Do we want democracy or dictatorship?
Writes: Denko Maleski
Last week, in an interview for the new TV “Klan – Macedonia”, Biljana Georgievska, immediately after the breaking of the news about the escape of the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski from Macedonia, asked for my opinion. I answered in accordance with my reason, not my feelings. I pointed to the fact that such things happen and will happen in democratic societies in which defendants are guaranteed their human rights. “It goes with the territory”, the Americans would say: the dangers of having someone escape you into a democratic system are incomparably greater than those in a dictatorship. Now we can really believe that the citizens of Macedonia and the foreign embassies (the Hungarian?) are not being tapped, except, of course, by a court decision. Now we can believe that the accused and convicted Gruevski really had six police officers who protected him at his call, not prison guards who did not allow him to move. Therefore, the question is whether we want to live in a democracy or in a dictatorship. Without a democratic experience, we, as peoples, have always had a problem of holding the repressive power of the state under control. Our songs and stories are full of deprived people chained and thrown into dungeons, and their modern variant is the abuse of power discovered in illegally (and, how otherwise-legally?!) obtained recordings. Hence, now that our main task is to dismantle the repressive apparatus that eavesdropped and controlled thousands of people, 24/7, as a condition for the rule of law, the conduct of law enforcement agencies is under constant scrutiny of future partners in the EU and NATO. Namely, it is expected that we will change our recent behaviour and treat the accused with due human respect. At the moment, I recall that, in the communication of Western democracies, even the biggest criminals are referred to by “the gentleman” or “the lady”.
Following the debate about this case in the days that followed after my interview, I was surprised that active participants in the overthrowing of Nikola Gruevski’s autocracy were in line with representatives of the VMRO-DPMNE party, whose honorary president is the fugitive: a criticism of the government and the Ministry of interior, as well as of the judiciary and the prosecutor’s office. Why did they allow the ex-prime minister to escape? Criticizing the conduct of our institutions, the two sides condemned the government, specifically the prime minister and the minister of interior, and, less, the judiciary and the prosecution. Criticism is legitimate and necessary. In fact, there is no institution in Macedonia that does not deserve serious criticism, but what worries me is the complete absence of the point that I have underlined: that in a democratic and free country, such and similar things will happen to us. We should not lose our nerves, accusing each other (the government, the court, the court, the prosecutor’s office …) because only the democratic system and freedom can suffer from it. For, in such cases, when we talk about human rights, we do not think of our own, but the rights of political opponents. Only in that way, namely, can we defend our own freedom.
In the past months, I occasionally saw Nikola Gruevski, accompanied by a member of the civilian police, as a protector, who was about ten meters behind him, walking or jogging near the river Vardar. I was completely indifferent to his appearance, but also pleased because the wings of the repressive system were broken. I was looking at our fledgling democracy with approval: until the court decision becomes final, Gruevski is a free man. Then, he decided to flee. The story of the escape should be clarified, to determine the responsibility of those who did not do their job, to condemn the role of third countries in the organization and implementation of the escape… But, in no way should there be a panic reaction and cancellation of the hard-won benefits of the fragile Macedonian democracy. Now, we must pay attention again, while fighting against the monsters that endanger our freedom and our democratic system, not to become like them.
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