by Sasha Uzunov
Switzerland, which has a sizeable Albanian community from Macedonia and Kosovo, has ruled out lobbying ethnic Albanian politicians in Macedonia to remove controversial World War II Albanian Nazi collaborator statues but has thrown its support for a planned referendum on Macedonia changing its name in order to join NATO and the EU.
The Swiss Embassy in Macedonia would not be drawn to comment on the status of ethnic Macedonians in neighbouring Greece, Bulgaria and Albania and their lack of rights.
A statement was issued by the Swiss Embassy:
"Switzerland is one of the largest bilateral donors to Macedonia. Our long-standing support dates back to 1992, and focuses on three domains: democratic governance, employment and economic development, and infrastructure and environment. Our current portfolio does not include activities to address issues related to dealing with the past such as the one you mention. However Switzerland strongly believes in a culture of remembrance as a way to facilitate social reconciliation after conflicts, and regularly engages with the concerned countries on such issues in our bilateral exchanges.
"Switzerland is also known as the bedrock of direct democracy, reflecting the great importance that our political system places on the freedom of choice and self-determination. Our government is holding referendums on a wide range of issues on a regular basis to allow the Swiss electorate to express their opinion on decisions taken by the parliament. We can only commend the Macedonian government’s proposal and parliament’s decision to submit the question of the name change to popular vote through a referendum.”
Over the past decade mainstream Albanian politicians in Macedonia have built statues to Xhem Hasa (aka Gostivari) and Aqif Krosi Recani, prominent leaders of the World War II Nazi quisling militia the Balli Kombetar. The Balli Kombetar was an active participant in ethnic cleansing of Macedonians in the west of the country and also collaborated in the Holocaust. - background story here
Ali Ahmeti, an ethnic Albanian from Macedonia, spent a decade living and working in Switzerland and was reputedly on a state disability pension when he launched a Kosovo Liberation Army invasion of Macedonia in 2001, which according to the Guardian newspaper was backed by the United States. see link here
Ahmeti was transformed from being a terrorist to a mainstream politician, in fact kingmaker, in Macedonia, setting the BDI (DUI) political party. He has backed the building of the Albanian Nazi statues in Macedonia.
The Swiss Embassy would not comment if Mr Ahmeti still draws a Swiss pension.
Media questions put to the Swiss Embassy in Macedonia:
Mr Stéphane Tomagian
Deputy head of mission at the Swiss Embassy, Macedonia
I wanted to bring to your attention an issue of grave concerns to Macedonians. You may or may not be aware but in the Republic of Macedonia over the last decade or so a number of statues to World War II Albanian Nazi collaborators have been built by mainstream ethnic Albanian political parties.
The Germany Deputy Ambassador to Macedonia Herr Marco Acquaticci has responded and indicated that he would look into the matter.
see link here.
The Australian Ambassador to Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, Mrs Julia Feeney has also expressed concern over these statues. see link here
1. Switzerland has remained silent over the building of Albanian Nazi statues in Macedonia. Why is that?
2. What measure will Switzerland take to convince Albanian politicians in Macedonia that Nazi statues is a grossl and insulting gesture to humanity?
3. Does Albanian politican Ali Ahmeti still receive a Swiss pension?
4. Successive Switzerland governments have done little or nothing about the basic human rights of ethnic Macedonians in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania. Why is that?
5. The Republic of Macedonia being forced to change its name will lead to the loss of Macedonian identity. Isn't this at odds with Switzerland's' long standing support for national self determination and identity?