(ROAD) SIGN OF THE TIMES - Serbia’s rocky relationship with Macedonia
By Sasha Uzunov
The haughty and paradoxical behaviour of Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has not been hard to miss over Belgrade’s confected outrage when Macedonia did not obey Serbia, which is rare anyway, and recently supported Kosovo’s, as it turns out failed, UNESCO application.
As you might be aware Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its break away province of Kosovo, predominately Albanian. So when Macedonia supported Kosovo’s UNESCO bid, in retaliation a road sign inside Serbia had referred to Macedonia by the controversial- and offensive to Macedonians- FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Serbia recognises Macedonia under its constitutional name of The Republic of Macedonia.
A quote from Serbian news website B92 - Link:
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has said he "sees no reason for Skopje's complaint" over a highway sign on Corridor 10 in Serbia that reads, "FYROM."
FYROM (Serbian: BJRM) is the acronym for "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - the name under which the country has been admitted to the UN. Its constitutional name, and one under which Serbia recognized it, is "Republic of Macedonia."
"They mind the sign, whereas we should not mind that they voted in favor of Kosovo's admission to UNESCO," Dacic asked.
The minister added that "our ambassador in Skopje presented the same arguments during a meeting in their Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she was delivered an oral demarche over to the sign," Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti is reporting.
Skopje has based its protest on the fact Serbia recognizes it as "Republic of Macedonia," asking that the sign, listing the details of the construction site that is currently the Vladicin Han- Donji Neradovac section of the road, be urgently removed.
But Dacic was adamant that the sign will remain where it is, saying:
"It is about time we stopped working against our own interests. It's true Serbia recognized Macedonia under that name, unlike (other) European states, but that was done under (Slobodan) Milosevic, in the 1990s. While Macedonia has recognized Kosovo and is now bothered by some sign. It's incomprehensible that Indonesia is a bigger friend to us than a neighboring state."
Macedonia was among 92 UNESCO members who in early November supported Pristina's failed bid to join the organization.
Dacic said at the time Belgrade was "disappointed, but not surprised" by its neighbors' behavior, and stressed their move was "deeply contrary to our national interests."----
It is hypocritical and pure diplomatic theatre by Dacic, of course, because Serbia, is an ally of the United Arab Emirates, which funded "charity" organisations, read Kosovo Liberation Army, (KLA) in Kosovo and supported the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, and has now invested heavily in the Serbian arms industry. see link
But even when Macedonia does "disobey” Belgrade on this very rare occasion look at the petty reaction. It's a form of blackmail, political bullying.
It is OK for Belgrade under ultra nationalists and indicted war criminals Vojislav Seselj and Slobodan Milosevic, until Milosevic slightly modified his behaviour from wielding the stick to dangling the carrot in the form of recognising Macedonia, to have threatened Macedonia's very existence and plundered its army barracks of weapons and equipment during the Yugoslav Army's withdrawal in the early 1990s, way, way before Macedonia under intense political heat from the West and its internal ethnic Albanian political bloc recognised the independence of Kosovo in 2008.
One of the reasons why Macedonia in 1999 allowed NATO to operate on its soil against Serbian control of Kosovo was a genuine fear engendered by the Milosevic regime in 1994 - see link
There is no attempt to whitewash NATO intervention in Kosovo - we all know that two wrongs don’t make a right. A Greater Albania is a genuine fear that haunts Macedonia. The 2001 ethnic Albanian uprising in Macedonia was a consequence of the Kosovo war of 1999. It was a strange kind of gratitude by NATO to let loose the KLA in Macedonia in 2001. see link. But it is insulting to believe that Milosevic did not have hostile intentions towards Macedonia before 1999.
When Macedonia recognised Kosovo in 2008, Serbia in retaliation cut off ties with Macedonia. It was only when Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had to go grovelling and running like a scolded "naughty child" to "mummy" in Belgrade in 2009 that ties were re established. (See the Wikileaks document - link ).
It's OK for Belgrade to have strong-armed the Macedonian government in 2012 to allow Serbia on Macedonian soil at Zebrnjak, Kumanovo to commemorate the centenary of its 1912 conquest of Macedonia and subsequent colonial rule until 1941, which is like Poland allowing Germany to "celebrate" Berlin's invasion and partition of Poland in September 1939 - so Macedonians in 2012 had to “smile” and cop it on the chin and tolerate the insulting ceremony. see link
Then there is the Serbian state, nominally secular, which funds a rebel pro Serb nationalist Priest Zoran Vraniskovski to destabalise Macedonia and the disengenious and "unofficial" use of the Serbian Orthodox Church to deny the existence of Macedonians. see link
Then there is the 2014 agreement between Serbia and Macedonia for sharing joint diplomatic missions abroad, which Belgrade wanted and was given.
In the same year floods ravaged Serbia and Macedonia was quick to provide humanitarian aid from its tiny budget.
In May 2015 the Serbian High Court officially rehabilitated a controversial Word War II leader Draza Mihailovic, whose followers murdered thousands of innocent people, and whose ideology was anti Macedonian. The Macedonian government of Prime Minister Gruevski and the opposition led by Zoran Zaev did nothing nor said anything in response when it should have in case of rousing Belgrade’s displeasure.
The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven from Belgrade and funnily enough there has been silence from some of Macedonia's human rights activists who at the drop of a hat call for demonstrations against Hungary over its wall to keep refugees out but not Belgrade nor Sofia for that matter.
WAKE UP CALL?
This is a good wake up call for Macedonia and its foreign policy and the need to strengthen ties with Croatia and Slovenia as a balance to Belgrade.
And a wake up call for those who claim to be Macedonian patriots but naively believe Serbia's good intentions in protecting Macedonia from a Greater Albania.
There needs to a relationship of equals between Serbia and Macedonia; not master and servant as in previous times.
WHY THE SILENCE FROM THE INTERNATIONALISTS?
After all, Macedonia acting as a good "international citizen" has supported Kosovo's recent application to join UNESCO much to Serbia's chagrin.
Why isn't Macedonia's "in-house internationalist" Borjan Jovanovski immediately leaping to Macedonia's defence? There has been 48 hours of silence on Borjan's normally hyperactive Twitter account. That's "unusual."
It tells us so much about the "inconsistent" behaviour of some Macedonians who claim or pretend to be "internationalists" but seem to give Serbian nationalism a free pass or an alibi by deliberately remaining silent or downplaying it or offering a "fig leaf" of protest but without really meaning it… see link