Macedonia: are you just doing this to annoy me?

You remember I blogged a few weeks back about how Macedonia’s government was collapsing (because of demands from the Albanian party in the coalition).

Then a bit later I posted about how, no, it wasn’t collapsing after all — the coalition partners had reconciled.

Well, now it has collapsed again. Elections are on June 1.

I should write some about how this happened but, really, it’s just too annoying. Mostly I’m annoyed with myself. Balkan governments do this a lot, you see. Some of you may remember that Romania’s Prime Minister Tariceanu quit in 2005, for instance, and then un-quit a few days after, before elections could be triggered. (He’s still PM almost three years later.) And I don’t want to think about how many false alarms there have been in Serbia.

Perhaps I should try to draw some general principle from this, but, again, I’m too annoyed. I wish the Macedonians well in their electoral endeavours, and now I’ll go post about something else.

(Mind, people who know what’s going on and want to talk about it are welcome to do so. Comment away, please.)

13 thoughts on “Macedonia: are you just doing this to annoy me?

  1. Hey Douglas,

    Ok. It is fairly simple actually. As the Bucharest summit was approaching and having passed the MAP Macedonia was supposed to get an invitation to join NATO. Greek agenda was rather different. As a NATO member they sought to exercise their position and attempt to put an end to the “name dispute” they’ve had with Macedonia for the past 17 years. This would be expected by any “normal” thinking politician. Having known the possibility of such an event occurring, PM Gruevski (Macedonia’s PM) had announced back in 2007 that if it had come to that and a change in the name was pressured upon Macedonia, the people would have the final say via referendum.
    Now obviously, the States also have an agenda in their hypothetically still on-going “cold war” with Russia and that being said wanted to “adopt” as many countries as possible from the so called “Eastern Block” fearing the Russians and communism might take it back like its Darth Vader with a huge boner looking for some action.
    This means exhausting all possible methods (preferably easy) to manage this.
    Now, Macedonia being a fairly poor country and acting like fat nerdy 13 year old girl around the most popular jock in the high school, happened to “obey” every command it was given in the past 17 years. This had been happening while the Social Democrats (SDSM) were the ruling party. However, for the past 2 years the ruling party is VMRO-DPMNE. VMRO, having the support of the people, seemed fairly robust when it came to budging on the name issue (feeling justly that it was unprecedented, unlawful, unmerited and downright offensive) and outside pressure wasn’t doing the job, as it did in the past with the oh so compliant SDSM. Here’s where the Albanian parties come in. Being the American baby (Kosovo and so on) they love their daddy. They also love a greater Albania, but that’s an issue to be discussed separately.
    They (I mean the Americans with the help of SDSM and Albanian parties) tried to pressure VMRO internally by doing exactly what you had said, the Albanian party had “dropped out” of the coalition planning to possibly destabilize VMRO’s stance. This was unsuccessful having backfired into the obvious outcome that a “fallen” government could not make a decision as important as a name change. So, as instructed (by you know who already), they went back in to make it possible for a decision to be reached on the possible name change. A decision wasn’t reached, thus the veto in NATO even though, as I explained earlier, Macedonia had satisfied the conditions for entry. But, NATO allowed Greek nationalist propaganda to regulate the supposedly democratic process of NATO. Oh well, s*** happens… right?
    Now the decision has been made and Macedonia was given a “possible invitation pending the name dispute” which basically means: “Change your name and you get in.”
    In democratic theory, such a big event calls for an early election for the people to be able to decide which party’s policy they’d rather support in order for the path of the country to be set. What is funny in this “democratic” event is that the ruling party wants the elections and the opposing party does not. I think that this is a first in history (correct me if I’m wrong).
    So now, we await the outcome of the elections and we’ll see where that takes us.

    Hope that explains your concerns as to what the hell is going on in the Balkans, specifically Macedonia.

    Cheers.

  2. Erm, isn’t it quite normal for elections to be called because the ruling party wants them and the opposition doesn’t? It certainly is in the UK, the mother of parliaments. As for NATO, it’s not a democracy, it’s an alliance, and Greece is a member – so has a veto – while Macedonia isn’t. I happen to think that it’s rotten luck for Macedonia and Greece is being ridiculous. However, there’s nothing “undemocratic” about it as nobody promised a majority vote.

    I also think you might be clearer in your arguments if you stop making silly analogies.

  3. Well ok. You’re right in saying that NATO is an alliance, which works on a unanimity principle and Greece does have a right of veto being a member of this alliance. However, when I said undemocratic, I wasn’t specifically referring to the principle of democracy where a majority vote is needed for any decision to be made. I may have been unclear there and I apologize for that. What I meant was that Greece abused their “right” of veto 1) because they had signed an agreement where they explicitly say they will not oppose the membership or entry of Macedonia in any organization and 2) because Macedonia had completed the necessary criteria that both Albania and Croatia had, but Macedonia stayed out and additional criteria were given which even violate international law and UN charters (the right of self-determination).

    As far as the calling of early elections goes, it might be a common thing as you say it is in the UK. However, what is ridiculous regarding the case in Macedonia is that SDSM (the opposition) is obvious in their reluctance to have early elections due to their decreased support or rather increased support for the ruling party.

    And as far as my analogies, I apologize for the lack of clarity.

  4. Greece has no obligation to help a country whose sole purpose is to first hijack its history and ultimately annex a part of it.
    Countries don’t commit suicide to please a US president on his way out, especially a president whose administration has been downright hostile towards them, no matter what they did. Nor do they have an obligation to help out countries that behave in an insulting manner towards them .
    Nor is Fyrom’s stand “you have to do what we want because so says the great George Bush”
    constructive. Greece has offered a compromise, find a solution that will recognize that there are more Macedonian greeks, who want nothing to do with Skopje than there are “macedonians” in Skopje. They are at least as much Macedonian as what people in Skopje claim to be. So claiming the whole region for a small part of it is exceedingly silly.

  5. Bojan,

    Would you care to explain what exactly are the differences between SDSM/Albanian parties and VMRO-DPMNE with regards to the name dispute? In other words, do the new elections really have to do with the name dispute or with the bounce in popularity of VMRO-DPMNE at present as a result of resisting the Greek pressure?

    I would also like to note that the Albanian parties are not tied up to the name dispute as their ethnic identity is well-defined and not at stake, ie Albanian parties receive votes almost exclusively from Albanians that are exclusively concerned about Albanian issues. So, what do the Albanian political parties have to do with the name dispute/new elections?

    Kind regards,

    Fidel

  6. Here is a good analysis of the current political situation in Macedonia:
    http://www.osservatoriobalcani.org/article/articleview/9427/1/216/

    Doesn’t quite talk about the Albanian parties, but to summarize on that issue basically the Albanians have one agenda of a Greater Albania masqueraded as more minority rights even thought they enjoy more rights than most EU countries give their minorities, one of them being a right to veto in parliament regarding minority issues.
    So the game they play is exerting pressure whenever needed to support their agenda. Such was the event of the potential dissolution of the government where the ruling party’s coalition party demanded certain rights in order to return to the coalition.

    Hope that explains it.

  7. In relation to Tims comments, & perhaps the real problem for both Macedonia and Greece, is the ultimate constitutional matter of an ineffective E.U. government which lacks any executive or enforcement power to its member states, in turn leading to Balkan instability in the region.

    Please see this article by Steve Gligorov, as it sums up the real reason why the NATO veto and the E.U. ineffectiveness on the Greece and Republic of Macedonia matters. See:

    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/58907

    See also: 1913 Treaty of Bucharest and what happened to Macedonia back then, especially the fact that Greece conquered Macedonia and doubled the size of Greece in both population and territory under the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest.

    Finally, see the Time magazine article published in the year 1925, which explains how the Macedonian people suffered for their very existence even back then, and thus they were not something created by Stalin or Tito in the 1940’s as popularly argued by most Greek heads of state; see:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,719711,00.html

    The news is out and it’s time for Europe to take charge of the unsolved problems in South Central Europe before serious civil war erupts in the region.

  8. Bojan,

    You seem to waffle a lot. You provided no clear answer to what exactly are the differences between VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM with regards to the name dispute – that was supposed to be the reason why new elections were called. The only difference is that VMRO-DPMNE is riding high in the polls and is trying to bask in the popularity, which of course is an excellent political move but it has nothing to do with the name dispute.

    Douglas Muir wrote a piece a while ago saying that Gruevski might call early elections because he is so popular right now and by doing so he would increase his majority in the parliament. Now, that is what is happening here. Big up to Doug once more. For God’s sake, read the article you send me, it’s there black on white saying that NSDP has been a pain in the back and Gruevski thinks that by calling early elections he can win a greater majority and govern (or proceed with reforms as he puts it) without NSDP on his back.

    What does Uncle Sam have to do with any of this I don’t know and you were not able to say either, but you did mention them a lot. Waffle, waffle, waffle… and then try and blame one of the strongest supporters of Macedonia, ie the USA, for the fact that the name dispute has not been solved when in fact the United States recognise Macedonia as the Republic of Macedonia. I thought the United States were the biggest supporters of Macedonian bid for membership in NATO, weren’t they?

    And then you moved on to also blame the Albanians, of course. Now, let me ask you: name a single EU country that has an ethnic minority that constitutes over a quarter, probably a third, of the population where that minority enjoys less rights than Albanians in Macedonia? The same quasi-argument that you used about “Greater Albania” could be identically used by, say, the Greeks when you refer to the minority rights for ethnic (slav) Macedonians in Greece. Why do you give ammunition to the Greeks to say to you that ethnic (slav) Macedonians have an agenda of a “Greater Macedonia” masqueraded as more minority rights for ethnic (slav) Macedonians in Greece?

    Douglas Muir, yet again, has a lot more logical and better explanation of the demands by the Albanian political party that was part of the Gruevski government. Read his post. It might, just might, have a little to do with the Ohrid Agreement too.

    In conclusion, I am left to feel the same as the judges in Haradinaj’s case: Bojan your arguments are “vague, inconclusive, or simply non-existent.”

    Kind regards,

    Fidel

  9. Fidel

    Way to put words in my mouth. It is beyond obvious that you have no comprehension of the underlying situation and are unable to look at things from a birds point of view.
    To say that the early elections have nothing to do with the name dispute is incredibly ignorant. Of course the move exhibits other intentions such as taking advantage of the great popularity among the people which as you say is a great political move. But to say that this is done solely for the sake of control of government is beyond narrow mindedness.

    Regarding the Albanians you mention. Why try to raise the number of the Albanian minority from “over a quarter, probably a third”? Is it because you’re trying to make a point and a bigger minority suits your argument? If anything the official census number says 25.2% It almost exactly a quarter and far from a THIRD. I personally don’t agree with the number since the census was made under questionable circumstances and is beyond a doubt in my mind less than that, but even so I won’t stray away from the official number as you try to do.
    Albanian demands always have to do with the Ohrid Framework agreement which is now actually in the constitution and thus should be implemented. There is a gray area here though which is taking advantage of the agreement by asking for more than it allows.

    I’ll answer your question with a question. Name me a country in EU where the minority has the right of a veto in the parliament of that country?

    You compare Macedonians wanting minority rights in Greece with the agenda of a “Greater Macedonia” with the Albanian minority rights in Macedonia for a “Greater Albania”.

    First of all, even if we have claims to the norther part of Greece (which we do not, denied it, its in the constitution and so on), which would be a more real threat? Second, Albanians in Macedonia have rights that other minorities in Balkan and in some EU countries can only dream of. They are part of the government , in any school, elementary or high school in where 20% of the pupils are from Albanian minority can take class on their mother tongue ,several national TV stations where they can watch programs on their mother tongue ,two state universities for high education where they can also learn on their mother tongue. Every single document for ID-card or passport is written on bilingual, they have the right to speak in Macedonian parliament in Albanian and ton of other minority rights.
    Now, compare all that to the NON-EXISTENT Macedonian (or any other for that matter) minority in Greece. Talk about right.
    There’s also no need to put “(slav)” when you speak of the Macedonian minority in Greece. Just as you wouldn’t do so when you speak of Bulgarians or Serbians.

    In conclusion I am left to feel as Winston Churchill felt: “This truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is.”

    I bid you good day,

    Bojan

  10. Bojan,

    how many Albanians were included in your 46 member delegation to NATO Summit? (answer: 1)

    how many Albanians are included in the negotiating process with Greece (Answer: 0)

    which is the only neighbor country that recognizes your name, state, church, history, language etc (answer: Albania)

    how many citizens of your country gave up their identity for the sake of obtaining Bulgarian passports? (answer: over 100.000, almost all of them Macedonians)

    Was the Prime Minister of Albania caught on camera saluting the map of Great Albania? (answer: no, it was PM Gruevski of Macedonia, paying tribute to a map of Great Macedonia that includes the whole north part of Greece)

    Was it the ex-PM of Kosovo who said at the party congress that the next party congress will take place in Skopje/ (answer: no, it was ex-PM Georgivski of Macedonia who said that the next Congress of VMRO-DPMNE will take place in Thesaloniki, Greece)

    Were the Albanian teachers, mayor of politicians of Tetovo that stood against the opening of classes for Macedonian pupils in that town? (answer: no, it was the ethnic Macedonian teachers, mayor and politicians of Bitola [Monastery] who opposed and continue to oppose the opening of primary school classes for ethnic Albanian in this town).

    These are not the ’90s anymore, Bojan, this is year 2008. The story of a small, poor, nice, peaceful loving Macedonian no longer sells. You enjoy insulting all your neighbors, and then expect sympathies in return. And it was not only Greece that opposed your NATO membership, Bulgaria had its objections as well. Albanian PM Berisa was the only one publicly calling and appealing for your membership, and yet that is not enough for you, but you rather continue to spill irrational hate and racism against Albanians. Honestly, what is wrong with you?

  11. “I’ll answer your question with a question. Name me a country in EU where the minority has the right of a veto in the parliament of that country?”

    The Walloons in Belgium. The Catholics in Northern Ireland.

  12. Bojan,

    1.

    You said that the new elections in Macedonia were called because of the name dispute. I quote you: “such a big event calls for an early election for the people to be able to decide which party’s policy they’d rather support in order for the path of the country to be set.”

    However, you miserably failed to explain what exactly are the differences between the government (VMRO-DPMNE) and opposition (SDSM) with regards to the name dispute. Which leads one to conclude that these elections have more to do with other issues, as explained in my previous posts.

    This has nothing to do with “birds point of view,” although it is a very funny expression, but with the fact that you claimed something and could not back it up with facts.

    2.

    You had the courage to spill some irrational hate against the United States and Albanians, who both recognise the country in question as the Republic of Macedonia and have been the strongest supporters of its NATO membership bit. This really makes me sick to the stomach. Very, very shameful.

    3.

    Ethnic Macedonians constitute 64.18% of the population of the Republic of Macedonia. That means that probably (which one could comprehend as approximately) a third of the population are minorities, a vast majority of whom are ethnic Albanians. If you discuss minority rights then you must take into account the entire minority population, not just one particular ethnic group. Also, 25% is a quarter, 25.2% is over a quarter — it’s simple maths.

    4.

    As you yourself admit, the political dispute with the Albanian political party was related to the Ohrid Agreement, or as you call it the ‘gray area’ of this agreement. Now, unless the concept of “Greater Albania” is included in this agreement the dispute didn’t really have to do with “Greater Albania.”

    5.

    You asked: “I’ll answer your question with a question. Name me a country in EU where the minority has the right of a veto in the parliament of that country?”

    In addition to Geoff’s list, I would like to add another country to the list.

    Kosovo. In fact Kosovo is not even in the EU. Moreover, Kosovo is in the region, which goes to show that even in the region there are countries with more advanced minority rights than Macedonia. In Kosovo Serbs have the right of veto over minority issues, their language is official in the entire country (no 20% threshold exists, which is the case in Macedonia), all minority groups can educate their children in their native tongue (again, no 20% threshold), countless TV and radio stations and so on.

    Allow me to say something more profound here. Neither Kosovo nor Macedonia provide these minority rights because they are beacons of human rights or minority rights, but because they have a history to the contrary. Precisely because of this the minority rights have to be guaranteed by law.

    Now, I support more human rights for all minorities in Greece, including (slav) Macedonians, but you’re not in a position to make such a call if you spill hate and racism against the minorities in your own midst.

    6.

    Finally, there are Greeks in northern Greece who call themselves Macedonians. When referring to people of Slavic heritage living in Greece who call themselves Macedonians, then a distinction should be made between the Greek and Slavic population. Hence, when referring to Macedonians of Greek heritage I use the (Greek) Macedonian term and when referring to Macedonians of Slavic heritage I use (Slav) Macedonians term.

    Now, I hope you’re not trying to monopolize the name.

    Kind regards,

    Fidel

    P.S. Read Tony’s post and reflect on what you have said.

  13. Fidel,
    your last point is exactly the resolution to the name issue: If a name can be found that will
    recognize that “there are Greeks in northern Greece who call themselves Macedonians” (and furthermore they are more, live in a larger part of ancient macedonia and have a much stronger historical claim to the region, but let’s ignore
    this and just grant them no more than equal right to be called Macedonian), then the name dispute is over and Doug Muir will have to find something else to blog about.
    It would be interesting to see why Bojan cannot accept a name like Slav Macedonia or Slavoalbanian Macedonia. This would be ok with
    Greece, Bulgaria, NATO(whose decision was by the way unanimous), the EU, the Russians, the Americans
    (whose position was not always the same and need not continue to be the same ):

    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/57550

    Comintern attempted to enhance relations among Balkan peoples, in order to boost the so desired
    “ideological homogeneity” of the Balkans. From the catalytic 1934 Comintern thinking,
    concerning the “Macedonian Question”, that dominated the agenda of the communist gathering,
    D. Vlahov, leader of VMRO in Bulgaria recalls: “I mentioned earlier that the Comintern itself
    wanted the Macedonian question con-sidered at one of the consultations of its executive committee.
    One day I was in-formed that the consultation would be held. And so it was. Before it convened,
    the inner leadership of the committee had already reached its stand, including the ques-tion
    of the Macedonian nation,It was concluded that the Macedonian nation exists” (Dimitar Vlahov,
    Memoari, Skopjie, 1970), p. 357). It seems that the existence or not of a single “Macedonian
    nation” became the central issue of a rather philosophical, an-thropological debate, that
    could not establish its existence through tangible, epistemo-logical criteria, a fact that
    dictated the recognition of a “Macedonian Nation” through an ideological formulae.

    In the process the American administrations expressed their concern over irredentism against
    Greek Macedonia. This revisionist policy caused immediate American re-sponse to the issue,
    expressed by Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, who categori-cally denied the existence
    of a “Macedonian nation”, stating: “The Department has noted with considerable apprehension
    increasing propaganda rumours and semi-official statements in favour of an autonomous Macedonia,
    emanating principally from Bulgaria, but also from Yugoslav Partisan and other sources, with the
    implica-tion that Greek territory would be included in the projected state. This Government
    considers talk of Macedonian “nation”, Macedonian “Fatherland”, or Macedonian “national
    consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality,
    and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive inten-tions against Greece”
    (Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945, vol. VIII, The Near East and Africa, (Washington,
    1969), pp. 302-303).

    Again, T. Niles, American ambassador to Athens, made the following statement in 23/6/1992:
    “the Communist regime of Tito had created the Republic of Macedonia with a view to annexing
    northern Greece”; (Hearing before the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, June 23,
    1992, Washington: US Government Printing Office, p. 14).

    … and maybe even Doug…..

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