Monday, August 6, 2012

Macedonia keeps winning

Diary: July 30 – August 5, 2012
Monday, July 30
Wildfire continues in Strumica, days after the arrest of the 24-year-old woman who allegedly is responsible for the fire which claimed three lives last week. Who is responsible now? 
Temperatures are still high, becoming part of the everyday life, making the country part of the world suffering from climate changes. Should this be a comforting thought?
The Albanian coalition partner, Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) in the government seems to believe very strongly in the EU integration agenda of the government. Probably, the only one... While the opposition carries on with accusations of anti-EU policy of the government, DUI continues to make positive statements. According to Artan Grubi, Chief of Ali Ahmeti’s cabinet, Macedonia will get the date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU by the end of the year.
I can’t count the number of delays on this matter in the last decade. After the 2001 war in Macedonia, it was too early to speak about it, but it was “on the agenda”. In 2005, the then PM Vlado Buchkovski (Social Democratic Union of Macedonia) said that “we are almost there”. Ever since, the leaders of this country are more “realistic” by saying “we are making progress” and “by the end of the year” (if it’s in the beginning of the year) or “next year” (if it’s at the end of the year), “for sure” and “we are committed” (if it’s during pre-electoral campaigning). And, so it goes for six years now.
Ha-ha, there was a good article about PM Gruevski’s “highway politics” in today’s daily Fokus, referring to the government’s Otchet (report) on its achievements in the first year after the pre-term parliamentary elections in 2011.
The PM said that the government didn’t invest in highways because people rarely use them. On the other hand, says the PM, 99 percent of the people use local roads at least twice a day (tour-retour) or more. That is why the government invested a lot in repairing or building local roads and streets. And monuments. Plenty of them. 
Obviously, governments in the neighboring countries don’t care about people’s needs. So, Bulgaria invested in 123.5 km of new highways in 2012, Serbia – 94.4 km, Albania – 95.2 km, Kosovo – 21 km, and Greece – 262.5 km. Macedonia is the winner again. It invested in 0 (zero!) kilometers of highway in 2012.
At the end of the day, I've got time to read the “The zombie that haunts the Balkans” written by Daniel Sever. “The Macedonia “name” issue is unique.  I can’t think of another situation, current or historical, in which a country wants a neighbor to change its name. It is also a zero sum problem:  if Athens gains, Skopje loses, and vice versa”, Professor Serwer writes in his article and concludes: “Killing the ethnic partition zombie that haunts the Balkans seems to me far more important than finding a name Athens and Skopje can agree on.”
Right he is. Oh, how right he is!

Tuesday, July 31
“Macedonia is not a name of a brand for it to be given to others… The government is employing a firm policy supported by the majority of the country’s political forces. We have clearly defined the solution framework – a name with a geographic qualifier to be used in all instances,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras in the Greek Parliament. Looks clear, though unfair…
The Macedonian MFA says the key of the solution of the name issue is in Athens.
Politics of stubbornness, hide and seek, and stupidity goes on.  
Various organizations and agencies carry on fueling the political contest. The ruling coalition partners, according to the survey of IDSCS and MCIC lead in popularity with 25.5% for VMRO-DPMNE against 19% for SDSM. Undefined voters make over one third of the population, according to this survey.
War of percentages continues.

Wednesday, August 1
The Parliament is on vacations from today until August 21. Will anyone see the difference?

Thursday, August 2
Today is the national holiday of the Ilinden uprising that praises the fight against the Turkish domination (it’s called slavery in Macedonia). Ethnic and (ruling) party signatures are everywhere.
This is usually the date when I feel unwelcomed in my own country.
President Ivanov warned that he is not going to accept any international document or report in which Macedonia is not fully respected. I’m sure that the whole world trembled.

Friday, August 3
Skopje is empty. Most of the people fled the heat to an extended weekend. Construction workers are in place, though, diligently working on government’s projects.
Taken by the “revolutionary spirit” of the Ilinden uprising, I initiated the latest appeal of Civil, calling upon the civil society in the country to connect and raise its voice in the country:
“It is time for civil society organizations to raise their voice and show they are not to be bypassed, but to be respected as one of the greatest resources that this country has in these times. It is time for civil society organizations to give up the formal seats in phony commissions and connect with the people. It is time for civil society organizations to claim what they have achieved and make our work worth mentioning and remembering. It is time to connect and work together on common issues for the benefit of all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. Let us overcome doubts and constraints, let us join forces and await for the coming period of even greater turmoil -- ready and as credible carriers of the interests and expectations of our fellow citizens.” It’s on the web, and on the Macedonian, Albanian and English language blog.
I hope there will be many responses to this appeal. Once the summer vacations season is over… I need to keep my optimism. I need to keep my optimism. I need to keep my optimism…
The Ministry of Interior won’t need a court warrant to secretly follow individuals through the surveillance cameras that are installed in a high number of spots in Skopje and other cities in the country, according to the changes in the legislation that regulates this matter. Are human rights standards followed? Hello! Anybody?
A Facebook hit of the day is the photograph in which the design of the government’s logo “We achieve” was altered in “We raise the prices”. Good one!

Saturday, August 4
Late last night, the Commission forVerification of the Facts AKA Lustration Commission published the names of the collaborators with the secret police. This commission continues working according to the law that was rejected by the Constitutional Court.
On top of it, it publicly marks people before legal proceedings are over, harshly violating the presumption of innocence. The head of the Soros foundation in the country, Vladimir Milcin is under renewed attack by the commission.
The lustration process which was meant to shed light to the dark past of the communist regime became a tool for reckoning with political opponents. The witch-hunt style follows this body since the beginning.

Sunday, August 5
Graffiti with nationalistic slogans such as “Death for FYROM”, “Ilirida 2012”, “Prizren 1878” appeared in Gostivar during the last week.
I wish to see officials, NGOs, politicians of all colors, parents and youth make a statement against all nationalist gangs on both sides of ethnic barriers. As long as only one side finds itself offended by the other side upon incidents like this, the filthy war of words will go on.
The army exhibits its weapons and equipment at the military stadium in the Skopje City Park. We could see children handling weapons. So far from building a peaceful nation… Outrageous!

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