These past years I’ve tried to salvage what I could from the reputation of the Western countries (US under Obama and the EU countries) among my fellow conservative Macedonians. It was often a losing battle. Blackmailed at start that, in order to be fully accepted as an equal partner, we must adopt a humiliating change to the name of our country and our nation, we’ve, never the less, able to develop an open relationship. We have free trade and travel agreements with the EU (the type of relationship UK voted to have) and we largely coordinate foreign policy with NATO. Foreign investment flooded into the country after free market reforms started in 2006. I figured we don’t really need to make our Euro-Atlantic relationship official since we can all have the largely full benefits of membership without meeting the stupid Greek demands.
This all changed with the political crisis of the Western countries that followed the economic collapse (we still don’t have a name for this period, do we?) The left wing Obama administration and select EU countries (and large part of the EU bureaucracy) openly sided with the discredited former Communists in Macedonia. The methods are the same used in Hungary, Poland, against Republicans in the US… Declare the enemy to be illiberal, undemocratic, literally worse than Hitler! (or in the case Balkan case, Milosevic) to justify divisions among the already not so solid conservative party alliances in Europe, to threaten sanctions and isolation through unelected EU bodies and dangle reports from biased NGO groups. I just love how the EU Commission allows a Dutch politician from their socialist Labour Party, who was just decimated in the polls, to boss countries the size of Poland and Hungary around. You can imagine how much worse it is in a small country like Macedonia, where even first term EU Parliament members or the hapless pro-Russian EU envoy attempt to wield serious power. And sometimes do, as the losing parties, like our former Communists and the parties of the ethnic Albanian minority, allow them to, and accept anything said from “the West” as the Gospel.
The only sovereignist party in Macedonia, the VMRO, is also the only reformist one, as it was born as a protest movement against Communism, and is the only, at its core, Western looking party we have. Both the Social-Democrats and the main Albanian party trace their origin in the Communist movement and have decades long history of being Russian influenced in their thinking (or even Chinese influenced). A typical SDSM minister is found in the unreformed, Communist era faculty in Skopje. A typical VMRO minister is an accomplished Macedonian American who worked for a tech company.
And yet, due to the perverse way things have played out in the Obama administration, VMRO are labeled the anti-Western ones, and the former Communists are seen as being “with the West” and are given all sort of help to take over, including unlawfully recorded wiretaps and constant political pressure. May 1st may be a key date, when a State Department envoy arrives to try to hammer home a narrative that the ridiculously unlawful vote in Parliament on Thursday was legitimate, that VMRO should accept a former guerrilla commander as the new Speaker and the creation of a coalition that would, for the first time ever, put the majority of ethnic Macedonians in the opposition, while a minority of Macedonians and all the ethnic Albanians in the country, form a Government, that will work under open-ended promise of ethnic concessions that may lead up to full federalization, break-apart of the country and a regional war. My work in these past years and especially in the past few months, was to point out to conservative ethnic Macedonians that the US and the European countries are not the enemy, that we have many like-minded friends there, and that we only need to ride out the disaster of the Obama presidency and wait for the cavalry to come (of course, this same thinking likely motivated the other side to move ahead with their enormously provocative behavior in Parliament which they must have realized will spark a major incident, in the hope that they will get the international outcry and will form a Government before we have clarity on the future US foreign policy. Worth remembering that the last war in Macedonia started 16 years ago, during the previous transition from a Democratic to a Republican administration). I would have loved nothing better than to use the unexpected election of a GOP administration to work to improve the way Macedonians view the West and to come to a situation where all citizens of Macedonia again see the US as an unbiased partner. But, extensive damage has already been done. The glacial pace of changes in the State Department in which people who already have assigned replacements still appear to dictate policy, is not helping. Ethnic Macedonians are Eastern rite Christians and speak a Slavic language, and the brutally biased behavior from DC and Brussels has forced many to reconsider their strategic allegiance (Russia understands this and offers its support). And, frankly, if US diplomats are actively working to alienate the majority of an entire nation, giving up on their hearts and minds, it’s natural that others countries will barge in. So, this is where we stand right now. So close and yet so far.