Interview with Tony Kitanovski, grass roots Australian-Macedonian activist, social media pundit, family man, building designer by profession, one of the behind the scenes organisers of a large pro Macedonia rally held in Melbourne, Australia, on 9 April 2017. (see link here).
1. Tony, how did you get involved in the Macedonian cause? What’s your background? You don’t come from the traditional “elite” but a regular man of the people.
Tony Kitanovski: This is an interesting question to ask a Macedonian. “How does one become involved in the Macedonian cause?” Well, I first encountered an attack on my identity as a somewhat combative pre-teen by a diatribe regurgitating Greek boy who professed to me, that I too was Greek (obviously misunderstanding the previous night’s conversation at their dinner table). There began a long line of questions, research, arguments, blood noses, debates and a general belligerence towards any reference to the Macedonian question from the myriad of Serbs and Greeks I grew up around. My story is not unusual; I just refused to go quietly. I’m the child of Macedonian immigrants who worked double overtime in factories to try and eek out a better future for their family all the while being unwavering in their pride for being Macedonian. I’d suggest that someone cannot help but to be involved in the Macedonian cause if they consider themselves Macedonian. The more appropriate question to put to the general public is why are so many people willing to work against it? Why are so many willing to forego self-determination and national pride in exchange for aligning themselves with an alternate nationality that ultimately looks to extinguish everything Macedonian from the face of this earth
2. You’re one of the Administrators of a hugely popular social media page with over 9,000 members which acts as a clearing house of information, as well as venue for debate about Macedonia and its place in the world. What has been the impact of this page known as Viva Macedonia? (see link to Viva page)
Tony Kitanovski: Viva,…. wow. This quaint little page started by Zhivan Rendev that I joined to see if I could find some people to discuss what was happening in our homeland with. In my humble opinion, I’m not sure I can capture what this page has done for the Macedonian cause here in Australia and internationally. Let me try and put it into perspective. One of the biggest problems that the Macedonian cause has always had is unity or more precisely lack of unity. A fundamental distrust of the community and politically motivated organisations in the diaspora that profess to represent us. Viva has gone a long way to giving these organisations a neutral forum where they can put their views forward to the Macedonian public and it has opened up debate (in real time) as to whether they are on the right path. More importantly though, I think its building bridges and starting to allow dialogue between these as they progressively realise their personality clashes are tiresome and often seen as embarrassing by the general public.
Many are lifting their game when they see how much other organisations are doing, but the most heartening thing of all is that I think these potentially fantastic organisations are starting to realise we are all on the same team. World Macedonian Congress (WMD), United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) regularly post or have their posts shared on Viva and we always actively promote all other Macedonian pages and any posts that originate from them.
We don’t feed any rivalry or allow resentment to permeate into our fundamental ideology of Macedonian Unity. Viva is also a noticeboard for Macedonian community events, politically motivated gatherings and social functions without fear or favour which cannot be said for some of our ‘official’ media representatives who have refused to promote causes because of their political bias and fear of compromised standing in the community.
Media organisations in the Republic are also taking notice. Anecdotally I’m hearing that Viva is one of the avenues being used to gauge sentiment in the diaspora about the affairs in Macedonia and is often used to post media reports and articles from both spheres of the political spectrum. Viva from this perspective is unbiased and does not censor the posting of these pieces and we leave it up to the public comments to help disseminate what is propaganda and misinformation. By virtue it has also become the go to venue to get updates on breaking news and is allowing all of us 24 hour contact with our homeland.
3. Your thoughts on the crisis in Macedonia?
Tony Kitanovski: The path has been set towards a cataclysmic shift in what we currently recognise as Macedonia. IIt is potentially the end of the Macedonian people as a distinct ethnic group and of the current unitary Macedonian state. A state which was brought about through the succession of wars and by the ultimate sacrifices of many generations of Macedonians. Macedonia is all we have and without her we are nothing. Irrespective of where Macedonians live, the existence of the Republic defines our identity, none more so than in Greek and Bulgarian occupied parts of Macedonia where an entire ethnicity disappears because the references to ‘the nation to the north or east’ change and the genocide becomes complete….but why? Why is the Macedonian identity, nation and its people facing so much political turmoil? What is the motivation behind this weak stance in the face of adversity? It is undoubtedly external pressure. An EU/NATO accession driven agenda that panders to the demands of existing members with anti-Macedonian foreign policies. We are being dismantled for an EU territorial gain that the existing members can palate. One where their ill-gotten gains from 100 years ago cannot be questioned. We are bit players in the globalisation symphony currently sweeping the world.
4. You hold the view that the West is pushing for the federalisation of Macedonia and eventual partition of the country between Kosovo and Serbia. Why have you reached such a conclusion?
Tony Kitanovski: The Kosovo-Serbia-Montenegro-Bosnia tensions are a larger source of unease for the EU than Macedonia is. It is my belief that the US, Serbs and Kosovars are currently in negotiations regarding a long term territorial exchange where northern Kosovo is earmarked to be given back to Serbia in exchange for Kosovo’s acquisition of north western Macedonia to be later consolidated as a ‘Greater Albania’. I believe this is with the view to a Serbia/rump Macedonia alliance or federation moving forward. Macedonia will struggle to be a viable state on its own with such a substantial territorial loss. Recent visits to Pristina and Belgrade by US Senator JohnMcCain, anti Macedonian statements by Serb President elect Alexander Vucic and Serb Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic as well as regular discussions between Serbia and Greece have only strengthened my views regarding this.
5. What do you make of the alleged Serb-Russian spy scandal in the Macedonian parliament? Is it a deliberate false flag? We all know Serbia and its long time ally Greece have together for decades spied on Macedonia but are you concerned that the objective here is by implication or inference that people who oppose newly appointed Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev will be deliberately branded as Serb or Russian stooges event though they might be sceptical of the West, Russia, Serbia, the EU, allowing Zaev a free hand to change Macedonia’s name and place it on the path of federalisation? Is this spy scandal a clever attempt by both Greece and Serbia to distract attention from Athens’s long standing campaign to destabilise Macedonia?
Tony Kitanovski: There’s a concerted effort by SDSM (backed by the usual suspects) to paint VMRO-DPMNE as a pro Russian entity. VMRO-DPMNE was a significant roadblock for Macedonia’s progression into the EU’s debt abyss and the last thing that NATOs cronies want is a resurgence of Gruevski’s politics back into the mainstream. Negotiations about the Russian pipeline undoubtedly had a severe effect on the then government’s standing in the EU and gave weight to the argument that they had a pro Russian agenda which translates in the mainstream media as an anti-EU outlook. This obviously hampered EU negotiations badly and polarised the people in the Republic.
The Serb/Russian plant in the parliament was a deliberate attempt to reinforce this message. There is no way any secret service would put a known operative in full view, front and centre of the cameras unless they wanted the world to know they were there. An absolute false flag that throws a smoke bomb in front of SDSM’s critics for the moment and reinforces the Slav alliance template the Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians have been trumpeting as part of the denial of Macedonian identity. It is also a push along to the anti Gruevski sentiment bubbling away in Athens, Brussles, Nato, the EU, Sofia, Belgrade, Tirana and wherever else you can think of.
With the change of government you can bet your bottom dollar that all critics of SDSM moving forward will be automatically labelled as VMRO-DPMNE sympathisers by the pro EU media and by default, as Russian stooges or even operatives. We are seeing this already in articles from Balkan Insight and Deutsche Welle (Macedonian).
Is this a joint effort by Greece and Serbia to manipulate the Macedonian public?… I think so, but I also think some qualification needs to be applied here. Serbia itself is in the midst of its own neo-liberal shift towards the globalisation agenda of the EU/NATO. The current government there is under attack the same way Macedonia was during the ‘colour revolution’ and they are not the preferred candidate for a complete Balkan capitulation to the EU. The negative statements from SDSM towards the current Serbian government should be seen as a move towards supporting the current Serb opposition and not as any form of pro Macedonian nationalism nor a reaction to any negative Serb statements regarding Macedonia.
What this highlights, I suppose, is that both parties are intrinsically compromised and attached to destructive politics in one way or another. The current political crisis we face is a disaster facilitated by SDSM today, but it is far from being an exclusively SDSM construct. VMRO-DPMNE was the party which started the plunge into the abyss by yielding to the ‘Ohrid Framework Agreement’ in 2001 and appointing the known terrorist and current speaker of the parliament Talat Xhaferi as the Minister of Defence in 2013… after he led a military invasion from Kosovo oton Macedonian soil as a Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) commander in 2001 no less. It is my belief that there has to be an alternative political movement in Macedonia. A third option that will operate solely in the interests of Macedonia and resist political allegiances to anti Macedonian causes and interests.
- PRETEND CONFLICT? The major clue - no protest outside the Serbian Embassy in Skopje, the Macedonian capital?
6. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that the people who are claiming that there is Serbian-Russian intelligence collusion in Macedonia, such as leading pundit Borjan Jovanovski, steadfastly, stubbornly and aggressively refuse to protest against Serb nationalism and intelligence “interference” in Macedonia outside the Serbian Embassy in Skopje, and even go to the extreme of calling for Macedonia to give up its independence and return to defacto Serb-Yugoslavist tule? see link here
Doesn’t this give the game away - that there is a hidden agenda in all of this; some kind of behind the scenes political fix going on, involving the US, EU, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Albanian and Kosovo?
Tony Kitanovski: People like Borjan Jovanovski are full of ideological contradictions and are mercenaries for a greater agenda that is playing out behind the scenes. Borjan’s comments over the last few years have had a distinct anti nationalistic stance that appears to come directly from the Greek and Serbian playbook for Macedonian destabilisation. He and others like him tell us they are disgusted by Macedonian “nationalism" because it is offensive to Albanians, but not once have we heard him speak out about offensive Albanian nationalism, Serb nationalism or Greek nationalism. His “I’m an internationalist” façade would only ever be credible when he has the same stance towards all nationalistic movements in Macedonia and realistically he should be completely opposed to political parties in Macedonia that are based on national identity full stop, i.e. DUI [Albanian partly led by Ali Ahmeti, terrorist turned politician in Macedonia] but guess what? They’re fine [for Borjan]. The longer he and others like him hold out in not condemning our neighbours for their stance towards Macedonia the more obvious it is that he and his posse is in some level of collusion with foreign entities.
- GREATER ALBANIA?
Tony Kitanovski: Albania is completely and utterly a NATO vassal state that is a key part of NATOs strategic military presence in the Balkans. Camp Bondsteel is only 15km from the Kosovo/Macedonian border and is the largest military base in southern Europe. Albania allows sea access from the Adriatic and is currently huge agents of arms shipments throughout all of the Balkans. It completely facilitates the geopolitical imperialism that is NATO. Albanian separatists are willing, able and eager mercenaries and are being aptly rewarded for their pro Americanism. Their spiritual leader Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama is an unwavering neoliberal Soros puppet and the Albanian leadership is always happy to supply cannon fodder as enforcers of shady EU deals and agreements. The ultimate henchmen from the day of their fabricated inception, they will fight and die for any power that perpetuates the black market economy they utilise to fund the steady stream of ISIS fighters being churned out 10km from Camp Bondsteel.
- BULGARIAN PASSPORTS
8. Your thoughts on Bulgaria and its aggressive campaign in trying to Bulgarianise Macedonians by offering EU passports?
Tony Kitanovski: This is the elephant in the room. This is an attempt by Bulgaria to lay claim to as many Macedonians as it can in order to ‘save its people’ when the excrement hits the ventilator so to speak. This is an interesting strategy because I can’t quite figure out where they sit in the big picture. There has been very little posturing during the political crisis by them and if they have been operating behind the scenes they have been very quiet… although they have been vocally offended as of late by Vladimir Putin’s comments about the origins of the Macedonian language. They are the ‘smokey’ in my opinion and the proposed Serb/Macedonian alliance I spoke of earlier can easily be exchanged for a Bulgar/Macedonian one because they, Bulgaria, are already members of the EU and NATO.
There is one thing that I hold above everything else. If we do not stand together as one we will fall into the mire that happened to us in 1913 with the partition of Macedonia amongst Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. Stand strong brothers and sisters. Da Zhivej Makedonija.
Caption: Macedonia has been very loyal to the West - some Macedonians see that loyalty as a one way street where the West is forcing Macedonia to change its name to accommodate NATO member Greece for nothing more than Greek chauvinistic reasons against the Macedonian state and people. No successive Macedonian government has ever strayed towards Russia, despite hysterical claims to the contrary.