Counter-spin: And who exactly wants and needs our identity?!

We are not “being denied the right to prosperity because of our Macedonian identity” as President Gjorge Ivanov spins in his Ilinden speech, instead we are left behind in the “Balkan waiting room” because of the previous government’s unaccountable ruling on multiple levels. The public found out about the unaccountability of the past government from the wiretapped conversations, which were published by the opposition in 2015, and served as a baseline for the Special Prosecution Office (SPO) to initiate preliminary investigations and investigation procedures. SPO has issued a total number of 20 indictments against 94 physical and 7 legal entities for series of criminal acts observed in the wiretapped conversations, and Nikola Gruevski, who served as a Prime Minister for 10 years, is the primary defendant in three cases

 

Author: Olivera Vojnovska

 

On 2 August 2017, during his address on the occasion of the national holiday Ilinden, delivered in front of the monument of Metodija Andonov – Chento, President Gjorgje Ivanov spun the truth several times and created a spun image that the state is in a standstill solely because of our neighbors and the international factor. During his speech, Ivanov, among other things, said:

Spin: We brought ourselves in the position of being blackmailed as a country. And the price to pay is high, too high.

Because of our Macedonian identity, we are being denied the right to prosperity.

And in such circumstances, there are two questions upsetting the public. First, the name issue with Greece. Second, the issue of the Agreement on good neighborly relations with Bulgaria…

In order to create the conditions for prosperity in this globalized world of ours, it is necessary to become part of the European Union and NATO. It is this membership that was supposed to enable us to finally reach our aim – freedom. However, as a country walking down that road, we have been blackmailed. And the price to pay is high, too high.

In these years of independence, we have been deprived of the right to prosperity.

Although we met all the criteria for NATO membership and opening accession negotiations, we have suffered an injustice. None of the Member States, on its European path, ever had to face the issues that we invest time, energy and patience in every day. None of the other Member States was asked to do what is asked of us – to deny the right of human dignity and self-identification.

Membership in the European Union and NATO will inevitably require a sacrifice. But for every sacrifice, there needs to be a wide national and state consensus. Let us be careful not to sacrifice what our ancestors sacrificed their lives for. Let us not lay our identity at the altar...

[Source: website of the President of RM: Because of our Macedonian identity, we are being denied the right to prosperity – address by the President Ivanov on the occasion of August 2 – Ilinden; Date: 2 August 2017]

 

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Counter-spin: The President’s speech implies that this country is actually a victim, that everybody (the international factor, the neighbors) is against us and because of such attitude we cannot make a step forward. So, not because of ourselves, but because somebody else hinders us!

And what has Macedonia done for its prosperity in the last ten years? What’s the level of democracy, functioning of the legal state, prosecuting crimes? At what point are the reforms of the judicial system, what’s with the independent judiciary, tackling corruption and holding the ones who have abused power and broken the laws accountable? What about the human rights, the freedom of speech, let alone the state of the media?

The Report on Macedonia’s progress in the European integration processes for 2016 shows that the country has been backsliding in key areas: judiciary, freedom of expression and human rights, functional market economy.

Truthmeter has already written a piece on European Commission’s critical assessments, and here we are just going to remind about the remarks on judiciary and human rights:

The situation (in the judiciary, our remark) has been backsliding since 2014 and achievements of the previous decade’s reform process have been undermined by recurrent political interference in the work of the judiciary. The authorities failed to demonstrate necessary political will to address effectively the underlying issues as identified in the ‘Urgent Reform Priorities’. The obstructions faced by the newly established Special Prosecutor have shown the need to address effectively the lack of independence of the judiciary and to prevent selective justice.

More efforts are needed in practice to ensure the respect of human rights of vulnerable groups, including refugees and migrants. There is also a continuing lack of political will and adequate resources to enable the relevant supervisory and regulatory bodies to fulfil their mandate independently and effectively. The most marginalised categories of the population are still not being accorded full protection.

According to Transparency International’s last Report from January 2017, corruption in Macedonia’s public sector has escalated in the last three years. Macedonia is ranked 24 places lower under the Index of perception of corruption for 2016, so now the country holds the 90th place, whereas in 2015 it was ranked 66th. Transparency’s research demonstrates that Macedonia is at the bottom in the Balkans, with only Kosovo behind us.

In this year’s World Press Freedom Report of Reporters Without Borders published in April 2017, Macedonia ranks the worst out of all countries in the region – holds the 111th place. The section on Macedonia, titled Balkan’s bad boy, reads:

Media freedom has declined throughout the region, but the erosion of the rule of law has been most visible in Macedonia, a candidate for EU membership.

Therefore, we are not “being denied the right to prosperity because of our Macedonian identity” as President Gjorge Ivanov spins in his Ilinden speech, instead we are left behind in the “Balkan waiting room” because of the previous government’s unaccountable ruling on multiple levels. The public found out about the unaccountability of the past government from the wiretapped conversations, which were published by the opposition in 2015, and served as a baseline for the Special Prosecution Office (SPO) to initiate preliminary investigations and investigation procedures. SPO has issued a total number of 20 indictments against 94 physical and 7 legal entities for series of crimes observed in the wiretapped conversations, and Nikola Gruevski, who served as a Prime Minister for 10 years, is the primary defendant in three cases.

Let us remind that on 12 April 2016, Ivanov tried to grant clemency to high political figures, mentioned in the “bombs”, and to pardon their crimes by announcing that he has made a Decision which will cease all criminal procedures against ruling and opposition politicians related to the political crisis and the wiretapping. But after the countless vehement domestic and international reactions, Ivanov decided to withdraw the amnesty on 27 May 2016.

In regard of the Agreement signed by the Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Boyko Borisov on 1 August 2017, Ivanov is slightly reserved. He said the day when Macedonia was recognized by Bulgaria and the Europe Day should be jointly celebrated, but he did not mention Ilinden. He also highlighted that he insisted on symmetry in the Agreement.

Good neighborly relations are a two way street. This agreement means that the same rules apply for the left and the right side of the street. What applies for Macedonia, applies for Bulgaria as well. Observing the principles of equality and reciprocity, we are closing an open issue that used to burden our relations. At the same time, we are opening the door for building mutual trust and cooperation.

Notwithstanding, Ivanov could have and should have said this publicly prior the Agreement was signed, not afterwards. Especially not during the observance of Ilinden, because he leaves the impression of wanting to score political points.

At the end, Ivanov, who has been at highest state function and has been part of the executive power for 8 years, concluded:

Membership in the European Union and NATO will inevitably require a sacrifice. But for every sacrifice, there needs to be a wide national and state consensus. Let us be careful not to sacrifice what our ancestors sacrificed their lives for. Let us not lay our identity at the altar...

But, who actually requires us to sacrifice our identity and who needs our identity!? The world expects us to show that we are civilized, organized and legal state, that we respect the freedom of speech and human rights. The people on the other hand expect righteousness, i.e. serving justice equally to everybody.

 


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.

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