Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Musliu: Opening of Ohrid Framework Agreement is double-edged sword

The definition of "greater rights" is vague and difficult to assess, so it leaves room for a different interpretation. That is what the Albanian political elite does when it commenting on successes / failures, so that the same thing has different interpretations depending on whether it is with the ruling party or the opposition. On the other hand, though, the economic projects and promises are more specific and easy to assess, and that is why they have been long avoided

Political analyst Albert Musliu expects the Albanian political parties in Macedonia, under public pressure, in the future to increasingly leave the nationalist rhetoric and deal with economy. According to him, starting a new discussion over the Ohrid Framework Agreement is a double-edged sword, but in order to impose such initiative by DPA, the party first needs to win some future elections. On the other hand, because of the internal conflict, he does not expect the party to have a good future.

Is there disappointment among the Albanian electorate from the offer of their political representatives?

MUSLIU: In a situation where some rights, as use of language, symbols, equal representation etc., are periodically repeated and have become part of a regular inter-ethnic political rhetoric, without any long-term solution, and all that combined with the constant trend of impoverishment and hopelessness certainly results in disappointment and anxiety expressed within the Albanian electorate.

Why, in times when citizens want better standard of living, the politicians from the Albanian bloc persistently reap votes with promises of “greater rights for the Albanians.” Is there a crisis of ideas for economic projects?

MUSLIU: I believe there are more reasons. First of all, the definition of “greater rights” is vague and difficult to assess, so it leaves room for a different interpretation. That is what the Albanian political elite does when commenting on successes / failures, so that the same thing has different interpretations depending on whether it is with the ruling party or the opposition. On the other hand, though, the economic projects and promises are more specific and easy to assess, and that is why they have been long avoided. Under public pressure, the Albanian parties in the last 2-3 election cycles are increasingly dealing with economy, and I think that trend will continue, of course, with all the limitations that result from the fact that the winner in the Albanian electorate is always the smaller coalition partner in the Government .

Menduh Thaci has been re-elected as leader of DPA. Sela announces lawsuit and offensive on ground. What are your views on the recent developments in this party?

MUSLIU: Some elements remind me of some events in PDP in the early 90’s when Tachi initiated the need to reform PDP, despite the reluctance of the leadership of PDP at the time to enter into more serious reforms, and from a political movement of Albanians they were organized as a modern party, in accordance with the needs of the time, which ended with the separation of the reform wing that formed new party- PDPA, later with the inclusion of NDP transformed into today’s DPA. I fear that things are moving in that direction. Both protagonists have not found a way to overcome their differences, and after Sela’s announcement of lawsuit and increased activity on ground, I expect that to result in forming a new party, which initially will aim at the same electorate, at least in the stage of formation and consolidation of the new entity, which would be detrimental to both sides, as it was in the last early parliamentary elections.

Thaci announced he will seek a new agreement between the Macedonians and the Albanians, which would mean a revision of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. How dangerous is to open Pandora’s box?

MUSLIU: It certainly is a double-edged sword and involves the consolidation of the Albanian opposition, threatening the commodity that DUI currently has, wining the next elections and the opening the issue with other side. Of course that recent developments in DPA do not help in that direction.

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Is there room for a third option in the Albanian bloc which might offer a different strategy?

MUSLIU: I do believe there is. Such initiatives have always existed in the Albanian political bloc, and they were relatively successful on one or two elections. I do believe room for such thing now exists, but the success of a third option will certainly depend on good organization, since it is to face the already well-established parties, as well as whether it would manage to take over part of the electorate, and most importantly – will it manage to attract the large number of neutral voters, whose number is on the rise with the Albanians in the past 10-15 years.

Lately, we have been witnessing a trend of young Albanian boys leaving to battlefields in Iraq and Syria, and not from Macedonia, but also from Kosovo and Albania. What is the reason for this?

MUSLIU: I think there are more reasons for it. It is definitely influenced by the large number of new religious emissaries who are present in the region since the 90s, the new profile of religious workers and the indifference of regional institutions for this occurrence in the past. On the other hand, increased poverty, unemployment and lack of perspectives must also affect this trend.

Can the threat of possible unification of these radical structures by entirely eliminated, without causing interethnic conflicts?

MUSLIU: I think it can and it would require inclusion of, so to say, both parties. If the entire process is well-managed, if it is honest and transparent, if it does not leave any room for hesitations and different interpretations, like the ones we had even this year, I do think it can all be dealt with without raising of any interethnic tensions.

Polls show that around 90 percent of citizens support EU and NATO membership without any blackmails regarding the name and the identity, while Macedonian population is evidently very fond of pro-Russian politics. Is there an explanation of this phenomenon?

MUSLIU: Well, firstly these should be divided in separate occurrences. Strong support for EU and NATO is understandable, since it is driven by the pursuit of better life with higher quality, safety and bigger perspective. Unfortunately, that matter with us depends on the name issue with Greece, which, on the other hand, is related to the identity issue, and it certainly generates intensive emotions with Macedonians. On the other hand, as long as this issue was not connected to Euro-Atlantic integration, the support by the Albanians, with minor exceptions, was indisputable. However, in the past few years name dispute resolution is part of the EU recommendations, and disagreements appear right here. Unfortunately, the political elite landed this issue among the people, which be came a stumbling block. In meanwhile EU membership opinions vary, not in terms of citizens’ will for it, but in terms of Albanians pressuring their politicians for a sooner issue resolution. On the other hand, there is an increased tendency of certain media and intellectual circles of Macedonians, which are attempting to cast a shadow on the need for integration, even the attractiveness of integration into these two structures with alleged decomposition and lack of perspectives, as well as offering of new alternatives, such as approximation to Russia, forgetting the fact that such tensions would harm Macedonia’s indivisibility regarding EU/NATO integrations, but would also have deep impact on interethnic relations and stability, because they would attack on of the few things in this country for which there is interethnic consensus.

By:  Nenad Mircevski

Photo:  Gjorgi Licovski