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Macedonia’s Controversial Coalition Government

SKOPJE MACEDONIA emerging europe

Macedonia has a new coalition government comprised of SDSM (the former communist party) and two ethnic Albanian junior coalition partners: DUI (a party founded by the members of the local KLA) and DR-DPA (a coalition itself of smaller parties, led by the mayor of Struga).

The government has only a thin majority, as it has support of 62 out 120 deputies in the Parliament. Its formation was prolonged for months because the President, Gjorgji Ivanov, refused to give a mandate to the leader of SDSM and now Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, until he, publicly and in written form, guaranteed that the new government would not work against the unitary character of Macedonia and its constitution.

This issue is fundamental to the stability of the country. As SDSM did not, in fact, win the elections; it lost 49 to 51 to the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, and it had to make some compromises with the two junior partners, who in turn demanded the implementation of the so-called Tirana Platform, written demands made by three of the four biggest ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia.

The majority of Macedonians were, and still are, vigorously against this Platform, with tens of thousands protesting against in the streets around the country for months. Although Zaev promised to keep the unitary character of the state, it is difficult to imagine how the coalition will function if the DUI and DP-DRA’s demands for the implementation of the Tirana Platform are not heeded. Meanwhile the new government is attempting to resolve the most pressing issue that is obstructing the country’s entry into NATO and the start of its EU accession negotiations: the so-called “name issue.”

The foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, was very optimistic that a compromise might be found with Greece, so that Athens does not block Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, de facto. This fear was unfounded as the Greek government objected to Macedonia’s admittance to NATO, even if it was to be made under the UN’s temporary reference, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A 1995 Interim Agreement between Greece and Macedonia specifically stipulates that Athens will not block the entry of its northern neighbour into international organisations, if it uses the UN’s provisional name.

Macedonia even won this matter at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, in 2011. The ICJ determined, by 15 fifteen votes to one, that Greece’s objection to Macedonia’s application to join NATO in 2008, was contrary to article 11(1) of the Interim Accord. Yet, at the moment, Greek diplomatic policy seems to prevail over Macedonia. Athens insists that the country change its name to Vardar Macedonia, not only in bilateral relationships and in international organisations, but also in its own constitution.

Such a move is very difficult, if not impossible, for an SDSM led (or any other) Macedonian government, even if the prize is admittance to NATO and a strengthening of stability. This leaves the new government in a weak position. Its capacity to work is already burdened by the negative potential of the so-called Tirana Platform on inter-ethnic relations.

The new ministers who are responsible for running the economy and for attracting new investments do not inspire confidence in either the general or the expert public. They have promoted ideas for new taxation policies that seem quite controversial. Zaev himself is a controversial politician, who was pardoned for a criminal offence by the former president, Branko Crvenkovski, who himself is currently under trial for corruption charges. He has also made some very conflicting statements concerning relations with Serbia, Bulgaria and Kosovo. We should also note that VMRO-DPMNE won the biggest number of votes overall, and enjoys substantially more support among the majority of Macedonians, over SDSM.

If NATO and the EU do not find ways to accelerate the process of Euro-Atlantic integration against the Greek position, and the economy does not take off, there will be a strong possibility of social, party, and/or inter-ethnic implosion.

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The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.

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About the author

Zhidas Daskalovski

Zhidas Daskalovski

Zhidas Daskalovski is a professor of political science, and one of the most prominent political scientists in the country. He is the director of the Council of Europe supported School of Public Policy |Mother Teresa|. He is the 2008 Young Scientist of the Year of the Macedonian Academy of Science and a recipient of a number of distinguished research fellowships including the Lord Dahrendorf Fellowship at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University. He holds a PhD from the Political Science Department, Central European University. He has published numerous scholarly articles on politics in the South-eastern European region.

8 Comments

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  • It is unlikely that Zaev will be able to contain the demands of the Albanian nationalists, or the subsequent backlash from the Macedonian nationalists, if he makes concessions to the Albanians -even if NATO is in the picture. I guess they could try to deflect attention from growing tensions by somehow blaming Russia, though Russia no longer has any real presence in the region. Anyways, blaming Russia will not stop the nationalist forces on both sides that have been unleashed from recent elections. Nor will turning into a police state to deal with both groups.

    Brian Ghilliotti

  • It all started with the uneducated goat herder writing poetry about his village. Georgi Pulevski claimed that he was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. I tend to think he was a descendant of Alexander the Goat. Like Ljubčo Georgievski he had an about face and claimed to be Bulgarian. In fact he stated he regretted not being able to execute the unification of Bulgaria and Ottoman Macedonia. Antiquization was replaced by a pan Slavic united Bulgaria. Georgi Pulevski went from being a goat herder to a stonemason to a founder of Macedonism to a Bulgaphile upon his death. Goergievski and Pulevski are similar in this regard. They both renounced their new found religion and came to their senses. With the death of the uneducated stonemason the Bulgarians of Vardar Macedonia were cured until the unimaginable happened – TITO. A half caste Croat/Slovene redefines the Bulgarians of Vardar Banovina as Macedonians. The Diaspora left their little villages with a suitcase and a story. Tito’s story. Just when it couldn’t get any worse Todov and his deluded intellectuals addicted to Pulevski poetry brainwash their population. FYROM is born. Gruevski is the second coming of Pulevski.

    The ethnic Bulgarian will always be the ethnic Bulgarian. The ethnic Greek will always be an ethnic Greek. Language defines both of us. The Antiquization story is flawed. This why FYROM today has failed. Let’s not nation build on an uneducated stonemason. Read his work as a literary piece rather than a historical piece. Be proud of your Bulgarian ethnicity and don’t allow historical distortions. You are what you speak and the FYROMIAN Slavs speak Bulgarian.

  • Antihellenic garbage.

    Any article that glosses over the former Yugoslavian recent identity switch-a-roo into “ancient Macedonians” and obvious irredentism against Greece… exactly as Greeks warned would happen would happen if they were ridiuclously recognized as “ethnic” macedonians… has ZERO credibility. Please go make love to yourself you patronizing bigot.

  • Correction. Macedonia and Macedonians are located in Macedonia…Greece… not ancient Paeonia (Skopje).

    Greece should start shopping around for new allies. Invite Russia a place to park their nuclear subs in the Aegean and recognize the self-determination of Crimea. If some of its alleged NATO “allies’ complain… point them to their behavior around Skopjian irredentism and call their problem with Russia “bilateral” problem. Real allies don’t casually collude with extremists trying to subtlety erase Greeks with Macedonian word games.

  • Seem to recall the 1995 agreement also had clauses against irredentism and cultural theft. Lets not pretend we don’t notice the former Yugoslavians building giant Alexander statues in ancient Paeonia and promoting “United Macedonia” Herr Daskalovski

  • We are getting tired of Bulgarian speaking Slavs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia claiming antiquity and Greek history. We are getting tired of seeing grotesque Italian reproduction statues erected in this pit of a place. We are getting tired of these Slavs parading illegal flags with Greek symbols around their country. We are getting tired of reading Antiquization propaganda coming out of the deluded uneducated diaspora of Australia. We are getting tired of these Slavs stealing Bulgarian history. We are getting tired of these Slavs stealing Albanian history. we are getting tired of these Slavs stealing Serbian history. We are getting tired of seeing United Macedonian maps. We are getting tired of FYROM. The world is getting tired of FYROM. Mother Theresa. Samuel. Alexander. Phillip. Plato. Dalchev. Gruev. Thieves. False foundations have been set. Abandoned they felt by Bulgaria in 1913. Legitimacy they felt from Tito when he cut the umbilical cord from Bulgaria and gave them a identity. Legitimacy they craved in 1991 on the 8th of September when they were finally made independent.
    Macedonia is a region not an ethnicity. The word is Greek. As such only a Greek can call themselves a Macedonian if he or she so pleases to do so. A Bulgarian speaking Slav cannot. Slaveni from the Byzantine Empire via the Bulgarian empire via the Ottoman empire via the Serbian empire via Yugoslavia do not become descendants of Ancient Macedonians. They remain Slaveni. They speak Slavic because they are Slavic. No link to antiquity either via history or science. This is what we are all tired of. No FYROM Slav politician is welcome in Greece until they change their name, flag, school curriculum, airport name, highway names, football stadium names, destroy their Greek statues and start educating and rehabilitating their population. Oh, I forgot. Antiquization that has been used by these deluded ultra nationalists is as bad as Scientology and believing in Martians.
    Zaev, Gruevski, Crvenkovski,Šekerinska,Bučkovski, Dimitriev, Kostov, Georgievski, Ivanov, Andov, Klimovski, you can all stay home. All of you have had ample time to come up with an appropriate name and all have failed. All of you have attempted to hang on to our history with your distortions and rhetoric.
    what you want to be called and what you are different. Greece will not compromise its beautiful nation and exceptional history for a nation of lost souls. When you are the most influential nation on earth and believe us when we say that Greece is, you do not negotiate your history.
    We gave you alphabet. We gave you democracy. We gave you religion. We gave you humanism. We gave you Alexander the Great. Instead of saying thank you Greece for giving us so much you assume a thieving position and try and snatch a story. A story that is a myth.
    Its not the Republic of Macedonia. It’s the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It’s not Macedonian. Its Ethnic Bulgarian. Ethnic Albanian. Ethnic Vlach. Ethnic Turk. Ethnic Serb. Ethnic Roma. This is what it is.
    As much as I loathe Golden Dawn, the person Dimitrov should be negotiating with on the name issue is Ilias Kasidiaris. He would be a match for any one of these historically deluded Slavs. No compromise. No concessions. No tolerance. A name that befits your nation is required. Stay in Bitola you uneducated farm animals