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Expert: Balkans unhappy with the West, but have no counterbalance to it

There is no chance to cancel the new language law in Macedonia, Milenko Nedelkovski, a Macedonian journalist and TV host, told EADaily on January 18.

Recall that President of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov refused to sign the law, calling it unconstitutional. The law was returned to the parliament for elaboration.

Earlier, Albanian parties have agreed with the new Macedonian government over a law to make Albanian the second state language in the country. The lawmakers have passed it granting the right to use Albanian at all government institutions in all the cities and communities having over 20 percent of the Albanian population.

Nedelkovski explained that the constitution grants the president of Macedonia the right to veto laws and return them to the parliament for elaboration. Afterwards, the law can be passed by majority of votes in the parliament. “In such case, the president will have to ratify the law, despite his personal views. What we are witnessing now just postponement of the decision,” the journalist said.

The Constitutional Court is the only power to prevent from passing the bill, Nedelkovski said. “Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court is a hostage to the U.S. Embassy and the government. Most of the judges, 70-80%, depend on the government, U.S. Ambassador Baily and his embassy,” he said. According to the journalist, the petition to abolish the law will reach the Constitutional Court like many other initiatives against adoption of anti-national laws did, but the court can be considering it endlessly. There are no time restrictions for consideration of appeals by the Constitutional Court.

On the other hand, this is just a legal document with a limited timespan like all the other documents in the world. “Nothing is forever, and acknowledgement of this fact is what gives hope to the people. Historically, many documents have been signed and then have lost validity. For instance, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Warsaw Pact. In the Balkans, it was San Stephano Peace, Bucharest Peace Treaty, Paris Conference, The Treaty of Berlin. All this is temporary, but it will cause a lot of trouble to ordinary citizens of Macedonia and the Balkan states at large,” the Macedonian journalist said. He pointed at the situation in Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where people deal with sensitive, painful issues. For Macedonia, it is a good-neighborhood agreement with Bulgaria, bilingualism and renaming of the country.

Nedelkovski recalled that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg travelled to Macedonia on January 18 and delivered a speech in the parliament. “Although the people urged the former ruling party, now oppositional VMRO-DPMNE, to boycott that speech, all the parliamentarians attended it. The people who had elected them did not want their representatives to listen to that NATO bureaucrat and agree with him. He clearly stated – ‘The Alliance has no plan 'B' for Macedonia's NATO accession, hence the name dispute must be settled.’ With this government and impotent opposition, they will change the name of our country,” the Macedonian TV host said.

Recall that ever since Macedonia gained independence in 1991, its name has been the subject of a bitter dispute with its southern neighbor, Greece. Macedonia is already the name of a northern Greek region and Greeks do not recognize the right of their northern neighbor to use its constitutional name “The Republic of Macedonia.” This circumstance hinders Macedonia’s accession to NATO and EU.

As a member of both organizations, Greece demands Macedonia to change its name as a requirement to access NATO and EU.

With appointment of pro-Western politician Zoran Zaev as prime minister, the two Balkan states resumed intensive talks for a consensus-based solution to the issue. Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia Bujar Osmani travelled to Athens to discuss the disputable issue with the Greek government. He said they are working on resolution of the issue which may take some six months. According to some Balkan online media, Macedonia will soon change its constitutional name and will take the name “The Republic of New Macedonia.”

Milenko Nedelkovski said there is no political confrontation in Macedonia at present, just a public one. “However, the people is not that radical and bellicose at the moment to scare anyone. The people is against the abovementioned laws, against accession to NATO and EU, but the people’s representatives do not respect their will,” Nedelkovski said. “As you can see, the same situation is in the neighbor-states. In Bulgaria, they have burned EU and NATO flags lately. There is overall discontent, but the EU, NATO and U.S. are dominating powers in the region so far and there is no counterbalance to them. We are in a situation that makes us wait for better times,” he said.

According to Milenko Nedelkovski, Ambassador of Macedonia to U.S., official negotiator in the name dispute, Vasko Naumovski, called inadmissible all the suggestions of UN representative Matthew Nimetz concerning the name of Macedonia. “Naumovski is one of the few patriots who still keep above water in diplomacy and politics,” Nedelkovski said.

For conclusion, the journalist cited a joke which, as he said, will better than anything else illustrate the situation in Macedonia: “Croatia hosts the World Handball Championship, and Macedonia has not lost any of the first three qualifiers. It tied with Germany, bet Slovenia and Montenegro. Afterwards, the people started joking that the country can be renamed into Handball Republic of Macedonia. Not Northern, not New, Not Skopje, but Handball Republic. The joke is the best picture describing what is going on here,” said Milenko Nedelkovski.

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