Sunday, July 20, 2008

FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski:... the new Balkan Troublemaker

kathimerini, 20 July 2008
Athanasios Ellis

The 38 year old arrogant nationalist prime minister of a tiny country in the heart of the Balkans threatens to disrupt the fragile Balkan puzzle and this should concern both the European Union and the United States who in the last decade have invested politically, economically and militarily to reinforce the stability of the region.

Nikola Gruevski is either trying to broaden the agenda concerning his country’s relationship with Greece, to justify his forthcoming retreat concerning the name issue, or he believes that Europe and the US are so sensitive on “minority issues” that they will support him in his campaign to allegedly uphold the rights of his kinsmen in neighboring countries, including Greece.

If the former is true, Gruevski is convinced that the unity and prosperity of his country is guaranteed only through membership of the Euro-Atlantic Alliances, but being fully aware that no Greek government will ever agree to the entry of FYROM to these alliances without the name issue being resolved, he is preparing the ground to compromise with a composite name. Hence, to sweeten the pill on the name compromise internally, he will try to sell the “guarantee” of a “Macedonian ethnicity” not only as a right of self-identification, but through international agreements. Greece, ofcourse, will not agree with this and neither does Mr. Nimitz desire to broaden the scope of his negotiation brief.

If the latter is true, Gruevski is sliding down a dangerous path, and is trying to create problems where they don’t exist and to open wounds which Europe has closed now for decades. These actions remind us of the ultra-nationalist objectives of the Kazinsky brothers last year (President and Prime Minister of Poland), who 60 years after the end of WWII, demanded that Europe compensate them for the actions of the Nazis. Not only did they fail in achieving their objectives, but they also exposed and humiliated their country in the eyes of Brussels and their European partners.

With the irredentist aspirations which Gruevski promotes, he is developing into the “trouble maker of the Balkans”, and this will have consequences for both himself and his country. The stigma of the dangerous nationalist does not disappear easily in the Balkans. This was a painful discovery for the Serbians who lived through the dismemberment of their country because Slobodan Milosevic started to play the nationalist card in 1989.

Gruevski is trying to become a “hero” internally in his country without being concerned about the fact that externally he is beginning to be viewed as a pariah. The violence that marked the recent elections in FYROM was the first disturbing indication. This was followed, last Thursday, by the arrest of the deputy leader and future leader of the opposition. His next objective is the complete control of the mechanisms of power in FYROM through the forthcoming local elections.

This problem does not only concern Greece, against which Gruevski now makes various unfounded but dangerous claims, but Bulgaria also and the entire region. Europe and the US should not only discourage him, but are obliged to stop him, now that it is still early.

translation from Captain Agras

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