Mirjana Maleska
Full Professor at the Doctoral School of Political Science, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, Skopje.

Macedonian (Old-New) Issue

This article is written before the political and security crisis in Macedonia and it's published in the book edited byKiril Kerikov:"Challenges of the Changes",Institute of Sociology,BAN,Sofia,2000).

1. History

In his famous article "The Macedonian Syndrome, An Historical Model of International Relations and Political Development", published in 1971 in World Politics, M. Weiner, explains that the Balkan cases during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, provided him with material for a descriptive model: A model that might prove useful for describing, explaining and predicting the patterns of political development and international behavior of some of the states of Asia and Africa that have recently become independent. "I have chosen, Weiner says, to call it the Macedonian Syndrome, named after the region of the Balkans disputed by Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and that provided me with an almost pure case history with which to build the model".

In that model Weiner calls Bulgaria a "revisionist state", because from the very beginning of their national movement, the Bulgarians laid claim to Macedonia. "The Bulgarian governments, from 1913 onward had an uncanny instinct for engaging in losing wars and allying with the losing sides…thus demonstrating the overwhelming role that irredentism sentiments have played in the choice of allies. [1]

When, in 1991, a massive political quake disrupted the previous balance of powers, shaking the Balkans, where Yugoslavia started to dissolve through bloody ethnic wars, Bulgaria didn't repeat its historical faults. Its will to join the European Union and provide better prospects for its citizens led it to recognize the independence of the new Macedonian state. That moment is a crucial turning point in the new Balkan context and is a testimony of Bulgaria's commitment to the principles and norms enshrined in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other international documents. But the relationship among the two states was far from ideal. The disputes continued, because Sofia refused to recognize the Macedonian nation and language.

Much later, during 1999, the Bulgarian Prime Minister officially recognized, before the international society, the existence of the Macedonian language and thus indirectly the existence of the Macedonian nation. This step is an important precondition because of the troublesome history and will increase the confidence between the two countries.

2. "Macedonianism", "anti-macedonianism" and "bulgarofobia"

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But what is done is only the beginning of the possible stabilization of Southern Balkan. "The Macedonian File" is not completely closed because of at least two reasons: there is still a powerful so-called "anti-macedonianism" in Bulgaria as well as in Macedonia and among immigrant organizations; while in Macedonia, bedsides the "anti-macedonianism" (or at least "primitive" interperetation of "macedonianism") which is a new phenomenon, the so-called bulgarofobia is still very strong. [2]

It is quite clear that a lot of dubious questions about Macedonian history and identity have been raised since 1989, in circumstances of political freedom. For instance, the public in Macedonia was in a state of shock when a phototypic issue of the poems by the Miladinovci brothers appeared. The subtitle was "Bulgarian Folk Songs". There was also a similar reaction when the "Statement of the Carnegie Commission for the Causes for and Consequences of the Balkan Wars" was published in Macedonian, according to which in Macedonia lived Macedonian Bulgarians.

The fieriest disputes resulted from the entry for Blaze Koneski in the "Macedonian Historical Dictionary" (published by the Institute for National History, under the edition of historian Stojan Kiselinovski. Many philosophers and historians publicly disagreed with the explanation that Blaze Koneski was working in favor of implementing the Serbian (Vuk Karagic's) alphabet in Macedonia while he was a member of the Commission for Codification of Macedonian Language. Thus, for example, another historian, Vlado Ivanovski, reacted in the magazine "Zum" (published on 13 October 2000), who, apart from disagreeing with the explanation for Blaze Koneski, angrily noted that entries for other people and events are also incorrect, while still others who deserve to be mentioned have been omitted. " Where are the entries for Macedonia, for the war for liberation (NOB), such persons as the writer Slavko Janevski; why is the text for the Macedonian Institute for National History half the length of the entry for the Macedonian Institute for Science from Sofia?" Ivanovski's conclusion is that this approach in the dictionary is a result of a politically motivated revision of history.

We will state also the opinion of the well-known philologist Trajko Stamatovski from the Macedonsian Language Institute, who reacted (in the issue of "Dnevnik" from 23 September, to several S. Kiselinovski's articles for revision of the Macedonian language. "Stojan Kiselinovki's text and several others that have been published in different magazines, raise a very serious question: does anyone really believe them today, after fifty five years of existence of the Macedonian literary language, with all the codified regulations and norms?" His point is that "a predominantly large group of authors, artists, journalists as well as other citizens has been formed, who do not allow blasphemy of anything sacred". He refers to the distinguished national identity of the Macedonians and their language.

Researchers are open for discussion and there is no doubt that the times when only one "official" science existed are over. Here, however, there is a manifestation of deep political differences. The "Macedonianism", the "antimacedonianism" and the "bulgarophobia" are ideologies that touch people's deepest sentiments, and therefore they are very frequently used and abused for massive mobilization in political fight. The results of that fight directly influence the stability in Macedonia and Bulgarian-Macedonian approximation in the process of European integration.

3. Possible indicators

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I doubt anyone in Macedonia can say exactly how large that "critical group" of distinguished authors is (about which Stamatovski wrote). Until recently it seemed there was not a single Maceodnian who would allow "blasphemy of the sacred" nation and language, but today it is clear that it is not so. Although they are not numerous, such manifestations do exist.

Because one of the alrgest political parties of ethnic Macedonians, IMRO-DPMNU[3] is publicly blamed of having in mind unification of Macedonia with Bulgaria,the number of voters could illustrate this indirectly. The number of supporters, however, is a changing category that depends much on unpredictable events.

It cannot be said that VMRO-DPMNU has a consistent ideology of "primitivization" of "macedonianism" or "antimacedonianism", although distinguished members of this party's leadership represent ideology which can objectively cause such political quakes in the region, especially in the relations between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria that can jeopardize the security in Macedonia. In delay with comparison to the "primitivization of the macedonianism" in Bulgaria, or created as its echo, the restitution of the Macedonian nation is explained mainly as a product of the "Cominterna", and as nothing more than a reflection of a "serbofil ideological lexeme". (D. Dimitrov). [4]

On the other hand, right after the active political party OMO-Ilinden-Pirin was declared non-constitutional by the Bulgarian Court, 81 out of 120 members of the Macedonian parliament, the VMRO-DPMNU representatives among them, voted for a resolution that was highly critical of the Bulgarian Court. [5] Therefore, one can say that "macedonianism" is also ideology of VMRO-DPMNU.

The party itself (VMRO-DPMNU), or rather its political leadership has gone through a ten-year period of changes. From a radically rightist party, which called upon guerilla attacks on the Yugoslav army, conquering Thessaloniki, confrontation with Greece over the country's flag and name; spread anti-Albanian and anti-Serbian hysteria, propagated anti-western sentiment, defied all the ideas that suggested more rights for the Albanian minority, VMRO-DPMNU has transformed into a pragmatically party that cooperated constructively with NATO and EU during the Kosovo crisis, carries out reforms, shares power with a radical Albanian party, and as was the least expected, makes some concessions to the Albanian minority. But when Macedonia faced eight months political crisis in 2001 and came on the edge of civil war, this party which was at that time on power, lost its compas.

In the meantime, there have been several clashes within the party. Under great pressure from the public, people who have openly expressed "anti-Macedonian" feelings were withdrawn or replaced from the highest positions in the party. The greatest shock to Georgievski's party, however, came when a fraction, led by the respected and wealthy businessman Boris Stojmenov, split and formed its own party - the True VMRO-Vistinska. The addition "true" obviously refers to returning to "macedonianism". According to several statements given by Stojmenov, VMRO-DPMNU began neglecting the true interests of VMRO for the existence of a separate Macedonian nation and state.

In order to be able to say what the ideology of "anti-macedonianism" consists of we should first explain what is to be understood under "macedonianism", although this is not at all an easy task since until ten years ago almost none, apart from the historians perhaps, did not think in categories - macedonaianism-antimacedonianism. "Macedonianism", is not simply a "serbophil ideology", as P. Semerdiev (a quote from the book by K. Kertikov and D. Asenova) says. His definition is very close to our understanding of "macedonianism" - that it represents a complex process of building and consolidation of a nation", which has discovered a way or a "formula" for survival, that is to say, to protect itself from assimilation that was threatening from certain nationalist and chauvinist sentiments in the neighboring countries.

On a political level the "macedonianism" is simplified and manifested as an ideology of those individuals or political parties that work in favor of a status quo situation on the Balkans. According to them, the establishment of a Macedonian nation, Macedonian language and culture is a "fait accompli". Macedonian national identity (ethnic origin, language, and culture) must not be questioned in order not to jeopardize Macedonian territorial integrity, for this could have negative political consequences to the stability of the Balkans. It would be best to find all historical, anthropological, cultural and other evidence in favor of the thesis that the Macedonian nation (history and culture) are completely separate from the Bulgarian one (perhaps, many truly believe that is so). Only one step separates this position from "bulgarophobia", which was very common behavior of Macedonian political elite during the communist period of time. The most exponent advocate of this "political macedonianism" today are people close to SDAM[6], whose ideology and political platform include two key points: unitary organization in the country and status quo in foreign affairs that means a policy of retaining the present borders . For the time being and in the name of these political aims, many sensitive questions of common history of Macedonians and Bulgarians are frozen

The ideology of "anty-macedonianism" cannot be easily defined We would say that "anti-macedonianism" on political level is the movement for returning the Bulgarian consciousness in the Macedonians. Today when IMRO-DPMNU is in power, that is done from the authority positions.

Certain manifestations of this phenomenon are obvious: apart from the parties VMRO-Tatkovisnka (Motherland) and the Party for Human Rights (led by Ilija Ilievski) that Kertikov and Arsenova's book "Bulgaria and Macedonia - together in Europe" speaks about, an inaugural conference of the association "Radko" took place in Skopje, near the end of 2000. "Radko" openly declares that its efforts will be directed towards returning the national Bulgarian consciousness among the Macedonians. [7]

From a political point of view, however, D. Dimitrov's standpoint carries the heaviest weight, because he is a member of the VMRO-DPMNU leadership. In his book "The Name and the Mind", and especially in the interview for the newspaper "Makedonija" (issue 11, published on 15 March 2000), Dimitrov expresses the thesis, which does not have to necessarily be disputable, that the great powers have sanctioned the division of Macedonia out of egoistic reasons, so that the Bulgarians who were a majority on this territory were exposed to forceful assimilation by the Serbs. The assimilation would have been a "success" had there not been for organizations such as VMRO of Todor Aleksandrov, Ivan Mihajlov, Metodi Satorov Sarlo, Metodi Andonov Cento and the Ilindenians.

As representatives of the "primitive" interpretation of "macedonianism" as a sentiment created exclusively by the Conminterna, Dimitrov's viewpoint for placing the Macedonian nation back to its focal point can be disputed. This "focal point" means, in fact, reestablishing Bulgarian national feelings in the Macedonians (political consequences of that could be changing of borders).

We state Dimitrov's attitudes here in attempt to give insight into VMRO-DPMNU's strategy, if we can at all speak for a coherent strategy. Is it at all realistic to form a long-term strategy of changing national identity in the Macedonians and their reunion with Bulgaria?

It seems incredible, yet there are some indicators that lead us to consider this direction, which, although incoherent, is being advocated by some. That strategy is based on several premises:

- That the European integration is a favorable moment for democratic correction of the "historical mistakes" of the great powers towards Macedonia and an occasion for returning the Bulgarian national sentiment in the Macedonians. The advocates of this idea, if we are to judge from their behavior, are convinced that they have a full control of the situation, which is naïve, irresponsible and far from the truth. They are under the pressure from the public. For example, the results from last /2000/ year local elections indicated VMRO-DPMNU were losing the support of the voters

- That the use of force is not acceptable to the international community, nor has Macedonia such power, but it has such democratic means as organizing referendum at its disposal. (Of course if Bulgaria at all would like to unite with Macedonia and to aggravate itself with additional, mainly minority problems)

This assumption raises the questions: what would the results from this assumed referendum be? Would the Macedonians want Macedonia and Bulgaria is united? And even if the answer to the previous questions is "yes", do the Macedonians have such democratic capacity to respect and accept the results from a referendum for this sort of decision that touches the most intimate feeling in people? And it is another question whether Serbia or Greece would allow things to head this way. [8]

The only "ally" of VMRO-DPMNU for "returning Macedonians to their Bulgarian focal point" (Dimitrov), could be the Albanian minority in Macedonia, which undergoes a process of national rebirth and emancipation. It could have reasons to reacquire separation from the Slavic peoples in Macedonia. According to the theories of ethnic conflicts, secession usually takes place when the use from it is bigger than remaining of the minority in one state. What is more or less "useful" is difficult to define, and here we should consider the reasons for the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and that was, to term it shortly, nationalism, and even chauvinism of Milosevic's regime who wanted to impose Serbian domination over the other Yugoslav nations through centralizing the Yugoslav federation.

4. International context

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In the time of the Cold War, Macedonian nationalism and separatism, as well as nationalism and separatism on the part of any of the other Yugoslav republic would have meant the end of the federation, and disintegration in a yet more bloody way, which could have destabilized the region, Europe, or even cause confrontation between the two world Super Powers. When for example in 1971 nationalists in Croatia had smashed signs written in Cyrillic, waving the red-and-white checkerboard flag and brawling with the Serb minority calling for an independent state, Tito arrived in Zagreb to give the Central Committee furious harangue: "do you want to have 1941 again? He warned the Croats that chaos in Yugoslavia could lead to foreign intervention, reminding them that Breznev had offered 'fraternal assistance'.

The existence of Yugoslavia as a mediator between the West and the Soviet Union, and as the leader of the Movement of the Independent countries was at that time necessary, and the West as well as Russia (URSS) wouldn't have supported its dissolution. The two Wold Powers intimidated one another, which is obvious in the way the separation of Berlin was performed, and the world didn't need another temptation in the form of a "Yugoslav crisis".

It was best to forget the past, and look straight ahead. That didn't prove difficult, since Macedonia, although small and economically undeveloped received an equal position with the other republics in postwar Yugoslavia. It is an interesting fact to those who deal with prevention of ethnic conflict, that the Yugoslav federation functioned on the principle of equal distribution of power. In both federal houses, the one representing the republics and the other representing the citizens, the decisions were made on the basis of full consensus, which, on the other hand, made the federal government inefficient. Another interesting point to think about is that the federation disintegrated when Serbia tried to change this balance to its purposes: the republics were to be equally represented, while the House of Citizens was to be represented on the principle: one citizen - one vote. This principle is not unjust and the majority of the federations in the world agreed to it, but it came in the time when the reasons for separation were greater than those for remaining in the federation. Free passage towards Italy and Austria meant rapid progress to the Slovenians and Croatians. The Western market was nearby and they had no patience to wait for the less developed parts of Yugoslavia, such as Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo or Macedonia, which, by the Slovenians and Croatians, were considered the "Byzantine Balkan", and "too primitive to reach their level". Slovenia simply slammed the door behind, being supported in this by its neighbors condemning the others to their destiny.

5. "Albanian factor"

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What can at least be learned from the dissolution of Yugoslavia is that national emancipation of nations in one complex community requires their participation in distribution of power. (Even in that case, it doesn't mean that such complex community will not dissolute). For the last ten years Macedonia has been going through a process of accelerated emancipation of the Albanian ethnic community that asks for its rights. This process is complex. In the Balkans, neighboring countries usually get involved into each other's internal affairs, frequently inciting their nationals on the other side of the border to secede. Although things are changing, especially with the intensification of the integrative process towards Europe, after the NATO intervention in Kosovo, the old models of behavior should also be taken into consideration when we speak of "Balkan affairs".

Interethnic balance in Macedonia at the beginning of nineties, between the Macedonian majority and the Albanian minority is due to some specific circumstances: the international position of Macedonia, its moderate leadership and a culture of multiculturalism. At the moment of disintegration of Yugoslavia, interests of the Macedonians and the Albanian minority in Macedonia overlapped and both ethnic groups were ready to cooperate. In 1990 the escalation of the conflict between Serbia and Croatia faced Macedonia with the question of its future. Macedonia had no interest to wage war with Croatia or Bosnia, and proclaimed independence.[9]

Circumstances made the political representatives of the Macedonians readier to compromise than could be expected at the time. The party of the Albanian minority and its moderate leaders also played a role of a stabilizing factor, because secession was not an overt part of their political program, and their political interest at that moment coincided the Macedonian interest.

The years between 1990 and 1993 were exceptionally dramatic. From the north Macedonia was threatened by Serbia, that was already in war with Croatia and Bosnia, from the south by Greece that was also hostile because it made claims on the name Macedonia blocking admittance of this country in the international organizations, and from the east by Bulgaria which recognized Macedonia as an independent country but refused to recognize the Macedonian nation as different from the Bulgarian. At the same time the Albanian minority in Macedonia required a "special status" which practically meant that governing should equally be divided between the majority Macedonians and the minority Albanians, and Macedonia should become a mini-federation. That was a 'recipe' for disintegration of the country and the Macedonian majority looked at this political initiative with fear and mistrust.

In the case of disintegration of Yugoslavia, Albania saw an opportunity to resolve its 'national issue', and to unite the separated Albanians who live in Macedonia and Kosovo with the Albanian state. 'The national program' that was later publicly announced by the Albanian academy of the sciences at the end of last year, consists of an independent Kosovo, organizing Macedonia as a federation of two equal nations, to 'prepare the road for the future complete solution of the Albanian issue', as the minister of foreign affairs said for the journal 'Balkan Forum,'

The government of Tirana kept postponing the recognition of Macedonia until April 1993 and its support for CSCE membership until June 1994 demanding in exchange a 'constituent of state-forming' status for the Albanian minority in Macedonia. It was a demand for a federation or confederation, which would make political decision with the consent of the two major ethnic groups: Macedonians and the ethnic Albanians, which Macedonians see as a threat.

Working within this framework of mutual state interests, the leaders of the Albanian minority in Macedonia were cooperative, as were the Macedonians, who had their own interest to be cooperative, the first being the survival of the state. The fact that both groups at that time were lead by moderate leaders, a factor that shouldn't be underestimate, saved Macedonia from chaos or even civil war. Lack of militant nationalism in Macedonia made a difference, especially in comparison with similar situations in Croatia or Serbia.

At the time, under difficult circumstances, when the survival of Macedonia as a state was uncertain, interethnic stability was essential to the existence of the newborn state, and several important concessions took place in Macedonia. First, an interim government was formed that lead the country in the right direction of moderate and compromising policy. Then, a coalition was formed, between the predominantly Macedonian party SDAM (reformed communist) and party of Albanian minority of moderate PDP that remained in power till 1998. In the constitution of 1991 collective and national rights are granted. This includes the right to elementary and secondary education in the language of the minority, cultural and other institutions, and official use of the language of the minority alongside with the Macedonian language in the communities where they are a majority, local self-government, etc.

6. "The Link"

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Historically, Macedonian nationalism or, more precisely, its separatism from, at first, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians (1918-1941) and then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1944-1991), backed by some circles in Bulgaria, was defeated between the two World Wars and again immediately after World War II, by Tito's secret police Udba. The new Macedonian nation had its full development in the framework of Tito's Federation, and that was the reason most Macedonian citizens in 1991 didn't take an aggressive stand to gain immediate and unilateral secession. The Yugoslav Army under the command of Belgrade, retreated from Macedonia after long and difficult negotiations.

Fragile ethnic balance was sustained through coalition governments: first between SDAM (Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia) and PDP (Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity) between 1992-1998; and between VMRO-DPMNU (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity), and the more radical Albanian party DPA (Democratic Party of Albanians) of A. Dxhaferi, together with a smaller coalition partner - the pragmatic Democratic Alternative (DA) lead by the former "enfant gate" of Tito's establishment, V. Tupurkovski. Later on Topurkovski's party left the government

The second coalition, formed after the elections in October 1998, between VMRO-DPMNU, DPA and DA, was a surprise for many. VMRO-DPMNU had overt anti-Albanian attitudes and, as a strong opposition party during the previous years, it repeatedly denied the rights of the Albanian minority.

As a coalition partner in the government, the Albanian DPA gained an image of a radical party, because its program includes great political autonomy for the Albanian minority in Macedonia and it underlines the need to transform Macedonia from a unitary into federative or confederate state. Considering recent Balkan experience, many people see this program as a step toward secession, especially in the context of the events in Kosovo. How was it that these parties, with so different national aims, started to cooperate? It may be that the political leadership of NATO pressured the winning party in Macedonia - VMRO-DPMNU - to include the Albanian DPA in the government. In the eve of the intervention in Kosovo, NATO couldn't afford Macedonia to collapse and to have another civil war in the region. The Albanian parties in Macedonia, of course, fully supported NATO, hoping for an independent Kosovo, while the Macedonians had more complex and mixed feelings. [10]

But most probably there was a special "link" between VMRO-DPMNU and PDP. PDP leaders believed that IMRO-DPMNU will deliver more easily what it promised before the election: to change the constitution and to make Macedonia state of two equal nations. This believes was built up on the conviction that IMRO-DPMNU ideology is that of political "anti-macedonianism". Later, more exactly during the crisis, leader of DPA, A. Xhaferi said that he was wrongly believing that IMRO-DPMNU will follow the tradition of notorious Macedonian nationalist Vanco Mihajlov (1896-1990) and his idea of Macedonia as a Switzerland in the Balkan. [11]

The ethnic map of Macedonia is very complex, and therefore it presents a potential political instability. The census from 1994 shows that in Macedonia 23 % of the population are Albanians, 66,5 % are Macedonians, and the rest belong to different minorities: Turks, Serbs, Roma, etc. With the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Macedonia, which was not an economically developed region, lost its traditional market and found itself into a difficult economic and political situation. When 360,000 refugees arrived in Macedonia, there was a possibility that some of them will remain in Macedonia, which posed a serious threat to the Macedonians. They feared that the ethnic composition in the country would change and that this would cause further instability.

In a recent interview for the Belgrade opposition newspaper "Vreme", the president of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov, predicted that by the year 2015, the Albanians in Macedonia will compose 50 % of the country's population and Macedonia should be prepared for that. The number itself is a threat, since it reminds us of other similar situations in the world that ended up with civil wars. For quite a long time now, it has been obvious that the issue of relations between the two ethnic groups become very tense and can be abused for political aims: thus, the Albanian minority in 1991 boycotted the census, and during the next census, organized at their request in 1994 there were so many problems that it is often stated as "an unusual case" in the literature dealing with ethnic conflicts. Eventually, although the census was organized, and was observed and estimated by OSCE as fair, the Albanian political leaders rejected it, claiming that the Albanians composed between 30 and 40 % of the population in Macedonia.

The censuses are always a problem in multi-ethnic societies, and in the Balkans where instability has become endemic, the issue of numbers has become an especially sensitive issue. It is from this that it depends whether the minority in one country will gain the right for autonomy, secession, independence - requests that cause fear from mounting conflicts.

7. Kosovo Issue.

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Only several months prior to the elections in Macedonia, in April 1998, after the disintegration of the state structure in Albania and the smuggling of weapons through the high mountain of Shar Planina, where the border between Albania and Kosovo runs, the "hostile coexistence" between the Albanians and the Serbian government turned into an armed conflict. The gyre of violence that began spinning struck all the citizens in Kosovo, but mostly the Albanians. There were estimated of 30 000 automatic weapons in the hands of the force of several thousand fighters plus anti-tank weapons and light mortars (according New York Times of March 29,1999).

The massacres in Drenica and Racak, the bombing of the Albanian villages and the great number of refugees, radicalized the public opinion of the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia . They started to gather on public meetings on which only Albanian flags could be seen, the Albanian national anthem was sung and fiery speeches in support of the independence of Kosovo were held. The Macedonian public was greatly disturbed and when FRY (Yugoslavia) sent warning signals for interfering in its internal affairs, anti Albanian feelings erupted through the Macedonia media demonizing the Albanians and especially, their radical leaders. Several times during the last ten years, the leadership of the Albanian minority in Macedonia gave proof for its double standard over loyalty often going directly to Tirana to consult with the officials of the Albanian Government. Macedonian state wasn't in a position to oppose this behavior, but the feelings were hurt.

The radicalization of the Kosovo crisis and the support of the Albanian minority in Macedonia for independent Kosovo created an anti-Albanian mood among the Macedonians. It is more than certain that this atmosphere also contributed to the victory of the Macedonian nationalists from IMRO-DPMNU party which, during the last 10 years, being the most powerful opposition party in the parliament, condemned the policy of appeasement of the Government toward Albanians. Their anti-Albanian rhetoric, suggesting that Albanians should go to Albania if they did not like the way of life in Macedonia, often contributed to tensions in Macedonia, thus creating an atmosphere of xenophobia.

The NATO intervention has created a new situation in the Balkans, establishing a new power balance. The EU accelerated the process of integrating with Southeastern Europe, imposing its values of respecting human and minority rights. In this process Macedonia has lost almost ten years because of its geo-strategic position and its policy of confrontation with Greece about the name of Macedonia.

When, after the elections in 1998, the winning coalition IMRO-DPMNU and DA invited the Albanians to enter as partners in government, the public opinion was confused but, this step of the coalition received many praises and support from the international community. The amnesty of the Gostivar and Tetovo mayors, who were convicted for encouraging interethnic hatred, as well as the promise of the new government all the problematic issues of the Albanian minority (like the legalization of the Tetovo University, the use of the Albanian language as the second official language), will be resolved, was considered by the international community to be a very rational political endeavor (For ex. in Kofi Anan's report for the UNPREDEP mission), in comparison to the "irrationality" of the Serbs who wage "useless" war!

However, another question has been raised: whether this government, especially IMRO-DPMNU that was supported by the majority of the citizens, among other things because of its policy of non-appeasement toward Albanians in Macedonia can, under the present circumstances, carry out what it has promised without paying high price?

It seemed not. Unlike the local elections in 1996, the political atmosphere before 2000 elections was highly tense, so it could be predicted that there would be a lot of incidents and attempts to rig the elections. The violence that escalated, especially in some of the polling stations, where the run off was very tight, even surpassed the expectations.

The gyre of violence started with a word. Just before the elections, the allied opposition "For Macedonia - together" (SDAM, SP, LDP and LD) organized several mass meetings throughout the cities, blaming the governing coalition (VMRO-DPMNU, DA and the party of ethnic Albanians led by A. Xhaferi, the Democratic Party of Albanians - DPA) for the increased taxes and costs of living expenses; for the unprecedented level of unemployment; for the growing concerns about institutional corruption. [12]

The government had pledged to decrease the percentage of the population living in poverty by 3%, to increase net production by 25% before the year 2003 and to increase wages annually by 2%, but did not succeed in this. The crisis in Kosovo and the NATO intervention are stated as the main reasons for that failure, as well as the explanation given by the government that the international donors did not fulfil or are late in fulfilling their pledge for help.

The most serious accusation of the opposition, however, refers to the so-called conspiracy between VMRO-DPMNU and DPA for division and control of the territory of Macedonia. This charge is not completely unfounded. Under the pressure of the situation on the Balkans some time before, during and after the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia, certain ideas emerged, according to which some concessions would have to be made concerning the Albanian community in Macedonia, which officially composes about 23 percent of the population in this country, in the interest of peace and stability in the region. This primarily refers to the division of ministries and other state functions between VMRO-DPMNU on the one hand, and the party of ethnic Albanians DPA on the other. In time, it became clear that a great deal of state officials, whether they be Albanians or Macedonians, are liable to corruption. Additional to that the failure of the state to deliver the most basic services to the citizens has caused some erosion of public's faith in the present institutions of multiethnic democracy, as the sharing of power, for instance, is. Also, the measures taken for solving the problem of higher education of the Albanians in Macedonia proved unpopular. A new multi-lingual university in the heartland of the ethnic Albanians, in Tetovo, are forming, focusing on teacher training, business management and public administration, and, for the first time, higher education courses were be taught in Albanian language and recognized as legal, by the Macedonian state

The concessions that VMRO-DPMNEU had to make in favor of its coalition partner DPA cost this party loss of part of its supporters. The greatest damage to its rating was caused by the presidential elections in 1999. Boris Trajkovski, the presidential candidate of VMRO-DPMNU, won the elections owing to the votes of ethnic Albanians. The coalition partner in the government, DPA, exaggerated in the "mobilization" of the Albanian electorate. Thus, in several polling stations there were incidents, and the turn out was 100 % in some places where people traditionally work abroad. The reputation of VMRO-DPMNU and the presidential candidate himself was seriously shaken. (The leadership of the opposition party SDAM, for instance, refused to recognize B. Trajkovski as legitimate president of Macedonia, addressing him only with "the citizen Trajkovski").

The public opinion surveys, published in the media back in June (for example, the Brima-Galup's one on the popularity of the political parties) showed that the rating of VMRO-DPMNU is lower than that of the opposition SDAM.

The leader of the governing party VMRO-DPMNU, who is the current Prime Minister, Georgievski, held a pessimistic speech in front of the Central Committee of the party on the tenth anniversary of its establishment, saying: "We paid highly for the presidential elections". He also ascribed the lower popularity to the badly managed, corrupted and incompetent governing of some of the officials from VMRO-DPMNU.

Since it came to power in 1998, VMRO-DPMNU has named, as directors of significant cultural and state institutions, mainly party members, but also a people who question the Macedonian national identity, calling their own nation "an artificial creation". While the political freedom created conditions for legitimate research of certain controversial moments from Macedonian history, it was mostly done inflexibly, from official state position, in the line of the traditional intolerance that existed before. Relying on the objective feeling of uncertainty, the opposition leaders labeled the local elections validating the national government policy that should confirm or deny the legitimacy of the ruling coalition.

Faced with obvious decrease in the popularity of VMRO-DPMNU, the Prime Minister Georgievski attempted to improve the rating, using well-known populist measures. He turned to the powerful firms, remembering the promises that secured victory for VMRO-DPMNU during the general elections in 1998, that he would consider all illegal work and finally bring justice.[13] The revision of the privatization was severely criticized in the media, although it was a well-known fact that the privatization was carried out in a very bad, often even in a criminal way. It is also known that although the former Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition Crvenkovski, had pledged action against organized crime, did nothing about it, and this was in part the reason he lost the elections in 1998.

The Albanian votes again had the decisive role in these elections. DPA had promised to support the IMRO-DPMNU-DA candidates who would enter the second round. In ethnically mixed areas, DPA supported the VMRO-DA lists even though it did not join an official coalition.

Tension irregularities, threats, armed incidents, large-scale proxy voting ballot, ballot stuffing, and an unrealistically high voter turnout. stealing voting identifications, marking the voting papers, attacking journalists who are critical towards the government - are the consequences of the election process. In at least 15 places, according to the OSCE, the polling ballots were destroyed, and the most serious incidents occurred in Strumica, Ohrid and Struga, where several people have seriously been injured.

The most tragic incident occurred when a group of armed racketeers, among who were several bodyguards of the statesmen, fired towards voters from a moving car in the village of Kondovo, killing an young Albanian.

The epilogue of the local elections is the "prize" that has to be "paid". Right after the elections ended, in Tetovo, a town in Western Macedonia, where 70 % of the population is comprised of ethnic Albanians, DPA, which was the most deserving for the victory, held a meeting. A clear message was sent - that the Albanians from Macedonia should receive a "state-forming" status, that the Albanian should be recognized as a second official language, and that a state university in Albanian should be formed. The leader of DPA sent a clear message to the Prime Minister Georgievski and his party that the stability of Macedonia is in their hands and he should be aware of it.

8. Final remarks

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Although the fall of the Berlin Wall has turned a new page in the history of the relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria, they still remain complex and uneasy.

The complexes and uneasiness derives not only from the burden of the past that pressures our thoughts, but also from the difficult and complex political reactions inside Macedonia.

The quakes in the Balkans and in the closest neighborhood of Macedonia have made the difficult economic and political situation in the country even worse. The wake of national feelings among Albanians, which resulted in requiring the same status with Macedonians is a great pressure on Macedonian politics. How can we retain interethnic peace, how can we develop the democratic processes and institutions and not cause disintegration of the country in two parts?

Macedonias again face their past and for many it will be traumatic experience. Two conceptions are in a situation of an apparently irreconsiable struggle: "macedonianism" and [14]"antimacedonianism" (or at least "primitive" interpretation of "macedonianism")

The political scene is an "arena" for fights between the two largest political parties, in which all means are used. In such circumstances the deepest feelings of Macedonians about their national identity, become a subject of misusing.

VMRO-DPMNU does not have a coherent strategy and it can only indirectly be concluded that their strategy of Macedonia as a national state of the Macedonians is the hope in redefining the relations on the Balkans, where Macedonians and Albanians would live separately. The return of Bulgarian national feelings in Macedonians, who were "successfully assimilated", is part of this strategy as well.

The strategy of SDAM (and its alleys) is to keep Macedonia as a unitary state and to preserve intact "macedonianisam"; two tasks which is quite difficult today to provide

The dramatically democratic changes the Balkan states undergo in the process of integrating with the EU, makes the chances of certain political strategies more probable than those of others, but all options remain open. The political process is dynamic and depends on a lot of circumstances. The influence of some cannot be predicted at all, like whether the young Macedonian nation will pass the test of new time.


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Ivo Banac, THE NATIONAL QUESTION IN YUGOSLAVIA, Origins, History, Politics, Cornell University Press

Alfred Coban, NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION, Chicago University Press, 1948

Ted Robert Gure, MINORITIES AT RISK; A GLOBAL VIEW OF ETHNOPOLITICAL CONFLICT, Washington: US Institute for Peace Press, 1993

George Kennan, THE BALKAN CRISIS, 1913 AND 1993, Introduction in "The Other Balkan Wars", A Carnegie Endowment Book, 1993

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ETHNICITY IN INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, Oxford University Press, 1993

William Pfaff, THE WRATH OF NATIONS, New York, Simon and Shuster, 1993


Myron Weiner, THE MACEDONIAN SYNDROM, An Historical Model of International Relations and Political Development, World Politics, Vol. XXIII, July, 1971,No4


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[1] Myron Weiner: "The Macedonian Syndrom: A Historical Model of International relations and Political development", World Politics. Vol. XXIII, July, 1971 No. 4
[2] I borrow here as very adequate the formulation of those phenomenon, "macedonianism", "bulgarofobia" and "anti-macedonianism" from the book by Kiril Kertikov and Dolores Arsenova:"Bulgaria and Macedonia Together in Europe", Institute of Sociology-BAN, 2000. (Str. 9-19). I agree that the so-called "macedonianism" needs more than just a "primitive" interpretation as "Comintern product" and that it is directed only against Bulgaria's interests. I would accept as closest to mine understanding, the interpretation of Petar Semerdziev (in the same book, page 16) that:"Modern macedonianism obviously is not only "Serbian ideological term".
[3] IMRO-DPMNU (Internal Macedonian Revolutionery Organization - Democratic party for Macedonian National Unity)
[4] What deserves special attention, however, considering the future development of the Macedonian-Bulgarian relations is the development of "primitive interpretation of macedonianism" among some members of the VMRO-DPMNU leadership, like the former minister of culture and present ambassador Dimitar Dimitrov, former director of the National Library "Kliment Ohridski", Mladen Srbinovski and others.
[5] K. Kertikov in his book:" Bulgaria and macedonia-together in Europe" (pag. 9) quoted Cedo Kralevski's statement (coordinator of the VMRO-DPMNU parliamentary group) for "Free Europe") that Macedonia has never rejected the claim that there is a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.
[6] SDAM (Social Democrat Allience of Macedonia) is a succesor of former Allience of Communists of Macedonia (SKM)
[7] During the meeting of the organization "Radko" in the luxury "Alexander Palace Hotel" in Skopje, tree young students threw a gas bomb inside the hall. Th delegates stopped the session and some of them were so furious that they bit up the journalist S. Suplinovski who was suspicious to them. In the media, the young students were raised to the level of heroes and were immediately called "novi (new) gemidjii", referring to historical gemidii who blew up the Ottoman Bank in Thesallonika (Solun) at the beginning of 20 Th century.
[8] An indicator that the situation is far from being under control is the so-called "Big ear" scandal, which shocked Macedonian public. Namely, the leader of SDAM gave the media a list of about 150 people who have been tapped. Mainly they were politicians from the opposition, but there were also journalists among them, and even the name of the president of the Republic, Boris Trajkovski. 
The conversations were confirmed to be authentic, but none is taking responsibility for this act that is an indicator of human rights abuse. Some of the former high agents in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Slobodan Bogoevski) and also the former minister of Internal Affairs and leader of Democratic Alliance, Pavle Trajanov blamed the Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski, the present minister of Internal Affairs, Dosta Dimovska and even the president of the republic Boris Trajkovski, that without their permission, no one would dare to perform such act. They said that some of the information from the unlawful hearing was transmitted to the secret services in Sofia and Tirana.
[9] Those were dramatic moments, when tanks of the Yugoslav army surrounded the Macedonian Parliament. For the first time a generation born after the Second World War felt the psychosis of war. That generation was born and grew up in Yugoslavia, had Yugoslav citizen identity (alongside its ethnic - Macedonian) and pride of a "victorious nation", and found it difficult to face the unlashed degree of violence.
[10] While the government in Macedonia supported the NATO air campaign, the citizens were demonstrating their anti-NATO feelings, which are due to several complex psychological and political circumstances: their wounded pride, but, above all, the belief of most Macedonians that NATO took the Albanian side in the civil war in which no side was fully innocent. Macedonians base that on their own experience: they know that the Albanian minority in Macedonia has been showing lack of loyalty toward the new Macedonian state during the last several years. For example, they did not participate in the referendum for independence in 1991, their representatives in the Parliament did not vote for the new constitution; their leaders can more often be found in Tirana or Pristina than in Skopje. They supported the idea of an independent Kosovo even against the national interests of Macedonia; expressed loyalty toward the Albanian State by playing its national anthem at the beginning of their political gatherings and use a flag identical to the Albanian one. Macedonians see this kind of behavior as a threat, because they believe that the objective of the Albanian parties is creating a Great Albania, which would include Macedonian territories.
[11] Vanco Mihajlov:"Makedonija, Svajcarija na Balkanot", Menora, Skopje 1995.
[12] The blames are not completely unfounded, although the government is not the only culprit. Taxes and the prize of gasoline and electricity have increased dramatically since VMRO-DPMNU took office 1998. According to a recent study conducted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), more then 20% of the population lives below the minimum existence level of 6 DM per day, while 56% of the people have less money in real terms then they did in 1990. A recent study conducted by the European Statistics Bureau, and the International Labor Organization found that 257,485 people of a total working population of 802,553 were unemployed. More than half of the 32 percent unemployed are young and have never had a job. The unpopular measures dictated by the IMF for liquidating 12 firms in Macedonia that worked with loss, as well as the contract for selling the refinery OKTA to Hellenic Petroleum, giving the Greek owner a monopolist position on the Macedonian market, were economic issues that contributed mostly to the loss of support for the governing coalition. (Right after the elections the price of oil increased for 7. 5 %, which was another shock for the people's standard).
[13] Several directors have been brought to the police stations for questioning, like the chairperson of Alkaloid, T. Mukaetov, or of the Commercial Bank, H. Kostov etc. They are all people close to SDSM, whose firms most likely provide money for the budget of this party in the opposition.