Thursday, July 24, 2008

Commentary Criticizes Macedonia's 'Short-Sightedness' in Cooperation With Russia

By 2015 Russia plans to spend "a mere" 570 billion dollars on overhauling the worn-out infrastructure. Many believe that the real sum reaches a fantastic figure of a trillion dollars. Whether it is half or a whole trillion, the figure is astronomic, even for an enormous country such as Russia. The latter has noted a three-digit rise in incomes from the inexhaustible energy resources. Money is not a problem for Russia and the need to spend is paramount in a country that aspires to be a world power, yet has still not completed the construction of a highway to link its two major cities, Moscow and Sankt Petersburg. However, the problem that worries many in Russia has to do with the capacity of the Russian construction industry and the state administration to see through such enormous projects within a short deadline.

After 20 years of total stagnation and the lack of any significant investments in the infrastructure, despite the most obvious problem of the outdated and inadequate infrastructure, extremely concerning is the lack of an ability, or even courage, to implement major projects (the situation is identical in Macedonia). The plans regarding Russia put in figures are as follows: 17,000 kilometres of new roads, 3,000 kilometres of new railroads, 100 new airports, and 44 new ports in addition to the existing 44 should be built by 2015. In order to complete these, as well as all the other ambitious projects, Russia constantly seeks partners. While planes full of foreign businessmen fly from Frankfurt, London, Paris, as well as Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sofia, and Athens to the major Russian cities on a daily basis, the Macedonian businessmen remain passive observers of another enormous missed opportunity to make deals for a market they are traditionally familiar with.

Over the years since it gained its independence, Macedonia has pursued a policy of pretending to be a greater Catholic than the Pope himself. In other words, it has been pretending to be more western than the West and than our neighbours that are already members of NATO and the European Union. Short-sightedness, narrow- mindedness, and shallowness are the characteristics of Macedonia's perception of Russia, although the latter is a country with an immense market, while at the same time also being a country with great political and security impact in Europe. Our black-and-white view of things has brought us to a situation whereby we literally have the lowest level of relations with the Russian Federation in all fields, compared with all the countries in the region (of course, except Albania due to the Kosovo issue).

After Macedonia justly put at its top priority its integration in North-Atlantic organizations, its relations with Russia unjustly regressed out of fear that the possible approximation might thwart our NATO and EU bids. Meanwhile, Greece and Bulgaria's economic and military-political cooperation with Russia has been growing every year. This cooperation came to a head with the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, 51 per cent of which is Russian- owned. The planned construction of the "Southern Stream" mega project, which has recently been joined by Austria (although the latter has always been politically neutral), is also worth mentioning. Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, and others are also involved in the project, which envisages the transfer of Russian gas to the markets in Southeast and Central Europe. Macedonia has again been sidelined. In 2007, Greece, which is a NATO member, placed an order for Russian military transport vehicles worth 1.2 billion euros.

Europe's western part is no different when it comes to its approach to the enormous economic potential that cooperation with Russia carries. The "Northern Stream" gas pipeline (as opposed to the "Southern Stream" pipeline), which will transport Russian gas to Germany, will be constructed. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is the manager of the consortium that will build this gas pipeline, the Gazprom Russian corporation running this consortium. There are numerous examples of this kind. In the meantime, Macedonia has put itself in a position to beg new Russian President Medvedev to continue the policy that will lead to Russia recognizing our constitutional name. All other cooperation is at the sad level of minimal economic exchange, the lack of a direct flight between Moscow and Skopje, and Russia's absolute non-recognition of the existence of a Macedonian culture and its contribution towards Slavic, and thereby, Russian literacy and orthodoxy.

Due to its passivity and short-sightedness, the country that is the home to the Slavic Jerusalem, Ohrid, and whose construction workers built the airport in the Russian town of Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2014, has brought itself to a position to be totally forgotten and unknown in the country of trillion possibilities.


David Edenden said...

Who wrote this?

News said...

Nova Makedonija.