Picture it. Macedonia. 1991-present. Macedonian politicians playing soccer against [insert any country here] and – not wanting to offend their opponent – spend the entire time playing defence. Whenever they make a save, they celebrate like they’re the best soccer team to have ever existed. When they inadvertently pass midfield, they immediately give up the ball and rush back to playing defence. They substitute different players, whose main goal is to get in the game but not to actually score. Instead of focusing on the game, they continue to scream and complain about how they should’ve been in the starting lineup. The fans are shouting “Go Macedonia! Shoot! At least TRY TO SCORE A GOAL!” and by sheer miracle, one player, actually listening to the fans, takes the ball, dekes out the other team, and scores! He is celebrated as the only Macedonian politician to ever put his team/country first but soon afterward, slinks away and completely hangs Macedonia and Macedonians out to dry.
And this is how Macedonian politicians, from both major parties, have always governed the Republic of Macedonia – with no balls. It’s painfully obvious that they should have never played the game. You can’t win by just playing defence – eventually the other team will score, and they will score a lot. And Macedonian politicians have played the game so poorly, they not only made their own team (the Republic of Macedonia) lose, they’ve taken all of Macedonia’s partitioned territory – and all Macedonians, past, present and future – down with them.
I’ve met with a lot of Macedonian leaders and politicians. They’re reading this – and they’re offended. I’m telling them here, and I’ve told them personally: Look in the mirror and see how your actions – and inaction – are taking down an entire ethnic group.
I’ve also told them that going on the offence is not offensive, especially when you have the truth on your side. (Should I apologize for my Canadian spelling of “offence” by the way? They would.) Instead of apologizing for existing, Macedonian politicians should be standing up for an entire nationality from relentless, public attacks by our oppressors – to admittedly redefine, and eradicate, what it ever meant to be a Macedonian. And this is the very raison d’etre of the Western-imposed, ironically-named “Prespa Agreement” – the illegal document that changes Macedonia’s name, and the identity and history of ALL Macedonians. By the way, Macedonian politicians would also apologize for my use of French – as that would anger their US overlords. Yes, the same ones who imposed the Prespa Disagreement.
So why would the US do such a thing? Imperialism. They want Macedonia in NATO, something that Greece (with Bulgaria hopping on board) had vowed to veto unless Macedonia gives up its name, identity and history and become “North Macedonians” from “North Macedonia” with a history beginning with the Republic of Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The terms “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” were handed over to Greece and Bulgaria, depending on context – as explained in multiple Articles of the 19-page document telling me who I am and who my people ever were.
After Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 among Serbia (Yugoslavia), Bulgaria, Greece and later, Albania, each country brutally suppressed the name Macedonia and executed campaigns of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Macedonian populations. The Prespa Disagreement officially validates Greece and Bulgaria’s campaigns, as it explicitly denies the existence of Macedonians in these countries. Yes, the West wrote a handbook wiping out an entire people.
Additionally, and ironically, in 1988, Greece made a sudden, dramatic propaganda switch and began claiming that the Macedonian name belongs to them, but that Macedonian people still “don’t exist”. So then, who’s writing this op-ed…? Greece decided to go on the offence with blatant, racist lies, while Macedonian politicians cower in the corner with the truth.
Since Macedonia has been a toy thrown around by our various oppressors, let’s play a game too. It’s called “What Would You Do?” Pick your character first, you’re either a Macedonian politician or a normal person:
Question 1 – When an oppressor claims that your ancient history belongs to them, do you expose their attempts at wiping out your people? Not if you’re a Macedonian politician, you either give your history away or you do nothing to prevent it (depending on which political party you serve).
Question 2 – When a different oppressor claims that your modern history belongs to them, do you hand it over then engage in dialogue with them and try to find “common ground”?
A normal person would go on the offence and point out that these acts violate their most BASIC of human rights. They would point out the sheer hypocrisy that the West – which CLAIMS to support human rights, democracy and the rule of law – are the ones aiding our oppressors in our eradication by forcing the Prespa Disagreement on us. (The oppressor behind Door #1, by the way, is Greece, and Bulgaria is behind Door #2. Now this is a Let’s Make A Deal game that I would refuse to play.)
And a normal person would say OUR NAME IS MACEDONIA and the case would be closed. I told Macedonian politicians the same, repeatedly. I also told them to not negotiate the un-negotiable. That we already have a name. That it’s not theirs to give away. And the only reason that the West was pushing for a name change was because they agreed to negotiate it.
I also tell them, repeatedly, that the forced name change can easily be reversed. An illegally-imposed law is not law. It’s that simple. The Prespa Disagreement was forced on Macedonia in violation of Macedonian and international law, in defiance of the Macedonian constitution and parliamentary rules, and by ignoring every human rights convention that guarantees the basic right of self-determination. I tell Macedonian politicians that their ridiculous claims that “reversing the name change would be difficult” only serves to prove that they’re either incompetent or complicit.
The irony is that Macedonia would have WON, if it were not for Macedonian politicians, who took it upon themselves to play games with – and lose – our name, identity and history. The vast majority of the world had recognized the Republic of Macedonia under its real name. The United Nations condemned Greece and Bulgaria for its persecution of Macedonians and demanded immediate recognition of their large Macedonian minorities. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in Macedonians’ favour in numerous cases against Greece and Bulgaria. This is what happens when you show self-respect, stand up for yourself and demand support – like the Macedonian minorities do throughout the Balkans. But what did politicians from the Republic of Macedonia do when they found themselves on a breakaway, and only needing one goal to finally put the anti-Macedonian “name dispute” to an end? Instead of scoring (ending the name negotiations that never should have begun), they turned around and scored an own goal.
This brings us back to the analogies. I don’t think there’s any confusion about them (save for, possibly, the Golden Girls reference at the beginning), but I’ll quote another old lady and explain them “just for case”. (My mother-in-law’s version of “just in case”). Gjorgi Ivanov, former president of the Republic of Macedonia, was the only player to have scored a goal – and he did so at the 2018 UN General Assembly when he decried the forced renaming of Macedonia and pointed out the sheer racism and hypocrisy of the West in imposing it. Self-determination was the key, and so is the fact that Macedonia and Macedonians have always existed as such. What did he do to follow up? Nothing. He had a multitude of options in preventing the illegally-imposed name change and he could’ve pardoned Macedonian political prisoners (those who dared to defy the West in opposing the name change) but he chose not to. He chose to obey the West instead, and he left the Macedonians who stood up for Western values (by defending their own human rights), to rot in prison.
The unathletic soccer players are Macedonian politicians from SDS and DPNE (“SDSM”, the biggest traitors in Macedonian history and the US puppets who executed the Prespa Disagreement and “VMRO-DPMNE”, the faux patriots who did nothing to stop the forced name change – so neither deserves the right to use the “M” for “Macedonia”. Macedonian politicians, are you offended again? Then WAKE UP and defend Macedonia). The substitutes are whichever party is in opposition at the time. And the Golden Girls reference is the beloved TV sitcom character Sophia Petrillo, who would tell delightfully, twisted stories from her childhood (“Picture it. Sicily. 1922…”) But, if the West’s anti-Macedonian actions were applied to her, all of her stories would be changed, along with her ethnicity, memories, and very being. She would be forced to say “Picture it. Washington D.C. 2020. The year everything I ever was, was erased…” Welcome to Macedonia’s world.
*Bill Nicholov, President Macedonian Human Rights Movement International