Citizens’ sovereignty is best demonstrated through voting in a referendum

Gjorge Ivanov. Photo: Website of the President of the RM

Citizens’ sovereignty is best demonstrated by their participation in a referendum, as the most direct demonstration of their sovereignty in their own country. It precedes the indirect form – transfering their sovereignty onto the MPs. Hence, the message that Ivanov is boycotting is actually a message to the citizens to give up their sovereign right to decide

 

Citizens’ sovereignty is best demonstrated by their participation in a referendum, as the most direct demonstration of their sovereignty in their own country. It precedes the indirect form – transfering their sovereignty onto the MPs. Hence, the message that Ivanov is boycotting is actually a message to the citizens to give up their sovereign right to decide

 

Author: Teofil Blazhevski

Gjorge Ivanov, the President of the Republic of Macedonia, delivered a speech in front of the Macedonian diaspora in the USA in which we have detected these two spins:

Spin: This agreement not only changes the name of our existing country, but also creates a new, semi-sovereign state with a new name and a new internal and international legal identity.

In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, sovereignty derives from the citizens and belongs to the citizens. Do not let that right be taken away from you; do not let anyone de-sovereignize you. Do not allow to someone else to control your conscience and your national pride.

Spin: For almost three decades, Greece has been claiming that the Republic of Macedonia is an artificial creation. However, the truth is that this very agreement produces an artificial creation which does not express the will of the Macedonian people and the Macedonian citizens. This settlement creates a new entity, a new non-national state.

In simple terms, the consequences of this agreement can be summarized in one sentence. The same thing that the Greek state did to the Macedonians in Greece, it now wants to do to the Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia – to make them nameless, faceless and speechless.

[Source: Website of the President of the Republic of Macedonia, date: 23 September 2018]

  Counter-spin: In his address in front of part of the diaspora in the USA, organized by the United Macedonian Diaspora, the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, inserted several spins about the referendum and the Prespa Agreement between Skopje and Athens, but now we  are going to debunk only two of them.

 

“SEMI-SOVEREIGN STATE”? WHERE WILL THE SOVEREIGNTY GO?

The claim that the Prespa Agreement creates a new, semi-sovereign state with a new internal and international legal identity is a spin. It is correct that the name should be changed into Republic of North Macedonia, however, that won’t alter neither the internal, nor the external legal identity. That’s because the citizens of the country will be able to continue declaring themselves as Macedonians or citizens of North Macedonia for those who do not identify themselves with the ethnic content of the word.

Also, the adjective Macedonian and its derivatives will not be altered. Meaning, those adjectives as well as the Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet will be used in the internal and international legal order freely. In fact, all of this can be comprehended if you read the Agreement. Plus, one of its creators, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov, yesterday provided a rather straightforward explanation.

The semi-sovereignty or the loss of identity, at least that’s in the speech, stem from Ivanov’s supposition that RM’s citizens are not the ones who have achieved this agreement, but the political elites, and more so “without his knowledge”, which is up for a debate, given the opposing claims of other high-profile political actors. Since it’s correct that the sovereignty emanates from the people, i.e. the citizens, President Ivanov should have simply reminded that the sovereignty is transferred to the people’s deputies i.e. members of parliament through elections. They, on the other hand, are the source of the other two powers, the executive and judicial, and each decision of theirs is ultimately verified by the MPs, i.e. the legislative power, i.e. the Parliament.

Besides, Ivanov appears to be in conflict with himself because he forgets to tell that another direct demonstration of citizens’ will in a democracy is the referendum. Not only he sends a strong message to the citizens with his decision to boycott, but he also consciously makes others to boycott, thus deprive them of the right of plebiscite, i.e. of the so called direct democracy and practice of their sovereignty. With the plebiscite, they are able to express their opinion about the agreement, whether they accept it or not as a precondition for the Euro-Atlantic integrations.

By boycotting the referendum, Ivanov enters a vicious circle, saying he is against the situation that  the political elites, not the people, are the ones who are supposed to read and interpret the agreement.

That’s why the claim about the semi-sovereignty is a spin.Because the citizens’ sovereignty is confirmed best by participating in a referendum.

 

“NON-NATIONAL STATE”? WILL THE NATIONAL SENTIMENT GO FOR GOOD?

The second spin doesn’t even deserve to be debunked. Every citizen with even a slight degree of education will understand that the supposed future Republic of North Macedonia will not be non-national state, at all. It will be populated by Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Vlachs, Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Egyptians and everyone will be able to declare their nationality as they please. As it has been thus far, everyone will be able to speak their own mother language and identify as they please. Every citizen will be able to self-identify as Macedonian, with own history, identity, language, culture and so on… All of this won’t be dubbed North Macedonian, but only Macedonian. The same goes for the other ethnic communities, citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.

Therefore, with this Agreement, Greece actually admits that Macedonia and the Macedonians are not an artificial creation. Instead, for the first time, it made the Macedonian people, Macedonian language and Macedonian identity official for international use (except for use in Greece). With this recognition, Athens will find it more difficult to deny all the important judgments of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg about the Macedonian minority in Greece, or reject all the credible reports on the non-recognition, whether by the EU, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights or powerful international NGOs dealing with this issue.


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.