By - Todorlija
I am a leftist from Macedonia, so I guess I'm duty-bound to respond. :)
It honestly has little to do with left or right. Just your typical Balkan attempts at nationalist power grabbing. Here's my idiot-level analysis:
1. First, a bit of background:
1. Macedonia doesn't really have any powerful leftists parties/movement and has been well within the Western sphere of influence since it broke off from Yugoslavia. It is also a small, relatively poor country that's plagued by a somewhat uneasy relationship between the slavic Macedonian majority and the Albanian minority (about 25% of the population). Albanians also feel a natural kinship with folks from Albania and Kosovo. Most likely identify more strongly as ethnic Albanians than they do as citizens of Macedonia.
2. Historically speaking, Macedonia has been playing defense regarding its identity and right to exist as an independent state, especially after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Greece has an issue with Macedonians claiming any relation to the ancient kingdom of Macedon, which they consider to be exclusively Hellenic heritage. They also had a bit of an issue with the Macedonian minority in their country because most of them sided with the communists during the Greek civil war, which the communists lost. This resulted in much of the Macedonian minority in the country being forced into assimilation or exile. To the east, Bulgaria kinda likes to treat Macedonia as its younger brother, claiming that the Macedonian language and identity are just a subset of the Bulgarian identity. To the north, Serbia doesn't recognize the independence of the Macedonian Orthodox Church (the smallest of all issues). To the West, Albania doesn't really have any issue with Macedonia, but we do have a sizable minority of Albanians.
2. All of this was just background to explain why, in my opinion, membership in NATO and especially the EU were/are important to the country.
1. Economic incentives aside, Macedonia is looking for the security and stability membership in these organizations can provide. NATO membership would, in theory, make it less likely for a neighbouring country that's also in NATO to attack. EU membership for Macedonia, Albania and eventually Kosovo would place most ethnic Albanians in the same borders, potentially easing some of the ethnic tensions in the country. The more general reason why Macedonia likely oriented itself towards the West is because that's what all its neighbors were/are doing, and because the influence of countries like Russia and China is comparatively weak. So Macedonia doesn't really see any easy alternatives and would likely be unable to stand up to pressure from Washington even if it did want to look elsewhere for powerful allies.
2. All of that was to explain why it was even possible for Greece to force a name change. Simply put, Macedonia REALLY wanted to get into the EU but it had almost no cards to play against the ever-present threat of a Greek veto. Macedonia really isn't that important for the EU for any of its more powerful members to waste political capital on pressuring Greece to let up. So, after our last right wing government was voted out after major scandals, protest and some pressure from the West, our new "left" wing government (they're all just libs, ofc) had to show it could achieve some progress. I suspect they also faced some pressure from Washington to speed up the resolution of the name dispute (which really just meant accepting a name change) since the previous government was dragging its feet on "euroatlantic integration". Also, the Syriza government was likely one of the least nationalist we were likely get on the other side of the negotiating table, so I suspect our government felt it was an opportune time to come to some sort of an agreement.
3. Enter the Prespa Agreement which led to the country renaming itself to the Republic of North Macedonia. The referendum was honestly a sham designed to feign legitimacy for what the government had already decided to do, which was to sign the agreement. The question on the ballot was leading and the results were not relevant because some 70% of ppl didn't vote. I decided to go out and vote and I still think the way they handled the whole thing was BS. If nothing else, it revealed how little the EU truly cares about democracy when a bunch of their ambassadors and dignitaries congratulated the country on the successful referendum. It was clear they just wanted us to resolve the dispute with Greece and cared little if the people actually supported the name change (they did not and still largely don't).
3. And now, finally, for the leftists geopolitical analysis:
1. The imperialist West wants control of the Balkans, which is near the edge of its European sphere of influence. That means that countries like Russia, China and Turkey (a less reliable ally to the West) could gain more influence here. Russia and China certainly are trying to disrupt NATO and EU enlargement in the region through soft influence and the US and EU don't like this. So the West would like to make sure Macedonia and the rest of the Balkans are "locked in" its sphere of influence as quickly as possible, with NATO membership being a priority.
2. In essence, Macedonia is just in the middle of greater powers duking it out for influence in the Balkans. Greece, and now Bulgaria, are just exploiting this for their own gain. They know Macedonia really wants to get into the EU and they know there's little we can do to stop them from vetoing the start of EU accession talks. Hence why the name change happened and why we'll likely end up making some concessions to Bulgaria as well.
3. And what do Greece and Bulgaria have to gain? IMO, it's mostly to score points with the nationalists at home, but I suppose you could interpret it as putting up scaffolding for potential future imperialism. Though Greece/Bulgaria trying to annex Macedonian territory seems very unlikely in the near future, if you were to think like an imperialist from the Greek/Bulgarian perspective, a strong Macedonian identity that is distinct from its neighbours would only be an obstacle to expansionism. They may also fear that a strong Macedonian identity would embolden the small slavic Macedonian minorities in those countries to push for more minority rights. That is why both the Prespa Agreement and the agreement we signed with Bulgaria essentially stipulate that Macedonia will not seek to support/defend the rights of its ethnic minorities in Greece and Bulgaria.
As a leftist with internationalist tendencies and dislike for imperialism, I find the whole situation despicable. I hate that my country is stuck in between more powerful geopolitical forces and has to sacrifice parts of its already weak identity for hopes of greater security/stability within NATO and the EU. I sorely wish that there was a strong third option, leftist and international (like the Non-Aligned Movement) that we could try to ally with. Perhaps if Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria had truly leftist governments at the same point in time, leftist solidarity would have prevailed over petty nationalism, and Greece and Bulgaria would have elected not to blackmail Macedonia with identity disputes. If that was the case perhaps we could even do without the EU, and certainly without NATO. I'm especially angry that we joined that imperialist monstrocity.
Russia and China really can't compete with the West on the Balkans at this point. Even if they could, I don't see Russia as being any better and I'm highly skeptical that China cares much for advancing socialism, at least not beyond its borders.
Our only truly leftist party has two seats in parliament and will likely gain a few more in future elections, but they're not what I'd have prefered. Most of them are embittered MLs with a strong ethno-nationalist bent. I don't mind the ML part, but I do mind the ethno-nationalist part. Even if it didn't go against my principles, I think it is a losing strategy for a country with a mix of ethnicities and very little power to assimilate. I think that if they were to gain real power in the near future, they would be crushed by Washington and Brussels. IMO, they just don't know how to play the game.
**tl;dr: The whole issue is petty Balkan nationalism at the intersection of the West v East geopolitical clash. If leftists with any real power were making the decisions in the countries involved, this issue would likely have never existed.**
Holy shit, this is probably the most in-depth analysis by far and I'm astonished.
Don't you think that the Prespa agreement is probably a Western plot to commit genocide without the use of weapons or warfare at all? It sounds pretty far-fetched to be honest, but I can't help to think that it is, since they are the only ones capable of despicable acts of cruelty. (you can look up BadEmpanada's video "The Problem With Genocide" on why what is happening here should be considered a genocide, but instead, it isn't.) The conditions here are perfect for such a plan. We have strong western aspirations, our neighbors keep bugging us about our identity, we generally dislike violence and we are pretty much a peaceful kind of people, however, we take out our rage on social media, which is really shitty. It's pretty much all the things you could exploit in order to destroy a nation, and thus, a country. As for the reasons why this would happen, I can't really say since this is only happening to us and nowhere else. We constantly do nothing about the acts of treason being committed, and if we did, we'd be accused of undemocratic and violent acts by the West itself.
We have given up on our ethnic minorities abroad, yet we have accepted ethnic minorities here and yet Greece and Bulgaria don't stay quiet. Don't get me wrong, by all means, I'm not arguing for ethnic nationalism, but it's like our nationalism and sense of pride are destroyed when it comes to defending ourselves inside. That is something that is unforgivable in my eyes, as well as the people that spilled blood for us to exist, only to be shat upon by libs.
When it comes to the changing of the name, this is probably the only time in history that a country has changed its name with bullying from abroad. The referendum was a complete failure and it should be treated as a failure. The boycott of the referendum was for the initial purpose that such a referendum should, under no circumstances, ever be held. Instead, it was considered a huge success, the only time when democracy should have worked, it magically didn't. Treason is rampant, affairs are constantly being dug up, citizens leave for a better life abroad and I also fear that the Left here is being manipulated or is already under the control of foreigners. We pretty much belong in the global south when it comes to exploitation and oppression.
Regarding Russia and China, I tend to favor China more than Russia since China is uplifting Africa and South America, but that would be a threat to the West if the same happened to us and it truly infuriates me. Regardless of what you think about China, you can't deny the fact that China is trying to combat western imperialism. Russia currently doesn't pose a threat to us and only seeks to stop the expansion of NATO since NATO doesn't create peace, on the contrary, it prevents it from ever being established. The ones who could truly benefit from this kind of situation in my opinion can only be the West. That's what happened in the past and now it's happening again.
I truly fear this pickle of a predicament we found ourselves in, however, I can't give up on the fact that one day a powerful leftist movement would take its grip here and no one should give up on it as well. Still, thanks for the amazing reply.
I don't think the US or EU give enough of a shit about Macedonia to plot genocide, cultural or otherwise. I see them as mostly indifferent to the wannabe imperialism of our neighbours rather than actively trying to sabotage Macedonian nationhood.
They just don't want any trouble on their doorstep that their rivals could exploit. My feeling is they prefer a strategy that would steer clear of potential border changes on the Balkans since that may cause problems for the EU. Even if Macedonia somehow ended up being the only country on the Balkans to stay out of the EU and, say, even forged close ties with China, it really wouldn't be a huge loss for the EU. Macedonia is simply too insignificant of a player for any serious imperialist plots to be in the works against it or in its favor.
I think Washington cared enough about Macedonia joining NATO to pressure both Zaev and Tsipras into signing an agreement, but I don't think Washington or Brussels care enough about Macedonia joining the EU to pressure anyone over the dispute with Bulgaria. The US gets most of what it needs from Macedonia from the NATO membership. The EU doesn't have all that much to gain from Macedonia joining, so it's not in a huge hurry to pressure Bulgaria to stop the veto bs. They'll just let it drag on for as long as we let it.
Good luck to any Macedonian government trying to figure out a way to get Bulgaria to drop the veto, that's all I can say. Bulgaria is literally pulling the same shit Greece pulled, which clearly worked out for Greece in the end. It would take some Grade A diplomatic wizardry to get them to drop the veto without Macedonia agreeing to bullshit identity issue concessions.
And if Macedonia just refused to budge for years, damned be the EU, that might not work out great either. There might be pressure from the West to accept a shittier deal than would otherwise be possible or it might just end with Macedonia being stuck in EU accession limbo forever with all other Balkan countries eventually joining (if current enlargement trends continue, ofc).
My fear is that a strong leftist movement in Macedonia is not enough. You'd need something that's at least regional to have a chance at disrupting the petty nationalism that's currently at work here. Considering how weak the left here is now, I guess it has more room to grow than to shrink. Not terribly optimistic, but we'll see.
>embittered MLs with a strong ethno-nationalist bent
Balkan Pol Pot
Balkan Pol Pot
balkan pol pot this sounds epic
nvm i just realised i live in balkans and wear glasses
Sucks to suck
Well since we know what 5 centuries of oppression feel like by nearly everyone around us, I don't see a problem with a strong national identity, just as long as it is contained within the borders of said country. Left-wing nationalism if you will. At this point, we keep losing everything, so there's pretty much nothing left to lose. Even the one thing we have left, that is strictly ours, we can't have that either, so it's continuous bullying by our neighbors and beyond.
Oh i thought you meant they wanted to actively carry out a genocide
By all means no, but the way things are carried out here are pretty simple. We are faced with an irrational choice between aligning with the West or be on our own and suffer (at least that's how the media and the politicians interpret it). That's why i highly recommend you watch BadEmpanadas video titled "The Problem With Genocide". I'm not a huge fan of his channel, however, in that particular video he points out why this which is happening to the Republic of Macedonia at the moment isn't considered a genocide. (He doesn't explicitly say this about us because the video is about committing genocide in general).
The problem is, the West doesn't care about us in general but it does care to a degree that if we happen to make allies out of Russia and China for example (two countries that wouldn't even think to force ultimatums upon us regarding our identity). But now, the conditions are perfectly set up and forced on us where we really can't find a way. First was the name dispute with Greece, in which we totally fucked up by signing the Prespa agreement, now it's the identity dispute with Bulgaria. And many more ultimatums will come I'm afraid, if the incompetence of our government is allowed to continue by signing agreements without public knowledge.
Recently, it was major news when we found out that the change of the national anthem and the state emblem were offered like commodities in the pursuit of our integration. What I'm trying to say is that, the West doesn't actively carry out genocide, because we are already doing it ourselves by signing agreements where we give up on our historical, cultural and national identity just to please the neighbors and the West in general. If we are faced with more ultimatums in the future, I tend to think that we would accept every single condition with little to no resistance and we would probably whore ourselves to the West to a point where we no longer exist as a people and they will keep toying with us. And if we happen to resist and say a big "no" or "fuck off", then they would say "But it's not our fault, you signed these agreements, therefore you agreed to these changes." and there would be no blood on their hands, but on our own. It sounds like a grand master plan and I can't help but to think that it's actually happening.
If you ask me, it's pretty tragic to see this happen and it truly saddens me that it's considered a form of reality. But I'm afraid, we are powerless in this struggle and people just lost faith in everything, even the only leftist party that showed promise.
Damn that sucks man, I'm really at a loss for words. Hope everything will be ok though, history is always full of surprises ✊
Thanks Comrade, I still don't want to lose hope, hence why I'm a leftist and I also don't want to victimize our existence, but I felt like I needed to shed some light on this issue. Thank you for understanding. ✊🏻
I think that Macedonia should have the right to call itself just Macedonia. Grecce shouldnt have any say in it.
Not a ML, but imo that whole situation with both Greece and Bulgaria harassing Macedonia is petty nationalistic stuff. Nation states are a semi-modern invention and probably wont matter in a century or two, so any drama over it is next to meaningless.
It's a pretty delicate situation. The EU keeps accusing Macedonia of nationalism, without recognizing the fact that Greece and Bulgaria (member states) are straight-up messing with macedonian inner affairs. The Prespa agreement in June 2018 with Greece and the Friendship agreement with Bulgaria from August 2017 were and still are devastating for Macedonia. For example, regarding the agreement with Bulgaria, all historical evidence that Bulgaria was a fascist occupying state during WW2 and has committed war crimes on ethnic Macedonians will now be revised and instead, Bulgaria would be presented as a "liberating force" or "administrator" in history books. That is pure revisionism and shouldn't be tolerated.
EU revisionism moment
Bulgaria never really reckoned with its role in WW2 the way Germany did, so their governments tend downplay their involvement or avoid talking about it all together. At best they'll say things like "it was a tough time and the king did what he thought best for the country". This is not new.
What is new is that they saw their chance to push this narrative onto Macedonia after the signing of the Prespa Agreement. They could tell the new government really wanted to speed up EU accession and they'd already made a deal with Greece, so they felt it would be a great time to push their agenda. And they were right b/c the current government is really subservient to Washington/Brussels and those guys doesn't give two shits about our identity issues. They just want us to get on with EU accession, so at best they'll wag their finger at Bulgaria for standing in the way while actually doing nothing. Unfortunately, we have a spineless fuckwad of a prime minister who is not the kind of guy you want in this sort of situation. He'll sign just about anything if it gets him a pat on the head from Uncle Sam.
>"it was a tough time and the king did what he thought best for the country"
Oh look at that we say the same thing in Italy lmao
Thank you. :')