to the standards established by the EU, there is a limit to the resources of a nation of just over 2 million people and a GDP of roughly $10 billion USD. While Greece, an EU member, receives copious EU support, Macedonia is bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis and is forced to largely fend alone.

Many of the nations of Southeast Europe are still recovering from the bloody and economically disastrous Balkan Wars, and Macedonia is no exception. Although Macedonia has fared better than most and became a responsible actor on the world stage, the massive crisis promises instability – not just for Macedonia, but for the Balkan region and Europe as a whole.

The crisis also exacerbates political instability facing Macedonia. These threats stem chiefly from Zoran Zaev, the leader of that nation’s main opposition party, the Social Democrats.  According to many media reports and the local criminal proceedings, Zaev has been implicated in bribery and wiretapping of government officials and business leaders, extortion, and dirty business dealings. By all accounts, he flouted the hard won rule of law of Macedonia by running his own elicit business enterprise.

Through Zaev’s political finagling, the EU and the government of Macedonia was forced to make a dubious political settlement whereby Zaev’s principal political opponent, the popular Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, was forced to resign 100 days prior to elections. Gruevski, credited with the last 10 years of Macedonian advancement and prosperity will likely return to lead his nation after the elections scheduled for April.

To prevent this, Zaev’s Social Democrats are also trying to undermine freedom of the press by advancing a highly restrictive media law. Delegating media supervision into the hands of unelected NGOs and prohibiting free political expression is exactly the wrong way to go in a young democracy.

The country’s success is impressive. During the last decade, under the leadership of Gruevski, the World Bank ranked Macedonia as the 12th best country in the world and 6th in Europe for the ease of doing business. Prior to Gruevski’s tenure, Macedonia was ranked 94th. In addition, unemployment, the economic and political bane of Southeast Europe, stands at roughly 25 percent, down from nearly 40 percent,  during Gruevski’s time at the helm.

In these years, Macedonia has also has made strides toward the establishment of the rule of law, a bona fide democratic system of governance, Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as the accession for both European Union and NATO membership.

EU and NATO membership would go a long way to providing Macedonia stability . Although Macedonia has meticulously satisfied each requirement for both memberships, Greece has vetoed or blocked the process at each turn.

Greece’s relentless obstructionism is related directly to the name, “Macedonia.” The northern-most province of Greece is also called Macedonia and has drawn Greece’s ire at the expense of international order and security.

However, Congress, not without the levers necessary to influence international affairs, should make its position clear. Congress must recognize that Macedonia has fulfilled the requisites for membership in the EU and NATO. It is also time for Congressional leadership needed to convince the EU to see that Greece’s childish and irrational obsession with a name of a historic province is far outweighed by the need for stability in Southeast Europe. It is time for the US to lead on Balkan security, including throwing a life-line to Macedonia.

Katz is the principal of TSG, LLC, a consultancy that advises foreign governments, NGOs and corporations in the realms of strategic communications, politics and policy. He is also the former head of Public Affairs and Public Relations for the American Jewish Committee, based in Los Angeles.