Jason Miko, Photo: Private Archive
Macedonia’s patriots – who have been filling the streets with peaceful gatherings, music, singing, and biking, among many other positive demonstrations of patriotic pride, are a positive example of the right way to demonstrate for something good, as opposed to the so-called “colorful revolutionaries of last year who were always demonstrating, and angrily, against something. The two sides could not be more different in both their messages and presentation. This growing and gathering movement is about being pro-Macedonia – the county, the people (all the people), the name, the identity – it is NOT about being “anti-Albanian” or any other such nonsense and those who say so are simply misinformed or liars.
Last week Zoran Zaev told Macedonia’s patriots that their voices had been heard; he then told them to go home (he didn’t ask them, he told them), stating “We have heard their voice, we have some understanding ... I am sending a message to them, go back home. There comes a time for democratic processes in Macedonia, for serious reform and the restoration of life for everyone.” How long were Zaev, Shekerinska and their comrades in the “colorful revolutionaries” out in force in Skopje and elsewhere destroying public property? Macedonia’s long crisis started after the April 2014 elections when SDSM boycotted parliament. It grew when Zaev attempted to blackmail then Prime Minister Gruevski in the fall of 2014 by threatening to release his so-called “bombs” unless Gruevski brought him into government. And we know the rest of the story. Why is now the “time for democratic processes in Macedonia?” Zaev began interrupting that democratic process in April of 2014 and has never stopped.
Even now Zaev is now trying to clarify his own “democratic process” which includes his Tirana Platform. It is looking like he is already back peddling on his promises to Tirana stating, according to one media outlet, that changes to police and army uniforms and bilingual banknotes would be unconstitutional. I’m not sure how that will sit with Albanian Prime Minister Rama. And now Zaev says that he is “personally” against changing Macedonia’s flag, coat of arms or national anthem even though changes to these are a part of the Tirana Platform. I find it both simultaneously amusing and pathetic when politicians try to hide behind the “I’m personally opposed to it but….” Be a man, not a mouse! Stand up for what you agreed to! Zaev also has denied that he will support a resolution condemning so-called “Serbian genocide against Albanians” and yet that too, is part of the Tirana Platform. This will undoubtedly make Prime Minister Rama very angry.
Zaev is a rogue. Just like the rogues in the American government. Consider what President Trump said in his inauguration on January 20: “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone...” And yet on March 2, Ambassador Baily stated “The United States was disappointed to learn yesterday that President Ivanov declined to offer to representatives having a clear Parliamentary majority the opportunity to form a new government. We believe that this was inconsistent with basic democratic principles and the rule of law, which are core values of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” The US Mission to the OSCE statement was virtually verbatim. Both statements are inconsistent with President Trump’s new policies of allowing “all nations to put their own interests first.” Ambassador Baily and the staff at the US Mission to the OSCE are rogues and the sooner they are gone and replaced, the better.
Another rogue is Ali Ahmeti who keeps telling everyone not to make this an ethnic issue. But what is the Tirana Platform if not all about ethnicity, specifically Albanian ethnicity? Clearly he has no concern for the other minorities proudly calling themselves Macedonian and Macedonia their home. But let’s assume, for a moment, that Ali Ahmeti is right – that life on earth is only about ethnic Albanians. What, specifically, in the Tirana Platform addresses the issues of job creation for Macedonia’s Albanians? “Nothing,” is the answer. How does putting the Albanian language on Macedonian banknotes create jobs? One Albanian friend of mine chided me for my insistence on political party platforms that focus on jobs, telling me “C'mon Jason! You and the jobs. Jobs will be very difficult to create. But we can agree on some symbols of tolerance very quickly.” To which I of course responded that “symbols of tolerance do not put food on the table.” In this instance, of course, my friend was merely channeling leftist ideology – let’s celebrate feelings, etc. – no need to focus on what families really need – jobs. Another friend asked if there would be economic harm from putting the Albanian language on Macedonian banknotes. Probably not, was my response, though there would be other harm in other ways and that this issue is not necessary nor appropriate. Having spent most of their professional lives working for international NGOs have taught my friends above to expect handouts from the government or international groups, and to demand more and more rights. They know nothing about personal responsibilities or about job creation because they’ve never worked in the private sector, which, come to think of it, pretty much sums up most of the “colorful revolutionaries” and the rogues.
Jason Miko, US analyst and long term observer of the situation in Macedonia and in the Balkans