Why does Macedonia’s political system seem rigged to fail? Why are some individuals apparently so willing to put personal gain ahead of the national interest?
In short, it is because the political system is built on democratic foundations that were seriously compromised by the violence of 2001. And, because that system is rife with moral hazard that seriously challenges the ethical compass of all who function within it.
The democratic foundation of Macedonia must be recast, and the skewed political incentives must be repealed — post haste.
The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) – in studying what ails Macedonia – has come to some critical conclusions:
1. The Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) is an unmitigated failure and dead. In 2001, the UCK/NLA terrorist organization attacked Macedonia and committed grotesque acts of violence and cruelty, killing many innocent people. Instead of being made to answer for their crimes, the “leaders” of this terrorist group were appeased and rewarded with the OFA — which offered them a de facto state-within-a-state. In return, they agreed to turn in their weapons and affirmed Macedonia’s unitary integrity. However, with the declaration by Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama of the Tirana Platform, a provocation issued shortly after Macedonia’s December 11, 2016 election, it should be obvious to all that the OFA was not worth the paper it was written on. It was simply a temporary means to a greater end for the former terrorists and their internal and external allies. It is time for all participants in Macedonia’s political system to recognize that the OFA was dead on arrival and that the charade needs to end immediately.
2. The Amnesty Law is the “factory defect” of Macedonian democracy. Macedonian governments over the past 15 years have had no moral authority to pardon crimes against humanity. That this was done by a broad consensus, with the full endorsement of the West, only makes this law even more of an abomination. The current crisis would never have been possible without the Amnesty Law, which for years has reinforced the illegitimate idea that violence and corruption is the path to power in Macedonia. As such, no attempt to re-establish democracy or rule of law in the country will ultimately succeed until every case of war crimes is re-opened, and the victims of 2001 see justice served.
3. A fair election is not possible without a legitimate national census. There is much debate about which party’s claim to power is the constitutional one. However, no one can dispute that a census is normally required every 10 years, with the last census having taken place in 2002. Efforts to conduct a census in 2011 were intentionally blocked, apparently for fear of the predicted results (and their potential after-effects), which would almost certainly place ethnic Albanian communities well below the arbitrary 20% threshold that the OFA requires for granting greater political powers.
In order to extricate itself from the current crisis, UMD strongly urges all who are active in Macedonian politics to stop merely talking about democracy and the rule of law and, in addition, to start respecting these first principles in earnest, by putting the interests of the nation first and foremost.
• UMD calls for a broad-based voluntary agreement by all (or at least the two largest) political parties, that the December 11, 2016 election results be declared null and void, on the grounds that there has been no legal and accurate census upon which to base them, thereby rendering them in conflict with the Constitution;
• UMD calls on all political parties to condemn the Tirana Platform – a separatist nationalistic agenda being pushed by Albanian political parties, which discriminates against all others in Macedonia, and which has turned a political crisis into an ethnic one;
• UMD calls on the West, specifically the U.S. and the EU, to condemn the perfidy of the Tirana Platform – as their negligent silence vis-à-vis that document, coupled with their lack of support for the ICJ’s judgment in Macedonia vs. Greece, have tarnished the West’s credibility among (and thus the trust given to the West by) the Macedonian public;
• UMD calls for a fair and accurate census to be organized immediately, using transparent methods and other best practices;
• UMD calls for all parties – equipped with an accurate census — to return to the citizens of Macedonia to seek a clear mandate, via new elections at the earliest reasonable opportunity;
• UMD calls for all parties to take their ideas directly to the voters as part of an election campaign, and to let the people choose their own representatives, based on full disclosure of the party platforms, especially with regards to policies that may threaten the unitary and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia;
• UMD calls on all political parties and their parliamentary representatives to pledge their absolute allegiance to the Republic of Macedonia and its people, its Constitution, institutions and flag, or risk the revocation of their Macedonian citizenship and their right to vote;
• UMD calls for all parties to recognize and affirm that the Macedonian language is the national language, and that it is a vital unifying element of Macedonian society;
• UMD calls on Macedonia’s institutions to implement a rule that political parties must not be based on ethnic lines but rather by political ideology – in order to drive greater unified national interests and citizen engagement;
• UMD calls on all Macedonian citizens to understand and respect fundamental values of Macedonian society – most notably, freedom of speech and expression, civil discourse, freedom of association, the right to self-defense, parliamentary representative democracy, limited (transparent and ethical) government, separation of powers, rule of law, free and competitive markets, equality of opportunity and justice for all citizens;
• UMD urges increased border vigilance by the Macedonian Army, policing authorities, and NATO troops, particularly along the borders of Albania and Kosovo (especially since, in violation of U.S. and NATO agreements, Kosovo has recently started building a Kosovar army and conducting military exercises) and especially before and after the upcoming census and elections;
• UMD implores Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) to actively join the already significantly strained Macedonian Army and policing authorities, in patrolling and protecting the Greece-Macedonia border for the anticipated influx of migrants in connection with the EU-Turkey disagreements;
• UMD calls on the governments of Greece and Bulgaria to finally exhibit good neighborly relations and 21st century principles, by recognizing the Macedonian identity (it should be embarrassing for these two EU member-states – in 2017 – to try to negate an entire ethnic group as if it were 1817. It is high time for the West and the EU to live up to their espoused values and apply them equally to all of their members); and;
• In conclusion, UMD reiterates its long-standing policy of rejecting all attempts to change or impose any other name upon Macedonia and the Macedonian people, and calls upon the Macedonian government to formally withdraw from the 20+ year old UN sponsored “name” negotiations and, also, submit a resolution before the UN General Assembly and Security Council to be recognized by the UN under its one and only constitutional and rightful name of the Republic of Macedonia