FYROM: Internal Political Developments

by Nikos Marakis

(“Vima”, May 13, 2001)

[…] The new government in FYROM signals a shift in the internal balance in favour of Belgrade, since the socialists historically have a powerful link with the Serb element. The influence of Sofia, by contrast, is expected to decline sharply, because of the enforced exit from the government of certain figures with close political relations with the Bulgarian element. In addition, much of the advice and information politicians in Skopje have received from Bulgarian sources in recent weeks has either proved inaccurate or has led to bad moves.

The return to government of the Socialist Party will impede—though it is hard to tell just how far—efforts to conclude the unresolved matter of the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The socialists carry with them the baggage of the past: they were the ones who handled the talks, and they were clearly committed to avoiding any sort of compromise. Now, of course, they will be operating in the framework of a coalition government, which will allow for greater flexibility, given that the political responsibility will be shared among all the parties; but even so the influence of the “historic leadership”, which is steeped in intransigence, will be far from negligible.

Relations with NATO and the European Union will become relatively more complicated, since the socialists are particularly suspicious of the West. Mr Cvrenkovski is (proportionally) closer to Serb President Kostunica, who has often expressed his reservations about NATO and EU policy, than to Premier Djidjic, who immediately embraced the West’s positions. On its own, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is too weak to make any real objections to western initiatives, but it can serve to restrict the political equation currently being worked out in the Serbia / Montenegro / Kosovo zone.

In this framework, Greece is expected to continue an active policy towards Skopje, full of positive ideas and suggestions; but greater patience and effort will be required to achieve any results. One particularly positive element is the fact that throughout the critical period of the past two months Greece remained in contact and improved its communications with all the political forces in FYROM, ensuring clear channels for the passing of messages and the timely identification of potential problems and possibilities.

 

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