23 years of independence, divisions and problems with neighboring countries

23 years of independence, divisions and problems with neighboring countries

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, September 9, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the 23rd anniversary of the independence of the country from the former Yugoslav Federation has sparked debates and dilemmas for the future. This relates to cross ethnic relations and the role of Albanians as the second biggest community. Even in this anniversary, the opposition has issued negative messages, stressing that the country is not heading toward a clear future filled with hope.

A referendum was held on September 8, 1991 for the separation of FYROM from the Yugoslav Federation and the majority of the population voted in favor of independence.

But, this referendum was boycotted by Albanians in FYROM, who sought autonomy and were not happy with their position in the new constitution of the country. Based on state figures of that time, over 95% of the population participated in the September 8, 1991 referendum for an independent country.

The referendum was preceded by the Declaration for Independence, which the first parliament of the country passed on January 25, 1991.

Formally, the will of the people for an independent country was reflected in the declaration which accepted the results of the referendum on September 18, 1991 in parliament.

State leaders and opposition are divided even in this anniversary

Prime minister Nikola Gruevski said that this anniversary finds the country with the investment and sacrifice of many generations who live with the thought for freedom and independent state. “But, this is a day where we also celebrate the wise decision of the absolute majority of people who voted in favor of an independent Macedonia”, said Gruevski.

The president of the country, George Ivanov has also congratulated the citizens on the occasion of this day, by saying that the country is bravely facing every challenge.

“Our entire region is seeing unprecedented events. We’re facing the challenge of terrorist and radical threats. On this 23rd anniversary, we are showing once again that our institutions are ready to face with those challenges”, said president Ivanov in his message on the occasion of this day.

But, critical tones have been expressed by Macedonian opposition, which has stressed that for years now, FYROM has become a hopeless country, from a state of the citizens becoming a state of several individuals.

“Was this the Macedonia for which blood was shed and lives were lost? Did the majority of people who 23 years ago voted in favor, think that they would see Macedonia kneeling like this? From a country full of hope, it became the opposite. From a state belonging to everyone, Macedonia became the state of several individuals. It’s been 13 years that Macedonia depends on the will of fake patriots”, said the leader of the largest opposition party, LSDM (Macedonian Social Democratic League), Zoran Zaev.

He once again appealed for the need of holding free and democratic elections.

Albanians think differently

The chairman of the Democratic Prosperity Party (PPD), Muhamed Halili says that this party was the first party at the beginning of pluralism in the country and that this party organized at that time the parallel referendum of Albanians for a wider autonomy, as the constitution and the declaration of independence proclaimed by Macedonians, discriminated and avoided Albanians as a factor in the country.

Halili says that even after 23 years of democracy, Albanians are hopeless in every aspect.

“As far as the political organization of Albanian ethnics in the ‘90s, I can say that all Albanians were determined to achieve their rights. Everyone was working for this and there could be no other way, because citizens were showing a strong opposition”, says Muhamed Halili.

According to him, there are many problems with national rights today, because political parties are focused on meeting their personal interests and have left aside the rights of Albanians.

The new history is filled with challenges

Another important step in strengthening the state was the voting of the new constitution on November 17, 1991. A shadow was cast in the events that accompanied the independence of the country, the boycott of the referendum by a part of the Albanian community and the refusal to back the new constitution by Albanian MPs. Ten years later, the constitution was amended after the 2001 conflict and the signature of the Ohrid Agreement.

Initially, the independence of the country was recognized by Bulgaria and then Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and so on.

The state was monetarily made independent with the introduction of denar on April 26, 1992 and then it created its own army.

The international legal subjectivity of the state was confirmed on April 8, 1993 with the acclamation at the General Assembly of the United Nations, where FYROM was accepted as the 181st member country of this organization. Nevertheless, due to the objections and pressure from Greece, which doesn’t accept its constitutional name “Macedonia”, accession in the United Nations was made under the temporary reference Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Under the UN’s brokerage, Skopje and Athens engaged in talks for the solution of the problem with Greece relating to the name dispute, which still continues.

So far, the country has established diplomatic relations with 170 countries of the world, while its constitutional name has been recognized by 135 states among which, three members of the Security Council-China, Russian Federation and USA.

During these 23 years of independence, the country encountered a number of problems and difficulties. Three digit inflation at the start of ‘90s, Greek embargo, the crisis with the Kosovo refugees and the 2001 conflict were real challenges and threats for the young state, which slowed down its efforts to meet strategic goals, strengthening of democracy and integration in the European Atlantic structures. In the recent years, the country managed to harmonize its legislation with that of the European Union, decentralized power and implemented the necessary reforms for the accession in the NATO.

In spite of meeting all the NATO accession criteria, in the Alliance Summit in Bucharest in April 2008, FYROM received a conditional invitation for accession, as Greece blocked its accession due to the name dispute.

In 2005, FYROM was granted the EU candidate status, while last year, the European Commission recommended the launch of negotiations for the accession in the Union. After blocking NATO accession, Greece also blocked the European integration of FYROM, conditioning it with the solution of the name dispute.

FYROM celebrates the 23rd anniversary of independence ahead of the new progress report from Brussels, which will outline the progress of the country in its path for European integration. /ibna/