Two fat spins were made by Ivanov on the Parliament floor in his annual address – that the UBK has been the generator of all the crises in Macedonia and that the fake news require the introduction of new laws, monitoring, fines…
Author: Teofil Blazhevski
In his annual address in the Parliament, the President Gjorge Ivanov made several spins and we are going to debunk two of them. The first one concerns the secret police, deemed as the constant crisis generator in Macedonia:
Spin: The most recent political crisis was an opportunity to unveil, demystify and finally, deconstruct that common denominator. This generator of political and security crises has been recognized and clearly singled out in the urgent reform priorities of the European Union, i.e. the Priebe Report. I quote: “The causes of the protracted scandal in the Republic of Macedonia can be traced back both to a concentration of power within the national security service (UBK) and to a malfunctioning of the oversight mechanism over the UBK.”
In other words, the center of almost every political crisis in Macedonia, and this one is no exception, has been located in one place, and that is the Office of Security and Counter-Intelligence and its technical support department. Since 2015 until today, the Priebe recommendations have not yet been implemented. This is a basis for suspicion that there is still an abuse of the system; that cases are still being staged and that the competent institutions are still not acting in accordance with their legal competences.
[Source: Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Macedonia – Annual address, date: 26 December 2017]
President Gjorge Ivanov, who has direct control role in the security of the Republic of Macedonia and in the Intelligence Agency, spins Reinhard Priebe’s report with the aim to cast logic to his claim that all the crises in Macedonia have been generated by the Office of Security and Counter-Intelligence and the “wiretapping” department, i.e. the Office of Operating Technics also known as the Fifth Office.
Neither Ivanov was elected the President of the RM yesterday, nor he is too young not to remember the occurrences from the end of socialism and the onset of Macedonia’s independence in the early 1990s. Both as a President and previously as a prominent figure in the public, Ivanov knows very well that the Secret police, as a body within the Ministry of Interior, is neither bad nor good in its essence. That body, which should be the icing on the overall security sector in the state and take care of organized crime and corruption, terrorism, special and specific threats to the state, security of highest functionaries and institutions, is comprised of people – servants and agents. These people are selected by somebody, sometimes via open competition, sometimes not, and later are under somebody’s command.
As many investigations, bigger and smaller analyses, published memoirs etc. show – except partially in the case of Kiro Gligorov’s assassination attempt, and partially with the start of the armed conflict that turned into an act of war in 2001 – departments of the secret services haven’t acted individually during times of crisis of a large scale in Macedonia.
All other affairs related to major crises in the Republic of Macedonia since its independence until nowadays that involved the secret services may be traced to the highest political elites and individuals therein, regardless of their motives – personal or in favor of other services and states. Fairly good examples on this matter can be found in the memoirs of Gligorov and Stojan Andov too!
From the first affairs in 1992 “Den” (from page 2) and “Blue bird” (from page 14), through Bitpazar in 1993 (page 22) and Mala Rechica (1995) to the taking down of Albanian flags in Tetovo and Gostivar in 1997, the disappeared cocaine from MOI’s depot (1997), the Big Ear affair (2001), all the way to today’s affairs with the “bombs” and the storming of the Parliament on 27 April 2017… in all of these affairs, the secret service and its “wiretapping room” as well as all other secret services have been under the command of civilians and made the wishes, vagaries or criminal orders of the state’s highest political elites come true. In fact, all of this is confirmed by former or still active intelligence agents:
“It is considered to be ‘normal’ for political parties in power to use that opportunity and misuse these bodies for their personal political gain.” – Quote from an interview of a former high functionary in the Military Intelligence Sector, published in the paper “Intelligence Governance in Macedonia” from 2012 (page 6).
President Ivanov knows that, just as he knows that Goran Grujovski hasn’t, most likely, acted on his own and hasn’t toyed with the equipment alone, but he has done that in “criminal association” with, according to the SPO, his immediate superior Sasho Mijalkov – a civilian and first cousin of Nikola Gruevski who has been appointed head of the secret police at a government session sometime in 2006…
Just as he knows that before them, the affairs and crises hadn’t been generated individually and without the knowledge of politicians (mostly) and the service’s directors Slobodan Bogoeski, Dobri Velichkovski, Bojan Bojanovski – Dize, Dosta Dimovska, Ljube Boshkovski and even Siljan Avramovski, who after all of them briefly occupied the director’s seat in the service, and later became Minister of Interior, whereas now he is reforming them…
That’s why President Ivanov’s statement mentioned above is a spin, because he locates the problem in some kind of service, department, in only one institution… As a matter of fact, the quoted sentence from Priebe’s report used in his annual speech indicates the same:
The causes of the protracted scandal (refers to the “bombs” and the crisis afterwards – our remark) in the Republic of Macedonia can be traced back both to the CONCENTRATION OF POWER within the national security service (UBK)…
Who has concentrated power within the UBK? And who hasn’t facillitated civil oversight? And who hasn’t lifted a finger since 2015 until today? Also, we are yet to see how SDSM and Zoran Zaev will treat this problem, as well as the secret service management, albeit experts and the civil sector have been criticizing since the beginning of their mandate.
THE PROBLEMATIC MEDIA ARE PRODUCTS OF THE POLITICS
Ivanov’s second spin is related to media:
Spin: It is high time to face the truth that generating and broadcasting fake news in the media, internet and in the social networks, without monitoring or measures for civil and criminal liability, is a basis for tensions and conflict. Those who provoke damage by generating fake news must be held responsible. Positive European examples should be implemented in our case as well..
Counter-spin: Not only the Republic of Macedonia, but every country and the world in general needs professional and independent journalism, not fake news. However, the spin appears to surface and is debunked by answering the question: who creates the media outlets that make and publish fake news?
Like the case with the services, we’ll come to the answer that high politicians are always the main inspirers in the fake news industry. In the past, fake news was called propaganda, spread three – three and a half decades ago by Nova Makedonija and Vecher dailies and the MRT, as well. The situation was more or less the same when it was spread by TV stations, holders of national broadcasting licenses, all the way to the cases when the fake news mechanism was spread by websites.
The political elite is the one that inspires, generates, financially supports and even provides technical and logistical support to all fake news transmitters. You can read about this here, or here, or in this analysis if you are interested. Plus, Ivanov himself confirmed that by saying “media outlets that function as exponents of political parties”.
Media professionals know very well that media outlets and “media outlets” weren’t fake news producers. It has been produced in some kind of Communications Center and afterwards it has only been dictated, i.e. sent to all media outlets following the copy-paste principle. In fact, the Council of Media Ethics in Macedonia has ruled against several media that have published a piece of information as is, with typos, wrongly placed punctuation marks and all other details, which was sent previously by the fake news network.
Therefore, we consider Ivanov’s assertion that fake-news-spreading media are problem that needs to be solved with regulation, monitoring and punishments as a spin. The political and sometimes the business elites seize the media, network them and use them to disseminate fake news for their own interests. Furthermore, they don’t allow the functioning of existing laws governing this issue in terms of civil and criminal matter. There are laws on insult, defamation, hate speech, copyright protection…
Hence, the problem aren’t the laws and the media outlets, but the political and business elites that hold the main strings of society at a certain moment.
As a matter of fact, at the start of his career, Ivanov made a statement with which he wished even higher press freedom ranking for Macedonia (34th in 2009 according to Freedom House) and that he would commit himself to it, whereas in 2015, the same man claimed that the fall to the 129th spot has been a matter of Freedom House’s perception, and wasn’t based on facts, although he has had all the necessary information.