By Aleksandar Pavic
In an interview for the Russia-1 television channel, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed that he had raised the question of egregious Western meddling into Macedonia’s recent (September 30) referendum and parliamentary voting (October 19) to push through changes to the country’s name and constitution in order accelerate its accession to NATO (and, much later, if ever, to the EU) with US National Security Adviser John Bolton during his recent visit to Moscow.
“I told him we were accused of meddling not only in the US, but also in Spain, in Brexit and now also in anything that happens in the Western Balkans… We said we kept silent on Macedonia’s referendum, while its capital of Skopje was visited by NATO chief Stoltenberg, defense minister Mattis, German chancellor Merkel… who publicly and bluntly demanded that Macedonians ‘vote for their future’ and say ‘yes’ in a referendum on their membership in the EU and NATO by ‘only’ changing their country’s name,” recalled Lavrov, further reminding that the referendum had flopped but that, nevertheless, the Macedonian parliament went ahead with a vote to amend the country’s constitution, and secured the necessary two-thirds vote “through bribes and promises not to start criminal persecution,” overseen by the US Ambassador to Macedonia, who was present during the proceedings and “who did not merely sit there.”
Bolton’s response? According to Lavrov, he simply smiled and replied that Macedonia was a “quite complex country.”
So, there you have it. It’s officially open season on all the world’s “complex” countries – and guess who gets to define “complex” – should they ever even contemplate voting the “wrong way,” as interpreted by the West’s arbiters of democracy, even the avowed “non-interventionists” in the White House.
If anything, Lavrov was understating what some observers literally described as a “rape” of Macedonia’s democratic [sic] institutions on the part of the Western deep state establishment hell-bent on dragging the tiny country into NATO (with the highly unrealistic prospect of EU membership merely being used as a carrot to placate domestic and international public opinion), in order to completely encircle the last staunch anti-NATO holdouts in Europe outside of Russia and Belarus – Serbia and the Serbs in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It was bad enough that Western officialdom simply ignored the popular will of the Macedonians and collectively pretended that a 36.91% referendum turnout in fact expressed the “will of the majority,” and that it was sufficiently legitimate to move the matter to Parliament, where a two-thirds vote was required to move forward with the process of amending the constitution. This despite the fact that the West’s hand-picked prime minister, Zoran Zaev, had given assurances before the referendum that “citizens will make the decision,” and that Parliament would vote on the necessary constitutional changes only if the referendum was successful (meaning a 50% + 1 turnout and a majority “yes” vote).
Then, five days before the parliamentary vote, US Vice-President Mike Pence sent a “letter of support” to Zaev, ascertaining that Macedonians had, in fact, approved the name change agreement with Greece after all, because, you see, “90% (or less than a third of all the Macedonian voters – author’s note) of those that voted approved the Prespa Agreement.” Two days later, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, fired off a letter to Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of Macedonia’s main opposition party (which opposes the name change agreement with Greece), VMRO-DPMNE, expressing “disappointment” with his party’s negative position vis-à-vis the referendum and the upcoming parliamentary vote and urging him to “create space” for his party’s MPs to vote “free from threats of violence, retribution, or other forms of coercion.”
As it turned out, Mitchell’s just wanted to make sure that “threats of violence, retribution or other forms of coercion” would remain the exclusive domain of Zaev’s puppet government and the US Embassy. And, thus, four days before the parliamentary vote, Zaev put forth an “indecent proposal” for the opposition, i.e. “amnesty for their members who are on trial for unrest at the Assembly that took place on April 27 of last year,” when a former Albanian terrorist guerilla commander was elected as Parliament Speaker under strong US and EU pressure. Or, as Zaev pithily put it: “I know that everything has a price. I am ready to pay it.”
On voting day, October 19, the vote was delayed three times until the necessary two-thirds majority was secured. As to how it was secured was best summarized by a Russian Foreign Ministry statement:
“We consider what happened as a flagrant violation of all norms – both from the point of view of the law and in the moral sense… Eight votes that were necessary to secure a qualified majority were ensured by the means of blackmailing, threats and bribing opposition parliament members. Three of them, purely by chance, were released from arrest on that same day. Two others, who had open cases investigated by special prosecutors, were promised freedom. Others received corrupt financial offers in exchange for ‘the right vote’. Parliament members were locked in their rooms, their cell phones were seized – this is very much in line with the spirit of European democratic practice… The American ambassador was present in the Parliament building until the end of the session, leaving no doubt as to who was leading the process… Such dirty manipulations cannot be considered the expression of will of parliament members….”
That the Russians were not exaggerating was confirmed by, among others, a tweet from Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos: “Who would have thought that in Europe of values and democracy those who do not vote according to instructions are jailed, and those who comply get a 2 million euro bonus in black money.”
Opposition leader Mickoski denounced the parliamentary circus as Macedonia’s “Black Friday” and a case of “classic rape,” and proceeded to expel from the party the seven MPs who changed sides and helped secure the necessary two-thirds vote. Bulgarian daily “Sliven Now” accused the CIA and Greece’s Soros funds of bribing the renegade Macedonian MPs. (Links between US diplomats – specifically the present US Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily – and billionaire interventionist George Soros and their joint work on destabilizing Macedonia using US taxpayer money have been public knowledge for a couple of years.) According to a former adviser to the Macedonian President, Cvetin Chilimanov, the Parliament building was “under siege” on the day of the voting, teeming with politicians, police and officials from the public prosecutor’s office, and opposition leaders claimed that their MPs were offered anywhere from 250.000 to 2 million euros to change their vote.
Naturally, as was the failed referendum, the parliamentary charade was hailed by the usual EU/NATO suspects. EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn gushed that it was “a great day for democracy in Skopje,” adding for good measure his expectation that “the free choice of all MPs is fully respected.” Hahn also issued a supportive joint statement with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission. And NATO’s Gensec Jens Stoltenberg unflinchingly “welcomed” the outcome of the Macedonian parliamentary shenanigans and urged the MPs to “seize this historic opportunity.”
The process is not finished, as two more votes (or “votes”) are pending in what’s left of the Macedonian Parliament – on a draft proposal of the necessary constitutional amendments (needing a simple majority), and on the adoption of the final amendments, for which a two-thirds majority will once again be needed, along with the signature of Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, who himself boycotted the referendum. If everything goes as planned and/or paid, the scene will then move to the Greek Parliament, which must also vote on the changes. According to the Prespa Agreement, the Macedonian side needs to finish its business by the end of 2018, and it is expected that the Greek Parliament will do its part in early 2019. With a little help from their Western friends, no doubt.