Diary: August 6 - 12, 2012
Monday, August 6
Minister of Defense Besimi and Gen. Koteski visited the Army exhibition today. This wouldn’t be a big deal for this diary if this exhibition is not scandalously exposing weapons to minors. As high government officials they are expected to be bearers of consciousness that letting kids to handle weapons is nothing but direct endorsement of gun culture amongst children and youth.
It’s a busy day at the office today for many reasons, but we find time to meet and discuss this issue. This is not the first time that the armed forces in the country make a show of this kind for the general population, placing no restrictions for children and youth. We all agree to strongly condemn this scandalous behavior and call upon parents to restrain from visiting this and such events in future. The press release is ready by the end of the day and will be issued in Macedonian, Albanian and English language on our web and blog.
We also had a recap on the Macedonian contribution to the UN Conference on Arms Trade Treaty (July 2-27). We were concerned about the passive participation of the state delegation to the UN at this conference, which was a subject to several media appearances on our side, calling upon the government to endorse a strong Arms Trade Treaty at the UN. Macedonia, in the end, was one of the 90+ countries that endorsed this process, which was only partly successful. Still, the behavior at home (making weapons available to children) needs serious corrections, to say the least.
The Macedonian economy is going down; recession is knocking at our doors. This is a consequence of the wrong policies of this government – accused once again the SDSM. The statistics are worrying: unemployment is rising and it is 31.6% now, whilst the employment rate is going down and is 38.6% now. In only one year, the number of blocked bank accounts of companies rose to 33,000. Now, the number of companies that have blocked accounts is 133,000. I’m not an expert, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that these numbers are rather alarming.
Tuesday, August 7
Leaflets, handwritten, containing messages such as “Death to the Kaurs [pejorative calling for Slavs]” appeared in Taftalidje, a Skopje settlements, mainly inhabited with ethnic Macedonians. This is the second case in that settlement this month. Police is investigating – it is reported.
Shooting incidents became a daily event. Armed violence is more and more frequent. Guns are not only used as a tool for criminal activities, but also to solve inter-personal disputes. When it comes to celebratory firing – it’s become the usual décor of the daily life in the country.
All quiet on the southern front … The Greek MFA Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the solution of the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece requires political will, and that the Greek side is strongly committed to a solution of the problem, whilst, according to him, Skopje is on the same positions for twenty years now.
Diametrically opposite standpoints can be expressed only by having identical vocabulary on both sides.
Wednesday, August 8
According to the Eurobarometer, 67% of the Macedonian citizens don’t trust the government against 30% who do. The Parliament is trusted by 31% and 69% do not. The trust in these two institutions is decreasing, and 49% of the citizens believe that the situation in Macedonia will only get worse. Not surprising at all.
The heat wave goes on. The government keeps on issuing warnings, recommendations and other measures to prevent workers working under the sun in the warmest periods of the day. As far as I can see, many workers of the construction companies working for the government (what else?), carry on working under the blazing sun.
Workers’ rights of the construction workers in Macedonia nowadays: poorly paid - no more than € 200 per month, often not paid in time or not at all; awfully treated; jobs are constantly insecure; working in almost entirely unsafe conditions; injuries and death are common.
The Minister of Labor and Social Policy announced a new program for social inclusion, some national coordinative mechanism… “We want to terminate passing poverty from generation to generation” said the Minister. More empty words every day…
Thursday, August 9
Macedonia is winning again (see my previous post). Analyzing world’s worst economies, CNN (CNN Money) reports that Macedonia is at the very top of these economies. The report:
“The IMF does not publish unemployment statistics for every country -- but of those listed, Macedonia has the highest rate. In 2012, unemployment is projected to top 31.2%.
The rate has been stubbornly high for years despite solid if not spectacular economic growth, suggesting that structural problems are to blame.
Observers frequently note that official unemployment statistics do not include the country's so-called gray market, which is thought to make up a significant portion of Macedonia's total economic activity.”
Don’t worry, I wrote once, it will only get worse. Actually, everyone knows that already.
More monuments are being set almost every day in Skopje and across the country.
Friday, August 10
Preparations for the 11th anniversary of the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) are in a full speed. This year, according to the daily Fokus, the leader of the Democratic Union for Integration, Ali Ahmeti (formerly, the leader of UCK in Macedonia, 2001, now - coalition partner) is expecting the PM and the leader of VMRO-DPMNE Gruevski to take part in the celebration of the OFA day. He never did before.
Saturday, August 11
The “universal minister” Nikola Todorov (ex-education, presently health, probably interior minister next) has a new project per day. He is proud of his achievements and projects.
Seems he is the only one with that opinion.
The education system in Macedonia is in disarray. The health system is in a worse shape.
The Saturday-Sunday issue of the daily Fokus reports that PM Gruevski is on vacations until Tuesday, August 14, so he is not going to be able to attend the celebration of the Ohrid Framework Agreement 11th anniversary. Nice excuse.
The Lustration process continues to be a scandalous witch-hunting-like reckoning with those that are not in the line with the current government. The head of Soros foundation in Macedonia Vladimir Milcin remains the most prominent person so far accused of collaboration with the secret police in the communist past of the country. His press conference is expected on Monday.
The Graganski weekly brings a cover story on this process titled “Dirty Purification”. Well-chosen title.
My dear friend Ruud Borgers and I are on our way to Struga today. An ethnically mixed band established there in 2009, as part of Civil’s project Rock for Peace and Friendship and later became part of Skopje Summer School led by the Musicians without Borders and the Fontys Rock Academy. The Skopje Summer School exists since 2008. I will write more on this unavoidably as it will approach (end of August).
Sunday, August 12
We meet the young rockers of Struga at the Art Café at the river of Drim. We discuss rock & roll and stuff. It’s a great atmosphere. They are young and full of positive energy. These young people give me hope for the future.
We are listening to loud music all the way back to Skopje. Ruud is a great company. We discuss mostly music and love. I don’t give a damn about politics today.