by | 22 December, 2023

With the 350,000 euros campaign “European future, closer than ever,” our Government seems to be punishing us for being stupid and for having stayed here, believing that we could make the EU back home.

1 The 350,000 euros government campaign, titled “European future, closer than ever,” has started, and I still haven’t been able to attend a policy presentation to finally understand the “reforms facilitating further development in the country according to European standards and building a European future back home.” I especially mustn’t miss the panel discussion on “the dedicated efforts of the Government towards our European integration and towards improving the lives of citizens according to European standards.” I’m really interested in what they’ll say about their dedication on the subject “impunity and corruption” according to European standards. As if we can’t see what’s happening, that they need to tell us with a campaign. We had a campaign titled “I don’t take bribes” a long time ago.

Is it us who need convincing about the EU? Us, who’ve stayed here, who’ve been building this country for 30 years dreaming of the EU, that now the Government is trying to convince us that things are great in the EU with billboards and posts on Facebook and Instagram. And with panel discussions where Bojan Marichic will debate with Bujar Osmani.

I carefully read the government’s announcement about the meaning of the campaign, but curiously, there was no mention of Bulgarians in the Constitution. How did they choose the name of the campaign “European future, closer than ever?” What do they mean by closer? What do they mean by closer than ever, considering the fact there’s a single condition for starting the EU negotiations. A constitutional change. If the Government took on the responsibility to change the Constitution, but failed to do so, then the EU is as distant now as it’s ever been.

And now, the Government will charge us additional 350,000 euros for failing to fulfil the obligation it accepted with the French proposal without considering whether it’d be feasible at all. So far, their public debates, costing 80,000 euros, haven’t convinced us that “We are Europe.” It seems they’re punishing us for having stayed here. For believing that we could make the EU back home, and to avoid being endlessly humiliated by both the EU and our own government in the name of some imaginary future.

2 President Stevo Pendarovski, in his annual address to the Assembly, told the MPs that “a purge of both judges and prosecutors is necessary, but, first of all, of us – the politicians. And for anyone, for whom there is no logical explanation as to how he became a millionaire with a state salary, not only resignation, but criminal proceedings should immediately follow”.

Why wait until after the elections? Why not now? And why hasn’t it be done so far?

After the elections, which prosecutors and judges will go after politicians? The same ones? After the elections, they’ll import integrity from the EU, a quality lacking until now, and they’ll begin delivering justice according to law.

What President Stevo Pendarovski is saying sounds quite nice. Although, he himself helped corrupt politicians, ensuring they wouldn’t be held accountable for their crimes and enabling them to get away more easily, signing the amendments to the Criminal Code to reduce their sentences and make it possible for the statute of limitations on their cases to expire faster.

What our president is telling us is like informing a terminally ill person how bad their illness is. But, he sympathises with him. As if we don’t know how terrible the corruption that’s eating away our country is, so now the president had to inform us in his annual address to the Assembly.

To be fair, Pendarovski has so far shown that he spends his presidential budget honestly and economically. However, his personal example, especially his word as the head of state, doesn’t have a significant influence over the ruling coalition. What’s the impact of Pendarovski’s words on the ruling coalition of SDSM and DUI, the parties that nominated him?

For thirty years we’ve had local and central authorities who don’t think corruption is harmful. It’s been normalised to a stage where it’s become part of the mindset of voters as well. Corruption doesn’t bother them.

We have a Government that doesn’t give a damn about the demands of the Anti-Corruption Commission for the dismissal of corrupt officials and doesn’t give a damn about the reports of the State Audit Office that flag criminal activities. Why would the government give a damn about what the president is saying when they’re absolutely untouchable?

3 Among the splendour of our capital, the mean citizens of Skopje seem fixated on the Christmas tree the mayor Danela Arsovska put up. They claim it’s crooked, it’s not decorated enough, and that Serbs are laughing at us. Croats as well.

Don’t be absurd. Stop singling out the Christmas tree. Can’t you see how tidy our capital is? We’re living in the modern Skopje, as promised by the mayor who VMRO-DPMNE cunningly positioned as an independent candidate and the best manager in the world. Thankfully, they hit the bull’s eye with the woman. Public transportation operates flawlessly, bridges are functional, traffic jams are relieved, the city is clean, cleaner than ever before, the construction of the Vardar water treatment plant is in full swing, the junction at Momin Potok is nearly complete… the 250 buses she was going to buy with Hristijan Mickoski intended for free public transportation would have arrived by now if not for the “manipulations, sensationalism and speculations of the political parties that have been milking Macedonia dry for 30 years.” Even the animals in the Skopje Zoo are dying from a stressful life, traumatised by “30 years of theft, privatisation and firing thousands of people.”

The mayor poses for photos in America and other foreign countries where she goes on “study trips”, where they teach her about good governance, transparency and accountability for public spending. When she returns home, she complains to foreign ambassadors that everyone’s against her because she’s a woman, because she’s independent, because she’s successful and she threatens lawsuits “if you don’t withdraw the text within 48 hours.” Her success is so obvious that it speaks for itself and there’s no need for the mayor to appear in front of journalists. Media is one thing, but it’s another that she doesn’t appear at the sessions of the Council of the City of Skopje, where she not only doesn’t answer councillor questions, but she also sees no need to defend her own projects up for voting.

Why wouldn’t we take her word that there actually was a public call to spend 30,000 euros on decorating Skopje, although the call is nowhere to be found? Who says the public call can’t be kept secret? Maybe Danela sent her town criers to shout throughout Skopje: “Hear ye, hear ye, Skopje will be decorated, I’ve decided to spend 30,000 euros, whoever wants to decorate and organise parties in the Square can apply!” Since the public procurement wasn’t announced anywhere and there’s no information who won the tender, she must have used her own money to pay for the decorations. Of course, if someone else paid, people might think it’s bribery, or, God forbid, racketeering. How can we not take her word, when every day she demonstrates through her actions how successfully she manages the City. The same way she successfully ran her private business with the Rasadnik gym.

Danela Arsovska is halfway through her term, and the biggest benefit of her rule is already visible. She gave all future authorities a blueprint on how to successfully govern by cheating, complaining and ignoring the public and institutions.

While it’s undeniable that VMRO-DPMNE left Skopje in a state of disarray, I’m now talking about SDSM. How desperate must a party in power be to gamble on Danela that she’ll screw Mickoski’s VMRO over and divert votes in elections? They’ve let a bull in a china shop.


Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski