Good news shouldn’t obscure deep problems

I try not to pay too much attention to the Balkans these days, as there are much more important things going on in the world. But today’s news that the European Union has brokered an agreement that will allow Macedonia to hold early elections by April 24 next year crossed my desk at about the same time as an IRI Poll illustrating all too clearly why European mediation was necessary.

Prime Minister Gruevski, who won big in April 2014 parliamentary elections, has seen his popularity evaporate quickly. Disapproval has reached 55%. Almost half of the citizens now think the country is moving in the wrong direction (compared to fewer than one-quarter who think it is moving in the wrong direction). The single most popular solution is resignation of the prime minister. Most think the government has no plan to solve the country’s economic problems and relatively few think it is even trying to deal with corruption.

One big cause of Gruevski’s decline is the wire-tapping scandal that has bedeviled the country this year. This has generated enormous distrust in the government and Gruevski’s political party. Forty-two per cent of the population believes one or the other paid or engaged armed Albanians to stage a rebellion in May. That notion may be ridiculous, but it certainly demonstrates the level of distrust Gruevski has engendered.

The prime minister will now be required to resign so that a new government, with a different prime minister chosen by his party, can be sworn in 100 days before the election. Even before then new Interior and Labor/Social Affairs ministers chosen by the main Macedonian opposition party will enter the government, along with deputy ministers in key ministries and a new Special Prosecutor. The opposition has committed to returning to parliament. Resignation of the government 100 days before elections is supposed to become a permanent feature of the political landscape.

The cherry on this cake will be a meeting of the EU’s heretofore moribund High-Level Accession Dialogue in September.

All of this makes eminently good sense, but none of it will mean much unless the real causes of Macedonia’s malaise are identified and resolved. I would count these as

  1. A government and governing parties used to doing as they please with a minimum of transparency or accountability.
  2. Media and civil society that suffer constant harassment and threats.
  3. Interethnic relations that encourage Macedonians and Albanians to live more apart than together.
  4. A judicial system under the thumb of politicians and unable to conduct proper investigations of corruption and other malfeasance at high levels.
  5. An EU accession process stalled by Greek refusal to accept Macedonia’s constitutional name.

Getting rid of Gruevski and holding new elections does little to respond to these issues. He may even do well in next year’s election, despite current polling. Nor do I have a magic wand that will solve these problems, but the EU needs to recognize that a bit of reshuffling of government positions won’t cure the diseases that plague Skopje.

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5 thoughts on “Good news shouldn’t obscure deep problems”

  1. I agree with your analysis of the situation.
    I’ve spoken to friends and they are in constant fear.
    Fear is everywhere in Macedonia and after so much
    pain and suffering I don’t see a democratic country
    I wish I could do more to help

  2. Dear Greeks,

    Pay close attention to the continued unethical evasions of Skopje apologists over blatantly obvious irredentism going in Skopje. They all act like either they don’t notice their quick change into ancient Macedonians or downplay it as minor. They also act like they don’t notice large numbers of Skopje’s promoting “United Macedonia”.

    This is not due to carelessness or ineptitude. This conscious effort on the part of Skopje’s supporters to threaten Greece and Greeks.

    Frankly speaking, at this juncture only only A few nuclear subs parked in Greek ports will wake them up the reality if you keep threatening your allies they eventually threaten back.

  3. Russia is currently feeling threaten by the over the top anti-Russian rhetoric by some over the Ukraine situation. The US effectively started this situation by backing the violent overthrow of democratically elected pro-Russian Ukrainian government in lew of Ukrainian ultra nationalists. In other words, Russia is looking for allies.

    Given the over-the-top anti-Greek rhetoric by our alleged allies these last few years, their support for Skopje’s irretentism, Greece needs to be looking at expanding its military options beyond NATO. Russia would be a good fit.

    It will be much harder for Greek haters like Serwer to evade with Russian thermalnuclear armed submarines parked in Greece. When words fail to defend from an attacker, force becomes the only option left on the table.

  4. Skopje supporters ridiculous claim there is no evidence of irrdentism when it blatantly obvious. (precisely what their
    recent bizarre change into “conceit Macedonians” is about)
    No one that follows the issue could so incompetent as to not notice. No one.

    This is a conscious attack on Greeks by Skopje supporters. They are effectively trying to ethnically exterminate Greeks through side channel attack of trying to delete our very identity… an act of war.

  5. Smile at the vermin that supported Skopjians, be polite in person, but understand these people are literally trying to commit genocide on the Greek people.

    Aside from working towards dismantling the EU and NATO for betraying Greece, we should also work towards dismantling their identities as they tried to do with Greeks.

    Use the same sort of post modernist ‘imagined communities’ philosophical view of nations they do with Greeks on their own identities. Add the prefix *modern* when discussing their background. Support illegal immigration into their own nations as they did with Greeks. Call them fascists and racist if they disagree. Inch by inch shred their identities in tit-for-tat retaliation. Only if they experience our pain, will they understand.

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