The big political story of our days seems to be the push to deprive nation states of their sovereignty, in favor of rule by unelected global bureaucracies, international treaties and media bullies. One such extreme case is happening in Macedonia on Sunday, when the public is called, pushed and pressured to vote in a referendum that would change the name of the country into Republic of North Macedonia, and change the name of the nation, its language, open the door to historic revisionism and raise numerous territorial issues.
Greece has blocked the Republic of Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union as part of its project to prevent creation of independent nation states in the territories divided between her and Serbia after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Greece tried to suffocate Macedonia economically in the early 1990ies, imposing an embargo on the only port Macedonia is connected to by a direct railway link (Solun/Thessaloniki) and Greek politicians have expressed gleeful expectations that Macedonia will collapse under the weight of an inter-ethnic war between Macedonians and the Albanian minority.
Macedonia survived all these threats and attacks and, under the rule of a right wing reformist VMRO party quickly built a modern nation state, with rapid economic growth based on low taxes and regulations and a proud identity, often built specifically on resisting the nationalist Greek demands. In the preceding decade Macedonians were able to soundly defeat the left wing SDSM party, which is the heir to the Yugoslav era Communist party in all its tactics and defeciencies.
Instead, it was Greece with its hyper nationalism which it keeps hiding behind the title of the “first Balkan member of the European Union” that went bankrupt – specifically because it was a part of the EU, and abused its position to borrow far more than it could repay and to create an inefficient clientism based economy. Side by side, Greece sank lower toward the living standards of its neighboring Balkan countries, while Macedonia grew rapidly, opening new automotive part plants and gleaming office buildings housing software companies.
Macedonians grew resigned to the fact that they may never become a full member of the EU and NATO, and nearly forgot about the name issue, enjoying their newfound ability to travel and do business across Europe even without a formal membership treaty, while the VMRO Government proved itself as a reliable NATO partner in all but name.
But, this situation was not allowed to last. With open and direct interference from diplomats from the European Union (including Samuel
Zbogar) and the previous US administration, SDSM received an infusion of money and was encouraged to initiate an extremely divisive campaign to bring down the VMRO Government. This party was given (still unclear by whom) detailed recordings of phone conversations by top VMRO officials, who were then split and rearranged in classic Yugoslav era police fashion to cause as much political damage as possible. Besides the funds often provided directly from the EU or US, this party also received an infusion of the extremist political ideology which we can often see on display in the West – the ideology that teaches us that there are no borders, nations and religion, a deeply anti-Western screed delivered to Macedonia, ironically, stamped with the USAId logo.
After street extensive protests, significant interference from the US Embassy to push ethnic Albanian voters to support SDSM and an attack by armed Albanian insurgents in 2015, the VMRO Government was eventually toppled and we saw what an administration approved by these international “helpers” looks like. Led by a comical and comically corrupt figure called Zoran Zaev, that Government immediately drove the economy into the ground, halting our economic growth (except for the growing bank accounts of businessmen close to Zaev) and focused itself exclusively to giving up the Macedonian national identity. Zaev signed treaties with Bulgaria and Greece which essentially give these countries open hand to rewrite Macedonian history books, demand that comments made by individual citizens are scrubbed from the media or even social media, and badly weaken Macedonian national identity.
Dozens of VMRO officials face kangaroo court trials, critical media outlets have been shut down and Albanian attacks on ethnic Macedonians go unpunished. But, this is all welcomed by the likes of Angela Merkel, Theresa May (who organized a Balkan/EU conference while busy preparing for the British exit from the EU) and even officials from the Trump administration, who insist that once Macedonia gives up its national sovereignty, it will be well taken care of by international structures such as NATO and the EU.
So this is the basic question that is put before the Macedonian people on Sunday – do you believe that you should freely arrange your own affairs as citizens of a country of your own, or will you trust distant, far away bodies where you have no say over decision making to rule over you? True to their totalitarian ideological positions, the promoters of the renaming and neutering of Macedonia are already saying that no matter how Macedonians actually vote, the deal will be pushed forward regardless, with pressures applied against the members of the Macedonian (and Greek Parliament). Still, it will be a rare opportunity to teach a lesson in actual European values and manners to the self styled leaders of Europe, by staying at home and refusing to validate their threats and intimidation.