The words “Macedonische zuckende”, first used in Europe almost a century ago, do not only mean Macedonian conditions, but tangled Balkan things that cannot be untangled. The equivalent of the German diagnosis initiated after the killings and assassinations in the European cities by Macedonian activists in mutual conflicts is the French “macédoine salade”, a fresh salad with mixed fruits of unknown origin. Today, one hundred years later, in the 21st century, at the end of 2018, history is repeated as a tragedy, and as a farce at the same time. At a time when we thought that the Gordian knot in the Balkans was finally cut off by the prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, accepting the Prespa Agreement which marks the beginning of the Europeanization and faster development of Macedonia and leadership in the region of Greece as an example the resolvable tangled disputes in the Balkans are being resolved, when the two courageous politicians opposing nationalism and extreme radicals in their own environments are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the cobwebs from which we cannot untangle are formed. Macedonia definitely does not know what to do with freedom, we are entering a new orange phase and in new uncertainty about the future of the country.
It is difficult to rationally and understandably explain what is happening to us. Is Prime Minister Zoran Zaev blackmailed, or is Macedonia blackmailed? Who is doing the blackmailing and why? Do we really want to be part of Europe or not? Are we ready to pay the price for it or not? Are we able to distinguish the lesser evil from the greater? Can we distinguish whether Greece’s conditions for a compromise solution are more difficult, or domestic blackmails coming from the new constitution makers who bargain as if they are at the food stands in the street, who sell out as if they are trading on the black market, because the goods will be spoiled by tomorrow? And, finally, are we deciding on our future or someone else’s? Are we familiar with the consequences of failure?
In the past few days, I carefully read Prime Minister Zaev’s attempts to answer these questions and the justified criticisms of the authors, which I respect, for the chaos that has occurred in the country only a decade before the historic decision was adopted in the Assembly of Macedonia by adopting the constitutional amendments. After Prime Minister Zaev’s statement that 76 votes “In favor” have been secured, which means the failure of the agreement with Greece due to our own fault, the first more serious symptoms emerged that lead to a new deep multilayered crisis that enters Macedonia with uncertainty whether it is possible to resolve it at all with new early parliamentary elections in the long-divided society if the constitutional amendments are not adopted within the anticipated optimal deadline. If the agreement with Greece is to blame for our fault, the elections, whether presidential or parliamentary, would be only a 40-day shift from its resignation with a good chance of disappearing of the country as well.
And now here are my answers to the aforementioned questions. Is Zaev blackmailed, or Macedonia? Macedonia is, that is, all citizens who are determined for the European future of the country by accepting compromise solutions with Greece in which they do not see a threat to the national identity and language, and who in the name of the Republic of North Macedonia recognize full international recognition and consider the term North as only a geographical determinant, which it actually is.
Who is doing the blackmailing and why? It is best that the Prime Minister answers this more openly and positively to the public, although the figures and power in the parliament are clearly visible, in the political parties that have not yet seen their own loss, if the Prespa Agreement fails. VMRO-DPMNE blackmails as an opposition, part of the MPs who were distanced from VMRO-DPMNE and formed a separate parliamentary group and in the first voting agreed to start the constitutional changes procedure also blackmail, and now they are waiting for their extorted freedom with the amnesty law in order to vote.
All Albanian political parties and leaders who have demands beyond all moral and partnership principles also blackmail. Some of them seek impunity for their crimes, others seek populist affection among their supporters – when if not now, now they are caught in the middle. Some of their demands are more difficult than the ones coming from Greece.
Other imprisoned powerful people blackmail through their close associates. They demand freedom in exchange for their vote. Various currents in the SDSM also blackmail. In a political crisis that is not related to chess terms when the flag falls in shortage of time, the Prime Minister’s resignation and the dissolution of the Assembly will be inevitable, demanding their way out in snap elections. In this case, the situation is completely reversed. The resignation of Prime Minister Zaev would complicate the situation with the debacle of the Prespa Agreement and with the long delay of NATO membership and the start of negotiations with the EU.
Do we really want to be part of Europe and are we ready to pay the price for it? Yes, according to all public opinion polls, all party documents and programmes, all reforms and development plans, all the laws passed in parliament, the entire political and economic order is in line with the EU pathway to the status candidate for membership. All reforms in the army and other areas that NATO is insisting on are also fulfilled in that direction. So, we do want EU and NATO membership. And are we ready to pay the price for it with concessions as the lesser evil than uncertainty if we are not integrated in Europe. NO. No adequate preparations have been made, no ambience or favorable climate has been made for which the blame falls on the political and intellectual elites, the media that failed to prepare the public for compromise all these 28 years, and to understand the benefits and losses from joining NATO and the EU.
Do we decide for ourselves on our own future or someone else is? When I listen to this question, I am always reminded of Denko Maleski’s warning when he said that the worst that could happen is the international community giving up on us. To me, the emerging situation of chaos resembles to this a lot, although it is unlikely after all that has been invested by United States and the EU, and after all efforts for Macedonia to move in the right direction. The re-isolation of Macedonia and letting it untangle the knots it makes itself would be catastrophic.
And the answer to the last question – what will be the consequences of Macedonia’s failure to catch the last train for Europe? Much harder than all the concessions that now cause justified resentment in the public. Macedonia, like most Balkan countries, if they do not become EU members and are not Europeanized, inevitably moves towards disappearance. It is nothing new in the recent history of nations and countries. The last example is Yugoslavia, which has disappeared into bloodshed and ruin as a wasted historical model in which nationalist leaders who dreamed of big countries did not see the future. All of the heirs of Yugoslavia sought salvation in Europe. Those who were quick to accepted the conditions of the host, quickly reached their goal. Those who still cannot see beyond their own nose hold us captive because they are even stronger than those who want freedom and progress.