Wiretapping scandal set 33: The Name issue negotiations
In this set of the wiretapped conversations we see how the undercover negotiations for the name of the Republic of Macedonia were conducted by Sasho Mijalkov; that there was acceptance of a composite name, while all the time the official negotiating process under the auspices of UN was being neglected. From these four conversations we realize that in the unofficial negotiations Greek proposals were accepted. All of that, though, had to be kept in utmost secrecy.
This wiretapping records set introduces us to the Name issue negotiations which were led behind closed doors and aside from the official negotiating process. As Zoran Zaev, the president of SDSM, told in the press conference in which he presented these wiretapped conversations, we have “a case of underground bargaining with the full involvement of Nikola Gruevski, with underground figures who enjoyed his confidence as negotiators for the Macedonian side and negotiators who also had his confidence on the side of our southern neighbor Greece”. The political opposition leader blamed Gruevski of bargaining about the constitutional name of this country and also about the Macedonian identity.
In the first conversation we can hear the official Macedonian representative in the UN sponsored negotiations Zoran Jolevski admitting to the then Minister of foreign affairs Antonio Miloshoski that the UN mediator Nimetz felt excluded from the negotiations because he hadn’t had contacts with neither of the negotiators – the Macedonian and the Greek. Nimetz also send an SMS to Gruevski, with the intent to remind that the negotiating process was still alive.
Next comes a long conversation between Antonio Miloshoski, Nikola Gruevski and as an addition Sasho Mijalkov on the speakerphone. We hear admission from Gruevski that he is in the company of the man “who negotiates”, and soon we hear Mijalkov’s voice, which clarifies the identity of that man. Gruevski tells Miloshoski that one of the Greek negotiators came to Macedonia – it was the plumper one. We soon find out what was on the negotiating table – that the future name of Macedonia should be composite, with parentheses, but the Greek negotiator had said it cannot be accepted by the Greek side. Gruevski solicits Miloshoski opinion on whether they in the secret negotiations should come up with a prefix before “Republic” – whether it should be Upper, for instance – which for Miloshoski is a futile attempt, but Gruevski does that cunningly to make the Greeks refuse it. His second idea is a name with parentheses, in which the Greeks will put their choice from the options that were on the negotiating table. Macedonia, on the other hand, will choose what shall precede the name, and that must have some political connotation.
At that moment Mijalkov joins the conversation through speakerphone. Miloshoski continues with his explanation – he doesn’t want “Republic of Macedonia” to be debased in any way, and before it there could be some political referencing – Independent, Sovereign… Although the name with the addition in parentheses would be a bit complicated for the public, Miloshoski says, the “untouched name” will survive and Macedonia could boast that he name was significantly altered and both sides managed to resolve something that was unattainable for 20 years.
Mijalkov interjects here, saying that to the Greeks the short name is of big importance, with Miloshoski answers that there shouldn’t be a short name. Mijalkov proffers “The Independent Republic”, “Democratic Republic”… Miloshoski says all this will help Giorgos (Papandreou) to justify himself in the eyes of the Greeks saying that the name was changed under their pressure, i.e. there was an accord for a composite name. Gruevski fears that when he proposes a composite name on referendum, it will look awful. Miloshoski reiterates his explanation that with the parentheses at the end, the name with time will “lose” them and the main of the name will remain, with Independent, Sovereign or something similar in front of “Republic of Macedonia”. He suggest that Mijalkov tells the Greeks that in a package deal with the solution of the name issue acceptable for both sides, Macedonia will revoke the suit in The Hague. He stresses that it will be positive to come to a good solution which will allow Giorgos Papandreou to tell in Sarajevo that the name issue has been resolved and he could boasts that it is a progress of the Thessaloniki Agenda.
Next we hear a conversation between Miloshoski and Jolevski in which the latter informs the minister that in a conversation he pointed out that the identity of the Macedonian people is very important, but that could be guaranteed by a resolution and not be part of the agreement.
In the last conversation from this set, between Gruevski and the MP Silvana Boneva, he admits they have accepted a proposal from the Greeks and he engaged in convincing “his”, but then the Greek did not confirm that the other side will accept it. “For two and a half months there is no answer from him, they are excusing themselves with the world crisis. Fule knows that, Ricker as well, everybody that has to be involved know that”, says Gruevski.
All of the “bombs” are here.
Press conference of Zoran Zaev, president of SDSM, in Skopje, 16th of May 2015
This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.