No Middle Ground

Meri Jordanovska

Nikola Naumoski, a civil society activist who had criticised the government, was stopped and searched by the police in the Macedonian capital, Skopje. By way of explanation, he says the officers told him: “Nothing happens by accident.”

The police meanwhile say they were only doing their job, working “for the safety of citizens, whether anyone likes it or not”.

And what do I say? I have long known that the state institutions in my country are deeply politicised. But I never realised how politics had penetrated our society until I began examining the world of non-governmental organisations, or NGOs.

I had always thought these organisations were here to protect the rights of the citizens, and to campaign on their behalf for a better society.

Recently, my opinion has changed. I have seen countless cases of political interests masquerading as domestic and international NGOs. Many seem to be working for partisan causes. The few idealists in the sector are increasingly isolated.

“Every project I make, whatever I do, I feel like a traitor,” an NGO worker told me at a recent conference. “My friends lost their jobs and their homes because they fought for what they believed in.”

Our politically polarised society no longer believes you have the right to stand for your own opinion. Either you are with them, or against them. There is no middle ground.