Bulgaria follows Greece
If you are a fan of the so-called Prespa agreement which was rammed down the throats of Macedonians to appease Greece, change Macedonia’s name and identity, and usher Macedonia into NATO (where its new abbreviation is the very wrong “NM”) then you probably should be a fan of what Bulgaria is attempting to do to Macedonia now. Former foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov, one of the authors of that agreement with Greece, has been speaking out against what Bulgaria is attempting to do — but my question is: why? Didn’t he know that this would happen? I mean, he is not a stupid man. Perhaps he truly believes in Utopia (a word that literally means “no place”) but surely, he should have seen this coming, right?
Bulgaria continues with its childish, churlish behavior, telling Macedonians that they must declare themselves to be “Bulgarians” in so many words, and declaring their language to be a derivative of Bulgarian. And that’s just for starters. They also want to restrict free speech by having the Government of Macedonia place a ban on so-called “hate speech” by Macedonians against Bulgarians (which the Bulgarians define as anything they don’t like), make Bulgarians a part of Macedonia’s constitution and probably several other things that they will not say publicly. All of this just so Macedonia can begin accession talks with the EU — not enter the EU, not open a single chapter of the EU acquis communautaire, but merely get a date to start those 10 years’ worth of talks. At which point Bulgaria can continue to veto Macedonia (and its worth pointing out: even if Macedonia does start those talks, Greece can exercise that same veto unless Macedonia meets the continued demands of Greece).
And what is the Macedonian government of Dimitar Kovachevski and his foreign minister, Bujar Osmani saying these days? They say very little and when they do speak, they hint at giving Bulgaria what it demands. Above all, they mostly hide their proposals and positions so that the public is uninformed. And then claim that they are open and transparent.
For his part, Macedonian president Stevo Pendarovski says “I sincerely hope that if we manage to overcome the blockade from Bulgaria, there will be no other obstacles on our path to the EU.” But “hope” is not a strategy. Hope alone will not get you a cold Skopsko at a local kafana in Skopje. Hope plus about 100 or 120 denars will (or more as inflation continues and the government flails about). So there needs to be a clear, open, and transparent strategy in this. And EU member states need to tell Bulgaria “Stop it. Now.”
And yet they won’t. Why? Because as Pendarovski makes clear, Macedonia is not in the club, but Bulgaria is. And this is the same argument NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (and many others) made with Macedonia’s membership in NATO: “Greece is in the club and you are not. So, you need to do what Greece demands,” is essentially what they all said.
This whole thing is a farce and those dealing in it, fools. The EU is (understandably) busy with Ukraine right now, along with inflation, the remnants of Covid 19, and a host of other issues. But Macedonia applied to join the EU in 2004…nearly two decades ago.
Granted, I think joining the EU is a bad idea for many reasons I have outlined in the past. I think as a trading bloc, a European Union is a good idea, but not as a political bloc — the EU merely sucks sovereignty away from the elected parliaments of the member states and hands it over to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels who do not give a damn about the sovereignty of the member states. So, I think there is a better way for Macedonia but that would take some serious thought, public debate, and then courage to propose that but there is a lack of serious thought, public debate, and courage these days among many so-called leaders in Macedonia.
In the meantime, we are faced with the fact that all political parties in Macedonia agree that EU membership is desired and poll show that majorities of Macedonians do as well. So, where do we go from here?
The polling question I would like to see runs along these lines: Do you support Macedonia’s membership in the EU if Macedonia must acquiesce to all of Bulgaria’s demands? I think I know what the polling numbers would reveal, and I think it is time to ask the question and then act on it.
And maybe that is at least a part of the strategy moving forward: if it is revealed that the Macedonian public is unwilling to move forward by acquiescing to Bulgaria’s demands because that would essentially mean the collective suicide of the Macedonian nation, then say so: the government, political parties, academics, leaders in all areas should tell the EU — No. We will not move one step forward if you do not recognize our right to our identity, our language, our culture, and much more. It is rotten enough that Macedonia’s good name was changed, illegally and forcibly (and I still affirm that it is possible, at some point, to right that wrong). But the continued demands, humiliations, lack of any awareness by so-called leaders in the EU?