ONE VARDAR FOR ALL…?
Writes: Aleksandar Krzhallovski
The unexpected and rather spectacular triumph of Skopje and Macedonian Vardar in the European Champions League in handball last weekend overshadowed all other political events in the country. Both the government’s report on Sunday, as well as the visit and the meeting of the entire NATO peak (the North Atlantic Council headed by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg), as well as last week’s European Commission’s report on Macedonia’s progress in Euro-integration and the jubilee tenth recommendation. The start of the public debate on the draft strategy for the concept “One Society for All” caused too little attention, but at least I used it for the title of this column, which naturally, will deal with Vardar’s success. So much has already been said and written on this topic, so I will try to summarize some points and possibly give a new look/light to the repercussions of this great victory of the handball players.
Starting with the incredible and dramatic twist on Saturday against favored Barcelona, the euphoric atmosphere in the country was created, and after the victory against Hungarian Veszprem in the final on Sunday, that emotional charge experienced catharsis and spontaneous exit on the streets and square, a couple of hours playing the sirens from vehicles across the city, cheering songs and fluttering flags. In that hour or two after the end of the match it was wonderful to be a witness to that joy and the liberated energy. It was even more beautiful to read Facebook and twitter statuses with creative, inspiring and above all positive messages, and especially those that were not only fans of Vardar and the Skopjans, but from all over Macedonia (including Bitola and Ohrid J) and the diaspora. And most beautifully, when I saw the messages of my friends (and their friends) from other ethnic communities, especially many ethnic Albanians, as a sign of support and sincere joy for the success of Vardar.
And then I remembered the current slogan “one society for all”, I related it to another slogan that we promoted in MCIC many years ago “whole is when there is everything” and I thought (as Minister Dimitrov would say) – we can do it. That we can rejoice all together for some success coming from here!
But, like every miracle, so did this (joint enjoyment and celebration) briefly last – less than three hours (the very victory of Vardar at least kept us for three days). Some group on the square could not refrain from “singing” the offending “damned Shiptars” or “pure Macedonia”, and this was later added to damaging vehicles with foreign (Kosovo and diplomatic) plates. In spite of the fact that (according to an acquaintance who was on the square all the time – from the end of the match, to the dispersal of all the fans) in the two hours of the celebration of the square it was “sung” only once…it was enough for the damage to be done !
The reaction was fast and fierce…most of those same Albanians, who had been rejoicing an hour earlier, have now disappointedly commented on that incident. Someone would say, excessively (if it really happened only once all night and by a small group of attendees), but certainly justified. Some of them rightly denounced the “singers” as a group of idiots, for which it is not worth breaking the celebration of Vardar’s success, but others went to the other extreme, calling them fascists members of the entire opposition party (probably identifying them with the persons chanting those slogans on the square, which by the way is still the largest political party in Macedonia), (not)consciously expanding the “vicious circle” of (hate speech) hatred. And it diminished everyone’s joy of everyone.
It was transferred to the handball team’s welcome the following evening. Not only that (there may have been, but I did not see my acquaintances of ethnic Albanians on the square), but also transferred to other divisions – especially party ones (within which we can reduce the divisions of traitors and patriots). The whistles intended for the city leadership, probably due to the neglect of the situation in the club and the reluctance to help overcome the financial problems when they needed it, also decreased the celebratory atmosphere for me (as some other concluded on the social media noted), were however exaggerated because the city of Skopje may have remembered it late, but still did a lot in the day after the victory – paid a charter flight for the handball players to return as soon as possible, organized the celebration on the square, and decided also on the reward for the team in the amount of 100,000 Euros.
All in all, instead of something that could have been a completely unifying event, unfortunately we unnecessarily finished in the standard divisions. Especially with the composition of the Vardar team, which is a “small former Yugoslavia”, with two Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and during the season there was a Montenegrin beside the seven Macedonians, so it is not surprising that the joy from the success of Vardar has expanded throughout the region. All the comments in the regional media are in superlatives, and there was also a statement that this event united the region! It united us here, at least for a short…it is a pity that it did not last longer…or permanently, at least for something! The road to “one society for all” seems to be long when with this adrenaline shock we did not reach “one Vardar for all”.
And if not unity, or reconciliation, at least overcoming the divisions is more than necessary. Today the former Prime Minister of Croatia Jadranka Kosor (who formed the government in the wake of the dispute with Slovenia for the Piran Bay, but successfully completed negotiations with the EU in 2011) pointed out to it, or recalled it, at a regional conference organized by ex-President Crvenkovski, highlighting three important things: work together, do not give up, and constantly look for allies. This was said in the context of the European Commission’s reports on the countries of the region, and especially the recommendation for the start of the negotiations in Macedonia. Although it becomes more certain that this will not happen, that is, for tenth time the European Council will not decide to start the negotiations this month (and probably this year), yet we should not give up and as long as there is time and hope, we should not give up and everything needs to be done – especially to seek allies, to get to the desired outcome. Vardar showed us that!
In this sense, the engagement of Prime Minister Zaev, Vice Prime Ministers Osmani and Shekerinska and Minister Dimitrov is encouraging, with the intensive international contacts these days, two to three weeks before the decision of the Council. Their call to the opposition to engage in lobbying is further encouraging, as well as the response of VMRO-DPMNE with the leadership’s visits to Berlin and Brussels – and to do so. Even if the “date” is not obtained, it is worth the effort, which if not now – will bring the result soon…not only for the famous start of the negotiations, but even more for a society for all, which will also mean one Vardar (and Shkendija) for all!
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