by | 7 April, 2023

Why stop at rejoicing? We should applaud them. Since, they’re not only robbing us but also laughing in our faces.

1 I’m listening to Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Bojan Marichic saying that “the Government has a mission to bring European values closer to our citizens” and I wonder: Do those guys in the Government even hear what they’re saying? Do they believe in what they hear?

What European values will the Government teach us? The Prime Minister’s wife is going to buy state land by decision of the Government in order to start a business. In which EU state would that news go unnoticed, without triggering a government crisis? 5 or 6 years ago, France was working on a law that would make it possible for officials to be locked up for up to three years if they hired a family member while in office. The former German Government of Angela Merkel and her CDU party was rocked by a scandal, because during the Covid crisis, the minister of health bought medical masks without a tender from a company where her husband was employed. In Sweden, ministers resigned because they hadn’t paid personal tax to their nannies, although they weren’t in office then.

Over here, in our EU Macedonia, the Prime Minister’s wife is starting an electricity company with the intention of building a photovoltaic plant in the Radovish region. After the public found out, the company withdrew the request for the construction of the plant, but just in case, it secured a decision from the Government for the purchase of state land which enables it to consolidate the plot.

Everything’s according to the law. There’s nothing controversial about it. Making sure they were in the clear was the reason it wasn’t her husband, the prime minister, who signed the decision for the sale of the state land, but Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi. After all, who says the prime minister’s wife shouldn’t work? Who says it’s not ok for her to have a private business? No one has anything against her job position and her entrepreneurship. Still, she’s impatient and starts a business while her husband is the prime minister, a business which can be directly influenced by the government policies and her husband. And the fact that the company where she’s one of the owners is preparing infrastructure by using a law passed by VMRO-DPMNE making it possible to take over state land, a law which SDSM didn’t change, is a completely different topic.

It’s not like in the EU there’s no corruption, trading with political influence and nepotism. But there, there is also the prosecution, there’s the judiciary, and finally, there’s the public. Over here, in our EU Macedonia, there’s no mechanism to punish MPs for misuse of the money for travel expenses. There’s no mechanism to punish taking the bar exam before graduating. There’s no mechanism to punish a minister who uses an official car for private and party purposes.

Why? Because, as Gordana Jankulovska said in the now insignificant wiretapped conversations – “everything is according to the Constitution and the laws”. Because many laws, especially the ones related to public procurement, urban planning and state land were changed by VMRO-DPMNE a hundred times, and SDSM didn’t even try to change them in the past six years. Because those laws suited VMRO-DPMNE. They’re not made for the common good and the citizens. They’re made for the political party elites and their close ones.

The definition of public service was and remains – Grab as much as you can while you can.

2 The appellate court overturned the verdict on the organization of the storming of the Parliament on 27 April 2017. The statute of limitations on yet another case of Mijalkov expired. And the Government organised an event, an event to which they invited US Ambassador Angela Aggeler, an event where journalists were forbidden to ask questions.

So, in just a week, Aggeler had the opportunity to once more witness on the spot how we use the millions of dollars that American taxpayers have been giving Macedonia to improve our judiciary, for good governance, accountability, transparency, competitiveness…

At the official promotion of the construction of four motorway sections of Corridor 8, journalists were invited only as decoration. It wasn’t an ordinary promotion of a road sign. It was the promotion of what is at the moment the largest state investment of 1,3 billion euros, so it’s perfectly normal that there’d be questions about how our mutual money will be spent. Especially now that the media has published doubts about how the surveillance company was chosen. And especially that the Prosecutor’s Office has already launched an investigation into possible corruption based on credible information. And how does the Government address our concerns about the proper use of our money? By forbidding journalists to ask questions. And to save face, they hide behind the US Ambassador who attended the event to honour the success of the American company and the largest American deal in our country.

Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi told the journalist who came to ask how the Macedonian Government would spend the state money: “Don’t ask! Rejoice!” All right then, let’s rejoice. Rejoice in the fact they’ll spend our money but they won’t tell us how. Why stop at rejoicing? We should applaud them. Since, they’re not only robbing us but also laughing in our faces. Because they can.

3 We also rejoice in the fact the state administration is incredibly effective when the salaries of state officials need to be raised.

On 21 March, the Constitutional Court repealed an article that froze their salaries. On 23 March that article was already applied. And eventually on 5 April, the MPs in the Assembly got higher salaries.

When did they get together, how did they manage to calculate their salaries so quickly? If someone tried to go to Pension Fund Office and asked for a calculation on how much their pension would be, they’d have to wait for months, they’d ask for dozens of documents, it’d turn out that they need more work experience, they’d get the national identity number wrong, their address, their name…

They are yet to make calculations for the change to NMK number plates. They will consider all the options, how much the sticker will cost, how much citizens will have to pay, they’ll think about it, they’ll have a sit-down, they’ll do the maths… When it comes to their personal interest, they can be fast and efficient. However, when it’s the public interest that needs to be protected, they’ll take their time. In the end, the maths will equal a minus for the citizens.

4 Another episode of the series “Everything’s according to the law, boss” is the case in Kumanovo, when the Customs confiscated old vinyl records from Serbian collectors who came to a festival, on the grounds that they didn’t have documents for sale. They were detained by the police, they paid a 150 euros fine, their records have been temporarily seized and given to the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property until the procedure is fully completed.

I believe that the ones who are into collecting old records in Macedonia and exchange them at other such festivals with other collectors from abroad didn’t even know that in their lives there were some people called Dimitar Kovachevski, Artan Grubi, Oliver Spasovski, Bujar Osmani, Fatmir Besimi, Bojan Marichic… Now they do. They must think to themselves, wow, our politicians are so good, they’ve done a great job with our country, honestly, there’s such law and order, we have European laws, the arm of the law is long…

This great success of the Customs is similar to the success the Public Enterprise for Management of Residential and Business Property had in cleaning the multi-storey garages that it manages. They boasted on Facebook that “the Association is always committed to timely response and maintaining the hygiene of the garages and the other properties it manages”. Timely what? They came out to clean only after the actress Irena Ristic and the team from “Don’t be garbage” made them look bad and collected their rubbish. And they, instead of hiding in shame, dared to brag that they did what they’re supposed to do.

Also similar to the case of the Public Enterprise “City Parking” in Skopje, which bragged they had put canopies on the toll booths in the Clinical Centre and where the tow truck operates, by posting on Facebook that they “work every day to improve the conditions for the citizens”. As if improving the conditions of the citizens isn’t their everyday obligation, so that when they do what they’re supposed to do, they need to brag about it.

5 To top off this regression, we have to note the initiative to return the monument to Andon Lazov Janev – Kjoseto, which was removed from its location in front of the Court by the Skopje local government while Petre Shilegov was mayor. Mayor Danela Arsovska now wants it back. Since the Municipality of Centar didn’t let her return it to the previous place and instructed her to seek permission from the Assembly, Levica called from the Municipality of Aerodrom and together with VMRO-DPMNE voted an initiative to put Kjoseto in Aerodrom. Now that initiative will be brought before the Assembly.

The SDSM government has managed to remove only one monument out of the hundreds Gruevski had commissioned, but didn’t have the courage to melt even that one. To make sure it was gone. So the Kjoseto would not exist, in case someone decided to look for it. We were optimists they’d demolish the eyesore Gruevski and Subrata Roy presented as a monument to Mother Teresa, which still blocks the exit from Macedonia Square, a building which is not only illegal but not safe as well, and they’ve failed to remove a single galley.

It’s like we’re back in 2013. We’ll now look for Kjoseto, just like when we used to look for the monuments that popped up all over the centre of Skopje, we wondered where they’d bring them from, which depots they hid them in, where they were cast. It’s been ten years since that madness. Looking back over the last decade, I realise this is how far we’ve come. From Kjoseto – to Kjoseto.

Meanwhile, we’ll focus on having debates and theorising how to bring back Macedonians who study in Slovenia. Why would they come back? To rejoice at Kjoseto? Should they come back for Kjoseto?

Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski