Tuesday, May 28, 2024

AGAIN, A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE OHIR AGREEMENT

During these two decades, the Ohrid Framework Agreement (FRA) was belittled, alternatives were proposed and are being proposed, it was declared dead… The opponents of this document did not take into account that in this way they expressed ingratitude towards the efforts of the international factor (USA, EU, NATO, OSCE) to prevent a civil war, as seen in Bosnia. There is no agreement that can solve all problems, therefore MKO is only a platform for overcoming them in a peaceful and civilized way. Therefore, the observance of MKO is the cultivation of peace and progress. Its devaluation, disrespect and contempt is an attempt to undermine peace.

Author: Xhelal Neziri 

They say that war is a continuation of politics by other means. Such was the conflict of 2001. Before 22 years, the majority of Albanians supported the activities of the National Liberation Army (KLA) in its aim to change the Constitution and make the state equal for all. They seemed to have lost faith in their then main parties, the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD) and the Albanian Democratic Party (PDSH). Both political entities from 1991 acted with political means to achieve equality. But after 10 years it was seen that they achieved very little of what was expected.

Albanian politicians, who were active in that period, say that they had pressure from Tirana and Pristina to remain calm. This narrow scope of action did not promise quick results. Taking into account the geopolitical reality at that time, perhaps it was not possible more.

THE FIRST VMRO-PDSH GOVERNMENT

The impression that the political means to achieve the goals have been exhausted was reinforced especially at the beginning of 2001, when the wars in Kosovo and the Presheva Valley (Southern Serbia) had ended. Even the Prime Minister at the time, Lubço Georgievski (1998-2002), understood that it was North Macedonia’s turn. He had risen to the top of politics using strong ethno-nationalist and anti-Albanian language. He was sitting in the prime minister’s chair with only 27 years of age and without a single day of work experience. The coalition partner had chosen the pair Arbër Xhaferi-Menduh Thaçi, leaders who led an ethno-nationalist party (PDSH). In some cases, the DPSH had organized a parade of the so-called “black shirts”, groups that resembled military units. The project with which PDSH came to power in 1998 was the Macedonian-Albanian Historical Agreement, which would shape the common state of two equal ethnicities. The subtext of the political action of the political binomial Xhaferi-Thaçi was – either an agreement with politics, or with war.

They agreed with Georgievski to advance the status of Albanians, but step by step. Starting from higher education to the official use of the Albanian language. A process of rebuilding the state, which was built only on the will of the Macedonian ethnic group

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Seeing the danger from Kosovo, but also the fatigue of Serbia from the wars as well as the capture of Bulgaria by the mafia, Georgievski tried to get closer to the Albanians. During the 1999 war, Georgievski and Xhaferi had secretly helped Hashim Thaçi and other KLA leaders. After the end of the war, Thaçi, as prime minister of the transitional government, made his first visit to Skopje, where he was given a high protocol reception by Georgievski.

THE APPEARANCE OF ALI AHMET ON THE SCENE

What Georgievski and Xhaferi-Thaçi did not calculate well was the end of the Albanians’ patience, even though not even a decade had passed since the beginning of democratic activities in the country. Only 10 years after the declaration of independence of North Macedonia, the ethnic Albanians seemed to have the feeling of being left behind in enjoying the freedom promised by the long-awaited democracy. In the public opinion of the Albanians, the confidence in the political parties that represented them in the institutions began to decline. Not only in parties, but also in politics in general. A faster solution was required, without many procedures.

Meanwhile, within the LPK there were post-war divisions. The North Macedonian branch was left alone after the departure of most of the members from Kosovo. Fazli Veliu and Ali Ahmeti, who were considered the founders of the LPK and the initiators of the war in Kosovo, were left alone and stopped to visit their homeland. North Macedonia continued to search for them because of the accusations that they were behind several bomb attacks against the country’s institutions.

Without clear support from Prishtina or Tirana, Ahmeti began activities on the ground with the formation of the first KLA cells, now in North Macedonia, where his birthplace is located. Within a few months this structure received great support in the field. Georgievski’s emotional activities, with raids and police actions in the regions inhabited by an ethnic Albanian majority, seemed to strengthen even more the support of the Albanians for the KLA.

The war lasted 8 months and took nearly 120 victims. A conflict observed very closely by the international factor in order to prevent the civil war and the massacres that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

SIGNING OF THE OHIR AGREEMENT

The achievement of the Ohrid Agreement in August 2001 restored peace to the country. With this, he prevented possible massacres or genocides that would have been produced by the civil war, towards which the country was sliding. A successful story of Brussels and Washington, after some mistakes in Bosnia or Kosovo. A great success of diplomacy. The agreement established a clear framework – there is no territorial solution to problems and no violence will be used to achieve political goals. The spirit of this document was the redesign of the state as the home of all who live there. The constitutional changes imposed by this Agreement were aimed at achieving civil equality, where every individual will live with dignity enjoying all individual and collective rights. The fate of North Macedonia would not be in the hands of ethnic Macedonians alone. The first preamble even clearly defined the country as a citizen state. This definition remained even after the intervention during the implementation of the Agreement, but at the same time it also mentioned the ethnic groups, ranked according to their size. Even the Albanian language was reformulated during the negotiations as “a language spoken by over 20% of the population”, but it was clear that only Albanian met this threshold. Two things that changed in form but not in content.

The “Historical Agreement” of the binomial Xhaferi-Thaçi had already taken concrete form as the “Ohrid Agreement” of Ahmet. If Xhaferi and Thaçi hoped that with Georgievski they will slowly implement the Historical Agreement, convincing the Macedonian factor of that necessity, Ahmeti imposed the Ohrid Agreement. The change of the Constitution and the approval of the amendments was a drama in itself, but also a warning about the difficulties in implementing this imposed document.

Today, when the jubilee of this document is marked, there are many parts of it that are only formally fulfilled, but are not implemented in practice. The language law was introduced in 2017, but there are still institutions or companies that do not apply that law. Fair representation has not been achieved in some institutions, which continue to remain closed to personnel from other ethnicities. Equal regional development has not been achieved – Pollogu and the North-Eastern region remain the two poorest regions out of a total of 8 in the country. Decentralization fails to bring the expected results – semi-functional municipalities are often saved by the intervention of the central government.

However, the Ohrid Agreement has greatly improved the position not only of Albanians in North Macedonia, but also of other smaller ethnic groups. It is a good basis for a reconceptualization of the state, which would mean the construction of a geographic-territorial state identity, which would be inclusive for all ethnicities, instead of the ethno-nationalist one, which was exclusive for smaller ethnicities. . So a spirit where the state would belong to everyone, not just one ethnic group. This cannot be achieved immediately as it is a process that can take years.

22 years after the signing of the Ohrid Agreement, North Macedonia is a member of NATO, a country with negotiations for EU membership and a functional, integrated and modern state. This document has been and remains the geostrategic compass of the country, which guarantees the orientation towards the values ​​of the Euro-Atlantic structures.

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