President Trump wanted America out of the Balkans region. Citing rampant corruption, cronyism and a pattern of dishonesty from leaders who seem more like dictators than democratically elected officials. Biden, swept America back in and the question needs to be why?
The issue today is Biden’s relationship with countries that say they are free but in practice, are no different from the Soviet era satellite states they used to be. In particular is North Macedonia. The country today seems to be in the news for their push to join to European Union.
Like the U.S., the E.U. has humanitarian laws which must be followed – torture and mistreatment of citizens is frowned upon. Proving the corruption, after after a meeting with Macedonian leaders in September, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted “North Macedonia has made outstanding progress on EU-related reforms and taken courageous decisions” and she indicated it is not a question of if, but when, accession talks should commence. When in fact, that statement went against Europe's own investigations unit.
The leader of North Macedonia has shown he is an autocrat who will go to extreme measures to silence dissent. The case of one of Macedonia’s most successful businessmen, Jordan Kamchev is an example of such behavior. Blabberbuzz ran an article on Mr. Kamchev’s treatment in the past and further investigation shows it is not simply him that is being subjected to this torture.
Jailed in horrible conditions since March, Mr. Kamchev still has not officially been charged, no trial has been set – and yet he is treated worse than many who spent years in Guantanamo Bay. Despite numerous inquiries from media and even the U.S. state department, the prosecution in North Macedonia have failed to provide legitimate reasons for extending Mr Kamchev’s detention. They have also failed to consider alternatives to long-term detention such as bail or house arrest, in direct contravention of the E.U.’s Court of Human Rights rulings. Remember what the EU president said, Biden said similar things and all the evidence proves otherwise.
The judicial system in North Macedonia is as corrupt as the leader. Appeals courts have failed to hear cases regarding the harsh detention of a man who is accused of non-violent offenses that are more likely related to his support of political rivals to the current leader. Prosecutors have failed to justify Mr. Kamchev’s detention and even charges. In fact the case itself stems from what is described as a note penned by a member of the Macedonian secret police – an arm that works solely for the Prime Minister - with no expansion or context. It is as if he was tried and convicted in secret.
Even the E.U is on to them, but Biden is not. In July, a Council of Europe report criticized the treatment and conditions of detention of prisoners in two North Macedonian prisons, in addition to persons held by the police in Skopje.
Ahead of the Western Balkans summit, it was confirmed that EU support for candidate states is “linked to tangible progress on the rule of law…and adherence to European values, rules and standards”.
In July, a Council of Europe report criticised the treatment and conditions of detention of prisoners in two North Macedonian prisons, in addition to persons held by the police in Skopje. Europe’s condemnation of conditions in Skopje Prison came after Mr Kamchev’s initial detention, when he was imprisoned in a 12 Square Foot cell with no running water or even a bathroom.
And yet, despite this. President Biden seems to be cozying up to the Prime Minister and showing favoritism to another Eastern European despotic leader. His re-entry into the Balkans after Trump took the U.S. away from the corrupt quagmire is a clear sign that Joe is willing to turn a blind eye to crimes as long as there is a benefit to him for it.
The name of the country, North Macedonia came about after a 2018 agreement with Greece called the Prespes agreement. a bilateral pact between Greece and North Macedonia concerning the country’s name.
The agreement even has clauses for penalties for publicly referring to the country as Macedonia – although that did not stop the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev from using the name Macedonia in referring to a soccer team. According a recent executive order for the Western Balkans by President Biden, North Macedonia should as a result of Zaev’s intended slip, be placed on America’s “blacklist.”
However, this did not happen. Biden is using the Western Balkans as his pet project and based on this, it would not make sense to impose sanctions on a key player in one of the most important agreements in the Western Balkans in the post-war. Especially when taking into consideration that such “diversions” by the North Macedonian premier are not intended to neutralize the agreement, but rather to aid his political survival, which is being internally tested with regard to this matter.
The fact Biden has ties to Zaev and has turned a blind eye to the suffering of innocents like Jordan Kamchev who are being crushed under the boot of an authoritarian regime. This only raises suspicion as to what business Biden, a member of his family or someone within his sphere of influence has in North Macedonia and how it benefits them to silence cries for freedom in the country.
Biden might not have any connection to North Macedonia outside of his role as President, however the optics alone are bad enough after all the news about his son’s questionable Ukraine, China & Poland ties.
Mr. Kamchev was bringing prosperity to Macedonia. He was an advocate for bringing Western values of transparency and unabashed freedoms to a country that in its modern history has known little of it. Joe Biden’s administration has the power to help, but sits on the side and actually entertains those who are responsible for keeping the proud nation under the control of people with selfish interests.
In fact, America honored the countries leadership by having an over the top ceremony that installed North Macedonia’s flag in the Pentagon. North Macedonia’s Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska, Defense Severatary Lloyd Austin & Laura K. Cooper, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, unveiled the red and yellow flag representing a stylized sun.
The addition honors North Macedonia’s accession to NATO in March 2020, one that Trump pushed for. Yet, despite their NATO inclusion, they do not pass the EU smell test for Human Rights – and this is what President Trump was concerned with. However it seems that President Biden has other considerations and while they are not clear, we are certain this will be an issue that will not go away easily come the 2024 election.
North Macedonia came into being when Yugoslavia dissolved in 1991. It joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1995 and that eventually led to alliance membership.