It would have been much easier if there was no referendum and if a generation of responsible and courageous politicians, led by Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, with the decisions of the parliaments of Macedonia and Greece ratified the agreement and took over the responsibility for resolving the decades-long dispute, and thus opened the doors of peace, good neighborly relations, partnership and support for Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. The strategic goal of vital interest cannot be condemned because it is historically justified. Such a determination firmly relies on the Constitution and the laws because it has a teleological legal dimension when the goal (teleos) is of crucial importance for the future of the state and the citizens.
Interpretation of commas and points, of the weight of concessions, in that case does not hold water because the agreement is a general generic term that encompasses everything and whose realization is the realization of a fundamental goal for the future of the state.
There were proposals to not hold a referendum, to let the Assembly make all the decisions, but unfortunately they were not accepted because the determinations of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM have long been reported as populist offerings packed for consolation of the citizens that they will not be circumvented when the final decision needs to be adopted. VMRO-DPMNE was the first to pledge this commitment in order to reduce tensions when negotiating with Greece. Fear not to lose power due to concessions forced politicians in power to hide behind the citizens, for example, the last word will be given by them. On the other hand, the non-acceptance of a compromise with Greece brought points in the public, especially by tightening the relations with the neighbor before every election, both with us and with them. The Social Democrats embraced the same doctrine quite unnecessarily as long as they were in opposition, fearing to uphold the highest democratic act of deciding the people, which is not everywhere equally justified and does not mean that the referendum is a very democratic determination. Particularly risky referenda in multiethnic societies, such as ours, if relations between ethnic communities are constantly strained and if there is no mutual trust. With every public election or referendum, tension, conflict situations and deepening of divisions with nationalist and chauvinistic messages and manipulations are easily caused.
How justified was, for instance, that the referenda in Switzerland did not allow women to vote. The Swiss were the last in Europe, even deeper in the 20th century, to give women the right to vote. It is sometimes the price of the highest democratic act of expression. Calls for the expulsion of non-Macedonians and non-Orthodox and the “deprivation” of the right to give their opinion in the referendum are widely circulated through social networks and party televisions with poisonous language of hatred.
But, let’s not cry for spilled milk – what is it, there it is. The referendum has been called. We go to the polls. Nothing can be solved easily in Macedonia, nor the decades-long joint consensus determination of all parliamentary political parties and the majority of citizens for belonging to Europe and for membership in NATO and the EU. Just ten days ago, the Parliament passed a unanimous declaration of all MPs, both from the government and the opposition, that they firmly stood on the commitments for NATO and EU membership. But, obviously, it is not enough to accept the concessions made in the agreement with Greece. Now the burden of responsibility is only apparently transferred from politicians and from the Assembly and is transferred to 1,800,000 citizens, as they are registered in the Voters’ List, who should decide whether they will support the agreement that is a requirement to be implemented in action and Macedonia to become a member of the EU and NATO. Or, they will stop these joint commitments of the majority of citizens by boycotting the referendum, which is completely different if the majority of citizens vote that the agreement is unacceptable, that is, it is unacceptable to become a member of the EU and NATO with concessions that are false.
In other words, everything is clear if the majority of citizens vote “in favor” or vote “against” and if the censuses in the referendum vote are fulfilled. Then the decision in both cases is clean and strongly binding to implement the will of the citizens. If we assume that over 800,000, or even 900,000 citizens, vote “for”, and yet, the census is not fulfilled because of boycotts, or frustration, whether the failure of the referendum stops all future steps of the state institutions and the agreement with Greece becomes scandalous lack of censuses. In order not to happen, the Assembly should immediately by a decision of the majority of the Members of Parliament and with a substantiated legal justification authorize the President of the Assembly to sign the decision for ratification of the contract because the President of the State refuses to fulfill his obligations. That is why the referendum is consultative. At this stage when things are not completed and can not be otherwise than consultative.
It’s quite another thing that the whole ambition for a referendum declaration is unfavorable, full of manipulations and dirty propaganda with hate speech, with lies about the content of the agreement, which with nothing disturbs the basic identity benefits of the Macedonian people. Neither the name Macedonia, nor the national, nor religious, nor linguistic affiliations have been lost. All are recognized by the agreement. The name Macedonia remains as the essence, the Macedonian language remains as the strongest identity, the Macedonian nationality and the Macedonian nationality remain. The deviations with the addition of northern and other compromises are much less evil than losing the chance of being part of Europe and becoming a member of NATO and the EU.
The referendum is definitely not an election and a party contest that will win the power that it has had for dozens of times and will continue to be, but a historical explanation of the citizens for the future of Macedonia. The chance that has been obtained for the first time since the state exists, with great uncertainty whether it will be repeated once again, it is therefore the responsibility of the Government and the Parliament to use all constitutional and legal possibilities to achieve the highest strategic goals and priorities of the state. These goals are the EU and NATO membership.