IBNA Op/Ed: Protests and counter protests

IBNA Op/Ed: Protests and counter protests

By Naser Pajaziti

Protests and counter protests are the reflection of a divided political reality in FYROM. But what does this mean? Protests are part of the revolt of civil society organized in a movement called “I Protest”. This movement is made of around 90 civil organizations which were outraged by the decision of the president of the country, George Ivanov to pardon 56 politicians, officials and former government officials, involved in criminal and corruption activities. Ivanov said that this decision was taken given the deep political crisis and the growing divisions among citizens.

The president of the country also said that the decision upholds state strategic interests. But the network of non government organizations sees this decision as part of the scenario of the government led by VMRO-DPMNE of former PM Nikola Gruevski. The pressure exerted by this party obliged president Ivanov to grant this amnesty.

Protests against Ivanov entered the second week, but the number of those who are taking on the streets is falling. Organizers do not offer any details how protests will be in the weeks to come, but what can be noticed is the fact that institutions are being attacked with eggs.

“Everything is going to plan and we don’t think that the interest to participate in these protests is falling”, says Ivana, an activist of civil society.

Protesters are also against the decision to hold elections on June 5 and the resignation of president Ivanov. But the novelty of these protests has to do with the support that is coming by small Albanian opposition parties.

The counter protests are being organized by supporters of the largest party in the country, VMRO-DPMNE. Their organizer is the League for the Protection of Macedonia-GDOM, which says that president Ivanov didn’t have to pardon the leader of Macedonian opposition or leader of SDSM (Macedonian Social Democratic Union), Zoran Zaev. They have demanded for Zaev to be brought to justice and be held accountable for the damages caused by the publication of the registered conversations.

Aleksandar Pandov of GDOM is one of the organizers of the counter protest. He says that Zaev’s place is in jail and that he must not be pardoned. There have been reports that participants in these counter protests are being brought to Skopje from other cities by bus. In social networks citizens have expressed their concern that they receive SMS messages to participate in these protests, otherwise they will be fired.

Even these protests and counter protests are not forcing political parties to find a solution for the crisis.

The fact that June 5 was decided as the date for the elections, has deepened the crisis even further. Macedonian opposition has made it clear that it will not participate in these elections, as no conditions have been delivered.

If the opposition doesn’t participate in these elections, then the only two protagonists of these elections are VMRO-DPMNE and BDI. In this case, it would be unreasonable for the country to hold such elections. EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn made it perfectly clear last week that the European Union will not recognize the next government if the opposition doesn’t participate in these elections and if the conditions are not met.

The situation will be more complicated and there’s a risk for growing tension, as a protest has been announced on Friday by the Movement for Reforms-PDSH, along with organizations of war veterans.

Protests and counter protests will continue, until a solution is discussed in the talks in Vienna between the four main political parties which signed the Przino agreement. Present in these talks will be the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, who will ask sides to overcome the political crisis in the country. /balkaneu.com/

* The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line