The Macedonian Tendency: Let Tito Rest in Peace

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Let Tito Rest in Peace

Please ... please ... please ... Branko Crvenkovski read this article and cancel plans for the Macedonian government to erect a statue of Tito in Skopje. This is not the time to discuss this issue. Our enemies will use this as a club to beat us at every opportunity. You were obviously misquoted.

I agree with everything that is written by Sasha Uzunov in this article with the following caveat ... had Tito not been leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party during WW2 and there was a Serb leading it, Macedonia would still have had autonomy, but it would have been the provincial kind similar to Kosovo and Vojvodina. Macedonians would have been accepting (but not happy) of the new status because it was better than nothing. However, today we would still be part of Serbia with no country coming to our aid as they have done for the Albanians of Kosovo. Serbian would be the language of school and business with Macedonian relegated to be studied as a foreign language ... if at all.

In Mongolia they are starting a cult of "Ghengis Khan", the Hungarians venerate "Attila the Hun", in the United States, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are on the US currency even though they bought and sold human beings like dogs. In the case of Jefferson, there is evidence he enslaved his own half-African children (enough evidence to get you hanged in Texas).

So a statue of Tito in Skopje, privately funded, would not be out of the question ... just not now.

The Value of Good Public Relations - by Sasha Uzunov

By Sasha Uzunov
(Melbourne, Australia)

May 26, 2005

It has been a bad hair month for Australia's large Macedonian community. The community was unfairly put under the spotlight because of the behaviour a few crazy soccer hooligans a few weeks ago in Melbourne. You might recall that violence broke out at a soccer match between South Melbourne and Preston Lions, which are supported by the Greek and the Macedonian communities respectively.

Now comes the distressing news that the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr Branko Crvenkovski, wants to build a monument to former Yugoslav communist dictator Josip Broz Tito in the heart of the capital, Skopje. Many Australian-Macedonians fled their homeland because of communist oppression and lack of economic opportunity.

Furthermore, Macedonia's Foreign Minister, Mrs Ilinka Mitreva, was in Australia last month and met with her counterpart, Alexander Downer, as well as NSW Premier Bob Carr, and Victorian Deputy Premier John Thwaites. She also met with members of the local Macedonian communities in Melbourne and Sydney. Her mission was to lobby the Australian government to recognise Macedonia under its constitutional name of Republic of Macedonia rather than the long winded Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The United States recognized Macedonia by its constitutional name and it has sent the Greek government into a diplomatic frenzy. The Australian government, which normally follows the United States on foreign affairs issues such as Iraq and the Global War on Terror, has this time bowed to political pressure applied by the powerful Greek lobby.

The Greek government maintains the line that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is but a communist invention by Tito after World War II.?It has been well documented that an indigenous Macedonian resistance movement during the War fought for independence and had nothing to do with Tito. The non-communist resistance leader was Metodija Andonov-Cento, later jailed by the communists during an infamous show-trial.

President Crvenkovski's desire for a tribute to Tito in effect has undermined his Foreign Minister's attempt to persuade the Australian government that Macedonia is not a communist invention. We have Athens pushing the line that it was Tito who 'manufactured Macedonia' and now Presdeint Crvenkovski has unintentionally confirmed that point of view. You could say it was bad timing in the Public Relations stakes.

But what is at the heart of the matter is not so much Tito but a battle over history, Macedonia's controversial communist history. The current Social Democatic Union (SDS) of Macedonia, which is in power and of which President Crvenkovski belongs to, is the inheritor of the old Macedonian Communist Party. Macedonia declared its independence from the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav Federation in 1991.

In 1946, under the direction of Tito and Lazar Kolisevski, the pro-Serbian communist boss of Macedonia, Cento was sentenced to 11 years hard labour for crimes against the people. Two of the judges in the show trial were Kole Casule, who now promotes himself as a writer/ philosopher, and Lazar Mojsov, later to become Yugoslav Foreign minister and now living in retirement in Belgrade, Serbia.

Also in 1946, Kolisevski handed over to Serbia a few Macedonian villages, including the Prohor Pchinski Monastery, where the Macedonian republic was proclaimed on 2 August 1944. Because of Kolisevski's legacy, Macedonia is probably the only country in the world that is forced to celebrate its founding as a nation on technically foreign territory.

In 1990 a Macedonian court overturned Cento's conviction and he was fully rehabilitated. No criminal proceedings were ever launched against Kolisevski, who died in peaceful retirement in 2000, or Casule and Mojsov. In 1993 ex-political prisoners lobbied the Public Prosecutors office to launch an investigation into a number of Macedonia's Communist ruling elite. But intense pressure from then ruling SDS stopped the investigation. Staff from the Prosecutor's office was instructed not to open up a can of historical worms.

Mr Stevce Pavlovski, then Macedonia's Public Prosecutor, said in interview in March 1993, that he would have to put 'fifty per cent of Macedonia's old Communist in jail for treason.' For that reason, no such investigation would take place. When the self-styled nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE came to power in 1998 it also kept quiet about the issue, especially when the son of Kole Casule, Slobodan, became Foreign minister.

Macedonia was used an economic guinea pig; it was the only republic within the Yugoslav Communist federation that had collective farms imposed upon it, which proved a disaster. This is why there are many Macedonians living abroad, especially in Australia, the United States, Canada and Western Europe.

Mr Kiro Gligorov, an old communist and wily first President of Macedonia, has distanced himself from Tito's legacy. Perhaps as the Republic of Macedonia fights for its very survival, current President Branko Crvenkovski, let go of the past, a tarnished past.


Sasha Uzunov is an Australian journalist who has covered the Balkans for over a decade."

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