Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is right when he says that in his “time”, referring to the ten years spent at the helm of Macedonia, he did not know any of the judges. If they believe the “bombs” that the then-opposition was broadcasting, and the current government, some other people in his closest environment and jewelry brands were responsible for the “judges”. Gruevski had no need to get to know them personally.
And he is right when he says that he is now acquainted to the judges, thanks to the processes that are taking place against him. As it goes, he will get plenty of chances to make new acquaintances.
The trials, in which he is accused, continue this week as his party members prepare for a big Saturday rally outside the government building in downtown Skopje. The former leader is likely to appear in a march demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, but it is known that there will be no place for him on the rostrum in front of the fences on “ilindenska”. The Honorary President can only listen to the incumbent leader, who settled on the leader’s seat with his support at the congress in Valandovo.
And that’s the key mortgage on Hristijan Mickoski’s shoulders and the new leadership. How do you clear the name and the work of the longtime party president, who still has the status of an icon among a good part of the membership, while serious lawsuits are being conducted against him, and is already sentenced in one of the cases?
VMRO-DPMNE was ignored by the world power centers for many years. Declaratively determined for membership in the European Union and NATO, flirting with Russia and autocratic style of governance, they themselves have been led to be isolated in these 25,713 square kilometers of space that are still called the Republic of Macedonia. They did not have the courage to say loudly what they wanted, and who they were cheering on, day after day, without recognizing the dangers they were hiding. After Gruevski’s shift, the new leadership rushed to Brussels and Washington to show and prove that new times were coming. Changes in overall politics were promulgated, some of them can be seen, while others need time, but de-gruevisation, if the party firmly wants it, requires more radical steps.
The party and its leader Mickoski cannot forever shy away from commenting on the recent past, no matter what they think it was. It is gratifying to say that they stand behind all Gruevski’s policies or, conversely, condemn them. Hesitation is not a feature of statesmen, let alone a politician who aspirates to become the next prime minister of Macedonia. Yes, it is not easy to clear mortgages, but it will have to happen one day.
VMRO-DPMNE often says that the closest party, both in terms of ideology and acting, as well as connection, is the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). If so, they certainly know that in 2009 when omnipotent Ivo Sanader stepped down from the presidency, he was succeeded by Jadranka Kosor with his lobbying. He was deleted from membership the following year. Kosor testified at the trials that were being conducted against him. Kosor testified against him. HDZ lost the election to the Social Democrats, but got time to consolidate the shaky intra-party layers. Then he came to power and still is in power, despite the fraudulent elections of President (Tomislav Karamarko) and Prime Minister (Tihomir Oreshkovic), who were soon dethroned. Some will say that the new prime minister and leader Andrej Plenkovic is in a similar format as Mickoski: both are not typical representatives of the parties they lead: they are not traditional, conservative, nationalists and therefore probably supported by the creators of European politics, and they are not favorites with hardliners. If Mickoski wants to become Plenkovic’s colleague in the prime minister’s line, he must take a stance on awkward topics. It is not enough to just deny Gruevski of an office in the “White Palace”, or refuse him of speech time at the rally, not create pressure on the court and protest in the streets, and to relativize the style of government practiced by “Gruevists”. Mickoski and the new leadership must be loud and clear about what they think of the policies in Macedonia between 2006 and 2017! We very well know what he thinks about Gruevski’s successor in government.