Bishop of Stobi David (Ninov): Armchair-centaurs!

With the decline in enthusiasm and the shifting of attention towards the upcoming elections, we can be certain of one thing: the reason for the full-scale debacle of the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM), not being granted accession negotiations with the EU, was located by the truth-loving journalistic pens, with surgical precision, in the total absence of essential reforms! If reforms are to be performed, they should establish – out of our homeland that is certified as partly-free – a completely free democracy. Surely, everyone realizes that the political agreements with the neighbours are one thing, and the continual mining of the reformation process by the Government a completely different thing, especially there where it is most needed, in the rigged domestic judiciary!

Therefore, the Ambassador of the EU in RNM, Samuel Žbogar, approximately one month ago, stressed that: “Finding a solution for a functioning judiciary is more important than being granted accession negotiations with the EU”, and lately, when asked about the EU enlargement, he confirmed: “What changes the life of the people are reforms. Reforms of the judiciary… The enlargement process is here to incentivise and aid the reforms. But it is not a substitution for reforms”. Hence, it is a matter of a clear indication of the nature of the reforms in question, and not a blurred demagogical image!

Several years ago, I had a meeting with a high-ranking representative of the current Government in leave. Then, in that meeting, I was enthusiastically told: “When we come to power, we will register your Church, because our guiding principle is – unity in diversity; we utterly need to change the existing attitude towards the religious freedoms, especially because I personally know how many problems the persecution of your Church has caused in our relations with the EU. Your case is being monitored with interest in the EU!”

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR), convicted the RNM! The state was pronounced guilty for denying registration to the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric (OOA), highlighting that the Skopje Court is obliged (according to the Law for ECHR verdict implementation), to remove the violation and the consequences caused by the denial of registration to the OOA! The citizens of different nationalities and convictions have been paying the price of the mischief of the political elites and have bore the embarrassment of the fact that they live in a state convicted for performing persecution on religious basis! Astonishing hypocrisy was demonstrated when the conviction arrived from Strasbourg. The representative in question, who had a seat in the Government this time, and who – without paying attention to the damage it may cause to its image in the EU – decided to file a complaint on verdict! The Government’s embarrassment was even bigger when the Grand Chamber of Strasbourg swiftly rejected the complaint by the Government of RNM and confirmed the conviction!

What is the procedure when a Government, in this case the Government of RNM, is convicted in Strasbourg? The state Bureau that represents the RNM before the European Court is obliged to inform the court in Skopje of the convicting verdict, and the Skopje Court is obliged to annul its decision for denying registration to the OOA, and now, according to the verdict from Strasbourg, to immediately enlist it as a registered church. The Bureau, i.e. the Government, meddling in the judiciary, began sending emissaries who were announcing to us the conditions under which they would register the OOA; as if Strasbourg never happened! Conditions that are contrary to common sense and the verdict from Strasbourg, which RNM has obliged itself to adhere to without complaints! Most likely, either not knowing or hiding the truth, the Minister in leave, Mrs Renata Deskovska, both claims that the Government is not putting pressure on the OOA, and calls OOA to positively respond to the obscure conditions, this time expressed by the servile judge Suzana Donchevska.

When the international community emphasizes the need for reforms in the judiciary, among other things, it also has in mind the court persecution of the OOA, because, since the beginning of the denial of registration to the OOA, in 2004, and through the judicial odyssey to the current 2019, it monitors the development of the events, which resulted with the Strasbourg conviction of the Government of the RNM! Actually, the refusal of the court to register the OOA was one of the reasons a more liberal law was adopted for the registration of religious communities, which RNM, having no essential religious freedoms, is using only as a sham. After Strasbourg, in the EU it is understood that due to the tribal approach and the virtual judiciary, not a small part of the free-thinking citizens of RNM is suffering. To say things in a simple manner, understandable even for Renata Deskovska: standards, then status! OOA is the litmus test!

Therefore, it is completely unimportant if the upcoming elections brings to power Social-democratic capitalists, some Internal Revolutionary Organization, or a third option. Whoever comes is welcome, but should stop the anti-democratic urge, not infantilize the public conscience and immediately initiate reforms! With each postponement of the registration of the OOA, every next prime minister, minister of justice, minister of foreign affairs, or a judge – all of them together – will be more likely to become armchair-centaurs, perpetually stuck in the waiting-room of the political madness and self-denial, and, furthermore, barbarians in the eyes of the civilized world!

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