Priebe doesn’t know what demon we are fighting with
By Denko Maleski
The mission of Reinhard Priebe, a senior official in the German and European administrations, ended with the publication of the EU Commission document under his leadership. Now, out of the core mission, he occasionally visits us to see where we are at with the reforms. The report, popularly named after him but behind the EU’s authority, is a diagnosis of our disease: a captive country, a country of widespread corruption and the exploitation of public resources for private use, through neutralization of control mechanisms by legal or illegal means. We must walk the way from a captive country to a democratic and rule of law on our own. Priebe cannot do it instead of us and he is not in a position to say anything meaningful. Namely, openly speaking, by name and surname, would mean interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. The German obviously does not want to do it. And rightly so, because only we can openly tell ourselves all the nasty and bad things about ourselves. However, when he had already accepted an invitation to attend a conference in Macedonia, he had to say something. The most important accents of his performance at the South East European University in Tetovo, to the public that is looking forward to “simple and harsh” truths about our corruption and the defects of our legal and political system, were aired in a form of a rebus. Those statements, by the way, look a bit like those of the majority of our politicians and scientists. Here are three quotes from Priebe’s performance that were published in our media. 1.”Sometimes legislation changes are needed, and you need independent politicians who will make appropriate reforms and have the political will to do so”. 2. “This way the legal system will be able to establish independence. Without democratic governance there can be no rule of law”. 3. “They need to have the political will to implement the rule of law. This way the legal system will be able to establish independence. Without democratic governance there can be no rule of law”.
What, in fact, did Priebe want to tell us but he could not because he was considerate of the hosts? First, that everywhere the law is a product of politics and politicians. So what kind of politicians, such laws and reforms. According to it, bad politicians, bad laws and reforms. So, a politician, as Priebe says, must be an “independent man”. This does not mean, as many would think, not to belong to a party but, no matter which party he belongs to, his views and behavior to clearly show that the general interest takes precedence over the party. They are politicians who will be committed to reforms for the benefit of the whole society even when such reforms do not match the interests of the party. Let’s say, support of VMRO-DPMNE politicians for the rule of law and abuse of power of their former leadership. Only such “independent” politicians who know how to put the public interest before the party can implement reforms that will establish an independent judiciary. Furthermore, Priebe wants to tell us that there is no rule of law in a country where democracy does not work but the principle: with friends even when they are wrong, against the enemies even when they are right. Democracy, on the other hand, can only function where politicians and parties are ready to unite around its basic principles, with controlled power as one of the most important. Where politicians cannot unite around democracy as “the only game in town”, other games are played. But when other games are played, then there is neither true democracy nor a rule of law. Here, Priebe would say, other games are played. He would also say that there is no rule of law in our country because politicians do not have the political will to establish the rule of law. Namely, without that political will, politicians will continue to interfere where they should not, so there will be no independent legal system. He would add that as democracy does not work, neither can the rule of law. To make matters clearer, he would have to say that we would not have a democracy and a rule of law if politicians (and the people) had no will for democracy and the rule of law. Neither of them unless democracy and the rule of law become a value for which people are willing to sacrifice something, even a time or disturbance of personal comfort.
Our randez vous with the West thirty years ago is complicated. At stake are two political histories and cultures that are incompatible. Most difficult, however, are those in Macedonia who genuinely want a change that will bring us closer to the Western culture with which they personally share values. Priebe, a representative of Western civilization, does not know, let me quote the Nobel laureate Ivo Andric, “what it means to be born and live on the edge of two worlds, to know and understand them both and not be able to do anything so that they could explain to each other and to come together, to love and hate them both, to hesitate and be led for a whole century, to have two homelands without one, to be everywhere at home and to always remain a stranger, to live crucified for a short time, but as a victim and as a torturer at the same time”. “You won’t walk like this for a long time, to look straight, to tremble with a smile, to rule with free thought and a loud open word. You can’t stay here as you are. I will bend your spine, make your blood go around your heart, make a bitter herb of you in a windy spot on a stone floor. And not only the French mirror, but your own mother will not recognize you”.
Priebe doesn’t know what demon we are fighting with.
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