FYROM DELEGATION ASPIRES FOR NATO ACCEPTANCE
“There are no ethnic, social or political divisions in multiethnic ‘Macedonia’ when it comes to NATO membership”, said members of the FYROM’s Parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, who presented their united position during the Tuesday, March 27, 2012 debate titled: “‘Macedonia’ and NATO: From Security Consumer to Security Provider”. However nothing of this statement could be further from the truth.
The entire presentation of the panel (comprised of politicians from the FYROM: VMRO-DPMNE MPs Antonio Milososki and Pavle Sazdov, SDSM MP Igor Ivanovski and DUI MP Deshira Imeri), was designed to give the impression that all of the FYROM’s political forces are in unity regarding Skopje’s admittance to NATO at the Alliance’s upcoming summit in Chicago in May 2012. It took place in a small room on the fifth floor at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) with an audience of no more than twenty-five attendees, including several members of the Greek/American Pan-Macedonian Association USA.
Mr. Milososki started the presentation with an intentional provocative remark against Greece by stating that when they became a country in 1991, Greece tried to stop them from becoming one under the pretence of the name. However, since Mr. Milososki and the rest of the speakers stated later that Greece is one of the biggest investors in their country we cannot understand their twisted logic. If Greece did not want this country to exist why would it go on to become one of its largest investors? The subtle bashing of Greece continued even by the other panelists, as much fiction mixed in with a little truth was used in all their arguments. even more bizarre as if the reality in that country was whisked away by the truth vacuum. For those of us who follow the events in the FYROM with its numerous foreign and domestic problems, vocabulary such as “‘Macedonia’ … Security Provider” seemed ridiculous to say the least.
Albanians in the FYROM account for about 35-40% of its population. They feel they should be a constituent community with equal say, but in reality they are a beleaguered minority. Just a few weeks ago, a Slav policeman killed two Albanian youths. In Skopje, fifteen Albanian schoolchildren were brutally beaten by Slavs because of their ethnic origin. The desperate state of the Albanian minority in the FYROM led to a civil war in 2001, and things have not improved much for them since. There are talks about following Kosovo’s example and breaking away from the FYROM and creating a separate entity in order to escape oppression. Could peace ever prevail in the area if Albanians are treated like second-class citizens?
During the question-answer period that followed the one-sided presentation of the panelists, the Pan-Macedonian Association posed a number of questions directly to the FYROM’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs and now Parliamentarian, Mr. Antonio Milososki:
“State employees in your homeland use propaganda and promote the dogma of ‘antiquization’. Students in your capital’s high schools were interviewed and said that the ‘real’ borders of their country reach Thessaly, below Mount Olympus in Greece. They insist they learn these things from their teachers. You yourself said that there was ‘no Macedonia in Greece prior to 1988’ in an interview for a Greek TV station, and in Newsweek. Your compatriots are equally provocative during sporting events abroad and traditional festivals at home, burning Greek flags and chanting against Greece.
During the celebration commemorating your country’s independence from Yugoslavia, a huge map of a so-called ‘United Macedonia’ was displayed. It included territories that belong to your neighbors and full NATO members, Greece and Bulgaria. A singer performed an irredentist song, with lyrics asking for Greek and Bulgarian territories to ‘unite’ with your country, asking for ‘conquerors’ to leave. There are videos of your Prime Minister and the rest of the political elite enjoying the song, along with cheering citizens.
A map displaying the concept of a ‘United Macedonia’ also appeared in an elementary school last December. The Vergina Sun, an official Greek state symbol that your country is legally prohibited from using, is frequently placed on such maps. Politicians and diplomats pose proudly in front of them; there are recent photos from a gathering, in the presence of your Ambassador to Canada and your Consul General in Toronto. This symbol is also placed on Alexander the Great’s monument, which you recently erected in your capital’s square. Alexander the Great was Greek, according to all top historians in leading universities. Do you believe that such practices promote security and stability in the region?”
The panel responded with political non-answers, mixed with a tiny amount of truth. One of the panelists implied that the Greeks are not really bothered if Skopje is named “Republic of Macedonia” and he added that the Greeks are actually the biggest investors in his country. It is true that Greek businesses provide approximately twenty thousand jobs for the FYROM’s citizens. On the other hand however, according to recent polls, 85% of the Greek population does not want the name Macedonia to be included in their neighboring country’s name. As for the irredentism against Greece emanating from a country that aspires to join NATO, Mr. Milososki replied that other Balkan states also promote irredentism such as Bulgaria that desires a “Greater Bulgaria”, and Albania that aims for a “Greater Albania”. This is irrelevant to the question asked and even if it was a fact, it does not absolve the FYROM from officially sponsoring irredentism against its neighbors. All the panelists declared that the FYROM does not have any irredentist plans in the region, but when they were asked why they teach their youth that Greece’s northern region, Macedonia, is under occupation and they need to “unite” parts of Greek and Bulgarian territories, they did not answer. Throughout the presentation the phrase “Greece’s irrational stance” was repeated multiple times. Members of the Pan-Macedonian Association also reminded the panelists that Greece is the one who has supported their economy so far. When one member of the Pan-Macedonian asked Mr. Milososki, “what did your country do to assist in solving the problem?” his reply was: “we changed our flag”.
However, the delegation’s babble was unsurpassed when Dr. Doug Bandow from the CATO Institute posed the following question to Antonio Milososki:
“I understand why the FYROM wants to be part of NATO, but I wondered what the U.S. interest is in inducting Skopje. Security guarantees are serious commitments, yet the FYROM is a small nation with no strategic significance for the U.S. and never was viewed as important during the Cold War. The U.S. has had to pay to upgrade what remains a very small military which provides little practical assistance even when deployed, as in Afghanistan. And this is a country with bad bilateral relations with another NATO member as well as internal problems tied to earlier conflicts in the Balkans. Wouldn’t adding FYROM to NATO be a financial and strategic liability for America rather than an asset?”
The former Foreign Minister’s reply was: “Since all the neighboring countries such as Albania, Greece and Bulgaria are NATO members, the U.S. would benefit if ‘Macedonia’ would be a member as well”.
Mr. Milososki’s response was hodgepodge nonsense. Greece has a prime strategic position in NATO since it is the nexus of east and west, north and south (with a strategic score of 10/10). Bulgaria and Albania’s strategic positions are also very good because they facilitate the route from the Black Sea and Adriatic Sea to Central Europe (strategic score: 7.5/10 respectively). The FYROM’s position is dependent on its neighbors, which strategically means that its score is about 3 out of 10. Therefore, the FYROM’s position is actually worse than mediocre.
In addition, Mr. Milososki ought to know that the principles of NATO are clear and require that hopeful members should meet all the preconditions and criteria for membership that were outlined in Chapter 5 of the NATO Study on Enlargement in 1995. NATO will not even consider offering membership if a country does not have:
a) Respect for the OSCE rules and principles, including resolution of ethnic disputes and irredentist claims (both internal and external) via peaceful means
b) A commitment to social justice and stability
c) Appropriate democratic and civilian control of the defense force, and
d) Assurances that resources exist and are devoted to achieving these goals.
Among the NATO criteria are that a country has a strategic relevance to the NATO alliance, and the ability to spend at least 2% of its GDP on defense, without foreign aid. Clearly the FYROM cannot accomplish this without help from the U.S. and other foreign taxpayers.
NATO has also added a special precondition for the FYROM and that is solving the dispute with Greece. Mr. Milososki also knows quite well that the resolution of his country’s name with Greece under the auspices of the UN. is a special pre-condition for receiving an invitation to join NATO. Although, he used considerate verbiage unjustly accusing Greece for failure to resolve this matter, he neglected to state that Greece has offered well over 40 alternatives to his country’s name since the start of the negotiations in 1995. Conversely, his country failed to budge from its self-designated name that has been and still is the root of the problem, and has failed to offer any substantive solutions.
Since Milososki’s country has yet to meet the conditions for membership, why would he think that the FYROM should be a member of NATO?
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