Skopje Koha e Re 05 May 10 p 11
Commentary by Ermira Mehmeti: “Europeanization Instead of Revival”
Political developments in the Western Balkans seem to tend in the direction of replacing the European integration agenda with old policies, typical for the countries of the region when their Euro-Atlantic future seemed unattainable. The political situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina [B-H] is deteriorating. The international community is very concerned abut the announcement of the Serb Republic’s plans to hold a referendum on secession from the B-H. Efforts and initiatives by Europe and the United States are failing to reach the necessary consensus on continuation of the constitutional reform. The visa liberalization for the B-H seems a remote possibility, at least judging by the latest messages of the European Commission. Serbia is now openly demanding new negotiations with Prishtina [Pristina] and is lobbying for a “solution” for Kosova after the Cypriot model. Serbian politicians continue to obstruct and blackmail international partners in the Balkans over Kosova’s participation in regional initiatives. The surrender of war criminal Radovan Karadzic, which, along with Kosova, represent the two main preconditions for Serbia’s EU integration, do not seem as decisions that Serbia is prepared to make in the short or medium term.
[FYR]Macedonia continues to pursue its policies of rewriting the history of the [FYR]Macedonian nation through revision of historical facts, unearthing of artifacts, and putting up monuments that imply civilizational continuity of today’s [FYR]Macedonians with ancient [FYR]Macedonians. This identity-driven politics has aggravated interethnic relations in the country, because it is trying to abrogate the institutions and mechanisms of the Oher [Ohrid] Agreement as the basic document that regulates the division of power between Albanians and [FYR]Macedonians.
It seems that a new wave of nationalism is emerging in the Western Balkans and it does not rely on violent means that we used to see in the last decade of the last century, but mostly on democratic means. Experts on the Balkans think that the current nationalism is not territorial, but identity-based nationalism and, as such, is not worrying because it does not threaten the established principles of the functioning of states and the security in the region. Nevertheless, even though nationalism may have taken a different shape, it still remains nationalism and is regarded as unacceptable in the 21st century Europe, as local patriotism, and ultimately, a political doctrine without a future.
Nationalist policies in [FYR]Macedonia seem to originate from the political doctrine of the VMRO-DPMNE, which is elegantly presented in its election program, the Revival. With its ascent to power, the Revival has become the official policy of the institutions and the state.
Identity-based nationalism of the past four years in [FYR]Macedonia has opened at least three fronts, which were thought to belong to the political discourse of the pre-2001 [FYR]Macedonia. First of all, it has caused many contradictions in our relations with the international community and has escalated the rhetoric toward [FYR]Macedonia’s friends in Brussels and Washington and their representatives in the country. The Revival has raised tensions among Albanians to the boiling point. Today, they do not trust the prime minister or the institutions of the state and this trend, which is emerging after years of investment in building the minimum of trust of Albanians in the state of [FYR]Macedonia, is really discouraging. The Revival has managed to divide the [FYR]Macedonians, too, into ancient and Slavic [FYR]Macedonians (these are, in essence, the three main messages that the four most relevant international factors, United States, EU, NATO, and OSCE, handed in writing to the [FYR]Macedonian Government).
If we think in historical and civilizational terms then we have to conclude that the Revival as a political doctrine has not only pushed [FYR]Macedonia but also risks keeping it for a long time away from European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Integration represents a process of modernization of the country, but modernization is a more recent stage of the European civilization and follows European civilization. The question is how we can expect [FYR]Macedonia to catch up with modernization trends if the state still lives in the era of revival and revival is, in essence, national-romantic, mythological, emotive, irrational, and not very realistic. All these arguments lead to only one conclusion: the Revival has to be replaced as soon as possible by Europeanization! After four years of adventures and experiments with the system, with interethnic relations, with religion, with economy, and with social issues, this is the moment that requires from the VMRO-DPMNE reflection, reevaluation, and orientation (not to say return) of the country’s policies in the right direction.
In Europe today, nationalism is considered “a substitute for lost dreams.” It, theoreticians say, has lost its original state-building and economy-building purpose and, therefore, [FYR]Macedonia should abandon such policies as soon as possible and should return to Europeanization as an imperative for the country. Ethnocentric nationalism that glorifies only the nation, language, and religion of ethnic [FYR]Macedonians is posing a serious challenge the logic upon which our country has been built: this ethnocentric nationalism is polarizing communities and, consequently, it risks rekindling Albanian nationalist sentiments in return. At a time when [FYR]Macedonia needs intra-ethnic unity more than ever, as a basis for a compromise with Greece, the policy of dividing people into patriots and traitors should be abandoned as soon as possible. The consequences of these divisive policies and of opening unnecessary fronts could be hard to bear. Therefore, these are the moments when statesmen should demonstrate as much trust in the state and the people as they have in their personal abilities. Leadership is not a luxury, but responsibility that has to be accepted. The alternative would be a world of chaos and we do not need that.
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