by | 6 May, 2022

The way Mickoski is hell-bent on getting early elections, you’d think Gruevski has already bought a ticket home to return from his asylum in Budapest.

1 How is it going? Just fine, it’s May already, spring isn’t in its full bloom yet, and we’re crossing out the days until the expiration of the ultimatum Mickoski gave to Kovachevski – You better show up to a meeting for early elections, or else.

Or else what? When Mickoski threatens that the parliamentary group of VMRO-DPMNE will organize an active blockade, is it really something we haven’t seen before? What they’ve been doing so far, was it a passive blockade? VMRO-DPMNE has been blocking the country ever since the night of the long knives in front of the State Election Commission on 17 December, 2016, when they were drawing obituaries of the foreign ambassadors in our country. The blockade continued in January and February 2017, when Gruevski traded his land lots for apartments, and then called his fellow party members not to sit at home in their slippers, to go and crack open the heads of the SDSM MPs and the journalists in the Assembly, so his crimes wouldn’t be exposed. Those blockades continue to this day. You block a law on teachers, and then you tell them to go out on strike. Do you remember if we’ve ever had a functional Assembly?

Plus, what sort of political culture do we nurture in our country, if those who don’t manage to form a government constantly work on blocking the state? If tomorrow VMRO-DPMNE wins, will SDSM organize blockades? And we, fools that we are, pay them from the budget. To block our lives.

It’s easy for Mickoski to block laws and thus complicate the lives not only of the those who voted for the government, but of all citizens, including those who voted for his MPs, while he’s getting a state salary at the university, while he’s getting income from his private business with electricity, while his party is getting financed by the budget, the same party which has a palace and hasn’t paid property tax for years.

And the fact Mickoski speaks on behalf of the parliamentary group, although he himself isn’t an elected MP, is nothing new. We’ve previously seen MPs not vote according to their conscience. Mickoski is saying to them – I am your conscience. But what do we do with all those specialists that the leader of VMRO-DPMNE offers with an ultimatum to save the country from the crisis? Not one of them has the courage to say: Hey, president, if we’re the opposition it doesn’t mean we have to be destructive. Are they so afraid he’ll expel them from the party? So what if he does? If they’re so skilled at saving an entire country from a crisis, surely they’ll get by in life even without the mercy of their leader. And maybe, in honour of that event, they’ll do something useful for the country. When they offer their expertise, to whom do they offer it – to the state, or to SDSM? Perhaps they’re experts only for VMRO-DPMNE, so if Mickoski isn’t the prime minister, they don’t care if the country fails. Are they loyal to the country or loyal to VMRO?

2 Mickoski, along with the threat of an active blockade that his MPs would deliver, also threatened that “unprecedented measures will follow”. The only unprecedented measures would be if the MPs from VMRO-DPMNE gave up their per diems and travel expenses while blocking the Assembly. Since they’re elected by the people to work and earn their salary, not to not work.

Besides, the way Mickoski is hell-bent on getting early elections, you’d think Gruevski has already bought a ticket home to return from his asylum in Budapest.

3 People in Macedonia are impressed by rulers with a firm hand. They’d rather whisper the leader’s name than take personal responsibility for their actions. It’s easier that way. If you’re afraid of the leader, that means you have an obligation to him for allowing him to take care of your life. It’s the lowest kind of clientelism and civic consciousness equal to zero. Find yourself a nice state job, get a nice regular state salary, go to a nice holiday, pay some money to get something done, and of course, there’ll be something in it for you too once in a while. By the grace of God and by the grace of the party. And when it comes to freedom and democracy, why give a damn.

This is the description of the mindset of the Macedonian post-communist transition, which has lasted for 30 years. And the best answer to the question why sultan parties flourish here.

4 Another 3 May has passed, a day that in the democratic world is marked as the World Press Freedom Day. Everyone’s freedom depends on press freedom. But, here, who cares about freedom in general, let alone press freedom?

According to the World Press Freedom Index compiled by the international organization Reporters Without Borders, Macedonia has climbed 33 places in one year. Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski used the report to boast that SDSM showed “exceptional democratic capacity and respect to the media and media workers” and thanked the media by asking them “to do their job profesionally”.

I thank him for his thankfulness and for his message. But, since we’re talking about messages, here’s one for the Prime Minister and the ministers. We thought that to celebrate the 100 days in Government, it would be a regular practice for the Prime Minister to hold a press conference and answer all the questions by journalists. Instead of that, the Government organized a “forum” where the media couldn’t ask questions and the ministers were the ones asking each other questions and answering them.

As if it isn’t enough that they have all those PR services, PR advisers, cameramen and photographers who photograph them posing as if they’re at a wedding, as if it isn’t enough that each party runs their own parallel media with parallel truth, the only thing missing were the “forums” they made up to pretend they’re transparent and we now have to report on. No, until the Prime Minister and the ministers decide to stand tall and find the courage to answer all the questions from the media at a real press conference, and not just at events where “three questions are allowed, so you decide who’ll ask”, the thirty three places of Reporters Without Borders don’t mean anything. Except a change in methodology. Since, the suppression of press freedom during Gruevski’s era – with all the wiretapping, the brutal pressure, the censure, closed media outlets and imprisoned journalists – ended in 2017. Five years were more than enough to change the practices, into an essential, not a fake transparency of the government.

5 What’s up with all the drama surrounding the 20 meters tall monument to the National Liberation Army that DUI erected in Slupchane? The state invented an office with a pretentious title – first deputy prime minister – for the integration of the successors of the NLA, and people are now surprised by the 200,000 euro monument?

It’s more surprising that for 22 years the state has failed to respectfully honour those who faced the challenge of defending it in the war in 2001. It’s surprising that on the Skopje-Tetovo motorway, a simple plaque commemorating the victims at Karpalak can’t remain undamaged from one anniversary to another.

And it seems that DUI can hardly wait for Mickoski’s ultimatum to expire and have gone back to the activities which provoke even the most liberal Macedonians into becoming nationalists. Forget about “one society for all”, if we can continue with two parallel societies.


Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski