IBNA Interview/On the interview for IBNA, Prof. Dr. Biljana Vankovska, expert for security issues and professor of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Skopje, talks about the internal political developments, rumors for a government crisis between partners of the coalition VMRO-DPMNE and BDI and the postponement of the solution of the name dispute, inter-ethnic relations and the blocking of the Euro-Atlantic processes in FYR Macedonia
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
How do you view the postponement of the process of the solution of the name dispute with Greece?
The name dispute is an issue which hasn’t been solved so far and the solution can be achieved if we are more lenient. I’d like to recall the fact that Greece is not only superior because it has imposed the name dispute as a condition for the integrating processes in the quality of a NATO and EU member, but also due to the fact that it has nothing to lose in case of a compromise. What international institutions view as a compromise, is a euphemism which is made to our country in the form of an ultimatum. The postponement of the solution is in the interest of Greece and this is unreasonable. Through this, Greeks buy more time and wait what will happen with FYROM, wait to see as to whether it will resist or be affected under the pressure of this dispute. What must worry us is the postponement of our integrating process, bearing in mind the Interim Agreement of 1995 and the ruling of the International Tribunal of Justice. I’d like to recall the fact that Greece had pledged that it would not hinder the association of our country with the temporary reference of FYROM.
Do you believe that the government in Skopje intentionally plays its game to postpone the solution of the name dispute?
Vankovska: There’s no doubt that the government and political actors have learned how to take advantage of this issue for their political gains, to come into power or to remain in power. Our society was divided in this aspect and is using up energies for such an unclear dispute which is far from a solution and which has involved all the spheres of society. This is an issue which has taken us all back to the past and which is preventing us to work for the future. But, in general I believe that it’s not only this government comprised of VMRO-DPMNE and BDI which is postponing the solution process. No government is prepared to commit a historical suicide playing with the problem of the identity, because Greece doesn’t only demand the change of the name of the state, but also the symbols of the majority of our population.
Have there been recent rumors about a possible governmental crisis, bearing in mind the recent declarations and warnings issued by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the warnings that come from BDI?
The crisis in the relations between them is something which constantly confuses us. They pretend to be arguing, but they also pretend that they do not want to ruin the coalition, which is based on the realization of close party and ethnic interests and not the national and state interests of our country. This has existed since the very beginning and it turned into a crowning of need and not a crowning of so called love. The two partners of the coalition are aware that in such circumstances, even if early elections are declared, they must still enter a coalition. The name dispute is being misused for internal political needs, but also for inter-ethnic tensions.
How do you consider the freedom of the media in other sectors for which negative reports have been released as far as our country is concerned?
It’s a fact that under circumstances of a deep social and economic crisis, topped up with inter-ethnic tension and without perspectives, all parameters of the democratic advancement are falling in a dramatic way. The reports assess all spheres, regardless how the politicians will react. Nonetheless we know that these reports are objective. It’s sufficient to see the polarization of the media time given to different political parties and different ethnic groups to understand that media don’t fight for their freedom, but are extremely used in a political way-although I respect several media, which are few in numbers and which fear for their survival. EU is so much focused on the name dispute, that it can now barely see that the country is gradually losing the positive recommendations which marked the start of negotiations for the accession of the country in the NATO. Brussels views the solution of the name dispute as being more important than the quality of life and democracy in the country.
According to you, what’s the best way to get out of this situation for the country?
I don’t know. I am aware of the fact that the situation is very serious-from education, to the health system, to the judicial system, unemployment-up to that point that I sometimes think that nobody can solve this situation overnight. We have wasted 20 years by making a step forward and two steps backward and today we don’t know why we find ourselves in this situation or try to find external factors to blame. It’s a shame for a state with 2 million people, which is compared to a neighborhood of a great world city, not to be able to find a solution for the basic problems of the citizens. Citizens believe more in miracles. They think that if the country becomes a NATO member, everything will be better. I would want them to feel more optimistic, but my reasoning doesn’t allow me to feel such way.
Who is PhD Biljana Vankovska?
Biljana Vankovska was born in Skopje, 1959. She finished her elementary and high school education in her hometown. In April 1982, she was awarded BA degree for Political Sciences at the Faculty of Law in Skopje. She is an employee of the Faculty of Philosophy since 1983. In 1993, she was elected for assistant professor, then five years later for associate professor and in 2003 for tenure professor.
Her teaching engagements are mostly on the Department for Security, Defense and Peace, but she also teaches courses at the Departments of Sociology and Social Work. Professor Vankovska teaches courses at all three MA programs at the Department for Security, Defense and Peace and the MA program for European Studies.
She has more than 100 publications, most of them written in English and published by foreign publishers.Professor Vankovska is member of several international associations (IPSA, ISA, IPRA, EuPRA, IUS on Armed Forces and Society, ERGOMAS.)