April 19th, 2016 ~ Fort Russ News ~
~ Op-ed By: F. Kostadinovski ~
Macedonia has been rocked by protests and counter-protest in recent days. The opposition says their protests are a shimmer of light in the darkness, while the government describes their moves as anti-state, anti-historical. But, analyzing whole Macedonian situation is a field full of darkness, full of “tenebris”. What is hidden behind those demonstrations in Skopje, where thousands of youth demonstrators, media figures gathered on both sides, to support one side, against the same target? What is the target? The president; the governing party released in statements to the media that these protests are against president’s pardons, and the opposition party demolished his office near the main square.
The country has been in a political crisis for almost 20 years, but we can see its culmination in recent years. What happened before the release of telephone communications between government officials, and the office’s security videos from opposition figures is still secret. But speculations are the same in almost every country rocked by protests – Russian influence. Did Russia really touch red button and initiate wringing in Macedonia’s multi-ethnic “soft, mushy” society?
The main reasons as speculated by people are the construction of a pipeline from a southern Macedonian town to a northwestern village in the country and, government credits that were borrowed from China, or maybe a Russian map seeing Macedonia as part of the Turkish “blue” stream pipeline? Gas, gas, gas.
But, debates over these speculations is like waiting for the cows to come home. The fact is that the Macedonian government, after 20 years of independence and a blockages by the EU and NATO over entry, turned its eyes to Russia and China, as wealthier and more stable countries, than the unstable EU countries. But, why are officials saying that Macedonia was attacked by foreign secret services and then, they don’t name them? A game of diplomacy. High diplomacy: world powers don’t name their opponents. Because, as one Balkan saying goes, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.
Notable arguments for a warm partnership between Macedonia and Russia, as reported by Macedonian media, were people wearing Putin t-shirts at pro-government counter-protests. It’s a matter of affection, and we know that in post-Yugoslav countries, people like Putin. What’s unclear?
Chinese and Russian markets are ready for the absorption of Macedonian products. Roughly 2 billion people, including BRICS, and other like that partnership, can burn through Macedonian products within a minute. This is about the real economy, why choose unstable EU countries, when you can profit from the Russians and Chinese?
The formerly weaker Russia now is a real political giant that can be another pillar in the world’s geopolitical outcomes, as described in the “Grand chessboard” by Bzezinski. It attracts independent leaders in the Balkans and Eastern Europe to think positively about warming relations with Russia, and it can be more openly accepted in Slavic countries, as they have cultural and historical ties with Russia.
In the context of the Macedonian crisis we can speak about double standards as well. Leaking telephone communications in Macedonia is democracy but leaking communications with the West is a betrayal of the state. Macedonia is also full of this duality. We have protests and we have counter-protests. It’s a good strategy for stimulating the masses. In 2007, in Russia, Putin’s supporters gathered in the hundreds of thousand to be heard, to counter US sponsored anti-government protests, and what happened? From that day forward, Russia hasn’t been hit by meaningfully large anti-government demonstrations.
On Friday there is meeting planned for the political leaders of Macedonia in Vienna. What will happen is yet to be seen, but everyone needs to know that countries meddling in another country’s affairs is only for political profit. Why would anyone help you if they don’t have a material interest?
Also, there are large activities being conducted by the NGO sphere. It’s reported by pro-government agencies that High School oriented NGO’s are motivating students to protest in Skopje, and money for these NGOs are connected to only one center – Soros’s Open Society Foundation, as you can see on the web page of groups like the Youth Educational Forum.
Warming relations with Russia and China appear to be the West’s primary motivation for attempting to turn a rather banal political scandal into a protest movement that may seem regime change and destabilization in Macedonia. What we can hope for now is that cooler heads will prevail, and that the outcome of this process will see a more stable and better oriented Macedonian state emerge.