Foreign Minister Popovski retorts with journalists in Tirana

Foreign Minister Popovski retorts with journalists in Tirana

IBNA Special Report/Poposki retorts with journalists in the news conference. He says that they use the Ohrid Agreement for domestic issues and to cover the name dispute with Greece. All the details of the heated retorts

Tirana, January 26, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

Foreign Minister of Albania, Ditmir Bushati, held talks in Tirana with the Foreign Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Poposki, who is holding an official visit to Albania.

Bushati said that after the meeting with his counterpart, that Albania supports the integrity, sovereignty and prosperity of the neighboring country, while criticizing Gruevski’s government of not implementing the Ohrid Agreement. Bushati’s criticism was ignored by Poposki. He didn’t mention it as a notion, while saying that Skopje has done a lot for the rights of ethnic groups, adding that he demands the same thing from Tirana.

The two ministers also talked about the preparations of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of SEECP countries, which will be held in Tirana on 23 and 24 February 2015. This year, SEECP is chaired by Albania.

Ohrid Agreement sparks retorts

In today’s news conference, Albania’s Foreign Minister Bushati talked about the Ohrid Agreement. He considered its implementation as vital for the domestic stability of the neighboring country, the democratic state consolidation and Euro Atlantic integration of the country.

The minister demanded a greater engagement from the government in Skopje for the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. “We encourage Macedonia to move forward for the full implementation of the Ohrid Agreement, something that would guarantee harmonious coexistence between ethnic groups in Macedonia and we strongly believe that this would also serve to the regional stability and the perspective of the region”, said Bushati.

The Ohrid Agreement was never mentioned by minister Poposki during his speech. He talked about “affirmation of the rights of ethnic groups in both countries”.

“Both sides pay special attention to the territorial division, the use of language or a greater involvement in institutions”, said Poposki, ignoring the complaints of the Albanian Foreign Ministry that after this many years, the Ohrid Agreement is not being fully implemented as it was agreed.

But, the most senior officials of the Albanian state, the Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament and including Mr. Bushati today, often demand from Skopje to respect the Ohrid Agreement. A question naturally arises, what is stopping the neighboring country to implement this agreement?

Poposki could not escape this question during the news conference.

His response was in the form of criticism for the media: “This question is addressed without a deeper approach about its content, that what’s known to be as the frame Agreement of Ohrid is part of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia”.

Although Albanian authorities insist that the Ohrid Agreement has not been entirely implemented, Mr. Poposki said: “Macedonia is meeting all the standards that relate to the treatment of ethnic groups. The standards in which all communities are being treated are very high”. Nonetheless, he added that Skopje doesn’t believe that these efforts must not continue any further.

Poposki’s reply didn’t satisfy the media and this led to retorts.

Journalists pointed out that Mr. Poposki’s description of the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement, was different from the one appearing in EU and NATO documents. In fact, EU and NATO members, as it was seen in the conclusions of the Wales Summit, have imposed the full implementation of the Ohrid Agreement as a condition for Skopje, alongside the solution of the name dispute.

Therefore, today, in response to the criticism addressed by Poposki to the media, an ironic question of Albanian journalists arose: “Is it likely that EU and NATO member countries are not informed about the situation, namely the treatment of Albanians in your country?”

Mr. Poposki said that he didn’t agree that there are differences between the assessment that he made and what the EU and NATO countries have made. Meanwhile, he said that media in Tirana are trying to use the Ohrid Agreement to cover domestic issues and that of the name dispute with Greece.

“We should all focus on what’s the most important, on the progress of all communities, which is the basis of our constitution and I always see how we can advance these rights and opportunities even more. This would help us attain our final goal, become a new part of the EU. I believe that what’s not going to help is using these questions for domestic needs or to cover the other issue, which is perhaps the reason why Macedonia is not part of NATO and the reason why it hasn’t yet launched negotiations for its EU accession. This is the gridlock as far as the name dispute is concerned. Had it not been for this,  Macedonia today would be the same as Albania in the NATO and for two years, it would have been holding talks with the EU”.

Mr. Poposki concluded this heated news conference with these words: “But this doesn’t mean that we will not continue in this direction. The best guarantee for all of this is a comprehensive political process that we have in our country, where all communities have their political voice in the framework of the institutions of the Republic of Macedonia. I cannot think of a bigger guarantee than this one for a democratic society”.

Poor economic cooperation

Bushati said during this joint press conference with Popski that they shared the same point of view that economic cooperation between the two countries is not at the same level as political cooperation. Albanian Foreign Minister said that this has not come as a result of the lack of will by both governments more than the lack of the necessary financial instruments which would better link the economies of both countries, especially in terms of the projects in infrastructure, that would help the region to move toward the EU. Stopping on economic cooperation, Mr. Poposki said that “we have the same priorities for the implementation of reforms and for the intensification of our political and economic cooperation”.

Like Bushati, Poposki too expressed his discontent: “I’m sorry that economic relations are not at the same level as political relations, because we don’t belong to those 20 countries that are the strongest in commerce”. Poposki said that “to change this reality, we will focus more in this aspect, including road and energy infrastructure”. /ibna/