Hristijan Mickoski, for the thousandth time before the public, gave a problematic answer, to put it mildly, to the question of whether he would apologize to the Macedonian citizens for the atrocities committed during the 11-year period of Gruevism. Mickoski says this routinely trained, stupid, stereotypical answer that he obviously likes a lot – that he had nothing to do with it.
Simply put, Mickoski does not accept the party’s inheritance and unpaid debts to the state and to the citizens. He says that when he makes a mistake he will apologize. This says a lot about him and the party he leads, but also about Nikola Gruevski’s current followers in the party leadership. It also tells about the bad quality and mentality of the Macedonian public, which is short-sighted when it comes to the mistakes of VMRO-DPMNE and its leaders. Mickoski and his associates erase from their memory the darkest period in the history of independent Macedonia and are now striving to make that amnesia collective. We should all forget the darkness and tyranny of Nikola Gruevski’s regime because of the current government’s mistakes with the “Racket” affair that Mickoski and his associates consider the worst of all mistakes committed in the age of Gruevism. Mickoski multiplies a minus with a minus, the Racket with the darkest era, and gets a plus as a result. So it is in mathematics, but in real life minuses pile up and the result for those who have to pay the price (that is the citizens) is a catastrophic defeat.
Imagine if this logic of the VMRO-DPMNE party leadership was applied by all party leaders and former prime ministers and governments. What happened before just doesn’t count anymore. Why, for instance, would Willy Brandt apologize for the suffering of the world over the atrocities of Nazism and the atrocities of World War II? Brandt was not even a politician at that time, nor did he belong to that party and did not cooperate with Hitler, as Mickoski did with Gruevski, and as a man of great confidence he became his successor. It is now quite clear, and to those who were not, why Gruevski chose Mickoski.
In an interview with Focus, on journalist Jadranka Kostova’s question: “Will you apologize for that period of time when Gruevski was prime minister, which was a time of horror for many citizens?” Mickoski responds: “I can apologize if, as a politician, in the case an opposition leader, or if one day I become Prime Minister of the Government and do something that will embarrass the voters who have given me their confidence. I can apologize if, as a politician I betray the will of the citizens… But if you ask me if as a politician I would apologize for all the failures of Macedonian society in the last 28 years of independence, I am truly sorry that as a country we failed to create a society that offers an opportunity for each citizen”.
So, for 28 years when Macedonian politicians have failed to justify independence and build a prosperous society and pursue the strategic interests of the state and ensure better and better quality of life for citizens, Mickoski expresses regret and readiness to apologize. He doesn’t feel responsible for it, but he is very sorry. As for the responsibility for 11-year rule with no control whatsoever and for the biggest robbery in recent history in Macedonia, for the suffering during Gruevski’s decade, he points out that they are knocking on the wrong door. He basically says: “I’m not from around here”.
But there is one part of Mickoski’s response in which he admits that during Gruevski’s 11 years of rule there were not only great successes, but also major mistakes.
That answer is pretty indicative: “Criticism should be taken with dignity and, where there really are conditions, we must apologize”. What period he thinks of when he mentions conditions for apologizing, Mickoski does not say specifically, but hints that he thinks it necessary for Nikola Gruevski to apologize first, thereby indirectly calling on Gruevski to personally apologize. And the conditions for his apology will be created when he becomes prime minister and strengthens his positions in the party, which are still loose and leaning toward Gruevski’s side. Of course, if there is a need for an apology at all and if all the crimes and sins of VMRO-DPMNE do not become obsolete in the meantime, as Gruevski’s and his closest associates’ most heinous crimes become obsolete, and if collective amnesia fails to spread throughout Macedonia, which is highly likely if justice fails yet again. Hristijan Mickoski is well aware, although he is not publicly admitting it, that VMRO-DPMNE’s credibility is seriously undermined to be able to win any elections, not only because of bad governance in the long-run, but also because of the party’s attitude to Euro-Atlantic integration, and some sensitive issues in inter-ethnic relations about the rights already acquired by Albanians.
The diverting of attention from these issues by pumping hatred between SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE can continue as a cover-up of the biggest problems, but evident in the great power of the state and citizens. Mickoski has chosen political pragmatism to deal with these problems, which is not a bad option if he does not play the worst way of pragmatism in politics. Thus, for instance, Mickoski gave up the part of the success that Macedonia becomes a NATO member. It is not enough that they are no longer mention NATO, first as a lie and then as an uncertainty, although problems with the date can still be prolonged. Until recently, VMRO-DPMNE supporters and propagandists argued that NATO membership will never happen as long as SDSM Zoran Zaev and SDSM were in power. When they saw that the membership in NATO was a reality, they kept silent as if it were not really happening. Now, they say, they were the first to add the NATO membership to their program.
Learning from this mistake, Mickoski now says that VMRO-DPMNE is going against its sister parties and in Brussels, and all over the world, for the citizens of Macedonia not to be punished for the sins of the government and Zaev, and to finally determine the start of negotiations with the EU in October. It’s too late, son, the doors have already been opened. This commitment was to be announced by Mickoski after the signing of the Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria and to take a compromise stance like the whole free world and the EU. On the contrary, VMRO-DPMNE and Mickoski worked on these strategic issues just as they did when they were in power, questioning the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the treaty Bulgaria, and riding on the citizens’ emotions.
This would make sense if all the discussions with the sister parties, and with EU and US officials were not clear in their stance that when they came to power they would not change anything from the agreements already signed with Greece and Bulgaria. They only hide it from the domestic public, as they have promised a better deal with Greece a million times in the heat of seeking revenge and sowing hatred. Obviously Mickoski is playing worse than Prime Minister Mitsotakis, who in the election campaign first promised a better deal, then blockades of Macedonia’s EU membership, just to say after the victory that nothing of the agreement will change, but will insist on more consistent implementation of the deal. Mickoski will do that only if VMRO-DPMNE wins in some of the upcoming elections. He will have to face the fact that it will not receive any support from either the EU or the US until he clearly and loudly recognizes the reality of the signed agreements, which along with fulfilling the terms of the negotiations, which mostly relate to good neighborly relations, to rule of law and stability of the country in inter-ethnic relations.
These are the three weaknesses of VMRO-DPMNE and Gruevski. That is why Mickoski’s first step on the road to power is to apologize for the wrongdoing of his party and its predecessors. It will be the strong support for establishing the rule of law and reforming the entire justice system. Such recognition opens the door to a fair and impartial trial, not by persistent insistence and bargaining for the election of a party public prosecutor. At the same time, public recognition of the importance of the agreements with Greece and Bulgaria before the domestic public as a success for Euro-Atlantic integration opens the doors for VMRO-DPMNE and Mickoski and they should do something good for Macedonia. The EU’s punishment for the citizens of Macedonia was during Nikola Gruevski and his fatal policies. Today, the reward for a job well-done, that becomes more and more certain, can come only because we defeated those policies.
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik