When several years ago we, a group of Macedonian journalists and editors, went to Johannesburg and Cape Town, they told us how the reconciliation in South Africa came after the Apartheid and the brutal murders and tortures, we watched and listened to our hosts and colleagues, wondering if it was possible. Reading the news about the events in South Africa for so many years has become so common that we treated them as weather forecasts from Zajcev Rid, as routine reports on the weather, without anything disturbing in our thoughts. The modest knowledge of Nelson Mandela and his struggle and the suffering of thousands of prisoners in the cells we visited were no less shocking than fascist concentration camps. However, the greatest surprise was the model of reconciliation and forgiveness, which were used by the sufferers and executioners.
The criminals only had to testify when, where and whom they killed, to repent in direct radio broadcasts and that was it. It was all forgiven. Later the commission would make a report of it and the case goes to the archive. The tyrants were free to go.
I do not know how I looked when I heard this, but when I uttered “How is this possible”, the man who was telling us about it understood my reaction, turned to me and asked me: “How did you in Macedonia reconcile after the 2001 conflict year?” He immediately distanced himself and said that he knew that it was a matter of many different events that were incomparable, but said reconciliation and forgiveness were always painful, even if it was only the murder of one innocent man. I remember my answer, although I was confused with the question. I said that the military conflict in Macedonia ended with an agreement between the two sides. The interlocutor said – it’s not reconciliation without testimony and recognition of guilt from both sides. The hatchets could be unburied at any time.
Our mentality is very different from yours, I replied. If those who killed innocent people testify in public, whether through a radio broadcast or other media, a bloody civil war would break out with evenmore tragic consequences. The man shrugged his shoulders, said – OK, if what was agreed and signed only on paper works well, then it’s fine. But he did not leave the impression that he was convinced that our procedure was just. I remained convinced that their forgiveness and reconciliation was an unprecedented case in world history, bearing in mind the severity and mass of crimes.
These days, many years after this conversation, I read in our media several texts that make comparisons and analyzes with the reconciliation in South Africa brought about our current situation as examples in the already open media public debate whether the events of April 27, when the events attempted coup d’etat with bloodshed and obstruction to constitute the Assembly and to elect a president and a government, there should be reconciliation and forgiveness and in what way this should be done and whether it is possible at all to come to such an act. A case that becomes more and more difficult day by day due to the race with time to pass constitutional changes that are the decisive precondition for Macedonia’s accession into the European Union and NATO membership. Two major strategic goals for the future faster development and survival of the country accepted by all relevant political parties and a large number of citizens since the first day of independence of Macedonia, but unacceptable by many citizens because of the remarks and compromise solutions in the agreement with Greece.
Reconciliation in South Africa has yielded good results, although they say there are still witnesses and unsolved murders. Forgiveness encompassed a large number of people who committed inforgivable crimes. The Ohrid Agreement is working in Macedonia, although many crimes remained unsolved, and the perpetrators were not held accountable before the law. The wounds have still not healed t among those who suffered in the military conflict and are still used for political manipulation. Politics and interests ruled amnesty in 2001.
If these two examples of reconciliation (with a big question mark whether they signify forgiveness or just a cover up) according to their weight are acceptable as a solution to avoid even greater tragedies by sacrificing justice, then why the events of 27 April 2017 became a very difficult case that Macedonia was facing up to the boiling point. The answer has already come to light, because the event that was condemned by everyone, including those who stood behind this crime and organized the obstruction of handing over power to the parliamentary majority after legal elections, later, after the justice began to function, they withdrew and requalified the invasion in parliament as a patriotic and heroic act. The conviction of the event is not followed by remorse and apology, or by requesting forgiveness. Organizers now seek a legal amnesty solution with a political decision by shifting the blame on the sufferers, as if nothing had happened.
It’s about blackmail. Macedonia and its Euro-Atlantic integrations has been blackmailed, and the shield is the Prespa Agreement with Greece and its compromise solutions. The latest offer by VMRO-DPMNE to pass a law on an urgent procedure that will release all participants in the events of April 27 from responsibility is a recognition that the main motive is not the agreement with Greece, but the freedom of all participants in the attack on the Parliament and the MPs there was no judicial resolution and the disclosure of the organizer and the chief executors of the coup attempt, and the proclamation of a state of emergency in order not to take over the power by the established courtesy and obstructing other court proceedings conducted by the Special Public Prosecution.
The proposal for such a law under an urgent procedure is not followed by apology and recognition of the criminal act, but by arrogance and ruthless conditioning. In such a case, accepting amnesty only with a political decision, without a court order and without an apology and remorse, without prison sentences for the organizers according to the weight of responsibility from the highest ranked to the lowest level is political suicide not only of the sufferers, but of the entire justice system.
Sacrifice for higher goals, such as EU and NATO membership, should be done to a certain level. We cannot let the greatest culprits suddenly become heroes through pardoning.
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik