Friday, July 29, 2011


In Macedonia, human rights and freedoms remain violated at every step and in every sector of living, starting with incidents of police brutality, ending with systematic discrimination of individuals, groups and communities

Xhabir M. Deralla
The story of democracy in Macedonia is a short one: it looked alright most of the time on the outside, but it was going downwards; now it doesn’t look good at all, inside-out. Seems, not many are left to make a stand. Don’t worry, it will only get worse. And, the worse it gets, the less visible it will be.
Political, financial and media control takeover in the Republic of Macedonia is almost completed. The old-new government of the country, led by the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE party leader Nikola Gruevski, succeeded in taking almost absolute power in the country since 2006. VMRO won less Parliamentarian sits in the pre-term elections on June 5, this year. Yet, the level of control is rising. How come?
The judiciary reforms failed. No one actually tried to implement them. Party soldiers occupied the justice system, imposing further pressures over the remaining independent judges; if there are any left. Processes against journalists, human rights activists, and oppositionists are ongoing. The process against the A1 TV, and closure of three daily newspapers earlier, were clearly political, entirely nontransparent and confusing, providing nothing but sheer demonstration of power. None of the spectacular arrests within the government’s so-called fight against organized crime concluded with a credible verdict. And so on.
The Constitutional Court got its final blow after the Commission for Verification of the Facts (lustration) accused its Chairman, Trendafil Ivanovski, of collaboration with the secret services of the communist regime. His case has swiftly been turned down by all levels of justice system and is now queuing in Strasbourg. Since Ivanovski’s demotion on, we haven’t heard of any Constitutional Court’s decision that opposes governmental driven decisions in the country. Previously, the Constitutional Court opposed a dozen of governmental decisions and projects.
Next target was the head of the Soros Foundation in Macedonia, Vladimir Milcin. The long-standing dissident and human rights advocate, who was persecuted by the old system, is accused of snitching for the communist secret police. Has to leave all public posts and faces criminal prosecution if he defies it. Who’s next?
Regardless of how true are the claims of the Commission or we speak about criminal constructs, the timing and the ways of processing these cases is not without a plan.
The country’s high unemployment rate and rising poverty (over 30%) was no obstacle for continuation of the extremely expensive and controversial Skopje 2014 project. In addition, this project produces even more divisions and tensions at both inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic level, and deteriorates Macedonian international image and position, particularly regarding the name issue with Greece. On top of everything, it’s insanely grotesque and speaks of confused perception of history and identity.
Legislation? Only in the last 48 hours of the previous parliament, about 200 laws have been put on bill, creating a legislative avalanche and legal chaos. Same happened in the wake of the 2008 pre-term parliamentary elections. Then, Brussels strongly criticized such practices in the parliament, to which the old-new Chairman Veljanovski responded with a promise of not doing it again. See the result, less than three years after we got three-digit number of laws more, on top of all others that were put on bill meanwhile - in a complete absence of transparency and public debate.
The state of democratic institutions is miserable. Freedom of speech and independent thinking are fading out. Civil society is insensitively being instrumentalized by the political elites on both sides of the political palette. Parallel to that, the country sank into silence after taking the media space almost entirely. The final strike against independent media was given by the new law which crippled the autonomy of the Broadcasting Council of Macedonia. The circle is closed.
Meanwhile, human rights and freedoms remain violated at every step and in every sector of living, starting with incidents of police brutality, ending with systematic discrimination of individuals, groups and communities. Party soldiers complete the picture of disarray, holding control of the streets and neighborhoods, safeguarding the party totems and symbols. Political parties in opposition are captured in the midst of misconception and pursuit for political scores, another disturbing story to be told some other time.
The list goes on and on. It seems that this government has an amazing capacity of producing scandals based on arrogance, ignorance, bullying, and felony. Often, government’s moves are so shocking that leaves people speechless. And, it seems to be a strategy – forcing the public to exhaustion by appalling manner of practicing power. Government means party, party means government. There is no rule of law, but rule of the party. There is no democracy, only the relentless pounding of the agit-prop drums.
The country suffers from scandalous decisions and practices that still emerge on the surface every day. The system got contaminated to that extend that recklessness and capriciousness - in dealing with both everyday matters and sensitive issues and processes at all levels and from all societal and state aspects – is apparent and massive. The party is omnipresent; in economy, finance, security, development, interethnic, interreligious, and intra-ethnic relations, diplomacy, justice, you name it. Wherever one could point a finger – clumsy, wrong, damaging event is underway.
And, it will only get worse. This level of control, autocracy, and misbehavior cannot stop at this point. It needs to go further and deeper into the societal fabric and the system. Having media under firm control of one person and his clique, all these problems will simply remain in the dark. No real public, no dialog, no free speech… Instead, Bolshevik- styled praise of the government’s nonexistent achievements will be broadcasted day in, day out. While time to catch up with raging changes in the world is disappearing…
Xhabir M. Deralla is a writer and producer; founder and President of Civil – Center for Freedom.