Escalation in macedonia
Escalation in Macedonia

Seat of the government in Skopje. Picture: F. Bull

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Nikola Gruevski, leader of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, has ruled Macedonia for almost ten years. Before his enforced resignation in January 2016, he created an "Skopje 2014" urbanistic monument with the project. Around Macedonia Square in the center of the capital, dominated by an equestrian monument to Alexander the Great, countless statues and cream-pie-like museum and government buildings testify to Gruevski’s desire to give the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which he governs, a self-contained historical-heroic worldview.

Strolling these days through the panopticon of all possible and impossible heroes, from the Roman Emperor Justinian to the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil to the Macedonian freedom fighter Gotse Delchev, the question arises: Should the confrontation of political forces in the Balkan country, which has been acute for three years, one day be decided, will there still be a place to erect a monument to its victor?? And if so – who will be raised to the pedestal? Nikolai Gruevski, his allied President Gjorge Ivanov, or both of their opponents Zoran Zaev, opposition leader of the social democratic SDSM?

Escalation in macedonia




Sculptures pile up on Macedonia Square. Image: F. Bull

Since Nikola Gruevski was confirmed in office in April 2014 in parliamentary elections that were deemed to be fraudulent by the opposition, Macedonia has been living in a state of political emergency. The situation worsened when Zoran Zaev in spring 2015 published his "Bomb" threw. He leaked sound files and documents that would not only prove the involvement of Gruevski’s government in corrupt machinations, but also eavesdropping on the telephones of tens of thousands of Macedonians.

One of the audio recordings released by Zaev documents Nikola Gruevski’s sacrificial authorship of the radical-historical transformation of Skopje’s center along the Vardar River. "There is a fountain with an obelisk in Rome. It is very already", Gruevski speaks on it to one of his ministers, "we want one of those too. But how to make it?"

The protest movement Protestiram (I protest), which was formed in the wake of the scandal, finally forced Gruevski to resign in January 2016, and since then his party colleague Emil Dimitriev has been leading the government on a provisional basis. However, when President Gjorge Ivanov tried to stop Gruevski’s prosecution for corruption and abuse of office in April 2016, the protests against the government radicalized into the Scharena Revolutia (Colorful Revolution). It got its name from the fact that its activists attacked Skopje’s snow-dusted government buildings with paint pellets in 2014. Since the opposition parties boycotted the early parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2016, they could not be held until the 11th of December. December 2016 will be held.

Despite the scandalous history, Gruevski’s nationalist VMRO won 51 seats, two more than Zaev’s SDSM. However, as Gruevski’s negotiations with the rough Albanian party DUI to form a coalition government failed, a transfer of power to Zaev’s SDSM seemed imminent. In February 2017, he succeeded in persuading all three parties of the Albanian minority to form a coalition government and won 67 of the 120 deputies. But last Wednesday, President Gjorge Ivanov declared that he would deny Social Democrat Zaev the mandate to form a government. He thus raised the years-long political crisis to a new, dangerous level of escalation.