The irony of fate is often known to be harsh, sometimes even toxic. This past Wednesday was one of those days when some politicians probably asked themselves unpleasant questions about what was happening to them and what would happen to them in the future. The public under the pressure of the events was less concerned with their fates, and more with the events that could shape the future.
Former VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski entered the criminal court in Skopje as a defendant in the case of the demolition of Cosmos, then he and others in the dock tried to prevent being filmed by the media cameras, but the judge rejected their request. Of course, it was an event of political significance. But, basically, it was a morning prelude to what the whole public was eagerly anticipating – the meeting between the Macedonian and Greek Prime Ministers, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, in Davos. And their quest for a possible compromise on the name. After returning home, Gruevski could see how one of his most controversial legacies was dismantled – the names of the airport in Skopje and the motorway to Greece.
This in a brutal way reflects how the priorities in Macedonia change. Trials of cases of mass abuse of power by the previous government are an important thing that should help restore the democratic state of society, but at some point there are more important things – such as the solution to the name issue. These events, in one day in and in their own way, did not depict the fate of a former prime minister, a former minister and a former mayor, but mirrored the situation in which their party VMRO-DPMNE is right now. Today, it is faced with an almost unsolvable dilemma – to return to the stage as a real actor in Macedonian politics or to remain in a state of weakness, trying more with silence and restraint to overcome the great crisis. It is not a happy party today – its days of unity were strengthened with power, money and governance. To some of those in the party today, those days even seem like they have never been.
In this unfortunate time for VMRO-DPMNE, the new leadership is trying to assess the greater the risk: to continue with the general boycott, endeavoring to give political protection to the detained MPs and others for the events of April 27th and continue to marginalized in the society, apologize for the mistakes and distance itself from those who tried to make a coup in the Parliament and led Macedonia to the very edge. This is not a Hamlet dilemma, but rather an attempt to determine the cost of the one or the other move. If VMRO-DPMNE returns to Parliament, the detained MPs and those in the wide network involved in preparing the bloody intrusion will feel cheated, played and abused. And when someone feels deceptive and abusive, he can step on the road when the soul opens and tell things he has so far silent for 27 April. If it does not return to parliamentary benches in these important times for Macedonia, the party risks to geotise rather than spread its narrow base of supporters.
This confusion of high risk was best seen during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Before the parliamentarians he said: “You came to the edge of a cliff nine months ago. The events in this building and this hall shocked me, and were a shock to all NATO members. However, we were impressed by what we saw further, from the progress you made.” Half an hour later, at the meeting with Stoltenberg, the leadership of VMRO was acting as if he did not hear the estimates of the shock, and he talked to the Secretary General about the “political persecution” that had taken place against the opposition. Vlatko Gjorcev said that they told Stoltenberg: “VMRO-DPMNE’s position is known – in Macedonia there is no freedom but regime, so we appeal to the political persecution to be created in order to create conditions for the return of the opposition in the Parliament.”
On Wednesday, the party made one step with a good alibi – will return to parliament when it again votes on the law on languages, and with amendments it will try to prevent its adoption. Has the political persecution of its members temporarily ended? Or did the door open for freedom in Macedonia? Or at the VMRO top they realized that fewer people believe in their words here, and almost no one outside. The question is whether this almost extreme move after the presidential veto will be just a one-time return. Or it’s a decision to return to normality. And if that’s why some in the detention cells do not furiously hit a fist on the doors. The new leadership is trying with a careful opening to say that there are no divisions and that there is a concept. The new leader, Hristijan Mickoski, who, from most of his membership, is perceived as an imposed solution from “those above”, will need a lot more political skill to present himself as a real captain on the VMRO ship. Trying to be a patriotic protector of Gruevski, he said in an interview with Nezavisen/Independent newspaper that he found “VMRO-DPMNE in relatively good condition, but with many current political challenges”, and with a bureaucratic-professor’s words, with a certain dose of narcissism, explained his role: “Through the process of my career development, as a faculty professor, including now through political leadership, it is naturally to obtain a complete character in which I carry decisions and decision-making power of my authority and decision making capacity they rely on my assessment of things and through consultation with my team.” Mickoski did not understand that the top of the political party is not “my team,” because he is not the CEO of a large company, but that it is a different organism. Such statements only give another subtext to internal critics that the party will continue to be managed as a joint stock company in the interest of those who through the large wall paintings observe the new leaders in the pretentious palace.
One of the vice-presidents, Aleksandar Nikolovski, is trying to take a step further. He was once one of Nikola Gruevski’s most faithful apologists (especially during his unsuccessful election for an EU ambassador) and now speaks a bit differently: “VMRO-DPMNE has had two types of mistakes in the last couple of years – political and organizational. Regarding the political, I think that we had to find better answers to the crisis in recent years. Organizational VMRO-DPMNE has long had the most powerful party structure, but it has been amortized and has not changed frequently enough to make it vital all the time … For almost three years we have recognized that the party needs a new concept and redefinition of political positioning, but for unfortunately, we often changed attitudes and directions, “Nikoloski said in an interview with the” Press24″ portal. Is that “realistic good condition”, as assessed by the leader Miskoski, for which he himself contributed as secretary general. Or the party officer for European relations, Aleksandar Nikoloski, began to look at things differently.
One restructuring in the right may further deprive votes of VMRO-DPMNE. The People’s Movement of Macedonia of Janko Bacev is trying to take over the space of the nationalist right, which has always inclined towards VMRO-DPMNE. Now that party is renamed in Unified Macedonia and announced brotherly relations with Russia. Not only in attitudes towards NATO and the EU, but also in party symbols it looks like a direct Kremlin party subsidiary. The emblem of the party is the same as Putin’s only Russia, the difference is only in the flag and lion’s place bear. Someone will say that this party is irrelevant, that it is on the margins of the politics in Macedonia (however, it won about 20 thousand votes in the local elections), but it is not so. Its core is a large number of those who protested in the streets of “For a Common Macedonia”, and they are now formally seeking Macedonia to give up membership in NATO and the EU and join the Eurasian Economic Union headed by Russia. “NATO wants to use the Macedonian people as cannon fodder in the new world war,” says the deputy chairman of the Unified Macedonia, Stefan Vlahov Micov.
It really looks like a political adventure, but these so-called “Tvrdokorni” target the rightmost part of the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE camp. It must be said that it is not negligible the number of those who think the same about them as the EU and NATO. This will additionally ease the VMRO-DPMNE’s electoral base. At the same time, as if the time of the Communist Party Polit-bureau had been sent, it sent a statement saying: “The VMRO-DPMNE Executive Committee stated that the state is heading in the wrong direction.” The Executive Committee noted that now all state institutions should be guided in their work according to that conclusion. To the local communities.
With this confused pretentious VMRO-DPMNE policy of “neither fish, nor girl”, rather than making a turn, risks sinking into insignificance. Its more recent voters notice this, it’s a question of whether people can see it in the huge chambers in the white building.