Monday, November 26, 2007

Greek Sensitivity... and a weird myth

Nov 22nd 2007

FOR anyone who cares about peace in the Balkans, few things matter more than keeping intact the country most of the world calls the “Republic of Macedonia”. Its perilous stability will wobble more with looming independence for next-door Kosovo, which will delight Macedonia’s Albanian minority, and stoke the Slav majority’s fears.

In theory, no rich country should care more about Macedonia than neighbouring Greece. Yet relations are hampered by an arcane dispute about nomenclature. Greece insists that “Macedonia” was, is and can only be part of Greece. The name’s use by a region of Yugoslavia was, it maintains, part of a communist-era plot aimed at destabilising Greece. Greece therefore insists that the country be called “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM).

Extremists on both sides use rhetoric (seen, among other places, in clumsily made presentations on YouTube) so ill-phrased and comical that Borat himself could claim authorship. They share the unspoken but absurd assumption that the features of the entity known as Macedonia in ancient history should be of decisive importance in modern ethnography or political geography: because an ancient kingdom called Macedonia existed, only one modern entity can claim that name. The region is still waiting for a statesman to pick that assumption apart

Greek twitchiness about even mythical controversies was more understandable in the early 1990s, when the whole future of the southern Balkans was alarmingly fluid and unpredictable. Amid disputes over Macedonia’s future involving Serbs, Albanians and Bulgarians, the Greek objection to the name was part of a wider pattern of worries about borders and minorities.

But the Macedonian nuts have little effect on their government’s policy these days. The country has changed its flag and constitution in order to accommodate Greek sensitivities. The forward-looking government in Skopje is into flat taxes, e-government and attracting foreign investment (paradoxically, in large measure from Greece).Greece, however, still insists that the mere existence of a next-door country called Macedonia “is directed against the cultural heritage and historical identity of the Greeks” and “there is no question of its neighbour acceding either to the European Union or to NATO under the name Republic of Macedonia”.A lobby group called the “Association of Macedonians” has issued an appeal this week noting that Greece does not fully recognise Macedonian passports and that Macedonia’s state airline cannot fly to Greek airports. That, they say, adds insult to injury.

Slavophone people in northern Greece have had a tough time, not only with mass deportations in 1949 but also in their treatment by the authorities on issues such as surnames and schooling ever since. (Greeks saw the slavophone minority, with some justice, as a security threat during the Cold War, and Greek minorities have been abominably treated too in other countries. But even multiple wrongs don’t make a right). The great tide of EU and NATO expansion that has served the continent so well in the past ten years is already running worryingly slack. Pushing ahead with Macedonia’s applications to both bodies will change the mood in the whole region. Prosperity and stability in the Balkans will benefit Greece hugely. It is time to relegate the name issue to the backwaters of bilateral diplomacy, and highlight the benefits to Greece of Macedonia’s stability and prosperity—and the dangers of its disintegration.
all righst reserved "The Economist"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Think about Macedonia as a place to invest

A campain released a while ago by the government of the Republic of Macedonia, pretty impressive i gotta say.. check out their website with its benefits.. ..Maybe be can use such offers to attract investments in Jordan as well.

Below there is an article by Thomas Barnett who agreed with me that their offer is pretty impressive taking into consideration all their circumstances.. (again sth we can use here) check it out.


Scripps Howard News Service Friday, November 23, 2007

I recently caught a glimpse of what victory will look like in this long struggle against radical extremism, and it didn't involve a trial or a corpse or a parade. Actually, it's an advertisement you've probably already run across in the back pages of the Economist or Wall Street Journal. Its message is disarmingly simple: Invest in Macedonia.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Macedonia? Isn't that one of those lousy Balkan countries we fought in a while back?"

The answer is, sort of.

The Balkan Wars (1991-2001) encompassed the break-up of Yugoslavia, which until that time constituted a federation of six republics. Three successive wars defined Yugoslavia's initial fracturing: Slovenia's secession in 1991, the 1991-95 Croatian war of independence, and the infamous Bosnian civil war of 1992-95. Additional conflicts ensued among the Albanian populations of Kosovo (1997-99), southern Serbia (2000-01), and Macedonia (2001).
After the United Nations failed to stem the initial armed conflicts and incidences of genocide, U.S.-led NATO forces intervened twice in the second half of the 1990s, leaving behind peacekeepers who continue serving today -- under UN auspices -- in Kosovo, a Serbian province still seeking independence.

Of the six independent states to emerge from the ruins of Yugoslavia, Macedonia is arguably least well known internationally, in large part because it escaped mass bloodshed following its quiet departure in 1991. Thanks to a continuing naming dispute with Greece, Macedonia is still formally known in global circles as the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or F.Y.R.O.M. -- an awkward moniker befitting its centuries of living anonymously under other civilizations' great empires.

Having joined the UN in 1993, Macedonia seeks future membership in both NATO and the European Union, which named it a "candidate country" two years ago. Roughly the size of Vermont and landlocked amidst Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, Macedonia offers little beyond its location as a major transportation corridor between larger economic players.
To that end, Macedonia, with the help of the U.S. Agency for International Development, made itself the first all-broadband wireless country of its size in the world. The name of that USAID program, "Macedonia Connects," is wonderfully symbolic of this small country's dogged determination to join the global economy. So when I first came across those "Invest in Macedonia" ads, I couldn't help but think to myself that this is what victory would look like in places like Iraq and Afghanistan -- not our victory but theirs.

The ad, appropriately enough, is one big sales job. Describing itself as the "new business heaven in Europe," the unspoken come-on in the ad seems to be, "if you can't afford Croatia any more, try us instead!" Most impressively, the ad promises that investors can register their new company in four hours or less. Try matching that in your average developing country and you'd be lucky to get your papers signed in four months!

As for investor benefit packages, which the ad declares "will be approved within 10 business days," try these on for size: no corporate tax for 10 years; 5 percent individual income tax for five years; free connections to gas, electricity, sewer and water; and concessionary land leases "for up to 75 years." All that for joining a free economic zone with "immediate access to main international airport, railroad and vital road corridors."

As an international businessman who focuses on infrastructure development, let me tell you, that sort of offer gets my attention, along with the fact that the World Bank's "Doing Business 2008" report just named Macedonia the fourth-best reforming economy in the world (China was ninth).
What I like about the ad is how shamelessly Macedonia sells its existing connectivity to attract even more: Free economic zone, transportation hubs, and free trade agreements encompassing 650 million consumers. Toss in cheap labor and nationwide wi-fi, and you've got yourself a country just itching to be "exploited."

And yeah, that's what victory looks like for your average failed state: getting yourself off the front page and into the business advertising section.
One last image: the ad includes a map that delineates, in successive 500 kilometer rings, Macedonia's connective grasp across Europe. Think about that for a second: not the reach of Macedonia's missiles but its economic ambition.
Show me a similarly plausible "invest in Iraq" advertisement and I'll be the first to light up your cigar.

(Thomas P.M. Barnett is a visiting scholar at the University of Tennessee's Howard Baker Center and the senior managing director of Enterra Solutions LLC. Contact him at tom(AT) For more stories, visit "

all rights reserved to the author. Mr.Thomas Barnett.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Eyes looking northwest...

if only i have wings to fly up high
fly till i start recognizing the houses of my place...
to go see Stambol, Kukush to see

to see if the sun rises brighter than here
if it warms me more than here, my heart will shiver
if it is darker than herei will pack up by bags and run to see whats wrong

here its dark, and darkness is coating me
dust everywhere covering the autumn clouds
i need to feel the ice of autumn.. the first snow
the coldness of the ambient and smell of the fireplaces

No! i can not stay here
No! I can not watch this
give me wings to fly up high
fly till i see the chimnies and their smoke
to go home.. to see Ohrid, Skopje to see

There the dawn warms the soul
and the sun brightly sets in the woods
there the nature left its utmost beauty
clear lake from the sun goes white
and sister lake from the storms goes dark

rivers everywhere filled with wealth
mountains spread around filled with monastries
where ever your eyes look... they can see God's beauty
give me wings to fly up high
fly to celebrate Christmas where i will feel it
to go home... to see Solun, Strumica to see

to listen to the voice of peace.. and wait the new sun to be born...

inspired by - "T'ga za Jug" (Missing south) poem written by Konstantin Miladinov one of the most productive Macedonian Poets.