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The Accession Talks
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And so the local elections are set, this time without SDSM.  That is their choice, however poor a choice it is.  They had the opportunity to be a part of the democratic process, and they chose not to (though some courageous individuals left the party and are running as independents).  They had an opportunity to compete in the marketplace of ideas and see who had the better ideas, but they were obviously afraid of that competition.

Because of this, many in the EU and elsewhere are warning that Macedonia will not receive a positive report this spring so that accession talks on EU membership can begin.  Macedonia, please do not let the outsiders worry you or tell you that all is gloom and doom.  If you are not granted EU accession talks in the spring, it is not a major problem. It is an issue that has to be dealt with but if it does not happen now, it will happen at some point in the near future.  How often has Greece (and now Bulgaria) vetoed the start of talks before?  Yes, four.  And life goes on much the same as it always has. And so it will continue.

Macedonia not receiving a green light to begin talks (however favorable the reports have been) is something that Macedonia has lived with for years, only this time blame will be placed with Greece, Bulgaria, SDSM and Branko Crvenkovski.  It is my belief that even if SDSM were not boycotting parliament and were participating in the local elections, the start of accession talks would not begin, precisely because of Greece (and probably Bulgaria too).  Nothing in Greece’s attitude is going to change unless Macedonia agrees to change its identity and name internally and externally.  That is a fact of life no matter how much the EU, NATO and the US say otherwise.  Sorry.  The only difference is that this time Greece and Bulgaria can now point to Macedonia’s internal political differences (i.e. the intransigence of Branko Crvenkovski and company) and say that Macedonia is “not a democracy” or some such other nonsense.

We have seen all the statements from the EU and others.  Last week, Stefan Fule cancelled a visit to Macedonia because, as his spokesman said, “the commissioner does not consider that his visit at this particular time ... would be appropriate.” Then MEP and the EU’s rapporteur for Macedonia, Richard Howitt visited Macedonia and was quoted as saying  he may even delay asking the EU to vote on his report because he won’t be able to issue a positive one if the current political atmosphere in Macedonia remains (i.e. the opposition continues behaving badly).  But in his statement, he didn’t help his case, at least with Macedonia.

Look, Richard Howitt is a friend of Macedonia and has Macedonia’s best interests at heart.  But when he issues a public statement that says “this,” “the,” or “your” country instead of “Macedonia” 15 times, he loses his credibility and moral authority with the Macedonian people.  And this is the problem with the EU, NATO and others – they want the Macedonian people to listen to them but then they cannot say “Macedonia” publicly, why should any Macedonian take them seriously?  My challenge to the EU, NATO and others: say Macedonia.  Will Greece get upset and issue threats?  Of course.  But who cares?  They can’t do anything that they haven’t already done, in other words, block Macedonia.  Greece is beholden to the EU for money, cash, Euros, dollars, whatever, so there’s not too much else that they can do.  Like a four year old child throwing a temper tantrum (which they will do), they will have a good cry and yell and scream but at the end of the day, like that four year old, they will do as mom and dad says.

And so we come back to the opposition, which, we all agree, is necessary in a democracy.  But a democracy needs a loyal opposition, one that is loyal to the country and in the current leadership of SDSM, there is no loyalty to the country.  Only loyalty to one very disturbed individual.

The biggest problem SDSM has is Branko Crvenkovski.  I don’t know if Branko is physically or mentally ill but I do know this – he is spiritually dead.  He believes in nothing but himself.  The most important thing in the life of Branko Crvenkovski is….Branko Crvenkovski.  Faith, family, friends and country do not matter to Branko…only Branko means something for Branko. As long as Branko is influencing politics in Macedonia, Macedonia will always be beholden to the ego and whims of….Branko. I actually do pray for Branko occasionally.  But I don’t hold out much hope that he will repent of his sins.  He is forever lost.  As long as he is behind the scenes, pulling strings, and as long as other leaders within SDSM do not step forward and repudiate him, I’m afraid the opposition in Macedonia will continue to be a sideshow.  And that is unfortunate for Macedonia.

But still, life continues much as it has for years.  Not everyone sees all of the positive things going on in Macedonia, and the news unfortunately often concentrates on bad news but remember this: as long as you have your faith, family and friends you are rich indeed.

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Jason Miko
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