How did we end up here?

How did we end up here?
Aleksandar Nikoloski

 Vice President of VMRO-DPMNE

At the beginning of the campaign for the referendum on the change of the name of Macedonia and the denial of the Macedonians, the question remains: how did we end up here? How did we find ourselves in a situation where we have a deal with which we lose everything, and get close to nothing? How did we end up in a situation where we have a Government that accepts to change the name of the state, to disfigure the Macedonian national identity and to set up a mechanism for a continuous blockade of Macedonia on the road to the EU through the so-called Commission for the Review of History, Science and Culture?

These are rare historic moments in which one has to make reexamine at what is and what has not been done, and of course make an effort to preserve anything that can be preserved.

There are two things that are undeniable. The first is that over the past few years, all Macedonian governments have missed much better opportunities of resolving this dispute. I do not think it was done deliberately or by ignorance; on the contrary, I think that patriots and responsible people were sitting in those governments, regardless of their other weaknesses. Those people hoped that the next proposal would be better and actively fought for Macedonia to preserve its name.

The second thing that is undeniable is that with Zoran Zaev’s coming to power and the imposition of Nikola Dimitrov as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a complete demolition of the Macedonian positions begins for only known reasons, which are purely lucrative and corrupt. On the one hand, you have a prime minister who did not win the election, but he got the opportunity to form a government, at the same time it is well-known that he and his family are not honest, on the contrary, they are charged with clear evidence of asking for a bribe on the principle ‘Euro for his brother and euro for the "church"’, plus a family that wants to rule in a criminal way with most of the businesses in Macedonia. In his projection of himself, power and financial benefits come before national interests.

On the other hand, you have a foreign minister who has not participated in any elections! Who never ran in any elections in his entire life! Who has not won the trust of citizens he represents and who is a classic careerist who only thinks of his career and benefits. These two men brought us here.

For us to end up here, there have been at least four major events and errors in the publication of the illegally wiretapped materials, a completely servile position towards Greece, leaving the framework of negotiations in the United Nations and the acceptance of a change in the constitution. I will explain each event separately.

The publication of illegally tapped materials is a fact that crashed the previous government, but it is also a fact that destroyed the reputation of Macedonia. I can understand the struggle of every opposition to come to power, that is why political parties actually exist, we too are in the same position now, but I can not understand the use of illicit means. Because the use of these completely ruins the state. How do we expect Greece to respect us when private telephone conversations have been heard by people in top state positions for years. It is destroying of a state that will take at least ten years to get back to normal.

We have seen the full servility towards Greece from the first day of the government of Zaev and Dimitrov. Such an obedient attitude is neither seen nor remembered. To literally beg Greeks to accept everything they require is national humiliation. Remember how humiliating it was when Zaev begged Tsipras for them to celebrate New Year Eve in Thessaloniki together, for Zaev to end up celebrating only with the Mayor of Thessaloniki. How pitiful and humiliating it was.

After presenting yourself this way, after a few weeks, when you sit down to negotiate, how could you expect the other side to respect you. It will certainly not. I mentioned before, if Zaev and Dimitrov did not negotiate and only asked the Greeks to write an agreement on their own terms, they would have gotten a better deal than this. Probably the Greeks would have skipped a provision and would not have asked for everything they received.

In the whole process, I think that the key mistake is the abandoning the framework for negotiating in the United Nations. The United Nations is a mechanism that helps smaller states, such as Macedonia, in order to protect themselves from the larger ones, such as Greece. It was not by chance that the mechanism was set up, and it was not by chance that the UN Secretary-General had his own special envoy, Matthew Nimetz. All the more traumatized in diplomacy know that this system helps a lot for equality. The day when the government decided to abandon these principles and begin direct negotiations, first between the foreign ministers and then the prime ministers, was the day when Macedonia lost its name, and Macedonians lost their identity. After all, it was just a technique. During those days, I was loud and called through the media that this should not be done, predicting that Macedonia will be the biggest loser of such an adventure. Unfortunately, my fears came true, the balance was lost and Greece won.

The acceptance of the change of constitution, at least officially, came with the false proposal of "Ilinden Macedonia". It was a classical diplomatic game by Greece, well-prepared and contemplated, with good profiling of the characters of Zaev and Dimitrov. The Greeks knew that both of them desperately needed success. And they launched a proposal that looked like a victory, with a small note, which is to change the constitution. Small, yet so great, so crucial, but who’s to see! Zaev and Dimitrov were eager to accept, although and I and the president of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski literally begged them not to do it, because we were aware how this would end. And so it ended - the Greeks said No to "Ilinden Macedonia", but thanked that finally there was such a naive leadership in Macedonia that would accept a change in the constitution. The catastrophe started. After a few days came the proposal North and this is where everything ended.

Now we are facing a historic decision. Citizens need to decide. But let’s be honest, Macedonians are the ones that have to decide everything, because this issue refers to them and their identity. The people, the Macedonians, know very well what they should do on September 30, in order for this agreement not to become a reality. They are wise and decisive, we leave it up to them to make the final decision that everyone will have to follow.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik

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