Macedonia in the crossroads

By Dr. Lisen Bashkurti

In December, Macedonia will be holding early elections, while its insecurity is growing every day.  Uncertainties for the future of this Balkan country are growing as the elections date is approaching.  Dilemmas are very complex; they are political, ethnic and geopolitical.  All of the internal actors seem to be very chaotic.  Meanwhile international actors, European Union, United States, NATO and Russia continue to hit each other with arrows over the turbulent environment of Macedonia.

For sometime Macedonia has been engulfed in a deep and complex crisis with a political, ethnic, institutional, socio-economic and geopolitical character in the region. During the last year, Macedonia’s crisis erupted due to the surveillance scandal led by its top government executives and in the recent months the massive crisis of immigrants coming from Syria, Central Asia and the Middle East has heated the situation ever more.

The main cause of this state of affairs is the VMRO-DPMNE Political Party of Nikola Gruevski that has been ruling Macedonia without democratic principles for almost a decade, embracing national-racist policies and the segregation rhetoric, with corrupt and criminal methods, with conspiring authoritarian practices as well as shady international geopolitical orientations.

Unfortunately Gruevski’s burden of failure is also carried by his close government collaborators, BDI Chairman Ali Ahmeti and PDSH Chairman Menduh Thaçi.  These two Albanian parties and their respective leaders during their government alliance with Mr. Gruevski could never impose the valuable principles of the Ohrid Agreement to the leaders of VMRO-DPNME including Gruevski; such an agreement has been intentionally sabotaged from Macedonian Governments since August 2001 until now.

If Macedonia happens to be collapsing due to the blunders of VMRO-DPMNE and Nikola Gruevski, the Albanian political factors are doomed to be engulfed into a deep chaos.  It appears that Macedonian crisis has generated a further turbulence among Albanians and their representative political institutions.  The old Albanian political leadership, but also their young leaders appear to be very confused.  Their political agendas do not converge in respect to the fundamental aspects that encompass the rights of Albanians based under the Ohrid Agreement.  Political fighting and personal turfs are becoming very conflictive.  Division at political levels appears to extend at the human level, as a result a highly needed synergy of ideas and a unified position that represents all Albanians is totally missing.

In such a highly critical situation the political and diplomatic class in the two Albanian states, Albania and Kosovo, are not paying a highly needed attention towards the Albanian leadership in Macedonia.

In order to avoid a wide Albanian political chaos in Macedonia its political leaders are required to have more specific aims that converge with a general Albanian political spectrum in that country.  It is imperative to have highly consolidated agendas coordinated among Albanian political leaders.  At the center of this convergence must be the strategic purpose of fulfilling every item and implement every aspect that has been agreed upon in the Ohrid Agreement.

The agreement framework of Ohrid has no political alternative.  It encompasses an agreement where national and international actors avoided an inter-ethnic conflict in August (2001); they initiated a constitutional reform and established the legislative and institutional basis for a democratic and a multiethnic state where freedoms, human rights and ethnic tolerance would be guaranteed.

The framework of the Ohrid Agreement has been intentionally sabotaged by VMRO-DPMNE during its years in government.  The main laws that sanction the respective representation of Albanians on every public institution have been partially implemented.  The law of Albanian language has not even been considered at the state level.  Legislation and measures that are required to be applied towards the former Kosovo Liberation Army’s disabled members and veterans have been completely ignored.  The legislation that establishes the rules on the use of Albanian National symbols continues to be selective and discriminatory.  The opportunities for economic and social development among Albanians and Macedonians continue to be very discriminative.

The highest level of ethnic differentiation was reflected on the urban development, infrastructure and cultural initiatives implemented by the “Skopje 2014 Project.”  This project spent over one billion Euros and was led by the nationalist and segregationist philosophy of Macedonia’s so called “Back to the Future” project, while projecting the future based on the false myths of their past.

As the false Propaganda Project was spending millions of Euros in the Eastern Part of Skopje, in the western parts of the city Albanian citizens are living in a ghetto, without electricity, without running water, without the minimal infrastructure conditions.  The situation in the historical, archeological sites and the conditions of households is even worse.

Meanwhile the government of Macedonia is spending millions of Euros to raise false historical realities, everything that belongs to the real historical sites of Albanians is succumbed into forgiveness and ruined.  It is very tragic: Macedonian lies are revitalized, while Albanian truths are dying.

Albanians in Macedonia have an immediate need of support from its neighboring countries.  Albania and Kosovo have a determining role towards defending the interests of Albanian population in Macedonia.  To accomplish this task they have the support of international legal instruments, European and Euro-Atlantic standards.  The reluctance and deep silence of these two countries in front of: the Macedonian Crisis; humiliation of Albanian population in Macedonia, is utterly unexplainable.

Albania is especially obliged and is its constitutional duty to defend the freedom of Albanians living in Macedonia.  The defense of these rights is a significant contribution towards the domestic stability of Macedonia and of the Balkans.  While there is a deep crisis in Macedonia, Albanian government diplomacy must be more active and constructive and not fall asleep and continue with its rhetorical mindset.

Meanwhile it is well known the fact that Albanians are not the cause of recent crisis in Macedonia; Albanians are only suffering its consequences.  Macedonia is in the middle of great dilemmas, which have created nationalistic policies that entail racism, strengthen Gruevski’s anti-democratic and his party’s anti-western attitude.

The propensity of Macedonian leaders continues to blame Albanians for every crisis that takes place in Skopje; such an unsubstantiated blame must stop.  Even for this reason there is a great need for an active and constructive role of Tirana’s official diplomatic channels to cooperate with Prishtina, work together with Albanian political elite in Macedonia and with Euro-Atlantic partners.

The current crises in Macedonia could escalate and reach perilous levels that could have a ripple effect throughout South Eastern Europe.  It appears that such an escalation is being aided by the Greek blockade towards Macedonia’s official name recognition as well as the Russian offensive of geopolitical interests.

It is already known that Macedonia has awakened the appetite of Moscow; meanwhile Russia is revitalizing an obvious nostalgia among the main political actors of Macedonia.  In this thunderstorm of crisis Macedonia is geopolitically quivering between the Western Democracies and Russia.

In the middle of such a geopolitical Euro-Russian shuddering of Macedonia only the human and political factor of Albanian leaders has been and continues to be the strongest and consistent pro Euro-Atlantic factor.  However and unfortunately the human and Albanian political factor in Macedonia continues to be weak, divided, confused and with a leadership that is not only incapable but also morally filthy.

The face of crisis in Macedonia may be hiding within its early elections; but only if these elections will be free and fair.  In order to ensure free and fair elections it is necessary to have a large and energetic international presence; among the highly influential international actors are the European Union and the United States of America.

This is the reason why there is an immediate need to secure a greater presence and a more energetic intervention of United States and European Union in order to ensure free and fair elections as well as bring Macedonia out of a crisis spiral where it is succumbed for almost a decade.  Macedonia continues to tumble and remain at the cross roads.  What will be its future like?!

Translation from Albanian language by Peter Tase

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Lisen Bashkurti

Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the President of Albanian Diplomatic Academy in Albania. Prof. Bashkurti has been a Chancellor in a number of Universities in the Balkan Peninsula. He is also the Global Vice President of Sun Moon University in South Korea. As a distinguished scholar of international relations he has received many international awards including: A “Gold Medal” for his research on US-Albanian Partnership,” “Four Silver Medals” for his great contribution during his service as Albania’s Ambassador to Hungary (1992-1993); appointed as “Peace Ambassador” from the International Peace Foundation, United Nations (2009). He is the author of more than 18 books that cover a range of issues including: International Affairs, Negotiations and Conflict Resolution, International Diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy and Diplomatic History. He is an honorary professor in many prestigious European Universities and an honorary fellow to a number of prominent International Institutions.

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