They can do whatever they want because they changed the name!

Aleksandar Nikoloski
Vice President of VMRO-DPMNE

The title of this column is a sentence most often spoken by representatives of the government, people close to Zaev and SDSM. It simply comes down to the following – because Zaev and Dimitrov changed the name of Macedonia, and thus in some way they pleased the international community, they are now allowed to do whatever they want. And they do so without any reaction from the international community, nor the media outlets that are financed entirely or partly by various projects, grants, etc. coming from various assistance programs for the development of democracy in Macedonia.

Of course, this is not true and it is far from even thinking that anyone would tolerate crime, corruption, nepotism and more on all irregular elections, especially not from the international community or the media. They will not allow themselves to lose their credibility just because Zaev wants to be prime minister and grow his family business; Nikola Dimitrov wants to be president in order to fulfill his long-standing desire and hunger for position and power, and various SDSM officials steal whatever they want and hire their relatives in public administration.

But this is the narrative created by the people around Zoran Zaev and SDSM. And it’s not naive at all! The purpose of it is a few things – to discourage resistance and make people feel that everything has already been decided beforehand and their vote in elections is irrelevant, to make them either apathetic or not go to the polls or would vote for SDSM with persuasion that their vote will go to the SDSM, because it has already been determined and decided. The second goal is to minimize criticism of the government for all the wrong moves it makes.

Children have died in the past few days and there is almost no civil reaction. In other conditions, tens of thousands of people would be on the streets. These days the government is employing everyone that could possibly be a relative of a SDSM or DUI official – and there is still no mass reaction. The reason for this is the feeling that everything is pre-determined and their vote is useless. This is the most dangerous thing that can happen to any democracy because this way the frustration of citizens that their vote is useless will turn into radicalism, which can lead to unwanted political conditions and relations.

Of course, there is the widespread story that the presidential election is pre-decided and that there will be mass irregularities so that the SDSM candidate would win. The irregularities go from the pre-election period to the Election Day – from massive recruitment of party servants, through blackmailing people with police, pressure on public administration, bribing voters, pressure on media, until filling ballot boxes on Election Day, if necessary. All of this has already started. The massive hiring of party servants has become an everyday occurrence, pressures on the media as well, and it is widely spoken that preparations for other pre-election and electoral “activities” have begun. The most flagrant example that Zaev, Dimitrov and SDSM do not want regular elections is running away from early parliamentary elections. And this is not because of some kind of reforms, February has gone by and we still did not see any reforms, but solely in order for the mechanisms of the so-called Przino government would not enter into force, which means participation of the opposition in the government that will organize the elections. The intention is clear – there will not be fair, democratic and competitive elections!

Because of all of this, I asked at all the meetings I had last week both in Brussels and Washington, with high representatives of the EU and the United States, to take steps to break this artificial created perception by Zaev, Dimitrov and SDSM, as well as to do everything in their power for us to have fair elections without pressures, threats, blackmail, bribing voters, media influence and stuffing ballot boxes. The international community has clear standards of democratic practice and will not even think of tolerating irregularities. Therefore, increased monitoring of the next election is crucial. Strong observation missions are necessary from all relevant institutions – such as the OSCE / ODIHR, the Council of Europe, and so on. In addition to the election day and the technical organization of the Election Day, they should be dedicated to the pre-election period and send their missions that will be on the field longer and will observe the entire pre-election mood.
Also, I believe that a strong and clear public message is necessary by the international community that the requirement for NATO membership and the start of negotiations with the EU are fair, democratic and competitive elections, with zero tolerance for irregularities. Perhaps in normal conditions the international community should not say this because it is understood in itself, but in these conditions it must be said that in the wake of the support of the international community for the name agreement with Greece, Zaev’s government thinks it can to do whatever it wants.

Any scenario different from this, a scenario that would imply a rigged presidential election will throw the country back into crisis. That crisis will be of benefit to the powers that do not wish Macedonia well and will try to take advantage of it. Also, such a crisis will lead to even greater polarization in Macedonian society. Something nobody wants.

Zaev, Dimitrov and SDSM must realize that the people’s revolt will be manifested in the election because of everything they do and they will lose. They should accept this calmly, because that is what democracy means, any other behavior will only be a confirmation of the suspicions of numerous irregularities and corruption, as well as the fear of taking responsibility.

VMRO-DPMNE believes in strong institutions and a democratic process, and is taking part in them. But if these irregularities continue and increase the response from our side for the protection of democracy and each citizen’s right to vote will be strong and fierce. The next period will be a test for the behavior of Zaev and SDSM, on which will greatly depend the behavior of VMRO-DPMNE.

I hope that reason will prevail and that fair, democratic and competitive elections will be a reality for Macedonia, so let’s see what the people really think about everything that is happening to Macedonia.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik