TUE, 12 FEB 2002 00:35:01 GMT
All the Power to “Politburo”!
The fateful decisions for Macedonia for a long time already are reached
neither by the parliament nor by the Government, nor by some absolute
ruler. Everything is in the hands of a small informal group of people
AIM Skoplje, February 5, 2002
Macedonian "politburo" is becoming more efficient: the latest of its
achievements was last week's principled agreement on passing of the
Amnesty Law for the members of the Liberation National Army. It was
preceded by coordination of stands on the highly controversial Law on
Local Self-Administration, and the constitutional reform that the
Assembly just formally passed was previously "smoothed over" a couple of
months ago on the same level. Now they are waiting for the return of the
head of the state from America to continue consultations (read:
haggling) about the date when early parliamentary elections will be
And it all began with marathon talks at the height of the crisis that
resulted in the Ohrid Agreement. Fateful decisions for Macedonia for
quite some time, ever since the beginning of the crisis, and this means
for almost a year, are reached neither by the parliament, nor the
Government, nor by some obscure despot. They are agreed by a small group
that could be seated around one or at the most two tables put together
in some cafe. It is something like the Democratic Opposition of Serbia
(DOS) or Racan's or Lagumdzija's coalition partnerships. Just slightly
different and more special. It is more special because in Macedonian
case not a single meeting of the informal body the journalists have a
long time ago proclaimed a kind of a pluralist "politburo" cannot take
place without direct, i.e. physical, presence of one of the "prompters"
from the international community. Sometimes it is Javier Solana, and
sometimes George Robertson, when tensions are relieved, it is American
James Pardew, and at the moment it is mostly smooth-talking Alain le
Roy. Around a table most frequently at the President's Boris
Trajkovski's, leaders of four political parties gather that in the
latest parliamentary elections had won the biggest number of votes: two
purely Macedonian and two purely Albanian ones. hey gather mostly when
they are forced to. For the sake of history, the names of party bosses
should be mentioned, although as far as efficiency and importance are
concerned, they could have been marked with numbers, letters or some
other mark: Ljubco Georgievski, President of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE and
Prime Minister, Branko Crvenkovski, former prime minister temporarily
in the opposition, Arben Xhaferi, leader of the Democratic Party of the
Albanians (who is building his image on departure from the post which he
then repeatedly postpones) and Imer Imeri who is believed to be just the
"ephemeral" president of the Party of Democratic Prosperity. President
Trajkovski has an indefinite role: he is neither a participant, nor a
mediator, nor the errand boy who brings lunch to the "big bosses".
Malicious persons say he is a little bit of everything. And the party
The public does not learn much about the content of these sometimes
acrimonious talks. Perhaps some day, when everything becomes history, it
will appear in memoirs or archives! What is agreed at these meetings
becomes LAW that the obedient deputies (this is regularly a benign
assumption) in the Assembly give the desired form. To be perfectly
honest, there are times when the people’s deputies get angry and forget
what they are asked to do. But, no need for concern! The unanimous
brethren from the two sides of the Atlantic quickly call them to order.
For their cooperativeness (as popularly said in the popular and
practiced jargon of spineless persons) the elected representatives of
the people will get lifelong privileges which, at least for the time
being, will not refer to their descendants.
Analysts agree that on the example of Macedonia the international
community has shown in practice how parliamentary democracy the western
societies swear by failed in the fertile land on the banks of the
Vardar. Either the seed was bad or the climate? Somebody has evidently
done something wrong. It somehow turned out that everybody is doing
somebody else’s job. The head of the state whose role according to the
Constitution is solely ceremonial is left doing the most problematic,
some may say, the dirtiest jobs that even the chairman of the
legislative body – the temple of democracy - Stojan Andov and the head
of the executive authorities Ljubco Georgievski washed their hands of.
And all that just because the Washington-Brussels coalition assessed
that Trajkovski was the “softest” and that through him it would be
possible to make some kind of an influence on the course of events. That
is the reason why the head of the state is regularly appearing as the
initiator of one thing or another, from the Ohrid Agreement to the
amnesty for the combatants of the Liberation Army because of which many
Macedonians would gladly see him in hell. And then the discordant
quartet makes decisions. He has the last say...
Following this logic, some desperate political chroniclers wonder in
vain: why even think about parliamentary elections, regular or early?
The parliament, if needed at all, should be reduced from the present
120 to about 10 deputies who would be in charge of pressing all those
buttons for voting instead of their absent colleagues. The calculation
is simple: the four parties headed by the members of the “politburo”
have 96 sets in the assembly. This means that if the heads reach an
agreement – the simple and the two-thirds and every other majority that
might be necessary is achieved. The few remaining deputies are there
just to play the role of the voice of democratic public.
The Constitution of Macedonia does not prescribe the institution of an
agreement of two Macedonians and two Albanians. The way things are
going, there are serious intentions to further narrow down this circle.
Idle forecasters are already betting that Ljubco Georgievski and Arben
Xhaferi have the best chances of winning the best positions in this
specific “play-off”. Ever since 1998 elections it is believed that
these two are acting as a team. It is possible that the “referee” (the
international community) will introduce in the final part of the “game”
the fresh and rested leader of the Liberation National Army Ali Ahmeti.
Of course, the Macedonian public will need time to get used to the “new
player”, but his player’s “feints” could ensure the liking and
inclination of even the most antagonistic spectators.
Can anyone say that there is any obstacle to the state of affairs in
which two tribe leaders – Macedonian and Albanian – will decide about
the destiny of Macedonia?! Indeed, during all these years of the
existence of independent Macedonia every prominent politician – ethnic
Macedonian had his own “favourite” interlocutor – ethnic Albanian whom
he whole-heartedly trusted and “did business” only with him. And the
other way round. The only thing that still needs to be done is to
convince the international community that for the members of “tribes”
this is the most understandable form of democracy.