The 2001 Macedonian Compromise with Greater Albania: Who Benefits?

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April 23, 2016 – 

By Filip Kostadinovski for Fort Russ – 

Edited by J. Arnoldski 

March, 2001 – Tetovo, a small town landlocked by mountains about 15 kilometers from the Kosovo border. The largest portion of the Albanian minority in Macedonia lives there. Two years following the Kosovo refugee crisis, previously ethnic-Macedonian villages became nests for the establishment of UCK (National Liberation Army of Albanians in Macedonia) enclaves. 

Macedonia sold its sovereignty for a few million dollars by recognizing Taiwan as an independent country, an act which triggered the Chinese UN SC envoys to recall the “blue helmets” from then war-torn Macedonia’s Kosovo border. An influx of UCK members set in, and they quickly imbedded themselves in mountain villages surrounding the town. 

The first bullets shot from the surrounding mountains hit Macedonian police. Nearly 10 months of heavy clashes between Macedonian police and UCK affiliates ended with the so-called “Ohrid Framework Agreement,” but today it seems that some want to alter this agreement and expand their prerogatives. 

Today, there is a literal absence of border security on the northwestern “red lines” where UCK units can freely move from Pristina to Skopje and beyond. In April 2015, for example, we saw how UCK members violated Macedonian territorial integrity and tortured border officers in Gosince. But who let them enter the country from Kosovo? It can’t be so simple that 20 terrorists violated the country’s integrity and then left as if nothing had happened. 

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The territorial division of 2004 led by Macedonian politicians prepared the ground for giving larger rights to ethnic Albanians. For example, if a municipality with 20,000 residents includes 15,000 Macedonians and 5,000 Albanians, while the nearest municipality  has 10,000 residents counting 8,000 Albanians and 2,000 Macedonians, then these two territories become adjoined (13,000 Albanians and 17,000 Macedonians), thereby automatically granting Albanians the opportunity to claim more rights. If this example is copied 20 times, then you have carved up the entire western part of Macedonia where Albanians now make up the “majority” and Macedonians the minority. Who is to blame for this “Greater Albania?” 

The Ohrid Framework Agreement also ensures that 25% of public administration positions be occupied by Albanians. This indirectly results in every Macedonian government having to be formed on the model of a Macedonian-Albanian coalition. Thus, sometimes UCK branch leaders become ministers, as is the case of the ex minister of defense who, what a shame, was a UCK leader. 

Some journalists in Macedonia – let’s call them  “ON-OFF” politicians – refer to Albanian politicians as the puppets of foreign embassies. This is proven by every Macedonian political crisis in which foreigners are involved (like the current one). 

Attacks take place, such as the Kumanovo attacks from last year in which 8 policemen lost their lives. But who is behind the attackers? Who is organizing ceremonies for terrorists when they return to Kosovo? 

The principle of reciprocity is also present. If a simple political crisis is to be solved, then one has to call 4 party leaders, 2 from Macedonian parties and 2 from Albanian ones, despite the fact that one of the Albanian parties may have significantly lower popularity than the Macedonian one. And, let’s not forget, one has to call the EU ambassadors too. What “sovereignty”! 

But back to the issue of Greater Albania. Greater Albania is a project which aims to absorb nearly half of Macedonian territory, including the economically powerful, Albanian-inhabited western regions which are more advanced than the ethnic-Macedonian eastern regions. Macedonian economic giants are placed here as a result of Albanians’ sense of doing business. And, on the other hand, Lazarat is not so far. And why call it a “project” when Skopje doesn’t even control the western region and everyone from the police to mayors governs everything parallel to Skopje? 

As in every agreement adorned by western signatures, the consequence is not a problem solved, but a frozen conflict. The problem is not solved if terrorist attacks occur almost every year and disputes with Kosovo frequently break out whenever there are incidents of Orthodox crosses or Albanian symbols confronting each other on the streets. Who profits from this frozen conflict? In whose interest is a frozen situation that can be destabilized at any moment? 

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