European Union Ambassador to Macedonia Samuel Zbogar was widely mocked yesterday after he announced a package of coronavirus assistance made of a 1.000 blankets, some tents and five generators.
Zbogar’s comments on the social media were immediately swamped with ironic replies from people expressing their gratitude for the “generous” assistance. Many Macedonians remain sore at the EU for the imposed name change on top of decades of humiliations, which still hasn’t resulted even in opening the accession talks.
Zbogar later announced that Macedonia will be made eligible for a loan mechanism of up to 160 million EUR to help the economy handle the huge losses linked to the epidemic shutdown, but this did little to improve the initial public perception.
Some were even speculating that there is an ulterior motive to the aid – given that the EU recently approved a similar package of blankets, mattresses and tents for Serbia, but there it is meant for the several thousand migrants who remain stranded along the Balkan route. Macedonia has few illegal migrants kept in the two reception centers on the borders with Greece and Serbia, but many are hiding in villages along the border with Serbia, in houses provided by smugglers who are moving them across the border.