A party that does not even control the money it misused for more than ten years, and now has to beg for state funding, is obstructing the citizens’ greatest right with a great deal of political arrogance – the right to have their say at a referendum on the name agreement with Greece. What is happening these days at several levels over the determination of the referendum question and the structure that will implement it is an unfortunate reminder that one of the two biggest political parties in the country does not understand what pluralism is, what parliamentary democracy is and why it exists at all in the political scene in Macedonia.
After ten years of authoritarian rule where those who thought differently were persecuted, VMRO-DPMNE announces that the referendum is unacceptable because there is no consensus with it on the referendum question. After ten years of pragmatic negotiations over the name dispute, VMRO-DPMNE now claims that if this party was given another chance they would achieve a better deal on the name, which means giving them another decade of our lives to waste in search for an impossible option – to keep the name and for Macedonia to join NATO and the European Union. Now that the referendum question is published, which cannot be any clearer, VMRO-DPMNE claims it is manipulative and multidimensional, and according to them it does not lead to a clear answer. For instance, if someone is for NATO and the EU, but against the agreement with Greece, then there could be someone who is just for the EU, but not for NATO, and similar nebuloses run by a whole team of politicized experts from this party, just to come up with an explanation for the obstruction. Which is, however, consistent with how VMRO-DPMNE led us to EU for ten years, NATO and an agreement with Greece – supposedly the former government wanted these deals very much, yet did nothing to reach them. In fact, it did the opposite – the former government did everything to keep Macedonia blocked.
Yesterday’s developments in parliament have shown that the opposition remains consistent with this policy whose only logic is to be against anything proposed by the rival ruling party, even if it is contrary to the interests of the citizens and the country. Moreover, if this theater is not political folly these days, that VMRO-DPMNE is against everything that leads Macedonia forward, or simply put – against joining the EU and NATO, because the agreement with Greece has no meaning without that perspective, and does not have to confirmed. Although at first glance it seems that the policy of VMRO-DPMNE is just to obstruct and oppose the government, after so many years of continuity over these issues, it becomes clear that NATO and the EU only serve to come to power or prevent someone in doing that, and in practice is a strong Eurosceptic, ie anti-NATO and anti-EU party. Otherwise, it would have made a difference when it was time for real politics, and when it was time for political propaganda.
What is visible to everyone in Macedonia is that the government is doing everything to push through the referendum on the name agreement with Greece. That it is the only chance for Macedonia to finally join NATO and the only chance to become a member-state of the EU, as this is the last opportunity to start membership negotiations. The last vote on our date in Brussels by the EU foreign ministers showed that the illusion – that our European integration can be delayed, and that the door of these two organizations will remain forever open – is false. On the contrary, it is almost closed, and Macedonia at the moment, thanks only to the name agreement, needs to go through the small space of goodwill that has remained in Brussels, whether for NATO or for the EU.
Therefore, to create a drama of whether the question will say agreement, while we have made a deal with Greece, is unnecessarily trying to challenge the referendum, instead of saying that the main problem is the idea of Macedonia joining NATO, starting negotiations with EU and therefore resolving the dispute with Greece. If something has the basis for controversy over the referendum, it is possibly its consultative character, because it opens the possibility for different interpretation and implementation of the outcome, although it is the ruling government’s right (which is why it was actually elected) is to make a decision that is in the state’s interest, even when a good part of the citizens thinks that it is not in their favor. This includes the right, as well as SDSM’s obligation to seek public support for a decision that the opposition thinks it should to be rejected, ie to seek public support for a decision that has no consensus with the opposition. VMRO-DPMNE, if ir really did work in the interest of Macedonia, should be part of the process instead of hindering it, even if it means being opposed in the referendum. That is, instead of acting out in parliament, this party should clearly state its position because Macedonia has already lost two decades in political games that lead us nowhere.