Macedonia: Can Macedonia survive as a state?

Posted in Europe | 28-Jun-06

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the current political situation in Macedonia where the pre-election campaign has started for the general elections which are to be held on 5 July 2006. The most relevant and interesting sections from the comprehensive analysis are given below.

The pre-election campaign for the general parliamentary elections in Macedonia was officially launched on 15 June 2006, while the date set for the elections is 5 July 2006.

About 1,600,000 citizens have the right to vote at the forthcoming elections at which 31 political parties/coalitions and 2 independent lists will take part. The 2,620 candidates organised in 131 lists will compete for entering the Macedonian Parliament (Sobran) which has 120 seats. The leading parties at the forthcoming elections are: VMRO-DPMNE (the opposition and conservative party), SDSM (the ruling social-democratic party), DPA (the opposition Albanian party), DUI (the ruling Albanian party), NSDP (new social-democrats), VMRO-NP (nationalistic right party), DOM (new central political party) etc. There are also political parties of minorities (Turks, Bosniaks, Serbs, Romanies) who will have their representatives in the Macedonian Parliament.

Before the beginning of the pre-election campaign the Council of Europe called upon the political parties which will take part in the elections to undertake to respect the pre-election rules and to run the campaign in a fair and correct manner. The elections to be held on 5 July are of great importance since they will confirm whether Macedonia is a mature and democratic state or it will eventually suffer internal disintegration.

Internal disintegration of the state is the most complex and enigmatic phenomenon. Despite great internal and external antagonism, economic problems and various collapses in the functioning of state administration, many states still manage to survive. On the other hand, despite the positive signs of development some states experience implosion and eventually disintegrate and disappear as if they never existed. The IFIMES International Institute believes that Macedonia is facing those challenges.

According to the IFIMES International Institute, the main competing parties at the forthcoming elections will be VMRO-DPMNE against SDSM (within the so called Macedonian political parties block ) and DPA against DUI (within the so called Albanian political parties block). There will be a fierce fight between the parties with similar programmes, i.e. parties which sprang from the mother party: VMPRO-DPMNE against VMRO-NP and SDSM against NSDP, which will have to fight for the votes of the same voting body.

During the past four years the largest opposition parties (VMPRO-DPMNE and DPA) have been successfully "hunting" the mistakes, failures and deviations from the programme of the ruling SDSM and DUI, which, according to estimations, did not fulfil even 50 % of their pre-election programme.

The present Prime Minister and President of SDSM Vlado Buckovski has found himself in an unenviable position since Tito Petkovski has unexpectedly withdrawn from the leadership of SDSM and as a strong moral authority together with a group of followers formed a new NSDP party (New Socialdemocratic Party) which has managed to endanger the position of SDSM just before the elections and to decrease its public rating. Other opposition parties from the Macedonian block VMPRO-DPMNE, VMRO-NP, DP and others are also strong opponents of the present government.

Two VMRO representatives, Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE) and Ljupco Georgievski (VMRO-NP), have announced the victory and the spectacular come back to the political scene of, as well as potential coalition partnership with, Arben Xhaferi (DPA) who is held to be one of the most experienced and popular politicians among the Albanians in Macedonia as well as in the wider region. Thus, following the elections, the coalition between VMRO-DPMNE and DPA may be expected as announced by the political leaders of these parties as well as by the activists in the field.

The fact is that during the past four years DUI has not striven for the concrete implementation of the Ohrid Agreement and that it is still a military political party (armed incidents) resulting from the war (2001). The predicted loss of power has stimulated DUI to behave irrationally by causing over 10 armed incidents so far. By provoking incidents DUI is trying to attract attention and thus eventually regain the trust of the voting body. DUI leader Ali Ahmeti is trying to make some "cosmetic" corrections to his party by moving the members from PDP to DUI (such as cases in Kumanovo, Struga, Debar and Gostivar) and provoking armed incidents in which he is assisted by some criminal structures (Enver, Sefo, Ševalj etc.) targeted at the DPA members and activists. Moreover, Ali Ahmeti (DUI) hopes to enter into partnership with Abduladi Vejseli from PDP, an exploited and useless Albanian party which is like a recidivism of the past.

Bardhyl Mahmuti's participation at the pre-election campaign has strengthened the position of DPA, since Mahmuti is a young intellectual and political activist who used to live in Switzerland and who is held in high esteem by the Albanians in Macedonia where he comes from and in Kosovo. Mahmuti was also the promoter of the idea of union with Kosovo. The analysts believe that his presence in the election campaign in Macedonia will be of great importance and could cause a political turnabout. The decision of the DPA leadership to place some of the prominent intellectuals on its list has strengthened its position and increased its chances for victory at the forthcoming elections.

The loss of power has been indirectly announced also by the present Prime Minister and President of SDSM Vlado Buckovski who does not exclude the possibility for a large post-election coalition thus indirectly implying the defeat of his party at the forthcoming elections.

The IFIMES International Institute believes that by its structure Macedonia is not a national state but a multiethnic society and as such has to establish the national balance. The fact is that the Macedonians keep a greater ethnic distance towards the Albanians than towards the Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, Turks and Romanies. The Macedonian Albanians are an autochthon nation which has created the cultural values and acted in synchrony with other Albanian regions in the Balkans. Unlike the Serbian strategy which dictated Serbian parties in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from Belgrade as the centre, the Albanian political centres and their legitimate representatives did not support the Albanian uprising despite the will of the citizens who joined the UÇK and although Albanians had a real possibility to win the fight. Both Prishtina and Tirana distanced themselves from the uprising and demanded the legitimate Albanian representatives in Macedonia to actively strive to stop the clashes. The Albanian side thus opted for the democratisation of the crisis instead of its additional militarisation which was the aim of Macedonian political centres.

During the uprising in 2001 the Albanians made three completely appropriate demands:

-official use of the Albanian language,

-adequate representation in the administration and state institutions, and

-application of the model of consensual democracy which would prevent ethnic majorisation.

The IFIMES International Institute draws attention to the difference between the concepts of multiethnic society and multiethnic state. The problems arise when the mechanisms for reflecting the multiethnic character of the society in the state authorities are being established, which means that the problem lies in the functioning of the multiethnic society. Macedonia as a state is not ready to function according to the multiethnic society principle. Instead of striving to resolve those problems, the state of Macedonia is not changing the reality - the concept of ethnocentrism - but only the rhetoric.

Data on the sample:
• The sample: random, three-stage
• Size of the sample: 1.366 respondents (male and female citizens of lawful age)
• Methodology: telephone survey
• Period: June 12 to 16, 2006
• Degree of reliability: 95%
• Control: per 10% specimens
• Standard deviation: +/- 3
• Territory: Macedonia

- WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR IF THE ELECTIONS WERE HELD TODAY IN MACEDONIA?

VMRO-DPMNE 25,60 %
SDSM 17,20 %
DUI 18,10 %
DPA 17,60 %
NSDP 8,70 %
VMRO-NP 5,10 %
DOM 2,20 %
OTHER 5,50 %

Data on the sample:
• The sample: random, three-stage
• Size of the sample: 1.366 respondents (male and female citizens of lawful age)
• Methodology: telephone survey
• Period: June 12 to 16, 2006
• Degree of reliability: 95%
• Control: per 10% specimens
• Standard deviation: +/- 3
• Territory: Macedonia

- WILL YOU TAKE PART AT THE FORTHCOMING GENERAL ELECTIONS ON 5 JULY 2006?

- YES 54,20 %
- NO 28,40 %
- I DON'T KNOW 17,40 %

The IFIMES International Institute believes that with the present principles of functioning Macedonia will not be able so survive as a state unless a radical transformation of the multiethnic society into an appropriate concept of multiethnic state is achieved thus creating a national balance in the governing structures. IFIMES has established that all the leading positions in the state of Macedonia such as: president of the republic, president of the parliament, prime minister, president of the constitutional court, minister of the interior, minister of the exterior, defence minister, chief of the general staff etc. are occupied exclusively by the Macedonians. Only this year Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts accepted one Albanian member for the first time.

Will Macedonia share the destiny of Yugoslavia? It depends on Macedonia itself. Neither accession to EU nor to NATO can artificially alleviate ethnic conflicts, just as it was not possible in other European states. If multiethnic societies and states wish to survive, they have to establish a national balance between the ethnic communities in the governing structures. The responsibility for achieving such a solution practically always lies with the majority nation, and in case of Macedonia also with the EU.

Ljubljana, June 23, 2006

International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) – Ljubljana

Director:
Bakhtyar Aljaf

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