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The Ohrid Framework Agreement and Interethnic Relations
read in Macedonian


Author’s note: this is the second of a 2-part series

Next, territorial division: It is complete.  I am a proponent of giving more power – and responsibility –  to the local authorities.  So when their trash is not picked up, when their heating does not go on citizens can hold responsible those who are in authority at the local level.  In many ways, this is a positive point of the OFA.

Next: special voting rights need to be abolished or changed because DUI is constantly raising issues which have nothing to do with the well-being of people.  The parties – especially the ethnic Albanian parties – need to focus on what is important.  They must stop talking about “rights” – they have them – and start talking about their responsibilities and the economy and how to create jobs in the private sector.  Public sector jobs seem to be the most desired “rights” of the ethnic Albanian parties.  And that is wrong.

The “rights” DUI should be committed to are those of economic rights.  Flags, cultural symbols and monuments to the NLA will never provide jobs and put food on the table which is what Macedonia’s ethnic Albanians want the most, along with everyone else. (And as I have been writing about for years, if Macedonian Albanians want to fly what they consider to be a “cultural” flag – the flag of the Republic of Albanian – then that is fine: as long as the Republic of Albania changes its flag to something else).

Of course Mr. Ahmeti is a committed Marxist-Leninist so he knows nothing about these things.  If, however, he wants to change his way of thinking, I know people and programs who can show him the way, the truth and the life, allowing him, at some point in the future, to give a dissertation on Adam Smith and the invisible hand of the free market economy. I might even shake his hand then and welcome him to reality.

Finally, if we’re going to be forever talking about “rights” then let’s also discuss what goes together with those “rights,” and that is responsibility.  The late President Trajkovski often spoke about the need for responsibilities – in response to the increasing loud cries for more “rights” from certain groups.  In an interview with The Los Angeles Times on May 13, 2001, he said “But let’s also ask [Albanians] how many are paying taxes to the state.” So, if DUI is going to be forever complaining about rights (and we all know they will), let’s also talk about their responsibility to the state: to pay taxes, to be loyal, to – for God’s sake – display the Macedonian flag at their events, in schools and sing the Macedonian national anthem not the anthem of the Republic of Albania!  What Macedonia’s ethnic Albanians (and others) need more than “rights” is proper education, good jobs in the private sector and the ability to progress.  Especially ethnic Albanian women.

Ambassador James Pardew, one of the facilitators from the US during the talks and author of the OFA made this statement to The Washington Post on August 14th 2001: “This agreement should settle for once and for all the political issues that were at the heart of this conflict.” Obviously, this is not the case and Mr. Ahmeti keeps moving the goal posts, to use a sports analogy, by constantly creating and demanding ever new “rights.”

Finally, alternatives to EU and NATO membership. EU and NATO membership is not the answer for all of Macedonia’s ills.  As long as Greece continues to block Macedonia’s entrance into both organizations – and it will continue to do so – we must look for alternatives to membership in these organizations.

At the end of the day, there has been discrimination in Macedonia at the government level and there has been and is discrimination and even racism in Macedonia among the population at large and by and among individuals in every ethnic group (groups do not practice discrimination and racism – individuals do).  But every country has that problem.  And these are not issues which can be solved by government edict – these are spiritual problems that must be solved through a changing of the heart.  And that is an entirely different column.

Finally, Macedonia’s main problem is not discrimination – it is development.  And the OFA does not even address that issue.  The country needs to be (and is being) economically developed so that all of Macedonia’s citizens have a fair shot at a better life.  The government creating market conditions which allow the private sector to create and offer good jobs; top-rate educational institutions (primary, secondary and university level) offering the best education on the things that matter most – learning foreign languages, math, civics; and finally the government working with allies and friends to assure that Macedonia is strong and able to defend itself – these are the things that matter most and the things that should be pursued.

So, it is time to take a fresh look at the OFA.  It is time to end government-sanctioned discrimination (and supported by the international community), it is time to stop talking about the “right” to wave the flag of another country and it is time to look at alternatives to EU and NATO membership knowing full well that these institutions are largely incapable of doing for Macedonia what Macedonians must do for themselves.

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Jason Miko
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