“If I were to choose an identity, although my identity is already formed, I would, nevertheless, choose to have an identity that is also immortal. An identity that no one questions, the identity of humanity, to be a positive moment in a society, to contribute in it…:, stated activist Mersiha Smailovik at the panel discussion “Losing identity, or…?”, organized by CIVIL – Center for Freedom.
“The debate in Macedonia in terms of the Prespa Agreement has truly created a space – for people to take the right to say who has, and who doesn’t have the right to negotiate, or who has the right to talk about the identity within the framework of this agreement…A large part of my ethnic community, the Bosniak, were labelled as not having the right to negotiate about the Macedonian identity. We come back again to the question: who has the right to negotiate, or is the identity something that can be negotiated, or is that some kind of feeling that we have inside ourselves? I was born in Macedonia, but my identity as a member of the Bosniak community does not change, because I grew up with that identity, we speak Bosniak at home and I don’t change that feeling, although we very rarely visit the place we are from in Serbia…”, said Smailovik.
“That need to belong somewhere, that identity to be the key thing that will define you and to have everyone look at you through the prism of that identity, indeed, just makes the functioning more difficult in a normal society, one that we all dream of becoming. If I were to choose an identity, although my identity is already formed, I would, nevertheless, choose to also have an identity that is immortal. An identity that no one questions, the identity of humanity, to be a positive moment in a society, to contribute in it”, says Smailovik.
“What was interesting in relation to the debate on the referendum is that in the opposition party we have also such who do not belong to the Macedonian ethnic group. One of those representatives is a member of my, Bosniak, ethnic group, was glorified as a hero, who voted for constitutional changes. The comments were: “Well, how could he, traitor!”. The other ethnic communities are always traitors…And again the feeling that, if you are a member of a group and want to be part of that group, you have to have that mainstream thinking and attitude…Something that is different is not accepted, as a way of thinking, as an ethnicity or community…”, said Smailovik.
“Maybe when we criticize at public debates and conferences, wanting the system to be better, or the state to be better, we want to talk about Macedonia before the international community – in a far better light. And when we talk about the identity, I hope that all the ethnic communities will rise to what our primary identity is. And that we will all build a society that will truly be a much better place for living, and that we will get an epithet that we are – citizens of Europe…”, concluded Smailovik.
The statement of activist Smailovik is part of the project “Losing identity or…?”, which CIVIL – Center for Freedom is implementing in cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll Foundation from Germany. The views of about a dozen experts and creators of public opinion about the identity and social-political issues related to the process of overcoming the Macedonian-Greek name dispute will be published in the following days on CIVIL’s media platform. So far the views of Ljubco Georgievski, journalist Zvezdan Georgievski and Sinisa Stankovic have been published, and of professors Dr.Mirjana Najcevska, Dr. Katerina Kolozova, Dr. Mirjana Maleska and Dr. Saso Ordanoski. The views and analyses on what is being gained and what lost with the Prespa Agreement will also be published in a printed publication in December.
Camera: Аtanas Petrovski
Editing: Аrian Mehmeti
This post is also available in: Macedonian