Something like a defeat

Nikola Popovski

If there was no deceptive foreign and internal politics of Nikola Gruevski and his government, the problem with the name of our country would now have a completely new dimension. Their hasty attempts at antiquization of Macedonia from September 2006 to March 2008, when they started renaming everything in the country with the names of the rulers of the ancient Macedonians and placing their monuments and sculptures, led to suspicion and nervousness among the Greeks, and their veto in April 2008 of the already secured NATO membership and the upcoming start of EU accession negotiations with our country’s provisional reference. After all, that reference brought us at the NATO gates and we got EU candidate status without any trouble. It’s already too late to go back, because this is not even possible. If we want to move forward towards the EU and NATO, the name needs to change. If we do not want to, we do not have to. The capital that we have acquired in the past from 130 countries, which recognize us as the Republic of Macedonia and the official use of the Macedonian language and nation in all segments, is spent. Even the current rapturous naivety contributed little to this, that the solution could be found immediately.
Yes, we are all preoccupied with what new name for our homeland they will come up with. Anyone. Anything. Anyhow. But it must be right now. The name of the homeland is obviously of some kind of bidding. Now or never. Like in a bad dream, or in a movie of the absurd. We are preoccupied with the name, and others with their daily life problems. It would have been that way for us as well, in some different and happier times. But it is not. We are like in an inverse political and social universe that only torments us and does not stop. While those in the EU and Greece, and more recently in Bulgaria, are dealing with our most important and historical problems, with us and our name on the “margins” of the meetings, but at those same meetings they only deal with their daily problems. Imagine the absurd – to rename a state and people to discuss the margins of meetings, where the formal daily agenda discusses nonsense, which the participants themselves know that it will not be worth the very next working day after the end of the meetings. They will deal only with their own and selfish problems the next day.
And that should not worry us, because that’s normal. But do we deal with our own problems in an acceptable selfish way? Or do we deal with them by giving everything to everyone else, except ourselves? That’s the wrong approach. Still the founder of contemporary economic science, Adam Smith, said that every individual is trying as much as he can to engage his capital in supporting his production, and to direct it so that production will be of the highest value. Every individual needs to work to make the annual income of the society even bigger, although in general he certainly does not intend to promote the public interest, nor does he know how much he promotes … he’s only purpose is his own gain and in that, as in many other cases, he is led by an invisible hand to promote things that were not part of his purpose, and that is the public interest that is the benefit of all. It’s similar in politics. If a country defends and protects its interests, it also protects the interests of all others. If it does not protect its interests and subordinates them to others, then neither those countries would have any benefit from it. That’s what happened to us. While the other political scene was competing for whether it was acceptable or unacceptable for its own clumsy and unmerciful proposal for a new name for the country, the Greek government responded within 24 hours to say that the proposal was unacceptable. Some believe that with this it saved us from ourselves and our own naivety, and others think that it thus carried out a classic diplomatic maneuver by placing our negotiators in a kindergarten and led them to position where their negotiating positions are completely crushed, and the Greek strengthened with the potential to struck us with a greater blow in the future phase. Considering the overwhelming dedication of a part of the Macedonian political elite and Macedonian society to the faster and even incomprehensible change in our own name, it will not be surprising that this will happen to us.
The process that took place on the field and within the UN between Macedonia and Greece, mediated by the UN mediator, is now naively reduced to a bilateral independent process between Macedonia and Greece, with which we have urgent demands and high expectations (NATO membership and the EU) and they have nothing, and now they even enjoy that after a decade of their formal state bankruptcy in 2009 and having spent tough years of humiliation and begging for a repetition of their loans to the gates of the IMF, the EU and the ECB are now able show power over someone and be the factor on which depends the fate of others. Moreover, the Greeks managed to include the Bulgarians in their game with their insincere and dishonest interests towards us, and we would not have seen it, nor notice it, and expose ourselves to the fact that now these last negotiators participate in the process of finding a solution to our name and give themselves the right to decide which name was acceptable to them or not.
From the state of negotiations in the format 1: 1 in the UN, which lasted for 23 years, we are now in a new and semi-defined state of negotiations in the format 1: (1 + 1) from which it is known in advance, and it’s even obvious who will be the victim of it. Indeed, in just a few months of intense direct and fairly naive negotiations, we have been led in a very unfavorable situation. The fact that US Vice President Mike Pence, after rejecting a proposal from the Greek side, called their prime minister to point out that the United States is expecting a solution, will not change much. That was done by George W. Bush in 2008 with the then-Greek Prime Minister, but the veto remains to this day. Where is the exit now? There is no way out. Given the Greek rejection of the inconclusive proposal and given the refusal of the opposition in the country to agree with it, it seems that only the ruling coalition in the country has remained with a helping hand that no one wants to accept, because it is given in the wrong direction and with the wrong content in it. We should not be surprised if now the negotiations go back a lot, without any apparent chance, and with disrupted confidence among the negotiators. Therefore, it is necessary to make a break, to summarize what was discussed and offered, rejected, accepted, and with this it is going to be re-entered into negotiations with the UN and with the participation of the formal mediator. All those countries that have given themselves the right to interfere in the name dispute should be immediately excluded from this right, and within the country all who have made strategic mistakes with the negotiations, which has aggravated the country’s negotiating position and the prospects for an acceptable solution to bear the consequences to the level of political responsibility. Otherwise, they will think they were given an expensive toy – the negotiations, they will be able to exacerbate the position of the country in the future.
Normally, this way of doing things means that Macedonia’s desired progress towards the Euro-Atlantic integration processes will remain blocked and that the government has nothing to do but to urgently turn to those problems that can be solved within the framework of the current status that it has in the international community. For others, it will wait for other times because it spent too much time on this problem.
Of course, the problems within Macedonia are numerous. They are not unknown and stretch from coping with crime and corruption, through the needs of judiciary and civil service reforms, to improving the economy and employment, the outcome of the hopelessness and the unstoppable process of leaving the country by the younger and more educated population. For these problems of the current government, at best, they are still only 2 years remaining, because in the summer of 2020, the campaign for new elections will be in full swing. It’s not much time at all.