SPECIAL TREATMENT: DAY AFTER THE MACEDONIAN REFERENDUM                                                          

By Milan Jovanović, FSD president 

Citizen turnout for the referendum in Macedonia on September 30th was – poor! Those who hadn’t cast their vote in Macedonia still voted however – against their future and the future of their children!

And this is poor news for Macedonia, the EU and the region.

Possible especially for Serbia.

Namely, unlike the Macedonians, who have managed to reach an agreement that offers them a chance to solve the 27 year long Macedonian-Greek dispute, in Serbia’s case there is not a hint of an indication that a similar opportunity might be reached with regards to its decade's long conflict with the Kosovar Albanians.  

Above all else, this referendum outcome in Macedonia will only bolster Serbia’s perseverance and advocating for the maintaining of the so-called frozen conflict state with the Albanians – in a way that will in the long term, perhaps indefinitely, halt Serbia’s growth based on EU values!

The small comfort that, based on the published polls, there is still a majority among Serbia’s citizens that support the EU and its values is misleading! Similar public opinion polls have blindsided the Macedonian government in Skopje and tricked them into believing that the voter turnout will be greater and that the referendum won’t fail.

In spite of it all, even though the boycott of the silent Macedonian majority prevailed over the hopes of those who went to the polls, Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations, set to Skopje, just last night, via Twitter, his congratulations – while also expressing his joy that over 90% of those who turned out for the referendum voted Yes – for the EU, for NATO and for the amendment to the name of their country.

A reputable political analyst from Zagreb, Dejan Jovic, had similarly, last night, ironically commented in a tweet that Hahn might have accidentally reached for the text prepared in case the referendum succeeded.

Confirming the proverb that the best advice is found on the pillow, Andreja Bogdanovski, a Macedonian analyst, posted the day after the referendum a tweet with a rational question – what else is there for the West to do now, except try and keep the ship keeping Macedonia on a course towards the EU afloat.

That approach from Skopje, seems to me, preferable to the remarks from Zagreb who is, such as it is, already an EU member.

It is evident that the EU is making an effort to, with the dark clouds looming over the region and itself, not make the same mistake the Brussels machine made in Ukraine.

This, however, shouldn’t set the Euro-Atlantic oriented politicians in Macedonia at ease – but rather incite to greater agility and sincerity with one another and help them prepare a retort to the new actions and initiatives of the protagonists of Russian soft power in the region, which do not stop at state borders in the region just as they don’t shy away from coups and the overturning of elected governments.

In a similar vein, politicians in Serbia shouldn’t relax – even though, in the current state of affairs, it is questionable if they can publically proclaim their orientation towards the EU without risk of a loss of popularity – encircled as they are by the rising tide of the anti-European media mainstream.

What happens next is yet to be seen, perhaps very soon.

We may find out in Serbia as soon as President Vucic returns from his visit to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

It was previously announced that Putin would come to Serbia, which was turned around without any explanation whatsoever and postponed indefinitely, accompanied by a not particularly encouraging or decent remark of Putin’s spokesmen that Russia’s position towards Serbia will be settled upon after their meeting in Moscow.