by Sasha Uzunov
The two year crisis in which Macedonia still finds itself in has only gotten worse. An indecisive election in December leaving no party from the Macedonian bloc able to claim a clear mandate to form government has left the ethnic Albanian parties in a huge bargaining position, so much so they are now going for broke. Their chance to push for federalisation of the country and with European Union and US backing.
In essence, the demands can never be met because they have no justification and are not intended to be met, and if they are met then they will simple lead to the federalisation of Macedonia and eventual partition and disappearance. To borrow the Henry Ford’s urban legend quote: “you can have any colour car you want, as long as it it black.”
see links here and here and here for more background.
A NEW SUDETEN CRISIS?
You might recall the Sudeten crisis in Czechoslovakia of 1938, where a sizable German minority, were allegedly persecuted at the hands of the ‘evil Slav’ Czechs and Slovaks, were making all sorts of demands which in essence were used by Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany as a pretext to dismember the Czechoslovakia. Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim “the Snake” Thaci are not Adolf Hitler but the technique is the same in ganging up on Macedonia. see link here
RAMA MELODRAMA ?
Albanian Prime Minister Rama (right) bringing all four major Albanian political parties from Macedonia to Tirana to work out a joint strategy had created panic stations, justifiably so, of an attempt of “foreign influence” in Macedonia. No leader from the Republic of Macedonia has ever dared to bring leaders of Macedonian ethnic minorities from Greece, Bulgaria and Albanian under the one roof in Skopje to discuss joint strategy. The juxtaposition has been well and truly noted. Yet there has been no reproach from the EU or the US for Rama to stay out. see link here
It is ironic that Macedonia’s destiny as a unitary state is being decided in Tirana.
There are two Albanian states in the Balkans; there are three Serbian states in the Balkans - Serbia, Montenegro, and Republika Srpska in Bosnia.
There is barely one Macedonian state in the Balkans. Macedonia has bent over backwards to please the EU and US and appease ever increasing Albanian demands, despite Albanian extremists from Kosovo kick starting an uprising in Macedonia in 2001, which had its genesis in NATO’s war in Kosovo in 1999.
THE “EVIL SLAV” TEMPLATE?
"In the broadest terms, Macedonia is characterised in the "Western" as a nation where the nationalist party, VMRO, sometimes ruthlessly suppresses the Albanian minority and aggravates tensions between ethnic Albanians and Slavic Macedonians. Nothing, in reality, could be further than the truth – but the perception of the "West" is, unfortunately, far more important than reality. The task to challenge and to reverse this perception may well come to represent the major security issue for Macedonia in the future."
- P. H. Liotta, Ph.D. - National Security Decision Making Department, U.S. Naval War College, 1999.
Albanians form about 15 to 25 % of Macedonia’s population, depending which figures you quote. An up to date census has not been held in over a decade, deliberately so by all political parties across the board - Macedonian and Albanian. A new census is urgently needed. Albanians in Macedonia enjoy more rights than those of their compatriots in Greece, a EU and NATO member, which still denies the existence of its Macedonian ethnic minority and mistreats the Turkish minority. Bulgaria, another EU and NATO member, still refuses to recognise the existence of a particular Macedonian ethnicity. There are also large pockets of ethnic Macedonians in Albanian, namely the Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo areas which straddle the border with the Republic of Macedonia.
Macedonia was partitioned in 1912-13 between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria after five hundred years of Turkish Ottoman rule. All three countries began a policy of brutal de-nationalisation and apartheid. In 1944, the part under Serbian colonial rule managed to raise itself on par with Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina as an “equal” republic in Tito’s Yugoslavia but with Belgrade still pulling the strings.
In 1991 with the collapse of Yugoslavia, Macedonia became independent for the first time in over a thousand years and Greece immediately began a campaign to destabilise the new state - at one stage ganging up with Serb rule Slobodan Milosevic with threats to Macedonia’s existence.
Macedonia’s ethnic Albanians as well as the small ethnic Serb minority refused to accept Macedonia’s independence and boycotted the independence referendum in early September 1991.
These are the demands of the Albanian bloc - we’ve broken them down and reordered them and explained the practical effect if they are implemented - assuming this is an accurate list of demands.
GROUP A demands:
Albanians to be considered a statehood nation;
The Albanian language to be in use in all levels of Government;
The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia should confirm that “the Macedonian language and the Cyrillic alphabet and the Albanian language and its alphabet are the official languages of the Republic of Macedonia”;
A complete debate on the flag, anthem and coat of arms in order for “state symbols to reflect social multi ethnicity and ethnic equality”;
Formation of a state commission on municipal financing, decision-making eligible for government grants in favour of municipalities;
Team Uzunov: It’s a strange way to support multi ethnicity when you are calling for a bi-cultural state. It’s simply a vehicle for federalisation; the creation of an Albanian canton or republic in Western Macedonia, which will then lead to ethnic Macedonians moving out. And after that secession. The intention is to create a Greater Albania.
GROUP B demand
Adoption of a resolution in Parliament condemning genocide of Albanians in Macedonia from the period 1912-1956;
Team Uzunov: Macedonia was under brutal Serbian colonial rule from 1912-41, savage Bulgarianist occupation 1941-44, and then under Yugoslavist rule from 1944, if anything that should be addressed to Serbia and Bulgaria. Macedonians suffered under the brutal colonial period and those Macedonians who opposed the communist system were made to leave via economic measures. Many more Macedonians suffered than Albanians. see link here
During World War II - from 1941-44 - Nazi Germany and its allies, Italy and Bulgaria, carved up Macedonia amongst themselves, with Bulgarian occupation rule being particularly nasty, leading to massacres of ethnic Macedonians and Albanians as well as the genocide of Macedonia’s Jewish community. A Macedonian partizan resistance movement, loosely consisting of Macedonian communists and nationalists joined forces to fight the fascist occupiers and collaborationists, including the Albanian Balle Kombetar (Ballists). In Albania, then an Italian protectorate, communist Enver Hoxha began his own anti fascist partizan movement.
GROUP C demand
Fair representation in the security, military, intelligence and justice services;
Team Uzunov: a loss of sovereignty over defence, policing and intelligence. The term “fair” is deliberately loaded.
GROUP D demands:
Solution of the name dispute in accordance with European values and principles of international law;
Adopting a common and binding resolution in Parliament which will insure that the Government will be committed to be actively involved in resolving the name dispute;
Inclusion of Albanians in the working group for direct negotiations with Greece;
Inclusion of Albanians in the working group for direct negotiations with Bulgaria;
Team Uzunov: In effect Macedonia giving up its name over Greek objections. No other way to put it.
GROUP E demands:
Cooperation with Kosovo and Albania for integrated border management;
Opening of new border crossings;
Team Uzunov: integration with a quasi Greater Albania and loss of central control over Western Macedonia where the ethnic Albanian community is concentrated.
Fair representation in all levels of the central government and in public offices or enterprises with public actions;
Complete clarification on issues and court proceedings such as “Sopot“, “Brodec“, “Monster” and “Kumanovo” by an inquiry or an international independent body;
Mark Branov, a Canadian Macedonian activist and former Editor of United Macedonian Diaspora’s (UMD) official publication, gave this response to the list of Albanian demands:
"The leaders of the Albanian parties - despite being populated by terrorists - seem to have the maturity to discuss common policy positions, whereas the Macedonian parties seem to think of democracy as not pertaining to cooperation, even on vital issues of national interest. It is little wonder that the Albanian minority is implementing its agenda steadily over time, with the assistance of outside forces. The Macedonian parties seem more interested in ripping each other to shreds at the expense of the country. Rama is coordinating his people’s cooperation openly from a foreign capital, and that is somehow considered perfectly ok.
Meanwhile, some Macedonian leaders take the bizarre view that discussing Aegean Macedonian [ethnic Macedonians within Greece] human rights is out of bounds, and it mustn’t be mentioned in deference to the internal affairs of other countries. In some cases, Macedonian parties don't seem to have any coherent policy positions, even on issues as fundamental as the identity of the nation."
BREAKDOWN BOSNIA? An omen for Bosnia-Hercegovina - with its own restive Serb population led by hard case nationalist Milorad Dodik? Should Macedonia be federalised that could give Dodik the pretext to call for Republika Srpska to take the next step and secede from the Bosnian federation. Or will it give Dodik time to reflect and pull back? Dodik has played off the US and Russia nicely: one minute indulging in anti American rhetoric but employing a team of expensive lobbyists to promote Republika Srpska in the US and at the same time supporting the Russians….
A lot is riding on what happens in Macedonia and for the Balkans, and for Macedonians and Bosniaks alike. Ex British diplomat and “strategic analyst” Timothy Less has made his thoughts clear on the issue - saying that Macedonia and Bosnia should be the big losers whilst Albanians will be further rewarded with a chunk of Macedonia and Serbs compensated for the territorial loss of Kosovo… see link here and here
It is no coincidence with the Albanian deal going down in Tirana, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who has a history of making racist comments about Macedonians, issued a recent statement about Serbia making a “mistake” in recognising Macedonia under its constitutional name in 1995 despite the bullying and colluding with Greece by Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. see link here.
Dacic has also told a blatant lie in referring to Royalist Yugoslavia as treating non-Serbs fairly. Serbia’s colonial rule in Macedonia beginning in 1912 was tantamount to a brutal colonial occupation on par with South Africa’s apartheid regime. The Dacic outburst has been interpreted as Belgrade cutting off its support for a former ally, Gruevski and further isolating him and his VMRO-DPMNE party. Some are saying it is at the behest of Washington; whilst some believe it’s a deliberate Russian provocation. But it could be just down to Serbian nationalist demands. Time will tell. Serbia traditionally is a Greek ally.
SERBIA’S SHEIKH DOWN !Moreover, Serbia and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) have excellent relations despite the latter supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army’s fight for Kosovo breaking away from Serbia’s rule in the 1999 NATO war and also recognising Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. see link here
His recent dummy spit is that he is upset that Macedonia recognised Kosovo in 2008. But it’s an odd statement to make considering Serbia and Macedonia signed an agreement to share embassies, which took some by some surprise. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic had endorsed now deposed Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski for years and years.
Photo: Dacic (right) and Gruevski (left) in “happier times” in 2014 over the “joint embassy deal” which came as a surprise from a Macedonian government playing the patriotism card for the electorate.
In hindsight, it may have been better for Macedonia to have drawn closer to Croatia, a mutual friend of both Macedonians and Albanians as a way of taking the sting out of the Albanian nationalist stereotype of “evil Slav” template used unfairly against Macedonians in the international media. see link here