At the moment of the Macedonian nation’s greatest victory, independence, “the name issue became the new symbol of our defeat”, regrets Denko Maleski. Predictably enough, those in Macedonia to benefit were the nationalist Right, thus confirming Greek fears.
How can it be that the primary concern of Macedonian politics is not, as in most other European countries, economic and democratic development, but fear of annihilation? The causes for this “Macedonian safety dilemma” are not primarily external, but internal, writes Denko Maleski. Antagonistic groups some insisting on Macedonia’s “Bulgarian history”, others (pro-Serbian) stressing the “Macedonian present”, and others still concerned with Alexander the Great and the “antique Macedonia” cultivate the fear. There cannot be any real political peace in Macedonia until these groups, through dialogue, decide to put an end to the animosities.
After the disintegration of Yugoslavia, political life in Macedonia takes other political colours, and with pluralism and democracy, different arrangement of political forces. Nationalist politicians however are still prepared to exploit these dangererous sentiments for their own good.
The borders of our minds
“In the minds of all the Balkan nations there are two maps with two different borders. One is the contemporary map, usually called the political map of one’s state. The other is the historical map, a map sometimes secretly and often openly cherished.” Former Macedonian foreign minister Denko Maleski on Balkan nationalism and why, in the conflict between Macedonia and Greece, both sides are debating a non-existent issue.
Macedonia's road to freedom
The renowned Macedonian intellectual Denko Maleski recently received an award from the Borjan Tanevski Foundation in recognition of his political journalism. In the following, a transcript of his acceptance speech, Maleski talks about the forces hindering a multi-ethnic democracy in Macedonia, and about the plight of the Roma, who in Macedonia face severe disadvantage.