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Georgievski: Xhaferi and I Had No Deal to Divide Macedonia

June 3, 2005

(Balkanalysis.com Research Service)- In response to sensational new testimony from former coalition partner Arben Xhaferi, Ljubco Georgievski denied the long-suspected conspiracy theory that states he and the DPA leader had plotted the 2001 war as a controlled conflict preliminary to dividing the country according to ethnicity.

However, his answer is sufficiently vague as to leave unanswered the question of whether they had at least hoped for such a result.Speaking in an interview for Kosovo media, Xhaferi alleged that ever since the VMRO-DPA coalition came to power in 1998, the plan for dividing the country along ethnic lines was being considered. According to him, an amicable divorce could have saved a lot of headaches: “…we could have avoided the possibility for violence. We could have separated in a peaceful way. The war stopped us.”

According to A1, Xhaferi also said that on the partition idea they even consulted functionaries from Belgrade such as the assassinated Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who agreed with this idea and also promoted the division of Kosovo.

However, the former prime minister fired back in a letter to the Macedonian media (he is currently out of the country, says A1), that the allegations are untrue. “…I didn’t have any conversation at all with Mr. Xhaferi about this idea until the beginning of the [2001] war,” claimed Georgievski. “Then, Xhaferi didn’t want to talk about this problem and the conversation finished.”

In this context, A1 reminds of the initiative by the Macedonian Academy of Arts & Sciences to make a territorial and population exchange in the middle of the 2001 conflict. Georgievski, then prime minister, had long been criticized for not condemning this proposal. It was the negative public reaction, however, that prevented Georgievski from promoting it actively.

What could be Xhaferi’s motive? The wily old politician who was during the war beloved by the West has become increasingly alienated from the internationals since the ascension to the throne of Ali Ahmeti, who was reportedly collecting health benefits for an undisclosed mental illness in Switzerland. The DPA, trounced during the March local elections, has seen its status imperiled at the national and now municipal levels.

Many believe that Xhaferi was gravely disappointed at being supplanted by Ali Ahmeti as spokesman for the Albanian people. Since then, he seems to have lost the political will to make a meaningful challenge to Ahmeti’s DUI. As such, the DPA platform has become dependably nationalistic, criticizing throughout the DUI for allegedly slow and incomplete implementation of the Ohrid Agreement

Since his exit from power, Georgievski too has been relegated to the sidelines but still managed to convey his views on partition in newspaper columns. His breakaway party, VMRO-Narodna, was also shut out at the polls in March. The failure of their nationalistic politics in the elections indicated that they were, more or less, flogging a dead horse. On the other hand, neither Xhaferi nor Georgievski have anywhere to go but up. They have nothing to lose, no responsibilities to the people, and thus have room to experiment.

However, the key factor – demography – dictates that with every passing year, the bargaining power of the Macedonian side becomes weaker and weaker. This partly explains how the SDSM’s “compromises” with DUI over the Ohrid “reforms” have been so ridiculously one-sided. The latter knew, as did the Rolling Stones, that ‘time, time, time is on our side.’

A new report from the Institute for Strategic Investigations in the Macedonian Academy of Arts & Sciences, drawing on the 2002 census results and other data, states that the “ethnic balance” will be ruined by a high Albanian birth rate and the Macedonians’ aging population – in a nutshell, the exact problem EU countries now face with their own Muslim minorities.

Daily newspaper Dnevnik quotes Professor Elka Dimitrieva from the Institute for Economy, who claims that between the 1994 and 2002 censuses, “great quantitative differences” have occurred, which will have far-reaching results in the future.

“…The total population has a minimum increase of 3.9 percent,” Elkova says. “But for the Macedonians is registered an increase from 0.2 percent, and for the Albanians, 22.7 percent. Albanians are responsible for 89 percent of the total increase of the population.”

However, in the same article academic and former prime minister Nikola Klusev pointed out that “…the increase of Albanians has been made greater with migrations from Kosovo and South Serbia. In the census of 2002, instead of being a regular, statistical operation, it acquired political dimensions. That’s why we had irregular things – boycotts, writing [on the census form] for the people who are not in the country, and writing more than once for the same person. That makes a big difficulty for demographic analysis.”

There is no reason to believe that Ahmeti and his comrades were ever interested in a multi-ethnic Macedonia, much less a unitary one. But compared to today’s DPA, they seem practically angelic.

Nevertheless, the current farce of the decentralization and other apparent “compromises” merely represent the temporary simulation of good faith. In a decade or so, when the Framework Agreement will have done its work and its planners and Western backers are retired or dead, the demographic and linguistic disparity will have become unavoidable. By this time too Western governments (and especially the US) fatigued by the fallout of expensive wars in the Middle East and beyond will take a different view.

 

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