AIM: start

WED, 06 MAR 2002 00:44:08 GMT

In Expectation of the Coordinating Council

Realization of the initiative of former representative of the National Liberation Army, Ali Ahmeti, seems to have stuck where the initiator has least expected. Albanian political parties without reservations accepted the idea, but it has come to a standstill when individuals started calculating what they will gain from the union of Albanian political parties in Macedonia and what they will lose.

AIM Skopje, February 26, 2002

The idea of Ali Ahmeti, political representative of the self-disbanded National Liberation Army (NLA) is essentially simple and extremely rational. Ahmeti and his followers believed that it was not necessary for them to establish a political party of their own, although according to a majority of assessments it would have certainly won this year's parliamentary elections. Instead of that, they proposed to three largest ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia - Democratic Party of the Albanians (DPA), Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP) and National Democratic Party (NDP) - to unite their forces in order to realize Albanian priorities at this moment. The basic idea of this project is that the united Albanian bloc should leave separate political interests and activities aside and turn towards realization of a few jointly assessed most significant issues - the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement and establishment of more permanent peace and implementation of Western principles of democracy in Macedonia.

The first step towards realization of this idea should have been the establishment and the beginning of operation of a coordinating council. The council should organize an all-party gathering where the political parties would suspend their individual activities for the period of realization of the jointly agreed objectives, and elect a joint leadership that would head the united movement. The coordinating council, according to the agreement between Ahmeti and the leaders of the three parties, would consist of two representatives of each party and three members of NLA.

The project got stuck because of the disagreement concerning one nominated representative of PDP. The presidency of PDP decided to authorize President of the party Imer Imeri to choose two representatives of this party for the coordinating council. Imeri delegated deputy Ismet Ramadani and vice-president of the party and also deputy Abduljadi Vejseli. According to the evaluation of certain prominent members of PDP, but unofficially even of Ali Ahmeti himself, Vejseli is not the best solution. Instead of him these circles would like to see Aziz Polozani, deputy of PDP, who is better experienced in the domain of international activities (for instance, in the delegation of Macedonian parliamentarians in Strasbourg he turned out to be very efficient in articulating the interests of the Albanians from Macedonia).

The basic question in such a situation is naturally whether the parties should be autonomous to choose their own representatives in the coordinating council or not. Opponents in PDP believe that president Imeri has betrayed the confidence of party presidency by having been unable to resist the pressure of persons close to Abduljadi Vejseli who has, rumour has it, bought his vice-president's post (he is a businessman who is financing party activities with his own money). On the other hand his defenders say that the choice made by the party should not be questioned and that it is easy for the presidency of the party to ratify Vejseli's election despite the opposition of some members. To the possibility that Ahmeti and people from NLA may not be satisfied with Vejseli, they say that among the persons elected by other parties there are people who were, with their statements and activities in the beginning of the war openly against NLA, and that if anyone should be evaluated at all it should be kept in mind that Vejseli has always been pro-NLA.

The “Vejseli case” is just the tip of an iceberg, of course. It has become evident that, depending on their own estimate of how much they would gain or lose by the union of Albanian parties, a lot of people as individuals are finding ways how to oppose the implementation of this idea. In the past 11 years of Macedonian independence a caste of Albanian politicians was created, who have so far successfully swum in political waters and managed to win for themselves positions that have brought them the most.

Let us illustrate this with an example. The current ambassador of Macedonia in Slovenia Ilijaz Sabriu was a minister in two last Socialist cabinets, the first pluralist, so-called expert government, and then of the government formed by SDSM. This permanent minister in Macedonian government survived even the changes in 1998 parliamentary elections when he became a member of Macedonian parliament as a member of PPD. Soon after that, with another member of PPD (Mevljan Tahiri) he joined the group of independent deputies (and was expelled from PPD for it). Finally, as cadre of DPA he went to Ljubljana as the ambassador. There are a lot of such “people for all times” among Albanian politicians on all levels, and nowadays, when Ahmeti’s initiative is concerned, they are appearing as a not exactly easily avoidable obstacle.

>From the very beginning Ahmeti made himself quite clear: in the realization of the idea on joint activities there was no place for discredited persons from party ranks; it was even stressed that persons who had been members of parliament at least twice should not expect to be supported as candidates for this post in this year’s parliamentary elections. Ahmeti’s idea on refreshing the ranks of Albanian politicians with new uncompromised persons is naturally irritating for those who will lose their political positions and the possibility of taking advantage of the privileges that come as the result.

Ali Ahmeti is, therefore, in a slightly absurd situation. Among political parties, on the level of general declarations his idea about the united operation of Albanian parties met with nothing but acceptance and support. Prominent individuals and Albanian media also supported the idea, it also met with understanding of the majority of the population. But... it is obvious that for the time being this is not enough. At this moment when the developments have slowed down, not to say frozen, Ahmeti is receiving criticism from the ranks of his recent fellow combatants. The most radical faction of them reproaches him for being tolerant in relation to those who were inefficient for years and mostly concerned only for their personal and group interests neglected the realization of Albanians’ demands which was the main reason for the appearance of NLA and the beginning of the war. Besides, in the effort to prevent squandering of the time and energy on debates about who has done what or neglected Albanian interests, he practically allowed amnesty of DPA and its two leaders, Arben Xhaferi and Mendug Thaci. It is generally known that in the beginning of the war in Macedonia, DPA as part of the ruling coalition stood on exactly the same positions as Macedonian coalition parties according to which members of NLA, being extremists, deserve condemnation and moreover the state has the right to use all available force against them. At the time DPA was aware that the appearance of NLA was directly undermining its position and contributing to the decrease of its influence, so a lot of intemperate statements were given about NLA and its leading team.

Ali Ahmeti appears to be an optimist, trying to create the impression that he is not readily abandoning what he intended to do. Information that are arriving from Sipkovica – where he is since September and where he is expecting passing of the Amnesty Law that will enable him to move freely across Macedonia (because there is an indictment against him, too) – speak of his not lacking confidence that things concerning the beginning of the work of the coordinating council, despite difficulties, are proceeding well. These sources also claim that according to Ahmeti’s estimate things will very soon go in the desired direction and that there is no need to succumb to defeatism, in other words that he is in control and that he is convinced that nobody can prevent him from implementing his idea. It is evident that Ahmeti does not wish to settle things or implement his idea by military or “revolutionary” methods, because he is aware that this can quickly yield results, but sooner or later the price has to be paid for such methods.

In any case, the thing has come to a standstill and deadlines of the planned activities of the united Albanian bloc have been missed. And according to the assessment of some analysts this can lead to a situation in which the Albanians could lose what they have gained by the war. If they are disunited and inefficient in the implementation of the framework agreement which contains a great deal of Albanian demands which had been ignored for years, there will be no desired improvement of the status of the Albanians in Macedonia.