At first glance, Macedonia is a model multi-ethnic state. Prime Minister Ljubčo Georgievski, who came to power allied with Arben Xhaferi's Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), declared the country peacefully multi-ethnic. Boris Trajkovski was elected president of Macedonia with the support of Albanian parties, as he promised more rights to the Albanian minority.
In a recent interview with CER, Prime Minister Georgievski said, "None of their [Albanian's] demands in the last decade were presented either to the Macedonian Parliament or to the government."
Anyone who has attentively followed the current crisis in Macedonia has surely heard Arben Xhaferi's statements, which his governing ally, Georgievski, seems to have missed. Xhaferi told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, "I'm not a militarist, and, as such, I never accept fighting as an instrument to achieve political goals, but it is very important to point out that [the] demands of the fighters are the same as ours."
Seemingly, the two main political parties that govern Macedonia are too far apart from each other.
Toward a solution, or...
"Macedonian authorities have hesitated during these last years to give the due space to the realization of the right changes, even constitutional ones, which could make possible the implementation of Albanian demands," Tritan Shehu, Albania's former foreign minister, said recently.
Meanwhile, it should be said that the ruling style of Boris Trajkovski and Ljubčo Georgievski continues to marginalize Macedonia's Albanian political parties, which have hitherto taken a very patient and moderate approach.
Hard-line Albanians harshly oppose Xhaferi's approach to the last crisis, and they immediately launched a negative campaign against his party. Xhaferi's former ally, present political rival and former mayor of Gostivar, Rufi Osmani, has publicly announced his support for the Albanian fighters.
"As the Macedonian military forces surround the Albanian guerrillas in northern Macedonia, a democratic international pressure fortunately encircles the Macedonian state," said Mustafa Nano, an independent analyst for the Albanian newspaper Shekulli.
Time to vote
On 8 May, the Macedonian Parliament was set to vote on a proposal from Georgievski's government, which would give the government and security forces more freedom to deal with the rebels who are still fighting in northern Macedonia.
This brought to the fore the very serious prospect of an ethnic split between the majority Slavs and Macedonia's Albanians and made a radical unified front of Albanians a distinct possibility.
But, unlike Macedonian conservative leaders, international diplomats, who surely have blamed the guerrillas, were keen to avoid the prospect of an official declaration of a state of war for fear of alienating the ethnic Albanians even more.
Xhaferi's DPA warned immediately that it would leave the governing coalition if plans to declare a state of war on rebel ethnic Albanians move forward. "We are against the tendency to militarize the state. If they proclaim a state of war, we do not want to stay in the coalition," said Xhaferi, who has always been able to discern justice from justifiable action.
"Rather than talk about a state of war, we should discuss a state of peace," said the European Union's Javier Solana, before flying to Macedonia.
"We're not going to see a state of war," declared Solana after having talked with President Trajkovski and Prime Minister Georgievski.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, stressing the importance of continuing the dialogue between the country's political leaders, reiterated his call for a "complete cessation of violence" in Macedonia and a "strengthening [of] multi-ethnic relations and democratic norms for restoring stability." That is the key issue, according to Annan.
Lastly, with international pressure, the leaders of the main political parties in Macedonia have agreed to form a government of national unity in a bid to stem the threat of a civil war.
The initiative includes all the main Albanian and Slav parties. Let's hope it is a coherent and sincere step towards permanent peace in Macedonia.
Artur Nura, 14 May 2001
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