West issues stern warning to FYROM

Accusations of slaughter of civilians illuminate the possibility of the country becoming a ‘pariah state’

by Giorgos Kapopoulos

(“Kathimerini”, 5 September, 2001)

Its adoption of a hard line against the Albanian uprising may lead to the FYROM being placed in a form of international quarantine, which will accelerate the disintegration of the country. This is the message underlying the accusations of slaughter of citizens – accusations which are coming to light at a critical moment.

Bearing all differences in mind, the FYROM leadership is experiencing the same abrupt descent to earth which Milosevic underwent in the final months of 1991. With the arrogance which had grown up since the Tito era the then strong man of Belgrade believed that he could proceed to the creation of a Greater Serbia with the toleration, if not the support, of the USA, Britain and France. In December 1991 the ‘12’ of the then European Community, followed a few weeks later by the US, made it clear to him in the most unambiguous terms that his policy was leading the country to international isolation. The successful maneuvers of Gligorov, which elevated his country to the rank of bulwark of the West and guarantor of Balkan stability, strengthened the conviction that support for the country as a unified Macedonian Slav national state by the international community was a matter of course. A look back at articles in the Skopje press in June 1993, when the sending of a small US military force to the country was announced, is revealing: The symbolic American gesture was interpreted by many analysts either as an informal joining of NATO or, even more so, as an overturning of the Treaty of Yalta.

If Belgrade was underestimated in geopolitical terms at the end of the Cold War, a similar mistake was made in the case of Skopje following the fall of Milosevic and the weakening of Yugoslavia by the de facto secession of Montenegro. If during the first years following independence there was the possibility of a Belgrade-Skopje entente in order to confront the Albanian threat, such an option is no longer open today. Thus, in the light of what has happened in the last six months, the support of the West, mainly the US, for the FYROM, is seen to have had a circumstantial rather than a strategic character. It was merely part of the exertion of pressure and desire to encircle the Milosevic regime, and was not intended as a declaration of support for the existing international borders in the region. The problem is that the fervor of popular feeling in the FYROM necessitates a hardening of policy rather than a realistic acceptance of defeat.


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