by | 19 May, 2023

“Visit Russia, before Russia visits you”.

1 Who wants to bet that there will be an additional condition on the start of our accession talks with the EU asking us to stop comparing Bulgaria’s attitude towards Macedonia to Russia’s attitude towards Ukraine? Sooner or later, by the next EU Summit, that too will have become a benchmark.

It was about time Kovachevski had enough with Bulgaria. It seems that the moment he himself was faced with the insults of Bulgaria’s Vice President, Iliana Iotova, at the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavík, he must have felt how far the lenience of our authorities has taken us, and couldn’t take it anymore: “The discourse used by Bulgaria towards North Macedonia, unfortunately, is very similar to the discourse the Russian Federation is using towards Ukraine”.

How come? What’s changed that Kovachevski is now making such anti-European statements and dares to anger Bulgaria? We all know Bulgaria’s rhetoric towards Macedonia has been the same for the last 70 years, and it’s been even worse during the last three years, since they put the veto.

Mind your manners. It’s not ok to compare Bulgaria to Russia. It’s not ok for our European path.

It’s not ok when Putin says that the Ukrainian language doesn’t exist, and that it’s actually Russian. But apparently it’s ok when the Bulgarian official state policy says that the Macedonian language is Bulgarian.

It’s not ok when Putin says Ukrainians are a made-up nation. But apparently it’s ok when the Bulgarian official state policy says that Macedonians are a made-up nation.

It’s not ok when Putin says Ukraine as a country is an invention of communism. But apparently it’s ok when the Bulgarian official state policy says Macedonia as a country is Tito’s invention.

It’s not ok when Putin says Ukrainian history is actually Russian history. But apparently it’s ok when the Bulgarian official state policy says that Macedonian history is Bulgarian history.

It’s not ok when in the Russian Duma their MPs say that “Ukraine is Russia”. But apparently it was ok when in June 2022, a group of MPs carried banners saying “Macedonia is Bulgaria” in the Bulgarian assembly. It looked very European.

So, what’s the difference? Bulgaria is in the EU, and Russia isn’t. It’s about making the most of the moment you’re in. It reminds me of the advertising slogan the Russian airline “Aeroflot” was using in the late 1980s – “Visit Russia, before Russia visits you”.

2 For thirty years we’ve been dreaming about the EU, for thirty years we’ve been talking about the EU, for thirty years we’ve been yapping about some EU values but have we ever seen those values in practice? We’ve read that the EU describes itself as a community based on values, but in reality it rests on bullying and blockades.

How is it possible that it’s been three years already but we haven’t heard a single well-intentioned statement by Sofia. We face nothing but insults, humiliation, and threats of force. A third year in a row, they’ve failed to organise proper elections, to form a government, because they have nothing better to do than vote hundreds of resolutions and declarations on Macedonia… As if it’s not a major threat already that they don’t recognise us as a nation and that they don’t recognise our language, that we are subjected to all sorts of threats every day, made by the most marginal politicians and all the way to the president of the country.

Since when do you people of the EU care how I feel and what mother tongue I speak? Isn’t the freedom to identify the way I want the fundamental value the EU nurtures? Then, what’s anti-European when I say that the European Union is violating European values, dancing to Bulgaria’s tune? What’s anti-European if you say that an EU member state is picking on a smaller country just for kicks by imposing the condition – renounce yourself so you’d perhaps at some point be able to join the community?

Wait a minute, sorry, but Bulgaria is threatening us every single day. Bulgaria is acting towards us in a hostile manner. An EU member state is threatening us by using the solidarity and the power of the EU. In other words, the entire EU is threatening us.

3 While Bulgaria is giving us blows every single day, other European countries are sending politicians and diplomats to scatter feathers on the ground so the final blow wouldn’t hurt too much when we hit the ground.

The last in the line of visitors was the German MP for the Western Balkans, Manuel Sarrazin, who stated in an interview for “360 Degrees” that we shouldn’t waste any time and that “if there are no constitutional changes this summer, your future will be unclear”.

Then, let’s act quickly. Let’s cancel our holiday plans and let’s include Bulgarians in our Constitution this summer. Or better yet, let’s cancel other plans in life as well. Since, our future will be unclear. As if it was crystal clear until now, the past 30 years on our way to the EU.

What will happen? Will there be a war? Will there be a civil war or someone else will attack us? Will Russia put missiles on our territory? Will the Bulgarian boot come to trample upon us for a third time?

When the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, came on Independence Day on 8 September 2018 to convince us to vote in the referendum on changing our name, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said: “Merkel’s visit is a guarantee that Macedonia will join the EU and NATO. We will respond with a successful referendum, which will ensure the European and Euro-Atlantic future of Macedonia”.

Well, it turns out it wasn’t a guarantee. We did become a NATO member state but our European future is still unclear. And it doesn’t seem very likely it will be clearer any time soon.

We were also paid a visit by the new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, last year in June. Then another one by the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, in March this year. They told us all sorts of nice things about Macedonia and Macedonians and the Macedonian language and about alliances and friendship and about the EU. All in vain.

In fact, I have the impression that whoever comes from the EU and whatever they say is in vain. Out of all the European leaders we only trust Radev’s words. He’s the one who accomplished everything he promised.

4 Instead of having two new bridges, Skopje now has one bridge less. But that’s not all. The city is on the verge of bankruptcy, and our public transport is in its worst state ever, the traffic jams on the streets in Skopje are unbearable, and Mayor Danela Arsovska is blaming VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM for the chaos.

SDSM is blaming VMRO-DPMNE, which nominated Danela for mayor, VMRO-DPMNE is blaming SDSM for cooperating with their mayor, SDSM councillors are demanding an extraordinary session, VMRO-DPMNE isn’t scheduling a session because it’s waiting for the mayor’s proposal, although she doesn’t attend scheduled sessions and avoids their questions. Everyone is complaining that they can’t find a way to communicate with her and I don’t know if they think the bridge that caught fire and is now closed to traffic will be fixed if they just continue blaming each other. And, of course, public transport and the empty account will be solved on their own as well.

The parties are idly staring at the suffering of our citizens and are waiting for Danela to deliver the final blow on our capital. And the frustrated citizens don’t really care if she’s in cahoots with SDSM, with VMRO-DPMNE or with DUI, while they’re waiting at bus stops, while they’re crammed together in jam-packed busses, while they’re late for work or while they’re honking their horns trapped in traffic-jams stretching for several kilometres.

All those comparing the mayor of VMRO-DPMNE with Piccolomini are wrong. Piccolomini set fire to Skopje in just one day and – it was over. And if Danela managed to ruin the city this much in just a year, who knows what awaits us in the next three years.

Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski