Macedonia: Playing Solitaire with Marked Cards

Macedonia: Playing Solitaire with Marked Cards

As the events in Macedonia unfold, the situation starts to look more like an orange revolution orchestrated from outside. Those who stay behind it use the experience of former Yugoslavia, the post-Soviet space, North Africa and the Middle East. At the start protests are incited to put forward economic demands. Non-government organizations join in, the public opinion is influenced by world media, especially in the European Union member states. The organizers use pro-EU and Euro-Atlantic sentiments of protesters for their own ends (they are told that the being pro-EU and pro-NATO means fighting for democracy). Round tables and talks are organized with the presence of the United States and the European Union. The European Council has already expressed «its grave concern regarding the deteriorating situation in the country, in particular in the area of rule of law, fundamental rights and freedom of media, which are core democratic values at the heart of the EU and its enlargement policy. In the interest of the citizens, democracy, rule of law and political stability, the Council urges political leaders to rapidly address those concerns».

The Albanian factor greatly influences the events. It may lead to involvement of other forces and even neighboring states. Albanian radicals started the «orange revolution style» protests in Kumanovo and other places. Once started it will not end up with the resignation of the government headed by Nikola Gruevski. The interests of Albanian radicals and Zoran Zaev, the political leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), coincide temporarily and only at tactical level, there are no strategic common goals. Normally Macedonian Albanians have one of their parties in a ruling coalition, either the Democratic Union for Integration led by Ali Ahmeti or the Democratic Party of Albanians headed by Menduh Thaçi (the both leaders closely tied to Kosovo radicals). One of the parties remains in opposition to maintain the system of checks and balances. Albanians can always take part in the movement to make the government resign, if need be. Their goals do not include economic progress of the country or foreign policy objectives but rather the defending the interests of Albanian diaspora. 

The protests by Albanian activists had been preceded by the statement made by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, «Albania and Kosovo may unite in a classic manner, if the European Union (EU) does not open the road to Kosovo’s European integration,» he said in a television debate on Klan TV in Kosovo, which was also attended by Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hashim Thaci. According to Mr. Rama the unification of Kosovo and Albania had two alternatives and both were up to the EU. 

«The first alternative is unification within the EU but if the Union continues closing its doors to Kosovo’s integration, the two counties may be forced to unite in a classic manner», the Prime Minister remarked. The Pristina’s Foreign Ministry has already launched «a note of protest» to Skopje over crackdown on terrorist groups in Kumanovo. Ben Blushi, an Albania MP, visited the place to say that «Macedonia has a serious problem with democracy. I’m sorry to say but it’s not a democratic country».

The Albanian news agency AND wrote on its home page that Zoran Zaev is facing a hard choice. Ali Ahmeti keeps silent. 

The Albanian factor and economic difficulties to hinder European integration are not the only problems faced by Macedonia. There is another reason widely discussed in Turkey. Turkish Habertürk writes that the events in Macedonia are part of a big game played to hinder the implementation of Turkish Stream. According to the newspaper, Macedonia has become important to the US as it could become the only way for Russia’s proposed Turkish Stream pipeline to reach Central Europe. The US wants to organize an orange revolution in Macedonia to prevent Turkish Stream going through its territory. 

Yeni Şafak agrees with this opinion. It writes that Turkish Stream creates new opportunities for Turkey. If implemented, the project will turn the country into the key element of regional energy system. That’s one of the things the United States wants to prevent along with the rise of Russia. It puts into doubt the loyalty of Ankara, its traditional partner. [1]

Richard Morningstar, the Founding Director of the Atlantic Council's New Global Energy Center and former US ambassador to Azerbaijan told noted Turkey and Azerbaijan have strong relations, and Turkey would not allow the Turkish Stream pipeline project to compete with TANAP. «I`ll be surprised if Turkey, implementing the Turkish Stream, will reduce the chances of the TANAP project,» Mr. Morningstar said. So he doubts the viability of the project. The signal is clear. His goal is to make Turkey abandon plans for energy cooperation with Russia. A coup in Macedonia (to be a transit country according to Turkish Stream plans), or even total destabilization of the situation there, would be timely if Turkey were adamant protecting its national interests. 

The United States and its allies in Brussels are accustomed to play with marked cards, it would be logical to expect the further exacerbation of the situation on the way of Turkish Stream. The destabilization plans may include Serbia, especially in the southern municipalities of municipalities of Presevo, Medvejda, and Bujanovac. The conspiracy will be carried out under the good old slogans calling for «democracy».