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Pen Pal Stevo Pendarovski – University American College Macedonia
It is understandable that global media will be shaping the patterns of local responses in the country of two million people, especially regarding the pivotal events with the far-reaching consequences.
Beyond doubt, Macedonia was at the receiving end of the post September 11 reporting which have originated mainly from the American soil.
The unavoidable components of the very first local news were emotions and empathy with the suffering of the ordinary people along the lines of the notorious phrase “We are all Americans today”.
Second “mandatory” element was the official viewpoint of the local institutions, with “barbaric” and “horrendous” being the two most frequently applied words of condemnation.
Lastly, literally each statement has automatically qualified the attacks as terrorism, without having a clue about the eventual perpetrators and their motives.
However, shortly afterward, reporting from the spot on the casualties and on the damage done began going in parallel with the analyses about the background of the whole event. Having been away for thousands of miles, local journalists have simply reproduced the media reports from the USA and their explanations on the surroundings on the event, without attempts to inject domestic input.
Few months later the then local political elite started to frame 9/11 in the local context publicly stating that allegedly two countries have similar problems facing terrorism. The background was ripe: in 2002 country have been through a complex post-reconciliation process between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians who year ago instigated an armed rebellion.
For the whole time a strong nationalist current in the Macedonian Government labeled Albanian extreme groups as terrorists and in the post- 9/11 context it seems appropriate for them to emphasize that while USA is not negotiating with terrorists Macedonia is doing quite the opposite.
Public reaction to the Governmental propaganda was meager. In general, majority of the people have been confused about the definitions while being aware that someone’s terrorist might be somebody’s freedom fighter. Ordinary citizens have shown a great sense of reality for the multiethnic composition of the country. The key tenet that common future should be forged by mutual commitments of all people, regardless of their ethnicity, still holds.