by Saso ORDANOSKI
Such development of events was triumphantly announced by Ljube Boskovski, the man who until yesterday physically threatened everything and everyone that dared to question and offer even much more pessimistic predictions of future perspectives for Macedonia. Who is crazy here? Is this question a classic case of political schizophrenia (split or multiple personalities) or a general change in the direction of movement? In order to answer these questions we first need to consider the context.
Last week, in his speech delivered at the Woodrow Wilson center in Washington, Yugoslav president Kostunica presented a new proposal for the solution of relations between Serbia and Montenegro, which essentially consisted of two points: confederal or federal status of the future Yugoslavia with common Constitution that will be adopted in the parliaments of the two states (and then perhaps also in the federal parliament), with the possibility that Montenegro in five years make a definite decision whether to remain within such Yugoslavia or declare independence.
This proposal has already been unofficially assessed by the Americans as "a chance that Montenegro should not miss, as it would not get anything better than this proposal". In the official form, Solana, a few days ago directly informed Djukanovic about this, with the clear message that at this point the EU will not support the independence of Montenegro. That would make it possible for Djukanovic to stay in power (provided he maneuvers well), and leave an open door for some future independence of Montenegro. The assumption is that Montenegrins in these five years will realize that the size of the market, rather than state sovereignty, will determine the prosperity of a nation.
"Bad news" for Albanians in Pristina, on the other hand, although there are no indications that they have registered or understood them, at all, have two components. The first is that the problem of the future status of Kosovo will be resolved between Belgrade and Pristina, and Europe will mediate the negotiations, instead of the USA. The independence of Kosovo is postponed for at least 3 to 5 years, including the proposed "conditional independence" (this proposal would have Kosovo proclaimed for an independent state, but that status would de facto be attained only after the fulfillment of a complex set of conditions, the process that could take years, if not decades).
First, the process of the transformation of the Serbian society is at the very beginning. Democratic institutions are still weak, Milosevic's people still play important and active roles in the society, fighting between Kostunica and Djindjic is fierce and dirty, and the privatization hasn't really started yet. Serbia will need significant external assistance in the future two-three years to make it to the "calmer seas". But, it does not lack arguments in its dialog with the rest of the world. Here are only a few... First, the status of Kosovo is tied to the Resolution 1244 - implying that Belgrade, and its supporters in the U.N. Security Council must agree with whatever happens with Kosovo.
Secondly, the "historical trial" against Milosevic in the Hague is so important for the Euro-American and Balkan history, that the West not only cannot allow to lose that trial, it also must win convincingly. According to announcements, the trial will last as many as two years, precisely the time needed for the transformation of Serbia. It seems that Carla del Ponte will need assistance of Serbian investigative and police (i.e. political) authorities to achieve the demanded decisive victory. What a coincidence! A mutual dependence between Serbia and the international community!
Thirdly, due to recent cooperation between the Serb services and the duo Georgievski-Boskovski, Belgrade will try to take increasingly dominant position in the discussions about the stability of Macedonia. Already factors in Kosovo and Serbia have an interest in maintaining Macedonia as "tactical space" for their mutual dialog about the future of Kosovo, above all as a (security) argument for pressure on European mediators in the Serb-Albanian talks.
The American overwhelming advantage in the NATO system is so pronounced that even the British cannot technologically match the US needs in the war in Afghanistan, and the German Army, for example, has already for a while been treated as "a sophisticated military power from the 1960s"! Besides, the NATO failed in its attempt to provide coordinated assistance to the US in Afghanistan even by providing logistical support for the American troops in the field. With such ambitious American military development plans, the differences between allies will become only more pronounced, which will increase frustrations and misunderstandings on both sides.
Therefore, it is clear that in the future the NATO will be transformed from a primarily military to a primarily political organization. The alliance is anyway already more interested in "soft" security issues (training, coordination, inter-army cooperation and similar), instead of serious preparations for waging serious wars. Besides, how should we interpret the information that countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, whose armies definitely do not fulfill any serious criteria for waging modern wars, are hoping to join the alliance soon? Of course, even Macedonia is hoping to join NATO and the argumentation, as you can read in this issue of Forum, according to president Trajkovski is simply political.
Within NATO, organization is not flexible and the command process is similar to complex coordination and political balancing that is better suited for the U.N. Security Council. Some analysts point out that the NATO is essentially being transformed into a more developed form of the OSCE, with a strengthened military component.
This may make it easier to understand why Europe is attempting to develop its own defense "identity" and why Americans, essentially, are trying to get rid of European influence on their own military agenda. That does not mean that the NATO will disappear, but it does mean that its transformation (and enlargement) is something that will be influenced by the new needs of the alliance. These needs, however, do not include a new American engagement in the Balkans.
Macedonia will enter quieter seas of the denouement of its crisis. The EU pursues definite stabilization of the country through several elements.
First, it supports political unification of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia (Ahmeti's coordination council) because that would provide one interlocutor on the "Albanian side" in Tetovo. This obvious democratic regression is at the same time supposed to control the appetites of the DPA (above all Thaci's and Xhaferi's), PDP and the UCK, for mutual political (and other) clashes, since the "cake" would have to be divided before any elections. This would not be the first time that ethnic Albanians have to transform their fear of mutual conflict into a rotten political agreement that will give them another "infusion" on the account of their voters. However, that "camp" does not include a public nor any political alternative that could prevent such a "deal".
Ljupco Georgievski was left relatively little tactical space. He can either go back to his pro-western policies and cooperation with the ethnic Albanians, which he advocated before the crisis, or he will be finished off in his own ethical-political agony, which will be crowned by an ignominious defeat in the elections and uncertain fate after the elections. The "stake" is the head of Ljube Boskovski. Since Ljupco cannot sacrifice Ljube (it is sad, but after a series of purges in his own party, he has no other choice), he has promised to change Ljube.
And there we get Ljube in his new, "peacemaking" role from the beginning of the article! Not only that; now we'll get a fierce wave of struggle against crime and corruption in Macedonia, which was announced by current dismissals of numerous senior and junior police officials responsible for financial and organized crime in the state. Besides, consider the simplifications offered by Latas in the Skopje "Zastava film": the spring offensive will not happen because (1) improved cooperation between Macedonian and Serbian security forces and (2) due to preventive activities taken by the Macedonian security forces (Ljube) in the field. Then there is the conclusion that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is improving cooperation with the OSCE and that, from now on, OSCE and MIA will share responsibility for all future security complications in Macedonia!
It is always fun to watch the political right being forced to swallow its own spittle, assisted by the clowns of Macedonian journalism.
With possible coming of the SDSM in power, on the other hand, the situation would become more complicated for the EU: new players, new electoral promises that need to be implemented, new purges, corrections of reforms, trouble with ethnic Albanians and other wasting of time, which is translated in Brussels as a new political destabilization of the situation. The EU, so far, does not need that.
This approach has only a small problem - election results! Namely, if Macedonians overwhelmingly vote for the SDSM led coalition, then the whole calculation is thrown in the air, since the annulment of such results and "carrying" of the VMRO into a new coalition with ethnic Albanians involves risk of an explosion among ethnic Macedonians who are now really showing signs that they've had enough of the VMRO in power.
However, there is still quite a lot of time until the elections. The VMRO still has tactical space to improve its rating. It will fight crime and corruption, regularly distribute state-funded pensions and pay state employees, it will stop all reforms that may lead to a loss of support in the electorate, and will request EU's support for its election program. Whether the elections will be held early, will depend on the assessment of the authorities whether they are prepared for them. The political future of Georgievski, Andov, Zmejkovski and the whole business and criminal structure will depend on the way cards are "dealt" in the next general elections in Macedonia. That only increases likelihood of election related violence.
However, it is not unlikely that the answer to the question from the beginning of this article ("Who is crazy here?") is - Branko Crvenkovski [leader of the SDSM]. Based on the current situation, his return to power is becoming increasingly uncertain.