The “For” campaign almost wiped out the “Against” campaign. Although a growing number of citizens do not accept the agreement with Greece, those who are publicly fighting for the referendum to fail last week were on the sidelines of the political scene and almost disappeared. The reason for this is simple – what is the logic to challenge a deal that is supported by all the world’s leaders and friends of Macedonia, an agreement that opens all the blocked perspectives of the state, which promises an opportunity for a better future and promises change, because, as it is today Macedonia, does not make anyone happy?
What happened to the camp “against” last week can be freely assessed as a diplomatic tsunami that turned into absurdity, illusion and a fantasy to vote every single disagreement in the referendum, and even vote against the agreement with Greece. No matter how diplomatically ignorant the opponents of the referendum, they can not skip several obvious defeats for their policies.
The first is that the right-wing leaders from Europe, VMRO-DPMNE’s closest sister-parties and the most dedicated to the Vmro cause Sebastian Kurz came and said – go out and vote, it’s for the good of the state and for the benefit of all of you, it’s the best you can you get and without it you do not have the brightest future.
The second defeat is that neither Viktor Orban nor Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the closest friends of the head of state Gjorge Ivanov, did not come out to support him in the crusade against the change, according to him, to the identity of the Macedonians, and many others (like Albania) came out with extreme friendly messages for European Macedonia.
The third defeat is that even the leader for whom the right-wing, nationalist, anti-immigrant and hardline circles in the country so cheered, US President Donald Trump did not oppose the agreement with Greece and was not against the referendum. Moreover, he welcomed and called for an endorsement by leaving those who oppose it without any ally on the international stage. If they do not trust Trump, whose support they so hoped for and wished, in what do they hope for in the referendum in general?
The fourth defeat is a funny Russian interference through a Twitter message recently, which, according to their interpretation, is against the call of Albanian President Ilir Meta to go to the polls, but at the same time he is not against the same call by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, because with his government, their leader Vladimir Putin has strong chemistry and common interests.
The fifth defeat is the “I Boycott” itself which can not articulate a serious cause against the agreement, nor did it succeed in imposing a serious figure that would represent it.
The sixth defeat is the VMRO-DPMNE itself, which has played the nationalist card for ten years and now has a problem explaining to its membership that it can not be on the lonely side of history and take over the burden of a party that placed Macedonia’s second veto for NATO, placing itself on the same side with former Greece.
The seventh defeat of the camp “against” is that the influential figures in its ranks are seeking to publicly support the agreement with Greece and vote in the referendum. And, what is terrifying about Hristijan Mickoski and Gjorge Ivanov, among them is the authentic former leader of VMRO-DPMNE, the politician who included the ideals for Macedonia’s independence in the party and which contributed to it being found on this road today. The politician who created the VMRO-DPMNE on the wings of Macedonian nationalism, but now publicly announces that the timing of that policy has passed and that Macedonia has a future only if it is Europeanized.
It is precisely this reality, an agreement with Greece on the name, an agreement with Bulgaria on the history and language, the entry of Macedonia into NATO and, more likely, in the EU, will be a death blow to the politics that politicians and parties in Macedonia drove and collected points on in the past almost three decades. The “against” campaign knows that this is the last chance to save the cheap points policy that works for them, even if it weakens Macedonia. That if Macedonia joins NATO and the EU, they will have nothing to feed the nationalism from which they lived as gods for so long.
The author is the editor in chief of Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent newspaper