Aleksandra M. Mitevska
Although more than four years have passed since the launch of the first so-called “bombs” on Bihac Street, part of the then famous (or obnoxious) lines are still discussed in public to this day – among other things, as an example of how the holders of the highest state functions should not behave after the change of power, which SDSM won with the help of the massive illegal wiretapped conversations. Those recordings, in addition to pointing out to major legal violations, corruption and crime within the then government, signaled deep unethical behavior in the actions of holders of high state or political positions that “reeked” of arrogance, corruption, deep prejudice and stereotypes, shortsightedness in terms of differences in society, but also of hate speech, discrimination, sometimes even racism, etc.
One of those “famous lines” is certainly the one of the former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska about the “Gypsies” that some local powerful men in Strumica will pull them by their ears and force them to the polls: That conversation from the 2013 local elections – at the last re-election of the current Prime Minister Zoran Zaev as mayor, along with remarks about Albanians that local powerful men would hold the “little people” of Pustec by their necks, caused an avalanche of reactions from various NGOs and Roma political parties. That, however, was not enough for Jankuloska to take political responsibility, in an atmosphere when that former power made excuses for the affair with the wiretapping by using stories about yellow vans and recordings that were cut and edited. However, a few months after this recording was released, Jankuloska and several others from the closest surroundings of the then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski were forced to resign – after the events in Kumanovo’s Diva Naselba.
Everything after this is history for VMRO-DPMNE- both the loss of power in unhealthy circumstances and the long-running criminal responsibility procedures for former officials of this party, including Jankuloska, whose name is one of the “most regular” ones in the subjects of the Special Prosecutor’s Office. And maybe things would have gone differently if the then government took political responsibility in time for scandals that were served daily to the public through the so-called “bombs” that resonated from SDSM’s headquarters. If nothing, at least this dramatic epilogue of a decadent government, which was played out on 27 April 2017, would have been avoided, and which later brought a series of criminal charges against members and officials of VMRO-DPMNE.
Jankuloska’s quote – “We will pull the Gypsies’ ears and drag them one by one to the polls” has become a reality once again these days, while around the current lineup on Ilinden Street the M-NAV scandal develops in which the current Secretary General of the government, Dragi Rashkovski is the main protagonist. And it is precisely at a time when the Prime Minister finalized the “purge” that he announced between the two rounds of the recent presidential elections, which, as one of the basic criteria, was also announced by the arrogance of the officials.
Far from the fact that the essence of this case is the inappropriate vocabulary of perhaps the second most important man in the government, who, like some former individuals on Ilinden Street, shouts in a derogatory context to Gypsies and calls Italy an “flaky country”. However it is a detail that very graphically indicates that there are still people in high politics who are prone to discrimination, and who use street vocabulary in official communication, which points to prejudices and stereotypes towards a certain state or ethnic community.
By the fact that the horrible words were uttered in one of the cabinets in the government building, doesn’t say negative things only about one of the interlocutors in the conversation, which, in truth, was illegally recorded. But these words are a bad recommendation for the current executive power as a whole. Because they can also be considered as an indicator that not everyone has learned the basic “lessons” of the so-called “bombs”, including how one should not behave, and what should not be done by a government that has won power, among other things, while riding the wave of the citizens’ great expectations that there will be no “replay” of arrogance, intolerance and irresponsibility that have especially marked the last years of VMRO-DPMNE’s rule.
That is the ethical aspect of the case that surfaced from the published recording of the interview in Rashkovski’s cabinet for tender and selection of a company for building a system for modernizing Macedonian air navigation. As for the legal or institutional aspect of the case, that is, the possible criminal liability, legal violations, unauthorized recording by the interlocutors of the Secretary General of the Government or his unauthorized behavior… The problem here will have to be solved by the competent authorities and eventually establish a criminal responsibility.
As for the moral responsibility, it is a question that should be dealt by either Rashkovski or Prime Minister Zaev, or by the renewed government as a whole… Finally, it was virtuous that Rashkovski apologized “highly” for the degrading use of words. However, this personal apology “with a cession” certainly does not solve the serious problem with the Macedonian “sky” (more precisely with the navigation), nor will it erase the bad impression created for the entire government due to the behavior of one of its high-ranking officials.