Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 095 (31/03/05)
Doubtful elections yet again
Democracy is the universal ideal today. But it is harder to practice, than to
claim allegiance to it.
The OSCE mission that observed March 27th's runoff local elections said that the
vote did not meet OSCE or Council of Europe standards. "Serious violations
were again noted on election day in a number of areas of the country, including
some where gross irregularities were observed" during the first round on
March 13th, said Julian Peel Yates, head of the mission.
During a news conference in Skopje, he criticised the government for failing to
address problems that emerged during round one. Preliminary results show the
ruling coalition won in 35 municipalities, but lost to the opposition in 18,
including Skopje, Bitola and Prilep. Ali Ahmeti's ethnic Albanian Democratic
Union of Integration won control of ten municipalities.
Macedonia, the maverick
The modern FYROM does, indeed, have its troubles. It is a small, remote and very
poor country beset by ethnic divisions. The most notable is that the majority
are Macedonian Slavs, but with a large and vociferous minority of Albanians,
concentrated in the north.
Macedonian Slavs have long feared that the Albanian minority wants to secede and
form a Greater Albania or, at a minimum, unite with their brethren in Kosovo.
Albanians in Macedonia want language rights and more representation in
government, especially in the police.
Macedonia was one of the six republics of Yugoslavia, whose rump it left in
1992. Although many had predicted another explosion, as in Bosnia and Kosovo,
the worst has not happened.
But Macedonia could yet be another European cockpit for the simple reason that
it has been before. It became the object of partition in the second Balkan War
in 1913, which left Bulgaria at dagger's point with Greece and Serbia, its
former allies against the Ottomans. Even today, most Bulgarians insist that
Macedonia is simply Western Bulgaria.
Macedonia to the Macedonians
There is a very interesting thinker in Macedonia called Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. He is
the author of "Malignant Self-Love - Narcissism Revisited" and
"After the Rain - How the West Lost the East." He served as a
columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a
United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor
of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and
Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of
Macedonia. Sam Vaknin's Web site is at http://samvak.tripod.com
This is a recent disquisition of his, commencing with a series of most apposite
-quotes, that shows all his flair for history, so necessary to understanding the
politics of the Balkans, which we quote at length -
"Two hundred and forty-five bands were in the mountains. Serbian and
Bulgarian comitadjis, Greek andartes, Albanians and Vlachs ... all waging a
Leon Sciaky in "Farewell to Salonica: Portrait of an Era"
"(Goce Delcev died) cloak flung over his left shoulder, his white fez,
wrapped in a bluish scarf, pulled down and his gun slung across his left
Mihail Chakov, who was nearby Delcev at the moment of his death, quoted in
"Balkan Ghosts" by Robert D. Kaplan
"I will try and tell this story coldly, calmly, dispassionately ... one
must tone the horrors down, for in their nakedness, they are
A.G. Hales reporting about the Illinden Uprising in the London "Daily
News" of October 21, 1903
"The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization directs its eyes
neither to the West, nor to the East, nor to anywhere else; it relies primarily
on its own powers, does not turn into anybody's weapon, and will not allow
anybody to use its name and prestige for personal and other purposes. It has
demonstrated till now and will prove in the future that it establishes its
activities on the interests and works for the ideals of struggling Macedonia and
the Bulgarian race."
Todor Alexandrov, The Leader of the IMRO from 1911 to 1924
Horror upon terror upon horror upon terror
The Treaty of Berlin killed Peter Lazov. A Turkish soldier first gouged his
eyes out, some say with a spoon, others insist it was a knife. As the
scream-imbued blood trickled down his face, the Turk cut both his ears and the
entirety of his nose with his sword. Thus maimed and in debilitating agony, he
was left to die for a few days. When he failed to do so, the Turks disembowelled
him to death and decapitated the writhing rump.
The Ottomans granted independence to Bulgaria in the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano
unwillingly, following a terminal defeat at the hands of a wrathful Russian
army. The newly re-invented nation incorporated a huge swathe of Macedonia, not
including Thessaloniki and the Chalcidice Peninsula. Another treaty followed, in
Berlin, restoring the "balance" by returning Macedonia to Turkish
rule. Turkey obligingly accepted a "one country, two systems" approach
by agreeing to a Christian administration of the region and by permitting
education in foreign languages, by foreign powers in foreign-run and owned
schools. Then they set about a typical infamous Ottoman orgy of shredded
entrails, gang-raped corpses of young girls and maiming and decapitation.
The horrors this time transcended anything before. In Ohrid, they buried people
in pigsty mud for "not paying taxes". Joined by Turks who escaped the
advancing Russian armies in North Bulgaria and by Bosnian Moslems, who fled the
pincer movement of the forces of Austro-Hungary, they embarked on the faithful
recreation of a Bosch-like hell. Feeble attempts at resistance (really, self-defence)
- such as the one organized by Natanail, the Bishop of Ohrid - ended in the
ever-escalating ferocity of the occupiers. A collaboration emerged between the
Church and the less than holy members of society. Natanail himself provided
"Chetis" (guerilla bands) with weapons and supplies. In October 1878,
an uprising took place in Kresna. It was duly suppressed by the Turks, though
with some difficulty. It was not the first one, having been preceded by the
Razlovci uprising in 1876. But it was more well organized and explicit in its
A complex mosaic of geopolitical tensions
But no one - with the exception of the Turks - was content with the
situation and even they were paranoid and anxious. The flip-flop policies of the
Great Powers turned Macedonia into the focus of shattered national aspirations
grounded in some historical precedent of at least three nations: the Greeks, the
Bulgarians, and the Serbs. Each invoked ethnicity and history and all conjured
up the apparition of the defunct Treaty of San Stefano. Serbia colluded with the
Habsburgs: Bosnia to the latter in return for a free hand in Macedonia to the
former. The wily Austro-Hungarians regarded the Serbs as cannon fodder in the
attrition war against the Russians and the Turks. In 1885, Bulgaria was at last
united - north and formerly Turk-occupied south - under the Kremlin's pressure.
The Turks switched sides and allied with the Serbs against the spectre of a
Great Bulgaria. Again, the battleground was Macedonia and its Bulgarian-leaning
(and to many, pure Bulgarian) inhabitants.
Further confusion awaited. In 1897, following the Crete uprising against the
Ottoman rule and in favour of Greek enosis (unification), Turkey (to prevent
Bulgaria from joining its Greek enemy) encouraged King Ferdinand to help the
Serbs fight the Greeks. Thus, the Balkanian kaleidoscope of loyalties, alliances
and everlasting friendship was tilted more savagely than ever before by the
paranoia and the whims of nationalism gone berserk.
Order of identity out of a nightmare
In this world of self-reflecting looking glasses, in this bedlam of
geopolitics, in this seamless and fluid universe, devoid of any certainty but
the certainty of void, an anomie inside an abnormality - a Macedonian
self-identity, tentative and merely cultural at first, began to emerge. Voivode
Gorgija Pulevski published a poem "Macedonian Fairy" in 1878. The
Young Macedonian Literary Society was established in 1891 and started publishing
"Loza", its journal a year thereafter. Krste Misirkov, Dimitrija
Cupovski, the Vardar Society and the Macedonian Club in Belgrade founded the
Macedonian Scholarly-Literary Society in 1902 (in Russia). Their
"Macedonian National Programme" demanded a recognition of a Macedonian
nation with its own language and culture. They stopped short of insisting on an
independent state, settling instead for an autonomy and an independent church.
Misirkov went on to publish his seminal work, "On Macedonian Matters"
in 1903 in Sofia. It was a scathing critique of the numbing and off-handed mind
games Macedonia was subjected to by the Big Powers. Misirkov believed in culture
as an identity preserving force. And the purveyors and conveyors of culture were
"So the teacher in Yugoslavia is often a hero and fanatic as well as a
servant of the mind; but as they walked along the Belgrade streets it could
easily be seen that none of them had quite enough to eat or warm enough clothing
or handsome lodgings or all the books they needed" - wrote Dame Rebecca
West in her eternal "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" in 1940.
Goce Delcev (Gotse Deltchev) was a teacher. He was born in 1872 in Kukush (the
Bulgarian name of the town), north of Thessaloniki (Salonica, Solun, Saloniki).
There is no doubt about his cultural background (as opposed to his convictions
later in life) - it was Bulgarian to the core. He studied at a Bulgarian
gymnasium in Saloniki. He furthered his education at a military academy in
Sofia. He was a schoolteacher and a guerilla fighter and in both capacities he
operated in the areas that are today North-Central Greece, Southwestern Bulgaria
and the Republic of Macedonia. He felt equally comfortable in all three regions.
He was shot to death by the Turks in Banitsa, then a Bulgarian village, today, a
Greek one. It was in a spring day in May 1903.
His death was sufficient to ignite the Illinden uprising three months later.
It erupted on the feast of Saint Illiya (Sveti Ilija). Peasants sold their
sacrificial bulls - the fruits of months of labour - and bought guns with the
proceeds. It started rather innocuously in the hotbed of ethnic unrest, Western
Macedonia - telegraph wires were cut, some tax registers incinerated.
The IMRO collaborated in this with the pro-Bulgarian organization Vzhovits. In
Krusevo (Krushevo) a republic was proclaimed, replete with "Rules of the
Macedonian Uprising Committee" (aka the "Constitution of the
Uprising"). This document dealt with the liberation of Macedonia and the
establishment of a Macedonian State. A special chapter was dedicated to foreign
affairs and neighbourly relationships. It was all heart-achingly naive and it
lasted 10 bloody days. Crushed by 2000 trained soldiers and horse-bound
artillery, the outnumbered 1200 rebels surrendered. Forty of them kissed each
other goodbye and blew their brains out.
The usual raping and massacres ensued. According to Turkish records, these
ill-planned and irresponsible moments of glory and freedom cost the lives of
4,694 civilians, 994 "terrorists". The rape of 3,000 women was not
documented. In Northwestern Macedonia, an adolescent girl was raped by 50
soldiers and murdered afterwards. In another village, they cut a girl's arm to
secure her bracelets.
The more one is exposed to these atrocities, the more one is prone to subscribe
to the view that the Ottoman Empire - its halting and half-hearted efforts at
reform notwithstanding - was the single most important agent of retardation and
putrid stagnation in its colonies, a stifling influence of traumatic
proportions, the cause of mass mental sickness amongst its subjects.
The West to the rescue
As is usually the case in the bloodcurdling geopolitical sandbox known as
the Balkans, an international peacekeeping force intervened. Yet it was - again,
habitually - too late, too little.
What made Delcev, rather his death, the trigger of such an outpouring of
emotions was the IMRO (VMRO in Macedonian and in Bulgarian). The Illinden
uprising was the funeral of a man who was a hope. It was the ululating grieving
of a collective deprived of vengeance or recourse. It was a spasmodic breath
taken in the most suffocating of environments. This is not to say that IMRO was
monolithic or that Delcev was an Apostle (as some of his hagiographers would
have him). It was not and he was far from it. But he and his two comrades, Jane
(Yane) Sandanski and Damyan (Dame) Gruev had a vision. They had a dream. The
IMRO is the story of a dream turned nightmare, of the absolute corruption of
absolute power and of the dangers of inviting the fox to fight the wolf.
The original "Macedonian Revolutionary Organization" (MRO) was
established in Sofia. The distinction between being a Macedonian and being a
Macedonian-Bulgarian was not sharp, to use a polite understatement. The
Bulgarians "proper" regarded the Macedonians as second class,
primitive and uncultured Bulgarian relatives who inhabit a part of Bulgaria to
The Macedonians themselves were divided. Some wished to be incorporated in
Bulgaria, the civilized and advanced society and culture. Others wanted an
independent state - though they, too, believed that the salvation of such an
entity - both demographic and financial - lies abroad, with the diaspora and
benevolent foreign powers. A third group (and Delcev was, for a time, among
them) wanted a federation of all states Balkan with an equal standing for a
Macedonian polity (autonomy). The original MRO opted for the Bulgarian option
and restricted its aims to the liberation and immediate annexation of what they
solemnly considered to be a Turkish-occupied Bulgarian territory. To distinguish
themselves from this MRO, the 6 founders of the Macedonian version - all members
of the intelligentsia - added the word "Internal" to their name. Thus,
they became, in November 1893, IMRO.
The modern Republic of Macedonia is today ruled by a party called VMRO-DPMNE.
It is one of a few political parties to carry this name and the biggest and
weightiest amongst them by far. It is founded on the vision and ideals of Goce
Delcev and has distanced itself from the "Terrorist-IMRO".
The picture of Delcev adorns every office in both Macedonia and Bulgaria and he
is the closest to a saint a secular regime can have. In 1923, the Greeks
transferred his bones to Bulgaria. Stalin, in a last effort to placate Tito,
ordered Bulgaria to transfer them to Macedonia. Even in his death he knew no
peace. Now he is buried in his final resting place, in the tranquil inner yard
of the Church of Sveti Spas (Saint Saviour). A marble slab bearing a simple
inscription with his name under a tree, in a Macedonia which now belongs to the
Macedonia, Russian oil giant discuss cooperation
Macedonian Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski, and Dimitriy Tarasov, vice president
of the Russian oil company, LUKoil, didn't discuss concrete investments at a
recent meeting, but agreed forming working groups that will make an estimation
of the situation in Macedonia on the possibility of building oil gas stations.
"We have started talks for investments of LUKoil in the country, aiming at
boosting the competitiveness, sale, and quality of the oil products," Minco
Jordanov, vice-premier for economic issues said after the meeting.
He informed that they also reviewed the possibility for investments in Skopje-based
chemical factory OHIS [Organic and Chemical Industry Skopje].
Tarasov said that the meeting was a start of mutual cooperation.
"We set the guidelines for cooperation and the period for organization of
the working groups for building gas stations in the country. The government has
created a favourable business climate, which will enable us to make a decision
on concrete investments. But we didn't discuss investments at the meeting,"
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Macedonian, Turkish premiers stress good relations, economic cooperation
Turkey is a traditional friend and proven ally to Macedonia since its
independence, Macedonian Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski, said after the March
15th meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara, MIA
News Agency reported.
Buckovski said that besides bilateral relations and situation in the region,
they discussed possibilities for intensifying of economic cooperation and
increasing the flow of Turkish investments in Macedonia.
Buckovski announced that a meeting of the Mixed Experts Commission for Economic
Cooperation would take place in May, focusing on the Free Trade Agreement
between Macedonia and Turkey.
He also invited Turkish businessmen to invest in Macedonia, saying that the
Macedonian side has showed interest for investments in the sphere of
infrastructure, energy and health care.
The meeting also focused on the differences regarding the name dispute between
Macedonia and Greece. Buckovski expressed gratitude in that context for the
recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name by Turkey.
Both prime ministers also discussed cooperation in the defence sector and the
experiences of Skopje and Ankara in the EU integration, as well as Turkish
support for Macedonian membership into NATO.
Erdogan said that the intensifying of cooperation and mutual trust would
contribute to increasing the direct Turkish investments in Macedonia. According
to him, the protocol on cooperation between Macedonian and Turkish governments,
signed earlier by Vice-Premier Jordanov and Turkish State Secretary, Besir
Atalay, would give an additional contribution in that sphere.
The Turkish PM stressed that Turkey was interested in assisting in the
restoration of cultural-historic monuments in Macedonia, such as the Stone
Bridge and the Old Bazaar.
Buckovski also visited the memorial complex Antikabir, built in honour of the
founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.
The Macedonian PM was also scheduled to meet Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet
Sezer, and parliament Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Ismail
Macedonian PM, Serbian deputy PM discuss economic ties, EU, NATO accession
Macedonian PM, Vlado Buckovski, met Miroljub Labus, Serbian deputy PM and
minister for foreign economic relations recently, MIA News Agency reported.
They discussed bilateral relations between the two states, establishing
intensified economic relations, and regional cooperation.
Buckovski and Labus expressed their satisfaction from intensified contacts at
different levels between the Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.
Two business forums are to be held in the two countries by the end of the year,
which will boost economic relations and trade exchange.
They agreed joint commissions of the Ministries of Economy of the two countries
to meet aimed at reviewing Free Trade Agreement signed between Macedonia and
Serbia and Montenegro. Two governments will boost regional access towards
realisation of infrastructural projects and Macedonia's capacities in
agriculture will be used.
"We are happy about Macedonia's progress in NATO and EU integration and
every success of our neighbours is mutual and represents a positive signal for
the entire region," Labus said.
"The Republic of Macedonia could be so-called mentor to Serbia and
Montenegro in preparations for signing of Stabilisation and Association
Agreement with the EU, as well as to share its experiences acquired in the
preparations for NATO and EU membership," Buckovski said, adding that
Macedonia fully supports Serbia and Montenegro's efforts for admission in
Partnership for Peace programme.
They welcomed and encouraged the initiatives for dialogue between the Macedonian
Orthodox Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church and the announced meeting
between church dignitaries of the two churches.
"Macedonia and Serbia must not be hostages of possible differences between
Macedonian Orthodox Church and Serbian Orthodox Church," PM Vlado Buckovski
State minister addresses Turkish-Macedonian Business Forum
"Turkey is the best friend of Macedonia, which shares the same
geography," said Turkish State Minister, Kursad Tuzmen, Anatolia news
Speaking at a Turkish-Macedonian Business Forum meeting, Tuzmen said Turkey has
been exerting efforts for Macedonia to have a more influential and strong
position in the international community and international organizations.
"Turkey and Macedonia do not only share a common past but also a common
future within Europe which is gradually integrating," Tuzmen noted.
Tuzmen said: "Economic and commercial relations of the two countries are
not at the desired level despite their close relations in political, cultural
and social areas."
Stating that Turkey considered Macedonia as an extremely important country of
the Balkans due to its geo-strategical position, developing economy and
workforce, Tuzmen said joint investments should be increased to improve trade.
"We believe that Turkey is one of the main countries which may play an
important role in economic development of Macedonia," Tuzmen said and noted
that, "we closely monitor the telecommunication, energy and natural gas
projects in this country. Turkish companies are willing to participate in every
kind of infrastructure and superstructure projects."
MT telecom targets education
This year FYR Macedonian Telecommunications (MT) will invest €500,000,
enabling free ADSL-internet link for 350 primary, secondary schools,
universities and research institutions in the country, MIA reported recently.
"Since the start of 'Internet Schools' project, realised in cooperation
with the ministry of education and science from 2001 to 2003, FYR Macedonian
Telecommunication invested €350,000, providing Internet access to 50 schools.
In 2004, the company invested €80,000 equipping these schools with ADSL
link," MT official Atila Sendrei was quoted as saying.