AIM: start

SAT, 12 JAN 2002 12:25:29 GMT

An Ever Open Add for a Savior

If anyone chose to ask for their opinion, the citizens of Macedonia would probably opt for this New Year to bring them back if not better times than, at the least, the good old Communist past

AIM Skopje, December 25,12. 2002.

In the decade since gaining independence Macedonia has become a hostage of the spent political models offered by the two major parties by rule securing the majority of votes in past elections ( which does not necessarily mean their electoral success matches their popularity, but rather that they are merely the most boisterous of those running the race ) - the two parties in question being Ljubco Georgievski's VMRO-DPMNE and the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia ( SDSM ) headed by Branko Crvenkovski. The above mentioned "enfant terrible " figures of the Macedonian pluralistic political scene have by now had a chance to demonstrate their potentials to the full and are at present reduced to performing stale hat tricks which no longer impress anyone.

According to the poll recently carried out by the authoritative US Republican Institute, if parliamentary elections were to be held in Macedonia at this very moment, all SDSM could hope for are some 25 per cents of the votes, while Prime Minister Georgievski and his party would have to content themselves with a result somewhat under ten per cent of the electorate. The prospects of all other parties in such a case would be even grimmer. In some other country with a long-standing legacy of democratic rule, that would probably go to say that its citizens have it so good that they are simply apolitical ( or, to be more precise, that they could care less as to who is at the helm of the government at the moment ). But, we are speaking of Macedonia and sociologists here believe the two dominant political models available have grown threadbare, meaning changes are in order. It seems as if the officials of the international community directly involved in the matter in past months have come to the very same conclusion. They have come to know their Skopje collocutors well enough to realize they lack necessary prerequisites for pulling the country out of its present predicament.

Whenever there is a row between the factions of a major party, rumors of a new way out of the deadlock, some " third path " which will bring about salvation follow. Vasil Tupurkovski's Democratic Alternative ( DA ) is the most recent victim of factional strife. The five remaining DA parliament members ( nine have already gone their separate ways ) have - much in the manner of a woman who has found a lover - shocked their unsuspecting party boss by declaring that they are " fully packed " and about to leave him for the " new love of their lives". Having very few fans among local journalists, a sentiment dating back to the times of former Yugoslavia, many have rushed to maliciously conclude that the Ostap Bender of Macedonian politics is about to end his career in line with his political practices: as a victim of " suspect political dealings " he has always been so fond of. But, the unflinching Tupurkovski insists all is well with him and his party, claiming he still enjoys the support of the DA membership and hinting at a new solution up his sleeve, a " third path " midway between those offered by Ljubco and Branko. Whether the voters believe him or not will be known at next elections.

As in most spicy stories of adultery, the media seem to be much more interested in the fate of the unfaithful. Curators of souls on duty would just love to find out if the five " adulterers" will abandon themselves to the protecting embrace of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE which would not mind adding five more MPs to its list or if, perhaps, they have some other plans. Those who have split up with Tupurkovski previously have cashed in their abrupt sympathies for Prime Minister Georgievski well. One of them, the leader of the New Democracy ( a party formed from a former faction of Tuporkovski's DA ) has gone all the way up to the post of the head of Macedonian diplomacy. Quite a number of his sort have also realized just how profitable associating with Ljubco might turn out to be.

If, per chance, the newly fledged independent MPs decide to take a truly independent course of action and embark on an undertaking of their own, they should probably take heed of the ingenuous advice offered them by the sole Roma member of parliament, Amdi Bajrami - without the support of his electoral base they have nothing to hope for in politics! For, what have the defectors from the Democratic Alternative - a party reputed as being a nursery of intellectuals - have to offer apart from their alleged intellectual powers? After all, these Messiahs have not offered the public a single tangible proof of their biblical wisdom up to now ! May it be that they need a push from someone to show what they are capable of?

If so, it may well turn out that this someone happens to be the singing businessman Trifun Kostovski who, it is said, has made his fortune trading with countries established following the brake up of the former Soviet Union. The said gentleman is also locally known as a patron of arts, an aspiring folk singer and, as many suspect, a discrete " advisor " of all Macedonian governments in recent years. All he needs to do now is to sit down, collect his thoughts and calculate if engaging in politics would bring him a large enough return. This would also involve his decision on the possibility of investing in the intellectual ( DA ) branch of the local political scene. If Trifun decides against it, no one else is likely to do so in the foreseeable future!

For the sake of symmetry, local media engage in similar title-tattle concerning the ethnic Albanian political block as well. According to the latest gossip, the political leader of the self disbanded National Liberation Army ( NLA ) Ali Ahmeti and the former mayor of Gostivar Rufi Osmani are on the brink of forming a new political party. At the moment, the widespread belief that the National Democratic Party of Kastriot Haxhirexh is to assume the role of the rightful heir of the political wing of NLA seems highly improbable. Sooner or later, Ahmeti will rightfully wish to collect what is due him in terms of the highly esteemed freedom fighter status he enjoys. And when that happens, there will be no one to equal him! Nevertheless, in a recent interview to Reuters Ahmeti stated he was aware of the discontent brewing among the Macedonian majority, claiming he has no wish to further complicate things at the moment.

The well informed believe such a stand has more to do with international pressure exerted on him than with any conclusions Ahmeti himself might have come to. Whatever the case, connoisseurs of the Macedonian political scene believe Ahmeti is likely to make use of the existing infrastructure of major ethnic Albanian political parties. The leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians Arben Xhaferi - for a long time believed to be the most influential politician among the ethnic Albanian community - is a man of desperately fragile health in dire need to be substituted. Ahmeti might turn out to be the very one satisfying the strict criteria of the international community for fitting his shoes, primarily thanks to the reputation of being a man who sticks to his word. If this happens, all that would be needed next is to cheer up the Macedonianas or, if this fails, give them ample time to realize Ahmeti is their best possible choice of a mediator with the ethnic Albanian community.

In any case, the contest for a savior which is to deliver Macedonia from it present predicament is still open. At the moment, it seems as if the ethnic Albanian community is more likely to solve problems burdening it than their Macedonian counterparts. If anyone chose to ask them what their New Year wishes were, Macedonians would probably say all their hopes are aimed at a better future. Or, if that proves to be impossible, a return to the good old past of Socialist Yugoslavia.