Friday, 15 December 2017 | News today: 7

Prof. Taneski: I expect additional scenario if foreign powers fail to overthrow our government

It is more than evident that the political crisis in Macedonia is related to foreign centers of power, maybe even to someone's business interests. I would also not dismiss the option that a specific country is behind all this, but it is most probably an external factor that finances and organizes all this. I expect an additional scenario if the primary one fails, aiming to shift the government, says university professor Nenad Taneski, in an interview with "Republika"

Professor Nenad Taneski, holder of a PhD degree in Security Studies, underlines that we cannot look at the political crisis in the country as an isolated case which has nothing to do with international developments and believes current developments in Macedonia are related to the announcement of “Turkish Stream” gas pipeline construction.

Taneski expects that turbulence and pressure from foreign centers of power will continue until Macedonia’s government is comprised of parties and individuals who would not succumb to their demands and interests. In his opinion, this major game we have unjustly been dragged into will end by 2018.

It has been two months after Macedonia’s political crisis, caused by the “Putsch” affair and Zaev’s bombs, started. As a professor in security issues, how would you assess these developments and what can we expect in the near future?

TANESKI: The question seems quite simple, but, it is in fact quite complex. Internal security and international security are almost always interwoven. But, let’s start with our story.

Two months after the crisis has began, things are at a standstill point. There have been predictions that the government shall fall within days, that a transitional government will be established under international pressure and numerous other analyses. But, the reality is as follows: experiences from history (recent and earlier) have shown that in order for opposition’s wishes to come true, the government should either resign (which I think will not happen) or the Parliament (the majority MPs) should vote lack of confidence and to dissolve itself, which will also not happen, or to witness a really strong international pressure (similar to that of 2002). Such pressure does not exist. The last option is the people. The first two options are definitely impossible to happen, as well as the third because there are much more serious events taking place at the international stage which I will explain later. It is precisely those events that prevent the legitimacy of EU or the USA to get involved in our national crisis. The last option will not happen for obvious objective reasons. People come out to the streets when they have nothing else to lose, when the stomach is empty and the property becomes worthless and they have nothing else left to keep, so they empty the anger out on the government. From what we can see at the moment, the Government is employing people, salaries have risen, students and professors have proven they can cooperate and not to mention all the other constructive steps the Government has taken… The conclusion here is that we will not see people on the streets, meaning the political crisis will only last until legal resolution starts taking place. After we hear all the opposition has prepared for the 2011-2013 period, summer holiday will begin, interest will decrease and legal resolution will be in the attention focus.

But, if you follow developments in the neighboring countries, or, to be more precise – in the countries included in “Turkish Stream” route, than we should stop and think for a second whether this scenario we have been served with is the only one or is there a spare one, as well.

Are you saying there is a bigger game going on in the region which is blurred by Zaev’s ‘bombs’?

TANESKI: To be more clear, I will point out to the internal problems Turkey has been facing for the past two months, which you are probably familiar with. Wiretapping affair in February, internal turmoil, murder of the public prosecutor. At the same time, Turkey has been reinforcing partnership ties with Russia, and as of recently – with Iran, too. Furthermore, in Greece – after Tsipras and Syriza have won – there have also been protests, although not massive, but still came surprisingly soon after the elections. Even during the historic recent meeting between Tsipras and Putin there have been protests in Athens again. It is impossible not to remember that Greece is also part of “Turkish Stream” route. The third country that attended Budapest’s gas pipeline talks is Serbia. There are still no protests and serious internal political issues in Serbia, but if you follow their media, you will see that some of them are clearly stirring up the atmosphere. Also, the story of Seselj’s home medical treatment is quite weird, followed by a request to Vucic’s government to deliver him back to the Hague. If they do not deliver him, Serbia will be put in an isolation again. If they do deliver him, the people shall rise again. Hence, there is an upcoming crisis. Eventually, as much as we want to think internal political crisis is an isolated event, it is simply not possible.

There is an evident pressure, but Putin plays chess much better than Obama. The carrot and stick approach is somehow not useful with incumbent parties and leader in these countries, so the next strategy is replacing them with more favorable and more prone to cooperation. Prior to the Ukrainian crisis, “Turkish Stream” seemed unachievable and unrealistic. But after the Ukrainian crisis broke out, even the prestigious Stratfor came forward with an analysis “Turkish Stream” makes much more sense for Russia than “South Stream” and that the resurrection of “South Stream” is not to be expected. Whether Russia will continue to solely rely on the gas pipeline via Ukraine or whether it will build “Turkish Stream” as an alternative, is an open question. Judging by Putin’s behavior and his activities, one can conclude Russia is serious in its intentions to build a gas pipeline which will be an alternative to the Ukrainian one. A game of chess again. Gas cut via Ukraine would deprive all European countries of the gas, but if there is an alternative, than it might come to a point when certain EU countries will be having a different policy towards Russia than others, depending on their incumbent political sets and national interests, which are naturally before EU’s supranational interests. This alternative will cause new disruptions in EU’s internal policies.

Can Kerry’s statement that “Macedonia is on the line of fire” be interpreted in this regard?

TANESKI: In the first part of Kerry’s statement, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro are included, which he finds to be on the line of fire between Washington and Moscow, or – more precisely – these countries are not part of the NATO alliance, thus leaving room for Russia to have influence in the heart of EU. Namely, while the game is all about Ukraine, Kerry reminds that the weak point of transatlantic allies is particularly the region that is not part of NATO. However, I think such statement was more aimed at being an intimidation for possible scenarios orchestrated by Russia and is not reflecting the actual interest Russia has in destabilization of this region. Actually, the truth is quite opposite: possible cooperation of Russia with these four countries (which strict European laws do not refer to) is seen as a threat to Western Europe’s interests.

Do you believe that the “bombs” are part of a scenario that should sabotage the Russian mega project “Turkish stream”?

TANESKI: I already explained that above. But let’s once again. What happens in countries that are part of the route of “Turkish Stream” follows Moscow’s official announcement over the cancellation of the plans for “South Stream” and the announcement to build the “Turkish Stream”. The announcement does not automatically mean start of construction of the pipeline. On the contrary, until the final stage of the final decision there will probably be additional pressures on the transit countries, and the state governments, as well as the political situation will depend on the final outcome. In other words yes, I believe that there is a connection between the political crisis in Macedonia and the announced project. I believe that even one after the first “bomb” someone expected or hoped that the people will happen to the government.

In order to become clear to your readers why Western allies had firstly problem with the “South Stream” (when Bulgaria was threatened not to enter into agreements with Russia), and now with the “Turkish Stream”, it should be taken into account that Russia lives mostly from gas, which also sells to Europe, and for now the route goes only through Ukraine. So, if Russia wants to sell gas it can do it only through this state. But the alternative pipeline opens new opportunities for Russia in the big game.

Is the scenario carried out here some kind of a pattern that is being repeated in many countries in the world and can we assess who is behind it by the way of acting?

TANESKI: First, in neoliberal capitalism everything revolves around money, around business interests. And, of course, where there is money, there is power. In this case I would not like to point the finger at the culprit, but it is more than clear that it is about centers of power. Read the book or see the documentary of Naomi Klein on the Shock Doctrine and perhaps more things will be clarified.

For more than two months the public is guessing which secret service is behind the wiretapping. The Prime Minister promised that the case will be run transparently and the whole truth will be known. However, from the current information that we had the opportunity to see and hear, can we predict what is more dangerous, to learn or to remain eternal mystery the name of the service behind the affair?

TANESKI: I believe that the whole truth will out and should out, but at the same time it does not have to mean that the truth about the illegally recorded materials is directly related to the secret service of a particular state. I am sure that is directly related to external centers of power, perhaps one’s business interests, I am not saying that perhaps a particular state is involved, but what is most likely is that the organizer and financier is an external factor. The Macedonian nationals mentioned in the whole affair are enlisted primarily for material benefit or other benefits. If out that this whole organization, the monitoring of foreign nationals, obtaining listings for entry and exit from the country, monitoring messages and other presented data that are presented is merely the work of Verushevski and his two-three collaborators, I will be really surprised.

Can you, as a Professor of Security, assess in which stage of realization the scenario is?

TANESKI: Probably a long period of political instability is ahead of us. God forbid I am wrong, but my opinion is that even when the legal resolution of the case “Putsch” starts and we enter a relatively constructive period, new problems will emerge. Definitely, as long as parties and individuals who will not succumb to the pressures of the centers of power are in power in Macedonia, there will be disturbances, and Macedonia is at the junction of the puzzle. As things stand now, the big game that we are part of, not by our fault, should be finalized around 2018. Everything will be more clear then.

What are the real dangers to Macedonia if the scenario succeeds?

TANESKI: The greatest danger is not to be on the route of the “Turkish Stream”. Everything else is a temporary thing. However, it is too early to predict if we will remain as part of the “Turkish Stream” and what will be end of that story. Yet, I can confidently say that the “Turkish Stream” will bring huge benefits for Macedonia. If this alternative is realized, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia will immediately become attractive to foreign investors that, apart from cheap workforce, will receive cheap energy, and thus the cost of the final product is immediately reduced. So it could be expected dislocation of the production capacity from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, in the region where workforce is cheaper.

To conclude, while we are focused on who said what two years ago, the international scene is writing a new history. Some say that we will enter new bipolar relations or a new cold war, but it is the Turkish Stream that is the alternative to Putin that will put him in a more favorable position for the obtaining of partner countries from the core of the European Union. In other words, Putin is playing the card on breaking the traditional ally (allies) of the United States, while the countries of the Balkan region are only pawns in the game. Since for both sides we are only a small part of game, we should go by our interest and thus choose one side.

Could 2001 be repeated? Could the security services once again make a wrong assessment of the situation in the country and fail to detect the threats in time?

TANESKI: I, personally,  do not expect a new inter-ethnic conflict. I hope that from this point of view we have matured and that ethnic conflicts are already behind us. But, is it possible for someone to play with the map of terrorism, Islamic radicalism or similar threat, which this time I hope will not be interpreted as ethnic conflict. Here in particular, I am afraid that it is possible, in the midst of a legal solution,  terrorist attack on the Macedonian courts to emerge or another asymmetric threat that will endanger the system of the state. In other words, I expect further scenario if the primary fails, in the direction of change of government. The aim will not be a conflict where the involvement of external facilitators will be needed to calm the situation, but probably just a pressure for change of government and setting new “more obedient” leaders after someone else’s measure.

Today, the Macedonian security services are a leader in the region for their expertise and readiness. But on the basis of the latest developments, the Macedonian intelligence-security services urgently need to make a new security assessment on the situation in the Republic of Macedonia, which will identify these threats, their composition, connectivity, program, platform of action, material equipment, forms and methods of action, their organization and grouping. Success in their suppression will mostly depend on clearing their network structures which are apparently stuck in the structures of the state system.

Could we remain neutral or inevitably take a side in the battle of the great powers that takes place in our yard? Which is the right choice for us?

TANESKI: Although we always think that nothing depends on us, actually, I think the truth is somewhat different. In certain historical stages the choice of the small actors may not lead to huge changes, but their choice was the basis for the road they made further on. While the opposition spokesmen urge everyone to take a side, because such time has come, I think that it is much more important the side we take in international politics, not at home.

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By: Nenad Mircevski