Bucharest is Macedonia's Stalingrad

Bucharest is Macedonia's Stalingrad

Bucharest is Macedonia's Stalingrad

by Dusan Sinadinoski

In its offensive drive against the Republic of Macedonia to give up her constitutional name, Greece has not spared any diplomatic or psychological means at her disposal intended to wear and tear down Macedonia’s will to defend her ground. Knowing that politically and diplomatically she was being over powered by her bigger and much stronger opponent, Macedonia was forced to embark on a Stalingrad line of defense to fight until the finish while hoping that some form of help would arrive just in time to stave off their national annihilation. It seems that the vicious Greek assault on Macedonia has brought Greece within a strike of success, but the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest may yet to turn out to be Macedonia’s Stalingrad.

The epic battle for Stalingrad was well documented and historians have pretty much accepted how the Germans lost it and how the Soviets won it. Briefly summarized, in 1942, the German army surrounded this Stalingrad and expected to take it at any moment. They assaulted this city on Volga River with aerial attacks, artillery bombardment and intensive panzer onslaught. The entire city was almost reduced to rubble and nothing but a few buildings remained standing. But despite their odds of survival, the Soviet defenders fought back furiously for months and did not surrender. Meanwhile, the German supplies begin to dwindle while the Russians kept reinforcing their supplies. As the result, the outcome of the battle turned around in favor of the Russians. Thus, even though it appeared that the Russians were bound to lose because all odds were hopelessly stacked against them, they continued to bring to the battle every last thing they had. They ended up winning this crucial battle and turned around the fortunes of war.

This military event of World War II appears to be paralleled by the diplomatic battle between Greece and Macedonia over the disputed name “Macedonia”. Greece is waging an all out diplomatic war against the Macedonians. It has effectively blocked the United Nations to admit Macedonia under its constitutional name and instead it is now being force to be called by the humiliating name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece imposed a devastating economic blockade in the mid 1990s which basically paralyzed Macedonian commerce. The Macedonian citizens traveling to Greece are being regularly interrogated by the Greek border patrols. In a last ditch effort, Greece is now attempting to veto Macedonia’s accession into NATO unless Macedonia accepts a Greek compromise. Such diplomatic maneuvers are waged relentlessly on every occasion on the international stage and on the bilateral dealings. These diplomatic pressures are calculated to wear down the Macedonian side to a submission.

For quite some time it was looking as if Greece was losing this battle because over 120 countries already recognized Macedonia under her constitutional name. Meanwhile, under the threat of a veto, Greece was patiently waiting the approach of the NATO Summit in Bucharest as a last ditch diplomatic maneuver to force Macedonia to choose to either give up on the name and join NATO or to keep the name and face isolation and uncertainty. Greece may have calculated that Macedonia would be willing to compromise on the name in order to join NATO because the membership in this alliance will provide her with external security, stabilized her fragile inter-ethnic relations, help boost the economy and expedite Macedonian Euro-Atlantic integration. Adding to this side of the equation, Greece may have also counted on the fact that Macedonia won’t be able to resist the pressure by NATO, the European Union and the United States, and that she will cave and accept a compromise. Thus it appears that Greece’s success is around the corner and the fireworks in Athens are about to start while Macedonian capitulation is inevitable.

But by taking this approach Greece has left Macedonians with no room for negotiations. If Macedonia changes the constitutional name to accommodate the Greek demand and replaces her name with a geographical name notation, then Macedonia would practically cease to exist as a nation state and the Macedonian national identity will be annulled. On the other hand, if Macedonia doesn’t give up her constitutional name and as a result fails to join NATO, Macedonia’s future appears to be bleak and uncertain. Thus Greece has succeeded to push the Macedonians to the end of rope. At this point of negotiations, the Macedonians appear to be done; but they need to keep negotiating to the end until help arrives. Hopefully, this time in Bucharest the future will be safe and bright for Macedonia too.

But in the overzealous pursuit of a victory over a country that is no match to her, Greece may have overstepped its boundaries and may have encroached into a treacherous territory. Greece may not see a destabilized and weakened Macedonia, i.e. northern neighbor, as much of a threat to her security. No doubt that Greece is capable of controlling and dealing with any possible acts of violence or other forms of irredentism, although none of it has ever happened. But an unstable Macedonia can act like the eye of a hurricane. Unstable and disunited, Macedonia’s political vacuum will almost certainly draw in the Albanians, Bulgarians, and Serbs. If this is to happen, the entire Balkans will become a keg of powder. Such outcome of events will definitely undue everything that the United States, NATO and the European Union have done so far to secure peace and stability in the Balkans.

If Greece succeeds in vetoing Macedonia’s accession to NATO, then this alliance will be left to deal with several thorny issues. First, NATO’s enlargement mission in the Western Balkans will make no sense without a Macedonian membership. What took more than a decade to secure Macedonia’s unstable ethnic equilibrium and emerging democracy, it will be undone in a matter of seconds. Second, it is uncertain what NATO’s next step will be. Most likely its future expansion will be halted for a while until it figures out its new enlargement approach. But that may give the Russians additional time to indefinitely hold up the Ukrainian and Georgian NATO integration. Third, Greece’s veto may also set a precedent for a possible future veto by another NATO member to another aspirant. In effect, Greece’s use of veto power will seriously undermine NATO decision-making policies based on members’ consensus. Hence, it looks like Greece’s damage to NATO’s future expansion mission in Europe will have far reaching consequences.

But if NATO as a whole is unwilling or unable to calm down the Greeks and tone down their irrational demand of Macedonia, than it is unlikely that any of the other European big powers will accept the challenge. Currently, no single European country today has the courage or will to lead. Under the flamboyant and unpredictable leadership of President Sarkozy, France has become a stage for a reality show. Germany has been hesitating ever since the Iraq war and is not likely to confront Greece on this issue. England has curiously chosen to sit on the side line even though in the early 1900s was ready to take over Macedonia as its protectorate. So that leaves the United States as the only country with a will and leadership ability to step in and arbitrate the Greek-Macedonian name dispute.

Macedonia’s name defense, and consequently her hopes of peaceful and prosperous future, rests on the shoulders of the United States of America. This champion of human rights, defender of freedom and shrine of democracy, is the only nation that could stand in front of Greece and stop the merciless onslaught on Macedonia. The United States of America has the capacity and has the will to tell the Greeks ‘enough is enough’ and let Macedonia be. Macedonia’s faith in America is her last chance before it’s all too late. Like Greece and any other peace-loving country of the world, Macedonia too deserves “international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity”, as President Woodrow Wilson once stated almost a century ago at a Peace Conference in Paris. Bucharest is not Paris, but Bucharest is the Paris of the Balkans because it could bring to an end centuries of struggles and wars. Let those words by President Wilson echo in the halls of Bucharest Palace of Parliament this April and undue all the terrible injustice done to Macedonia in this same city back in 1913. Hopefully President Bush will keep in mind President Wilson’s ideas for a safe future for all of Europe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Чек малце, ова е текст напишан пред Самитот на НАТО во Букурешт (што си го ставил без датум) во кој се тврди дека таму ќе се одбранат интересите на Македонија - кои не беа одбранети.

Букурешт беше пораз за Македонија. Ако го нарекуваш Сталинград, а Сталинград е симбол за пораз на нацистичка Германија, значи сметаш дека Македонија е агресорот?

Што сакал блогерот да каже?