Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
The head of “CIVIL” organization and the activist of human rights in FYROM, Xhabir Deralla talks during his interview about the latest developments in FYROM, the relations within the coalition, the challenges that Skopje is facing along with the inter-ethnic government comprised of Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. Xhabir Deralla is a writer and journalist.
How do you see the delay in the solution of the name dispute with Greece?
Deralla: I keep repeating that the name issue of FYR Macedonia with Greece is not the main problem of the country’s EU integration. The solution of the name issue in favor of FYR Macedonia was possible in the period after the USA recognized FYR Macedonia under its constitutional name. After the power shift in 2006 when nationalist government took power and the start of the controversial Skopje 2014 project was launched in 2007 in an attempt to reinvent history confronting the Greek official history – solution of the name issue in favor of FYR Macedonia became practically impossible. Stalling of the process became inevitable.
2. Do you thing that the government of Skopje is intentionally playing such diplomatic game?
Deralla: Well, the name issue became one of the main tools to divert public attention from the serious failure to provide development and reforms, as well as deteriorating the human rights situation and the rule of law. So, the name issue is a great excuse in the hands of power holders to justify their own failures and misconduct.
3. Lately, have there been many rumors for a government crisis, given the relations within the coalition parties and the declarations issued from them?
Deralla: The government coalition of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI is rather instable since its establishment in 2008, but survived. DUI supported VMRO-DPMNE’s policy all these years, regardless of how damaging it is in the domain of interethnic relations, which are the most problematic ever. Looks like they do not agree upon any subject, often exchanging verbal fire through media, but certainly agree that they both need to remain in power and share the benefits of that power, as it seems. Meanwhile citizens are held hostage of dysfunctional government coalition. These days, seems that the coalition’s time is up, unless it is another maneuver of the chief Gruevski, who might need elections as early as possible in order to cement power in times of weak opposition and unresolved problems with the elections system in the country.
4. How do you consider the freedom of media and other domains, at a time when FYROM is being negatively assessed?
Deralla: Media in FYR Macedonia are under strong control of the government, mainly by the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE. The Macedonian society witnessed the closure of and/or pressure on several remaining critical thinking or opposition media. Pressure and manipulation of and through media became a common practice of the government. Financial control of media is present in many ways, including the highly expensive government media campaigns, which additionally corrupts ways of news production. Various forms of pressure lead to silencing journalists and opinion makers. It became very difficult and to some extent dangerous to report on deterioration of human rights, rule of law and democracy in the country.
The regulatory body Broadcasting Council of FYR Macedonia was probably the last rather independent institution and it fell under governmental control in 2011, by legal action that totally changed its structure and capacities for decision and policy making in the sphere of electronic media. The government has practically undisputed and almost full control over the media sphere in the country. The current attempts of the government to put total control of the whole media landscape in the country through a media law in a rather nontransparent procedure, only completes the picture of a country with no freedom of speech, corrupt and controlled media.
5. According to you, what’s the best way to get out of the current situation in FYROM?
Deralla: Restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in FYR Macedonia, that is the way out. I think this tells you everything.