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EDITORIAL ONE EUROPEAN STROLL THROUGH KOSOVA by VETON SURROI Prepared since long ago, the visit of the Dutch ambassador to Belgrade, representative of the presiding of the EU, finally took place. In it, he communicated to the Kosovar public opinion and politicians what does the EU foresee on the solution of Kosova's question. The time chosen for that was directly linked to the previous visit by John Kornblum, a high US State Department official, who also had come to express the American posture towards Kosova, although occasionally committing a "lapsus linguae" or two. The European reasoning was: since the Americans opened the door of the direct communication with Albanians, now our message can pass through. Following these steps, the European Union, in fact admits it's stagnation in handling the crisis which appeared after the disintegration of Yugoslavia proving itself to be the follower of the politics announced by the US diplomacy. And, however understandable this stagnation is (we bear in mind that the EU is the compilation of 15 foreign politics of 15 foreign ministries of the member states), the EU proves a lack of invention even in the content of the message conveyed to the people. Perhaps, this is also understandable, since the EU made a mistake last year when it recognized the FRY ( as post-Dayton reward), although this unfinished state emerged without domestic legality and legitimacy. Within this frame, the EU is now trying to solve the Kosova question. And this is where the huge conceptual mistake appears. In the attempt to reach an improvement of the situation of Kosova through the Serb/Yugoslav constitutional improvement, the EU is in fact inclining towards Milosevic's concept in dealing with the "domestic enemy": so, "things have to be solved within the institutions of the system". And, this is all but helping the solution of Kosova's problem, because the present Serb/Yugoslav forcible institutionalization has been, is and will be the key obstacle to the installation of peace in the Balkans. With it's last message, which needs to be analyzed more thoroughly than this space allows us to, the EU has in a way showed how far away is it from the Kosova question, and not how much it is interested in it.
The weekly Koha (The Times) was published in Prishtina (Kosovo) between 1994 and 1997. Edited by Veton Surroi, a young Kosovar journalist and one of the pioneers of democratisation in former Yugoslavia, Koha soon became a symbol of quality among the region's media. In 1997 it started to be published daily under the name of Koha Ditorë. W ith the kind permission of Mr. Surroi, Koha digests were originally posted on http://koha.estudiosbalcanicos.org.
KOSOVA WILL ALBANIANS SUBMIT TO STATEMENTS FOR AUTONOMY? by ARBËR VLLAHIU / Prishtinë According to Jan Sizzo, the new EU formula for the “peaceful solution of Kosova’s problem” based on Helsinki Charter's principles, apparently is one of EU’s efforts to see Kosova within the Yugoslav state. The message of this European organization, said in “tremors” by the Dutch ambassador, Jan Sizzo, looks like a lately defined statement by the EU offices, but that doesn’t surpass the frame of the latest determinations of the big boss - USA. Sizzo, also, made no big differences between the two politics, the American and European, in Kosova’s case, when he said: “When you mention Kosova’s autonomy within the FRY, the possibility of this to be done within Serbia's borders is not excluded”. Will the Albanians be the ones to submit to such statements, or maybe Serbs will be pushed to think again for another life together with, as they say, “the nation, that within 50 years will be equal in numbers with them”, is left to be seen. Even though the formula for solving the Kosova issue has not yet been defined in the decision making centers' “offices”, calculations have begun. Such opening, no matter how surprising for Albanians, will help at least to understand that “the carrot” is not that sweet. While the Serb side will try to see Kosova’s problem only as a part of its problems, the Albanians in Kosova will seriously try to prove that the field of human rights is a necessary segment in a society, however Kosova’s problem, according to them, is not seen only in this aspect. Careful observers, who anticipated the opening of Kosova “package”, evaluated that “the agreement on Albanian education offers a certain chance in the political field”. Based on this, the actual growth of political rating, with the agreement on Albanian education in Kosova, of the “two heads, who are willing - as humanists” to sit down and try to solve politically this issue, remains only as a “new bankonote” in political marketing. Following some successes in the diplomatic field, and the creation of a new “political peace-making image”, Milosevic will set a “timing” to the realization of this agreement, right in time when the international pressure will “roll over” to the other side. In fact, the talks with the Serbian side that started in New York, without the presence of ruling party in Serbia, will put down the volume for one “octave”, where the Albanian side will be notified that “world diplomacy is supporting only the reality created in one area”. And, this reality, hidden with a -2-
“thin ambiguous curtain since the start”, will be another, among the many mistakes, as Rugova’s opponents would say, in reading the messages of foreign diplomacies. The ambiguous card, stress foreign diplomats, was the only one played by the Albanian leadership, that’s why the international community’s stands were always unclear to Albanians. Definitely, since the times when Gerd Arens visited Kosova, the Albanian side was told that the “international community will be ready to accept the solution of Kosova’s problem, the way they want it, only if they are ready to force that solution”. Even the new electoral problem in Kosova, after Kornblum’s political “lesson” and the softened pressure by Perina, are observed by the US diplomacy, as stated by Richard Miles, as the Albanian community’s matters, even though USA, he says, would not accept parallel elections. The pressure on Albanians, which began as spring started, even before the opening of Kosova’s problem, happened in the most difficult period for the political subjects in Kosova, for it was facing the biggest shocks within and in times when Kosova’s position seemed weak. That’s why, Rugova’s decision for postponing the elections in Kosova, right now, means only another concession and a compromise by the Albanian side in the (non)creation of Kosova’s independence. Despite all the justifications of the Dutch ambassador, who brought with him a “diplomatic note” for Dr. Rugova, stating “that commercial preferences towards what remains of exYugoslavia, are some sort of a pressure on official Belgrade", the feeling remains that the political pressure is heavy on the Albanian political subject. Even, in a digression, Jan Sizzo expressed his admiration for Dr. Rugova’s peaceful politics, even though diplomatically, he let him know that the “decision for the postponement of the elections in Kosova will be succeeded by another one on a more delicate issue”. Based on speculations, the next decision could be only “the non-celebration of the elections in Kosova and accepting the growing international pressure against it”. Even though the initiative presented by the EU in Prishtina, “Kosova’s autonomy within Yugoslavia”, represents a new phase in the developments regarding the solution of Kosova’s problem, says Dr. Fehmi Agani, no rushing should be expected. According to him, the proposal will initially be refused by both sides: “Serbia will hope that the international community will get tired and will give up on Kosova by accepting it as Serbia’s internal issue, and so for a certain time, it will not accept the proposed autonomy. Whereas, in the meantime, the Albanians, for principled reasons, can’t accept this EU’s proposal because this solution isn’t a solution for Kosova”, he says.
First of all, Albanians will look at this European proposition, that hasn’t changed much during these years, as a Serb government’s effort to play with the nerves of, not only of the international factor, but also the Albanians. A good opportunity for Serbia, to maneuver with the human rights level, will give no space to the Albanian side for anything else, but “facing this situation and thus intensify the creation of independent institutions, that would be achieved with next elections”, said Dr. Agani. The new Kosova autonomy, within the new federal state, as analysts say, is a consequence of insufficient political engagement of our subjects. Jonuz Salihaj, from the PPK, considers that the reason for this new pressure towards Albanians is “the fact that the elections were postponed because, according to him, the international community knew that we aren’t ready to take steps forward in teh realization of the people’s will”. But, the new European demand for Kosova’s autonomy, according to some political circles, could only radicalize the situation in Kosova, and in this way to bring Albanian resistance “to a hot level”. Radical forces, that the Albanian political subject recognize only verbally, will never accept a solution proclaimed as a solution of “subjugation”, and they will even try to show that today’s leadership “is very incapable of doing something in the realization of its own goals”. Consequent or not in his stands, in his last press conference, Rugova said: “Autonomy? Please don’t even mention the word to me”, adding that relations with the European countries have to be kept, in the name of building Kosova’s independence. Careful observers say, however, that the Albanian political scene “lacks the basic political principles”. On one hand, the American and European diplomacies' early statements, have made the new idea on the political parties” “moratorium” emerge precisely in times when a strengthening of a new political force in Kosova is developing. Nevertheless, it is up to Albanians to define themselves in favor of the “pragmatic politics” or something else. The least they have to do till the end of the year is think how to realize their elections in front of big challenges set by the international community. Kosova’s autonomy, as analysts would say, preferred by the EU, would have to be realized now with the person that actually had suppressed it in 1989. Will this happen? That depends on future Albanian political behavior and their steps in politics. Dr. Agani considers that “now is the time when the long and difficult journey towards independence starts with very little support from the international community”. Or, as one of -4-
UNIKOMB's leaders, Tefik Geci, would say: “we have determined ourselves only in favor of independence and national unification”. Anyhow, the Euro-American “autonomy”, will be a new challenge for Albanians, maybe it will awaken them and incite a new demand for a stronger political movement here. Albright’s wish to meet Dr. Rugova in Washington, is hoped to be a “something else” and not a new pressure on Albanians to “accept an incomplete solution for Kosova”. ...Although, reality can many times be painful.
INTERVIEW JAN SIZZO, Dutch Ambassador to Belgrade KOSOVA A THIRD REPUBLIC IN YUGOSLAVIA, THEORETICALLY YES Interviewed by BATON HAXHIU & ARDIAN ARIFAJ / Prishtinë KOHA: You were in a very difficult position today - you had to explain to Rugova how does the European Union see the future of Kosova. Was it very difficult to talk with Rugova about what you told us in the press conference? SIZZO: Indeed, this was a very difficult message for Rugova. And he did understand that this is EU's philosophy, which he cannot change. We ended as friends, and although we differ in opinions on the possible solutions for Kosova, we can still talk. The stand that I presented to him, was taken by him as the stand of the European Union. KOHA: Do you think that this ultimatum came in a wrong time, now when the position of Rugova is weaker than ever, and now when some radical fractions are appearing in the political scene of Kosova Albanians? SIZZO: If we didn’t explain clearly our stands, as I did today, I don’t know how would develop the spiral of radicalization and terrorism. I don’t think that it is late to prevent this and I think that with its declaration, EU is not stimulating extreme elements. The effect would be that people here would understand that there is no international support for the independence of Kosova. KOHA: You met only with Rugova. But, today authority of Rugova is weaker than it used to be. Wouldn’t it be better that you -5-
spoke also with other political figures of Kosova Albanians? SIZZO: We deeply thought about this, but it was difficult to decide with whom else to talk. We think that Rugova is the elected president of the Albanians of Kosova. If we met with other political leaders, then this would even more weaken his position. This way we showed that we consider him to be a legitimate president of the Albanians of Kosova. KOHA: We would like to go back to the letter that you gave to Rugova today. Do you think that Serbia, or better to say Milosevic is ready to give this kind of autonomy, an extensive one, to Kosova? SIZZO: I think that if there is not going to be an international pressure on Milosevic, he will not accept this. But, if we continue with the pressure, he will be forced to do it. But, it is very obvious that now, before elections in Serbia, he will have no interest to start the dialogue on Kosova. KOHA: The letter says that Albanians and Serbs should decide what should the future status of Kosova be. If EU thinks that Albanians and Serbs alone would do this, we think that they would decide about by war. Is there any kind of help that EU could offer, in order to prevent the violent solution of this problem? SIZZO: If we start from the point that Belgrade is also interested to start the dialogue with Albanians of Kosova, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t do this, and if the EU, is asked to assist in this dialogue, we are ready to do so. But, of course, we can not impose the solution. But, I think that in this moment the authorities in Belgrade are not willing to accept our assistance, in the possible talks for the solution of the Kosova problem. They want to talk only with the people here. KOHA: We have been asking for a dialogue for eight years now, but Belgrade did not show the slightest will for this. Serbian politics wishes to solve the problem of Kosova within the frames of its 1989 constitution. There are no signs of readiness for compromise. How do you think that the dialogue can start with no willingness for compromise? SIZZO: In the present situation, the stands are very extreme, and very far from one other. This could be noticed in the round table held in New York, some time ago. But that doesn’t mean that this positions cannot get closer. If you think that this is impossible, then there is no other alternative but to fight. But, if war is something that you don’t prefer, then you must start to talk. I think that also Belgrade knows this very clear. When you sit once around the same table, then you will eventually find -6-
a solution. KOHA: The international community had a similar attitude in the case of Bosnia. Europeans and Americans said that it is the people of Bosnia those who should find a solution “ but war started there. According to you, Albanians and Serbs alone should find a solution. If we could do this, we would do it until now. But, the problem is so complex, that we cannot solve it alone. Therefore we need help. And not just to tell us that we should do this alone. SIZZO: Yes, but this is all that we can do at the moment. And we can only keep our positions. KOHA: But your positions are very abstract. You talk about an extensive autonomy, but this can be interpreted in many ways, by both Serbs and Albanians. Can you tell us what would this autonomy look like? SIZZO: This question I cannot answer! I came here as the representative of the EU, and EU hasn’t got a posture about what kind of autonomy would this be. And, my personal opinion is not important here. KOHA: The letter that you gave to Rugova today does not mention the repression of the Serbian police in Kosova. SIZZO: As you know, EU thinks that the problem of Kosova must be solved in the scope of the respect of the human rights. KOHA: Why did the EU decide to present clearly its stands about Kosova in this particular moment, considering the situation that we have in Albania and Macedonia. Are they related in any way? SIZZO: I would say that this step was taken rather because of the fear that the situation in Kosova is getting out of control. If you think that we are using the current situation in Albania and its weak role in the international political scene, then you are wrong. There is no logical connection between our move here and the situation in Albania. KOHA: Do you think that a war can erupt in Kosova? SIZZO: Perhaps not a war, but I am afraid that there can be some unrest. Both sides can start using more violence. KOHA: How do you think that you will convince Albanians of Kosova to put a moratorium in their quest for independence and Serbs to put a moratorium on repression. Both sides refuse to give up on their positions. -7-
SIZZO: This is not our duty. Political forces here should do this - convince the people, and especially the extreme forces. The international factor cannot do this. KOHA: Do you think that the letter that you brought here today, will help solving the problem of Kosova. And do you think that this can be done this year? SIZZO: I think that this will contribute in the stabilization of the situation. People here will realize that there is no international support for the independence of Kosova, and this will help in preventing the use of violence. KOHA: Do you think that the solution for Kosova will be found within the borders of Yugoslavia? SIZZO: Yes, I think that this can be done. KOHA: Do you think that Kosova can be the third republic of Yugoslavia? SIZZO: Theoretically, yes. In practice - I don’t know...
ALBANIA "THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS ALREADY DECIDED WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE ELECTIONS" by ARTAN PUTO / Tirana Everybody knows that the main cause of the crisis in Albania was the bankruptcy of the pyramidal schemes, which have impoverished the Albanians for more than one billion dollars. Since that time, many suggestions were made on how to overcome this crisis, which will be an enormous burden to all other Albanian governments for a long time. One should admit that the mentioning of this problem during the electoral campaign has a characteristic meaning. If one tries to solve this problem, which would give hope and enthusiasm to the masses, it would mean a big responsibility at the same time. And if one fails to keep the promise, this wouldn't mean only disappointment, but we should fear the situation where people wouldn't trust any other future government nor president. That would mean that the people would be deceived for the third or fourth time in just a few years. A statement made just recently by Fatos Nano, during the -8-
electoral rally in the southern city of Vlorë, has renewed some discussions. In the middle of the Flag Square, and in front of the crowd which counted more than ten thousand people, Nano said that his party would be able to give the citizens back the money lost in the pyramidal schemes. This promise has immediately caused harsh criticism of the rightist newspapers. They started to accuse the socialist leader, calling him an ordinary deceiver. The comparison to the campaign slogan launched by Gramoz Pashko, the leader of the Democratic Party in 1991, "the white cheque", became actual again. But, one thing was different. The Albanian Labor Party led by Ramiz Alia as the one accusing the democrats for playing games with people, and now, it is the democrats that are using this argument to strike their political opponents. Anyhow, it looks like Nano was moved by the enthusiasm reached during the rally, and maybe he wasn't so conscious when he expressed the "golden words". One day later, following the reactions to his statement, he was forced to explain the whole case. "I didn't say textually that I will return hundred percent of the money, but I said that we are going to make a totally transparent check-up on the pyramidal firms and we will give the maximum of the money found in them ", said Nano. So, in other words, this meant one step back. Anastas Angjeli, expert of the economic section within the Socialist Party, gives maybe the best explanation what can an eventual socialist government in the future do regarding the pyramidal schemes. "This is going to be a long road, but with reliable results to be achieved". First, Angjeli says, the completion of a juridical team must take place, which would clarify the status of not only to the existing firms, but to the ones that went bankrupt, as well. Second, it is suspected that the collapsed firms have transferred a considerable amount of their money to accounts outside the country. Rumors are that some 130 million dollars from Vlorë have "escaped" by sea. The Austrian press writes about bank accounts in the Austrian bank, by one pyramidal firm from Albania. In this way, thinks Angjeli, a new government elected on June 29, using all the national and international juridical means, making use of all the rights, will verify those accounts. And, in the case they find something, they will do all within the legal frame to transfer that money back to Albania. Thirdly is the verification of the property of these firms. After this, based on the present law and any legal act to be adopted in the future, their property is going to be returned partially or fully. So, the Socialists think that if these firms have their own property, a way to sell it will be found. Otherwise, the creditors should accept to be co-owners and to take one part of the property in money.
But, the news from outside Albania are more likely to add petrol to the fire. In a statement of the Italian deputy minister of Defence, Massimo Brutti, it is said that the governments of the Western countries, in case the elections come out to be regular and fair, would help find the ways of returning part of the money to the Albanians. So, will they get the money or not? This is most often asked question among Albanians these days. But, there is another fact. A couple of days ago, the head of ODIHR in Tirana, Brian Prydam, resigned because of "personal reasons", as stated officially. But other circles say that he left the country, because he didn't like the way how the elections were being prepared. He said, "...there have been no proper conditions for the elections to be held". But several days later, one daily in Albanian quoted him saying that "the international community has already decided who is going to win in the Albanian elections". If things are like this, then the Albanian electorate will, in vane, go to the polling centers. The last favor that Prydam could do to the Albanians, would be telling them who is going to win, so they could simply vote for him and thus get their money back.
ALBANIA BLACK DAYS FOR THE ALBANIAN LEK by ARJANA LEKA / Tirana There is panic in the Albanian currency market. Now the Albanian Lek, that once used to be unbreakable, the "SuperLek", is dropping not only by the day, but by the hour. One dollar could be exchanged this week for 190 lek, that in fact is 20% less than last week, or 90% less when compared with the golden days before January 1997. The American Dollar, along with Greek Drahma, Italian Lira and German Marks, the most useful currencies in Albania, have been unmerciful towards the unprotected Lek. The political crisis is now connected to a devastating financial crisis. After losing their savings in the pyramidal saving schemes, Albanians are threatened with with the depreciation of their wages because the value of their money is declining. The destitute life that Albanians seemed to be on the way to escape, is coming back at a very fast pace. Reports from the towns of this country are indicating even some cases of starvation. In the meantime, there are 6000 soldiers of the Alba operation - 10 -
that are waiting to accompany the humanitarian aids that were supposed to arrive in Albania about 6 weeks ago, and that didn't arrive or that are insufficient. Economists keep asking themselves what caused the depreciation of the Albanian Lek. On the other hand, citizens keep asking themselves: how long will this last? The reason for this phenomenon is, without doubt, the deep political crisis that had the widespread destructive economical and financial outcome throughout the country drowned in chaos. Economists explain that large parts of the country's wealth and businesses are paralyzed, a large part of the trade is also paralyzed, and that the inflation and huge budget deficit are the reasons for the circulation of large sums of money. One of the most well known Albanian economic analysts, Andrea Stefani, wrote that "the Albanian monetary system seems to be tempted into falling and losing all of it's value". Stefani adds that "it seems that the arsenals for shielding the Lek are not only seldom, but are also losing their effect". Last week, The Albanian National Bank, tried to save the Lek by raising an antiinflation "wall". The bank interest rates rose from 30 to 34 per cent. That was a move that was supposed to diminish the pressure of the Lek on the exchange market. But that didn't happen. The news that the interest rates were boosting didn't have any positive impact on the stubborn monetary trade that burdened the Bank of Albania. As if ironically, the foreign currencies continued to escalate to the point of the explosion occurred on Black Tuesday. The main reason for that seems to be the people's distrust towards the Albanian monetary system. Stores selling electronic and domestic devices have started to "dollarize". Their products seem to speak in foreign languages. One has to pay in foreign currencies or by converting the price into the day's value of the Lek. On the other hand the currency income from refugees has started to decrease, whilst the illegal activities in the past five years have substantially fallen, and exportation isn't like it used to be. Even though it hasn't been officially confirmed, there are large sums of banknotes circulating, to pay workers, teachers or doctors. The money is new, but not as valuable as it should be. The Dollar Fever has started to spread more and more, while the elections are coming even closer. The savings left are being converted to dollars since the monetary barometer promises only stormy days to come. "We've lost everything now", says a man left out of work in his forties, from Tirana. "The pyramids stole us in the beginning. Now we're being "stolen" by the dollar. We have noisy politicians, foreign peacekeeping forces, but we have no bread. To the hell with them all".
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MACEDONIA THE NATIONAL FLAG DOESN'T CHANGE by SELADIN XHEZAIRI / Shkup The Macedonian government, during a marathon meeting last Tuesday, adopted the draft-law on the use of the nationalities' flags. The Albanian flag hasn't been changed, but it's use is now looked upon more rigorously. When the tensions that enforced this act are considered, Albanian and Macedonian politicians should be pleased... The meeting in which the cabinet of premier Branko Crvenkovski gave green light to the draft on the use of national symbols of nationalities, as one of the participants said, was very difficult: PPD ministers didn't even want to hear about the version according to which "there has to be a white (dotted) line on the Albanian national flag in order to differ it from Albania's flag"; however they didn't manage to secure it's use in front of and in state organs. It can be used - in occasions of national celebrations - in centers and units of local administration in areas with national majorities as well as on "private celebrations, cultural, sports and other events". Experts on the matter say that considering the constitutional frames, Albanians shouldn't have expected anything else, since both the coalition partners and their opponents, must accept this as a compromise solution, regardless of it's approval in the parliament. "Following all what has happened and what has to do with use of the Albanian flag in the municipalities where mayors are from our parties, I think the government acted as it was supposed to", said Naser Zyberi, Secretary of PPD and vice-premier, and added: "We had a sturdy attitude towards the thought, that I think we share with all Albanian people, that the image of the Albanian national flag couldn't change. Even though with difficulties, we had success in convincing our coalition partner that our national symbol shouldn't be manipulated with, saying that we are ready to withdraw from the government. We also had success in maintaining our flag in all cultural celebrations, without it being accompanied by the state flag, which was a condition up to now. We also achieved that it be used in state festivities in all municipalities where there is an Albanian majority. I think that we achieved all that we could in electrifying times as these. We are conscious that there are going to be many words of disapproval, but our opponents should have realized by now that compromise is a part of politics. Our achievement made way for further progress", ends Zyberi.
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Rufi Osmani, mayor of the municipality of Gostivar who activated the issue of "the use of Albanian national flag" and put it in the center of the attention of the public opinion in Macedonia, even at wider range, expresses the Albanian opposition's attitude: "This proposal doesn't fulfill the needs of Albanians in Macedonia. This law is an essential degrading of the use of our flag and isn't acceptable in the proposed variant. I personally think that it's the PPD's fault for degrading Albanian's national flag, and it is an unforgivable act. I think they have the possibility to continue conditioning the level in which the Albanian flag is used through their MPs in the parliament and their coalition partners. Otherwise, if this continues to go on, we're not going to accept it" - says Osmani, who is member of the Albanian Democratic Party (the merged PPDSH and PD). Meanwhile, the proposed solutions are also criticized by the Macedonian opposition. Ace Kocevski, from the Liberal-Democrats, says that Article 9 of the Draft, is rebuttable, according to which nationalities get to use flags to identify their national characteristics: "For all I know, no minority in Macedonia has characteristic lawmaking organs that can approve the look of the flag in the name of minorities. The only organ that is competent to decide about how a flag looks in this country is Macedonia's parliament"- says deputy Kocevski, on the other hand, the spokesman for VMRO-DPMNE Party, Dragi Ivanovski thinks that "law is a usual bargaining place for the government coalition of Branko Crvenkovski, SDLM and PPD. The prediction of their use in local government rises speculation about the sovereignty of the country". At the same time, Macedonia's Constitutional Court, by pronouncing it contrary and illegal, highlighted the article of Gostivar's Municipality's Statute that foresees the flag's use in front of the unit's local administration building. The new Minister of Justice, Djordji Spasov, declared that his government won't apply the plea for abandoning the use of flags until the law is approved, as expected to be done by the Macedonian parliament in a urgent procedure.
INTERVIEW ARBËN XHAFERI, Chairman of the Albanian Democratic Party (PDSH) "WE ARE INVESTING IN LEADERS AND NOT IN INSTITUTIONS" Interviewed by YMER ISMAILI / Tetovë
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KOHA: What were the motives for the unification of the two parties, PPDSH and PDP? XHAFERI: The development of the political phenomenon and of the political conscience, the deep conclusion on the real effects of impotent diversities, the delay in the political dimension in all Albanian lands, the interior Albanian vitality of transforming and asking new, more effective methods for survival and development, then the practical, financial moral reasons, as well as the pressure from people were the most important reasons that influenced the unification of the two parties. I think that among people, but also among intellectuals a tendency, a good will for unification, for cooperative action exists. And this should be taken into consideration. We should also be aware that is very hard to put in action such a determination, in conditions of such massive partition, in lack of experience, and especially because of the shortsighted readiness of the political elites which try to abuse this idea by creating administrative obstacles or by opposing the idea of unification. But, there's no other way, we should find ways to institutionalize this immanent, rational need. The institutionalization of this idea will eliminate the folklore variants and the phony unity. It has become clear now that the Albanian political scene should be structured globally and it should be a fair of projects, knowledge, responsibility and braveness. KOHA: This is the message of this unification. PDSH remains an open party, other parties in Macedonia with similar programs can join it. How possible is this? XHAFERI: I estimate that the fast, euphoric variants of unification are dangerous. We should act in several directions: - in creating a new conviction for the structural globalization, where the productive syntheses of Albanian politics happen, always on the line of national and civil ideas; - in finding functional models that make the realization of the convictions proclaimed by political parties possible; - in selection of the credible, professional, experienced people and - the establishment of the sectors which deal professionally with the political specter. The readiness exists, it's as large as the risk of failure of the initiative. - 14 -
KOHA: The creation of the PDSH from PPDSH and PDP was greeted by Albanians, but, is it possible that some section of one of the two parties will oppose the merge? XHAFERI: Here, in Kosova and in the diaspora, we were greeted. But, we are aware that in this phase we are vulnerable, delicate, just like the growing baby. Against us are: - the state structures which see this unification as a potential danger and work in subversive manners to create suspicion among people, and which try to infiltrate their people among us; - foreigners who have an interest for peace without conditions; - different elites which with the creation of a strong party, of a policy based on national foundation, lose their relevance and start fearing the new context and new proofs; - ambitious groups that understand this unification as a chance for their affirmation, and not as a new project that asks patience, and discipline; - ordinary honest, sincere people, experienced activists, who gave their contribution to the parties and now feel touched because they see mistakes in the formula of unification. However, this has no influence in political macro-plan. We have strong support, extremely positive mood, but also obstruction of real structures of the state, of interest groups etc. We have devoted ourselves to this idea seriously and with responsibility, we have shown tolerance and courage and we will keep implementing it. KOHA: It was decided that the program of PDP should serve as a foundation of the political actions in the future. What is the difference between this program and the program of the PPDSH? XHAFERI: PDP was created in a time when Yugoslavia was disintegrating and in times when the request for the selfdetermination was dominant. At that time political parties were registered based on these convictions. After the independence of Macedonia, because of them, many administrative obstacles were made during the registration of the parties. Since, PPDSH, for known reasons had to register again on 1995, it should reword some formulations in order to get registered in the court bodies. The PDP program holds this initial "spirit" of the Albanian parties which was very concretely put in action in the platform of the PPDSH, and I think that this way many aspects were - 15 -
harmonized. Now we are expecting a new round of obstructions from the Macedonian administration, but these matters will not influence our activities. With fresh forces, PDSH will keep insisting on the Albanian issue in Macedonia and keep on offering solutions for it. KOHA: A complete integration of the Albanian political subject in Macedonia is hard to be implemented, but can we expect a coordination with PPD in the future? XHAFERI: Not only with PPD, but also with LDK, PPK, SDPK etc. because PDSH will not give up requests of integral opening of Albanian issue in former Yugoslavia and of finding integral solutions which will offer relaxation to everybody. As far as PPD is concerned, two years ago, responding positively to the initiative of the associations of the intellectuals and Albanian writers in Macedonia, I offered a draft for the new structuring of Albanians of Macedonia, where a positive interaction among political subjects, but also among other associations, should have been developed. At that time this proposal was expected with interest, curiosity, but finally it was left behind. We still advocate for this proposal, since it is very clear that the Macedonian society is completely structured, specialized in all activities, with administrators and people with titles who affirm the Macedonian issue and minimize or eliminate the Albanian one. Our current organization does not promise respectful competition and it produces frustrations. If the PPD doesn't make serious efforts for the creation of Albanian structures which will confront more successfully the Macedonian ones, which function on anti-Albanian principles of the eighties (a time when in the Yugoslav plan the status of Kosova and the status of Albanians in Macedonia was degraded), then PDSH will be forced to start a new battle to gain undisputed legitimization from the people in order to rationalize the Albanian political project. Naturally, this new battle will spend lot of energy, will create a lot of tensions, but saying it clearly there's no other way. KOHA: Who would benefit from the real coordination with PPD? XHAFERI: My discourse is not demonic but explanatory, analytical. Macedonia is built on the political premises of 1989 in all its structures and institutions. A person cannot know who is more extremist, the politician, the judge, the bureaucrat, the priest, the policeman, the customs officer or the ordinary citizen. Saying it in a simpler way here is going on only the recycle of - 16 -
the climate that Macedonia belongs to Macedonians, that Albanians represent a threat so they should be put in a ghetto, and left uncultured. Their requests for the language, symbols, school are considered a danger for the state sovereignty, while UNREDEP or foreign bases that will be established soon are not considered thus. In all aspects: political, democratic, civil, historical, economical, and demographic, this project is not real, because it confronts the will and the national interest of Albanians, it confronts international regulations and standards also with history. The political, structural improvement of Albanians is something that the forces that worked on wipe off the Albanian roots from the Balkans in the last hundreds of years, dislike. Earlier in PPDSH, and now in PDSH there will be no obstructions for such structuring that will express the Albanian force here. KOHA: The agreement on the mayor of Tetova was treated as a sensation in Macedonian mass-medias while now there is no special euphoria with the creation of the PDSH. How do you comment this? The creation of the PDSH has also made nervous some Albanian clans. How do you comment this phenomenon and with which parties from all Albanian lands will the PDSH cooperate? XHAFERI: We were very present in the Macedonian public, and the international one because of the dizzy tempo we imposed in the latest events, concerning the University of Tetova etc. We penetrated in every corner where we demonstrated publicly that there is an existing latent energy, that the political project has many supporters, that reality that can not be changed by any trick. Macedonian analysts asked publicly to ban our activities, they wanted to stop the flow of information on us, positive or negative, they asked for the creation of a climate as if we don’t exist. But the reality cannot be hidden. We were present everywhere, inside and outside the country, we ran very intensified activities in the field to compensate the obstruction of the press. When our manifests were louder than their silence than a new cycle of critics used to start. They called us on TV duels in order to discipline us politically, intellectually and personally. We were asked different questions, mostly satanic inventions. But, we turned all these attacks in counter-attacks. So, now the order of silence, of minimizing is in force. This will go on until we penetrate this obstacle with an action that can not be hidden nor turned back. This silence expresses the refusal and the fear of the state - 17 -
structures as well as of those who will definitely lose their relevance in the Albanian political scene. This new party is not created for building new blocks, but to open the path for a new structure. We have a lot of experience and knowledge on all variants which will be very useful for our future projects. KOHA: Some think that in a near future you are going to be the only leader of the Albanians in Macedonia. What will your actions be if you are placed in a such position? XHAFERI: I think that among us in general a mistake is being done: we are investing in leaders and not in institutions, in structures. I gave myself a mission to encourage efforts on focusing our creative energy in the creation of our political theory. Speaking of a leader, I think that we should take in account that in the past four years I was always in the battle, in the ring, in the front. The whole Macedonian public, and part of the Albanian one called me a foreigner, a newcomer, a Kosovar sent from the "Sigurimi" (Security) to destroy the Macedonian-Albanian haven. I needed to write hundreds of pages, to give hundreds of interviews, to participate in hundreds of meetings, almost in every Albanian village of Macedonia, to surpass all traps, not because of my survival, but for the survival of a real, coherent political line. I took and I gave punches, I ruined many deals, including mines and in the end I feel tired, wasted. The leader you are talking about, should be a young person, full of vitality, energy, ambitions, with intellectual capacity and above all, he should be accepted by all. I think that with tolerance, with a systematic inquiry and with stronger internal democracy such a leader could be found. This leader, whoever he is, will be the second person in Macedonia and will represent the will of all Albanians, with all the respect, dangers, potentials, rights and responsibilities. If we find enough power to accomplish this, along with the strengthening democracy inside, I think that the importance of the Albanians in Macedonia will be much bigger in all dimensions. KOHA: Many processes in Macedonia have ended doing harm to Albanians. Will the PDSH have political power to stop these processes and to turn them in favor of Albanians? XHAFERI: Albanians in Macedonia have a political theme, chance and political, economical and human force to stop, to turn and to implement their national goals. - 18 -
PPDSH and PDP, now united in PDSH have only one goal, to get this force, this power from voters and to manifest it publicly in order to solve all open issues in inter-ethnic relations on the political table, out of the procedures that favor the will of the majority. Of course, these objectives are not easy to implement, because a fight against structures and interests cultivated for decades, should be done.
DEAR READERS, AS OF THIS WEEK WE ARE STARTING OUR SUMMER SCHEME. THIS MEANS THAT UNTIL THE FIRST WEEK OF SEPTEMBER, UNLESS SOMETHING UNPREDICTABLE OCCURS, "KOHA" ALBANIAN WEEKLY WILL BE PUBLISHED ON A BIWEEKLY BASIS. "KOHA" EDITORIAL BOARD WISHES YOU THE BEST OF THE SUMMERS
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