LEVERAGING THE GREEK POWER OF VETO May 11, 2010Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Macedonia, Yunanistan.
Tags: Dusan Sinadinoski, Greece, Greek veto, Macedonia
By Dusan Sinadinoski May 10, 2010
Those who hold the view that a mutually acceptable agreement between Greece and Macedonia on the use of the Macedonian constitutional name is not only possible but it is within the reach are either misguided about what is being negotiated or they are not seriously considering the resulting consequences following an eventual compromise on the name issue. In either case, what those people fail to acknowledge is that a mutually acceptable agreement between Greece and Macedonia is out of question as long as Greece feels no need to negotiate in good faith. However, if Macedonia gives up her constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia by agreeing to the Greek demands, as Macedonia is being urged to do it, the “agreed” compromise would essentially spell out elimination of the Macedonian nation as is currently known. Ironically, Greece would be extremely happy if the current name of Republic of Macedonia is replaced by rogue names such as long as the terms “Macedonia’ and “Macedonian” are completely eliminated from designating the Macedonian state and its nationality. Their derogatory treatment of the Macedonians is not an issue of which the Greeks feel they ought to be ashamed off. In any case, the price to Macedonia for Pax Hellenes would be too great to pay and that alone makes a compromise on the name very unlikely. Henceforth, these negotiations have no useful purpose for Macedonia and a need for a fresh start is long overdue. Any reasonable solution to the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia that is mutually acceptable for both means that each country’s expectations would be met as the result of such an agreement. However, in the current Greek-Macedonian negotiations Macedonia would be left without an option of even retaining its original status quo, i.e. the position in which Macedonia was before the name issue was imposed on her by Greece. Hence, it is very disheartening when many leading Macedonian politicians and foreign diplomats publically “encourage” Macedonia to find a quick solution to the name issue even though it is quite obvious to everyone that any such solution would lead Macedonia to compromise on its constitutional name in exchange for a membership in NATO and EU. In such a scenario, if Macedonia’s preference of choice is a membership in these Euro-Atlantic organizations over its constitutional name, assuming that Greece is not willing to concede, then what such an encouragement really means is asking Macedonia to de facto surrender its sovereignty. Therefore, the resulting agreement between Greece and Macedonia will amount to nothing less than a bilateral peace treaty between Greece and Macedonia where the terms and conditions of such an agreement call for elimination of the Macedonian nation. It is difficult to imagine a situation where two disagreeing countries consent to a mutually acceptable solution to a given problem where one of the parties in the conflict uses the power of coercion to subdue the opponent into an agreement, unless, of course, the subduing opponent commits foolish moves. However, Greece is certainly no fool and therefore, it makes no sense to believe that Greece has made a hasty decision to get involved into this drawn out and nasty name dispute only to settle for a mutually acceptable solution. Greece, moreover, must have evaluated all and any of Macedonia’s possible or unforeseen future surprise moves and has left nothing to a chance. Without any political, economic and psychological cost to Greece, there is no genuine motivation for the Greek aggressors to abandon their strategy of coercive diplomacy. That is why, if Macedonia is to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution, then it is up to Macedonia to figure out the way of turning the table on Greece. Otherwise, Macedonia must deal with the consequences of either surrendering its sovereignty to the Greek demands or live under the constant political, economic and military pressure by Greece. Whenever two conflicting countries decide to enter into negotiations in order to resolve an outstanding issue about which both have disputing claims, it is necessary that both countries must choose to do so by mutual consent. The reason for any two countries freely engaging in negotiation by mutual consent is because both countries understand that each would be better off as the result of such an agreement. But in the Greek-Macedonian case, Macedonia was forced into these negotiations by Greece against her will. Of course, using intimidation, threat of force and, if everything else fails, resorting to war, is not unordinary and unprecedented in the history of conflict resolutions between two disagreeing countries. But Greece’s demand that the Republic of Macedonia strip itself from its constitutional name, history and national identity is unprecedented and unreasonable because Greece is unilaterally exporting what is essentially a bilateral issue to international organizations such as United Nations, European Union and NATO. However, what’s even more curious here is that instead of those organizations returning this issue back to the table for bilateral negotiations, Macedonia was mercilessly compelled to negotiate the use of her constitutional name in those organizations. By doing so, they willingly violated Macedonia’s right to self-determination. For that reason, there is no other way for Macedonians to understand this decision by United Nation but a direct sanctioning of the Greek coercive diplomacy against Macedonia. But what perplexes Macedonians even more and what makes them loose faith in the United Nations, European Union and NATO is that Greece has not been even publically reprimanded, let alone cautioned, for coercing Macedonia to give its constitutional name. It is no wonder why the Macedonians have come to believe that these organizations have no appetite to stand up to the Greek bullying of Macedonia. The Macedonians know quite well that the UN, EU and NATO leaders fully understand what’s at stake here but it is frightening to think that they may not be considering the integrity and sovereignty of the Macedonian nation worth their full attention. But those same Western countries were certainly much more active and decisive immediately after WWII by defending Greece against Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Why are the Macedonians now not provided the same support and protection as the Greeks back then? Are the Macedonians wrong by assuming that they may be less deserving than the Greeks of the same respect? Even as recently as a decade ago, the UN, EU and NATO were also very decisive and resolved in Bosnia and Kosovo by making sure that the field of play was evened out. In Kosovo and Bosnia, under the pretence of preventing humanitarian disasters, USA, NATO and EU engaged in building nation states where previously there were none. Why, then, the West isn’t trying to even the playing field between Greece and Macedonia? Understandably, the geopolitical reality dictates the kind of game is being played, nonetheless, letting Greece get away without any cost to her doesn’t appear to be sound Balkan policy relations for the West. The fact that Greece has made no secret of her use of power to block the Macedonian Euro-Atlantic integration is not surprising to Macedonians. But what displeases the Macedonians the most and what makes them very suspicious of the United Nations, European Union and NATO is that their leaders help create a political mood in Macedonia, whether intentionally or not, that seem to emulate an atmosphere of desperateness and inevitability of succumbing to the Greek demands. Hence two very antagonistic and totally opposite perceptions are being created. On the one hand, it appears that the Greeks have come to believe that they are almost home and all they need to do is to continue with their strategy of intimidation until Macedonia finally succumbs to their pressure. Macedonians, on the other hand, are hoping for some fresh approach and some new initiative to come from somewhere in the world, preferably from Washington, in order to neutralize the Greek devastating political and economic strangulation of Macedonia. Thus while they urge both countries to come to a solution at the same time they create even a wider gap between these two bitterly opposed countries on the name issue. But no matter how bleak Macedonia’s situation may look and no mater how close the Greeks feel they are to their goal, the West’s encouragement for speedy and successful completion to these negotiations are unreasonable and too simplistic because there is no mutually acceptable solution that can satisfy both Greece and Macedonia. It won’t be an easy task but with or without the help of NATO, UN or EU, Macedonia has no other choice but to free itself from the Greek coercive diplomacy. Since it is the power of veto that gives Greece an advantage in these negotiations, Macedonia must find the will and means to leverage the Greek power of veto. In order to accomplish it, Macedonia must realign its Euro-Atlantic integration objectives to its national interests. As it stands at this moment, the Macedonian membership in the European Union and NATO is considered a priority and of vital national interest to Macedonia and therefore a speedy integration process has been desperately sought. But this accelerated integration process is exactly what gives Greece the impetus to keep on insisting on the name compromise and what makes their plan a winning strategy. The stronger the desire for Macedonia to join NATO and EU, the more firmly committed Greece remains in her position. Thus the right thing for the Macedonian government to do is to reevaluate whether or not it is to the best interest of the country to continue staying on an accelerated track to NATO and EU membership. Since currently there is no penalty to Greece for blocking Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, all of Macedonia’s future attempts to join these organizations will definitely be met by the same fate. Therefore, there seems to be no immediate benefits to Macedonia for staying on an accelerated track to these associations. There is no doubt that the hostile and ferocious Greek diplomatic strangulation of the Republic of Macedonia has reached a critical point such that if Macedonia doesn’t counterbalance the Greek coercive strategy it would be all lost to Macedonia. For that reason, it’s a high time for the Macedonian government to take bold political steps to facilitate a reversal of the course to these negotiations. But, in order to leverage the Greek power of veto it is imperative that Macedonia start attacking the Greek strategy head on. First, Macedonia must downgrade its NATO and EU membership aspiration from an elevated status of vital national interest to a lower and less critical status of important and mutually beneficial relationship. Second, instead of aimlessly figuring a way to induce Greece to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution, which will never happen, Macedonia ought to concentrate all of its efforts on legal and diplomatic means that would force Greece to retract its policy of coercive negotiation. However, both of these steps require that the Macedonian government take bold and strong initiatives instead of playing a passive role and hoping that the time will work to the benefit of Macedonia. There is no dilemma that Greece’s ability to block Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration is the crux of their strategy of coercive negotiation but how to counter balance that power of veto would certainly produce many controversies. In any case, by downgrading the priority of its NATO and EU membership, Macedonia would effectively take away Greece’s main tool of intimidation because her power of veto would no longer have any affect in the name negotiations. This certainly may not be very popular with many Macedonian leading politician and businessmen but the integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia can not be subject to a popularity contest. It goes without saying that every political decision contains a good amount of risk and this move would undoubtedly be highly risky. However, it all depends on what is being defined as a risk to Macedonia. Surely, Macedonia’s membership in NATO and EU increases Macedonia’s political and economic stability, but Greece has made sure that that option is not available to her. Hence, if not enjoying membership in these organizations is a high risk then Macedonia is already at high risk. But it also has to be kept in mind that the Macedonian political stability is not only Macedonia’s problem but is a potentially explosive issue for the greater Balkan region as well for the entire Europe. Therefore, the stake here are not just high for Macedonia but everyone else has as much to loose, even Greece herself, the instigator of this problem. If Europe wants to risk another potentially even greater political unrest on the Balkans than ones in Kosovo and Bosnia, then Europe has not learned any lessons from the previous two Balkan conflicts. Actually, Macedonia here offers Europe a chance to either look away to the Greek nationalistic appetite, as has done so far, or start playing a more decisive role and force Greece to abandon its fascist policies toward Macedonia. It may be argued that that this move may be a toll order for the Macedonian government to make when taking into consideration its weak economy and fragile inter-ethnic relations. But such an argument leads back to the staring point. Where there is a will there is a way and a new start is not out of its reach and it can be accomplished. All it needs to be done is start a fresh approach to the entire negotiation strategy by way of underscoring Macedonia’s fragile political stability and how its geopolitical location may affect the stability of the Balkans and Europe itself. Surely, the new strategy would require a precise plan and a strong leadership willing to govern and lead the country. There is no reason what so ever that Macedonia needs to be in European Union in order to be a European country. Even more so, Macedonia should let Europe know that Macedonia need not change her constitutional name to belong to Europe. Macedonia deserves the same right to self-determination that any other sovereign country in Europe. The constant and relentless pressure coming from EU and NATO that a speedy resolution to the name issue must be found is only intended to put heavy pressure on Macedonia to accept the Greek compromise because they are either unwilling or incapable of dealing with Greece. As long as Macedonia is being pressured to join NATO and EU at any cost, Greece knows that there is some price which Macedonia would be willing to pay to Greece in exchange for membership in EU and NATO. What is the price that Macedonia is willing to pay to Greece it directly depends on how strongly Macedonia desires to achieve her desired membership goal. Conversely, how much is Greece capable of abstracting from Macedonia depends on Greece’s ability to endure in its coercive strategy without incurring any or very little political, economic and psychological cost. Hence as long as Greece is able to keep the Macedonian Euro-Atlantic integration locked up to its power of veto the edge goes to Greece because Greece has nothing to loose and everything to gain. Therefore, it is imperative that the Macedonian government finds a counter balance to the Greek strategy in order to win Macedonia’s political freedom. Macedonia is on a long historical journey whereas NATO and EU could wait, if necessary, little while longer for Macedonia’s membership. Along with the realignment of the membership preference, Macedonia must also be more vocal on the international scene by linking together Greece’s violation of UN resolutions and Macedonia right to use her constitutional name in the international organizations such as the United Nations. By taking advantage of the enlargement mechanisms at both NATO and European Union either by blocking or threatening Macedonia’s membership in these organizations, Greece blatantly violated the provisions of UN’s Resolution 817(1993) which requires both parties to promote good-neighborly relations and confidence building measures. In addition, by attempting to force a settlement upon Macedonia outside of UN, Greece essentially breached UN’s Resolution 845 (1993) which requires the efforts of both countries to arrive at the mutually agreeable settlement under the auspices of Secretary-General. In fact, these acts of coercion make it no longer possible for Macedonia to negotiate a fair and mutually acceptable settlement. Macedonia’s challenge to the Greek violation of UN resolutions at the International Court in The Hague is a good start but it ought not to end there. Since Greece blatantly violated those resolutions, Macedonia should also put pressure on the UN Security Council to request that Secretary-General pronounce these negotiations null and void. Greece can’t have both ways: using coercion while pretending is negotiating a mutually acceptable solution. True, Macedonia needs to be cooperative with the international community on many issues but that doesn’t require Macedonia to be silent about Greece’s aggression. Every UN member country, no matter how small or unimportant it may be must be extended the same equal right as enjoyed by every other country. In addition, it is of vital importance to Macedonia that every UN member country fully understands the difference between the Greek aggression and Macedonia’s right to its historical and cultural inheritance. If Macedonia doesn’t elevate this issue on the political agendas of the relevant international political bodies, it would be very presumptuous of Macedonian politicians to expect that someone else would do it for them. Macedonia must make her voice be heard loud and clear to UN, EU and NATO that the consequences of Macedonia’s failure would be painfully felt across Europe and wider. Modern Greece, if the term “modern” can be used at all to designate this Byzantine collage of cultures, is a nation conceived from and inspired by the vestiges of the bygone European romantic nationalism and transformed by it into a zealous nation-aggrandizement. Hence the Greek hostile diplomacy against Macedonia is nothing new but it is now Greece’s turn of redisplaying its version of the 19th century Balkan ethno-chauvinism on the European stage. But this form of racism shouldn’t have a place in today’s world and must be eliminated before it spreads again. No country, even if that country is the “cradle of democracy”, should be allowed to keep captive another nation. However, without a strong external pressure Greece has no incentives to respect the democratic rights of the Macedonian people. Expecting a mutually acceptable agreement to these negotiations is as realistic as hoping for a chance that Greece would come to realize that it is the one who is the root cause of the problem here. Greece has shown times and over again that it doesn’t have an overabundance of political and moral capital to share it with Macedonia. As the current landscape of nationalism is being outlined on the Balkan map, Greece’s name is engraved there quite prominently. It may be very uncomfortable for many people to hear it but Macedonia’s adversary to the south is the last one of the Balkan bullies still pushing around its smaller Balkan neighbors. It defies any form of logic Greece’s claim that the name “Macedonia” alone inspires conflicts. The threat to Greece is not Macedonia but its own 19th century Megali Idea and Greece’s unwillingness to let it go. By being more critical of Greece coercive policy toward Macedonia and more decisive in their demands that Greece abstain from blocking Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, EU and NATO would not only prevent Macedonia’s sinking but they could also help themselves even more by averting future deployment of their resources to this region. As the latest Greek financial fiasco clearly indicates, by turning the attention away even for a short time from a situation that seems to be under control, it could lead to disastrous consequences even to those who felt unaffected by it.