'Macedonia unrest - another episode of West-Russia geopolitical battle'

Protesters wave Macedonian and Albanian flags during an anti-government demonstration in front of the government building in Skopje, Macedonia, May 17, 2015.(Reuters / Ognen Teofilovski)
The anti-governmental protests taking place in Macedonia is a sustained regime change attempt driven and financed by Western countries, Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor at Chronicles magazine, told RT.

RT:The protesters have vowed to stay on the streets until the government resigns. Will it go this far?

Srdja Trifkovic: It’s a classic regime change scenario as outlined by Gene Sharp many years ago. I don’t think that it will work this time round because first of all we are talking about thousands of protesters, not tens of thousands. In a country like the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia with its 2 million people, tens of thousands might have provided the critical mass needed. I do not believe that Zoran Zaev, the socialist leader, has reason to believe that [Prime Minister] Nikola Gruevski will simply pack up and go. He knows that he is under attack both by the Western powers which have provided materials to be leaked to the opposition, and by the Albanian terrorists and he knows that his .. maneuvering space is extremely limited. So I don’t think that it will end in 24 or 48 hours with yet another president resigning.

READ MORE: Thousands rally in Macedonia amid unfolding political crisis (DRONE VIDEO)

RT:Washington and Brussels have spoken out in support of the opposition. Could the anti-government wing eventually get more than vocal backing?

ST: Washington and Brussels have been driving this sudden crisis in Macedonia all along. And the geopolitical rationale is Gruevski’s willingness to consider the possibility of Macedonia hosting the key segments of the new proposed Turkish pipeline that would bring Russian gas into Central Europe. Now as we know Bulgaria had to say ‘no’ under heavy pressure from Washington and Brussels and the willingness of the authorities in Skopje to even consider that possibility suddenly resulted in the recent demonization of Gruevski as a corrupt nationalist, hardliner and all the rest of it. And we’ve seen the amazing spectacle of the EU ambassador in Skopje joining the protesters. So it’s quite obvious that this is a sustained regime change attempt dictated from Washington and Brussels, driven and financed from there and which has given encouragement to Albanian terrorists to stage their action in Kumanovo [on May, 9]. I think we are really witnessing just another episode in a long-term geopolitical battle between Washington and its pliant Brussels allies on the one side, and Russians on the other with Macedonians this time this time round being the collateral damage.

RT:How long will this play out in your opinion? Do you expect this is just a fizzle out or what’s your interpretation?

ST: On the one hand it might, on the other I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in Washington presses yet another Albanian button which would result in another terrorist outrage like the one in Kumanovo, and then of course things could spin out of control. Then we might even see the security forces being encouraged from Washington and Brussels to intervene in order to preserve lives and to save public order. If that happens then all bets are off. For as long as it remains strictly political, as long as various NGOs are paying 50 euro a day to the youths to attend these rallies I think that Gruevski might actually have a chance to survive.

Anti-government protesters rally in front of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's government office in Skopje, Macedonia, May 17, 2015.(Reuters / Marko Djurica)

‘Macedonia unrest might put off Turkish Stream construction ’

The Turkish Stream project proposed by Russia could be eventually put off because of on-going protests in Macedonia, political analyst Aleksandar Pavic suggests.

RT:Protests in Macedonia continue, but today's one looks very peaceful. Is there a danger the tension will eventually escalate to violence?

Aleksandar Pavic: Unfortunately there is always that danger. We’ve seen what happened in Kiev in Ukraine last year. And Macedonia is just a tinderbox. This is not the first time we’ve had such ethnically-motivated unrest and unfortunately instigated from the outside. Macedonia had a similar situation back in 2001 and it turned into an armed insurgency after which the US and the Western powers came in and brokered a peace which gave the Albanians much more power than they had before.

RT:Russia's new gas pipeline into Europe is set to go through Macedonia. How could the unrest impact construction plans? Who could benefit from this?

AP: It will probably put off construction. We must remember: when the South Stream gas pipeline was onboard Bulgaria was also a target of destabilization, we also had people in the streets. As a result, Bulgaria was actually the key country and withdrew support for the South Stream. So that’s when Russia turned to Turkey for the Turkish Stream. As soon as Turkey and Russia made a deal, you had unrest in Macedonia. What is very interesting is that this unrest, the latest terrorist attack took place on May, 9 - precisely at the time when the Macedonian PM was only one of the few European leaders in Moscow attending the Victory Day parade.

READ MORE: Macedonia terrorist raid may be linked to country's support of Russia – Lavrov

RT:Those protesting in Macedonia say they want “to see the united Macedonia, to have a better standard of living and to be free to practice human rights.” Doesn't that sound like a legitimate reason for mass discontent?

AP: For ordinary people it absolutely does. But again, this reminds me so much of the well-meaning and peaceful protesters in Maidan Square last year in Kiev. But they are not the ones who are leading behind the scenes; they are not the ones who are actually organizing this entire thing. I mean you had this wire-tapping scandal. Well this is a result of the fact that the opposition leader was served these transcripts by foreign intelligence services and he admitted that. It was recorded and put on Macedonia TV. Just a short time afterwards you had Victoria Nuland’s deputy asking Macedonian government to give concessions to the opposition to negotiate with them, to even stand down. So you have American fingerprints all over this.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.