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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SKOPJE STRIKES BACK


SKOPJE STRIKES BACK - do I have permission to speak?
by Sasha Uzunov


Professor Biljana Vankovska is a highly credentialed "public intellectual" and charter member of Macedonia's "Capital City of Skopje elite".

She has this shtick of being feisty in her writing, whether it be a newspaper column in Macedonian, or offering an opinion on politics, social issues or whatever. All the Western media call her when they need a rent-a-quote on some recent development in Macedonia.

Now the term "public intellectual" here in Australia sets off alarm bells. And being a charter member of Macedonia's "Capital City of Skopje" elite sets off more alarm bells.

What do I mean by Capital City of Skopje elite? It is a milieu, or a tiny group of people, ethnic Macedonians, marinated in a way of life oblivious to ordinary Macedonians. You do not have to be born in Skopje, as long as you adopt the behaviour and you have the "street cred" then you are in. You know you say: U'Skopje instead of V'Skopje. Bingo, you are a member of the in-club.

They are either on the left or right in politics, whether they be members of SDSM or VMRO-DPMNE Parties. They are highly educated, some say over-credentialed, and who are obsessed with their own cultural superiority.

They engage in Western style debates about gender, feminism, the environment, freedom and so on. But it is not a real feminism they seek where truly liberated women determine their own fate and break through male dominated professions such as say motor mechanics-- for that would involve physical labour and that's a big no-no. Nothing beats a state or government job in a comfortable office. For that matter, not many of the City of Skopje males would go for the motor mechanic thing either! They are probably busy playing video games.

They usually hold high positions in academia or public service, funded by the Macedonian taxpayer or by some European Union grant or international organisation.

Many of them have never worked in a real job: either in a factory or run their own business and so on. They go to university till they are in their 30s. This born to rule mentality was fostered by the old Communist Yugoslavia until 1991 when Macedonia broke away and in essence has not changed. Some have replaced the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) with the Socialist Federal Republics of the European Union (SFREU)!

But the cold hard reality is that their country may or may not survive within the next 25 years because of enormous demographic changes sweeping all of Europe. From time to time to show their radical chic they complain about a police state--even though they are the ruling elite within in it.

They expect to be the leaders of their country. Some advocate a soft warm fuzzy naive pacifism which appeals to soft warm and fuzzy Danes and Swedes and earns them visits to seminars and scholarships to foreign universities. The irony is that the old Yugoslav Communists realised that national service (conscription) was the last mechanism left to snap people out of the Nanny State torpor. But with the abolition of national service in Macedonia in 2008, it raises the question who will defend the country?

In 2001 many of the illusions and complacent attitudes held by the Capital City of Skopje elite were rocked when a guy on a disability pension in Switzerland and only holding a Philosophy degree from Pristina University, Ali Ahmeti, launched an ethnic Albanian uprising with the intention of grabbing Macedonian territory. He sold the idea to the EU as a desperate cry for "human rights!"  Now this guy, an ex-terrorist or freedom fighter (if you are from the EU) is playing kingmaker in the Macedonian Parliament and will determine the fate of the country.

So if you some poor slob from Bitola driving a taxi, or some girl picking tobacco on a farm in Prilep or a Macedonian deep Southern "redneck" from down under in Australia and you question the Capital City of Skopje elite then the default setting is abuse. You are the one who is "uncultured" or glup (dumb).

For many years I've been engaging in debates on Facebook with the good Professor Vankovska and I have to admit I have been guilty of provoking her over the Macedonian language and making a political statement. Sometimes as a journalist and writer you have to rub the Capital City of Skopje elite the wrong way to get an understanding of their true weltanshauung (world view)… pardon the big German word.

I deliberately write in English in her Facebook posts and she complains why I do so. When I genuinely explain to her that it is because "I don't have permission from the Skopje elite" to write in traditional Macedonian without the trendy Serbian or Russian or incorrectly translated English words in modern Macedonian as practiced by the elite, she gets upset and hurls the default setting insults and it just confirms what I have been saying about the Capital City of Skopje elite all along.

For someone who is highly credentialed she can't see that language, how it is used, and who has permission to use it, is connected to say the issue of abortion or freedom of the press in Macedonia. She argues that Macedonians living aboard in the diaspora have no right to meddle in issues relating to the Republic of Macedonia. In Communist times the Yugoslav secret police (UDBa) was ferociously meddling in Australia and since independence in 1991, the Capital City of Skopje elite has deliberately divided the Macedonian community here in Australia along party political lines and provoked a great schism within the Australian-Macedonian Orthodox Church. But hey you "uncultured" redneck, you don't have permission to speak. If you do then it has to be framed within the Capital City of Skopje elite speak!

Paradoxically Professor Vankovska has complained about the nasty West when it was rude to her and offended her Capital City of Skopje elite sensibilities. She writes:

"Yet at second thought, I would believe that some of us have been too naive when fully trusting the basic principles of democracy, human rights and the normative power of the united Europe. Once one gets too devoted to the original normative foundations of the Western civilization, i.e. s/he accepts them at their face value and takes them too seriously, one risks to be labeled a radical.

"For many years I also believed in the so-called responsible scholarship that combines critical/creative thinking on issues of high societal and global significance with engaged citizenship. As long as I had a self-critical position towards the developments in my own society, I was very welcome and respected in Western academic and intellectual circles. I could be (and was) invited on any conference, seminar, project etc. that dealt with the conflicts and demokraturas in the Balkan region.

"But the moment I got more self-confidence and became aware of the democratic deficit in the Western power structures, the attitude changed – more than once I had to suffer overt offences, like the one I heard at a conference in Berlin, of being “ungrateful local who dares criticise internationals who invest so much in my bloody region”!

"As soon as my fascination with the Western academic and intellectual community faded away and I positioned myself together the minority of critical Western intellectuals and peace researchers, the situation changed dramatically. But this is a position I would not exchange for anything else."

However to Professor Vankovska's credit she has stood up to the West in defence of Macedonian interests:

"Political correctness is in high esteem in the academic and public circles: it includes not questioning anything that comes from the so-called international community. In societies that suffered violent and inter-ethnic conflicts, inter-ethnic tolerance and pro-NATO/EU stands qualify as the best recommendation for ‘membership’ in the (allegedly) progressive and democratic forces.

"Instead of a culture of dialogue there is the dominance of a culture of hypocrisy; dealing with the past is being replaced with working on an agenda of capacity building and accession to NATO/EU (politics without democracy in states without sovereignty)."

"The new generations are educated in a spirit of another type of nationalism - euro-nationalism. To paraphrase Bill Blum: if love (for one’s country) is blind, then love for EU/NATO has lost all five senses. Our internal dilemma of recognizing different kinds of nationalists is therefore very complex - it’s hard to distinguish between those who adore the EU/NATO with eyes wide closed and those who are ready to say “enough is enough”.

But just to make sure she still has a pipeline to the West and remains friendly with those warm and fuzzy peace loving Danes, Swedes and other Westerners who sponsor the international seminars and scholarships she complained about the official welcoming given to Macedonian Police Special Unit General Johan Tarculovski after spending time in a Hague jail for war crimes committed in the 2001 war.

"In that sense, I understand the attacks that ensued after I voiced my stance on Tarculovski’s welcoming party, but I was unpleasantly surprised by the viciousness and sheer number of attacks coming from politicians, media and people that I don’t even know. But it won’t have any effect on my job."

On 2 August 1903---known as St Elijah's Day (Ilinden) - Macedonians and their Vlach(Aromanian) allies in the town of Krusevo launched an uprising against the might of the Ottoman Empire. Many knew it was doomed from the start. These people were villagers, peasants who could not read or write; did not understand science. But they were willing to try something and not wait for a future European Union to solve their artillery problems!. Out of desperation they came up with a Cherry Wood Cannon-- though not effective--it demonstrated a wilingness to try something and not wait for Brussels a hundred and ten years later. In 2013 members of The City of Skopje elite, who hold Masters and PHDs, are afraid of promaja (draught/wind) and of catching nastinka (body cold) and have to wait for the state or government to give them a job...and to run their lives....


PRISTINA POWER RANGERS VERSUS SKOPJE SPACE CADETS – the value of education in the Balkans.

Education or the number of university degrees a person holds is used as a weapon by the City of Skopje elite to hit the average Macedonian--both in the Republic of Macedonia and abroad--over the the head with. But how smart are these people really?

Ali Ahmeti, just to reiterate again, rocked many of the illusions and complacent attitudes held by the Capital City of Skopje elite when on a disability pension in Switzerland and only holding a Philosophy degree from Pristina University, he aunched an ethnic Albanian uprising with the intention of grabbing Macedonian territory. He sold the idea to the EU as a desperate cry for "human rights!"  Now this guy, an ex-terrorist or freedom fighter (if you are from the EU) is playing kingmaker in the Macedonian Parliament and will determine the fate of the country.

Journalist Timothy Garton Ash wrote gushingly of Ahmeti's clever shtick, of getting the West on side, and swallowing Ahmeti's take on “civil rights.” Garton Ash also bags unfairly Macedonians during the 2001 conflict:

"Summarising what he told me, I would say that the now forty-two-year-old Ahmeti drew two main conclusions from the Kosovo war. First, you could win more by a few months of armed struggle than Albanian politicians had achieved in nearly a decade of peaceful politics. As in Kosovo, so in Macedonia. Second, that you could do this only if you got the West involved. That was the great tactical goal—and the great unknown. He told me that when the insurgency took off in February, “I knew that without the help of the West we couldn’t win. But we didn’t know how much they would help….” So he had to do everything possible to bring the West in. That meant being deliberately restrained in both their goals and their methods. This was Albanian Macedonia’s chance. This was Ali Ahmeti’s chance."

In contrast you have the “overly credentialed” Dr Vasil Tupurkovski, a one time member of the Collective Presidency of the then SFR Yugoslavia in 1990-91 and later to become Macedonia's Deputy Prime Minister in 1999 till 2000.

He holds a Law degree from the Saints Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje; is a postgraduate of Michigan State University in the United States and obtained a Doctorate from Skopje.


“At a professional level, he is member of the International Association for International Law, as well as the Association World Peace through Law, and held lectures in over 40 states through-out the world.”

On his website Tupurkovski, an international law expert, has proudly placed a photo of himself with then Yugoslav Communist ruler Marshal Josip Tito, the man responsible for the Nanny State mentality that still exists and who did not respect international law when it came to his secret police, the UDBa, assassinating opponents abroad.

Tupurkovski and Tito

And in what can only be described as breathtakingly insane, Tupurkovski, pushed for Macedonia's recognition of Taiwan in 1998 and thereby angered the People's Republic of China. In revenge, Beijing cut off the UN peacekeeping mission on Macedonia's border known as UNPREDEP, which had been successful in keeping Macedonia's northern border safe from infiltration from hostile Kosovo and Serbia.

With UNPREDEP gone, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Ahmeti's western Macedonian off-shoot, the National Liberation Army (NLA) were able to roam across the border bringing in weapons in the lead up to the 2001 war.

So you have to say that Ahmeti's degree from Pristina University would be more valuable to Tupurkovski's many degrees!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Socialist Federal Republics of Europe (SFRE) ?


MACEDONIA - FROM THE YUGOSLAV HELL TO THE EU NIGHTMARE  

subtitles:
SFRJ becomes Socialist Federal Republics of Europe (SFRE)
USSR becomes the European Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (EUSSR)

by Sasha Uzunov

Initially, Macedonia's communist ruling elite was reluctant to embrace an independent Macedonia in 1991 and for that matter membership of the European Union. But things changed when they realised they could still be on the "winning side" and maintain their privileges.

Men like Lazar Kolisevski and Kiro Gligorov who had built their careers and devoted their lives to Tito's Yugoslav communist dream were on the losing side of history after the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989 and their beloved Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) imploded 2 years after. After all American academic Francis Fukuyama had told us so… that it was the End of History as we knew it…that democracy had triumphed over Communism and every other ism in the world and therefore there was no need for history. But that view on 9/11 2001 was blown to pieces, once and for all.

Kolisevski was smart enough to retire on a big fat pension-- realising he was too old to play any part and also hated for sacrificing Macedonian nationalist aspirations for loyalty to Tito and imprisoning dissidents with communist show trials that Stalin would have been proud of.

But in 1991 Gligorov, by then President of Macedonia, was a wily politician who distanced himself from Kolisevski but simultaneously lost valuable time trying to save an already dead Yugoslavia. It probably cost newly independent Macedonia its name, as neighbouring Greece had time to block its recognition.

However, Gligorov the economist and the politician, did the maths and came up with the conclusion that as far as the SFRJ project it was not dead after all but could could be merged with the European Union-- both were Nanny States built on voodoo economics which professed to look after its "children" but the only differences being the SFRJ would use repression if you misbehaved whilst the EU would simply get you addicted and then deny you the "drugs" (money) a la Greece, Spain if you were naughty.

It is no coincidence that Macedonia's communist ruling elite were rewarded with EU or Western jobs, scholarships, etc. and have been spruiking "TITO - PARTIJA" oops I meant "All the Way with Brussels" or condemning Macedonia getting too independent for its own good by slapping it with bogus human rights grievances that no other EU member, including Greece or Bulgaria, come even close to fixing…as in giving recognition to the persecuted ethnic Macedonian minority in those two countries.

However, the Communists in the old Soviet Union, its Eastern European satellites and SFRJ were smart enough to understand that too much "nannying" of its captive populations was a bad thing. Conscription/National service/The Draft/compulsory military service was never abolished--for the simple fact that there had to be a "mechanism" still left that would toughen up young adult men in case the "Imperialist West" headed by the United States and its "chained dogs" were unleashed, and in SFRJ case, if Moscow wanted to bring Yugoslavia back into the Soviet fold.

However, the EU together with NATO, has abolished national service in most of its member states. In 2008, Macedonia in its desperate attempt to join both the EU and NATO also got rid of conscription. And you have to ask why when your neighbours still have it?

Under the SFRJ period the Macedonian intellectual elite that had flourished became obsessed with being "cultured" (kulturen) -- that is having a university degree, wearing a suit and tie, holding down a government job where you did nothing but drank coffee served to you by a sexy secretary. But beneath the surface, SFRJ had its secret police, UDBa, whack dissidents and non existent terrorists in Australia and Western Europe in order for Tito to grab the cash from the West during the Cold War in order to fund that "cultured" lifestyle.

UDBa sometimes sub-contracted its assassinations to thugs, banks robbers such Zeljko Raznjatovic-Arkan. It is no coincidence that after the end of Yugoslavia, these UDBa intelligence officers moved into organised crime. But hey someone had to pick up the bill for Tito's cultured elite !

In early 2001, along came a man who had been living outside the SFRJ Nanny state. Ali Ahmeti was in Switzerland but receiving a disability pension and in his "spare time" as a hobby launched an ethnic Albanian uprising against the Macedonian state. At first the EU and NATO were wrong footed by this Philosophy Graduate from Pristina University and labelled him a "terrorist" but then the script changed…when Brussels (coincidentally the HQ for both EU and NATO) thought" "holy shit, we know he's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." (pardon the borrowed American phrase).

From terrorist he became insurgent and freedom fighter. Enforcers such as NATO Secretary General Lord Roberston and EU trouble shooter the Spaniard Javier Solana arrived in Skopje to lecture the authorities not to "overdo it" in fighting to preserve the integrity of the Macedonian state against blatant terrorism. Yet Solana remains silent on Basque independence from Spain.

But there were still some "adults" left in the room. The Macedonian governing classes, both on the left and right (SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE) putting aside their "cultured" (kulturen) ways of thinking, called in the police and Army to fight for Macedonia's very existence.

Luckily for Skopje there where still some tough guys in Bitola, Prilep and other cities, towns and villages who answered the call as Army reservists and conscripts. Men who had done their compulsory military training in the old Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) or in the newly created and aptly named Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM).

Despite the obstacles put up by the EU and sadly by the United States, the lack of resources, compromised leadership, they managed to keep Macedonia together--albeit under a controversial and forced deal from the EU known as the Ohrid Framework Agreement.

The question is what happens if war erupts in Macedonia again? Where will the tough guys and gals come from to defend the country when you don't have a pool of trained men and women with previous military service? The question I would be asking is why was conscription abolished in 2008?

Perhaps Macedonia's secret weapons will be Cambridge Masters graduate Ana Stojanov(a)…maybe she can convince any future aggressor that their University Degree should be recognised in order to get a highly paid government job and they should put their weapons down. Or Health Guru Dr Slagjana Velkov(a) will persuade the "enemy at the gates" to walk barefoot and stare at the sun. (Australian Health authorities warn about staring at the sun too long).

(end)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FILM REVIEW - SINISTER



FILM REVIEW - SINISTER
Australian cinema release 30 May 2013

by Sasha Uzunov.

I was surprised to find an envelope with a DVD of the supernatural horror film Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke, from Mel Gibson's former production company, Icon Films, in my Post Office box. No doubt sometime ago I was put on a mailing list of bloggers/journalists/independent film makers.

And not being a fan of horror movies as such, I found the film to be excellent. Ethan Hawke's performance was outstanding as the edgy hustler of a true crime writer trying to making a comeback.

He moves his wife and two children, a son and a daughter, into a new home, once owned by a family whose four members were found murdered hanging by a tree in the backyard. The fifth member, a girl, disappeared.

Hawke (as Ellison Oswalt) does not tell his wife Tracy (ably played by British actress Juliet Rylance) that the new home was a crime scene.

In the attic he discovers a box of home made films, super 8, and an old style film projector. There are 5 films showing the "true life" murders of five different families.

Oswalt tries to discover if this is the work of a serial killer. But to his shock it is something much more ...a pagan deity known as Bughuul or Mr Boogie.

The violence is kept to a minimum in the film, compared to other slash horror movies. There are moments where Hawke as Oswalt does a "Tom Cruise" in his ranting about wanting to write the next best seller. The only thing missing is the sofa jumping a la Oprah Winfrey. But it works. You can see, hear and feel the intensity in Oswalt's ambition.

But this ambition is putting his health and family at risk, as he starts drinking. His wife gives him an ultimatum: the book or the family....

Sinister had its cinema release last October in Europe and the United States. It is sure to hit a nerve with Australian audiences when it premieres on 30 May.

Scott Derrickson does a great job in directing the film. It is a pity that Australian film makers--those of the basket weaving bohemian type who receive Australian government film funding are incapable of making--obsess with the genre of gender angst, suburban angst, ethnic angst, Ango-Celtic Australian angst, heteronormative angst, dysfunctional family angst, every other angst under the sun.

Derrickson's film sees the family in the film as the hero, subverted from within and without, rather than the cause of evil. I liked the concept of Hawke as an American in the film whilst Rylance as his wife as being English. Emotive versus rational. Good combination.

The lighting of Sinister was outstanding as was the sound. Refreshingly, deliberately shaking camera was kept to a very minimum in the film. It has become cliched and in fact annoying as you see it employed in many of the police/crime television shows both in the United States and here in Australia.

Entertaining cameos by Fred Thompson (actor and US politician in real life) as the local sheriff;  and Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Law and Order: Criminal Intent) as the Professor and expert on the occult.


Running time: 100 minutes.

Starring 

Ethan Hawke
Juliet Rylance
Fred Thompson
James Ransone
Clare Foley
Michael Hall D'Addario


Directed by Scott Derrickson
Produced by Jason Blum
Written by C. Robert Cargill & Scott Derrickson

Saturday, May 18, 2013

ESPANA EXPIRED ?




ESPANA EXPIRED - the end of Spain ?
by Sasha Uzunov

The concept of Spain has survived the ravages of time: the Moorish invasion, a brutal civil war, a repressive dictatorship and various separatist movements but now a demographic crisis might accomplish what swords, bullets and bombs fail to do so.

Spain, Espana in Castillian Spanish, is technically an economic basket case, surviving off handouts from the European Union, namely Germany. Even if Spain managed to pull itself out of the financial black hole, it faces a demographic ticking bomb more powerful than an Al Qaeda or ETA one.

It faces, what pundit Mark Steyn calls, Civilisational Exhaustion, and a lack of will. But Spain is not the only one. The same applies to most of Europe: Italy, Greece, France, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium. Take your pick. Plus add more. That is ageing populations, shrinking numbers of younger people who seem reluctant to breed. Simply put there are not enough workers to pay taxes to fund the European Union's spending on its welfare utopia.

This time it's more than just the economy, more than money. It's a dramatic shift in culture, society, civilisation. In the past,  Europe survived and recovered from wars, disasters because it had hardy peasants willing to have families and to tough it out. That is now gone forever...replaced by people who are over-credentialed but not necessarily any smarter, and adults who have become infants...grown men in their 40s playing video games and pseudo-intellectuals still railing against the phantom of patriarchy, a beast that was defeated long ago in the West, and other trendy causes.

The irony is there is no point in trying to save the environment for future generations when there will be no future generations.

Even if the historically rebellious regions of Catalonia (Catalunya) and the Basque lands managed to quit Spain, there may be no one around anyway within the next century to give a toss. There may not even be any Catalans or Basques around to enjoy independence.

Present Spanish monarch King John Charles (Juan Carlos) may not have much of a kingdom to leave to his heir, Prince Phillip (Felipe), unless you count old people living in nursing homes as his subjects.

The whole concept of Spain and Spanishness, much like the now defunct Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, seems like a political house of cards. There is this pantomime of which Madrid puts on: it cracks down hard on Basque separatists, which it calls terrorists, and "decadent" Catalans; and complains loudly over British sovereignty over Gibraltar, a rocky outcrop on the Spanish coast.

Paradoxically, Spain maintains two city enclaves on the North African coast--Cueta and Melilla, which has lead to territorial disputes with Morocco.

In 2002, Spain almost went to war with Morocco over a tiny uninhabited island called Perejil, 200 metres off the coast of Morocco.

This Spanish toughness was soon put to the test again. Conservative Prime Minister Joseph Mary (Jose Maria) Aznar (1996-2004) threw his support behind the Global War on Terror in 2001 and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, largely unpopular in Spain.

A year later, 10 bombs planted on Madrid trains killed nearly 200 people - three days before a general election. Initially, the Spanish government blamed ETA, the  Basque separatist movement labelled as terrorist by some, and vowed to get tough. Then it emerged it was the work of radical Islamic terror franchise Al Qaeda. The equation then dramatically changed.

Instead of running with the bulls, the Spanish people just ran away. Aznar's party was defeated at the election and the incoming Socialist government of Prime Minister Joseph Louis (Jose Luis) Rodrigruez Zapatero pulled Spain's small military contingent out of Iraq.

Between 1936 and 1939 a civil war engulfed Spain, then a democratic but left leaning republic. Right wing forces lead by a rebellious Army General Francis (Francisco) Franco y Bahamonde launched an uprising against the government. Franco received military aid from then Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and eventually claimed power.

During Franco's dictatorship of Spain (1939-75), the Basque and Catalan languages and cultures were brutally suppressed. In the late 1960s, ETA, which the Spanish government labels as terrorists, began a bombing campaign to obtain independence. Over 800 people have been killed in the campaign, Spanish authorities claim.

After Franco's death in 1975, King John Charles became the Constitutional monarch of the Kingdom of  Spain (Reino de Espana).

Historians believe the Basques are one of the oldest peoples living in Europe and their language is not related to any other on earth. The ancestors of the modern day Spaniards are the Romans who invaded present day Spain and Portugal over two thousand years ago and who intermingled with the indigenous Celtic tribes. A millennium later an Arab Islamic (Moors) invasion added another layer.

Spain's position on the Basques and the Catalonia region is that they form an integral part of the Spanish nation, of which the Castile (Castilla) region has historically been dominant, much like the Russians were in the Old Tsarist Russian empire and the later communist Soviet Union.  However, this position has been inconsistent with Spain's support for an independent Kosovo from Serbia.

With Spain now an economic basket case, the prosperous Basque and Catalonia regions are itching to get out whilst the going is still good and there is still enough younger people around !

Friday, May 17, 2013

THE NANNY STATE - Macedonian style?


THE N(ANA) STOJANOV(A) STATE ?
by Sasha Uzunov

A Macedonian woman complained recently about how her Masters Degree from the prestigious Cambridge University was not enough to get her a job in academia in her homeland. It brought to the boil long simmering issues of nepotism and indirectly the concept of the Nanny State, hence the play on the headline above.

Ana Stojanov(a) was interviewed on Radio Free Europe's Macedonian language section by journalist Pelagija Mladenovska. Ms Stojanov(a) complained that she had been denied a job within Macedonia's University sector even though she was the best qualified of the candidates. The person who got the job, she asserts, had lower grades.

She is also playing the patriotism card:

"I studied for my Masters at Cambridge and out of loyalty to the Fatherland (tatkovina), I returned but the institutions slammed the door on me."

Having worked in the Balkans region on and off over a 20 year period, I have to agree with Ms Stojanov(a) on nepotism being rampant within Macedonia and for that matter other parts of the independent states that arose from the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.

But Ms Stojanov(a)'s expectation of a highly paid government job in academia after completing her studies also brought to mind the concept of the Nanny State, where the state or government provides you with everything and takes away your own initiative.

It's not Ms Stojanov(a)'s fault for being marinated in such a culture. She is a victim. Nepotism was ingrained and in fact encouraged unofficially in the old Communist Yugoslavia and it rolled over into the independent state of Macedonia. In communist times it ensured loyalty to the regime as well as keeping the privileges within a very small section of society.

Moreover, communist Yugoslavia's so called economic prosperity was built on a house cards, constructed by ruler Marshal Tito who simply took money from both the East and West in his balancing act during the Cold War.

But what Communism also did was destroy the Macedonian man and woman's sense of initiative, independence. Instead the culture of entitlement developed. During the mid 1960s, thousands of Macedonians left their homeland, then under Yugoslav Commuist control for a better life in Western Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States.

But these people, who were largely from the villages and towns, where the ones with strong work ethic. This was a deliberately policy by Tito--and carried out by  satrap Lazar Kolisevski--who wanted to reward a small but loyal elite with privileges.

These Macedonians abroad did not complain about their lack of opportunity to the government, they got on with their lives, built houses and raised families. They were spied upon and intimated by the Yugoslav secret police, UDBa. They even sent back millions of dollars in hard currency to their relatives in the old country (stari kraj), which the regime used.

I would say to Ms Stojanov(a), the issue is not education as such. All societies need trained doctors, architects, engineers and so on. But it also needs trades people such as plumbers, carpenters etc.

 In Macedonia under communism, anyone who worked in agriculture or in a village was seen as "primitive" (zaostanat). The ideal job was for a man to wear a suit, tie and to work in an office and have a sexy secretary serve him coffee whilst he did nothing all day

The mentality in Macedonia has to change....The government can't give you everything. My parents were poor villages who left Macedonia in 1966. They couldn't speak any English when they arrived in Australia. Yet they managed to build a life. I can't understand how "educated" Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia are so afraid of hard work...

The obsession with "over-education" in then Communist Yugoslav where adults studied into their 30s for degrees that were worthless is hilarious, when you consider the man who founded Yugoslav Communism Josip Broz Tito was a Croatian locksmith who barely finished primary school but manged to con both the Soviet Bloc and the West into giving him money....

US President Abraham Lincoln had barely 2 years of formal schooling but won the Civil War (1861-65) and freed the slaves. Steve Jobs of Apple Computers fame worked in his garage.

Ali Ahmeti has a disability pension from Switzerland where he worked but managed to lead an ethnic Albanian uprising against the Macedonian state and later became a political king maker in that country's parliament. But hey he has only a Philosophy degree from Pristina University not from the prestigious Cambridge !

In the real world, if you can't find a job that you've been trained for, then you have to do something else. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism but served in the Australian Army as an infantry soldier for seven years, I've worked in factories, on building sites, dug ditches, foundations for houses, cleaned toilets. Whether you have a Masters Degree from Cambridge or not...work is work... If Ms Stojanov(a) can't get a job in academia, go flip burgers or kebapi in Skopje somewhere. Do something.

Leaving the country is a cop out. Because jobs in the West are scarce as well.

Some critics find it hilarious that Ana Stojanov(a) has a Master's Degree from Cambridge yet she misspells her surname as Stojanov...doesn't that strike you as a bit odd ! In proper Macedonian grammar Stojanov is male gender, whilst Stojanova is female.

Perhaps this is a misspelling on Ms Stojanov(a)'s part. If so, critics would be questioning her standard of education.

Or perhaps she is making a political statement about gender. If so then that shtick has been already covered by greater thinkers such as Germaine Greer and Naomi Wolf, who have managed to carve out careers without relying on others or complaining.

The sense of irony and satire is largely missed by Macedonia's "educated elite" mainly found in the capital city of Skopje, of which Ms Stojanov(a) is so eager to join. This elite holds in disdain those Macedonians in the diaspora who speak quaint, "old fashioned" Macedonian without the trendy Serbian words or any other buzz term that has entered the language.

Language, culture, society, work are all connected... They tell us a lot about a nation, and where it's going... whether some nations are confident  or suffer from an inferiority complex.

If you're a Macedonian "red neck" from deep south in the land of Australia,  heaven forbid if you make a grammatical error when speaking "literary Macedonia" because the Skopje educated elite will brand you an uncultured (ne kulturen) heathen but it seems that Ms Stojanov(a) has the right to break the rules of grammar !

(end)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CANCER COUNCIL CAUTIONS AGAINST "SUN GAZING" THERAPY



TEAM UZUNOV medical exclusive 

by Sasha Uzunov

Cancer Council Australia has cautioned against the use of a "sun gazing" therapy advocated by a Balkan health guru, which has gained popularity amongst some of this country's ethnic communities.

Dr Slagjana Velkova (Sladjana Velkov) is a Macedonian born but Serbian raised doctor of medicine who is advocating a radical sun gazing therapy for improved health.

She has appeared on Australia's government funded Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Radio, namely the Macedonian and Serbian language programs.

Her therapy is as follows:


Sungaze 1 times a day within an hour after sunrise or in last hour before sunset. 
Stand erect with bare feet on bare ground. Remove glasses. You can blink. Begin with 10 seconds. Increase 10 seconds a day. If cloudy, sungaze but don’t increase time. When cold, do it indoors through an open window. If ill, affirm and visualize sunlight going to problem area. Express gratitude. After sungazing, rub hands together and cover eyes. Gaze at afte rimage till gone. After or before sungazing, walk barefoot for 45 minutes (preferably). When you reach 44 minutes of sungazing, reduce time 1 min/day to 15 min and stay there for one year. If desired, continue the rest of your life.

*Take a sunbath at least 1 h daily (expose skin).
*Put water in transparent bottle on the sun for a few hours and drink it.

The response from the Cancer Council of Australia's Media Manager Hollie Jenkins:


"... we are not aware of any scientific evidence that 'sunlight treatment' as advocated...offers any health benefits. Furthermore, many of the recommendations, for instance exposing yourself to excessive sunlight and staring at the sun, may actually be harmful.
"Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70 and more than 2000 Australians died from skin cancer in 2011. Cancer Council Australia recommends Australians manage their sun exposure, when UV levels are 3 or above, to minimise their cancer risk."
The CCA also recommends:

"Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible;

Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ or higher sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears
Seek shade
Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards."