Zoran Zaev, the current prime minister of Macedonia, in happier times

Zoran Zaev, the Quisling

Zoran Zaev back-peddles, apologizes and debases himself; Nimetz intervenes with a phone call; the Greeks insist there are no Macedonians in Greece and there is no Macedonian language; and Nikola Dimitrov mumbles something vague.

The above should be read with the accent of Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear and The Grand Tour, if at all possible. That’s how he introduces the shows and it really works with this week’s column because there is just so much going on in Macedonia that I’ll have to do this in a point by point format, and briefly per issue, to capture it all.

First, this past week Prime Minister Zaev created a firestorm when he said there is a Macedonian minority in Greece, which is true and which is one of the only truthful things he has said as prime minister. Furthermore, and according to Kathimerini, Zaev said that the so-called Prespa agreement would allow the teaching of the Macedonian language to Macedonians living in Greece. This, of course, created that firestorm as the Greeks do not recognize a Macedonian people, language, culture, etc. When the inevitable Greek uproar ensued, what happened? Apparently Matthew Nimetz, the so-called “name negotiator,” had to step into the fray and place a phone call to Zaev. And then what did Zaev do? He did what he always does: he back-peddles, apologizes, and debases not only himself, but all Macedonians wherever they live. According to that news report, Zaev’s Government issued a statement that read, in part, “As a country that aspires to join the EU, we understand that countries take care of their own citizens and countries in the Balkans do not interfere in neighboring countries on any given issue,” and that “We understand and respect that the question of what languages are taught in Greece is an issue of internal affairs and domestic policy” and that Zaev is “fully committed to a policy approach that brings European values to the Balkan region and is committed to improving good-neighborly relations.” It ended with a typical mea culpa, “We regret if his comments were understood in any other way.” Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov’s contribution to this was to mumble “problematic remarks” must be avoided.

Essentially, Zaev is denying that there is a Macedonian minority in Greece. If there is no Macedonian minority in Greece, then there is no Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and elsewhere. He is also denying the Macedonian language exists. Essentially, Zaev is a modern-day Quisling. Quisling is a fairly well-known word but what is not well-known is how it came to be. Simply put, Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling was the prime minister of Norway from 1942 to 1945. You can read volumes about how he came to support the Nazi regime, but what is well-known is that his name has come to mean collaborator or traitor in many languages.

Second, Zoran Zaev, addressing the issue of having to change Macedonian schoolbooks and textbooks to satisfy the Bulgarians, stated that some textbooks refer to a “Bulgarian fascist bullet” and that is not in the spirit of friendship with the Bulgarians, according to media reports which is why it should be changed. Essentially, Zaev is saying that history must be re-written in the spirit of friendship. And that is a dangerous path to trod. As one Twitter user put it, “So the Prespa agreement, is to protect Greece from having to teach Macedonian, while changing the curriculum of what Macedonians in Macedonia are taught.”

Third, Ali Ahmeti, leader of the DUI party and the former terrorist of the National Liberation Army said there would be “no peace unless the Prespa treaty is implemented,” according to local media. Ahmeti is always ready to go to war in order to get what he demands. And speaking of Ali Ahmeti, DUI, and war, there was yet another shoot-out in Tetovo involving DUI officials. This shoot-out resulted in injuries whereas past gunfights have resulted in the death of DUI officials and members. Those who live by the gun, die by the gun.

Fourth. And then there’s Matthew Palmer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, criticizing Russia’s supposed attempts to block Macedonia from joining NATO. He apparently also said “Efforts to undermine the expressed will of the Macedonian public are destabilizing and damaging to the regional peace and security.” What he conveniently ignores, of course, is that the “expressed will of the Macedonian public” is not to change the name.

Fifth, Greece is now demanding that other countries call Macedonia “North Macedonia.” In a recent meeting with Slovenian President Pahor, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told him “It means that you and Slovenia, which is one of the countries that recognize our neighbors under their constitutional name i.e. Macedonia from this moment on you will address it as North Macedonia because that is very important for the Greek nation because Macedonia apart from being a big geographic area in Greece, a region in Greece, is also an important part of the ancient Greek history, and that is recognized with this agreement,” according to local media.

And finally, a public discussion has begun over the constitutional amendments demanded by the Government of Zoran Zaev. The government held five sessions this past week and, conveniently for the Government of Zoran Zaev, all of the speakers were in favor of the so-called Prespa agreement. In most societies, we call this a show, a circus, a sham, and blatant fraud.

There are two obvious consequences of this action. First, when you impose your position and ignore debate, you create an atmosphere of distrust, not only of the government and its leaders, but of democracy and the processes and institutions of democracy itself. Second you create more anger, resentment and opposition not only toward the government but also toward those foreign individuals and institutions that have insisted that their way, and only their way, is the correct way. Anger, resentment, distrust, and long-term negative social consequences will result not just for Macedonia, but also for the region.

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Jason Miko

Jason Miko

Proud American & Arizonan w/Hungarian ethnicity & passion for Macedonia, Hungary & Estonia. Traveler, PR man, history buff & wine, craft beer & cigar enthusiast