||Macedonia Renews Independence Vows; the World Rejoices
Macedonia Renews Independence Vows; the World Rejoices
Posted on Thursday, April 01 @ 00:00:00 EST by CDeliso
Amidst thunderous applause from the international community, Macedonia today declared its independence, announcing a wide-ranging platform of political innovations and reforms meant to highlight the dynamism so obvious in this self-confident Balkan state.
The wave of euphoria that gripped the country this week has proven both benevolent and infectious. Throngs of bystanders waved red-and-yellow flags and sang national songs outside the Parliament, and former rivals and enemies put aside their grievances to join in the new spirit of brotherhood that has swept over Macedonia these past few days.
The news of Macedonia's independence sent both the New York and London Stock Exchanges to ten-year highs. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rocketed even higher on news that Macedonia was considering pre-emptive military strikes against Taiwan for no other reason, it seemed, than boredom: "our troops are strong, our arsenals well-stocked," said a Defense Ministry spokesman. "And seeing that Macedonia suffers no internal dissent and has well-fortified borders, why not embark on a little foreign adventure?"
For their part, the new culture, finance, economy, and agriculture ministries quickly issued an ambitious five-point plan for invigorating Macedonia's economy.
The first plank of the reform plan will give diaspora Macedonians interested in investing in the country zero-taxation for the first 5 years of their investment. "We are happy to facilitate the bureaucratic aspects of this, too," said a Finance Ministry spokeswoman. "Our streamlined new process will now be conducted entirely on-line, and all necessary permits will be obtainable within just 2 working days."
The first part of the second plank involves the banking sector. “We are committed to a strong denar,” said Macedonian National Bank president Ljube Trpeski, “and we've already heard from our Bulgarian, Croatian and Slovenian counterparts, who are all interested in pegging their currencies to ours.”
Trpeski also announced his vision for Macedonia as an international center for banking. “We can provide a combination of high consumer trust, attractive interest rates, and most important of all in private banking, discretion. Forget Switzerland! We want to restore the lustre to private banking by promoting the 'no questions asked' policy, along with the unconditional commitment to customer privacy that made private banking so great in the first place.”
Thirdly, the National Bank and Finance Ministry announced that the commercial banks will offer 1.2 percent interest loans across the board to citizens interested in starting a company.
A fourth part of the stimulus bill seeks to exploit Macedonia's potential in the entertainment sphere. Government planners are keen on realizing Macedonia's potential as a low-cost center for film production. “Mark my words,” promised acclaimed Macedonian filmmaker Milcho Manchevski, “within five years, ‘Mollywood’ will be on the map- and all sectors of the economy, not to mention Macedonia’s culture life, will benefit.”
Another entertainment-related project, leisure industry development in the village of Kondovo, has won wide support from local and international investors alike. "Having built that massive and very shiny mosque in Kondovo a few years back, the Saudis were only to pleased to expand on the idea," said a Ministry of Culture official. "We agreed with them that all those dusty old Ottoman relics no longer hold any appeal for today's modern, upwardly-mobile Muslims. The Saudi contribution has brought out a little of that je ne sais quoi mystique so key to Wahhabi chic. A little bit of Vegas, baby."
"Therefore," the official revealed, "they've decided to expand the premises, add a water park for the kiddies and a casino for the grownups- it'll be called MacIslam."
When questioned regarding some residents' concerns at having such a facility so close to Skopje, the official gave his reassurances. " Don't worry, we know our target market well, and though he is a Saudi the strategic investor has agreed to trust us and go with a bit more Moroccan feel on the interior decorations. You know, it'll be just like on that show 'Clone.' Latin dancers dressed up in exotic Eastern headgear. The people will eat it up."
The final plank in Macedonia’s economic stimulus package seeks to exploit a more established industry, agriculture. To revitalize the country's legacy of agrarian greatness, the ministries offered farmers and would-be farmers alike a grant of 50,000 euros each to replace all their crops with poppies.
"We've tried with watermelons, but they're not profitable and they're just so damn heavy," said a spokesman for the ministry of agriculture. "Poppies, on the other hand, are a lazy man's crop- and lucrative, too.”
"Besides," the spokesmen went on to say, "this will set a great example for horizontal integration and maximum-value production- not to mention national pride and inter-ethnic cooperation. We’ve got it all figured out. The Macedonian farmers in Prilep and Strumica will grow and harvest the poppy plants, and our Albanian colleagues in Aracinovo and Tetovo have all the facilities in place to refine them into grade-A heroin. Then we'll call in the Vlachs to negotiate the best price.
"We used to do it, 100 years back," the spokesman said, "so why not do it again? After all, why should European consumers pay higher shipping costs to get their heroin all the way from Afghanistan, when Macedonia is so much closer?"
In the area of foreign policy, Macedonia quickly asserted itself, winning the admiration of nations around the world. European Commission boss Romano Prodi gushed that, “a better candidate for our union could not be imagined,” and predicted that the country would become a full member within 48 hours. The UN also voted unanimously to honor Macedonia with a permanent seat on the Security Council, a historic decision that attested to Macedonia’s strategic location, influence, and anticipated sagacity of counsel.
Among the first diplomatic well-wishers to arrive in Skopje was an entourage from the United States. When the American representatives stated their desire to obtain Macedonia's blessings and support for the Iraqi occupation, Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva politely replied that Macedonia could not condone an illegal war of aggression such as the Iraqi one was, and that they would do better seeking support from the ‘Big Three’- Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.
When reporters asked US Secretary of State Colin Powell for his reaction to this statement, Powell laughed and said, "...while we may not see eye to eye on this issue, Macedonia is nevertheless a great friend of the United States and we look forward to a long and happy partnership. And so what if they don't support my boss's war? Neither do I!"
Nevertheless, not wanting the government in Washington to lose too much face, Mitreva did however hasten to add that, "Macedonia gladly accepts America's proven commitment to upholding the very important issues of tolerance and diversity, and therefore the need to accept homosexuality.
America has shown us that gay marriage is a step in the right direction. We can only hope that the rest of Europe will stand firmly and closely behind us on this issue."
New Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was among the first to offer his congratulations. "Greece looks forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Macedonia," he says. "We Greeks have the highest estimation and respect for our Macedonian friends, and we hope that economic and diplomatic cooperation will prosper, according to the universal principles of fairness and equality for both parties.”
Continued Karamanlis, “when the negotiations are completed for the return of Cyprus to its rightful place within the Greek state, I am pleased to announced our government’s desire to return the Aegean portion of Macedonia to our Macedonian counterparts.”
To complete the round of impressive gains for Macedonia’s diplomacy and political life, former rebel leader Ali Ahmeti announced that as a gesture of goodwill his party was planning to step down from the government. Not to be outdone, ethnic rival Arben Xhaferi of the DPA was quick to add that he and his party would pledge their full support for Macedonia’s territorial integrity, laws, customs and symbols.
“In the spirit of brotherhood and admiration,” the Albanian elder statesman said, “we would like to congratulate our Macedonian brothers for winning their right to national self-determination. Hey, we Albanians already have two states. Therefore, we can afford to be magnanimous.”
Joked Ahmeti, in a warm, conspiratorial undertone, “some people are surprised at the DUI’s decision. Well, I’m here to tell you today that while participating in politics was kinda fun, we weren’t able to make quite as much money as we’d hoped. Besides, we’ve all got houses in Switzerland and other places that, to be frank, are a lot better than this dump.”
Aside from the aforementioned news, perhaps the most remarkable development of all was the decision that Macedonia would be not a republic, but rather a constitutional monarchy.
“We thought about, it and decided that the whole prime minister/president thing just wouldn’t work,” explained King Branko Crvenkovski, who was crowned at midday by Patriarch Stefan of the universally-recognized Macedonian Orthodox Church.
“First of all, a number of us were quite taken by the fine example of Great Britain. Instantly, we made the connection between great food and great teeth,” confided the monarch.
“And like the British,” King Crvenkovski added, “I’ll now be able to give out honorary knighthoods. That should be a hit for sure.”
“What the hell,” mused the king philosophically, “why waste our time with formalities like elections? This is so much easier. And being life-long ruler could turn out to be a lot of fun.”
One of King Crvenkovski’s first decrees was that fresh air would no longer be banned. “For too long, my children, you have labored under the false tyranny of promaja,” intoned the king sonorously, to the adoring crowds gathered in Skopje's sumptuous, marble-paved city square. “I intend to use my kingly powers to free you from the grip of this malignant oppressor. From now on, go forth freely, without any concern for the illusory, empty affliction that is promaja.
Be not afraid, my people. Breathe deeply and exult in your new freedom. Open the windows, open the doors. Feel the winds of change blowing across the land.
For, verily, this is the new Macedonia.
I have looked upon it, and I have seen that it is good- very good.”