MACEDONIA - BACK TO THE FEDERATION? - United States supports Macedonia’s independence. by Sasha Uzunov.
During the unfolding crisis in Macedonia, as the tiny Balkan state tries to navigate the stormy political waters, some of Macedonia’s ruling classes have gone to the extreme of wanting to return to the “certainty" of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, then a unit within federal Yugoslavia (1944-91), which if it were to be seriously implemented today would lead to de facto Serb federal control and certain civil war in Macedonia.
US EMBASSY BACKS MACEDONIA’S SOVEREIGNTY - doesn’t support call for Macedonia to return to defacto Serbian federal rule.
Mr Joseph Mellott a spokesman for the US Ambassador in Macedonia, Mr Jess Baily, gave the following statement to TEAM UZUNOV:
"For more than two decades, the United States has fully supported the Republic of Macedonia’s sovereignty, independence, and integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.”
Critics of the US, including pro Russian supporters in Macedonia, have accused the US government of trying to destablise Macedonia as part of a so called “hybrid war.” The argument goes that it is an attempt to force Macedonia to change its name to appease Greece and the push to remove VMRO-DPMNE Nikola Gruevski as part of that plot. Supporters of the US position argue that the demonstrations which have racked Macedonia for over year, beginning with the release of taped phone conversations detailing alleged corruption by Gruevski are simply a push for clean government.
However, TEAM UZUNOV, in its continued study of Serbian cultural hegemony in Macedonia, hopefully a future book in the offing, takes a look at the continued obsession with Yugoslavism in the country. For many Macedonians, genuine internationalism is often confused with Belgrade urban culture, hence the various contradictions, paradoxes - either intentional or unintentional.
The US Embassy was contacted to clarify its position over contradictory and ambiguous comments over Serbian nationalism made by a leading Macedonian pundit Mr Borjan Jovanoski, who claims to be pro US, and his 2015 call on social media for the “return” of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia - a federal unit within Yugoslavia from 1944 to 1991 - but under Serbian hegemony. A call for the current independent Republic of Macedonia to return to the SRM would in effect mean defacto Serbian federal rule and provoke certain civil war in Macedonia if it were ever implemented. In effect it would lead to the partition of Macedonia between present day Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. You have to ask why would 99.9% of Macedonia’s Albanians want to return to defacto Serbian rule? Why would a vast majority of Macedonians want to as well, when they voted for independence in 1991. That Borjan Jovanovski's proposal has slipped under the West's radar is alarming.
On 8 September 1991 Macedonia became independent from Yugoslavia after the earlier departures of Slovenia and Croatia. Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic started a war in trying to stop Slovenia and Croatia from leaving and with the intent of creating a Greater Serbia, which would include Macedonia. Milosevic became bog down in his wars in Croatia and Bosnia and had to let Macedonia reluctantly go as he couldn’t sustain a second or third front.
According to leading British journalist, Misha Glenny, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia within the Yugoslav federation had a bad human rights record.
You're trying to present a modern image to the world yet by calling for a return to the Socialist Republic of Macedonia which according to Misha Glenny, treated Albanians far worse than in an independent Macedonian state…you end up with a huge contradiction. It makes no sense. It doesn’t help promote inter-ethnic harmony. The SRM also mistreated Macedonian dissidents. Yugoslavia was after all a one party state. In 1959, Tito’s Yugoslavia outlawed homosexuality, which was only decriminalised in 1997 in an independent Macedonian state.
In 2001 an ethnic Albanian uprising occured in Macedonia as a result of the 1999 NATO war in supporting Kosovo breaking away from Serbia.
As for solving the name dispute with Greece, that is simply a fallacy. Leading Greek academic Spyrdion Sfetas, writing for a Serbian academic journal, Balcanica, in 2012, made Greece’s position clear over the Socialist Republic of Macedonia during the Karamanlis period in the late 1970s, post Junta.
Sfetas explains Greece refused to recognise a Macedonian minority in Greece because it would be implicit recognition of a Macedonian nation, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in 1978-79.
The Greek formula was to recognise the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia via the capital Belgrade, and playing upon the old Serb-Greek relationship. The question remains how could the use of SRM possibly resolve the name dispute now? Its nonsensical to think that Greece would budge under any circumstance.
In 2014, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski surprised a large number of people by announcing a joint embassy sharing agreement with Serbia.
The last time Macedonia “shared” any kind of diplomacy was when it was in Borjan Jovanovski’s SRM.
Gruevski, who was deposed as Prime Minister last year, has cultivated a close relationship with Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic, a one time ultra Serb nationalist and disciple of madman Vojislav Seselj. Vucic maintains he is a “changed man.” You would think that as a way of outflanking Gruevski, SDSM would have a fresh foreign policy - say draw closer to Croatia, which is both an EU and NATO member, but Opposition Leader Zoran Zaev’s strategy is to copy Gruevski, to out-Belgrade the Belgradist.
Criticisms of Serbian nationalism, as a result, have largely been muted in Macedonia by both sides. In 2014, in an outburst reminiscent of a Jihadist hate preacher, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Irinej blamed gay people for causing the massive floods ravaging Serbia and other parts of the Balkans. Such views outlandish views found fertile soil in Macedonia via the powerful state controlled Serbian tabloid media which, which even Borjan Jovanovski acknowledges, yet no Macedonian LGBT activist held a protest outside the office of Irinej’s representative in Macedonia, Zoran Vraniskovski. In effect, Serbian homophobia was given a free pass in Macedonia.
A year later, the Serbian High Court rehabilitated the controversial World War II leader Draza Mihailovic, a rival of Marshal Tito, an advocate of a Greater Serbia who in 1943-44 sent an army known as the Vardar Chetnik Corps (VCC) into Macedonia to destroy Macedonia’s Partizan resistence movement, an unofficial alliance of Macedonian communists and nationalists who had banded together to fight the German and Bulgarian occupiers. The VCC was wiped out by the outstanding leadership of Macedonian Partizan commander Hristjan Todorovski-Karpos.
Neither the supporters of the Macedonian government nor the Opposition protested outside the Serbian Embassy in Skopje over the Mihailovic move.
Earlier this year, when the diminutive Croat Member of the European Parliament Marijana Petir arrived in Skopje to lend her support to Gruevski, she was set upon within a second by protestors. Yet no protests have ever been held in front of the Serbian Embassy in Skopje over the lengthy and deep relationship between Gruevski and Vucic. see link
SITTING ON TWO CHAIRS?
Gruevski mouthpiece, the bombastic TV host Milenko Nedelkovski, who says he is a Macedonian patriot, has associated with ultra Serb nationalist headcases with links to Milorad Dodik, the paranoid ruler of the statelet, Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Dodik has created a whole routine ranting about the “evil West” but spends a small fortune in paying US lobbyists.
Milenko show in Belgrade !
When a Polish documentary film about ethnic Macedonians in Greece was shown at the European Parliament, neither Milenko nor Borjan attended nor even publicised the film. But their focus has been more on developments in Belgrade. It tells you of the extent of Serbian cultural hegemony when a Macedonian “patriot” Milenko Nedelkovski and a Macedonian “internationalist” take different paths but have the same cultural destination - Belgrade !
This obsession with Serbian cultural hegemony in Macedonia is actually counter-productive: first it tells the world that Macedonians are not serious about their independence gained 25 years ago; and secondly it creates a polarised society - pulled in two directions: Belgrade and Pristina, with no middle ground to tie Macedonians and Albanians together.
Some Macedonians have in recent times confused Macedonian patriotism with Serbian nationalism over a fear of Albanian separatism in Macedonia, event though the major tenent of Serbian nationalism is clearly anti-Macedonian - Macedonians are regarded as South Serbs or as an exotic form of Serb much like Montenegrins !
The 2001 ethnic Albanian uprising in Macedonia had the unintended consequence of letting Greater Serb nationalists such as Vojislav Seselj and Slobodan Milosevic off the hook in the eyes of some Macedonians. However, a large body of Macedonians can see that a Greater Serbia mania feeds a Greater Albanian mania and vice versa. Instead of critiquing Serbian cultural hegemony, which Macedonian “internationalists” themselves indulge in, the easy and lazy option has been to pin the blame on alleged “ultra Macedonian extremism.”
American writer Chris Deliso has explaind that by their very nature Macedonians are generally submissive and have to be prodded into action. This tallies with Serbian cultural hegemony in Macedonia…and with the observations of Misha Glenny.
CAN MACEDONIA SURVIVE?
Macedonia will soon celebrate 25 years of independence - can Macedonia survive as an independent nation-state or will it be torn apart by three cultural polarities pulling and pushing the country - The Pristina, Belgrade and Sofia axis - Albanian separatists, Belgradists and Bulgarianists?
Can Macedonia's elite cut its addiction to Serbian cultural hegemony or will this addiction cost Macedonia its very independence?
You have both sides in Macedonia's political bloc, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE who still look towards Belgrade for "guidance"
There is a Vrhovist faction (pro Bulgarian faction known as Supremists) also gaining a toehold in Macedonia.
When Macedonian elite members from opposing sides and who hate each other - Borjan Jovanovski and Milenko Nedelkovski share the same cultural addiction, Belgradism, then that doesn't leave Macedonia in a secure position.
Recently, an Albanian politician Tahir Veliu visited Macedonia preaching a Greater Albania, which would include a slice of Macedonia and would mean the end of Macedonia. see link here
There was silence from Levica (Leftists) and Colour Revolutionists who proclaim they are against "foreign interference;" there was silence from Borjan; there was silence from Milenko - meaning that a deliberate Pristina (Tirana) - Belgrade cultural polarity is being pushed in Macedonia. Add the Bulgarianists into the mix, taking advantage...
The problem isn't so much an "ethno-Macedonian nationalism" - which the West has misread - but the three way cultural polarity or axis that is pulling, pushing Macedonia. The solution is to navigate these treacherous waters and remain independent.