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Macedonia after NATO's
Bucharest Summit



Biljana Vankovska

May 15, 2008

My recent critical columns were received as anti-NATO, which earned me (again!) a label of “frustrated person” - and a “woman” (!?). The editor-in-chief of the newspaper where I regularly publish even praised his own tolerance towards such a rare anti-NATO “flower” in a society where overwhelming majority (95%) is pro-NATO.

Unfortunately, he is right: I am a frustrated intellectual, who believes that in times like these it is a sin – or perhaps a sign of autism - not to be frustrated. True intellectuals are by default incapable to be good politicians because they do not admire the art of the possible; on the contrary, they are critics of what is real and possible, they are visionaries of the “impossible”.
Now, after the failure at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, it seems that Macedonia does not need a peace and anti-NATO movement at all. Greek nationalism served as excellent substitute. However, as a professor of peace studies, I felt so miserable to see only some 30-40 people gathered in front of the Government building on the eve of the NATO summit. It was sad to see what happened with the country once known as an “oasis of peace”!
These days I have come across an interesting comparison between NATO and Dorian Gray in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. What an accurate parallel! On the surface, the Alliance tends to present itself as an embodiment of the beautiful “universal values” (as many like to believe), such as freedom, democracy, peace and respect for human rights. Its secret “picture”, however, gets more distorted and uglier with every “sinful” policy, with every new innocent victim in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Behind the righteous rhetoric (which would meet the envy of Orwell’s Big Brother) there is the reality of the Grand Strategy for the 21st Century that envisages preemptive nuclear attacks as well as use of the weapons of mass destruction.

In the face of such facts, I should probably have greater understanding for a colleague of mine (sadly, from the Peace Program) who argues “it is better for us to be in NATO than NATO to be against us”. Yet, is it possible for us to feel safe and happy with bad conscience and blood running from our hands?
The stage-management of the Bucharest summit was quite apparent - it shamelessly manifested that the picture of Dorian did not need to be hidden at all. Dictator Ceausescu’s palace, built on the misery of thousands of Romanians, served as a theatre for the triumphant gathering of political-military elites of the most powerful but not necessarily democratic powers in the world. The huge banners over the palace resembled the scenes from a past empire led and inspired by the military power. The flames pictured on the Summit’s logo only missed the male torch holder of another infamous poster. Having in mind the unprecedented security measures that followed the Summit, one could say that the Empire, scared of its own shadow and even its own citizens, looks like a miserable creature. Even more wretched are those who believe that such cowardly posturing would bring them prosperity, peace and happiness – and the world freedom and justice.

The Summit’s decision not to issue a membership invitation to Macedonia (due to the so-called name issue) enraged the majority of the population. Actually, there is a mix of frustration (towards Greece) and disappointment (with the other Allies), but even more a self-pity and sense of inflicted injustice for being unwelcome because of what we are (Macedonians). In other words, a whole nation is blind and unable to see the basic facts.

How can one be angry with the Alliance that have proved so many times that it does not respect the sacredness of human life, the dignity of the “Others” or even the rule of law? Macedonians cry because NATO turned its blind eye to the fact that Greece violated its international obligation not to avert Macedonia’s integration in any international organization (according to the 1995 Interim Accord signed between the two countries).

At the same time they forget that in 1999 the very same Alliance violated both the UN Charter and its own Statute. Even worse, its most prominent member states violate the Geneva conventions on a daily basis as well as major parts of the human rights norms and baic principles of international law. Have a look at the Alliance’s ‘successes’ in the Balkans: a Frankenstein-like state (Bosnia), a NATO military garrison-like state (Kosovo), and a country advised to give up its identity (Macedonia)! And Serbia is a special story. However, not a single conflict has been resolved; series of frozen conflicts are at place, republics are more ethnically clean than ever. And there is the legacy of the depleted uranium and cluster bombs for all future generations…

Having belonged to the small percent (5%) of Macedonian citizens with anti-NATO stand I should have been satisfied with the Bucharest Summit outcome. But, the situation is now even worse than prior to Bucharest.

As soon as Mr. Bush swallowed the bitter pill - Greek veto but also the disagreement in regard to Ukraine and Georgia - he conveyed a sort of ‘consolation prize’ to the Macedonian delegation i.e. a military-technical agreement for “special relations between the US and Macedonia”. It has been just enough for a new wave of enthusiasm in Macedonia. The fact that the country practically has no option but to join the Alliance (one way or another) is warmly welcomed.

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The Big Brother promises security guarantees. Nobody even asks how is it possible that a state that (allegedly) meets all NATO criteria needs further security protection. Who should we fear? All around Macedonia there are now NATO member-states (including NATO-made Kosovo), except for Serbia who is preoccupied with its internal turmoil.

Nevertheless, Macedonians go through anti-climax, the great disappointment is turned into euphoria. The Skopje mayor proposes the City Park to bear the name of George W. Bush, while others have nick-named him “George the Great” and “George the Macedonian”. With all likelihood, two war criminals (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) will be remembered and celebrated in Kosovo and Macedonia, two puppet states which are happy to love and to be loved by the Big Brother.

At the same time, in the U.S. the public support for Bush’s politics reaches its all-time low and more than 80 % of Americans think that their country is moving in a wrong direction - let alone the fact that he is already a lime duck president.

Macedonians are obviously looking forward to be led by someone else and taken to the “bright future” regardless of the fact that the “future” has much to do with the military failure in Afghanistan and Iraq. They do not even pay attention to the fact that Mr. Bush is totally irrelevant and that he is unable to make any commitment except to deliver what the US possess most of: weapons. In order to fight their wars...



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