In a way, the public has become resistant to politicians’ “heroic” or “catastrophic” statements about who is attacking, and who is defending the rule of law. Their rhetoric has become so transparent, so inept, so self-centered, so biased, so down-to-earth that fewer and fewer people are listening when they say that they have been at the forefront of the rule of law. The late night session in Parliament (as if it were an EU summit on Brexit’s fate) showed just that – that politicians are 20,000 miles away from citizens. Serious, abesent-minded people sat opposite each other as if resolving the most obscure points of a post-war peace treaty, rather than coming to discuss the future of the rule of law in their homeland. That body language reflected the true essence of negotiations – that politicians are only there to discuss their own fate, and the fate of their parties, as well as the fate of oligarchs associated with them.
You can read as many statements as you want that are fueled by party kitchens about who did not want to back down during the negotiations, who and what he advocated for, which one of them made fantastic proposals, and which was hard as a rock in rejecting those proposals. It’s all part of party verbal iconography, and that basically means that the seven-hour session is actually some sort of political strip poker – politicians stripped down before the public to show what they are only interested in: themselves.
It is therefore very good that there is no deal, and, however paradoxical it may seem, this is the best news coming from these “peace negotiations”. If the proposals that were presented yesterday were allegedly on the table, Macedonia would have taken the first truly big step towards illiberal democracy. The opposition has the right to appoint a prosecutor in one prosecution, the government in another. That is stupid even in theory. Politicians are trying to put themselves in the role of conquistadors whose only desire is to flag a newly conquered colony. It seems quite incomprehensible to the citizen that politicians are incredibly eager to divide the spoils, so they take no interest in anything else – neither the health of society, nor the future of the state, nor the despair of its inhabitants. They could have only asked themselves one question – how many people during their night session put the suitcases on bus carrying a one-way ticket just to escape the land where nothing is sacred, where nothing is worthy, where one a larger group on the right or left are obsessed with their own power and possible wealth, and that nothing else matters to them.
There is nothing unexpected in this development. The VMRO-DPMNE master plan was clear from the first day they were no longer in power – to undermine the SPO on a daily basis, to be portrayed as an inquisitorial institution that prosecutes crime only among its members (although its name clearly indicates why it was formed) and wait for the moment that will inevitably come to put a halt to its functioning. Only the naive could believe that the party would agree to continue the work of the SPO as the figures in parliament are on its side. Waiting for the moment to bring the trump cards to the table for which the government has no good answer. And that moment will inevitably come if this parliament stays.
In that game it seemed perverse that people suspected and accused of crimes by the SPO participated in negotiations to abolish it. It would be unprecedented altruism, never before seen in the region, for a lawmaker to oppose and vote for the extension of the SPO’s term. Such a book has not yet been written. And so it was immediately known that things would fail before they started. Rejecting cases opened after June 30, 2017 were just the icing on the cake for celebrating the so-called amnesty. Thus, with just one blow (prepared by the Supreme Court’s controversial opinion) everything had to be thrown down the drain. Politics can relax – let ordinary citizens be the only ones held accountable for crimes.
In this game the government has lost the rhythm of its steps. It was clear that Katica Janeva’s future was over before it was found out that she had succumbed to things that seemed unthinkable, and without any special need delayed finding a solution for the SPO’s future. In some well-thought-out policy, things in the law could have been made clear in the early spring, and then it would have been clear who was in favor, who pretended to be in favor, and who was against. In those games, the government lost itself, then found itself, then lost itself again. It is almost impossible to find out who is telling the truth, and who is hiding it more, at yesterday’s press conferences by Zoran Zaev and Hristijan Mickoski, although both seem to be right. Both blamed the other one. But if it’s true that the night was wasted on futile conversations about the structure of the new prosecution (for which party groups had previously spent weeks and months), it means that they were going around in a pointless circle. Basically, the mere mention of the proposals that the opposition should nominate a public prosecutor (Zaev first mentioned it in the election campaign, and now Mickoski demands it as a condition without which they cannot reach a deal) compromises the law and sets the stage for complete domination of politics.
It is a fact that MPs, as representatives of the people, make the laws, have the right to change the Constitution, to regulate the entire legal system of the country. They can have no substitute – neither in experts, nor in lawyers, journalists, NGOs. And the fact is that politicians often make decisions that don’t seem logical. But when politics interferes excessively with the work of other institutions, things become worrying. Like, for example, the daily VMRO-DPMNE press releases that Vilma Ruskovska should call for a “Racket” hearing. It is a classic example of someone wanting an investigation to be conducted by party headquarters, not according to the evidence collected by prosecutors.
This is just one example of many who have poisoned the rule of law these past fifteen years, chained the state to shackles, and the night session in the Assembly was to somehow be an iron mask on the face of society. It is good that it did not happen, maybe the prosecution will now be left alone to start sorting out the cases it has taken over from the SPO. If a public prosecution law is to be adopted that would undermine the rule of law, then it is better not to adopt it at all. That is why the collapse of the “peace talks” between the government and the opposition at this moment is good news.