The resourceful Greeks made T-shirts mocking the removal of the sixteen-rayed Kutlesh sun off of the manholes on the streets of Skopje. While the Greeks were trying to score on such a banal thing, a person from Bitola fired back and spray-painted the sun back on the manholes. During all that time, unknown heroes damaged the boards in the still of the night damage the plaques in front of the monuments of Alexander the Great and Philip II that say they were part of the Hellenic heritage. Lastly, the Macedonian government, which spent a decade as the then-opposition blaming “Skopje 2014” for the nation’s robbery, will appoint guards to preserve the most exposed monuments of that controversial project.
It is difficult to grasp all the nonsense that is happening these days after the expiration of the six-month deadline for the officialization of the name agreement, and the authorities have begun to apply the article that provides for the removal and non-use of the former flag in public space by public and state-owned institutions. Six months have passed amid the “Racket” affair, which has probably been welcomed to divert the public’s attention, though given that all points of the agreement are sensitive to a a larger part of Macedonians, it is unlikely any other term would go unnoticed.
And now it’s not the question of whether or not we want to adhere to the Prespa Agreement. The points of the solution signed by Foreign Ministers Nikola Dimitrov and Nikos Kotzias have been known for months, and it was clear, however, that by August we would have to give up the Kutlesh symbol. Forcibly or not, the agreement was passed in the Macedonian Parliament, and to be completely honest, there was no opposition from the people or the political parties.
The Greeks reportedly formed a team that monitors what is happening in Macedonia and keeps an eye on whether, and how much, we are fulfilling what we have signed. If we haven’t adhered to the deadlines, they will hinder our way to Brussels. It would be nice if the authorities in Athens were so careful and when it comes to their part of the tasks that look grotesque compared to our concessions. But, changing the signposts from Halkidiki to “Skopia” seems to be a major problem to them.
Surely a change of government in Greece would mean more rigidity on their part. No one expects the process to run smoothly as one would expect if Alexis Tsipras remained their prime minister. Therefore, the tactics of the Macedonian authorities are understandable. They do not want to wake up the ghosts of the past now that we are expecting a date for negotiations with the European Union and a final ratification of NATO membership.
However, the government on Ilinden Street may need to be more cautious towards its citizens as no matter how rational Macedonian identification with antiquity is, any new concessions besides the name seem unnecessary in their eyes. How can one explain that the sun on the manholes can cost us a veto to the date from Brussels?
On the other hand, it is time to realize that neither Alexander nor Philip will give us a better life and a brighter future. That should be clear to everyone. Removing the plaques is probably an outburst of disobedience to some, but in essence it is totally irrelevant. Let’s finally start dealing with the really important things.