By Klaudija Lutovska
Lawmakers voted not to prosecute four war crimes involving the National Liberation Army in court after a request by the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration’s (DUI) for an interpretation of the Law on Amnesty.
The law ensued from the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended the 2001 conflict between Macedonian government forces and the Albanians’ National Liberation Army (NLA).
“The parliament is the highest institution with the responsibility to interpret laws. Voting to interpret the Law on Amnesty means the four cases will end and no other institution is competent to judge them,” analyst Jovan Donev told SETimes.
The Hague tribunal kept the four cases for six years without acting on them. It decided not to process them in 2006 and returned them, asking Macedonia to do it instead.
Two cases charge members of the NLA — whose leadership transformed into the DUI — with kidnapping, torture and murder of Macedonians in the Tetovo area in 2001.
Another case charges the NLA with shutting off the city of Kumanovo’s water supply, threatening the lives and wellbeing of over 100,000 people.
The fourth charges the NLA leadership with chain-of-command responsibility for various instances of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Government officials say the move is an attempt at national reconciliation between Macedonians and Albanians.
“It closes the big wounds which have previously prevented Macedonia from entering a course of political understanding. It will contribute to … political and economic stability in the country,” DUI parliamentarian Arben Ljanbunishta said.
Many Macedonians, however, are furious at the failure to ensure justice.
“The Framework Agreement was imposed on Macedonia and consequently there is no closure for the families of the missing Macedonians, not to mention how many of us are unemployed because of existing quotas,” a 45-year-old veteran of the 2001 conflict, who asked to be identified only by the initials S.T., told SETimes.
Parliament’s decision was a “political calculation before the autumn census, in which the validity of the Framework Agreement may legitimately be put under question,” he said.
Others, like Bitola resident Petre Lozanovski, 60, disagree. “I am convinced the parliament has valid arguments for its position. Whether the solution is sound we must wait and see,” Lozanovski told SETimes.
“The interpretation is a result of a political agreement, a political declaration, rather than being a sound legal solution. The goal here is to overcome possible future ethnic tensions in Macedonia,” former Internal Affairs Minister and governing coalition member Pavle Trajanov told SETimes.
In an attempt to calm the situation, President Gjorge Ivanov met with distraught families of the Macedonians still missing from the conflict and asked that all political factions refrain from exploiting their misfortune.