Leaders are needed for a successful leadership meeting
And constitutional changes and setting a date for early parliamentary elections and something much more important is the compromise that can only be brought by real political leaders.
Real political leaders, who publicly declare that the biggest strategic state and national interest is membership in the EU, should not have a big problem in reaching a compromise solution. And constitutional changes and setting a date for early parliamentary elections and something much more important, what and how to proceed, is the compromise that can only be brought by responsible politicians, who are not prisoners of their strong views and the atmosphere of a divided society that they have created.
Why then all the leadership meetings, negotiations and agreements between the government and the opposition in Macedonia, regardless of who is in power and who is in the opposition, end up, in most cases, unsuccessfully, and even those that ended successfully have thick scars and are they still manipulated in public as a betrayal of national and state interests?
Take for example all the constitutional changes so far, since the adoption of the first Constitution and the first referendum on declaring the independence of the state, the Ohrid, Prespa, Pržin agreements, including the agreement on the Special Public Prosecutor's Office. This includes the agreements for the first expert government and the agreement for a coalition government during the 2001 military crisis, the numerous agreements between political parties and their leaders.
Probably the worst solution
It is not at all difficult to predict what will happen at the upcoming leadership meeting, because the most likely outcome is that the worst solution will be chosen, which is no agreement. You don't go to negotiations with ultimatums, if you already publicly announce in advance that there will be no constitutional changes and there will be no early parliamentary elections, which is the main object - to find a compromise solution for the realization of the most important strategic state interest, which is the continuation of negotiations with the EU, unhindered, at least not from our side.
Who gains what and what loses if a compromise solution is reached at the leadership meeting to agree on constitutional changes and early parliamentary elections? Personally, I think that besides Macedonia and its citizens, the biggest winner would be Hristijan Mickoski, and here's why: This is the only chance for VMRO-DPMNE to join the Euro-Atlantic integrations, which Mickoski and the party leaders claim to be their firm commitment even before the collapse of Yugoslavia and the formation of an independent state.
The first president and founder of VMRO-DPMNE, Ljubco Georgievski, documents this in all his public appearances and with party programs. The political activities of this plan of VMRO-DPMNE so far, in contrast to the founding determinations, have had tragic results and have been completely unsuccessful during the entire 11-year mandate of Nikola Gruevski, when not a single step forward was made. That entire regime era of Gruevism, which has as its main feature the blocking of Euro-Atlantic integrations, continued during the period of the opposition activity of VMRO-DPMNE.
The narrow party leadership, with the most ardent supporter – President Hristijan Mickoski – directed its battle to win power mainly against the compromises that enabled membership in NATO and the start of negotiations with the EU. What was propagated as a great danger and betrayal with the Prespa Agreement and what seemed like a firm defense of the identity peculiarities of the Macedonian people and what caused the division of society by counting enemies and traitors to national and state interests, and what seemed like a great party benefit and public support, as time went on proved to be a disastrous misjudgment.
History will place them all where they belong
All those fears collapsed like soap bubbles in practice, because Macedonia did not lose a single identity distinctiveness with the compromises. It remains the only country in the world that bears the name Macedonia, without any threat to the national identity and the Macedonian language with the geographical suffix northern.
The straw that saved the drowning man came from the compromises with the Good Neighbor Agreement with Bulgaria and the hard Bulgarian attitude, as bad as the Greek one at the beginning of Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations, when a million people protested in Thessaloniki against recognizing the state with the name of Macedonia and the Macedonian people and language.
However, the hard Bulgarian veto fell after the French proposal, which favors Macedonia more than Bulgaria, thus marking the beginning of negotiations with the EU. And the great changes in Europe and in the world after the war in Ukraine hint again that what happened with the Prespa Agreement will also happen with the Agreement with Bulgaria, when on both sides governments will come that are not an incident of history. Such was the case with the governments of Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, and as it is now the case with the governments of Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Dimitar Kovacevski. These are historical inevitabilities. Finally, if the constitutional changes are not passed and the Bulgarians do not enter the Constitution, and Mickoski wins the next parliamentary elections, whenever they are held, what will he do with that victory if he has to make even more unfavorable decisions, which are already well-known experiences after any delay given the odds?
VMRO-DPMNE does not take into account the situation that if the current positions are lost and if less favorable proposals are imposed, the future opposition may in that case be against the constitutional changes. A political leader in the opposition, who does not allow the government to make unpopular and difficult decisions, should leave the party and politics. Worse than that for Mickoski is the option that should also be considered – that it can happen as during the adoption of the Prespa agreement, when deputies of VMRO-DPMNE gave their vote for constitutional changes in order to obtain a two-thirds majority.
What will the current government coalition and Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski gain and lose if early parliamentary elections are accepted as a concession to the constitutional changes? Yes, it is possible that they will lose the elections, but that would be the smallest loss compared to what Macedonia and its citizens will gain. Calculations say that parliamentary procedures for constitutional changes will last five months at best. As long as the first phase of negotiations with the EU will last. After that, the period until the elections with the pre-election activities will certainly take another three months. Whether the elections will be held in April, May or June next year, which is a regular election year, will not be of great importance.
What should be most important if an agreement is reached at a leadership meeting on constitutional changes and early parliamentary elections in the same parliamentary session, and which is now the least talked about, is what happens after that. Macedonia needs a broad cross-party consensus in the next seven to ten years for all the reform initiatives that result from the Brussels chapters. More specifically, it needs what all successful EU candidate countries did during the negotiations. Not only the date for EU membership will depend on it, but whether Macedonia will become a real parliamentary state in which democracy, the rule of law, the justice system, economic growth, the standard of the population, education, culture, health, ecology, agriculture, the media and all the so-called European values will be a reality. The current political leaders, if they really are, owe that to the future generations.
Leadership is gained by making bold decisions that are almost always unpopular at the moment they are made. Modern history will place all the actors where they belong. The motherland, sometime, will recognize the real people.
(The author is a journalist)
THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH THEY ARE WRITTEN, AS WELL AS THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THE COLUMNS, DO NOT ALWAYS REFLECT THE EDITORIAL POLICY OF "FREE PRESS"
Taken from Deutsche Welle