Russian Foreign Chief Sergey Lavrov has made remarks on the situation in Macedonia stressing the involvement of outside actors. According to him, there was a connection between the events in Macedonia “unfolding against the background of the Macedonian government’s refusal to join sanctions against Russia and an active support from Skopje for the plans to build the Turkish Stream pipeline, to which many in Brussels and across the Atlantic are opposed.”
An extremely nervous reaction followed betraying uneasy conscience. The West says another conflict is incited in the region and Russia is the one to blame. According to it, Moscow wants to partition Macedonia. This plan meets its great power ambitions. The statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that there was talk of dividing up Macedonia and giving parts to Bulgaria and Albania was “highly irresponsible,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said adding that his country was not involved. Zoran Zaev, the political leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) flatly refused the idea of partition or federalization. But nobody is going to take his opinion into account. Besides, Sergey Lavrov said the same thing. Lavrov’s statement did not contain direct accusations against the United States. For all that, US ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily, said the Russian Minister’s remarks were absurd and put the blame for the growing tensions on Moscow.
In reality, it’s all different. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made his remarks during Government Hour at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly, Moscow, May 20, 2015. The recording shows him saying the Macedonian events were influenced from outside. According to him, the outside interference pursues the goal of toppling Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to punish him for refusing to join the anti-Russian sanctions and the stated intent of Macedonia to become part of the Turkish Stream project with the pipeline going through the territory of the country. The Albanian factor has an important role to play here. There is enough evidence to make many Western media outlets agree that these are the real reasons for deterioration of the situation in the Balkans.
Sergey Lavrov believes that the ideas to “federalize” Macedonia or turn it into a sort of “flexible federation” or “confederation” are fraught with danger. “The idea even has been expressed why not divide up (what is) an artificially-established state – to give part to Bulgaria, and some to Albania”, Lavrov said, going on to say that the Albanian prime minister spoke of “Greater Albania.” The Russian Foreign Minister made his remarks against the background of European policy. For instance, the European Union has already insisted on giving Albanians the rights that Russian minorities in other states are deprived of. According to Lavrov, “…in our discussions with the EU, we raised the issue of rights of Russians and Russian-speaking people in Estonia and Latvia, we asked, “Why did you support the Ohrid Agreement and provide Albanians in Macedonia with a substantial scope of rights but you can’t do the same for Russians in Estonia and Latvia?” There was no answer. However, the conflict in Macedonia was settled at the time. The Russian Minister said that “without reference to Macedonia, the Prime Minister in Tirana is generally declaring slogans of Greater Albania.” Is it not enough to admit the existence of plans to divide Macedonia?
Obviously their implementation would also entail the partition of neighboring Serbia and Montenegro. There was no response from Brussels and Washington on the statement of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama about Greater Albania, no matter it was explosive enough being done at the time of acute crisis in a neighboring country. The European Union and the United States have no objections. The West openly displays its permissive parenting attitude towards Albanian politicians who are forgiven anything they say or do. How can this approach be explained? Is it part of the West’s traditional policy aimed at dividing Slav people?
The Albanian Mafia, especially those who come from Kosovo, have been in control of European drug trafficking for several years. Where has money gone? With the FIFA scandal in full swing, wouldn’t it be expedient to check the activities of Western structures responsible for Balkans policy? I’m sure that a lot of interesting facts would surface.
Families of the terrorists arrested in the Macedonian town of Kumanovo organized protests in front of the government of Kosovo in Pristina asking for their relatives to be released from arrest in Macedonia. They complained about “harsh treatment of prisoners.” It proves the fact that the militants were not Macedonians. They came from Kosovo. Macedonia handed over to Pristina the bodies of nine ethnic-Albanian gunmen killed in clashes with police earlier this month. The procession carrying nine metal coffins was honored in silence by hundreds of Kosovars holding national flags. Many high standing officials attended the funeral, including the members of parliament. No reaction followed from the West. The same way the statement of Edi Rama was not condemned by either the government of Bulgaria, nor the Macedonian opposition led by Zaev. But it’s not Lavrov who actually calls for the partition of Macedonia, but the Albanian Prime Minister. The Russian Minister plainly spoke against the idea to divide the country. How can the West prove it its opposition to such plans?
A lot of sinister things take place behind the scenes in the Macedonian scenario. The West, Bulgaria and the Macedonian opposition join in chorus to affirm that the incumbent Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was behind the actions of Albanian terrorists invading the territory of Macedonia near Kumanovo. According to them, it was done to take the people’s attention away from internal problems. The Kosovo news agency KOHA is normally cited as the information source, no matter it failed to come up with anything like solid evidence to support the version that sounds rather strange. Nobody cares much about evidence in the conditions of ongoing hybrid war. For all that, experts pay attention to the fact that the terrorist group routed in Kumanovo was formed in the municipality of Vitino (Kosovo) near the US military base Bondstill. There is no way that 80 armed men coul pass by the facility unnoticed with all the detection means used by the US military to provide surveillance in the area.
Misha Jurkovic of Institute for European Studies, Belgrade, says there have been “orange revolutions” style coup attempts staged in 30 countries during the recent 15 years.
It all started with protests organized by the Serbian youth resistance movement Otpor. Its leaders, Slobodan Đinović and Srđa Popović, became professional international revolutionaries. Paid by the US, they move from one country to another organizing protest actions. Srđa Popović was seen in Skopje before the events in question. It should be noted that US Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily was Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara at the time in which the US-supported the Taksim Square protests in an attempt to topple Recep Erdogan. Who else can do a better job opposing the plans to build the Turkish Stream across the Balkans? It’s not a coincidence that Baily came out in support of protesters as soon as they hit the streets of Skopje. He is dry behind the ears in making “popular” protest movements look right in the eyes of the public.
The Macedonian opposition has a powerful sponsor lending a helping hand. Suffice it to remember the 6-months-old wire-tap scandal sparked by revelations that came to light thanks to the efforts undertaken by patriots. An almost surreal scandal involving 700 thousands of secretly recorded conversations caught top government officials discussing everything from rigging votes to covering up killings. Opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev said the tapes were made illegally by the government as part of mass surveillance operation targeting 20,000 allies and opponents alike. They were leaked to him by a whistleblower. With so many recorded conversations everyone is free to make guesses and conclusions to his heart’s content. The government is accused of illegal spying against opposition. But total control over the government is a real tall order. One can hardly imagine anybody in Macedonia being equal to the task. Willy-nilly one gets the impression that the powerful US National Security Agency with the spying capabilities provided by PRISM program (a clandestine surveillance program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects internet communications of foreign nationals) has a hand in it. Perhaps, the Agency decided that the time is right to forget the damage inflicted by Edward Snowden, an American computer professional who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency, and put to good use the information gathering capabilities acquired by NSA at huge expense. There is solid ground to believe that that the National Security Agency acted together with the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND (German Federal Intelligence Service directly subordinated to the Chancellor’s Office) to make amends for US spying on German politicians.
Nikola Gruevski knows exactly what Macedonian national intelligence can do. According to him, there is no room for doubt that the recordings were given to the opposition by “a foreign intelligence agency.” Zoran Zaev, the opposition leader, often says that the Prime Minister is not a patriot because he has discussed with his accomplices the possibility ceding to Western pressure and renaming the Republic of Macedonia the “Upper Republic of Macedonia” or the “Northern Republic of Macedonia.” Athens is adamant in its insistence on the name change. Citing historical and territorial concerns resulting from the ambiguity between the Republic of Macedonia, the adjacent Greek region of Macedonia and the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia which falls mostly within Greek Macedonia, Greece opposes the use of the name “Macedonia” by the Republic of Macedonia without a geographical qualifier, supporting a compound name such as “Northern Macedonia” for use by all and for all purposes. Until now Greece has been hindering the process of Macedonia’s membership in international organizations. The recorded text that became public domain testifies to the fact that Gruevski has been informed about ideas initiated from outside, but he never supported them and expressed doubts it would be acceptable to the people of the country. It proves that all accusations against him hold no water.
According to recent news from Skopje, Nikola Gruevski said he would join the Turkish Stream and let it pass across the country’s territory only on the condition the plan is approved by European Commission. As soon as he said that, the criticism against him began to die down. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn is expected to visit the country on June 1. Together with US Ambassador Jess Baily (his participation gives an idea of who in reality controls the situation) they will try to act as intermediaries in an effort to make peace between the government and the opposition. The whole country was brought to the verge of civil war and dozens of people were sacrificed to serve mercantile interests.
Congressional Hawks have been peddling the idea of a “Russian Aggression Prevention Act” since the beginning of May, but it has only been during the recent media-inspired hysteria that it began to gain traction. If passed into law, it would amount to a sweeping NATO offensive across all of Russia’s former soviet western periphery and would be the first official act of the ‘New Cold War’. Much has been written about the overall thematic consequences for US-Russian relations by Paul Craig Roberts and Patrick Buchanan illustrating how the US plans to use the legislation to subvert the Russian government from within via its support for ‘NGOs’ (and the prioritized ‘refugee’ status for journalists, ‘dissidents’, and various activists that is included in the document). What has not been explored, however, are some of the finer, yet no less important, aspects of the Act’s implementation. Whether it be NATO expansion into the Balkans or the destabilization of the Caucasus, bill S. 2277 more accurately could be described as the American Aggression Enablement Act (AAEA), as it represents a surge of US offensive military capability against Russian interests in its western flank.
Part I: The NATO Tumor Grows
The AAEA represents the cancerous growth of NATO throughout all of its targeted territories. Some of its most important details are that the EU and NATO are working hand-in-hand, NATO aims to swallow the Balkans, and the Missile Defense Shield (MDS) is to proceed at full speed ahead, with all of the resultant consequences thereof.
Good Cop, Bad Cop:
Although not explicitly stated in the AAEA itself, if one steps back and examines the overall context of the document, it is obvious that the EU and NATO have been working in lockstep to advance each other’s goals. In fact, an overall pattern can be ascertained:
(1) The EU makes some form of outreach to the targeted state(s) (e.g. The Eastern Partnership)
(2) Economic links between the EU and the target are nominally institutionalized (e.g. an EU Association Agreement)
(3) Shadow NATO (via major non-NATO ally status) moves in to defend the economic integration process
The EU presents the friendly, ‘humanitarian’ face to disarm the targeted state’s population while Shadow NATO inconspicuously attempts to absorb the country. This is the tried-and-tested technique of ‘good cop, bad cop’.
The Balkans or Bust:
The US is aggressively promoting its Armed Forces and NATO’s expansion into the Balkans as part of the AAEA. It stipulates that Obama must increase military cooperation with Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia, besides Azerbaijan and prescribed major non-NATO allies Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. Although it is unlikely that Serbia will be integrated into the fold (it is a strong Russian ally and vividly remembers the bloody bombings of 1999), the move still represents a major expansion of US military influence in Europe. One must keep in mind that the formerly forgotten-about Balkans are now at the forefront of this ‘New Cold War’, with the US and some European actors trying to sabotage Russia’s South Stream gas project which, ironically, certain EU members had agreed to in the first place. Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia are all entities abutting Serbia, which is planned to be one of the hubs of South Stream, so their inclusion into the enhanced NATO security framework suggested by the AAEA can be seen as surrounding Serbia prior to destabilizing it once more. In the context of bitter energy geopolitics, the US’ seemingly unexpected push into the Balkans makes absolute sense.
Missile Defense and NATO’s Northern Expansion:
Included in the AAEA is the directive to accelerate the rollout of the Missile Defense Shield (MDS). This was already envisioned to have land, sea, and space components per the phased adaptive approach framework. What makes the AAEA different, however, is that it wants to ‘poke Russia in the eyes’ and go forward with something that Moscow has already stated would certainly be a red line. Russia holds this stance because it believes that a MDS would neutralize its nuclear second-strike capability, thereby giving the US a monopoly on carrying out a nuclear first strike and shattering the mutual assured destruction concept that kept the peace between the two nuclear titans for decades.
Russia’s response thus far has been to deploy Iskander missiles to the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. One of the dual purposes of the US’ MDS is to goad Russia into taking more such defensive actions that could then be propagandized as ‘offensive’, thereby exaggerating ‘the Russian threat’ and contributing to fear mongering among the Swedish and Finnish citizenry. The end result is to push these countries deeper into the NATO apparatus. Finland has already said that it could hold a referendum on joining as early as April 2015 after the next round of parliamentary elections, with its Defense Minister already actively lobbying for this to happen. Sweden, on the other hand, already engages in such close cooperation with NATO that it’s already a shadow member in its own right, and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is one of the most prominent Russophobic policy makers on the continent. Because of a joint agreement on military security, Finland can only join NATO together with Sweden, meaning that if any move is made, it would likely be a ‘double whammy’ to get the two states in at once. It goes without saying that if Russia would not allow NATO to be deployed in Georgia or Ukraine, it most definitely would not allow it to be deployed along the Russo-Finnish border, further increasing the chances of yet another crisis in NATO-Russian relations sometime down the line.
To be continued… Part II
NEW YORK – In a historic ruling, the European Court of Human Rights today condemned Macedonia’s illegal transfer of Khaled El-Masri into CIA custody and found that his abusive treatment at Macedonia’s airport by the U.S. rendition team “amounted to torture.” The court also found that his abduction and detention – including the time he was in U.S. custody – constituted “enforced disappearance” under international law.
“Today’s landmark decision is a stark reminder of America’s utter failure to hold its own officials accountable for serious violations of both U.S. and international law. Continued lack of accountability is turning the United States into an outlier among its European allies, which is an appalling outcome for a nation that prides itself as a global leader on the rule of law and human rights,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. “Today’s ruling makes it harder for the United States to continue burying its head in the sand and ignoring domestic and global calls for full accountability for torture. This remarkable decision will no doubt put greater pressure on European nations to fully account for their complicity in cooperating with the illegal CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’ program, and to hold responsible those who violated the human rights of El-Masri and those like him.”
El-Masri is a German citizen who in 2003 was mistaken for another person and abducted by Macedonian authorities at a border crossing and held incommunicado for 23 days. He was then handed over to CIA operatives who put him on a secret flight to a “black site” in Afghanistan where he was secretly held, tortured and abused for about four months.
The ACLU currently represents El-Masri in a case against the U.S. now being considered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and also represented him in a lawsuit in U.S. federal court, which was dismissed. His case before the ECHR was brought by the Open Society Justice Initiative.
In a unanimous decision awarding El-Masri 60,000 Euros, the European court said that the court “underlines the great importance of the present case not only for the applicant and his family, but also for other victims of similar crimes and the general public, who had the right to know what had happened… The concept of ‘State secrets’ has often been invoked to obstruct the search for the truth. State secret privilege was also asserted by the US government in the applicant’s case before the US courts.”
The court’s ruling is available at:
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
- CIA ‘tortured and sodomised’ terror suspect, European court rules (guardian.co.uk)
A German citizen, who says was abducted in Macedonia by the CIA and taken to a prison in Afghanistan and tortured, has demanded justice from Europe’s human rights court.
Khaled El-Masri of Lebanese descent says he was brutally tortured and interrogated at a secret CIA-run prison in Afghanistan for more than four months after being kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003, the Associated Press reported.
On Wednesday, Masri took his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
“Mr. El-Masri has spent the last eight years seeking legal redress for the crimes that were committed against him,” said James Goldston, who is the executive director of the Open Justice Initiative, a rights group that campaigns against the US extraordinary rendition practice.
Extraordinary rendition is a practice enabling the US apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one state to another.
He noted, “There is abundant evidence, including data on CIA flights to and from [Macedonia’s capital] Skopje.”
Masri was eventually released after the CIA realized it had mistaken him for another suspect.
He is also suing the Macedonian government for its role in the kidnapping, an accusation that the authorities in Skopje deny.
The court will consider whether Macedonian agents actually kidnapped Masri, and, if they did, whether they knew what would happen to him after they handed him over to US authorities.