Issue No. 221 - May 5, 2001

            By Zvezdan Georgievski

            By Ylber Emra

           By Ivlian Haindrava

     By Zvezdan Georgievski
    Did the war in Macedonia start on May 3 at 2.30 p.m.?
    It was the time when Macedonian army launched a strong
response to attacks and provocation from Albanian extremists. In
the military action near Kumanovo, Macedonian army used military
helicopters MI-24 as well as light and heavy artillery. The action
followed after a cold-blooded murder of 8 Macedonian soldiers
which caused mass protests throughout Macedonia and vengeful acts
of civil population over property of local Albanians and other
citizens professing Moslem religion.
    It seems that the victorious satisfaction of the Macedonian
government after blitz action in Sar Planina, when Tetovo was
liberated from a dangerous siege, proved to be too early.
May 1 events were still only a logical continuation of trouble
in southern Balkans. The basic dilemma which the Macedonian
government failed to address was: could a limited military
action resolve a grave inter-ethnic issue, especially if the
action wasn't followed by synchronized participation of all
interested parties - Macedonians and Macedonian Albanians as
well as the international community which once again wonders
how come its verbal support doesn't yield an expected result.
    So fears of local analysts that the military success in
"disciplining" Albanian terrorists, guerilla fighters, rebels,
extremists, radicals (a true mixture of terms) will prove
short-lived before the conflict once again escalates with
potentially even graver consequences.
    Macedonian example proves that Albanian extremism isn't
extinguished, as government representatives claimed, that its
roots are untouched and that they can be found among (un)disbanded
KLA in Kosovo, with Macedonia left on its own to solve the problem
that, it seems, is a creation of others. The question that leaves
a bad taste in mouth of many Macedonians is: does Macedonia have
enough strength to overcome it?
    Because in the past several months, throughout the Macedonian
crisis, it was shown that top politicians often have wrong
projections, that they almost naively fall into the trap about the
"imported" terrorism and loyalty of Macedonian Albanians. The
chain of command was broken in almost every action and the
so-called Liberating People's Army knows in advance all the
government actions...
    It can happen in such situation that the former representative
of the Macedonian parliament from the town of Kumanovo Hisni Sakiri,
who was traveling the front lines to pacify tensions, is now a LPA
    Similarly, present leaders of Albanian rebels were pardoned
before by the Macedonian government under suspicious  circumstances.
Similarly, at this moment the government is trembling under
financial and corruption scandals so the defense ministry lost its
minister who was forced to resign. On the other hands, Macedonian
prime minister Ljupce Georgievski who was saying only two months
ago that relations between Albanians and Macedonians were
"relaxed" and a true example of cooperation between two nations
for the whole region now has to face the fact that his speech
about the security situation in the country presented in the Macedonian
parliament was boycotted even by his strongest coalition partners
Democratic Albanian Party led by Arben Djaferi.
    Parliamentary boycott of Albanian representatives is very
similar to Bosnian scenario, with the difference that the military
analysts in Macedonia claim that the war will be much tougher.
Bulgaria and Albania hardly even cover their ambitions to "solve
Macedonian issue". Bulgaria has already offered its soldiers as
military aid, but banned Ukraine helicopters intended for
Macedonian army to fly over its territory; while Albania
concentrated three tank divisions at its Macedonian border...
    So the danger of conflict spilling over Macedonian borders is
very real, and Albanian aggressive ambitions haven't been
curtailed for a long time. Out of eight murdered Macedonian
soldiers four were from the town of Bitola which only confirms
incapability of Macedonian command to forecast future events. It
couldn't have left calm Macedonian majority who, it seems, doesn't
trust that the Macedonian government and the international community
are capable of resolving this issue so they took upon themselves to
"enforce justice". Now situation is even worse than worrying:
instead of putting out all they have to fight Albanian terrorism
and to get concrete aid from the west, Macedonian authorities have
to prevent revenge attacks of Macedonian citizens.
    Unanonymous condemnation of Albanian extremism and support to
the integrity of Macedonian state coming from the international
community still cannot hide the failure of leading world
countries, especially the USA, to restrain their yesterday's
favorites and allies - Albanians. Their verbal condemnations and
constant appeals to Macedonian authorities to be as much as
possible tolerant towards demands of Albanian political parties
which are very similar to demands coming from the mountains have
basically encouraged Albanian fighters, convincing them that the
world isn't ready to deal with them in a different, more
applicable way. Such behavior of the international community leaves
a deep dilemma: isn't it a subtle western strategy of extinguishing
the fire by allowing Albanian appetites for a civilized variant of
the Macedonian federation. Only that theory can explain the fact that
the border between Macedonia and Kosovo, guarded by Americans, remains
a true "El Dorado" for terrorist import and export for smuggling of
arms and war material...
    There are more and more examples coming into light of
Macedonian public showing that American "border keepers" provide
logistic support to LPA members.
    So the prognoses aren't optimistic and the sobering is very

                          * * *

     By Ylber Emra
    Kosovar Albanians pay great attention to the most recent
events in northwestern Macedonia where there is more and more
fighting between their people and police and army forces of the
Macedonian government. It is a top story in the media and
commentaries of the leading Kosovar parties in Kosovo, formally a
Yugoslav province that has been under the international protection
since 1999.
    According to Albanian sources, out of 2 million people in
Macedonia 650,000 are ethnic Albanians. Interest for recent events
there is best illustrated with the fact that people talk more
about it than about a legal framework for changing the status of
Kosovo that practically means another step in giving that formally
Yugoslav province full independence.
    According to the new version which is most likely to be
passed, the province with 1,700,000 Albanians will practically be
independent from the Belgrade authorities. It will most probably
have all characteristics of a separate state - a president, an
assembly, supreme court, all of that which was requested by
Albanians over a decade ago and was the cause for their open war
against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic three years ago.
    The attention of Kosovar public is still focused upon what is
happening in Macedonia where in the past five days - from April 29
to May 3, ten people were killed and 15 injured in clashes
between Liberating People's Army (PLA) and Macedonian security
    It was with fear that Kosovars viewed Macedonian "revenge" in
second largest town in Macedonia - Bitolje where they demolished
offices and shops of ethnic Albanians after burial of four
    "What is happening in Bitolje is very similar to repressive
actions of Serbian police in Drenica, in the village of Prekaze
near Srbica in March 1998", said one of the top analysts in
Pristina who wanted to remain anonymous because, he said, he
didn't want to get political exposure. The analyst who is
regarded as one of the best experts on Albanian issue said that
"repression and violence over Macedonian Albanians, especially
civilians, now returns as a boomerang".
    He reminded that "repressive action against Albanians in
Drenica were a true fodder for mass movement of KLA" and that
something similar can be expected in Macedonia if the government
in Skopje continues to carry on with its current politics.
    Ordinary Kosovar, among whom many have relatives in Macedonia,
cannot easily watch what is happening several dozen miles to the
south. Besides, there are thousands of Albanian refugees who came
to Kosovo from Macedonia.
    People in Kosovo literally "hear" every word spoken by
military and political leaders of PLA since that formation as KLA
before it, is viewed as a "protector of endangered compatriots and
real fighter for national interests". Their statements are taken
at point blank, their authority is never questioned. Military PLA
leader, who is still known only as "commander Sokoli", took
responsibility for murder of eight Macedonian policemen and
soldiers near Tetovo the day after the event.
    All media in Pristina covered that information and his
statement that "Macedonian forces got to close to positions of
Albanian fighters".
    "Commander Sokoli" said that PLA "warned many times that it
has proclaimed unilateral truce and reservation, but that
Macedonian forces continued to provoke and get close to our
positions". He repeated demands for full statehood for Macedonian
Albanians. Although the Tetovo incident was condemned by
international representatives in Kosovo and leaders of major
Kosovar Albanian political parties, Sokoli's demand met with full
support among Kosovar population.
    General secretary of Rugova's Democratic Alliance of Kosovo
(DAK) Nekibe Keljmendi expressed sorrow of its party for continued
violence in Macedonia instead of "beginning of process to solve
the problem". Similar remarks could be heard from other two
leading parties of Kosovar Albanians, Democratic Party of Kosovo
(DSK) led by Hasim Thaqi and Alliance for Kosovo Future (AKF) led
by Ramush Haradinaj.
    They day after the incident in Bitolje all the party leaders
said harsh words against "Macedonian revenge", demanding immediate
stop to the violence of their compatriots in Macedonia. They also
warned that "if such Macedonian actions aren't stopped, the
violence can spread and make things in Macedonia even more
    Their attitude is that Skopje government should immediately
initiate a dialogue with ethnic Albanians, which was the topic of
the recent conversation in Skopje with Rugova, Thaqi and Haradinaj
on one side and American state secretary Colin Powell during his
first Balkans tour. Immediately after two weeks of March fighting
in Tetovo, leaders of the three Kosovar parties made a joint
document where they put forward their solution to problems in
Macedonia. The three parties are trying to become a "political
reason, advisor, if need be also middle-men for preparation of the
dialogue", said the above-mentioned Albanian analyst from
Pristina. Experience of the three parties is not to be cast away
lightly, and their advises can be of much use to Macedonian
Albanians, said he.
    That is also shown by the statement of DSK vice-president
Hajredin Kuqi who said that his party "can take part at solution
to the Macedonian crisis through institutional methods and
dialogue" because "in contrary, there would be additional room for
violent solution which could grow into inter-ethnic conflict". ABK
president Bajram Kosumi warned about such kind of conflict when he
said that "the recent attacks on Macedonian Albanians endanger the
integrity of Macedonian state". Such warnings and statements
shouldn't be overlooked or not taken into account because Pristina
became a certain political and logistics base for all who are in
any way involved in Balkan crises influenced by Albanians.

                          *  *  *

    By Ivlian Haindrava
    The new scandal emerged in the ruling party Citizens' Union of
Georgia (CUG) in the middle of April after Peter Baker's
publication "A Hero to the West, A Villain at Home" in Washington
Post (April 14, 2001). Describing present day miserable situation
in Georgia the author quoted in particular the head of the
Parliamentary Committee on economic policy Ivane Merabishvili
saying: "It's impossible to do serious business in Georgia if you
don't have a relation of the president". Talking about President
Shevardnadze Merabishvili continued: "He's tired now. He doesn't
even want to hear the word reform now. If he says he's fighting
corruption and wants reforms, it's only to keep the West
supporting him. As a member of his party, I feel he doesn't have
political will to change anything".
    Openness of Georgian MP caused stormy and controversial
reaction in the presidential party. Some demanded Merabishvili's
immediate resignation from the chairmanship of one of the main
parliamentary committees. The others (actually - obvious minority)
held with Merabishvili and threatened quitting their membership in
the CUG's parliamentary faction if Merabishvili would be punished
by his party. The President himself seemed to be depressed by the
publication in the influential American newspaper. For a few days
he didn't come in sight of public and even postponed the regular
session of the government where some important issues had to be
discussed. Finally he commented Merabishvili's statement as
tactless one made by the young and over-tempered politician.
    The continuation of the story appeared to be both unexpected
and promising far-reaching consequences. On the meeting of the
CUG's Main Council held shortly after the scandal President
Shevardnadze came with the initiative of creation of the Cabinet
of Ministers led by the Prime-minister and traditionally gained
unanimous support of his party. In fact there is nothing new in
this proposal. Before the adoption of the new constitution in the
August 1995 the Cabinet system did exist in Georgia though poorly
operating and characterized with amorphous structure. This led to
the discrediting of the institution and restructuring of the
government. 1995 constitution established American-like
presidential republic in Georgia where the president is both the
Head of the State and the chief executive while ministers
constitute the highest echelon of his administration. The
president appoints members of his government with the consent of
the Parliament and is authorized to remove them without Parliament' s
    Since constitution came into force and parliamentary elections
were held in the fall of 1995 the government was completed in
accordance with president's political taste (majority in the
Parliament has never created any problems to its leader). In spite
of a few structural and personnel "shaking ups" each time
the government proved to be so much eclectic and impotent that
this configuration of executive also became discredited just in
the same way as the Cabinet of the first half of 90-ies had been.
Chronical budgetary failures that lead to the rash of external and
internal debt, overwhelming corruption and expansion of the
"shadow economy", inability to implement fundamental reforms or
sabotage of the reforms by such mighty governmental institutions
as Ministry of Interior is, resulted in the situation in which the
uncertainty about Shevardnadze's ability to adequately run the
country turned into conviction. It seems that the article in
Washington Post was interpreted in Georgian ruling elite as an
alert indicating that following Georgian citizens the above
mentioned conviction became dominant in the capital of the US as
well. There is no need to comment what this may mean for the
regime that is totally dependent upon the aid of the international
financial institutions and Western governments (US one - in the
first place).
    This is why the authorities try to present the "new" idea of
the Cabinet as an almost universal panacea. Shevardnadze promises
that the issue of reforming of the executive and corresponding
amendments to Georgian constitution will be the main topics of his
annual report to the Parliament (which was scheduled for February
and delayed without any intelligible explanations). He says that
introduction of the Cabinet of Ministers will accelerate the state
building process, the government will acquire possibility to pass
cardinal decisions while the Parliament will increase its means of
the control over the executive. The leadership of CUG believes
that formation of the Cabinet will contribute to overcoming the
antagonisms within the government that hamper effective
administration. They hope that the formation of the Cabinet will
be helpful in implementation of "team spirit" meaning government's
collective responsibility for its decisions and realization of the
latter especially in the sphere of economy.
    Frankly speaking there are not too much hopes that all this
will become a reality; practice represents graphic evidence of
creativity of Georgian authorities in ignoring and/or profanation
of the most attractive ideas. The issue of Cabinet has been
initiated repeatedly during the years both by the opposition,
President (e.g. in his annual report to the Parliament on February
16, 1999) and ruling party (see "Governmental Hara-Kiri", NIJ
Issue No. 87 - August 12, 1998.) Now the case is that different
groups interpret in different ways amendments to the constitution
that are inevitable in transition to the Cabinet system. The CUG's
Main Council considers it necessary to work out unique Georgian
model of governance, which would at the same time absorb advanced
international experience. Shevardnadze believes that introduction
of the Cabinet of Ministers is possible within the frames of
presidential republic where powerful President, powerful
Parliament and highly authorized Cabinet may successfully coexist.
His idea too much reminds of constitutional system of Russian
Federation, which is not too close to the modern democratic
standards; Georgia's shift to Russian model from the existing one
may turn into significant retreat on the way towards democracy. If
the proposed "repair" of constitution is fulfilled president will
add to his widest competencies the right to dissolve the
Parliament and to set the pre-term elections. Constitution
currently in force does not stipulate for such authority of
    That is why the minority in parliament is about to tie up the
issue of the reform of executive with the reform of legislative
that means introducing the parliament of two houses. Minority
thinks that if president gets the right to dissolve the Lower
House it is essential to keep the Upper house in force in order to
avoid legislative vacuum and slipping down to authoritarian
    Opposition parliamentary faction "Traditionalists" which also
put forward the idea of Cabinet some years ago stated that they
would back up the reform of executive only if it was preceded by
the reform of local self-government. They demand direct elections
of the governors, mayors and the heads of local administrations
contrary to the existing system when the president appoints them
personally. Without such a reform president will obtain absolute
power, the leader of Traditionalists Akaki Assatiani emphasized.
He hopes that the fact that CUG controls about 125 seats in the
Parliament out of total 235, while qualified majority of at least
157 is necessary to amend constitution, the compromise may be
achieved. Assatiani also proposes to introduce so-called "French"
or "Finnish" model of Cabinet where president deals with the
issues of national defense, security and foreign policy while
other spheres constitute competence of the Premier.
    The Chairman of the Constitutional Court Avtandil
Demetrashvili appeared to be cautious in his comments. He
considers it unreasonable to launch constitutional reform in
response to the discord inside ruling party. In his opinion
introducing of the Cabinet system means transition to the new
model of political structure and this will entail revision of the
great deal of constitution. Such a process may cause instability
in the country, Demetrashvili fears.
    But in reality all these discussions about principles of
forming of executive are just reflection of the fierce struggle
for the power. The first year out of the five of Shevardnadze's
last presidential term has expired. Preparations for the
"post-Shevardnadze" period have already started both inside and
outside his party. Position of Prime minister is considered by the
potential competitors for the presidency as a favorable
jumping-off place. Observers think that the present speaker of the
Parliament - Zurab Zhvania is not the only person aiming at the
post of Premier. The name of the minister of foreign affairs
Irakli Menagharishvili was also mentioned in this connection. And
the last may turn out to be more acceptable for Shevardnadze in
terms of the guarantees of the kind that Putin granted to Yeltsin
in Russia.
    In short, contrary to the saying some have started to divide
up the bearskin before the bear is shot. But the decision still
may be upon the bear himself.

                     *  *  *