1 They said the members of the Anti-Corruption Commission were no good, didn’t they? Just two months ago, didn’t Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi say that “there are doubts about the capacities” of the people in the Commission? How come Minister Bujar Osmani is now asking those labelled as no good and lacking capacity by Artan Grubi to confirm that he did well and that everything was done in line with the laws when he chose a company for construction interventions, a company he found out was a donor to his party DUI through the media? How come his fellow party member Grubi says that the Anti-Corruption Commission hasn’t completed “a single case” so far, yet when it comes to making sure “the most important event of his career is unblemished” he asks said “incompetent people” to immediately investigate the company responsible for preparing the venue “Boris Trajkovski” for the OSCE summit, a company that has donated over 100,000 euros to his party in various ways, sometimes as a legal entity, sometimes as individual contributions by the man and the woman who own the company?
Osmani says that he wasn’t happy at all when he read in the media about the winning bidder for the adaptation of the “Boris Trajkovski” venue. But, there’s nothing he can do about it. The damn law doesn’t allow another company to win the tender, since the DUI donor had the cheapest offer. Everything is super in line with the law. Plus, Osmani didn’t even know the company was a donor to his party. Thank goodness he read that information, so he now knows. Imagine if he didn’t read the news. He’d live under the illusion that only companies run by Macedonians win government tenders.
Surprisingly, this time the Minister in charge of Good Governance Policies, Slavica Grkovska, didn’t make a statement. I expected her to reprimand Osmani. However, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski beat her to it and defended the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The prime minister sees nothing wrong in choosing a company that is a donor to his coalition partner. Since the boss says “Everything’s in line with the law, boss”, then even the Minister in charge of Good Governance Policies doesn’t need to interfere in her own work.
Kovachevski says that “it would be suspicious if someone was a donor to a political party and won a tender with the highest price, not the lowest”. And that “if would be even more suspicious if someone who won a tender was a donor to a political party but wasn’t registered as a donor”.
But the most suspicious thing is that the Prime Minister is defending the tender procedure with arguments that are an insult to our intelligence.
2 And as they fragrantly normalise the embezzlement of public money, the last thing we need is their speeches. I can hardly wait to go to the square and have Bojan Marichic teach me what the EU is. To rejoice when Dimitar Kovachevski tells me that once we include Bulgarians in our Constitution we’ll be the first country in the region to join the EU in 2030. And to carefully listen to Bujar Osmani translate in his own words what Macron meant by saying that Europe is advancing at different paces and that it’s necessary for “the EU to be reformed before expanding”.
Two years in a row, the school year begins without textbooks. This year, once again, there won’t be any assistants for students with special needs. And don’t even get me started on everything that’s missing and everything that bothers me. Trust me, I find it obnoxious to give examples of everything the government should have done in this term but failed to do so, although it could have been accomplished without money from the EU and without changing the Constitution. They wasted our time pretending to the EU that they’ve met the benchmarks. They find it more important to please foreigners and to avoid angering Bulgaria than to improve the lives of their own citizens. Whatever the teacher tells us to do, we will. Although the teacher herself is not quite sure what she’s asking us to do.
3 I attended the Bled Strategic Forum and closely followed the leadership debate concerning the future of the EU, which featured the prime ministers of the Western Balkans countries and the prime ministers of Croatia and Bulgaria.
The debate turned into a comedy corner. Everyone cracked jokes about the EU enlargement. In fact, all gatherings of this kind in recent years have resembled a competition in telling jokes, where Edi Rama always emerges as the winner, but others still do their best to get a laugh or two from the audience, especially now that we have the greatest joke in the form of the Bulgarian veto, which blocks the European integration of the Western Balkans.
The new Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Nikolay Denkov, also cracked a joke. He said that the EU enlargement shouldn’t be viewed only from a geostrategic standpoint as a geographical region of Europe, but as a set of values.
It’s a comedic gem when a Bulgarian prime minister speaks about values. It’s a value not to respect the right to self-determination, the right to exist as a people and to have a language. It’s a value when you don’t respect the existence of minorities in your country. It’s a value to disregard the verdicts from the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Bulgaria provides an example of how justice is delivered in the EU. Extremely efficiently. Criminals themselves administer justice on the streets. Criminals beat other criminals. And everyone’s happy with the outcomes. That’s how you ensure the rule of law and access to justice.
Those values are the reason why Bulgaria is in the EU. Not because of geography and the geostrategic interests of the USA and the major European countries.
4 I’d love to be able to share the optimism of Kovachevski, Osmani and Marichic. But how can I? Up until now, there’s been one rule regarding the EU enlargement: We won’t accept you until you reform. Now, there’s one more rule which complicates things further: We won’t accept you until we, ourselves, reform.
Though not limited to my generation alone, I can safely say that my generation has certainly spent its life waiting for reforms so that the EU would be able to accept new members.
The EU faces Russian aggression and a devastating war along its entire eastern border, it keeps the Balkans isolated and unstable as a black hole in the middle of Europe, in all European countries that we once held up as models of democracy we now witness the rise of extremely undemocratic forces… And instead of focusing on unity and strengthening the Union by taking us all in, on ensuring their own stability, they keep going back and forth – maybe we should let you in, maybe we should not let you in, an informal summit, a formal summit, a forum for your reforms, a forum for our reforms, a veto is possible on any matter and at any time, now we have elections here, tomorrow we have elections there… We’ll debate on potential new enlargement reforms which could potentially allow us to expand…
It’s as if they can’t see what’s happening here. As if they’ve lost touch with reality. As if the EU is a thing of the past.
Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski