A Macedonian daily published today an opinion that the neighbors of the poor country (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Kosovo) are tightening the noose around it with an intention to suffocate and then quarter Macedonia. The long (1506 words) article, quite above the internet patience limit, attracted 5232 visits so far and numerous, very angry comments.
One among them tells the author (Dimitar Culev) that he is wrong for blaming the government of Macedonia of confused reaction and total lack of strategy because he himself does not have a clue how to respond to this situation.
This was the straw that broke the back of my patience. I simply must speak out.
Neither the present government nor its predecessors have committed any such crimes that deserve a Balkan-type posse after this peaceful nation whose only crime is the inspiration and the courage to call itself after its own name which now they all contest and claim theirs. My suggestion is that the people of Macedonia and the government must stay calm until the 7th of December when the EU needs to decide about the beginning of the accession talks. Then, in case no such date is set by the EU - two separate actions are needed.
First, the people have to press its government to let them speak out on a referendum about this unbearable state of affairs.
Second, the government, the president, the parliament have to declare their view of the situation in a joint State of the Republic of Macedonia Declaration.
This needs to lead to a proposal for declaring the Republic of Macedonia a visa-free, sort of off-shore country, duty and tax-free entity. A sort of a mixed legislation resembling a combination of Luxembourg, Andorra, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Panama.
Let all the neighbors, Albanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Kosovars and Serbs travel and sojourn in Macedonia to buy Bayonne ham and Hertz salami, Rolex and Ulisse-Nardin watches, gold in bullion, olive oil, gas, tires, automobile parts and cars, Apple computers and iPhones, Zegna and Armani clothes at prices with AT LEAST 15% discount. Let the government turn Macedonia in the shopping mall of the Balkans.
How will the lost revenue from taxes be compensated?
By explosion of employment, capital inflow and - why not say it - trimming the bureaucracy and the armed forces. Transfer the pressure on the neighbors. Let them maltreat their own citizens returning with piles of purchases from Macedonia. Let them respond how is THAT phenomenon possible.
Make Macedonia the shop-window of all the attractive and necessary goods produced in the world and suddenly available at 30%-35% lower prices than in Salonika or Sofia and 20% beneath those in Tirana, Pristina and Nis where the goods are of dubious provenance.
The Parliament would have to kick upwards or sidewise the stubborn governor of the central bank and open the doors wide for foreign commercial and investment banks. There is a possibility of at least 5000 jobs to open up in that sector overnight.
The remodeling of the entertainment and tourist industry is a must with or without this arrangement. Casinos and all sorts of gambling facilities with red-light sections along the presently sleepy border communities. Legalize soft-drugs like the Dutch. Scrap the stupid law forbidding the farmers to meddle with the poppy, pass the initiative to your starved people, invite Pfizer and Novartis as consultants. SImply. No money, just use the pencil and some of your brains.
That is my proposal to evade the noose your Balkan neighbors are tightening around your neck dear Macedonia.