Back to the contents
The Secretary
read in Macedonian


Once again, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is making a pilgrimage to the Balkans and, once again, she is leaving out Macedonia.  She has made four trips to the area and not once has she visited Macedonia.  In fact, the last time a sitting US Secretary of State visited Macedonia was almost ten years ago by then Secretary Colin Powell.

What does this mean?  It might have something to do with the US presidential and congressional elections on November 6.  This is one of the closest races in history and President Obama needs every vote.  Greek-Americans are by and large Democrats, the party of President Obama, and he is counting on their votes.  If Secretary Clinton were to visit Macedonia and not visit Greece, this might be taken by some members of the Greek-American community that Obama is abandoning them and they might not turn out to vote for him.  Granted, basing your foreign policy on domestic politics is a despicable thing to do, but there you go.

But her non-trip to Macedonia might be due to other reasons.  Writing in his blog on October 25, our friend Daniel Serwer writes “In addition, Washington and Brussels have come to believe that Macedonia’s Prime Minister Gruevski is a big part of the problem in the decades-long search for a name (other than Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM) that Greece will accept.  He seems to think he is better off just leaving things as they are, since everyone except Greeks calls the country Macedonia (even Greek officials don’t object any more).”

Two points: First, not “everyone except Greeks”  calls the country Macedonia.  NATO doesn’t.  The EU doesn’t.  The UN doesn’t.  France doesn’t.  Australia doesn’t.  When an organization or the leaders of a country won’t call you by the name you call yourself and must resort to a fictional derivative, it hurts.  So I do not for a moment believe that Prime Minister Gruevski is “a big part of the problem” and I do believe that he does want to solve the issue; he just doesn’t want to compromise Macedonia’s identity, which, for the 1000th time, is an integral part of the name.  It is with every country.  Second point: Greek officials do object all the time.  To say that they do not is just simply not true.

But Serwer’s first point has been floating around for quite some time.  In June of 2010 I wrote about remarks Zoran Thaler made.  I wrote, “MEP Zoran Thaler, in Skopje last week said Brussels doubts Macedonia’s sincerity in wanting to join the EU.  According to Balkan Insight, ‘The MEP warned that there is a growing feeling in Brussels that Skopje is not entirely sincere when it says it wants to join the EU.  He says that Brussels is becoming suspicious of the true intentions of the government led by Gruevski.’”

I have said and written this many times before: Washington and Brussels both want this issue to go away.  They are tired of it and they don’t want to deal with it.  At the same time, they do not see how they can convince Greece to change its position and since – as we have been told many times by many people – since Greece is “in the club” of NATO and the EU and Macedonia is not, Greece holds the cards.  And especially now, when Greece is bankrupt and threatening the very fabric of the EU, Washington and Brussels do not want to do anything that they or the Greeks might perceive as pushing Greece over the edge.

So they sacrifice Macedonia instead and believe –  deeply in their hearts – that Macedonia is, after all, the weaker party and that by putting more pressure on Macedonia, the Macedonians will bend.  Washington and Brussels believe – deeply in their hearts – that the shiny beads and trinkets that are the EU and NATO are so appealing to the Macedonians that the Macedonians will be willing to sacrifice their name and identity to get into these clubs.

But Washington and Brussels have calculated wrong.  They believe – deeply in their hearts – that the EU and NATO are indeed worthy projects failing to realize that they are both deeply flawed organizations on the verge of bankruptcy.  At the same time, Washington and Brussels – being made up of individuals with a worldview from the multicultural left – believe that in the long run, names and identity don’t really matter too much.  They want to see a world where everyone is one group, where everyone is a part of one big, human happy family, where everyone gives up their individuality.  They fail to understand the deep human desire to be recognized and valued as individuals or as individual nations.

Despite all this, Secretary Clinton will not have to worry about Macedonia or the Balkans anymore as she has stated that she will be leaving the Department of State should Obama be re-elected.  If he is not, however, we may yet see a positive change in attitude toward Macedonia from a President Romney.

Copyright ©
Jason Miko
Designed & hosted by
Jurak OT Petrof Studio