Monday, August 20, 2012

POLITICAL CHARADE


Diary: August 13 - 19, 2012

Monday, August 13
Signatories of OFA, 2001
The Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) which ended the war in Macedonia in 2001 was signed on this day, 11 years ago. The OFA has been a tool for political bargaining and outsmarting since. Back then, at Civil, we were running a peace and reconciliation campaign (from day one of the war), after signing the OFA, we launched a leaflet/poster campaign (electronic media were either too expensive or too militant for our campaign): What Now? [Што сега? / Çka tash?] We were convinced that this Agreement will save the country only if it is implemented properly. I still believe that the implementation of the OFA is a unit of measurement of the political will and sincerity of political stakeholders and decision makers.
Let me give a “small” example on how OFA is rather misused. According to the Agreement and laws that derived from it, ethnic minorities have the right to proportional participation to the administration. What’s the situation on the ground?
This government became notorious for many things, including the fact that it won the race in becoming a number one employer in the country. So, instead of decreasing the number of employees in the administration and balancing the number of its employees which will reflect the ethnic composition of the country – the government opened a tremendous number of new jobs. Ethnic Macedonians got jobs first. When the Albanian coalition partner objected that, they opened even more jobs. But, there were no more work posts for Albanians. So, many Albanians are employed in the administration now, but they stay at home, receiving 70-80% of the salary. What do we get from this absurd governmental practice?
People get pissed off at those who don’t work and get paid from the taxpayers’ money. Ethnic Macedonians develop even more prejudices against ethnic Albanians, taking them for “parasites that eat their bred”. Additionally, the Macedonian part of the government somehow managed to present this as an obligation they have to fulfill because of the OFA which was “imposed by the damn terrorist Albanians backed by the NATO criminals”. If you ask a common ethnic Macedonian you will get that answer, more or less.
The process of decentralization, one of the obligations prescribed by the OFA, started in 2004, but was stopped and even reversed in some segments since 2006. The main issues of the decentralization processes now are linked to symbols (flag, language, traffic signs, streets and schools names). Nothing essential, nothing linked to essential democratic benefits of a decentralized state. It is not a decentralized state at all. To the contrary, Republic of Macedonia is (re)centralized.
The discriminatory politics and practices at institutional level continue. Interethnic relations are getting from bad to worse by the day. I find the responsibility for this situation within the government and the institutions, nowhere else. It’s them who shape the everyday life of the citizens, raising expensive and intimidating monuments and buildings, in(directly) sponsoring nationalism at all levels, starting with hooligans ending with culture, arts and education policies.
That’s the OFA sad destiny, originally aiming and democratization and regulation of essential issues in the country. Many politicians opposed it in the past years. Even more of them misused it while serving narrow party or personal interests.
Still, OFA remains to be one of the best documents produced in and for this country in its 20 year-long history. It takes courage and wisdom to implement it. Neither of those two could be found now.
President Gorge Ivanov, Prime Minister Gruevski, the leader of the coalition partner DUI Ali Ahmeti, the leaders of the opposition Branko Crvenkovski and Ljubco Georgievski, the leader of DPA Menduh Thaci and the leader of PDP Imer Imeri did not take part in traditional celebration of the OFA, though it is expected and logical.
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The head of the Soros foundation in Macedonia Vladimir Milcin who was accused by the Lustration Commission for being a collaborator with secret services in the times of communism, spoke out at a press conference today.
Vladimir Milcin
Milcin, known as a dissident in the communist times, permanently under surveillance and pressure from the secret services of the past regime, was bitter and sharp, striking back at the Lustration Commission, arguing that the chairman Tome Adjiev (whose mandate has expired for a year or so now) and those who stand behind him operate with “a bunch of stinking lies”.
He said that Adjiev is a kodosh [snitch] himself who illegally runs the Commission and “shamelessly and unscrupulously executes the demands from his superiors” [meaning the ruling party] and by doing so put pressure “on those who oppose them”. He called Adjiev “a tumor of our everyday life” among other things.
The current Security and Counterintelligence Administration has, according to Milcin, informed the Lustration Commission that “Milcin has not been a collaborator of secret services”. Adjiev has concealed that document. Otherwise, Milcin has been marked by the communist authorities in the previous system as “dangerous for the system”, “anarchist-liberal”, “liberal”, etc.  
The Lustration Commission nowadays publicizes the dossiers of the people who are “lustrated” on their website, before they get the chance to defend and prove innocent through the institutions of justice.
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Today is quite a day. The news are packed with scandals and events that are marked as scandals. It’s going to be a long Monday note…
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Respect
The Minister of Defense Fatmir Besimi, accompanied by the Minister of Justice Blerim Bexheti, Vice-Prime Minister Musa Xhafer, deputy Minister of Interior Xhelal Bajrami, and five army officers formed a delegation of the Defense Ministry that laid wreaths of flowers and bowed before the UCK monument in the village of Slupcane. This village of Slupcane is known from the 2001 conflict in Macedonia for a fierce battleground where several UCK fighters got killed.
The first reactions to this event was that Minister Besimi committed an unprecedented violation of his position. President Ivanov, who is also the Chief Commander of the Army demanded urgent investigation for this act of “misuse of the Army” as he called it.
This is going to shake the public in the following days, I bet.
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The daily newspaper Den was sold to an ex-employee of the state security service, daily Fokus reported today. The editor in chief, Kole Chashule is sacked.
Casule is the ex- editor in chief of Vreme, one of the daily newspapers that was shut down by the government along with the A1 TV and another two dailies in a highly disputed action last year (see Civil’s special edition of the Dialogue newsletter, August 2011). The daily Den was considered as one of the very few independent media projects in the country. It started in March this year.


Tuesday, August 14
There is an avalanche of reactions against Minister Besimi’s delegation who paid respect to the fallen UCK monument in the village of Slupcane yesterday. 
The VMRO-DPMNE came out with a fierce accusations against this act, as if it’s not their government’s officials who did it. Opposition parties accused the government of parallelism and dualism in performing politics. Stevo Pendarovski of SDSM demanded answers from the government, wondering if the security forces in the country have two ethnic commands.
The US Embassy in Skopje released a strong statement calling Besimi a leader and a patriot.
Indirectly, the Prime Ministers’s team responded that there is nothing patriotic in paying respect to those who were shooting at the Macedonian Army in 2001.
Several pro-government figures called US Embassy’s statement interference in the interior affairs of a sovereign country. Well, they forget that USA, along with NATO and EU were the international brokers who led the country to peace and have every right to comment on an event and process that they have guaranteed for.
Besimi expressed his regrets that he wasn’t understood and that his intentions were clearly in support of the OFA and fostering interethnic confidence.
The MoD has imposed fines to its employees who attended the disputed event in Slupcane.
This isn’t over yet, I’m sure.


Wednesday, August 15
One of the most important politicians of the Albanians ever Arben Xhaferi died today. He suffered from a severe brain stroke a week ago. 
I remember, back in mid-nineties in the days of inauguration of the then illegal Tetovo University, I had an interview with him. At the beginning of the interview, he told me: “All I ask from journalists is not to add words that I haven’t said in my statements. They can to feel free to cut as much as they wish. Not to add”.
As a person he was calm and warm, with a great sense of humor. His opinions and visions were often controversial and harshly disputed, but in many cases he proved to be ahead of his time.
Xhaferi was an advocate for human and civil rights of the Albanians. As a leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), he was one of the signatories of the OFA in 2001, but withdrew his signature in 2007, calling the OFA dead. He is the author of the frequently quoted statement that ethnic Macedonians and Albanians need to reach “a historic agreement” based on equality of the two communities.

Thursday, August 16
South Africa rocks the headlines! Police have killed 34 miners in a massacre that brought back the memories of the horrid times of apartheid in this country. This time, police was defending the interests of a mining company which ruthlessly exploits its miners.
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Members of the female punk band Pussy Riot found guilty. They will be jailed despite the heavy criticism and appeals from all around the world.
Putin does not forgive. But… Putin stinks. 

Friday, August 17
Published today in the dailies Dnevnik and Vest (Aug. 17, 2012):
The ad says:
25 YEARS
RUDOLF HESS
25 years since the death of the man who has spent 46 years in prison just because he believed and stayed true to his idea and acted brave in pursuit of peace. Therefore, he will be forever remembered the prisoner of peace. He dared…

By his Macedonian admirers

My office (Civil) issued a strong public statement right after we learned about this idiotic ad.

Later on, I wrote the following note: 
After the first shock and disgust from publishing of the reminder on 25th year from the death of the Nazi ideologue Rudolf Hess (published in dailies Dnevnik and Vest, Aug 17, 2012), I concluded that this is actually not that unexpected and surprising. Darkest ideologies of human history are not an incident anymore; they rather developed into widely accepted values within today’s society. The downfall of democracy and systematic violation of human rights and freedoms in the country encourages the sickest in society to respect and promote terrifying ideas, figures and ideologies.
It is rather strange that this act of open advocacy of fascism in public -- be by an anonymous group of extremists and lunatics – didn’t trigger an immediate reaction and uncompromising condemnation from state officials. Extremism, racism and ultra-nationalism became part of the Macedonian daily life. They reach the institutional framework of the system in various ways. Various forms of encouragement of nationalism by institutions in all sorts of ways, under dubious excuses, create an atmosphere in which people impregnated with fascism may think they can finally emerge from the shadow of anonymity and start with activities on the open. We can’t afford to depend on hopes that this will end here. This weed in the society tend to spread quickly in all directions and takes all sorts of shapes.
What should be done? Serious measures in the education system and cultural policy in the country must be taken into account, especially when it comes to children and youth. Acts of support for fascism must be sanctioned immediately and decisively.
Criminal law should be upgraded and sanction anti-Semitism and fascism, as is the case with most of the civilized world. More importantly, it is time to finally start implementing existing provisions in the law, in particular Articles 319 and 417 of the Criminal Code that sanction national, racial and religious hatred. Although, to be honest, if these provisions are implemented consistently, many arrested should be exactly among those who hold positions in the institutions.
(part of this is published on the website of Deutsche Welle (Macedonian language section).
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Haha, the daily Fokus continues to make me smile.
This morning’s edition of the newspaper brings an intriguing picture of the PM’s wife and Olympia (Alexander the Great’s mother), one of the hundred (plus) monuments of the governments Skopje 2014 project.
It raises the question of resemblance of the statue with lady Gruevska. The author (who is, otherwise, a complete anonymous) said that she lacked literature, so she shaped Olympia according to her own fantasy.
Bravo!

Saturday, August 18
The Day of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia brought more delicacy to the day. Artillery detonations could be heard in the morning. Military parade took place exposing the power of the Macedonian army forces. A family member of the soldiers that got killed in a helicopter crash incident last year begged for employment of their children. The PM Gruevski didn’t shake hands with MoD Besimi. All speeches made somehow referred or reminded of the Monday’s visit of Besimi to the UCK monument in Slupcane.
Another day of political charade in Macedonia…  

Sunday, August 19
The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, made a statement from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London today. he thanked “those who are still fighting for justice”. “Your day will come!” – he said. He asked the President Obama to do the right thing and dissolve his witch-hunt against WikiLeaks. 

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