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Post-referendum politics of ignoring facts

Ilo TrajkovskiPolitical analystThe referendum has passed! Long live the referendum! In the case of our referendum, it’s as if the principle to which all conflicting societies or groups persist is somehow denied. According to this principle, the profit and joy of one is the loss and grief of the other. Although we are undoubtedly such a society, it seems that the results of the referendum made everyone happy – the government, the opposition, but also those “others”! They all interpret the results as a confirmation of their policies regarding the agreement with Greece and, in this regard, the EU and NATO membership. I wonder how the same facts can cause joy among many, who are actually angry opponents?I find the answer to this question in the definition of politics given by the American historian and journalist Henry Adams from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to him, practical politics consists in ignoring facts. This means ignoring reality. In order to justify themselves and their people, our leading politicians resort not only to ignoring facts but also to their twisting – black turned into white and white into black.

Which facts are being ignored, or are politicized by our political elites? First, two numerical realities are ignored. The first is the number of citizens who did not come out to vote, about 1,140,000 or about 63 percent, and the second is the number of citizens who did vote, about 666,000, and they voted ‘FOR’. The opposition celebrates the first figure and ignores the second, and the government heightens the importance of the number of voters who supported the government policy, and ignores the importance of the number of those who did not come out to vote – because of boycotts, or lack of interest. Both of them would benefit from each of these numbers, but taken individually. And neither one has any meaning separately!

The opposition emphasizes the fact that the number of those who abstained is almost two times the number of those who used their right to vote. In doing so, the opposition ignores the fact that is clear even to beginners in the political analysis that no more than a third (about 400,000) of the non-voters are built under the banner of VMRO-DPMNE. The second third is recruited mainly by the indefinite, the smaller ethical communities and the apathetic, and the third is mainly made of emigrants. The government, meanwhile, points out that the citizens who wanted to vote could do it without hindrance and that in the democracy those who voted are the ones who decide. And that is that!

Opposition logic is formally legal: the constitution prescribes a census of at least 50 per cent turnout for a successful referendum. In this specific case, because the turnout was about 37 percent, it means that the referendum is unsuccessful and that there is no decision on the referendum question. Conversely, for the government and its spokespersons, the referendum was successful and the decision was made because the vast majority (over 91%) of those who went to the polls supported its policy.

Both sides, apart from ignoring the facts that do not support their interests, ignore the real reason that generates the mentioned problematic numbers – the knowledge that the problems with the voter list and the prescribed referendum turnout were known at the time of announcing the referendum, and even before it was announced. The applicability and importance of the aforementioned Adams' definition of politics should be sought here. Both of these problems with the voter lists and regulations have long been identified as manipulative. They saw, and still see a favorable opportunity for manipulation in favor of their own party. In the same way, the long-established problems with the justice system and the manner of functioning of the public administration and the public sector as a whole are treated. The problems are known, but are ignored because they as such are suitable covers for hiding their own weaknesses and the utilization of public resources. The price for this is always paid by the nation, with increasing and greater frustration due to the absence of a real change for the better.

Fifteen months have passed since the current government assumed the nominal control over the country and public institutions in general. But it did not do much to move things in the direction of Europeanization of everyday functioning. On the contrary. Many examples show that the government too easily reached for the tricks abused by the previous corrupt and insurmountable authority. For example, forcing the constitutional and legal problematic procedure regarding the signing and ratification of the agreement with Greece and related secret diplomacy, the formulation of three questions in one referendum question, or the last example of a sudden increase in turnout in some polling stations, and the like. But what goes around comes back around.

As a consequence, a day or two after the referendum, the country entered a new political crisis with announcements of its deepening. The opposition leader does not cease to be courted by the most radical Macedonian ethno-nationalist circles who openly and without consequences threaten citizens and lawmakers. On the other hand, none of the scenarios announced by the Prime Minister will go without repeating the already known criminal, corrupt and clientele schemes and arrangements. The first desired scenario, which involves the transfer of the fate of an agreement with Greece to Parliament, can only be achieved by blackmailing and bribing susceptible MPs. A good instruction on how such operations are carried out for securing parliamentary support from the opposing camp is in the testimony of Ljubco Georgievski as a former prime minister. The second scenario by scheduling early parliamentary elections was best developed by Nikola Gruevski. With the existing voter list and the referendum-affirmed forces, the early election would be a repeat of the results of the last parliamentary elections, if not strengthening the positions of the ethnic-nationalist forces.

After the referendum, the Macedonian nation is divided into two as never before. Therefore, the belligerent calls to the so-called "Progressive Macedonia", as it is called by one, or "Euro Macedonia" according to another, to politically shake the so-called retrograde Macedonia or Macedonia to that "ignorant, weak and imperfect person (member of VMRO-DPMNE)" are nothing but political ignorance of the fact that the forces are fairly equal. In such a situation, the only reasonable policy is opening our eyes and returning the left step forward the right and then leap forward with both feet. Because without consensus, a sustainable solution to our key national problem is impossible.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik

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Tsipras, Draghi and the reason behind their meeting

The meeting of Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras with the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi in Brussels could be nothing but accidental during the first summit, in the European capital.

Surely, there have been positive signals about the good course of the Greek economy, however, there is an issue that remains thorny for Athens and is related to the preparation of the next issue of a bond, which is scheduled for the beginning of the new year.

And why would Mario Draghi could have a say in this….

At the moment, all four Greek systemic banks (National, Eurobank, Piraeus and Alpha Bank) have in their portfolios approximately 7.5 billion euros in Greek government securities. But the ECB does not give the "green light" for their increase.

The above came into force in February 2015 during the time Yannis Varoufakis was at the helm of the Finance ministry, when Frankfurt expressed its concern that the Finance Ministry could filled banks with treasury bills and bonds in order to solve the liquidity problem of the state. This seems of no usefulness today.

As this restriction is lifted, players in the domestic securities market will become more and bond yields will fall to manageable levels, as the 10-year yield is currently close to 4.5%.

Therefore, the Greek side has well founded reasons to wish to see Draghi's stance changed…. / IBNA

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The frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo poses a “stability risk”

Washington appeals on both Belgrade and Pristina to use a "historic opportunity" and reach an agreement which would be a win-win solution, said Matthew Palmer, deputy assistant of the American secretary of state. Palmer spoke during the Belgrade Security Forum today. He has also met President Aleksandar Vucic.

"If somebody wins, and the other side loses, then nobody wins", Palmer said at the panel "Building on momentum in the Balkans".

The American official said that his country does not "push" towards any specific result of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. "We do encourage both sides to find way forward as well as durable and sustainable solution", Palmer said.

The solution must be acceptable for the both sides, he went on. Washington is ready to "hear and assist", Palmer said, adding, however, that he cannot talk about details, especially on a possible swap of the territories.

Palmer explained that no plan of the territory swap has been presented so far. Although the United States do understand concerns that the territory swap could provoke a crisis in the other parts of the region, an unresolved dispute or "frozen conflict" could also "pose a risk for the regional stability", Palmer said.

He underlined that Serbia and Kosovo have a "European future" and that they both need assistance in that regard.

Palmer also referred to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. If Skopje wants to join both European Union and NATO, then the Prespa Agreement has no alternative, he emphasised. Palmer appealed on political leaders in Skopje to overcome parties' divisions for the sake of a "European future".

Referring to Bosnia, Palmer said that the "biggest problem" of that country are its "corrupt politicians who use a nationalistic rhetoric to create divisions". He added that the United States are "committed" to Bosnia's territorial integrity.

The "United States want to help everybody. Stronger Western Balkans means a stronger Europe and a stronger Trans-Atlantic partnership", the American diplomat concluded…. / IBNA

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BiH against Kosovo’s membership in Interpol

Bosnia and Herzegovina will not support the membership of Kosovo in Interpol, the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.

The Ministry explained this decision based on the fact that BiH has not recognised Kosovo as independent state yet and, accordingly, cannot support its membership in any of the international organisations.

In its press release the Ministry emphasised that it did not recognise the "the self-proclaimed independence of so-called Kosovo and, and in accordance with that, does not support the applications for its membership in the international and regional organisations, therefore it will not support a possible candidacy for the membership of so-called Kosovo in Interpol."

The exception, according to the ministry's statement is the participation of this region that declared independence from Serbia in 2008, in certain international and regional initiatives, which was previously harmonised with Serbia.

"BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs has delivered to all competent institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina a detailed explanation of the said foreign-policy goal, which is the ground for Bosnia and Herzegovina's acting at international forums", said the ministry.

Kosovo's recognition is a political issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a decision to acknowledge the independence of this country requires the consent of three constituent ethnic groups and two semi-autonomous entities. Republika Srpska politicians are following the stance of Serbia on this matter. It means that BiH will not recognise Kosovo until Serbia does it.

Pristina issue triggered the very first sparks between elected members of BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik and Željko Komšić, because Komšić recently said that, as far as he is concerned, Kosovo is an independent state. Dodik reacted with a statement, saying that there is no way to consent to BiH recognising this "Serbian region". Also, politicians in Serbia, the country's president Aleksandar Vučić and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić, underlined that the Komšić statement is not in accordance with the good relations between two states.

"BiH did not recognise Kosovo, and if members of the Presidency do not respect the territorial integrity of Serbia, they should know that they are breaking friendly relations, as well as provoking our reciprocal reaction. Instead, it's better to turn to co-operation and a common future", Dačić note…. / ΙΒΝΑ

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Inauguration of the SOCAR refinery in Izmir

The state-owned company of Azerbaijan, SOCAR, has put its own stamp in the field of hydrocarbon management in Turkey, inaugurating its first refinery in the eastern city of Izmir.

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his Azeri counterpart, İlham Aliyev were at today's inauguration ceremony of the STAR refinery.

It took seven to build the refinery -its construction started in 2011- and is expected to reduce Turkey's annual current account deficit by at least $ 1.5 billion.

It is one of the biggest investments in Turkey's history, with a budget of $ 6.3 billion, and one of the largest oil and gas facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The STAR refinery started its operation by receiving the first cargo ship carrying 80,000 tons of crude from Azerbaijan in early August.

SOCAR's chief executive for Turkey, Zaur Gahramanov, then confirmed the arrival of the first freight and said production would begin at the end of October.

With this refinery Turkey's need to import jet fuels, which will account for 7% of STAR's total output, is expected to be completely eliminate while at the same time it is anticipated to reduce its LPG imports from 79% 70%.

With an annual production capacity of 10 million tons of crude, the refinery will also produce 1.6 million tons of naphtha and 1.6 million tons of jet fuel annually…. / IBNA

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Lending in Albania drops: Central Bank

The Report on Lending for the third quarter of the year published by the Bank of Albania suggests a decrease in lending for businesses operating in the country. Meanwhile, the report adds that lending for individuals grew and this includes consumer loans and mortgage loans.

On the other hand, in the last quarter of the year, banks are expecting to apply similar standards to the third quarter regarding business loans, while for individuals, they’re expected to soften them even further.

According to banks, demands for loans are expected to be higher in the third quarter for both businesses and individuals alike. /ibna/

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