Stop frightening the citizens

Erol Rizaov

These days, as the mobilization of the Macedonian people in the defense of the constitutional name, the language and the main features of the identity is taking place, while the party and intellectual sirens for national unity for saving Macedonia are echoing, many times I thought of one event from 30 years ago when the newspaper “Nova Makedonija” published the shocking article that, in 20 years’ time, the Macedonians will be a minority in their country. This is a good example that one should not blindly believe in everything the great scientific authorities offer, especially when it comes to national, identity issues, and related interpretations of laws and constitutions, agreements, declarations and decisions. This alarm should be received with as much reserve and restraint as the politicians should not be trusted before the elections.

Every day, under stress and with strong emotions, we read the announcements of farewell to the identity, the name and the language. If we draw lessons from the example below in the text, do not worry even after 30 years, maybe even longer probably the longest in Europe, regardless of the upcoming changes, we will preserve the Macedonian identity, language and name. These things cannot be erased from people’s minds, nor can language be reversed. But, on one condition, if we manage to preserve the state. This means if we are part of Europe not only geographically, but also politically and economically, and if we are equal members and allies of the largest military and economic alliance in the world, NATO and the EU. If we fail, the disappearance of states is not at all unknown and now at this most recent time. Many of us witnessed the breakup of Yugoslavia. Modern history records these processes with a cold factography and without much excitement. For starters, ask yourself the question of whether Yugoslavia would be gone if it met the criteria to become a member of NATO and the EU? Is there such an example between NATO members and the EU since their establishment to date? No. That kind of membership was offered to Yugoslavia quickly to accept certain changes, but nationalism, hegemony, territorial integrity, protection of identity, language, history, cultural heritage won… One of the most beautiful European countries collapsed into the rivers of blood and wars, which in the rage of mutual hatred did not accept even to break through a peaceful and civilized way with the direct access of all the republics in the Euro-Atlantic integrations. The USSR disappeared, so what was left for Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. All wasted historical models with strong constitutions and laws.

But, let’s go back to the event in Macedonia three decades ago. A renowned and prominent university professor, deceased long time ago, a great authority on demographic movements with scientific facts and statistical data raised the nation with “incalculable” evidence calculated and interpreted by the birthrate of Albanians, as the professor argued, almost as much as in Bangladesh. Literally in Tetovo and the surrounding areas of Tetovo, the majority of children in the world were born there, right behind Bangladesh, compared with the number of inhabitants. That analysis that in less than two decades the Albanians in Macedonia will be the majority raised an avalanche of reactions and serious warnings. Starting with the fact that Macedonians are finished, they will be retirees in their country, until the request of urgent measures to reduce the birth rate among the Albanians. Several texts of famous intellectuals, politicians, journalists who expressed their great concern for the future of the nation, for the loss of not only the identity, but also the great danger of the disappearance of the Macedonian people, appeared. It went so far as to seek legal restrictions and disincentives to the birth of more children among Albanians and, of course, other genocidal proposals that the editorial staff did not publish. This reached the Central Committee of the Communists, where they also raised a debate about the danger of the great birth rate, the rights of the Albanian women and their emancipation, that they should not be a factory for children…. I think that not only the Macedonians, but also the Albanians and all others who live in Macedonia have accepted this highly “scientific debate” as a perfect act, as a fact, that in 20 years the Macedonians will be fewer than the Albanians in Macedonia.

One day, a university professor from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering came to me, deceased long time ago so I won’t mention his name, with whom we knew each other well and asked me for how long were going to scare people. I asked him what he meant by that. Well, this thing about the Albanians, he said, what kind of math is this that in 20 years they will be the majority. My calculation tells me that they will barely reach 20 percent, if you take into account the real assumptions that the birth rate will decline in both them and everyone else. In that case, they cannot be the majority in 200 years. I was shocked. I told the professor to write it down immediately so we can publish it. No, he said, it would cause me a lot of inconveniences and problems. I cannot be Emil Zola now, in such an environment. Well then, how will we deal with this misconception? Nothing, he said, my job is to tell you, you can at least try to do something to stop this intimidation of citizens. So it was, we published several more texts bearing in mind the professor’s calculations that the estimates for large and rapid demographic changes are overemphasized and that there is no danger of jeopardizing the survival of the Macedonian people.

After 20 years of these events, the Albanians reached 22-23 percent of the total population, and since there is no longer a census, the exact figure cannot be determined now, with the probability that it could be lower with the emigration. Now, such misconception in Macedonia is rumored once again that with the Albanian language the Constitution is being violated, with more use than that now and by the passage of such a law, and all other languages are brought into an unequal position. I am pleasantly surprised by this kind of care for other “minor” languages, but in all these years I have not heard and read from respected legalists and strong democrats, university professors, nothing in defense of other languages, like Turkish, Serbian, Aromanian, Roma, Bosnian and other nationalities living in Macedonia. Yes, they are included in the Constitution, but they are not included in the so-called ‘life’. Many Turks, Aromanians, Serbs and Roma do not know their own mother tongue, or they mostly stopped speaking their mother tongue when they reached puberty. There is no ban in the Constitution and laws, but in textbooks, in life in everyday life there is such pressure on other ethnic communities and marginalization of their language and culture that they now feel cunningly to fight the great fighters for equalizing the rights of other nations and their language. For this, they have no qualification of objectivity, nor a scientific and legalistic approach for just one thing, they have not mentioned a single word before. On the contrary, when digging and mining historical buildings and cultural monuments under the protection of the state, respectable professors and scientists, who are now very loud and opinionated, were collectively and shamefully silent then. At least they called for an increase in the use of the Macedonian language, which is of undoubted interest for all, as a communication code, with which all who live in Macedonia understand each other. If anything, it would motivate Macedonians and other ethnic communities to learn Macedonian and their mother tongues better.