The colorful Mr Gruevski

In Bucharest, Greece’s diplomacy trapped the Slav-Macedonians and brought them face to face with their true dilemma: On the one hand is their concept of «Macedonianism» and the fantasy of a «United Macedonia» that this represents, on the other are the tangible benefits of accession to NATO and the European Union. Nikola Gruevski (the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) won a great electoral victory by promising to join these Western institutions without compromising on the name and identity issues. But he cannot keep his promise. His letters and other actions are nothing other than a desperate attempt to break out of the diplomatic impasse. The interesting thing about Gruevski’s political personality is that it combines raw nationalism with a mix of honesty, inflexibility and dogmatism. The clowning about with an Afghan tribal leader who was lauded as a descendant of Alexander the Great is just one example. The violence that accompanied the last elections and his persecution of rivals comes out of the same mold. In time, the political deadlock will wear down Gruevski’s image and influence. Understanding this, he is trying to exploit the current situation to control the machinery of power and find a way to make his policy look substantial. In that sense, it was a mistake for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to reply to his letter. As long as Gruevski plays at being a crusader for nationalist fantasies, he will sink in the political morass. And as he sinks, he will act spasmodically and rather ridiculously. If he keeps this up, no one will take him seriously internationally. The Greek side should show patience. Only if he gets serious can he negotiate a solution, one that will reflect the reality of the region and not harm the interests of either side. Until then, the price that the Slav-Macedonians will pay will be much greater than they think it is today.