By Miki Trajkovski
Democratic Union for Integration leader Ali Ahmeti is calling for all Albanian parties to unify in the continuing effort to resolve issues facing the Albanian minority in Macedonia.
Ahmeti, a former paramilitary leader who is now the head of Macedonia’s largest Albanian party, told a meeting of Albanian diaspora in Germany that the parties should work together. But leaders of the National Democratic Renaissance Party (NDP) and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) said they aren’t swayed by Ahmeti’s rhetoric.
“Only united will we be able to finish the mission to solve the Albanian issue in Macedonia,” Amheti said. “Hand of reconciliation of DUI and my hand will always be reached. … I think my mission is not yet completed.”
Eleven years after the Ohrid Framework Agreement made Albanian a co-official language in Macedonia, and created a foundation for improving the rights of ethnic Albanians, Amehti’s call for unity comes just before the 100th anniversary of the creation of Albania on November 28th.
NDP and DPA leaders said the quest for unity is unrealistic, adding that they consider it a marketing stunt in advance of local elections scheduled for March.
“The idea of Ahmeti for co-operation of Albanian parties where Albanians are a minority is incongruous, and in reality does not give any positive effect on the protection and promotion of the rights of the Albanians,” NDP President Rufi Osmani told SETimes.
“I recommend to Ahmeti instead make an effort for all Albanian parties in the Macedonian parliament to form one parliamentary group which will put pressure on the Macedonian party in power for faster integration of the country into NATO and the EU, as well as to change the constitution and establish the Albanian people as a second constituent nation in Macedonia.”
DPA, whose leader Menduh Tachi is Ahmeti’s biggest political rival, also rejected the idea.
“Ahmeti with this wants to find an excuse to get out of his responsibility and to cover the shame and betrayal that he has made of the Albanian people as he became part of the political scene in Macedonia,” Zijadin Sela, a DPA member of parliament, told SETimes.
“While Ali Ahmeti is sitting in the lap of [Macedonia Prime Minister] Nikola Gruevski, not any co-operation with him.”
Sela’s words became particularly heated last week during debate over a bill that would provide pensions and medical benefits for veterans of the 2001 conflict between government forces and Albanian insurgents. The bill would cover Macedonian veterans, but not Albanians.
DUI’s attempts to stop the bill by using procedural maneuvers in parliament drew Sela’s ire.
“You can’t block the law for defenders with 15,000 amendments and paper, but with the burning of this microphone, boot and parliament,” Sela said.
Belul Beqaj, a political analyst and college professor from Kosovo, said Albanian leaders in the region are characterised by contradictory behavior.
“When they see that they are losing the support of the citizens, then they become advocates for the union, but when they feel threatened, their power and authority, they become causes of division. I think it is better to openly point division instead of creating false union,” Beqaj told SETimes.
Albert Musliu, a political analyst in Skopje, said previous collaborations between the Albanian political parties lasted briefly.
“The Albanian community in Macedonia is one of the few non-majority communities in Europe that does not have its own common platform and vision for co-operation,” Musliu told SETimes.
“In Kosovo, the co-operation between the parties [is a little better], while in Albania is at the same level as in Macedonia — minimal. I hope that over time the feeling of responsibility among politicians will increase and such communication will be inevitable, but do not expect that they will sit down now to negotiate by normal communication.”