Macedonia and Greece had a direct meeting with history at lake Prespa. Prime ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev declared the signing of the agreement as historic, not only in the relations between the two countries, but also much wider in the Balkans and in Europe. No matter how euphoric and overstressing this statement is, especially when Balkan politicians make history, it is still true, because both sides have a valid and solid document that is sustainable in the long run.
If the work is done as the agreement stipulates, then the winners will write history not as they like, but as the time required as the most neutral judge, as well as contemporary historians, true scientists, unburdened with nationalism and ideology – the greatest evil in the Balkans. Signatories and contract creators will one day leave power and politics, but the permanence, or the episodic role of their work, will remain. The most accurate assessment will be given by the citizens who will be contemporaries and participants in the processes of Europeanisation of this last piece of land that has been called for centuries as “The Apple of Discord”.
The signatures of foreign ministers Nikos Kotzias, Nikola Dimitrov and UN mediator Matthew Nimetz marked the beginning of a new era for Macedonia and Greece, a future that suggests peace and faster development, progress, a better life for citizens, freer and more democratic societies, a European perspective for all countries and nations of the Western Balkans. After six months of intense negotiations and a strong political will, with courage and vision, an impassioned, difficult, and three decades long chapter of the dark side of history has finally been closed. Those who say that the two countries are on the right track to remove the ideological misconceptions and tragic consequences that left heavy plaques and patches in the minds of many Greeks and Macedonians are right.
The deal, which has concessions and painful compromises, is still better for all who expected and wanted a solution, and worse for anyone who did not want a solution. Those who see Macedonia as a state forever under their authority as a fortress of organized crime and corruption, as a state of the mafia, do not want to endanger such a sovereignty, do not want competition in any area, do not want a competition on the international market, do not want interference from any party that insists on the rule of law and the parliamentary division of power and control. Today, these structures in Greece and in Macedonia organize protests and demonstrations, organize marches, declare traitors and mercenaries, demand rejection of the agreement.
Both in Greece and Macedonia, with both sides that do not want any agreement, there are two constants: first they demanded stopping of the negotiations, now they demand rejection of the “treacherous pact and capitulation of the country”. The second constant is that those retrograde forces never offer a solution. They demand nothing but populist support to return to power. This is most important for the already acquired new antique identity. They use the most primitive and most dirty methods and speculations, constantly fabricating new lies about how harmful the agreement is, which they could never reach because they were an incident of history.
Between two trials accused of a dozen serious crimes, former Prime Minister of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski, announced to the public after a nine-year delay that in 2009 he had a better agreement on the table than this, but, due to patriotic reasons, he rejected it. How could you not be in awe after this statement. One does not know which one is worse – whether this is a lie or a truth. Gruevski has no explanation why he did not ask the people when he had a better deal, as he now insists on citizens’ opinion and transparency. Where is this agreement, why didn’t he publish it, with whom did he negotiate… with Karamanlis, or with Papandreou. The public, although it has short memory, recalled those brief announcements that the prime ministers of the two countries met and discussed it. And that was it, not a word more. Thus, Gruevski stayed on the prime minister’s post longer than three Greek prime ministers, but he never said that he had any offer and share his opinion with anyone in the country. And now the man is telling patriotic fables that he had a better deal in his pocket. Madame Bakoyannis appeared with a similar spectacular statement in Greece, who says that this Greek government has made a catastrophic mistake by offering something that no Greek government has offered. Minister Nikos Kotzias issued written documents to the public that the name North Macedonia was acceptable to several Greek governments. Perhaps Gruevski thinks of some identity positions unknown so far, because the national affiliation of the Macedonians and the Macedonian language are recognized with this agreement from Prespa.
The president of the state, Gjorge Ivanov, is a special tragicomic figure who, after the referendum and after refusing to put a signature on Macedonia’s NATO membership, will likely sit on the defendants’ bench for number of violations of the constitutional provisions and for pushing for a coup attempt that happened last April 27, after his unconstitutional prolongation to hand the mandate over to the parties that secured a majority in parliament.
In essence, the referendum in Macedonia will be historic, because this general election will wipe out all who are dragging Macedonia back into poverty, misery and primitivism. When over 80 percent of citizens will say YES to the Agreement, YES for NATO membership, YES to start negotiations with the EU, it will be the definitive end and last blow to the remnants of the regime of Gruevski. The referendum will not be some kind of horror of sowing hatred and threats towards Macedonians who opt for a European future, nor hatred of Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Bosniaks, Vlachs (as the fascist slogans of poorly attended protests organized by VMRO -DPMNE), but will be a holiday and a great manifestation of unity against falling back, against the holders of regime governance, against the perpetrators of crime and corruption. It will be a referendum on joining the world of progress and democracy, for joining the European civilization. The historical processes of Europeanization, that is, to make Europeans out of Balkanians, can last for a hundred years in some difficult cases, but membership in the EU and NATO is the best guarantee that these processes can be greatly accelerated.
And another very important news for those concerned about identity. There is no better place to preserve the national, linguistic, and cultural uniqueness than the European Union. On these foundations, modern Europe was built to preserve this richness of diversity. So far, not one nation, not one religion, not one language has disappeared in EU member states, nor has any member of NATO been dissolved. Macedonia belongs to this family as well. Both geographically and culturally, and politically and economically. There is no better choice. Therefore, just go ahead, going back is a severe defeat and disintegration.