How about a war?


On May 9, 2015, Europe Day, the two-day “little war” began in the Kumanovo village of Divo Naselje. Five years later, the memories and traumas of the tragic consequences still remain. The case remains unsolved.

Two years ago, when with CIVIL’s team we were in Kumanovo to mark the event, Mayor Maksim Dimitrievski in his speech called on the state to give an answer to his city on what actually happened that day. He demanded an answer “who was the screenwriter, and who was the director of the Kumanovo events”. Maksim then also reminded that no one who had the commanding responsibility of the police forces that suffered such great losses had resigned, or had been accountable.

Not only was there no responsibility, but Gruevski’s regime even handed out money prizes to its servants, and its officials shed crocodile tears all around, in front of cameras… Jankulovska tried to attend the funeral of one of the police officers who was killed in the action, but was chased away.

Two characters remain engraved in my memory of those tragic 48 hours that put the families of the victims in black. One is Maksim, then President of the Council of the Municipality, and the other Avdi Avdiu, a citizen of Kumanovo. I remember his statement in front of the cameras on the regime television station Kanal 5, when he pointed his finger to the then government, that it was the organizer of the “little war”. The studio of Kanal 5 then interrupted Maksim’s statement.

Avdi, in front of several cameras held a brief emotional speech in which he said that it’s not about a conflict between the Macedonians and Albanians, that he respects his fellow citizens. Then, in the middle of the shootings not far from there, his fellow citizen, a Macedonian, approached him and hugged him. An unforgettable seen.

Those were days when the regime of Gruevski and the Family were making desperate attempts to supress the civil revolt. The revolution was roaring. “We are coming!” – was being shouted and written on walls, on the social networks and free internet portals (most of the big media outlets were under control). On May 9, 2015, something happened that reminded much of the malevolent conversation between then Minister of Interior, Gordana Jankulovska, and the regime’s chief agitprop, Martin Protugjer:

Martin Protugjer: How about a war?

Gordana Jankulovska: Well, if it’s about showing who is stronger, we would crush them in an hour.

Martin Protugjer: Mhm.

Gordana Jankulovska: But the thing is, we shouldn’t be showing muscles now.

What an irony! Gruevski’s regime invested hundreds of millions of euros, money of the citizens, in nationalism and religious intolerance, in hatred, divisions and violence, but achieved precisely the opposite effect. The revolt and aspiration for freedom and democracy brought together all the citizens, regardless of ethnic background. Indeed, the consequences of that destructive “investment” can be strongly felt even now, but European values have won. And are yet to win.

Those difficult days, on the very day of Europe Day, in 2015, were also days of civil unity. Gordana Jankulovska was hiding from the public for 20 hours. Ivanov was attending a parade in Moscow. I do not remember where Gruevski was, but he also was not around… After the two devastating days, Zaev went to Kumanovo and gave support to everyone, regardless of ethnicity. Without calculations, without fear from the reaction of the regime media.

The tragedy in Divo Naselje was another bloody alarm that the regime had to fall. The “little war” was organized just a week before the big hundred-thousand civil protest on May 17, 2015. The numerous protests that followed, including also the Colorful Revolution in 2016, showed that the Macedonian society is like the European – diverse.

Precisely here lies the European – and thus also the Macedonian – strength, endurance and beauty. Opposite of that only brings poverty, suffering and death.

PS: This text is written on the occasion of Europe Day and is a gift to all citizens of Europe.

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