The fear of neighbors, Albanians in Macedonia, the great forces, the dark scenarios for the national defacing of Macedonians and the destruction of the possibilities for the existence of their own state, has been implanted in the consciousness of the Macedonian people for years.
Faced with numerous injustices, defeats and sacrifices in the process of building the Macedonian national uniqueness, but when creating the first state of the Macedonian people after World War II, we lived, as the writer Kica Kolbe noted, with the “psychology of victim”, with the feeling that we were blackmailed, undervalued, discriminated, and that there was no justice. We were made to believe that we are not good at anything, we can not do anything on our own, that nothing depends on us, that we do not have powerful friends who would support us, that we are very small and nobody asks for our opinion about anything. We talked about moving out of this country, we will disappear and that this will happen because we do not have good politicians, statesmen who are willing to risk losing in the next election and achieve of office something much more significant for their country during their term, something more for the nation and for the future generations of the Macedonian society. And we lived throughout the world with our illusions about the greatness and age of the Macedonian nation, our myths about Alexander and Philip who defeated the Greeks and conquered the world, with the belief that we are “the chosen people”, whose name is mentioned in The Bible 33 times, the land in which St. Paul came and settled in Paljurci, and that civilization, literacy and Christianity spread from here.
From the day when Yugoslavia collapsed, in the framework of which the Macedonian national consciousness, culture and history developed safely, we faced not only real denials and pressures in terms of our independence, but also new dealers of fear of “the internal and external enemy “of the country.
Those dealers of fear, with the help of conspiratorial theories have been offering “reliable evidence” for many years about why “they all hate us”, why “we they all try to divide separate us”, why “there is no justice for Macedonia and Macedonians” and why the only way to survive is not to yield. We would eat stones and roots if necessary – it was and remained their key point, even when they sent their children to live safely and wealthy in the EU countries, in the United States or Australia.
Until before the election in 2016, we did not believe that we were able to deal with our local bandits who had captured the state, that it would take us many decades to overcome the ethnic vote for “our own”, that those Macedonians and parties that will offer a concept for Macedonia as a society of equal citizens would lose. At one point, we saw that the opponents of change were ready to kill only to prevent changes in power and we did not believe that one day they would still be taken to court.
In such circumstances, signing the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation with Bulgaria and worshiping of Zaev and Borissov before the monument of Tsar Samuel caused a shock in the Macedonian nationalist circles. The first reactions were that we were losing our language, we were giving up our history, we were leaving the Macedonian national minority in Bulgaria on its own and that Zaev and his team commited a national treachery.
Soon after all these accusations and that nationalistic hysteria, Gjorge Ivanov, who led the camp, went to Bulgaria and said that the agreement was good and that it should be respected.
Nobody believed that Zaev would succeed in concluding a good neighborly and friendship agreement with Greece, which finally paves the way for Macedonia to join the EU and NATO. For years, the build-up awareness that the problem with Greece over the name dispute is not in the name, but in the fact that Greece does not want to allow us to exist as a separate Macedonian nation with its own Macedonian language, culture and history, created great skepticism not only in Zaev’s ability to succeed in reaching a fair deal with Greece, but also in the readiness of Greece to accept the new political reality and to tackle its own nationalism.
A large number of citizens are again exposed to shock. Suddenly Zaev offered a policy by which national fear was replaced by national courage. Frustration with optimism. Conflict with neighbors with friendship. Nationalism respecting other nations and understanding their fears. The country’s isolation with integration.
Macedonia with the brave political decisions of the new government launched a very sensitive process of liberating the nation (but also the deprivation of the nation) from its false greatness and old age, from false myths and mythologizations, prejudices about neighbors and great powers, from frustration and from national fears. Zaev, with his moves, is doing everything to provide the nation with new national courage, with optimism, to raise national dignity and to provide the country and the nation with new respecters and friends.
And that is the most difficult reform of all the reforms that Macedonia needs to make. Without this reform of consciousness and mentality, the reforms in the judiciary, in the police, and in the economy will never be successful.
“The agreement with Greece”, as the author of the beautiful novel “Land of Refugees” Kica Kolbe, noted, provides Macedonia with full international recognition of its independence, which was the dream of all fighters for freedom and independence of Macedonia.” The leader of the Rainbow party in Greece, Pavlos Vasilopoulos, who is fighting for the ethnic rights of Macedonians in extremely difficult circumstances, explains in an interview with Nova TV to those who are afraid of losing the “institutional identity” that the prefix ‘North’ does not mean any kind of denial of the Macedonian identity. We think that this does not affect the national identity at all. We believe that Macedonian national identity is guaranteed everywhere in the world.”
Hence, the vote in the referendum on the agreement opening Macedonia’s doors for membership in the EU and NATO is not only a mere execution of civic duty, but a major patriotic act and the opportunity to be on the right side at such a historic moment.
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik