Two days after it began, the diplomatic row between Serbia and Macedonia has seemingly halted.
Tensions defused after a telephone call between the Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić who issued a joint announcement pledging to solve all misunderstandings through dialogue. Serbia announced the gradual return of their staff to the embassy in Skopje.
The front pages of Serbian pro-government media, which had screamed “War!” and blamed Macedonians for “backstabbing,” have taken a less inflammatory tone, and then dropped the subject altogether. On social media, the response to the media frenzy was almost unanimous across the region, with citizens expressing their indignation with warmongering.
Најбитно е што народите на Србија и Македонија ОДБИЈА да се скараат!
— Mindplumber (@mindplumber) August 23, 2017
The most important thing is that the people of Serbia and Macedonia REFUSED to be drawn into the quarrel!
Се утепавме од ретвитање и заследување едни други со србите овие два дена. Сакам да кажам као заеднички будали што може да те спојат – никој
— Ljubiša (@Sulimanovic) August 22, 2017
Both us and Serbians worked our fingers to the bone retweeting and following up with each other these two days. What I want to say is that nobody can unite you like common idiots!
Citizens across the region have praised the leading Macedonian daily “Slobodon Pecat” for its proper response to the warmongering rhetoric of Serbian tabloids. The August 23 front page displayed anti-Macedonian front pages along with a large headline in Serbian declaring “Brothers Serbs, we love you!” written in Macedonian Cyrillic.
— Una Hajdari (@UnaHajdari) August 23, 2017
Many Twitter users also continued mocking the warmongering, as well as pointing out the similarities between the populist regimes of Vučić and former Macedonian Prime Minister Gruevski (2006-2017).
Makedonac je izbio na treće mesto na listi najvećih srpskih neprijatelja.
Iza Promaje i Rominga
ispred Hrvata i Sapuna.
— Serge Truffaut (@WhistlerDick) August 22, 2017
Macedonians have reached the third place in the list of the biggest Serbian enemies.
Behind the promaja and roaming charges,
ahead of the Croats and soap.
Ја би идел у рат со Србите со жолта и овчо. Нивно е да донесат кајмак и чварки. Бар едно три дена би ратувал.
— Martin Nikolic (@Martin_Nikolic) August 22, 2017
Nego Makedonci, jel vam ostalo nešto od onih farbi i boja, i mi treba da krečimo do Nove godine.
— Tatjana Vojtehovski (@TVojtehovski) August 22, 2017
BTW Macedonians, do you have some of that paint left? We have some painting to do by the New Year.
‘Case closed’ — not likely!
The diplomatic crisis has unleashed additional information regarding the circumstances surrounding the presence of Serbian intelligence operative Goran Živaljević in the Macedonian Parliament during the ‘Bloody Thursday’ attack of April 27 when he made a selfie.
In an August 22 TV interview on Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), Serbian President Vučić explained that their agent was there with the permission of the highest executive authorities in Macedonia. However, VMRO-DPMNE, former ruling party of Macedonia at the time, issued a denial claiming Vučić was not telling the truth.
Сите биле недостапни за време на нападот со умисла во Собрание. Живаљевиќ ПРАШАЛ и добил дозвола од извршната власт да уџиџе. Кога и кого?
— В!Дана (@VidanaDeSign) August 23, 2017
All [top government officials] were inaccessible [for telephone contact] during the premeditated attack on the Parliament. Živaljević ASKED and received permission from the executive authorities to enter. When exactly and by whom?
The next day, RTS aired a statement by Živaljević himself claiming he was allowed to attend by a security adviser to the Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov. Ivanov gained his position thanks to VMRO-DPMNE and holds direct command over the Intelligence Agency.
Ivanov's cabinet then issued a denial of their own, claiming the Serbian agent did not ask for permission but called them later to secure an alibi. They insist “the case regarding Mr. Živaljević’s unauthorized stay in Parliament is closed after an agreement was reached between the services,” yet it seems the case is anything but closed.
— Andreja Stojkovski (@andrejas_mkd) August 24, 2017
Calls for a thorough inquiry into all aspects of ‘Bloody Thursday’ have intensified in recent days. Citizens ask for an investigation that may lead to charges of high treason and/or impeachment of officials colluding with foreign secret services during that critical night in April when Macedonia itself almost slid into civil war.