North Macedonia

Update from Macedonia: Escalation of the Situation

Unlike the other political updates I gave from Macedonia this one is not well-researched, it does not aim to give background. It simply is a description of the situation in Macedonia at this moment. 

While I am writing this I am sitting in front of the TV, it has been running for the last two hours when protestors, who had occupied the streets of Skopje and other cities for nearly two months, stormed into the Macedonian parliament.

Today there has finally been some progress in the creation of a new government. The members of parliament elected a speaker of parliament who could, in a next step, give the mandate to form a government to the Social-Democratic Party. The president has so far refused to give the mandate, defending his unconstitutional decision with the protection of Macedonia against foreign forces. The speaker of parliament is an Albanian from the party DUI.

Since we switched on the TV around seven o’clock the same shaken videos of people forcing their way into the parliament, of bloody faces, of people jostling and pushing and of masked faces are running nonstop on all channels. The only live-pictures we are getting at the moment are from the outside of the parliament building where a small group of people remains, waving the Macedonian flag or from the lobby where more people force their way into the building. The media inside the parliament was attacked and is now hiding in a room. These events happen only shortly after two major government-critical newspapers have closed this week, leaving several journalists, editors etc. unemployed and giving more space to government-favouring media.

Also attacked were leaders of the opposition parties. SDSM leader Zoran Zaev was seen with blood in his face before he was brought to a safe place.

The protestors inside the parliament who sat down at the seats of the MPs or remained standing around, chant songs and repeatedly the same words. They demand re-elections and express their hatred towards Albanians. The little live footage clearly shows the immense violence the occupiers are using.

The police in Macedonia is not handling the situation very well, to say the least. The president of Macedonia, Gruevski, has urged protestors through a facebook post to calm down. New live reporting from the parliament’s lobby is drowned out by screams in the back, the people standing around don’t really seem to know what to do next. Injured people are being carried out of the parliament.

Sitting here and repeatedly seeing bloody faces, some pushed to the ground and hateful men who forcefully try to defend their mother country whose values they cannot even name makes me feel scared. Over the last weeks political analysts have warned that this might happen. It still is a shock and a threat.

I was hoping that, by the time I leave Macedonia after three months, a government will be formed and the country has something to look forward to. Right now all there is is uncertainty and fear. Let’s hope that the situation will settle down over night at least.

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