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Αμφισβητώντας την Οικονομική Ορθοδοξία: Διεθνές Συνέδριο Πολιτικής Οικονομίας 2018 – Μαργκινάλια

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Αμφισβητώντας την Οικονομική Ορθοδοξία: Διεθνές Συνέδριο Πολιτικής Οικονομίας 2018

 

Σταύρος Μαυρουδέας

 

Πρόσφατα (στις 6–9 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018) διεξήχθη στο Πάντειο Πανεπιστήμιο το διεθνές συνέδριο ICOPEC (Διεθνές Συνέδριο Πολιτικής Οικονομίας) που συνδιοργάνωσε η Επιστημονική Εταιρεία Πολιτικής Οικονομίας (ΕΕΠΟ) και το Τμήμα Κοινωνικής Πολιτικής του Παντείου Πανεπιστημίου. Στο συνέδριο έλαβαν μέρος περίπου 100 πανεπιστημιακοί ενώ το παρακολούθησαν επίσης και πολλοί φοιτητές. Με την συν-διοργάνωση του συνεδρίου αυτού η ελληνική Επιστημονική Εταιρεία Πολιτικής Οικονομίας επιδιώκει να συμβάλει στην ενίσχυση του ενδιαφέροντος για την Πολιτική Οικονομία. Η τελευταία αποτελεί την βασική εναλλακτική προσέγγιση στα σημερινά κυρίαρχα Οικονομικά. Σε αντίθεση με τον μεθοδολογικό ατομισμό των τελευταίων (που υποστηρίζει ότι η οικονομία είναι διαδικασία μεταξύ ατόμων), η Πολιτική Οικονομία αναλύει την οικονομία ως μία κοινωνική διαδικασία, της οποίας τα βασικά δρώντα υποκείμενα είναι κοινωνικές τάξεις με διαφορετικά και συγκρουόμενα συμφέροντα και ρόλους. Επίσης, η ανάλυση της Πολιτικής Οικονομίας συνδέει τις οικονομικές με τις κοινωνικές και τις πολιτικές σχέσεις και διαδικασίες, σε αντίθεση με τη μυωπική θεώρηση των κυρίαρχων Οικονομικών που αδιαφορούν για τις υπόλοιπες και επιπλέον εστιάζουν μόνο σε έναν τομέα των οικονομικών σχέσεων (τις οικονομικές σχέσεις που αναπτύσσονται στα πλαίσια της αγοράς). Συνακόλουθα, οι βασικές προσεγγίσεις της Πολιτικής Οικονομίας επικεντρώνουν στο σύνολο των οικονομικών σχέσεων (και όχι μόνο στις σχέσεις ανταλλαγής) και δίνουν ιδιαίτερη έμφαση στη σφαίρα της παραγωγής (κάτι που τα κυρίαρχα Οικονομικά από τη σύσταση τους υποτιμούν). Για όλους αυτούς τους λόγους η προσέγγιση της Πολιτικής Οικονομίας είναι πιο ρεαλιστική και διαθέτει μεγαλύτερες ερμηνευτικές δυνατότητες. Ταυτόχρονα όμως είναι και πιο ενοχλητική για κατεστημένα συμφέροντα καθώς αναδεικνύει τις αντιφάσεις και τις συγκρούσεις που υπάρχουν μέσα στο κοινωνικο-οικονομικό σύστημα.

Το κεντρικό θέμα του φετινού συνεδρίου της ICOPEC ήταν «Δέκα χρόνια μετά τη Μεγάλη Ύφεση: Η Ορθόδοξη απέναντι στην Ετερόδοξη Οικονομική». Παράλληλα με το κεντρικό θέμα έλαβαν χώρα ομιλίες και συζητήσεις για πολλές επιμέρους θεματικές ενότητες που καλύπτουν όλα σχεδόν τα βασικά πεδία έρευνας και μελέτης της σύγχρονης Πολιτικής Οικονομίας (κρίση, κερδοφορία, μακροοικονομική ανάλυση, χρηματοπιστωτικό σύστημα, διανομή εισοδήματος και ανισότητες, οικονομικά της Εργασίας κ.α.).

Το συνέδριο ξεκίνησε με την ολομελειακή συνεδρία που είχε ως αντικείμενο το κεντρικό θέμα του συνεδρίου. Στη συνεδρία αυτή εισηγήθηκαν ως προσκεκλημένοι ομιλητές οι Γ.Μηλιός (καθηγητής ΕΜΠ) με θέμα ‘Heterodox Economics vis-à-vis Crisis and Finance. Speculation of the ‘absentee rentier’ or Mechanism of disciplining social action?’), Β.Δρουκόπουλος (επίτιμος καθηγητής ΕΚΠΑ) με θέμα ‘Just tweaking around the edges? and/or A bit of repair at the seams?’ και Hun Joo Park (καθηγητής KDI School of Public Policy and Management) με θέμα ‘Triumph and Crisis of Korean Political Economy: Paradigms, Development, and Systemic Resilience’.

Το κεντρικό θέμα του συνεδρίου εστίασε σε ένα εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον ζήτημα. Εφέτος κλείνουν δέκα χρόνια από την μεγάλη παγκόσμια κρίση του 2008 που συγκλόνισε και εξακολουθεί και σήμερα να επηρεάζει με τις συνέπειές της την παγκόσμια οικονομία. Κατά κοινή ομολογία, η κυρίαρχη σήμερα αντίληψη των Οικονομικών απέτυχε δραματικά να προβλέψει την έλευση της κρίσης και ακόμη και την προηγουμένη της εξέδιδε αναλύσεις υποσχόμενες ένα λαμπρό μέλλον για την παγκόσμια οικονομία. Η σημερινή Ορθοδοξία, σε αντίθεση με απλοϊκές θεωρήσεις, δεν είναι ένας καθαρόαιμος Νεοφιλελευθερισμός (καθώς ο δογματισμός του τελευταίου τον κάνει πλήρως αδόκιμο για την άσκηση οικονομικής πολιτικής) αλλά η συνένωση μιας μετριασμένης εκδοχής του με τον εξαιρετικά συντηρητικό Νέο Κεϋνσιανισμό. Το υβρίδιο αυτό αποδέχεται στοιχεία της Κεϋνσιανής ανάλυσης βραχυχρόνια (κυρίως ότι μπορεί να μην εκκαθαρίζονται οι αγορές και ότι η νομισματική κυρίως πολιτική είναι αποτελεσματική) και της Νέας Κλασσικής ανάλυσης μακροχρόνια. Η σύνθεση αυτή έχει αποκληθεί Νέα Μακροοικονομική Συναίνεση και κυριαρχεί στα βασικά οικονομικά και πολιτικά κέντρα εξουσίας ιδιαίτερα του Δυτικού κόσμου. Όπως προειπώθηκε, η σύγχρονη Οικονομική Ορθοδοξία απέτυχε να προβλέψει και να αποτρέψει την κρίση. Εξίσου προβληματική είναι η επίδοση της στην διαχείριση της κρίσης καθώς σύντομα ακολούθησε η αποκληθείσα δεύτερη «βουτιά» ενώ οι φόβοι για μία νέα παραμένουν μέχρι σήμερα λόγω των ανεπίλυτων δομικών προβλημάτων της οικονομίας.

Σχεδόν όλες οι προηγούμενες μεγάλες δομικές κρίσεις του καπιταλιστικού συστήματος συνοδεύθηκαν από αντίστοιχες αποτυχίες της εκάστοτε κυρίαρχης οικονομικής αντίληψης. Και σε όλες τις περιπτώσεις αυτό οδήγησε στην αποκαθήλωση της εκάστοτε Ορθοδοξίας και την αντικατάσταση της από ένα νέο επιστημονικό παράδειγμα. Το παράδοξο είναι ότι παρά την παταγώδη αποτυχία των Ορθόδοξων Οικονομικών η κυριαρχία τους στον πολιτικό και ακαδημαϊκό χώρο όχι μόνο δεν αμφισβητήθηκε αλλά αντιθέτως έγινε ακόμη πιο ασφυκτική. Ιδιαίτερα στον ακαδημαϊκό χώρο επιδίδεται κυριολεκτικά σε μακαρθικές πρακτικές απέναντι σε κάθε άλλη εναλλακτική αντίληψη και ιδιαίτερα απέναντι στην παράδοση της Πολιτικής Οικονομίας. Το φαινόμενο αυτό είναι εξαιρετικά έντονο και στη χώρα μας καθώς τα τμήματα Οικονομικών σπουδών πρακτικά εκκαθαρίζονται από κάθε εναλλακτική άποψη για να επιβληθεί αποκλειστικά η Κυρίαρχη άποψη που επιπλέον ευθύνεται για την ελληνική οικονομική κρίση και την κατάπτωση της ελληνικής οικονομίας και κοινωνίας.

Το παράδοξο αυτό αποτελεί αντικείμενο πολλών σύγχρονων συζητήσεων. Η ΕΕΠΟ, προτείνοντας το ως το βασικό θέμα του συνεδρίου ICOPEC 2018, επιδιώκει να το αναδείξει ως ένα καθοριστικό ζήτημα η η εξέλιξη του οποίου επηρεάζει τόσο την πορεία της επιστήμης της οικονομίας όσο όμως και ευρύτερα τις κοινωνικο-πολιτικές εξελίξεις.

Κατά την γνώμη μου η συνεχιζόμενη κυριαρχία των Ορθόδοξων προσεγγίσεων βασίζεται στις αδυναμίες των αντιπάλων τους στο να προσδιορίσουν τόσο τον αντίπαλο τους όσο και όσο και τις εναλλακτικές που προτείνουν. Οι Ετερόδοξες προσεγγίσεις στοχοποιούν ένα μυθικό Νεοφιλελευθερισμό και παραγνωρίζουν εθελοτυφλώντας ότι η σύγχρονη Ορθοδοξία είναι ένα μίγμα ήπιου Νεοφιλελευθερισμού και συντηρητικού Νεου Κεϋνσιανισμού. Η αδυναμία αυτή προκύπτει γιατί οι Ετερόδοξες προσεγγίσεις κυριαρχούνται από Κεϋνσιανές και μετα-Κεϋνσιανές αντιλήψεις με υπαρκτούς δεσμούς με τον Νέο Κεϋνσιανισμό και με μοναδική φιλοδοξία την μεταρρύθμιση του συστήματος. Αντίθετα, ο Μαρξισμός έχει πλήρως περιθωριοποιηθεί ενώ, στις Δυτικές εκδοχές του, πολλά ρεύματα του έχουν καταντήσει πτωχοί συγγενείς του μετα-Κεϋνσιανισμού. Αυτό οδηγεί την Ετεροδοξία να μην μπορεί να συνδεθεί με τον κόσμο της εργασίας και να αποτελεί έναν αδύναμο επαίτη του συστήματος. Το παράδοξο γίνεται ακόμη εντονότερο όταν διαπιστώνεται ότι το καπιταλιστικό σύστημα, αμέσως μετά το ξέσπασμα της κρίσης, χρησιμοποίησε εργαλεία της κεϋνσιανής Ετεροδοξίας (επεκτατική δημοσιονομική πολιτική, χαλαρή νομισματική πολιτική κλπ.) για να ξεπεράσει το άμεσο πρόβλημα. Αμέσως όμως μετά επανήλθε στην προηγούμενη πεπατημένη του. Ο επαμφοτερισμός αυτός δεν είναι δύσκολο να ερμηνευθεί, τουλάχιστον από την σκοπιά της Μαρξιστικής ανάλυσης. Το σύστημα γνωρίζει καλά ότι μία σοβαρή κρίση δεν μπορεί να αντιμετωπισθεί με το Νεοφιλελεύθερο πρόταγμα «να αφήσουμε την αγορά να εκκαθαρισθεί από μόνη της» καθώς κάτι τέτοιο θα οδηγούσε στην οικονομική καταστροφή και την κοινωνική έκρηξη. Ταυτόχρονα όμως γνωρίζει ότι εμπρός σε μία δομική κρίση κερδοφορίας και υπερσυσσώρευσης κεφαλαίου τα κεϋνσιανά εργαλεία το μόνο που μπορούν να κάνουν είναι να ετεροχρονίσουν την κρίση και τα συστημικά προβλήματα που την δημιούργησαν, αλλά όχι να την επιλύσουν.

Για να ξεπερασθεί το αδιέξοδο του προαναφερθέντος παραδόξου είναι αναγκαία μία ριζική ανατροπή και μέσα στο χώρο των Ετερόδοξων οικονομικών προσεγγίσεων. Αντί να εστιάζουν στην παροχή συμβουλών και βραχύβιων μεταρρυθμίσεων του καπιταλιστικού συστήματος θα πρέπει να επικεντρωθούν στην πιο ανηλεή κριτική του και στη διερεύνηση διεξόδου από αυτό. Αυτό απαιτεί την εγκατάλειψη του ρόλου των συστημικών συμβούλων και τη σύνδεση με τον μεγάλο σιωπηλό ακόμη παράγοντα, τον κόσμο της εργασίας. Η Μαρξιστική παράδοση αποτελεί πάντα το βασικό όχημα μιας τέτοιας πορείας.

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1  Σταύρος Μαυρουδέας

Ο Σταύρος Μαυρουδέας είναι Καθηγητής Πολιτικής Οικονομίας στο τμήμα Οικονομικών του Πανεπιστημίου Μακεδονίας. Οι προπτυχιακές σπουδές του στα Οικονομικά έγιναν στο ΕΚΠΑ, οι μεταπτυχιακές στο SOAS (University of London) ενώ έλαβε το διδακτορικό του από το Birkbeck College (University of London). Τα ερευνητικά του ενδιαφέροντα περιλαμβάνουν: Πολιτική Οικονομία, Μακροοικονομική, Ιστορία Οικονομικής Σκέψης, Μεγέθυνση και Οικονομική Ανάπτυξη, Ελληνική Οικονομία. Έχει δημοσιεύσει άρθρα σε πολλά διεθνή και ελληνικά επιστημονικά περιοδικά και διατελεί μέλος της συντακτικής επιτροπής, της συμβουλευτικής επιτροπής ή/και κριτή σε αρκετά. Έχει συγγράψει αρκετά βιβλία και κεφάλαια σε συλλογικούς τόμους τόσο στα Ελληνικά όσο και στα Αγγλικά. Είναι ιδρυτικό μέλος της Ελληνικής Επιστημονικής Εταιρείας Πολιτικής Οικονομίας. Έχει συμμετάσχει σε πολλά ακαδημαϊκά συνέδρια ως εισηγητής, προεδρεύων, μέλος της οργανωτικής ή/και της επιστημονικής επιτροπής και έχει δώσει πολλές ακαδημαϊκές διαλέξεις στην Ελλάδα και στο εξωτερικό. Έχει ακόμη διατελέσει επισκέπτης ερευνητής και καθηγητής σε αρκετά πανεπιστήμια του εξωτερικού.

 

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The FYROM 2018 referendum and its implications – BRAVE NEW EUROPE 7-10-2018

 

 

 

 

Brave New Europe

https://braveneweurope.com/stavros-mavroudeas-macedonia-the-fyrom-2018-referendum-and-its-implications

 

The FYROM 2018 referendum and its implications

Stavros Mavroudeas

 

The area and the identity of Macedonia has been a contested terrain for many decades. Leaving aside references to antiquity, its modern form has its roots in the birth of national states in the Balkans in the beginning of the 20th century with the protracted collapse of the Ottoman empire. During the latter’s rule the area of Macedonia has been inhabited by various ethnic groups. In the Balkans, Greeks were the first, from the 19th century, to acquire a national identity and to construct a national state. Slavic people, in the Macedonian area, were the last to follow in this road and significant segments of them oscillated for a considerable period between different competing national identities (primarily Greek and Bulgarian). After several local wars and two world wars the Balkan area had been stabilized with established nation states that had, to a great extent, homogenized their populations by all the means available. Nevertheless, there remained several contested areas and significant ethnic minorities within every Balkan nation state.

The modern Macedonian issue was born after the 2nd WW. The northern part of the Macedonian area belonged to Titoist Yugoslavia and was inhabited mainly by Slavs. The southern Macedonian area belonged to Greece, was more or less ethnically homogenized – particularly after the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey – but also contained a Slavic ethnic minority. Before the 2nd WW the Macedonian area was claimed by Bulgaria also, by trying to patronize its Slavic populations. Yugoslavia, in order to secure its southern area – from both Greece and Bulgaria – promoted a distinct Macedonian identity for the people of its southern area. A necessary corollary of this was the promotion of irredentism as the whole Macedonian area was considered the rightful home of the Slavomacedonian people. As usually happens in such cases, the creation of a modern national identity tries to find roots in the ancient times: thus, the ridiculous Slavomacedonian claim on Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonian kingdom that was, in the end, part of the Greek world.

On the other hand, Greece promoted its own irredentism by claiming that the whole Macedonia – and the Macedonian identity – belong to it. The internal Greek politics and particularly the Greek civil war painted in blood this project. The situation was stabilized during the Cold War era as the two main adversaries belonged to different camps. However, with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and particularly with the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia under the auspices of the Western imperialisms, the whole situation destabilized abruptly. The big Western powers (the US and the EU) strived to expand their spheres of influence in the Balkans. Local elites and emerging bourgeoisies tried to expand their spaces and maneuvered between the big players. All of them fomented nationalisms as a means for their plans.

This is exactly what happened with the small former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Once becoming separated from old Yugoslavia, it faced an acute existential problem as its miniscule political and economic size made it almost unviable. On top of that, the increase of its Albanian population endangered further its unity. This resulted in the exaggerated promotion of the Macedonian identity and the concomitant irredentism.

On the other side, Greek capitalism actually invaded economically FYROM’s and became one of the main Western economic powers in its economy. This was facilitated by FYROM’s drag in the EU’s orbit. Ironically, the bigger the political controversies between FYROM and Greece the bigger the economic influence of the latter in the former. Of course, all these under the wings and succumbing to the prevailing interests of the bigger Western powers. This resulted in a new stalemate: Greece blocked the further political integration of FYROM in the EU and NATO unless it dropped its Macedonian claims.

Recently, this stalemate became strained. The resurgence of Russia led the West to try to secure as much of the Balkan area it can under its influence. Thus, the incorporation of Montenegro, FYROM and possibly Serbia into NATO became a priority. This goes together with their incorporation in the EU (despite the increasing tensions between the US and the EU). For this reason, the West proceeds – extremely heavy-handedly and by blatantly neglecting existing political, social and national balances – to rearrange relationships and even to redraw borders in the very volatile Balkan area (which has produced several wars in the not very distant past).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prespes agreement between Greece and FYROM is such a case. First, the West instigated almost openly a governmental change in FYROM by marginalizing a part of its elite that was subservient to the West but at the same time wanted a better deal with Greece. Then, the West employed the weak and completely subservient to US interests SYRIZA government to pass hurriedly a settlement with FYROM. The end result is a disaster for the peoples of the Balkans. Irrespective of the technical details of the agreement which do not matter, its authoritarian imperialist imposition aggravates nationalist tensions in both countries. Of course, the West is indifferent to this so long as it passes its plans. Afterall, in the end, it can play also with local nationalisms.

But there is a problem in these imperialist games: at some point people have to vote. Such a point was the referendum in FYROM. Despite the blatant Western intervention in internal affairs and the lack of even a major political party opposing the agreement (as the FYROM elite is terribly weak, corrupted and depended from the West), the majority of the population voted with their feet and by a meagre participation actually rejected the agreement. This was a terrible slap in the face to the Western arrogance. Furthermore, it showed the rapidly diminishing charm of the EU as the sweetener of joining it (and supposedly gaining economically) was turned down. Spontaneously, the people of the poorer Balkan country have probably sensed something that the Greek people learned through pain and tears the recent years: the EU is not the paradise but the hell for the peoples and for the countries laying in its periphery.

Nevertheless, the West did not learn its lesson and proceeds with greater impertinence. All of them – big and small, from NATO’s general secretary and the German foreign ministry to the preposterous Greek SYRIZA and FYROM politicians – pronounce the referendum as a success and demanded the implementation of the agreement. Their ludicrous argument is that 91% of those voting (that were merely the 35% of the eligible voters) supported the agreement. It does not require great intelligence to grasp that this is a direct insult to the very basic rules of democracy. Wouldn’t it be better if only a few ‘enlightened elites’ and foreign agents had voting rights instead of the whole population?

Notwithstanding, the West and its local stooges proceed to try to impose the agreement. Currently, their main effort is to practically bribe and/or blackmail some corrupt FYROM MPs in order to pass it the parliament. Ironically, Alexis Tsipras suggested so; probably banking on his well-known expertise on how turning a popular vote to its opposite. As an obedient puppet of his masters, he forgets that in this case it is the turn of his government to begin rocking dangerously.

The West’s plans for the Balkans are bringing again, few years after the bloody Yugoslavian disintegration, tensions and upheaval in the area. They are fomenting nationalism and promoting imperialist conflict. The peoples of the Balkans have nothing to gain from this.

Particularly for the poor populace of FYROM – and contrary to their elites – their country’s participation in the EU and NATO would worsen its condition. These are imperialist organisations infamous for sowing misery and wars in their path. The participation in the EU would make the weak and already dependent FYROM economy even weaker. Greece, and the other euro-peripheral economies have a bitter taste from this participation that made their economies weaker and simple appendages of those of the euro-core economies. It is indicative that other Balkan economies linked to the EU were lucky not to participate at least in the European Monetary Union (EMU). This shielded them from grave consequences during and after the global capitalist crisis of 2008. Moreover, NATO is always the long arm of US aggression and its record is well-known. Instead of stabilization and peace it brings conflicts and war. Its march to the East sows gunpowder in the Balkans.

Concluding, the failure of the Western plans for the Balkans is the only way to keep the possibility of amicable and cooperative relations between the Balkan peoples alive.

 

Comments on the results of the FYROM referendum – SPUTNIK NEWS 2-10-2018

SPUTNIK NEWS requested some comments on the results of the recent FYROM referendum on the Prespes aggreement. As usual these articles are heavily abdridged.

Below is the transcript of my comments followed by the coverage in SPUTNIK’s webpage.

 

SPUTNIK NEWS

2-10-2018

  1. What is your view on outcome of the referendum with low turnout under 37% insufficient for results to be legitimate?

The result of the FYROM referendum shows that there is a huge gap between its people and the political parties of FYROM’s elites. No mainstream political party campaigned for ‘no’ and only a motley grouping of politicians and small organisations campaigned for abstention. On the other hand, all the Western ‘heavy weights’ (from both the US and the EU) intervened blatantly in FYROM’s internal affairs and pressed for a ‘yes’ vote. The very wording of the referendum was a disgrace: instead of voting on the Prespes agreement it dictated that this was a vote for joining the EU and NATO. Yet the people voted with their feet (by abstaining) and threw the whole official political spectrum in disarray.

Another conclusion that can be drawn is that, similarly to the Greek 2015 referendum, the EU has lost its appeal. Even a weak country whose elite is bribed with western funds did not succumb to its blackmail. It is becoming increasingly evident that the EU instead of a ‘paradise’ it is a ‘prison’ for peoples and working men.

2. How do you assess chances of Prime minister to get a two-thirds majority of mandates in the parliament for the adoption of constitutional amendments in accordance with the agreement with Athens? What it will bring for Macedonia?

I think that the probability that Zaev passes the rejected agreement through a parliamentary vote depends upon his western patrons’ ability to literally buy the necessary votes. Both Zaev and his patrons are totally unscrupulous. The demand by EU’s commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (sic!) Hahn for the Prespes agreement to proceed shows that EU does not respect any democratic rule. It has shown this in several cases in the past when it obliged countries to hold again referendums till they produced the result demanded by the EU. Zaev’s argument that 91.37% have voted for ‘yes’ is a stupidity and at the same time a direct insult to the elementary rules of democracy. Wouldn’t’ t it be better if there is no popular vote at all and only a small minority of elites decided things among themselves?

So, it seems that Zaev and his Western patrons will proceed with this scheme. However, I expect that such a monstrous move would aggravate tensions in FYROM and risks producing a true explosion.

It cannot be unnoticed the equally ridiculous the stance of the Greek prime minister. Tsipras urged Zaev to neglect the popular vote and proceed with the agreement. Of course, as the Greek 2015 referendum have shown, Tsipras and SYRIZA have the know-how of doing exactly the opposite from what the popular vote decided.

3. Do you consider that possibility of holding snap elections is high? What are your expectations from the outcomes of the snap elections in case of holding?

If passing the agreement via bribery from parliament fails then calling a snap election is on the cards. Zaev has actually said so. However, it seems as a rather hollow threat as he has failed in the referendum and this has weakened his political leverage. In normal circumstances this will lead to his political and electoral demise. But these are no normal circumstances, the paly is very dirty and it remains to be seen if Zaev and his partons have some ‘hidden cards’.

4. What consequences of not joining the EU and NATO do you see for Macedonia?

I believe that staying out of the EU and NATO would enhance the ability of the people of this neighbouring country to decide its own future. Contrary to the western sirens, joining the EU would worsen its position even more by making it the last in the list of euro-peripheral countries of limited sovereignty and growing economic misery. As for NATO, joining it would push FYROM directly in the ‘line of fire’ as NATO tries to expand in the Balkans. The Balkan people have already a bitter taste of NATO’s actions via the war and the destruction of Yugoslavia.

 

 

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201810021068527981-macedonia-name-referendum-results/

Macedonia’s Battle for New Name Continues After Low-Turnout Referendum

© AP Photo / Boris Grdanoski

Europe

20:31 02.10.2018(updated 20:36 02.10.2018)

 

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – While Macedonia has yet to reach a consensus on whether to approve the new name agreed with Greece, the government has claimed victory after an overwhelming majority backed the change in a low-turnout non-binding referendum.

Slightly less than 37 percent of the Macedonian electorate showed up to vote on Sunday, but over 90 percent of them supported the new name, agreed by Greece and Macedonia in June.

Importance of Names

The two countries agreed that the new name should be the Republic of North Macedonia. The deal resolved the decades-long dispute between Athens and Skopje over the use of «Macedonia,» which is also the name of a region in Greece.

© REUTERS / Marko Djurica

Macedonian Opposition Party Claims Victory in Name Change Vote Citing Low Turnout

The Macedonian Parliament has already endorsed the deal twice, in June and in July, but President Gjorge Ivanov has refused to sign it. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev needs two-thirds of the parliament to back the name change. The prime minister’s Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) alone does not have the required majority in a 120-seat parliament. It holds roughly the same number of seats as Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), the main opposition party,

READ MORE: North Macedonia Referendum: How Many Nations Have Changed Their Names and Why?

If the deal is approved in Macedonia, it will pave the way for the country to pursue membership of NATO and the European Union, which Greece could veto in the past over its objection to the name.

Greek Syriza Supportive of Referendum

Vice-President of the European Parliament and a member of the Greek ruling Syriza party Dimitrios Papadimoulis called the result of the vote a «positive development.»

«This is a very important and positive development. Participation was low, it has a consultative character and PM Zaev still has the upper hand in decision-making. The next step now is for the Parliament to ratify the deal and for Zaev to reach the necessary qualified majority of two-thirds,» Papadimoulis told Sputnik.

READ MORE: Greece Sees Results of Macedonian Referendum as Controversial But Respects Them

According to Papadimoulis, Zaev «can secure the necessary qualified majority,» but he could succeed even if he had to call a snap election.

«Such a development could delay the entire process, but we could live with that as long as Zaev can manage to push for the adoption of constitutional reforms,» Papadimoulis said.

The Greek politician stressed that the failure to sign the agreement and, therefore, to join NATO and the European Union would be «a defeat of progressive, pro-European forces.»

Stelios Kouloglou, a vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development and a member of the Syriza party, stressed that the stability in the Balkans would be «at stake» if the name change deal was not approved in Macedonia.

«This agreement is for the best interest of both our countries and for the area that is getting into turmoil again. Unfortunately, the conservative parties that belong to the EPP in the European Parliament, have adopted a nationalistic demagogic position that goes against peace and stability,» Kouloglou told Sputnik.

Opposition Wants No Name Change

However, not everyone in Macedonia approves of the name change and subsequent attempts to join NATO or the European Union.

Janko Bachev, the president of United Macedonia opposition party, hailed the results of the low-turnout referendum as the victory of opposition. According to Bachev, the majority of Macedonians were not interested in EU or NATO membership.

«The future of the world belongs to Russia, China and the rest of the BRICS countries and Macedonia must fit in that future,» the opposition politician told Sputnik.

© AP Photo / Boris Grdanoski

Macedonian People Protested Decision Imposed From Outside at Referendum – Envoy

The very wording of the referendum questions was «a disgrace,» as it focused on «joining the EU and NATO» rather than simply a name change, Professor of Political Economy at Department of Economics in the University of Macedonia Stavros Mavroudeas told Sputnik.

According to the expert, the people of Macedonia would have more freedom in deciding its own future if it stayed out of both blocs.

«The Balkan people have already a bitter taste of NATO’s actions via the war and the destruction of Yugoslavia,» the expert said.

Stability in Balkans

Gen. Francis Briquemont, who was head of the UN Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993-1994, said the referendum in Macedonia reminded him of the 1992 Bosnian independence referendum, largely boycotted by the Bosnian Serbs.

«It could be like what happened some 25 years ago when the Serbs refused to participate and boycotted the vote in Bosnia,» the retired Belgian general told Sputnik.

READ MORE: NATO Welcomes Results of Referendum on Macedonia’s Name — Stoltenberg

Briquemont, who has a first-hand experience of conflict in the Balkans, said he is wary of NATO’s expansion and growing budget.

«To justify an increase of its budgets — the famous increase of member states military budgets to reach 2 percent of GDP — NATO creates itself an enemy: Russia,» Briquemont said.

Russia itself said, regarding the referendum, it was hoping that everything would remain within the legal framework.

 

Short intervention in RT on the FYROM referendum – 1-10-2018

The video of a short intervention in Russia Today (RT International) News on the FYROM referendum

 

 

 

The coverage in RT’s webpage follows

 

https://www.rt.com/news/440060-macedonia-referendum-western-flop/

 

Macedonia’s failed referendum is blow to Western lobbyists, but govt will seek to join NATO anyway

Published time: 1 Oct, 2018 17:17 Edited time: 2 Oct, 2018 08:57

Protesters shout out slogans about boycotting the referendum on changing the country’s name that would open the way for it to join NATO and the European Union in Skopje, Macedonia September 30, 2018. © Marko Djurica / Reuters

 

It’s not surprising that Western leaders failed to drum up support for Macedonia’s referendum, experts told RT, suggesting that Skopje’s vow to ignore the result and push ahead with EU and NATO membership is even less shocking.

Despite the slew of Western dignitaries who poured into Skopje to lobby for the measure, most Macedonians chose to stay home for Sunday’s non-binding referendum, which would have opened the door for EU and NATO membership.

Some 90 percent voted in support of the referendum, which asked: «Are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?» but with around 36 percent turnout, the results were invalidated. Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said after the vote that he remains committed to renaming the country North Macedonia, resolving a name dispute with neighboring Greece and paving the way for EU and NATO membership.

READ MORE: Macedonia PM vows to push for name change after referendum fails to reach 50% threshold

The underwhelming turnout, coupled with the government’s defiant pledge to carry on with the name change despite its unpopularity, highlights the deep divide between the country’s people and its political elite, analysts told RT. They said that the dismal result is a kick in the teeth to Western leaders and top officials who visited the country ahead of the ill-fated vote.

Western meddling?

While the incredibly low turnout presents an unexpected setback for Zaev, it’s also a defeat for his Western sponsors, Elena Guskova, head of the Modern Balkan Crisis Studies Center of the Slavic Studies Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RT.

Enormous efforts were taken by Brussels and Washington to make Macedonia’s accession to the European bloc, and the famously offensive defensive alliance, as seamless as possible. Just in the past week alone, a deluge of Western dignitaries graced the Macedonian capital, including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, US Defense Secretary James Mattis, and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also paid their respects earlier this month.

Read more

Western leaders descend on Macedonian ‘battleground’ as Moscow pulls its punches

The «pro-Western» Macedonian prime minister relied upon the help of Washington and Brussels to push through the referendum and resolve the name issue with Athens, Guskova said.

«It is very important for the West to unweave this knot and to remove the influence Russia can potentially exert on Macedonia. That is why [the West] strived so much for this referendum to succeed.»

Ironically, Defense Secretary Mattis accused Moscow of meddling in Macedonia’s internal affairs during his visit to Skopje, and already, accusations have surfaced that Russia «sought to prevent the Macedonians from going to the polls.»

«They de facto blame Russia for the low turnout,» Guskova noted, adding that the «humiliating» name change was the real motivating factor behind the referendum result.

The blame game may also be motivated by wounded pride: the West’s sudden and intense interest in Macedonia – Merkel’s visit marked the first time a German chancellor had travelled to the country, for example – seems to have accomplished little aside from highlighting the disconnect between the country’s leaders and its people.

«There is a huge discrepancy between the political elite in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its people,» Stavros Mavroudeas, professor of political economy at the Department of Economics in the University of Macedonia, told RT. «The political elite in Skopje is subservient to the Western powers – the EU and US. This creates a gap.»

Turning lemons into NATO membership

Although it appears that Macedonians are less than enthusiastic about the name change, NATO and Washington have hailed the referendum’s result as a victory. «I welcome the yes vote in [the Macedonia] referendum. I urge all political leaders [and] parties to engage constructively [and] responsibly to seize this historic opportunity. #NATO’s door is open, but all national procedures have to be completed,» Stoltenberg tweeted.

 Jens Stoltenberg @jensstoltenberg

I welcome the yes vote in referendum. I urge all political leaders & parties to engage constructively & responsibly to seize this historic opportunity. #NATO’s door is open, but all national procedures have to be completed.

12:16 AM – Oct 1, 2018

 

Responding to the vote, the US State Department urged Macedonia’s parliament to go forward with the name change, which would require a two-thirds majority, calling on the country’s lawmakers «to rise above partisan politics» and «secure a brighter future for the country as a full participant in Western institutions.»

The EU’s Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, echoed a similar position, telling all parties to «respect this decision and take it forward with utmost responsibility and unity across party lines.»

READ MORE: Referendum turnout in Macedonia shows voters boycott decisions imposed from outside – Moscow

Like so many of the «non-binding» referendums used to rubber-stamp EU and NATO membership over the past decade, it appears that the will of the people can be ignored when the political elite decide that the stakes are too high.