The Нестабилност of Transition – Macedonia (Part 54)

Transposing emblem by Zoran Gjuzelov

Macedonia or, due to the name dispute with Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or shortened: FYROM) is located at the center of the Balkan Peninsula, having Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Serbia and Kosovo as its neighbors.

In recent years, there has been quite a bit of political instability in Macedonia, with various possible causes and effects on the country. Macedonia was part of the Yugoslavian Federation, but the country separated from it on September 8, 1991, after the Referendum on Independence and became an independent nation. After its first elections as a sovereign country, everything went fine for a few years, that is, until the reserves the country had from the Federation were completely depleted. Afterwards, the political fights over ruling the country started. The largest parties at that time and still today (VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM) began to govern the country interchangeably as if it was their own property instead of a sum of its citizens. In recent years, the policies of past administrations have led the citizens of Macedonia to the brink of poverty, destabilizing the country and increasing uncertainty, not only within the country but within the Balkan area as well.

Kavadarci, Macedonia – Interviewing politicians

In the years after independence, the first few democratic cabinets in Macedonia had the opportunity to make decisions that would have paved the way for their followers, but Macedonian political leadership in this period was not brave enough and lacked experience. The mild efforts regarding privatization led to an unsuccessful reconstruction of the socialistic economy and a decline in the standard of living, while the public administration remained virtually unchanged since the period of communism. Instead of following the examples of other countries in the region, the Macedonian political elite engaged in nationalist politics, thus wasting its political capital on symbolic issues rather than dedicating time and resources toward implementing the necessary reforms to establish better relations with international institutions such as NATO and the EU.

Kravari, Macedonia – Selling socks and vegetables

In my opinion, the instability in the country started sometime before and culminated with the conflict in 2001, known as the 2001 Insurgency in Macedonia, which was an armed conflict started by the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA, or UCK in Albanian). Some believe that the main reasons for this conflict were the Macedonian government’s restrictions on the use of the Albanian language in Macedonia, and the ban on the use of the Albanian flag (in 1997 the Constitutional Court forbid the use of the Albanian flag). Others believe that it was an inevitable consequence of the conflict in Kosovo (with Serbia). The 2001 Insurgency lasted most of the year, and casualties remained limited to several dozen individuals on each side. The cost of ending the conflict was not only monetary, but territorial as well, since most ethnic Macedonian families in western Macedonia were forced to leave their homes while ethnic Albanians settled in. As the OSCE and NATO increased pressure to halt hostilities, the Macedonian government agreed to sign an unconditional ceasefire. The conflict ended with the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which was signed on August 13, 2001. By signing the Agreement, the included parties unconditionally rejected violence as means of accomplishing political goals and all agreed that they must preserve the integrity of the Macedonian state with its multi-ethnic society. In brief, this framework agreement meant increasing the rights of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, and also included provisions that any language spoken by more than 20% of the population is considered in addition to Macedonian an official language on the municipal level. The agreement also meant changes within the employment system, where the 20% rule was also to be followed for positions in public administration and government institutions. This has led to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, and somewhat calmed the ethnic tensions in the country.

Ohrid, Macedonia – On the boulevard

After the conflict and after resolving the ethnic tensions to some extent, the government of Macedonia decided to invest more resources in new reforms that would aid in achieving the strategic goals of the country, which are, to this present day, membership in NATO and the EU. Four years after the conflict, in 2005, Macedonia gained the status of candidate-state for EU membership, and in 2008 received a recommendation from the European Commission for beginning the accession negotiations. However, Greece keeps blocking Macedonian integration in EU due to the name resolution issue. Greece also used its veto right in 2008 at the NATO Summit in Bucharest and blocked an invitation for Macedonia to join NATO.

Prilep, Macedonia – Having fun 

The events in December 2012 further contributed to the instability and destabilization of the country. Namely, on the December 24, during a session of the Assembly to discuss and adopt the budget, representatives from the opposition as well as all journalists were forcibly removed from the Assembly. This event caused a major political crisis in which the EU and other international bodies had to be involved. An agreement was reached with recommendations to clarify the issue, but so far many of the circumstances that led to this incident as well as the responsibility of individuals and institutions have not been established. This event stopped any political dialogue that was present at that time and became one of the reasons for the political crisis that engulfed the country and lasted five years, until the election of the new Prime Minister and the formation of the latest government. The incident on December 24 and the events that followed produced a series of subsequent protests against the ruling party and the government as a whole. The so-called “бомби” (bombs), which were actually recorded conversations (referred to as the “wiretapping scandal”) of high government officials, exposed to the public that the government was corrupt beyond repair, showing phone conversations about awarding contracts to family and close friends of the ruling party, conversations among ministers about homicide cover-ups, money laundering, real estate fraud, etc. This led to series of protests, starting in April 2016, against the current president of the country and the government led by the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party. The protests were referred to as the “Шарена револуција” (Colorful Revolution), and involved mostly peaceful demonstrations against the corruption in the government and called for it to resign and cancel the forthcoming elections under the premise that the country is not yet ready for free and transparent elections. This, in turn, has led to a movement called “Тврдокорните” (the Hardcore People) which was actually created by the then ruling VMRO-DPNE in order to counterprotest the demonstrations from the “Colorful Revolution.” Both “movements” have only increased the already tense political crises Macedonia was in, and worsened the economic conditions in the business sector, where most foreign and domestic companies had to either suffer the consequences of the political crisis or file for bankruptcy.

Skopje, Macedonia – In Old Bazaar

The crisis reached its peak with the deterioration in the dialogue between the political parties and the firm decision by the opposing SDSM party not to participate in either of the government’s decisions. The violent incident on April 27, 2017 (known as “Крвав четврток” or “Bloody Thursday”) clearly showed that Macedonia was on the edge of a civil war, as around three hundred people from the Association “За заедничка Македонија” (For Common Macedonia) forcefully entered the Assembly of Macedonia in order to prevent the election of the latest President of the Assembly. This resulted in more involvement by international agencies, the EU, NATO and the like, in order to help solve the long-standing political crisis in Macedonia.

Resen, Macedonia – Old clockmaker

In the last elections on December 11, 2016, and after the severe cutbacks introduced by the current administration, Macedonia is looking towards a promising future with a new government and hopefully the stabilization of the country with help from the EU. Nonetheless, the nation remains unstable and will remain so for some time, mostly because the level of corruption is high (e.g. in the public administration, the healthcare system, the judiciary system, governmental authorities and bodies, etc.). This also increases citizens’ distrust in the government and the political parties, and also reduces the hope for a “better tomorrow.” The past events and incidents have also led to the massive migration of experienced professionals as well as youth to western countries (such as Germany, Switzerland, England and Slovenia), which only worsens the poor condition of the country.

Ohrid, Macedonia – On Lake Ohrid

To summarize, instability in Macedonia is at its highest level since its separation from the Yugoslavian Federation. The inexperienced administrations, the lack of proper reforms, as well as the transition from communism, the unsuccessful privatization process, and the many conflicts and incidents (peaceful and violent) have driven the country into a downward spiral, increasing instability and reducing the standard of living.

Zoran Gjuzelov

Postcard emblem at 1080

Locations

Postcard emblem and The Archive of Global Instability on display at 1080 Wyckoff Ave, Queens NY

Emblemovie at www.facebook.com/Perypatetik

See table of contents for The Archive of Global Instability at www.transposing.net

Credits

Photo 1: Ohrid, Macedonia – Lake – Egzon Bytyqi

Photo 2: Kavadarci, Macedonia – Interviewing politicians – Ariadna

Photo 3: Kravari, Macedonia – Selling socks and vegetables – spectator

Photo 4: Ohrid, Macedonia – On the boulevard – Joyfull

Photo 5: Prilep, Macedonia – Having fun – spectator

Photo 6: Skopje, Macedonia – In Old Bazaar – P.Check

Photo 7: Resen, Macedonia – Old clockmaker – spectator

Photo 8: Ohrid, Macedonia – On Lake Ohrid – Bakusova

Postcard emblem at 1080

Parts of the Emblem of Instability

Alvisi, Andrea. Political and Social Instability: The Brexit Mess. May 2017.

Bahras. Unstable Air Pollution – Unstable Solutions: Mongolia. June 2017.

Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.

Borghi, Silvana Renée. Living in Inestabilidad. September 2017.

Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.

Çakır, Peren. On the Road in Search of Stability: Argentina and Turkey. June 2017.

Cordido, Verónica. Instability, a Stable Reality: Venezuela and America. April 2017.

Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.

D’Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.

Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.

Ellie. Angry Folk: Korea. June 2017.

Farid, Isis Kamal. Stability Is Not An Option – Egypt. August 2017.

Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.

Ghadir, Younes. Political Instability – Lebanon. September 2017.

Guillot, Iulianna. Starting and Staying in Instability – Moldova. October 2017.

Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.

Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability – Spain. February 2017.

Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.

Konbaz, Rahaf. The Castaways: On the Verge of Life – Syria. August 2017.

Korneeva, Ekaterina. Instability… or Flexibility? July 2017.

Krnceska, Sofija. Decades of Economic Instability – Macedonia. September 2017.

Kutscher, Karin. Inestabilidad in Interpersonal Relationships – Chile. October 2017.

Larousse, Annabelle. Legal and Emotional Instability in a Transgender Life – Ireland. August 2017.

Larrosa, Mariela. The Very Stable Spanish Instability. April 2017.

Lobos, José. Political Instability: Guatemala. May 2017.

MacSweeny, Michael. A House on a Hill – America. October 2017.

Mankevich, Tatiana. The Absence of Linguistic Cтабiльнасць: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.

McGuiness, Matthew. Loving Lady Instability. November 2017.

Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.

Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.

Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.

Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.

Nevosadova, Jirina. Whatever Happens, It Is Experience. May 2017.

Olisthoughts. Stable Instability – Moldova. October 2017.

Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.

Payan, Rodrigo Arenas. Impotence – Venezuela and Columbia. September 2017.

Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.

Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.

Protić, Aleksandar. Demographic Instability: Serbia. July 2017.

Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.

Sekulić, Jelena. Нестабилност/Nestabilnost in Language – Serbia. August 2017.

Sepa, Andreea. Instabilitate vs. Stabilität: How Important Are Cultural Differences? – Romania and Germany. September 2017.

Shunit. Economic Instability: Guinea and Gambia. April 2017.

Shalunova, Marina. Language Instability: Russia. June 2017

Sitorus, Rina. Instabilitas Toleransi: Indonesia. May 2017.

Skrypka, Vladyslav. National нестійкість: Ukraine. July 2017.

Staniulis, Justas. Nestabilumas of Gediminas Hill and the Threat to the Symbol of the State: Lithuania. July 2017.

Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.

Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.

Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.

Yücel, Sabahattin. The Instability of Turkish Education and its Effect on Culture and Language: Turkey. July 2017.

Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.

Zakharova, Anastasiya. Instability in Relationships: Russia. April 2017.

To follow: emblems by Mexican, Philippine, Cuban, Ukrainian, Peruvian, Italian, Uruguayan and Paraguayan writers and translators.

Further reading

Azazeal, Alex. Отражение Spiegelt Reflection. 2014.

Friedrich, Angelika. The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Friedrich, Angelika. Sub-Under-U-метро-Bahn-Ground-Way. 2014.

Gergiev, Vladimir. Street – Straße – Улица. 2014

Metivier, Anthony. Kunstart. 2014.

Smirnov, Yuri. Art de streetулица. 2013.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem – Junk Culture – Müll Trashed Мусор (Part I). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem – Junk Culture – Müll Trashed Мусор (Part II). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem – Junk Culture – Müll Trashed Мусор (Part III). September 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Forward to Next Transposing Emblem. January 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Changes to Transposing Emblems. November 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Excerpt of new emblem transpoзиция on trash. September 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Müll trashed мусор. 2013

Visit www.transposing.net for more information about transposition.

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