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Thursday, March 31, 2016

BLAME GAME II - The full Nestor Oginar interview


An interview with Mr Nestor Oginar, an American Macedonian community leader and dissident member of the Macedonian VMRO-DPMNE political party - after his very recent return from Macedonia. 

He offers his views over Macedonia’s political crisis, which was triggered last year by the Opposition party SDSM leader Zoran Zaev who confronted Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of the VMRO-DPMNE party with secretly taped recordings showing corrupt government dealings. Gruevski resigned in early 2016 to make way for a caretaker government and for elections sometime this year as directed by European Union intervention known as the Przino Agreement. see link

THE BLAME GAME - The previous story - link

Question 1: Your take on the political crisis in Macedonia?

Oginar: The current crisis in Macedonia is a dramatic culmination of a complex series of unresolved social issues and political problems which Macedonia inherited with the collapse of Yugoslavia and has never been wiling nor able to deal with them as it should to this very day. The nature of this crisis is many fold.

It is constitutional, political, economic, ethnic, moral but, in my view, it is rooted in the mentality of the political and intellectual establishment and projected onto the general culture of the people wherein it finds a fertile ground for growth. When you have political and intellectual leadership which has been blatantly ambiguous about its national identity, about its desire for real national independence, then you have politicians in the highest institutions of the government who openly claim and clamor for Yugoslavia, Serbia or Albania. When you are confronted with a glaring absence of a strong national center which asserts its cultural and national identity and projects it on the people, then you've planted the seeds for the development of a latent crisis which will erupt sooner or later. This is what is happening today in Macedonia.



Question 2. What, how is the way out of the quagmire for Macedonia?

Oginar: There is a way out of every quagmire, every crisis regardless of the depth and breath of its nature. However,there must be a will, determination and a know-how, qualities which are sorely lacking in today's Macedonia. History is full of examples of great leaders who have saved their countries and people from national disasters. Remember F.D. Roosevelt during the years of the Great Depression in the USA during the 1930s!? Or the role Lee Kuan Yew played in making the city state of Singapore paragon model of development, economic and cultural, after decades of all kinds of social calamities with which it had been plagued with.                                        

- THE BLAME GAME? -

Macedonia of today desperately needs leaders, intellectual and political, who will acknowledge the scope of the crisis and accept the responsibility thereof, instead of pointing accusatory fingers at each other.

Contemporary Macedonia is an ill society in every respect! It has been ill for decades, but the last 10 years have brought to the surface all the latent anomalies which had been lingering and fostering unacknowledged.                                                                  

So, the way out of the quagmire must be done in a few carefully planned steps or phases, both in a short and long run, by a new National Doctrine which must throw light upon the indisputable historical facts of the Bucharest Treaty (1913), the division of Macedonia and the plight of the Macedonian people who have been either exiled from their ancestral homes, or have found themselves denied their basic human rights to live as Macedonians within the borders of their dismembered homeland !

Furthermore:                             

a).There is an urgent need of a new national census within the Republic of Macedonia without which nothing can be accomplished;   
                                                                          
b).There must be a revision of the constitution, which has been violated and changed several times since 1991, especially since the Ohrid Frame Agreement, which rendered a totally dysfunctional Chimera of a state with so many amendments, such as the “Badinter Principle” and many others, which practically paralyse the function of all the three branches of government at local and national level;

c). Decentralisation and separation of the three branches of government which are now virtually merged into one and completely under control of the ruling party and its coalition partner;

d). Constitutional reforms which will curtail the too powerful role of the government;

e). Restructuring of the national debt, both domestic and international;
                                       
f). Increasing the role of the private sector, which has been rendered totally insignificant in the life of the Macedonian economy;
                                                                                    
g). Serious cuts and reductions in the size of the federal and local administration which is fiscally unsustainable;
                                
h). Cracking down on institutional corruption, especially in the court system;

i). Establishing a new system of hiring, based on merit and not on party affiliation and nepotism;
                                                        
j). Putting on end to all elements which adhere to the idea of creating a Greater Albania, Greater Bulgaria, Greater Serbia, Greater Greece etc. and calling for a national unity in defence of the unitary  nature of the state, its constitution and law and of course upholding and maintaining ethnic minority rights;
                                                                                          
k). Adhering to the spirit of the Przino Agreement, which calls for reforming the voting rights and lists;reforming and defining the role of independent and unbiased media along with the function of the Special Prosecutor;
                                             
l). Reaching a national consensus that the name of the country-Macedonia is sacrosanct; and

m). Putting an end to any negotiations with anybody regarding the Macedonian national name and identity.                                                    

This seems to be a Herculean task to accomplish by any government but it is feasible and it must be undertaken by any party in government for the sake of the survival and prosperity of Macedonia and the Macedonian people!                          


Question 3: Your views on Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (2006-16) and Opposition leader Zoran Zaev?

Oginar: As a Macedonian patriot and a Macedonian  intellectual, I feel morally obliged to defend the basic tenets and principals of a free and democratic society which has been my life long pursuit because I am convinced that in defending Macedonia in principal I can help defend my country against foreign and domestic adversaries.

Macedonia's democracy today is in peril. It has been for all of its 25 years of independence, but the last 10 years of rule by the Gruevski government has taken a the most dramatic turn for the worst.  What we have today in Macedonia is a pseudo civic society ruled by an organized political mafia on the pattern of Cosa Nostra. Macedonia is governed by a single family, an extended family of Nikola Gruevski, blood related or in laws who have imposed upon the people their own brand of rule by fear, intimidation, coercion, bribe, extortion and nepotism. These are characteristics of neo-communism which borders with neo-fascism.

Nikola Gruevski took over the party VMRO-DPMNE, and in the course of ten years transformed it, from the principal founder of Macedonia, based on national ideology into a party of opportunists, sycophants and yes-men and yes -women who have abandoned the party's founding principles of unity, love for one's country and nation and devotion to the right republican ideals. He has been personally responsible for an unprecedented historical period of social decision, disunity, party affiliation, hatred and rampant crime at every level of the society. He and his ministers have been extremely liberal in their fiscal policies which are much closer to the extreme left known in communist societies.

During his mandate, Albanian irredentism has imposed control over the entire western Macedonian territories . His unnatural coalition with the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army which launched a uprising in Macedonia in 2001 to take territory] terrorists masked as DUI [Albanian nationalist party in Macedonia led by ex KLA commander Ali Ahmeti] has paralyzed the normal functions of law and order in every national and local institution. Furthermore, he has squandered national treasure on unproductive projects such as Skopje 2014.  He has wasted time on settling accounts with his political and ideological opponents, many of whom have been expelled from the party or jailed by improvised political trials.  The catalogue if this man's misdeeds is too long to explain here.

I must mention that all of this evil in the Macedonian society has been assisted and enabled by a week and inept opposition or absence there of, especially embodied in the SDSM. It's current leader Zoran Zaev is a weak and an inexperienced man whose political life has been resuscitated over the course of the past years by the scandal of the so called "Bombs". I hold him and his party directly responsible for the current chaos and the crisis which has engulfed Macedonia. He is responsible, despite his seeming popularity, because of his latent intentions in managing the revelations by the "bombs". I consider Zoran Zaev to be nothing but a left wing liberal, political opportunist who has not been able to offer a feasible solution to get out of the quagmire .

Let us keep in mind that before he began publishing the revelations [bombs] of the Gruevski's government crimes, he had tried to negotiate a deal with Gruevski by which he would succeed him.  It was only political expediency that forced him to proceed with his plan which he and his party call "The truth for Macedonia”.

I am revolted by Zaev's opportunistic overtures to the ultra Albanian nationalist leaders to whom he promises, in violation of the Constitution, even a greater role in the future government eventually led by him. I am equally alarmed by his lack of national strategy to defend Macedonia's national name and identity.

For me, personally, Nikola Gruevski and Zoran Zaev are strongly disloyal who do not deserve to be in the position of leadership even for a day. And I hope that the growing movements toward decentralisation and democracy in their respective parties will bring about long awaited necessary changes with new people who will be willing and able to have an open national dialogue so much needed in order to achieve at lest a semblance of unity and agreement on a new doctrine which will save Macedonia from the pending crisis.


-MACEDONIA’S FOREIGN POLICY DRIFT ? -

Question 4. Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's foreign policy has been very inconsistent, to say the least! There was the positive strategic alliance with Hungary then the odd joint embassy sharing agreement with Serbia, silence on Macedonian minorities in Greece and Bulgaria and under-utilising Croatia as an “honest broker in the Balkans” to influence Kosovar Albanian nationalists to lower the temperature in Macedonia. Why is this inconsistency?

Oginar: Gruevski’s domestic and foreign policies have been inconsistent, improvisational and devoid of any sustainable national strategy, logic or rationale. This is not surprising at all considering the policies of Macedonia's previous governments lead alternately by SDSM and VMRO- DPMNE.

For decades Macedonia has been subject to centrifugal forces which have pulled the country either towards Belgrade or Sofia. This inherent strife has generated a chasm within the national fabric the consequence of which has been the penetration of the Albanian nationalist factor which is more than evident today.

- HISTORICAL FACTORS IN THE FOREGROUND AND BACKGROUND - Strong Identity, Soft identity?

I have argued that the main reason for this situation is to be found in the historical fact that Macedonia and her people, historically speaking, have never been able to live and evolve as a fully defined nation through a necessary period of a "Romantic Nationalism”- a process which has already been finished in Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania.

We can look for its causes in the Treaty of San Stefano, The Berlin Congress, the failed Ilinden uprising (1903), the Bucharest Treaty (1913) and so on as processes which have always thwarted the nascent national awakening in the consciousness of the Macedonian people.

The political and cultural influence asserted throughout these historical periods by Macedonia’s  neighbors, especially by Serbia and Bulgaria, has created a national void which is yet to be filled by a fully awaken Macedonian identity.

One can find the symptoms of these splits today both in VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM manifested in a variety of ways in the cultural and political interpretation of Macedonian daily life. Until and unless the “patriotic forces" in both of these parties prevail over the centrifugal "Vrhovisticki” [Supremacist i.e. pro Bulgarian] or Belgradist forces, we will continue oscillating between Sofia and Belgrade, between Athens and Tirana in their struggle to assert their hegemony in the very heart of the Macedonian national identity.

I expect this strife to culminate in the struggle for the preservation of our national name.

Until and unless Macedonia is soon ruled by a true patriotic national government she will continue to be the victim of the crimes of petty politicians and criminals such as [politicians both past and present] Branko Crvenkovski, Ljubco Georgievski, Ali Ahmeti, Menduh Thaci, Nikola Gruevski and Zoran Zaev whose lack of national character, will and vision has torn Macedonia apart for too long.
                             

Question 5. :  The political and cultural elite in Macedonia likes to scapegoat the diaspora, accusing it of all sorts of interference, even though not one Macedonian from abroad ever had the intention nor carried out any terrorist acts upon Macedonian soil but the reverse happened, the elite interfered in the diaspora. Why this fierce resentment of the diaspora?                                       

Oginar: The persecution of the Macedonian intelligentsia in the diaspora has a long history. The post Second World War period, since 1944-45 and on, including the Civil War in Aegean Macedonia (1946-49) under Greek occupation, marks a systematic liquidation, literal and metaphorical, of many Macedonian patriots who were forced to flee their homeland and seek refuge abroad, especially in the West.                                          

The communist regime's propaganda machinery at that time in Macedonia [Yugoslavia] created a poisonous climate of suspicion and hatred against the Macedonians abroad who were portrayed as part of the West's conspiracy to overthrow the communist government.          

Ironically, that same climate, somewhat modified, can be found in today's Macedonia. It is evident in many different ways, three of which are the most obvious:

a). MANU (Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts), within which during its entire existence there has not been admitted as a member any successful Macedonian from the vast diaspora;

b). The so called "Matica na Iselenicite” [Institute for Emigrants founded in each of the republics in the then Yugoslavia times 1944-91] which is still operated by UDBA (ex Yugoslav secret police) agents; and

c). A glaring absence of native Macedonian investors from the diaspora. I should like to remind you that "both sides of Macedonia's political establishment ( SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE) are one and the same political and ideological entity representing remnants of the old communist elite which ruled Macedonia during the Tito era. They are of the same ideological and mental matrix, as by the way are the so called parties of the Albanian nationalist bloc, all of which are still suspicious of any Macedonians who live abroad and strive for the ideal: unity of Macedonians!                                                      

It is supremely ironic that the same political establishment cultivates within its own respective ranks pro Yugoslav, pro Serbian, pro Bulgarian, pro Albanian and pro Greek elements which openly flaunt their loyalty to Belgrade, Sofia, Tirana or Athens.

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Mr Nestor Oginar - biography in his own words:

I was born on February 3, 1947 in Skopje, Macedonia into a family of fiercely independent patriots who instilled in me the love of Macedonia.  I grew up in western Macedonia which has been the cradle of my ancestors both paternal and maternal. It was from the same region that I sought and found the greatest love of my life, my wife Milica to whom I've been married for 40 years and with whom I have three children. I emigrated from Macedonia within Yugoslavia in 1969 and I have lived in New York ever since.  I hold a BA and an MA degree in English from Hunter College of the CUNU, and from my Alma Mater, The New York University I have an MPhil and an ABD.

I have completed all of the curricular activities towards my Doctorate except for the dissertation. In 2010 I retired from a three decade long career of teaching English language and comparative literature.

I am one of the early activists of VMRO- DPMNE, it's founding representative for North America in the nineties of the past century and the original member of its Council of Intellectuals. I have co-founded the World Macedonian Congress , which I represent at the UN.

In my life-long struggle for the Macedonian Cause, I have organised, participated in and taken action in numerous rallies, demonstrations, conferences, protests and debates.

I have had many appearances, domestically and internationally on TV, radio and in the newspapers. I have for decades debated and defended Macedonia's place in the world. I have had face to face and TV and radio debates with international figures such as Mathew Nimitz, Lord George Robertson, Lawrence Eagleburger, Robin O'Neil, Emilia Boynton Robertson, a close ally of Martin Luther King, Richard Armitage, the under secretary to the then US Secretary of State Collin Powell and US Ambassadors to Macedonia, Christopher Hill and Philip Rucker, and many more.

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