The Role of the Albanian Parties in RNM in the Context of the Fight against Russian Influence (Part One)
In 2001, in North Macedonia two very important agreements on the country’s progress were signed. The first agreement (the Ohrid Agreement) saved the country from a possible catastrophe and guaranteed a multiethnic and democratic state according to EU principles. The second agreement (Stabilization and Association Agreement) gave the country a Euro-Atlantic direction, minimizing the chances of anti-democratic influence in the country. The Albanian political parties in RNM were directly involved in the process of signing these agreements and clearly stated their support for the EU and NATO membership. Meanwhile, the EU and NATO supported the “colorful revolution” that overthrew a government close to Russia and Putin, writes Portalb.mk.
With the Ohrid Agreement and the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the country set out in the Euro-Atlantic direction
The shaping of the Euro-Atlantic path of North Macedonia began after the armed conflict in 2001 between the National Liberation Army (NLA) and the Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM), which lasted less than 8 months – from January 22, 2001, when the attack on the Tanuševci police station occurred, until 13 August 2001, when the Ohrid Framework Agreement was signed between the two warring parties. This was essentially a peace agreement and was followed by the rapid disarmament of the NLA under the agreement. At that time, the pro-Russian Ukrainian government decided to help the Macedonian army by selling weapons. However, the people of Ukraine took power in 2014, toppling Viktor Yanukovych’s government because he denied them the right to be part of the European Union.
Aware of this fact, the Albanian political party that emerged from the war in 2001, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), today does not blame Ukraine for the sale of planes and helicopters to the Macedonian Army, i.e. ARM, but on the contrary, this party condemned the Russian aggression and expressed full support for the Republic of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
“It is in everyone’s interest to find a solution as soon as possible and to end this sad situation in Ukraine, to find a solution to the ceasefire and to open the way for dialogue, to establish peace and to liberate the Ukrainians, to decide their fate for themselves. I think that President Putin and Russia should feel responsible for the fact that as a superpower they attacked people, did not respect the will of those people and for this they should be ashamed and as soon as possible withdraw, and so it will be better for both Russia and Europe. I think the Russian people have a collective responsibility not to allow such a ruthless war to take place in Ukraine,” said Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration and NLA political representative during the 2001 military conflict.
“In these difficult times we are with Ukraine,” said Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, a member of the Democratic Union for Integration.
One of the most important documents that ended the conflict in 2001 was the Ohrid Agreement. This agreement, in addition to ending the conflict, also set the Constitution of the RNM on a new basis, ensuring more equal representation in certain political and institutional areas between the two largest ethnic groups in the country, Macedonian and Albanian.
This document, which brought North Macedonia one step closer to the European Union and NATO membership, and which enabled the minimization of the possible influences of non-progressive forces in the country, was signed by the then President Boris Trajkovski, the then Prime Minister and leader of VMRO- DPMNE, Ljubco Georgievski, SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski, DPA leader Arben Xhaferi and PDP leader Imer Imeri. The document was also signed by EU Special Representative Francois Leotard and US Special Representative James Pardew as guarantors.
Peter Feith, the Special Representative of the NATO Secretary-General, was also involved in resolving the crisis, coordinating all activities between the security forces of the Republic of Macedonia and the NLA.
Having in mind that the guarantors of the agreement were the EU and the USA, as well as that this agreement covers many principles of the European Union, this agreement is the most important step towards advancing North Macedonia’s path to European integration and the country’s NATO membership.
The signatories of the Ohrid Agreement from the ranks of the Albanian political parties were Arben Xhaferi as president of the then DPA and Imer Imeri as president of the PPD. However, all Albanian political parties, including the current parties on the political scene, support this agreement but have differing views on its implementation.
Non-progressive trends were minimized with the signing and start of implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
Although negotiations took place before that, the Stabilization and Association Agreement between RNM and the European Union was signed the same year as the Ohrid Agreement. This agreement ranked the Republic of Macedonia on the list of countries with prospects for membership in the European Union, while economically the signing of the agreement opened the door to one of the largest and most powerful financial markets in the world.
The fulfillment of the items of this agreement brought the country closer every day to the European Union and NATO, and from these items, we single out the following:
- Approaching the region towards closer and more complete integration in the structures of the European Union,
- Support for rapid democratic consolidation, rule of law, economic development and structural reforms, appropriate administrative structures and regional cooperation,
- Establish a formal framework for political dialogue, both bilaterally and regionally.
- Advancing economic relations, trade, investment, enterprise policy, transport and development, and customs cooperation, with prospects for closer integration into the world trade system, including the possibility of establishing a free trade area once progress is made on economic reforms.
In the meantime, all Albanian political parties in North Macedonia have expressed their support for this agreement, as well as for all other agreements that bring the country closer to the European Union.
Today, due to the above agreement which resulted in increased economic cooperation between Northern Macedonia and the European Union, and according to the latest poll by the International Republican Institute (IRI), the majority of citizens (35%) believe that the largest donor in RNM is the European Union, while only (3%) believe that it is Russia.
Moreover, 47% of respondents see the United States of America (USA) as the most important economic partner of RNM, and 32% believe that Russia is the most important economic partner. To read the full study, click HERE.
All Albanian political parties have expressed their support for this agreement and are committed to the country’s membership in the European Union. This commitment is clearly seen in the statute of the Alliance for Albanians, here you can read about the position of the Democratic Party of Albanians, it is clearly defined in the statute of the Democratic Union for Integration and the Alternative Party, also the BESA Movement spoke in favor of the country’s membership in the European Union and the acceptance of European values.
“Colorful Revolution” – the end of the pro-Russian government, 2015
The protests that began after the assassination of Martin Neškovski on election night in 2011, turned into a movement known as #IProtest, which in mid-April 2016 grew into the so-called “Colorful Revolution” in Macedonia. Protesters demand the departure of the Gruevski-Ahmeti government.
The demands for justice were only part of the protests that became mass on April 12, 2016, after the then President of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov announced the abolition of 56 people suspected of involvement in the wiretapping scandal.
That same night, several thousand people took to the streets of Skopje, broke through a police cordon and set fire to Ivanov’s office in the city center. The protests continued in the following months with greater intensity and mass. On April 15, the facade of Porta Makedonija was painted for the first time – which later became a symbol of the protests.
Russia benefited from the continuation of the Gruevski-Ahmeti government
“United Russia”, the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the time was reacting against the “Colorful Revolution” in RNM and others in the Balkans. According to regional media reports, United Russia has sent a call to political partners in the Balkans to fight the Colorful Revolution in North Macedonia and other colorful revolutions in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
As the end of Gruevski-Ahmeti’s rule approached, so did Russia’s turmoil
“As part of the Balkan region, North Macedonia is in Russia’s area of interest, because this region borders the EU, something that Moscow wants to keep under control or at least under its influence,” the Free Russia Foundation report said, based in the USA.
This report states that Russia has used and continues to use various means to influence the internal affairs of North Macedonia.
“However, not all attempts to influence the Macedonian economy and politics have yielded the desired results. On the one hand, Russia managed to establish close relations with the Macedonian political elite in Gruevski’s time, but, on the other hand, it failed to oppose the opposition, which caused substantial changes in the government and severance of political ties with the country’s politicians, reads the report.
Russia has made significant efforts to keep North Macedonia out of NATO and has managed to reduce its participation in the name change referendum. The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted sharply after the elections in December 2016, when Gruevski’s party, despite winning the elections, failed to form a majority in parliament. In response to the Russian Foreign Ministry, they expressed support not only for Gruevski, but also for the President of the Democratic Union for Integration, Ali Ahmeti.
It seems that the political forces in Macedonia are being greatly influenced by pseudo-democratic slogans. The goal is clear – to deal with Macedonian politicians who are undesirable from the West and to recompose the authorities despite the clear support of voters for the coalition “For a Better Macedonia” led by Nikola Gruevski and the Democratic Union for Integration led by Ali Ahmeti, stated by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 11, 2017.
Despite this, all Albanian political parties supported the “Colorful Revolution”
“For these reasons, as well as the fact that this regime has proven to be the most anti-Albanian, anti-NATO and anti-EU regime and which has badly captured the political will of the Albanians – by capturing the ruling Albanian parties, the BESA Movement supports these protests, because they are the last way to save this country and restore democracy,” said the BESA Movement.
“We publicly call on all Albanians who do not call themselves captives, but call themselves free, Albanian NGOs, independent intellectuals, political parties and all citizens who want freedom, justice, dignity, progress, aiming for perspective and happiness, to join this nationwide protest to yell stop to this system,” said the DR-DPA, the NDP and several non-governmental organizations.
Although part of the government was favourable to Russia, DUI declaratively asked SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE to find a way out of the crisis, in accordance with “the demands of Brussels and Washington.”
Apart from the Albanian political parties, the Macedonian opposition parties also supported the “Colorful Revolution” and were an active part in organizing the protests. At that time, people close to Russia were trying in various ways to preserve that status quo and that there would be no change of government in Macedonia.
(to be continued)