The contemporary political crisis in the tiny Republic of Macedonia has important implications for the greater Balkans region, says journalist for the Economist and The New York Review of Books Tim Judah. The crisis, despite its minuscule media coverage outside of the tiny former Yugoslav republic, could spell problems for the uneasy peace that has prevailed in the region for the past decade or so.
The current crisis started when Macedonia’s political opposition began to leak tapes of Macedonian officials allegedly involved in illegal activity, including illegal surveillance and undue influence on the court system. Last week a deadly gunfight broke out in the Albanian-majority city of northwest Macedonia between Macedonian police and militants that the government has described as ethnic Albanian terrorists. Many in the country believe that the assault may have been an attempt to deflect attention away from grievances with the government. Over the weekend, massive street protests were held in the capital of Skopje, which included members of all the country’s major ethnic groups, a rarity according to Judah. Despite the appearance of ethnic divisions, Judah believes that Macedonia’s major ethnic groups share many of the same grievances with the government, particularly a lack of economic opportunities and corruption. There is a danger that the government could play the nationalist card in an already volatile region.
Hromadske International’s Maxim Eristavi and guest host Sabra Ayres spoke with Tim Judah on May 17, 2015.