Greece’s current financial woes brought forward many examples of bureaucratic waste of sheer madness. One is the now famous Commission for the Management of Lake Copais, whose members were happily cashing in government cheques 53 years after Lake Copais has dried out. [i]
To the north of Greece, in the Republic of Macedonia, a seemingly similar, but far more sinister example of “Catch 22”–like bureaucratic inertia took place. There the MIA’s (Ministry of Internal Affairs) Security and Counter-terrorism Agency (DBK) got around to abolishing its department tasked with fighting “Macedonian Extremism” and secessionism in 1998—seven years after Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia. This sort of department was very common in the former Yugoslavia, where sprawling security agencies were established in all composing parts of the country with the goal of keeping the population in line with the centrally delegated economic and social five-year plans. The surest way for a Serb, Croat, Slovenian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian or Albanian to land in prison was by taking a “nationalist” stand in calling for his particular republic to leave Yugoslavia, pursue independence, or join with a neighboring country. Yet, in most cases “nationalism” had very little to do with these separatist tendencies, as most of these malcontents had pro-Western, pro-capitalist sentiments.
The DBK’s definition of “extremism” was (and possibly still is) quite broad. In general these “extremists” were generally not what people think of, when they think of extremists, like, say the IRA, Al-Qaeda or ETA. For one, they were not militant. For another, there were no rebel organizations in Macedonia since the de facto dissolution of VMRO-Pravda in the early 1950’s. In essence, under Yugoslav law, any display of preference of one’s Republic to the Federation was illegal. The Macedonian Extremism department of the Agency was put in place to defend Yugoslavia from subversive, non-Communist Macedonians who might in one way or another undermine the official policy of Singularity.
There are two leading theories as to why the ME Line of Work within the DBK stayed active for so long after Macedonian independence. The first, and more naïve claims that this was a result of short-run personal interests of the Agency’s employees seeking to preserve their jobs. After all, having a government agency dedicated to preventing the establishment of the country which funds it is probably the ultimate in government waste and incompetence, and this sort of incompetence has always been a trademark of Macedonian bureaucrats.
The second theory is somewhat more complicated, and will be brought forward in this article. It rests on the writings of a former Yugoslav Admiral that suggest that at least to an extent the liberalization of Yugoslavian society—the abandonment of Singularity in particular—was planned and directed by the Yugoslavian DBK:
In his book "Slučaj Jugoslavija" ["Case Yugoslavia"] Admiral Branko Mamula gives a detailed explanation of the ideological, programming and implementing approach of the JNA [Yugoslavian National Army] as a political factor in the Yugoslav state. Finding themselves facing the "challenge of internal turmoil and conflict," in the early 1980's the army's top brass judged that it was necessary for the JNA and TO [Territorial Defense] "to gradually begin preparations to deal with situations of crises in the country." (P. 61) … Long before the process of the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia formally began, the JNA was ready to take a leading political role in Yugoslavia. Mamula wrote about this: "In the second half of the 1986 and early 1987 an elaborate political plan was prepared for the decision [of military takeover of power] and operational preparations were commenced. The preparations covered measures of vigilance and heightened combat readiness maintained by the official decisions of the Presidency of the SFRY and the plans of the Federal Secretariat of National Defense and JNA Headquarters." (P. 88) Further developments, especially conflicts in the country's Communist Party leadership, the increase of Serbian nationalism and the "separatism" of the northwestern republics, confirmed expectations of JNA's top brass of the inevitability of a military coup. Moreover, Mamula writes "we were very determined. The basic plan was prepared and the units to carry it out were ready" (p. 102). Mamula writes that the intention was "to get time for a minimal political consolidation and deferral of disputes, while postponing the solution of the largest problems of the common state [Yugoslavia] until after the calming of the thundering turbulence that gripped Eastern Europe: to preserve Yugoslavia, and reform it in peaceful times." (P. 8) This meant keeping the "status quo" until the anti-communist movement in Europe died down, a time when the national individualization of Eastern European nations comes to a halt, and the conflict between East and West is reinstated. Then Yugoslavia would be able to assert itself as a geopolitical and geostrategic factor as it was in the period after World War II.
By the end of the 1980’s, with inflation raging and the economy in a shambles, Yugoslavia was heading toward a certain collapse, as Ludwig von Mises’ theory on the insolubility of centrally planned economies was materializing throughout the Eastern Bloc. Fearing the loss of privilege and power, the Yugoslav elite orchestrated the ethnically based secessionist wars of the 1990’s. Perhaps emboldened by the fact that the DBK had easily controlled the population for the previous 45 years, it failed to dawn on the planners that controlling the outcome of this massive scenario may not be an executable task.
The idea that the DBK was behind the apparent liberalization of the political and social system in Yugoslavia is further supported by the fact that the pre-disintegration elite, both political and economic, remained in place in all of the former republics. In the Republic of Macedonia, for instance, even though the newly formed right of center VMRO-DPMNE party won the most seats in the first free parliamentary election of 1990, it was not given the chance to form a government. Even when a deal was reached among all parties to form a government of technocrats, and since VMRO-DPMNE had won the most seats, it was to choose an impartial candidate for prime minister, newly elected (through Parliament) President Kiro Gligorov refused to formally hand over the prime ministerial mandate to Aleksandar Lepavcev, forcing VMRO-DPMNE to give up its right to appoint the prime minister.
In 2007 former Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov gave public testimony in weekly magazine Fokus that Gligorov’s refusal to hand over the prime ministerial mandate to any candidate put forward by VMRO-DPMNE was based on orders from the Central Government from Belgrade. Eventual Prime Minister Nikola Kljusev and President Kiro Gligorov both opposed Macedonian independence from Yugoslavia. In fact, shortly after his appointment on May 29, 1991, Prime Minister Kljusev had this to say regarding the possible dissolution of Yugoslavia: “Macedonia [i.e. its Government] still believes in the possibility of a political compromise and in the decisions that would lead to a union of sovereign states.” Since Yugoslavia was a union of sovereign states, as each republic had declared itself independent and sovereign before willingly joining the Yugoslavian federation in the aftermath of World War II, Kljusev's statement simply translated to a wish for nothing to change. President Gligorov, meanwhile, was so vehemently opposed to the idea of Macedonia abandoning the Yugoslavian federation that upon his insistence the question to which Macedonians were answering on the independence referendum was expanded to include the option for the newly independent state to have the option to join into federation with any or all of the Yugoslavian republics. The question on the Referendum ultimately came to be: “Are you for and independent and sovereign Republic of Macedonia, with the right to enter into a future federation with the Yugoslavian republics?” A week after the successful referendum of September 8, 1991, in an interview for Turkish radio channel “Anatolia”, Gligorov would remark that “the Macedonian people through the referendum expressed its willingness for an agreement to enter into a future union of sovereign states of Yugoslavia.” Of course, having the question worded the way it was, it made it easy to manipulate the results according to one’s wishes.
The importance of this notion to the purpose of this paper is in the fact that the Gligorov remained president through 1999. His first election was through Parliamentary vote only; his second in 1994 was marred by a widely contested electoral fraud. That notwithstanding, until the attempted assassination upon his life, Gligorov was the most powerful political figure in the country, meaning that he directed the efforts of the DBK. Perhaps not coincidentally, the majority of dossiers from the post-independence era were commenced under the suspicion of Macedonian “nationalism.” It appears that the plan as described by Mamula was abandoned with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord—shortly after which the attempt of Gligorov’s life was made.
Although very little has been leaked out about the inner workings of any of the DBK’s machinations, some information about the resources allocated to this agency have been brought to light over the years. It is estimated that at the time of the declaration of Macedonian independence, the State Security Agency had about 50,000 citizens registered as its permanent collaborators, out of a population of approximately 2 million citizens; while 35,000 citizens are estimated to have been subjected to politically motivated investigations. However, the number of persons who actively supplied information to the agency, but were not registered as collaborators normally runs at a half-a-dozen per subject; on top of this, collaborators and informants also informed on the work of other informants, effectively keeping them under surveillance. Thus a conservative estimate of the DBK’s workforce approximates it at 200,000.
Collaborators were recruited with the task of protecting Yugoslavia from enemies, foreign and domestic, and it is estimated that their concentration increased going further up the echelons of politicians, managers of the state run companies, the judiciary, the media, the religious organizations and the education establishment. The usual strategy for recruiting collaborators was to abuse their perceived weaknesses: criminals were offered reprieve from prison if they agreed to cooperate; jobless individuals were offered employment; people with relatives living abroad were manipulated by withholding the right to get a passport; while homosexuals were routinely rounded up and given the choice to cooperate or get very public police staged “outings.” Collaborators were asked to report on their neighbors, relatives and colleagues committing illegal acts. To be sure, Yugoslavia’s socialist laws were quite perverted: while “extremism” and “local-patriotism” were “illegal acts,” car theft, for instance was considered mere “borrowing,” and was thus a non-crime.
Furthermore, political parties were illegal, save, of course, for those constituting the Union of Communists. Religious organizations were originally fully banned until the 1960’s. Thereafter, even though the institutions themselves became “legal,” attending them gave definite grounds for reprimand. Private enterprise was also against the law, except for the smallest crafts; while arable land was taken over by state run collectives. The mere appearance of wealth was worthy of the utmost suspicion of being a “materialist.” This last rule only applied to the working, and not to the managerial or political classes, of course. Besides Macedonian anti-Communists, the surviving remnants of the merchants, the clergy and the bourgeoisie, the main targets for the security apparatus in Macedonia were Albanian nationalists determined to help Albanian majority in Kosovo achieve autonomous status within Yugoslavia. Lastly, the Agency was widely used in fratricidal actions between the Communist elites.
The adoption of Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia on November 17, 1991 was supposed to end these nefarious activities. Yet when the time came to turn the proverbial page, Macedonia did not disband or ban the Communist party, nor its’ Party Police, the DBK. In fact, the painted over Communists, under the guise of Social-Democrats (SDSM), continued to run the country for the next 7 years. It was a tumultuous period to be sure, as the SDSM formed their first government in early 1992 by means of a clever coup d’état, while extending their rule through rigged elections in 1994; the former Communists would not even allow the question of reforming the DBK to enter the public discourse throughout their rule. SDSM ignored calls for early elections in the middle of the second term, despite the fact that the opposition managed to collect the constitutionally requisite 150,000 signatures demanding so. It was not yet time for the old Communist Party to hand the reins over, since, as later became evident, the purge its henchmen in the DBK were conducting against the main opposition party, VMRO DPMNE, was not yet complete.
By late 1998 this mission mostly accomplished, VMRO DPMNE—the minority winner of the 1990 election, and extra-Parliamentary opposition as a result of a boycott of the 1994 chicanery—was finally allowed to form a government. Despite promises made throughout the 1990’s to end the DBK as soon as they formed government, VMRO DPMNE did not attempt to even reform, let alone disband, the Agency. However, in the year 2000 the Dossier Disclosure Act was passed and a most sinister suspicion was confirmed: that in the years 1991 through 1998 the DBK had been operating wholly as it had prior to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia; the released dossiers, though heavily redacted and limited in scope, tell a story of a Communist system unchanged to the point that the DBK officially governed itself by the Constitution of SFR Yugoslavia through late 1995.
In a telling act of the indifference toward its own liberty, SDSM was voted back into power for another 4 year spell in 2002, after Macedonia suffered a brief ethnic conflict between its majority Macedonians and minority Albanians in 2001. Throughout the period between the power changes, the MIA ostensibly underwent major reforms; yet, no mass personnel changes took place, save for the top echelons which are shuffled after every election.
Though it cannot be positively confirmed, it is rather obvious that to the this day the DBK continues to manage the network of collaborators; adding new ones in the process, with one formal change: its Governing Ordinances of October, 31 1995 no longer make reference to the Constitutions of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia or SFR Yugoslavia. Thus, the DBK at least on paper is following a democratic Constitution, and is required to act against actual security threats, not political crimes. Civilian control of the Agency remains patchy. The VMRO-DPMNE in the first decade of independence accused the Agency of systematic eavesdropping on its party headquarters, keeping tabs on people going in its headquarters, as well as of planting agents in the local party branches to follow up on events and act disruptively. Most of these allegations were proven right by the “Blue Bird Affair,” and even more so by the disclosed dossiers.
Having re-taken power, under somewhat new leadership, the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE [ii] initiated a process of “lustration”—initially an attempt to purge the public sector of persons at one time or another associated with the DBK, all at the behest of the EU which imposed the purge as a membership condition. The effort to date has been a six year saga of spinning wheels.
Despite the estimation of the existence of at least 4,000 dossiers for the 1991-1998 period not many have been publicized. Bafflement as to why this is so is warranted, as it goes without saying that the subjects of the DBK’s work were high profile members of the presently (now and as well as when the Dossier Disclosure Act was enacted) ruling party, as well as the party itself! One of the better publicized dossiers is that of Jordan Petrovski, an entrepreneur and financial backer of VMRO DPMNE in the early years of Independence. Petrovski, having fled Macedonia due to increasing pressure from the DBK resulting from his media exposés of his suspicions about its’ intrigues, used his dossier commenced after Independence as the key evidence to his successful political asylum claim in Canada. The “Proposal to Enter Into Preliminary Treatment,” from March 1993, marked him as originating from “a hostile family,” depicts his parents as “materialists;” details the sums he donated to VMRO-DPMNE and few smaller parties; and finds him suspicious of being used by the BNRS [Bulgarian Intelligence Agency], for “creating conditions for his engagement toward our country,” since “[a]s an owner of a company he has established private and business relations and maintains regular contacts with persons from R Bulgaria, Russia and other Eastern European countries.” Specifically, in a pre-operative memo, the DBK makes clear that “[t]he information concerning Petrovski's association and travel with two persons from the Republic of Bulgaria to Russia, likewise Petrovski's good and unimpeded cooperation with companies from the Republic of Bulgaria contains indications which make him interesting, all the more keeping in mind his family origin.” (Emphasis added) It is telling that Petrovski was forced into exile during VMRO-DPMNE’s first stint in power.
In a disturbing development, Petrovski’s dossier details attempts by DBK agents in 1997, six full years after democracy was officially embraced by the Macedonian State, to have him collect a receivable from a Bulgarian business associate through the Bulgarian Embassy in Skopje. Petrovski claims that this was a plot by the police to have him arrested leaving the Embassy grounds with a case full of money, giving the impression that VMRO DPMNE was being funded by this foreign country—thus confirming the rumors which the DBK had been feverishly spreading since its inception. “The police agent was instrumental to my locating a businessman who owed me money,” Petrovski said in an interview,
“even though I could not reach him for three years heretofore. Having avoided me for years, my associate then insisted that the money transfer be facilitated by the Bulgarian Embassy; while the DBK agent even drove me to the Embassy in order to make the arrangements with their staff. While I played along early on, in an attempt to understand the intrigue, when the time came to have the money transferred to me, I ceased cooperating, as at that point I became sure that the entire episode had been a set up, timed for the spring of 1998, mere months ahead of the upcoming fall election.”
Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, most of the countries that once constituted it have seen conflicts ranging from open war and genocide down to trade embargos; thus having a working security apparatus is thought of as absolutely necessary—for the security of the State, that is. Presently, the “new” VMRO-DPMNE counts over 6 years in power, but the memory of its founders, and of numerous others imprisoned for their dedication to independent and democratic Macedonia, has kept a feeling of injustice alive in the party, and in the public in general. The party’s old guard, having been at the receiving end of the DBK’s cloak-and-dagger polices, remains dedicated to the promise given by former Leader, Ljubčo Georgievski in 1994 to dismantle this undemocratic agency. Yet, the power it grants to the ruling party makes the DBK indispensable to whoever is atop the political pyramid. Thus, Macedonia today finds itself in a seemingly up-side-down debate in which the party in power is ostensibly pushing for a lustration of police informants. However, since a weakening of the DBK is sure to reduce its usefulness to the ruling elite, VMRO-DPMNE’s leadership has only been putting perfunctory efforts into the debate. At the same time, the opposition SDSM has moved from half-hearted support of the law to open hostility to it.
The first lustration law, passed in 2008, set up a fact finding commission with representatives from all significant political parties with a mandate to comb through secret police files, and determine whether persons holding public offices have provided information to the DBK that led to basic human rights being violations. The law also applied to police officers who issued orders violating human rights. If the informant also benefited from his cooperation with the DBK—as in gaining employment or a promotion, or receiving money—according to the Act, the informant was to be forced to resign his post. The Lustration Act was to affect anybody working for the State: from the top political leaders, down to mid level officials, Academicians, the judiciary, and the clergy.
The Lustration Act provided that Macedonian journalists also be examined, as the security services often engage in misinformation, the spreading rumors, and character assassinations over the press. The law provided that informants can remain journalists, but that the public needs to be informed if a journalists was also a collaborator. Ljubomir Frčkoski, one of first interior Ministers of independent Macedonia, is credited with saying that the police ought to treat journalists like mushrooms: keep them in the dark and feed them hot, steamy piles of manure; that is to say, police approved information.
No punishment for the informants was foreseen by the law, merely the loss of the privileged post the informant achieved by breaking some of the most basic human rights: those of free speech, political association or freedom of worship. In an admission that the DBK and the few smaller agencies covered by the law in many instances continued to operate in violation of the democratic Constitution of 1991, the law was to be in effect until 2019.
Security professionals claim that the Lustration Act has made it much harder to gather information from persons on the ground. Supporters of lustration, on the other hand, point out to examples of gross abuse of the security agencies, and claim that real security can only be found in an open and democratic society; likewise they add that the DBK makes no distinction between political threats to the ruling party and actual threats of violence to the citizenry.
If someone is surprised that Macedonia—and a number of other former Communist European countries—is yet to conclude the process of severing from a system that allegedly ended over 20 years ago, and finds the debate irrelevant, they ought to look at the hostile reaction that the Lustration Act has caused in Macedonia. When allowed to operate, Lustration Commission has managed to confirm about a dozen police collaborators. Some of them quitted their posts quietly, using the right to remain unnamed if they vacate their posts in the Administration. Others decided to fight. While the Commission found some irrelevant retired Communist Yugo-nostalgics, it also netted some quite important society leaders as well. Most prominent case was that of Vladimir Milčin, head of the Foundation Open Society in Macedonia (FOSIM), better known as the Soros foundation in Macedonia—a large Soros funded network of non-Governmental organizations that deal in a long list of issues, such as the European integration of the country, developing policies for different areas, Roma issues, youth activism, media development, etc.
Since 2004 the lustration process became part of the work of the FOSIM. A regional network of non-governmental organizations, in which Macedonia was represented by the FOSIM, whose proclaimed goal, was to promote lustration in the countries of South-Eastern Europe. The project, bankrolled by the European Union among other donors, appears to have broken down after a few years, but, in Macedonia at least, it was kept alive and since the Social-Democrats lost the 2006 elections, the new conservative Government led by the VMRO-DPMNE embarked on an effort to pass a Lustration Act. Getting a Lustration Act passed is one thing; the contents of it are another. In what critics have noted to be an excuse to run the project aground—or at the very least to dilute the Act—VMRO-DPMNE’s leadership insisted on full bipartisanship in the effort. Thus, an old Communist era Member of Parliament, Stojan Andov, was drafted to write the bill. The initial version of the law was passed in 2008 with the full backing of all parties in Parliament. It was a compromise. It not only failed to provide for a full opening of dossiers and the setting up of an archival institution to educate the public on what was being done, it actually banned any publication of the files. Imagine the surprise of the informed public when, instead of supporting the fact that a law was finally passed, few months after the law was passed Vladimir Milčin, the long serving executive director of the FOSIM Institute, filed a challenge of the law with the Macedonian Constitutional Court. Milčin’s challenge was co-signed by a former Yugoslav army officer, Filipov, who has challenged dozens of laws through the Constitutional court, often for mere technical reasons, and is seen as the slayer of laws. At the time Milčin explained that his new-found opposition to lustration stemmed from the possibility of dossier tampering while they were kept in security archives. The jointly prepared Milčin-Filipov filing went far in defending the actions of police informants, claiming their action were legal according to and compliant with the laws of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Specifically, in his address to the Court, Mr. Milčin pointed out that
[t]he founding of the Republic of Macedonia as a state within the federation of Yugoslavia in 1994 and her half-century long development bearing the clear attributes of a state is doubtless the most significant link in the historical development of the struggle toward the modern Macedonian statehood.
Therefore, the state security apparatuses and their collaborators and informants acted according to the written ordinances and warrants, as well as the needs of the governments. This is in fact, still the case!
Superficially this claim is true: the Government then had the legal right to seize any property it liked, or to put a person in prison merely for setting up a political party, or for being a homosexual, or a man of the Church. Just as Nazi Germany had laws that made the snatching of the Jewish property technically legal. Yet, if anything, Mr. Milčin’s claim that the state security apparatuses were used according to the needs of governments—not of the people—was enough to strike down his own challenge. The fact that his statement suggests that such activity still goes on in Macedonia in itself represents a reason for a thorough examination of the DBK’s work. Needless to say, many were shocked to see the Constitutional Court even take these arguments into consideration.
A closer look at the Court itself provides a self-evident explanation as to why it acted so. The Constitutional Court, whose members’ positions depended on obtaining clearance from the Lustration Commission, examined the challenge while the Commission was examining the files of the President, the Prime Minister and the Members of Parliament. Ethical etiquette would imply that the Justices of the Constitutional Court (most of whom began their careers in the Communist Era) would reserve judgment until the Commission cleared them of wrongdoing. Instead, before their files were examined by the Commission, the Justices ruled to defang the law and strike down some of its most important elements. The Social Democrats, who voted for the Act, seemed visibly relieved, and demanded that this be the end of the affair.
Despite protests from its members nominated by the opposition, the Lustration Commission kept working, and soon the name of the first major informant was made public–that of Supreme justice of the Constitutional Court, Trendafil Ivanovski. He was found to have supplied the ideological police in the 1960’s about the activities of his friends who were accused of being Macedonian nationalists. Several other smaller level officials were exposed as well. In the summer of 2011 the Lustration Commission determined that Vladimir Milčin had also collaborated with the secret police.
Details remain a matter of confidentiality, but Macedonian media quoting anonymous sources claim that Milčin, who has worked as a theatre director and dean of the state run Drama Faculty, contacted state security agents and was involved in one of the most tragic dissident cases in Macedonia: that of the beloved actor Risto Šiskov. Šiskov, born to Macedonain emigrants expelled en-masse from Greece following World War Two, a beloved star of many of the first Macedonian movies produced in Yugoslavia, was arrested after an outburst against the forced introduction of the Yugoslav identity and against the decision of Yugoslav Communist to abandon ethnic Macedonians in Greece to their fate after the war. Šiskov died an early death, after four agonizing years in prison.
Milčin denied these claims, and is challenging the Commission’s findings in court. A large number of individuals, journalists and so-called human rights experts tied with the Soros foundation in Macedonia have joined him in round-tables and activities meant to discredit the entire process of lustration, in a full about turn after initially supporting it. After independence, not only has Macedonia inherited an Elite dominated by leftists, but there is no conservative foundation or institute that would come even close to the funding or the expertise that the dominantly left leaning FOSIM foundation has to dismantle the Government policies and produce talking points for the left.
Vladimir Milčin, described “as a voice of liberal values in the country” by a recent New York Times article, became prominent as a reformist intellectual as a result of his activities in the brief protest movement of 1968. To be clear: the movement which Mr. Milčin was part of was not demanding a liberalization of Yugoslavia—it was calling for a return to Stalinism. American historian and economist professor Murray N. Rothbard makes a short, yet telling statement regarding the events:
Sure enough, by the early 1960s we already had seen the inspiring development of Yugoslavia, which after its break from Stalin had evolved rapidly way from socialism and central planning and in the direction of the free market, a course which the rest of Eastern Europe and even Soviet Russia were already beginning to emulate. (Rothbard, Murray N., The Betrayal of the American Right, pp. 183-184)
Mr. Milčin, though he may be a self described liberal, has consistently acted in promoting an aggrandized Stalinist state. It should come as little surprise that he would have been a willing collaborator of the DBK.
Early in 2011, the VMRO-DPMNE Government, without the support of the opposition, voted two extensive amendments to the Act. However, these amendments failed to address the Constitutional Court’s judgment on its previous endeavor. No narrative was added to the Act so as to explain the need of the act; nor was any serious provisions added to address the root issues: the abuse of power exercised by those in charge of the agency. Jordan Petrovski, writing from Canada as the president of the Committee for the Democratization of the Republic of Macedonia would make his pessimism public by stating:
The newly proposed lustration bill put forth by VMRO-DPMNE is just another effort of the governing party to manipulate the public. The text of the new bill betrays a desperate attempt at buying time, which will be spent, as usual, at accomplishing nothing; since the new bill is practically a carbon-copy of the present Act (which had its most important provisions concerning the post-Yugoslavia period declared unconstitutional by the Court). The adoption of the proposed bill into law by Parliament would mean that the new Act will be met with precisely the same fate that befell its predecessor.
Petrovski’s pessimism proved to be well founded, as his forecast came to pass in the winter of 2012.
In the meanwhile, the charade went on in Macedonia, and another high profile uncovering was made by the Lustration Commission. Former Minister of Internal Affairs (Police) Frčkoski, who after his police career turned into a potty-mouthed editorialist in a Soros supported newspaper, became the third major lustration case. The Lustration Commission found that he was issuing orders to open police files for political and ideological reasons against a prominent Bishop he accused of pro-Serbian sentiment, a writer he accused of pro-Bulgarian sentiment and an ethnic Albanian. Tellingly, however, despite being awarded political asylum in Canada—and, therefore, being the most high profile victim of Frčkoski’s orders—Jordan Petrovski’s dossier remained unmentioned by the Lustration Commission. In fact, despite the fact that the DBK commenced an estimated 4,000 dossiers in his reign as Minister, the dossiers used by the LC against Frčkoski were commenced by his predecessor, Jordan Mijalkov (father of present DBK Director). Frčkoski, SDSM’s losing presidential candidate in the 2009 elections, responded with an inverse-Nurnberg defense. He said he was not to blame, since he was merely signing the orders to begin police activities, after it was suggested by his subordinates.
The Constitutional Court’s decision put an end to the deliberations on Frčkoski’s lustration. He has not been forced to vacate his professorship at the State University’s Faculty of Law. It should be noted here that Frčkoski has been enjoying some more grace from the Macedonian judiciary. He and seven other former and current officials of the MIA are the defendants in a suit filed by Petrovski in 2007, claiming abuse of public duty. The suit originated as a Request to the Public Prosecutor, which was rejected without foundation. Petrovski then filed in civil court in 2008. The court has been idle in this case.
Reasons for insisting lustration must continue are both a desire to bring justice to the victims, but also there are practical considerations, and apprehension of the still considerable might of this network. It is widely acknowledged that the agents of the political and the military security services that former Yugoslavia developed were strongly involved in provoking the bloody break-up of the country. When the end of the Berlin wall came, and East opened up for the West, Yugoslavia lost its privileged place of a neutral chokepoint connecting the two opposing blocks, a position that often brought immense benefits and helped keep the country afloat. In a nut-shell, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a failed attempt to stretch a common South Slavic identity over diverse people kept in a grossly inefficient central-run economy (you understand why many in former Yugoslavia view the current European predicaments with a grim feeling of déjà vu). This developed many ethnic and religious fault lines and the security services were sent to monitor them. The end of the privileged position exposed the old Communist elites, left leaderless after Marshall Tito died in 1980, to challenges, mostly from upstarts in the Communist party. The security services, who best knew the weak spots of the system, offered their services to the bickering Communist leaders. The agents of the civilian and military intelligence often portrayed as good shepherd dogs watching over the country, quickly transformed into rampaging wolves. Some acting for political and ideological reasons, others using the ensuing chaos to make small fortunes running guns, drugs, cigarettes, or taking part in the privatization of the state owned factories and land, but the end result was the very bloody break-up the vast security apparatus was meant to prevent. Furthermore, if it weren’t for their dark expertise, the Yugoslav wars would not have been that bloody, if they were to happen at all. A rare leaked testimony of a Serbian Army intelligence officer, details the tactics of the Yugoslav National Army such as planting bombs in cafes in ethnically mixed areas, spreading threatening nationalist rumors, leaflets, graffiti. Tactics included sabotage of infrastructure and distributing weapons from army caches to create ethnic paramilitaries, in some cases calculating with chaos in order for the population to demand that security is provided by the Yugoslav Army. The legacy is blamed for a number of disruptive events in Macedonia even after the end of the Yugoslav bloody break-up. First Macedonian President, Communist official Kiro Gligorov narrowly survived a car bomb assassination attempt in 1995, and the second President, VMROs Boris Trajkovski, died in a plane crash in Bosnia in 2004 that is still a matter of investigation. The first interior minister Jordan Mijalkov, died in a suspicious car crash in 1991. Social Democrat leader Branko Crvenkovski in 2000 publicly showed transcripts of phone conversations journalists had with politicians, claiming that they come from an extensive wire-tapping program. The conflict with ethnic Albanian guerillas in 2001, the legacy of large scale smuggling and shoddy privatization deals in the 1990ies, the presence of major foreign intelligence services over the 1999 Kosovo war, resource and energy elbowing in the region, this all has turned into a breeding ground for all sorts of security officials.
Currently, the process of lustration in Macedonia remains stuck. The Social Democrat opposition has refused to appoint a new rotating head of the Commission, and have in general withdrawn support from the process and are trying to discredit it, even though it is a move that limits the authority of the police, that is run by their political opponents. The VMRO-DPMNE, not known as people who give up or change their minds easily, or at all, seem determined to see this one through.
Why is the question of Macedonia’s abortive lustration of any importance to non-Macedonians? Because it is a perfect example of the impotence of law over the abuses of power that abound in the name of national security. Because it is the perfect example of what Friedrich von Hayek wrote about in The Road To Serfdom when describing why the worst get on the top of the political pyramid, even in democratic societies—so long as there is a pyramid to climb. Because it is a vivid example of how once officials appropriate power to themselves do everything to maintain it. And because it is a perfect example of what happens to a society of individuals when those individuals fail to fight for their own rights enumerated in the society’s law books.
- [ii] Short for Vnatresna Makedonska Revolucionerna Organizacija – Demokratska Partija za Makedonsko Nacionalno Edinstvo, or Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity