(“Kathimerini”, English Edition, May 14, 2001)
The national unity government formed in the Former Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) under Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski after intense NATO and EU pressure comprises an ultimate, but potentially fruitless, attempt to resolve the conflict. Hostilities were triggered by ethnic Albanian extremism, which in turn was fueled by former Serb President Slobodan Milosevics policies and the championing of ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo by some figures in former US President Bill Clintons administration and by Washingtons European allies.
Albanian momentum is now the strongest in the Balkans, and ethnic Albanians will eventually manage to impose their demands in FYROM which appears headingat besttoward partition.
In this light, the sooner Athens realizes this the better it will be for our country. Ever since the downfall of the Balkan communist regimes, Greece has played a peripheral role in developments, with only entrepreneurial activity partly offsetting the poor political efforts.
The Greek government believes constitutional reform will upgrade ethnic Albanians into a constitutive element of FYROM and open the way toward resolving the name issue.
Skopje tells Greece that any name change requires constitutional amendment, which needs a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Now constitutional reform seems unavoidable, in effect undoing Skopjes argument. This is a creditable diplomatic maneuver by the Foreign Ministry, but there is little use for a settlement when the future status of the interlocutor is so uncertain.
NATO and the EU hope any constitutional changes will secure FYROMs integrity. But the UN Security Council has already started discussions on Kosovos constitutional status, which creates the impression that FYROM Albanians will seek substantial autonomyas do their brothers in Kosovowhich will inevitably curtail any central governments power.
Furthermore, any solution will be provisional simply because ethnic Albanian nationalism in FYROM will be fueled by Kosovo until it finally achieves full independence.
The morale of Slav-Macedonians in FYROM is feeble and the country does not have enough troops to endure prolonged conflict.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou recently proposed that a special force consisting of UN or OSCE troops conduct a campaign to collect small weapons held by FYROM Albanians. Papandreous proposal, however, fell flat, as there were problems funding the operation.
NATO and EU countries, which spent enormous sums fighting Serbia and now in keeping troops in Kosovo, are unwilling to provide financial aid for the areas reconstruction, while the much-hyped Stability Pact is basically a dead letter.
In effect, the southwestern Balkans have been left to their fate, meaning the ethnic Albanians will likely achieve their national goals. The only benefit for Greece of all this would be the establishment of a special status in southern Albania for ethnic Greeks living there.