ISSN 2330-717X

Macedonia Soothes Albanians Over Hague Cases


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic and Sase Dimovski

Talks between Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party and its ethnic Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, appear to be over on a new government.

Talks began after both parties won the June 5 elections in their respective ethnic blocs.

Sources from both parties told Balkan Insight that an agreement on a new government was speedy after VMRO-DPMNE accepted three key DUI demands concerning the Albanian community.

VMRO-DPMNE reportedly agreed to dump plans to re-examine four war crimes cases that the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, had returned to Macedonia in 2008.

The cases involve alleged crimes committed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas, including current DUI officials, during the 2001 armed conflict in the country.

Many feared that reviving the cases before the Macedonia’s domestic courts would rekindle the ethnic disputes of the past.

Since the four cases were returned from the Hague, only one case of alleged torture perpetrated against construction workers has reached the courts, but it has been repeatedly postponed.

A senior official from the Macedonian prosecution recently told Balkan Insight under condition of anonymity that following the return of the Hague cases he received political instructions to “manage the cases”, meaning stall proceedings in the courts.

DUI and VMRO-DPMNE officials brief that these cases will now lapse under a general amnesty law for former insurgents that was adopted shortly after the conflict ended.

In 2001 Macedonia saw an armed conflict between Albanian insurgents and the security forces. The clashes ended with the signing of the Ohrid peace accord that guaranteed Albanians more rights. The insurgency leaders then formed the DUI.

Party sources say the two winning parties have agreed that families of former Albanian insurgents who were injured or killed during the 2001 conflict will receive state pensions. The DUI had previously insisted on state pensions for all former insurgents, whether or not they were injured.

The third DUI demand that Gruevski has reportedly accepted concerns language. Ethnic Albanian MPs and ministers want the right to use their native language in parliament.

Currently, Albanian can be used in parliament, but with restrictions. For example, a legislator may not use Albanian when presiding over a parliamentary commission, but its use is permissible during plenary sessions.

Gruevski’s new ministerial line-up is still a mystery. But some new faces are anticipated. It is also expected that the DUI will have more ministers than it did in the last government.

The third government led by Gruevski will most probably be adopted without hitches, as his party and the DUI control over 70 of the 123 seats in parliament. Gruevski has been in power since 2006.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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