by | 13 January, 2023

European money for the adoption and the well-being of Macedonian dogs, Macedonian money for the adoption and the well-being of party pets.

1 It’s completely meaningless to debate the question “Are you in favour of people or dogs”. It’s as meaningless as the statement “Why would I need dogs when I have grandchildren”, given by the mayor of Struga, Ramiz Merko, after someone killed a dozen stray dogs with a rifle in his city. The question is not – grandchildren or dogs? The question is not people or animals? The real question is – law or anarchy? Order or lawlessness?

Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski said he would ask the Minister of Agriculture, Ljupcho Nikolovski, to prepare a new law on pets which would include the demands and proposals made by animal protection associations. Well, the text for the changed law, exactly according to the proposals of the associations has been ready since March last year, but it still hasn’t reached the Assembly. As if the problem is not having a law. The problem is that the law gets violated.

We have laws. Good laws, passed under the flag of the EU. However, there’s no one to implement them. It’s not just about the dogs.  It’s about everything. Do we have a law banning smoking indoors? We do. Do we have a law prohibiting parking on the third lane on boulevards, on pedestrian zones and in parks? We do. Do we have a law prohibiting the usurpation of public space? We do. Do we have a law on the protection of cultural heritage? We do.

So what if we do? So what if we get a new law on pets, when the existing one is not implemented to such an extent that the Prime Minister is going to ask for help from Brussels for the problem with the stray dogs. He’s authorized the Minister of Agriculture to ask for money from the IPARD funds for a state project, since the mayors don’t want to deal with the strays, although it’s their job. And let local authorities abolish themselves. Why do we elect mayors and municipal councils? Just so they’d hire their fellow party members with our money?

Why should only Brussels be made aware of this? We should ask help from Washington as well, we’re not strategic partners with the USA for nothing. Let the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bujar Osmani, join the campaign as well. It doesn’t all come down to the OSCE chairmanship and “It’s about the people”. It’s about the dogs as well. Especially when mayors make it a priority to solve the problem of buying a new car. Apparently, it’s more important for them to warm their bottoms with seat heaters than to protect their voters from being eaten by dogs. The mayor of Struga used to say that driving an old car wasn’t appropriate for a person of his status, but it seems it’s very appropriate for Struga to have dogs chase citizens, and as an additional tourist attraction, armed civilians taking a morning walk and shooting dogs on the street.

2 Who knows how many millions of denars have been given by municipalities for compensation to citizens who were bitten by dogs. For instance, in 2020, the Municipality of Veles paid 44.000 euros in compensations for dog bites. The former mayor of Veles, Ace Koceski, suspected corrupt connections in his municipality, when 35,000 euros were paid in compensation for dog bites in just six months in 2021, but failed to find the chain. Instead of repairing pavements, the money ended up as compensation for the bitten people of Veles.

The example is just for Veles. What about other municipalities? What about the City of Skopje? Does anyone keep track of how much money is spent of dog bites, how that money is approved, who takes the money for catching the dogs and keeping them in shelters, who issues the victims the medical report, who evaluates them, how much money is collected from fines from irresponsible pet owners, if anyone is fined, where that money ends up…

Brussels can give us money to build shelters, since our money will be used for corruption. European money for the adoption and the well-being of Macedonian dogs, Macedonian money for the adoption and the well-being of party pets.

3 I’ll say it again, it’s not just about the dogs.

I’ve decided to carry out a social experiment. I’ll erect an improvised nylon construction in the middle of Macedonia Square in Skopje. In one section I’ll sell clothes. In the other section I’ll serve drinks, I might make some barbecue as well. Of course, smoking will be allowed, since we’re talking about a seating area covered from all sides. And I’ll park my car right next to the makeshift commercial building. I’ll use it for delivery of goods. I’ll be able to drive it in a pedestrian zone whenever I want, my business won’t suffer because of some uninventive pedestrians. I’ll play music as well. Let it blast, let it be known who’s in charge. At least I don’t have neighbours over there and since no one measures the decibels coming from the nylon-covered seating areas in the middle of neighbourhoods with thousands of tenants, surely they won’t measure the decibels in the middle of the Square. Mind your own business, don’t ruin mine.

The one thing missing will be for me to take a rifle and shoot strays that are chasing my customers in the square, but I’m a conscientious citizen, I respect the laws. Over here, “Everything is according to the law, boss”, isn’t it?

Do you think anyone would come to demolish my café-tent? That they’ll punish me? Maybe, someday. But first they need to agree who’s the competent authority for my building – is it the City of Skopje or is it Centar Municipality. And once they’ve determined who’s the competent authority, we’ll see whether they have inspectors, whether they’re on sick leave, whether they got down with the flu, if not, perhaps they took days off to join the New Year’s holidays with the winter break. Then, they’ll have to decide which inspection to send. Maybe market inspectors, for increasing the profit margin too much, I don’t think they’d come for the smoking, they don’t fine anyone for that. Maybe they’ll send environmental inspectors, since I produce a lot of rubbish but don’t feel like paying for a special dumpster, or for the chimney from the grill, there’s a lot of smoke, but it smells like barbecue, why would we measure PM particles. Maybe they’ll send construction inspectors, since I’m planning to put some pillars as well, an all-inclusive building… They just won’t let you be. In this country you can’t run a business. Inspections will run you down.

I’ll treat police officers to a cup of coffee, a glass of juice; let them have a drink, recover, warm up… If there’s no report, there’s no reason for them to intervene, since they only intervene when there’s a report. After some time, maybe inspectors will come and give you a solution how to demolish the building by yourself. And you say, no way, you do it. And they say – you’ll have to wait, we don’t have a tender for a demolishing company. Then they’ll announce a tender. Then they’ll wait for the deadline for the appeals to the tender. Then a new tender. Then a new deadline. In the meantime they’ll keep negotiating with you: Dude, you’re working illegally, you should demolish the building by this Friday. If not this one, then next Friday. And once I’ve failed to meet all the deadlines I’ll kindly ask the Municipality – let’s wait for the sale season to be over and then I’ll shut down the business. And there you go, you can run your business until April, May. Maybe there’ll be elections and there’ll be a new government. And by the time the government consolidates with new personnel policies, I’ll already have proved myself as a company with a long history.

4 That’s how our system works at a basic level. We’re not talking about high politics, about constitutional changes, about grand-scale corruption, about appellate judges who’ve shelved verdicts and as a reward become supreme judges. No. We’re talking about basic things, the right to public space, the right to passable streets and pavements, the right to regulated parking, the right to breathe. This is what our everyday life looks like. Our life is made miserable with things that don’t take much to work properly, but they don’t.

The people we pay to provide those basic requirements for a normal living aren’t doing their job. I don’t believe they’re simply incompetent. I’d rather say it’s incompetence and irresponsibility combined with corruption. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing – money.

Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski