FREEDOM OR DEATH FOR ILINDEN
Ilinden needs a new uprising. The Ilinden celebrations to finally get rid of the brutality of the political occupation and return to the citizens.
By Zoran Ivanov
Not from now on and from this August, but throughout this whole Macedonian pluralistic environment, it seems that the political elites are fine with the deep divisions. The messages of unity and three hundred other unrealities sound too demagogic. None of the authors of such appeals has made it clear exactly where the roots of the divisions lie, what are the causes and what those responsible entities do to overcome those conditions.
Firstly, it should be clear that divisions are forced precisely by the party’s political leadership. The Macedonian public does not remember an example of an agreement on anything between the key political players SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE without having previously been in conflict on the topic. This is even for things that have nothing to do with politics and their party and election programs. Among them are celebrations of public holidays and especially Krusevo Ilinden.
Since its independence until today, contrasts, stubbornness, divisions even regarding the key historical moments important for the existence of the Macedonian state. As with our admission to the world organization with or without FYROM, through the framework, local organization, census, use of languages, to the very last example with the referendum, with agreements with neighbors and with the new constitutional name. Constant antagonisms, camps, divisions. These two fateful political parties, instead of being state-builders as they proclaim themselves, have been fighting about everything for three decades as if they were in a tug of war.
Secondly, the old proven dysfunctional scheme of celebrating the national holiday in Krushevo, Pelince and Skopje, rather than uniting, still produces discord. Year after year identical situations. In the shadow of the festive Ilinden celebration, the party underground persistently exists. The result of old scenarios for production of divisions is that there are more police and fewer people at public gatherings. And there are more party soldiers and fewer citizens.
Nothing from the proclamations of general, nationwide, conciliatory and unifying civic celebrations. From year to year, from August to August, instead of the state, public national festivities are created by the party headquarters. The Ilinden Festival of divisions is nestled in an ugly tradition and it happens on one of the brightest days for Macedonian history and the Macedonian people. It is sad but the practice suggests that a beer festival or a summer Dojran festival or a Strumica or a Vevcani carnival are more uniting events for the citizens than it should be and that it must be a mission Ilinden that should reflect.
With their creations the parties expelled the citizens from the festivities. They were demotivated to get to Meckin Kamen, to visit Pelince or to celebrate the great holiday in the capital of the country massively and relaxed. Well, if it has not been ok for years, if from Gumenje it is repeatedly called for unity and if the echo of those calls at the same moment fades into the darkness of the Krushevo forests, then it is inevitable for the political entities that create divisions even on Ilinden to finally somehow agree how to proceed with Ilinden.
Undoubtedly, the brightest Macedonian historical day of Ilinden needs a new uprising. The Ilinden celebrations finally to get rid of the brutality of the political occupation and return to the citizens. In these nearly three decades of sovereignty, both have been in power. It turns out that their party mentalities are still not adapted to step in and leave the civic arena. And that, on any occasion, they cannot spare themselves from the mutual conflicts on topics of general importance. And that they still show no willingness to give up at any opportunity to promote their opposing party views. They do this by destroying even the most solemn festivities on the occasion of the brightest historical events such as Ilinden.
The traditional celebration of the biggest Macedonian holiday has long been stifled in its own sterility. If the scenarios continue as before, it will inevitably experience clinical death. And so no one listens to traditional speeches, and as it goes, there will be no one to watch. Appeals for unity have already become old phrases. They have not shown any effect for years. On the contrary, vulgar inter-party fights are also reflected in Ilinden year after year. By the inertia of Prespa, the cross-party line of discord this year was moving between the north and the never north. Antagonisms due to political convictions are deeper, and historical sites are promoted in traditional arenas for ideological calculations. They were an ugly picture at this year’s Ilinden too, so the main players SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE will have to finally collect the rags from both Krushevo and Pelince and Ilinden Skopje.
So it is enough. Macedonia needs a radically new form of marking important dates. Ilinden celebrations without template speeches, without dominant party symbols, without political abuses. But with new dimensions grounded in the modern national, multinational and cosmopolitan cultural matrix.
Therefore, in order to regain its original vitality, Ilinden’s liberation from politics must happen quickly, already for next year. 2nd August and all other public holidays will have to be completely party free. To become attractive to everyone. With animating programs that unite independently of party, religious and ethnic backgrounds. With cultural and aesthetic content that will bring people, families, seniors, adults and youth back to the historic highlights. Which will direct and motivate them to unity and precisely where the longing for freedom was, where the ancestors bled for it, and where previous generations verified the idea of a state.
It is all in the spirit of unity and patriotism. To organize and take place a civilized Ilinden event without party speeches, without party symbols, without party statements, without party presses, without party patriots and without party traitors. But with cultural events. If something can unite at all, it can only be culture. Only it has such a privilege, such a power.
After all, culture is the matrix that the great Delchev promoted in his idelology as a cosmopolitan substance.
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