US Policy to Encounter Another Strategic Defeat in Macedonia?

Author: Goran Šumkoski, international expert who is working on political, social, economic and media development in more than 30 countries in the world. Member of the Initiative Board of  RODINA(Homeland)political party.

The U.S. supported tarnishing of democracy is only causing a re-birth of sovereignty and freedom movement in Macedonia.

Not standing for democracy, rule of law and human rights, the United States can no longer claim the moral high ground it once proclaimed for itself. The loss of credibility poses a question for the increasingly tenuous superpower: Has the violation of these once defended principles been worth the short term and only seemingly strategic but likely unsustainable gains in various places around the world, including Macedonia?

The textbook case for sacrificing the claimed moral high ground for short term gains only to lose in the immediate aftermath is Macedonia, where all known techniques and practices of overthrowing the legitimate government where deployed. Like elsewhere, the tentacles of the superpower helped subjugate Macedonia through a brutal color revolution that ended up with an illegitimate government and one more humiliated nation. It succeeded, it doesn’t have popular support or legitimacy, and will ultimately fail as elsewhere.

The Republic of Macedonia was praised for its 28 years of independence as a peaceful country, a good neighbor and an island of peace and stability in the otherwise troubled Balkan region. So many indecent incentives were thrown in front of the Macedonian elites as a cheap trick to bait the country to accept the submissive position of Macedonia and to satisfy Greek demands so Macedonia could be forced into NATO as soon as possible so it can be “saved” from the supposed Russian influence. The EU, on the other hand, remains a distant goal, and while far from being the promised panacea, it was dangled like a carrot in front of a Macedonian state as a solution to all of its problems. The two main Macedonian parties alternated in power with peaceful democratic transitions in the course of these nearly three decades. In the last decade, with the conservative VMRO-DPMNE in power, Macedonia also came to be considered as a small economic miracle praised by the very World Bank and IMF, the financial arm of the US-led globalist order.

However, with the confrontation with Russia becoming an official and open global US policy, after the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, and the orchestrated coup in Ukraine that took place in parallel, all other potential Russian-friendly hot-spots were marked for a quick takeover and solidification of US imperial positions. Among other such hot spots was the Republic of Macedonia. This was effectively telegraphed to the Macedonians by the former Secretary of State John Kerry who stated in front of the US Senate subcommittee in early 2015 that Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, as well as Georgia, Moldova and Transnistria, are now “in the line of fire.

Little did we know that soon the well-oiled Ukraine-style machine for overthrowing legitimate democratically elected governments will be put in full motion. Quickly, the stories spread through the globalist mainstream media that Russia was trying to bring Macedonia under its wing — statements by globalist megaphones that are currently an equivalent of the kiss of death for the nations “in the line of fire.”

The government of VMRO-DPMNE was immediately put under pressure to start relinquishing its power, regardless of a full and legitimate parliamentary mandate to govern for two more years. Democracy? Citizens’ will at the ballots? Not the right time now when the Russians are coming! The pressure was exerted by the US Ambassador Jess Baily who before coming to the ambassadorial post in Macedonia led an unsuccessful campaign to overthrow the Turkish President Tayip Rejep Erdogan supposedly over some trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. In this, he received full support and assistance by the other western ambassadors in Macedonia and significant operational help by the tens of NGOs financed by western money.

The interesting part is that both VMRO-DPMNE and SDS are staunchly pro-NATO and pro-EU so there was no big strategic fight between them over Russian or any other influence which simply was not there. However, the thinking among the neocons was that in order to bring Macedonia to NATO quickly and keep Macedonia away from the Russian bear it had to bring a more constructive government in power that will sell out the Macedonian people on the crucial identity issue with Greece. The choice was made to support the option that was most prepared to shamelessly and quickly give in to the US demands and strip their own people of their statehood for which they strived for generations.

A Macedonian Juan Guaido with low popular support in the face of Zoran Zaev of SDS, a convicted corrupt municipal official, was chosen since he was promising to bend his spine, as he famously said in an interview.  The US began its pressure to organize early elections by using illegally taped phone conversations, obtained by a foreign intelligence service and given to the previously soundly defeated opposition.

Virtually all NGOs, artificially created with significant foreign grants and tasked to advance essentially non-issues with little or no popular support, were put in motion to organize what predictably turned out to be unsupported protests around issues such as trees, university exams, etc. In order to beef up the low-scale protests, the same USAID and Soros funded Canvas that trained Venezuelan puppet Guaido and other anti-Chavistas, was engaged in Macedonia to train and physically bus in paid protesters from neighbouring Serbia and Greece. The police were forbidden to react, even when these small scale protests turned violent and when the policemen were beaten over thе heads with concrete blocks.

This was supported by generating an outcry led by the media outlets operating in a hyped media landscape funded and supported by USAID for years prior to these by now familiar events, so the terrain was well prepared. The “investment” into obedient media continues even today and over the entire Balkans with the help of ever more increasing sums of money. The previously pro-government media outlets were silenced by threats of closure, jail time, and bribery with hush money.

In parallel, good old fashioned tactics of Syria-style import of CIA-created terrorist groups were also employed to put an additional pressure on the government. In May 2015 a group of KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) members that briefly invaded the border region in Macedonia in 2001 with covert support of the US military and diplomacy, entered the Macedonian town of Kumanovo from the neighbouring US-controlled Kosovo. The group intended to carry out mass terrorist attacks in public places in the capital of Skopje but was discovered by the Macedonian police and in the ensuing shootout 14 terrorists were killed and the rest surrendered while 8 Macedonian policemen were killed.

With multilayered pressure exerted, the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE eventually folded and was forced to sign an agreement to share power with the opposition 100 days prior to the early elections, contrary to the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. The arrangement transferred the levers of powers to the opposition in order to allow a possibility for stealing the popular vote in the elections. In affect, the agreements (Przino 1 and 2) unconstitutionally gave half of the power to the opposition SDS even before the elections were announced with five key ministries being controlled by them for a full year before the elections took place. The Przino agreements were themselves not adhered to as the power sharing agreement was supposed to last for only 100 days, not the full year it took for new elections to be held. The elections were postponed twice after an illegal intervention by the American ambassador to allow the conditions to be created under which the vote could be manipulated and the result would be a win by the opposition.

The agreement, also contrary to what is allowed by the constitution, created a body called the Special Public Prosecutor Office alongside an existing public prosecutor. The constitution? Who cares when US strategic interests are in question. An unconstitutional Special Prosecutor Counsel was appointed that investigated only the VMRO-DPMNE party members despite the rampant corruption of the SDS party leaders.

Despite the many occurrences of obvious ballot stuffing and numerous illegalities, the opposition SDS came up second in the elections on the 11th of December 2016 and the ruling VMRO-DPMNE won. This caused all masks to fall and the US went all in by forcing a rag-tag of smaller anti-Macedonian and quite divergent parties to join forces and form a parliamentary majority on the 27th of April 2017. And when they declared the majority, with 59 votes instead of the required 61 out of 120 deputies, even that was swept under the carpet. The unarmed peaceful protesters that were gathering in the 100s of 1000s for months prior to the April 27 symbolically occupied the Parliament Hall, where the act of treason was committed, only to be thrown out by brutal police force and to have its leaders accused of terrorism and subsequently jailed to serve long sentences in a rigged court process led by an SDS-influenced judiciary.

US military vehicles quickly rolled into Macedonia for a brief shameful parade through Skopje in May 2017 from the neighboring US Bondstil base in Kosovo only to settle further south in the key strategic military training base of Macedonia, Krivolak. Since then, little has been heard in the obedient media about the uninvited presence of the foreign armed forces on Macedonian territory, about its aims, terms or length of stay. Macedonia has been formally placed under occupation with a puppet government in power.

Fast forward to 2018, the illegitimate government reached a treasonous deal with Greece called the Prespa Agreement and similarly unfavorable and unnecessary agreements were reached with Bulgaria and Albania causing widespread national protests. If such treasonous acts were part of the election program of the opposition SDS led by the puppet Zaev, they would have not had a single Macedonian vote.

The government put the Prespa Agreement with Greece on a referendum, dangling again the carrots of EU and NATO with all powerful emissaries coming to Macedonia to tell the Macedonian people how to vote. Despite all the pressure, the referendum was boycotted by the Macedonian people. By using all illegal methods known to them, the self-proclaimed government managed to reach only 36.7% of the electorate, far less than the necessary 50% to have a census. Far more people stayed home than this percentage, however. The unofficial count was as low as 20%.

And while the treasonous Prespa Agreement was defeated by the will of Macedonian people as registered by the Election Commission, instead of abandoning the deal, the illegal government pushed forward to adopt the agreement in parliament against an existing constitutional rule against such moves. The will of the people? Crushed by further illegitimacy. Hence the illegitimate Prime Minister Zaev decided to press on with implementing his deal with Greece as if the referеndum had never happened. The police used brutal Macron-style force against the protesters in front of the parliament.

In order to get the required two-thirds majority the illegitimate government used blackmail, illegal bribery payments, and threats of imprisonment to opposition deputies of the VMRO-DPMNE. This dirty tactic was led by the illegitimate Prime Minister with active participation by the US Ambassador Baily who has denied his role in the arm-twisting of the deputies to vote for the deal. As in an old saying: It’s not official and true until a politician officially denies it.

After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Baily and others have been investigated by congress regarding the misappropriation of USAID money that was paid to Soros-backed organizations and causes in Macedonia to further the narrow neoliberal agenda abroad. As a consequence, Baily will retire early after a successful reign over Macedonia without the coveted higher position in the State Department. This is a small consolation for the extraordinary role in tampering with the Macedonian state.

In summary, the US-backed coup in the Macedonian parliament led to an illegitimate government that put forward treasonous policies that were never electorally checked, tested and approved; the US supported politicization of the media landscape in favor of only one party; participated in bribery of politicians; showed blatant disregard for the sovereignty of a nation and democracy at the ballot box; used terrorist allies to destabilize a legitimate government; condoned brutal use of force against demonstrators, etc.

What has the US gained? Only temporary support by the SDS that has lost even the marginal support it had. And VMRO-DPMNE, another US ally, now a crumbled former political giant with internal defections caused by blackmail, bribery and threats of imprisonment and its meek and unheard-of for an opposition party tolerant behavior towards the treasonous acts by the SDS-led puppet government, lost all of its appeal with Macedonian citizens whose protests it never joined or supported. The US created a political landscape that is dominated by a small group of alienated non-representatives and corrupt elites. The people’s trust in institutions and politicians has been eroded to zero, the high ideals of democracy, rule of law, popular vote, media independence, tarnished forever. For these reasons, the two severely discredited parties recently agreed not to call early elections because they know they will both be crushed by the electorate.

For now Macedonia has suffered grave damage that will take years and a new generation to repair. And since both, the ruling and the opposition parties have been totally destroyed and discredited in the eyes of the people, this duty will fall on new political forces just forming in Macedonia. This is already happening.

Because of the events leading to a national humiliation for the Macedonian people and the degradation of the political process in the country, the pro-NATO and pro-EU stance of the population is currently at its lowest level since the country’s independence in 1991. Some estimates place the support for the two organizations below the already low 30% mark registered in the days before the coup. As both parties officially declare being pro-NATO and pro-EU, in a truly democratic vote which is not possible under the current occupation environment, they would meet electoral defeat to any new political options that can read the popular mood of the Macedonians.

And since both the ruling and opposition parties have been totally destroyed and discredited in the eyes of the people, this duty will fall on new political forces just forming in Macedonia. The Macedonian political space is ripe for new political forces that are willing to channel the widespread popular sentiment that is anti-globalist, and that calls for all of the forced changes in Macedonian national feeling to be reversed. And this is already happening, with the newly-formed parties similarly to other new European parties formulating strong popular anti-NATO and anti-EU sentiment and molding a strategic position for Macedonia within the new Eurasian geopolitical landscape of a union of free and sovereign nations. If such predictions hold, the US spent its political capital, its moral high ground and a lot of its treasury in vain. The accomplishment will then end up being just a blip in the development of a truly Macedonian state but also a permanent stain or one more loss for the vanishing Deep State in the US and the EU.

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