Gruevski on Macedonia’s reliance on foreign aid: Are we going to be a nation of beggars?

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Instead of relying on our own forces to fight the coronavirus epidemic, Macedonia resembles a country of beggars, fighting over medical aid sent from abroad, writes former Prime Minister and VMRO leader Nikola Gruevski.

There are three countries in Europe where the culture of living is based on receiving aid and donations. They are Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. A huge portion of the Kosovan budget until recently came from foreign donations. In Bosnia, the three ethnic groups scramble to get aid, one group from Belgrade, the other from Zagreb, and the third from Ankara, and they’re bragging with who was able to deliver more in aid. The third country, especially when the left is in charge, is Macedonia, and it’s concerning that the citizens are somehow getting used to this culture, will not criticize it, and praise the donors, who of course, deserve our gratitude. We are arguing who is a greater friend of Macedonia over donations of masks worth 200.000 EUR, Gruevski writes.

The famously hands-on former leader of Macedonia notes that the country is fully capable of producing its own masks, surgical gloves, even respirators.

They’re just respirators, not space ships! Gruvevski exclaims. “Aren’t you embarrassed to have gloves and masks given to you like in some African country? We can do this, we could be donating to others! I know Macedonian producers of medical equipment who export abroad, but who are not asked to produce for the home market, and it’s for the better because it would probably just get them in trouble. These are minor budget items even at a time of growing deficit. What is the problem then? Lack of organization? Lack of will? A failure of culture? Our spirits are down? Collective depression? One country gave us masks, the other gloves, the third 12 respirators, some medical suits, a tent here and there. We resemble a nation of beggars”, Gruevski writes from Budapest where he was forced to flee the campaign of political persecution instituted by the Zaev regime.

He insists that the Government could’ve easily hired textile companies to produce the necessary masks and disinfectants, and even organized respirator production, and also, hired several factories in China to produce for our market until Macedonia’s own resources were put in place.

Even symbolic donations of aid to Northern Italy, to Spain, the United States, our neighbors in the region, a few planeloads of masks and suits, 50 respirators and a medical team is not outside of our ability. Albania sent 30 doctors and nurses to Northern Italy. This is not unrealistic, it’s doable and other countries have been doing it for months. How long do we intend to live with the mentality of wards? Why do we need to be encouraged like children, instead of standing on our own, organizing and showing that we can help each other and others? That we can solve our own problems? To be an example to others, Gruevski adds.

Finally, the former VMRO leader calls on the Government to release prisoners from the prisons which are “full of political detainees, unjustly prosecuted for political reasons” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus there. He insists that electronic means of surveillance can be used to protect the lives of those who were detained by the Zaev regime.