The post-Przhino negotiations and the government’s concept about them

The Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Dr. John F. Nash Jr., the creator of game theory. Photo: Wikipedia

ВМРО-ДПМНЕ во соработка со ДУИ има готов концепт на кој постојано го купува времето во преговорите околу спроведување на Договорот од Пржино и ја одржува власта. Не постои воедначена оценка околу концептот. Еден од нив е т.н. Теорија на игрите – ама има два инструменти: создавање на кризни ситуации или дефокусација со исфрлување на нови теми



VMRO-DPMNE, in cooperation with DUI, has a ready-made concept used constantly for buying time in the negotiations about the implementation of the Przhino Agreement and for keeping the government alive. There is no substantial concord regarding the concept. One is the so called Game theory – and it has two instruments: creating crises or defocusing by launching new topics.


Author: Ljubomir Kostovski


In two rather similar occasions, one analyst on Facebook pointed out to the utilization of the game theory, created by the Noble Prize winner John Nash, by Gruevski and his team. That method, according to her, is used by the aforementioned political factors in the negotiations that involve foreign element, especially before and after the signing of the Przhino Agreements (the first then the second), notably after, when the slightly indisposed international machinery, from reasons we can only guess, was not managing to notice the tactics of VMRO-DPMNE.

Ilindenka Milevska, the aforementioned analyst, reminds us that the former Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, who knows Nash’s theoretical works very well (we remember it from the movie “Beautiful Mind”), used Nash’s game theory method in order to gain better result for his country “besieged” by the creditors and the bank “inquisitors” after his party Syriza came into power. At the beginning Varoufakis was successful in his game up till the moment when somebody reminded the negotiators “where the shoe pinches”, so the uptight creditors, led by the negotiator Wolfgang Schäuble, requested the deposition of Varoufakis by the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, because everything would have dropped in water, and as we know, he discharged him!

“The Triumph (and Failure) of Nikola Gruevski’s Game Theory” is the topic of Milevska’s short note, around ten precious rows, in which she claims that VMRO-DPMNE uses similar tactics via its negotiators to pull the legs of the EU, US Department of State, Johanes Hahn, the ambassadors Aivo Orav and Jess Baily, the facilitators Ivo Vajgl and his two colleagues from Brussels, and of course the opposition parties in this country.



What was the practical tactics of Varoufakis? As in every negotiation process, and in this too, about the return of Greece’s credits by receiving international assistance (new credits), after many days and weeks, several things were defined that the government in Athens had to fulfil. For example, to lower the salaries and pensions in Greece. Aware that this demand would betray the trust of his voters regarding one key promise, Varoufakis wanted to delay that option, so he put two new problems (topics) on the table. All of a sudden, everyone started dealing with the two new problems, whereas the ones before that were supposed to finish the negotiation process are forgotten, i.e. delayed until the negotiations participants are fighting in a “new arena”!

We could say that there were plenty of such situations regarding the realization of the Przhino Agreement. Many obligations for the participants were implied. The government ignored each one, with different pace, so when the foreign factor, which was and remained the decisive one, focused on just two points, the electoral roll and the media reforms, DUI’s MP Talat Djaferi, in coordination with VMRO-DPMNE proposed two new laws from the media and information sphere, which completely spun the colloquy. By doing so, the government managed to delay surrendering several media (the Macedonian Radio Television among them) whilst everyone else was arguing whether these laws are part of the Przhino package (in one “wider sense”) or not, therefore, everything that was supposed to be signed was gone with the wind.

The former ambassador and Secretary General of SDSM, now a professor, Dr. Gjorgji Spasov, told Truthmeter that he has written something earlier regarding this topic, only with the difference that his term is “setting of fires”.

One would set a fire in a moment of crisis for him and everyone will deal with extinguishing the fire – Spasov says. This is continuously done in two ways by the party we are talking about. Either by constructing an incident that distracts everybody, or by casting a hot topic that would make everyone forget about everything else on the table. While we were in the midst of the playing of the wiretapped conversations (so called bombs), the armed persons in Kosovo and Kumanovo appeared. Or similar threats will occur, such as one among the latest, the thesis that armed persons from Kosovo will raid the trial of the arrested in the action in Divo naselje, and at least once a week they make a spectacle out of it. When it comes to topic changes, we had the case with Ivanov’s pardon decision, when instead of implementing the Przhino Agreement we were dealing with the pardon decision and the destruction of one of the key institutions – the Special Public Prosecution Office. By doing so, the government imposed that the Przhino Agreement is de facto dead, which would mean returning to a condition prior the Agreement was signed.

According to Spasov, these are well-known and often used propaganda methods, especially in places where the politics has money and power to animate the public opinion.

The professor and political scientists Nano Ruzhin believes that we do not have many trained players for using the game theory in the political negotiations. He sees utilization of tactics and strategies by the ruling party which are inserted in politics by the jurist and political theorist Carl Schmitt during the two world wars, and they help criminalize the society via the creation of crises.

One of those elements is the thesis that “it’s all the opposition’s fault”, i.e. for everything highly disadvantageous that is going to happen, but cannot be hidden, the government blames the opposition, which does not have instruments for such things, but by using its own propagandistic machinery, the government imposes all of this to the society. Therefore, what the government has done on its own and brings negative repercussions becomes the occasion for even bigger discrediting of the legal state and for total “holding of the strings” – says the professor Ruzhin.



John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern were the first ones to deal with this problematics and to widely describe this theory in their book “Theory of games and human behaviour” published in 1944. Afterwards, John Nash’s statements play the role of fundamental contribution to this theory, and he defines the optimal game strategies with multiple players and also defines the term balance. The closest link between this theory and the economy lies in the field of research and finding rational strategies in situations where the result does not depend only on the own strategy and the “market conditions”, but it also depends on the strategy of the other participants that have the same goals (in the economy, it is the profit and keeping the customers). The theory is most often used in military strategies, but of course in the economy too. It is interesting that both Von Neumann and John Nash worked for the American army and they both used this theory.

What the economists call game theory, the sociologists call it the theory of social situations which is an adequate description of what’s done in those games. The theory is focused to discover how groups or people work together. Mainly, the theory is divided in two game types: cooperative and uncooperative. The uncooperative games wants to discover how intelligently the individuals cooperate and communicate with each other to effectively accomplish their goals. Regarding the game theory, the economy develops three more theories: theory of delays, equilibrium theory or balance theory and theory of mechanism design.

Due to the space we have, the explanation of these methods is left for some other time. But there, the politics is using all methods to gain greater benefit in a particular situation. Especially if it can be paid.


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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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