Publicist and history professor from Tetovo, Arben Llalla, talks in an exclusive interview for IBNA about the current developments and political crisis in FYROM, relations between communities, especially Slavo-Macedonians and Albanians, the gridlock in the process of Euro Atlantic integration and the issue of the name dispute, as a problem inherited for years. Arben Llalla is a columnist in the press and electronic media in Skopje and Tetovo
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
IBNA: How do you view the political developments in FYROM, which are dominated by a deep political crisis?
Arben Llalla: This country is in a tunnel with no light at the end of it, where nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. The deep political crisis doesn’t originate at the wiretapping affair or the so called “bombs” that the Macedonian opposition has started to publish, but earlier. This situation started with the 2008 elections, continuing with the failure to implement the Ohrid Agreement, which guarantees more rights for Albanians. There’s also the lack of political dialogue and other cases such as the life in prison sentence given to Albanians who were accused of murdering five Macedonians in April 2012 in the suburbs of Skopje, a situation full of tension which sparked protests from Albanians. These are the main events that led to the wiretapping scandal and today, Macedonia is in an impasse and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring for the citizens of the country.
IBNA: What is the solution to these challenges and the future of this country?
Arben Lllalla: There are solutions to this situation if there’s a will by the sides to admit their errors. Sides must accept the creation of a government of experts, with non party figures, who will review the economy, cleanse the electoral lists, etc.
Thus, with a government of experts alone citizens will once again have confidence on the state institutions and also international partners who are the mentors of FYROM for the NATO and EU accession. But, this government must have a clear agenda even in terms of the demands of Albanians to advance their position and to put an end to the constant discrimination through state mechanisms and domination of Slavo-Macedonians.
IBNA: Given that this country has always been a multi-ethnic country, what is the political formula in the country which will bring a functional multi-ethnic governing and equality between the citizens?
Arben Llalla: Everything is achieved if sides respect each other. We’re witnesses of the fact that there is no ethnic or religious hate within a multi-ethnic society, but this is being done by state structures that want to incite hate. Thus, this country cannot survive if the spirit of multi-ethnicity is not respected, especially relations between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Macedonians, as the two majority communities in the country. The sides must accept the reality that we live in as soon as possible and the Albanian community must be treated as a decisive factor. And this must happen by fully implementing the Ohrid Agreement. In a general aspect, citizens respect each other more and there is no problem between Macedonians and Albanians and the others, but it’s the state that incites hate. This has been seen in particular historical periods.
IBNA: The name dispute with Greece is a crucial issue and an obstacle for the process of the integration of the country in the NATO and EU. You’re an expert of this issue. What do you think is the most acceptable formula or do you also agree that the Macedonian side is not willing to solve it?
Arben Llalla: The name dispute is blocking this country in the aspect of the European integration. The problems are deeper than the conflict between Athens and Skopje. It’s clear that there’s hesitation from international factors to find urgent solutions. If there was a will, international community would find a solution. We were witnesses as to how in 2008, in the NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Greek side and the Slavo-Macedonian side had received signals to accept the country in the NATO, but this changed due to the lack of willingness for this issue to be put to an end once and for all and give way to Euro integration. The name dispute can be solved through a gentleman formula where sides will respect and implement the entered agreement. For example, this country will be accepted in the NATO and EU with the name Northern Macedonia, but with the right of a referendum where 15-20 later, the citizens of this country will decide how their Republic will be further named. This is a long term and achievable formula. The right and the truth have their roots deep into history. No side has the right to privatize the geographic name of a country, whose borders have changed several times. /ibna/