AIM: start

WED, 13 MAR 2002 01:01:18 GMT

Politics and Business

While politicians are trying to keep up the tension in the public concerning the question whether there will be early parliamentary elections or not, the public seems to be increasingly aware that there will be no early elections, but that they will in fact have to wait for regular ones because those in power wish to draw advantages from it to the last minute

AIM Skopje, March 1, 2002

The International Crisis Group seated in Brussels, which with its latest report on Macedonia attracted significant attention of the international community primarily by putting accent on the need to resolve Macedonia's dispute with its southern neighbour, Greece, concerning its name, is preparing a new report on Macedonia. According to the evaluation of the investigators of this group, it is becoming quite clear that in Macedonia the ruling coalition is striving to remain in power because of the economic profit that the ruling elite is drawing out of the very fact that it has full power in its hands.

That interethnic relations, or rather the implementation of the Ohrid framework agreement is not exactly a priority activity of Macedonian politicians in power is illustrated by the content of the latest issues of two weeklies (Aktuel in Macedonian and Lobi in Albanian) which argue that priority interest of the men in power as their primary engagement at this moment is – “business”. Each on its own, the two weeklies analyzed the aspects of economic interests of the ruling coalition as the primary factor of their joint will to capitalize their four-year term in office to the last day.

Aktuel analyzes the background of the coalition partnership between Ljubco Georgievski and Arben Xhaferi. This weekly raises the following question: “What binds Xhaferi with the President of VMRO-DPMNE? Is this an ‘ideological’ bond or is it purely interest?” and tried to give an answer: “The theses about their interconnection go in two directions – one that Xhaferi and Georgievski are scheming to divide Macedonia for ideological reasons, and the other that everything they are doing is for the sake of money”. For Aktuel there is no doubt: “Xhaferi and Georgievski operate on pragmatic grounds, Georgievski is bound to DPA by business relations most of which are ‘black’, but in the past three years they have brought an enormous profit he does not want to do without. In return, Prime Minister Georgievski is cooperative on the political level”.

Obviously Aktuel believes that business and profit of the ruling elite is the exclusive “trait” of the Macedonian party, while the Albanian partner in power tolerates this because in return its political objectives are tolerated. Weekly in Albanian Lobi believes, however, that the Albanian elite in Macedonian regime is doing the same as its Macedonian partners, that Democratic Party of the Albanians (DPA), especially if personified by its vice-president Menduh Thaci, is “pulling wool over people’s eyes” on the political level in order to deceive the public and hide their primary interest – amassing wealth while they are in power. In the article titled “Does Menduh Thaci have 265 thousand Albanian votes?” the weekly analyzes the several times repeated proposal of vice-president of DPA Thaci that if legitimacy of the members of parliament – and therefrom of the government – should be tested in early elections, so should the legitimacy of the president of the state. Ever since the election of Boris Trajkovski there is no dilemma in Macedonia that he has won the presidential elections thanks to the votes of the Albanians. The only dilemma hardly anyone has ever raised is whether Trajkovski had won all those votes because his party VMRO-DPMNE was in the coalition with DPA, so he had the support of all the Albanians, or whether the favourable circumstance was used that there was no Albanian candidates in the second round and that the Albanians were not motivated enough to show up at the polling stations, so their votes were simply stolen in order to bring the victory to Trajkovski who in the first round had more than 100 thousand less votes than the candidate of the oppositionist SDSM. In Macedonian public there is no dilemma that the latter is the case and that Menduh Thaci’s talent for organization played the central role in this “borrowing” of the votes of the Albanians. Thaci himself did not conceal this and he even boasted that he had brought Trajkovski 245 i.e. 265 thousand Albanian votes, which is in both cases much more than the two Albanian presidential candidates had won in the first round – almost the entire Albanian electorate (a little over 210 thousand).

Lobi draws attention of its public to Thaci’s feeling that he possesses these votes. Once he has won them without asking Albanian voters, Thaci believes that he can take them back by threatening Trajkovski with new early presidential elections in which he will not get Albanian votes. This is probably true because Thaci knows that Trajkovski had not won them even when he became president. In a society divided on ethnic grounds such as Macedonian ever since it has become independent, it is simply not realistic to expect that members of one ethnic groups will vote for a candidate from the other.

Lobi believes that “in normal countries such as we would like ours to be, public figures that behave like Thaci could hardly be called politicians”, Thaci “is a politician in the sense of this word which is nowadays implied in Macedonia – that a politician is the one whose only job is to achieve his own political objectives in order to improve the status of Albanian population in business deals that power brings, even if by the Albanians only the comrades from the political leadership of DPA are implied”. This is evident from status changes of DPA – party cars, party offices, party drivers and bodyguards... The weekly considers “pretexts such as ‘power brings money, if we don’t take it somebody else will’ are on the level of a philosophical analysis of this phenomenon that can be given by the president of a party led by Menduh Thaci”.

Lobi thinks that if Thaci survives in politics, in other words if he manages to gain control even of the initiative for the union of the Albanian political bloc, the idea of the leader of former National Liberation Army Ali Ahmeti, which includes the ambition to remove discredited politicians from the political scene, it will mean that the Albanian community is far from the awareness that it would be better off if it got rid of them as soon as possible.

And it is no news to say that Macedonia is going through a time of complete deligitimation of its politicians, the time in which the old politicians are utterly discredited and rule by inertia, because there are still no new “pure” politicians – they have neither appeared not is there any hint that they will. That is why the very comfortably ruling groups are successfully stuffing their pockets. Although it is clear that it is necessary to start the struggle against corrupt politicians and their business deals as soon as possible, the public is still helpless, still not fully aware of what its ruling elite is sinking into.

On the other hand, this platform could also be a platform of the joint activities of the members of different ethnic communities. But the citizens of Macedonia first need to realize that the representatives of their ethnic groups recognize money they make by participating in power as their only nation.