10 points on Prespa three years later
The so-called “Prespa agreement” was signed on June 17, 2018, by the-then prime ministers of Macedonia and Greece, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipris. It was hailed as a “historic agreement” by the ruling parties in Macedonia and Greece, along with their cheerleaders and fanboys among the Western elites in the international community. Three years on, I think it is worth taking a look at an agreement that was not accepted by the majority of Macedonians, the people most affected, and negatively so, by the agreement.
One: the continuation of Macedonia, as a republic, as well as the Macedonian identity, language, culture, history, Church and all that makes Macedonia and the Macedonians unique, is dependent almost entirely on the Macedonians in the Republic, the region, and around the world (the diaspora). Macedonian governments will come and go and some governments will be more dedicated to preserving all of this than others. But ultimately, it all depends on the Macedonians.
Two: changing the name of a country, any country, is a really big deal and it is best to have broad consensus on such a momentous change. Macedonia did not have broad consensus on this agreement and most Macedonians opposed the name change then, and now. For those Western elites preaching the Lockean “consent of the governed,” this was a failure — the governed simply did not consent to this, and yet the government of Zoran Zaev simply did not care. The results of ramming this agreement down the throats of the Macedonians will continue to have negative consequences well into the future, not the least of which is the fact that the lack of trust Macedonians have in their government and government institutions will continue to grow. Tellingly, a recent poll in Macedonia showed that 17% of respondents said there are better forms of government than democracy. And ironically, what the Zoran Zaev government did by ramming this agreement through was not an exercise in democracy, but in authoritarianism.
Three: Macedonians were told that the Macedonian identity and language would not only not be threatened, but that this agreement would strengthen both. And yet today, we see those same Western elites, especially those in NATO, the EU, the State Department, and others refuse to refer to Macedonians as Macedonian, instead using complicated linguistic gymnastics; an example of this is found in a video from the US Mission to NATO of US Army Engineers working with their counterparts in Macedonia at Krivolak. At one point, the voiceover intones that members of the 15th Engineer Battalion “and North Macedonia engineers” are working together, instead of using the much more correct, “Macedonian engineers.” I submit that this is a deliberate policy on their part — they refuse to use the adjective, Macedonian. And then there are the near-daily instances of global media — and others — referring to Macedonians as “North Macedonians,” and everything that simply should be Macedonian as “North Macedonian.” See here for my updated list.
Four: the entire point of coming to an agreement was so that Greece would lift its objections to Macedonia joining NATO and the EU because, to quote Zoran Zaev, “there is no alternative.” That phrase is a logical fallacy and designed to shut down debate. It is true that, absent the agreement, Macedonia would not be a member of NATO, at this moment. But that does not presuppose that Macedonia would never be a member of NATO because things, and institutions, change over time. At the same time, there are security alternatives to NATO and several countries in Europe are not NATO members and, the last time I checked, had not recently been invaded by Russia.
Five: we were told that relations between Macedonia and Greece, prior to the agreement, were very bad. And yet Macedonians vacationed, in large numbers, in Greece, and Greeks vacationed in Macedonia. There was commerce, there was cooperation, there were exchanges, there was competition, and more. It is simply a lie to state that relations were very bad. They weren’t.
Six: many of those who support the agreement, especially politicians and unelected bureaucrats, think tanks, the media, university professors and others, do not believe in the independent nation-state or borders and believe that if we eliminate both, all will be well. This is in the service of global governance and a progressive worldview and one problem with that thinking is that it defies human nature, which is immutable. There will always be trouble in this world, borders and nations or no borders and nations. Macedonia, to them, is an experiment in this thinking.
Seven: the agreement has created more problems for Macedonia in the form of a Bulgarian veto. Bulgaria now vocally insists that the Macedonians are actually Bulgarians and that the Macedonian language is actually Bulgarian. And the Bulgarians have the audacity to demand that the Macedonians agree to these churlish statements, continuing to veto Macedonia from starting EU accession talks. It seems the Bulgarians have learned a thing or two from the Greeks.
Eight: the bitterness over how the agreement was essentially forced on the Macedonians by their own government and with the aid and assistance of the elites in the West will continue and will continue to erode trust in that same international community dominated by the Western elites especially as Macedonians do not see the supposed benefits of the agreement. The narrative that the agreement would, essentially, be a cure-all for Macedonia was a false one and both the current government of Macedonia, and the international community, share blame in selling that narrative.
Nine: many in the international community wish to transform Macedonia into a completely civic state, removing talk of Macedonians (see #3), while still referring to the various minorities in Macedonia. Most states in the world have an ethnic majority, along with varying degrees of minorities and Macedonia is, and should remain, the same. That’s just a fact, but for the Western elites, facts are often inconvenient things.
Ten: if Macedonian identity continues to erode at the hands of progressive Macedonians who believe themselves to be “citizens of the world” more than Macedonians, along with global progressives who believe the same thing, then the very internal security of Macedonia — and hence the region — will be at stake. Yes, identity is a national security issue.
In conclusion, the agreement was a very bad agreement, forced on Macedonia and the Macedonians by a corrupt government with the aid of Western elites. All international agreements are subject to termination — no matter what is written — and this one too, should be terminated. How that is to be accomplished is for legal minds, public relations teams, and actual Macedonian leaders and their publics, who give a damn about Macedonia, and the Macedonians.