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What Crisis
read in Macedonian


Part 1

Crisis: “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially: one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome <a financial crisis>” Merriam-Webster online dictionary

Children continue to go to school.  Businesses continue to make money.  Churches continue to conduct services. The green markets and other markets continue to sell products.  Banks continue to remain open.  Planes arrive and depart at the airport.  Foreign direct investment continues to come in.  The government continues working.  Life goes on pretty much as it always has.

These descriptions do not paint the picture of a crisis. And yet many –  in and out of Macedonia – are saying there is a crisis in the country.  I would not even call it a “political” crisis as some have also said.  The opposition’s boycott of parliament and threat to boycott the local elections is a problem, but it does not reach the level of crisis.  After all, there are constitutional mechanisms in place to deal with the former situation and people can always vote for the candidates who are running in the latter situation.  Just because the opposition decides not to field candidates (and they may change their minds by February 16) does not mean that people do not have a choice at the elections.

I have seen – and lived through – real crises in Macedonia, the region and the world.  The days and weeks after NATO’s bombing of the-then Yugoslavia in 1999 were a real crisis.  The 2001 conflict – at times – was a crisis.  The 9/11 attack on America was a crisis.  The $16 trillion in American debt – that Americans owe – that is a crisis that will bring down America and the world.

When we throw around words without really considering their meaning we cheapen them.  Words have meaning and using them out of context takes away from their meaning.  So we need to be careful when talking about a so-called crisis.

Part 2

Instead of talking about a “crisis” I prefer to talk about some good news.  Too often in my journey with Macedonia, I have found that Macedonians often focus – to an extreme – on bad news, especially bad news at home.  And oftentimes, that “bad” news is blown out of proportion (like the “crisis” situation above) and isn’t really all that bad.  Frankly, focusing on bad news – or what you consider to be bad news – is actually bad for your health, mentally, spiritually and sometimes even physically.  So let’s look at some good news.

Bloomberg reports on a €130 million, 44 turbine wind farm that a Turkish company will begin building in southern Macedonia this July.  Airport traffic is up at the Alexander the Great Airport with new airlines and new destinations.  Macedonian wines are winning in competition around Europe.  And Indian billionaire Subrata Roy has unveiled his plans to build a world-class resort on Lake Ohrid over the next many years which will need construction jobs to make, add permanent hospitality jobs and make the Lake a year-round tourist destination (and yes, UNESCO will be there, along with the Government, to ensure that it does not take anything away from the special cultural heritage of Ohrid).

In January Automotive News, an online website with news about the automotive industry published by Crain Communications featured a timely article about the automotive industry in Macedonia.  It noted that Macedonia now has 50 different plants producing automotive parts and 2,500 jobs in this industry – with more coming.  The writer made the case that the Czech Republic started selling itself as a destination for auto parts manufacturers in 2004 and now, almost a decade later, the auto parts industry in the Czech Republic is booming. 

And there are many other good things happening in Macedonia.  I read news every day that tells a story of something good happening in Macedonia whether it is related to business, sports, music and other cultural events, food and wine, tourism or public policy.  And reflecting further on that truth, wouldn’t it be refreshing to find a website dedicated to publishing all of the good news coming from Macedonia?  A one-stop-shop where you could click on links with stories about all of the good things happening in Macedonia or with Macedonians around the world?

I leave you with a story from the other week that happened to me. I met an Arizona rancher, Paul Schwennesen, who raises cattle on his family’s 11,000 acre ranch in southern Arizona. Before returning to the family business in 2007, he served in the US Air Force including in Afghanistan. When I told him about my background and time spent with Macedonia, he told me how he fondly remembers the Macedonian troops in Afghanistan, playing football with them and the Macedonian chants during the game: MAK-E-DONIJA! MAK-E-DONIJA!  That is good news worth celebrating but it also points to a truth: wherever you go, you are an Ambassador for Macedonia.  Focus on the good things in Macedonia.

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Jason Miko
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