IBNA Interview/”Pending ethnic and political challenges must be solved in FYROM”

IBNA Interview/”Pending ethnic and political challenges must be solved in FYROM”

Interview with the representative of “Unity” Movement in FYROM, which includes 30 independent organizations/Valon Kurtishi is the young intellectual from Tetovo, known as one of the most prominent exponents of civil movement in FYROM, who upholds the national rights of the Albanian community in the country. Recently he has initiated the project of unification of around 30 independent civil organizations under the name “Unity”, acting as a political movement. In an interview for IBNA, Kurtishi talks about the political developments, their option as a movement and the preferred solutions for the future of this country.

Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti/IBNA

Your organization consists of the unification of several civil organizations. How do you assess the current developments in the country, following a political crisis which is still present?

The current political crisis in the country comes as a result of both the authoritarian and non democratic political heritage in the country conditioned by the long cohabitation with despotic models of governing of eastern theocratic empires and of the lack of the pluralist culture here and also by the political class which expresses the old models of doing politics. The express “old habits die hard”, best reflects the political actions and philosophy of the main actors here today. It is a problem of concept, structure and system. The ideological affiliations of these structures are evasive and vague. Everything reduces to short term material benefits for the clans in power, to a massive theft of public money and public assets by several people or clans in power. The majority exploits power to appropriate as many public assets as possible. The opposition is fighting for survival and dreams of the time when it will seize power in order to continue with the same abusive practices. The responsibility for this falls on government people led by the current prime minister and his cabinet, but also on an anemic opposition, passive and in many aspects, similar to it. Albanian political clans, on the other hand, do not have any impact on the “power politics” in Skopje.

What alarms you the most in the country, given that in several occasions, you have pointed out the problem of stagnation with the process of the advancement of the position of Albanians in FYROM?

The main problem in the country has been and will be the ethnic issue, that regarding cross ethnic relations and equality between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians as the two largest communities and holders of the real sovereignty here. It’s the strategy or a constant tendency of political and economic elites of ethnic Macedonians to control and manage public assets and other resources of society by avoiding, denying or discriminating the second largest community in this process, the Albanian community. The second issue in all of this is the misrepresentation or even worse, the lack of political representation of Albanians here. Thus, the second largest community here is in front of two great and serious challenges of these 25 years. It is facing government Macedonian nationalism and its own corrupt, irresponsible and incompetent political class. To conclude, the issue regarding the lack of solution for the status of Albanians here and their lack of real participation in government and in the exploitation and management of public assets, are the two main challenges that Albanians and the country are facing in general.

Given that we are ahead of the elections, you have promoted a new electoral model, in order not to avoid small parties or small movements. What is the essence of this electoral model?

An important problem of the functioning of the political system in FYR Macedonia and especially regarding the interests of Albanians here, is the issue of electoral models that are applied in the country. For this reason, we have proposed a proportional system of representation, with one electoral area, with sealed, but not blocked electoral lists, with a simple ‘Saint Laguw’ formula and without an electoral threshold. The formula used so far to calculate and distribute mandates with the system of proportional representation, called the d’Hont model, offers an advantage to well consolidated parties or the largest ones. The Saint Laguw model, besides removing to abovementioned parties a seat, it also offers to new or smaller parties the chance to win a seat.

The main political parties in the country are still unable to implement the reform on the media, shed light on the wiretapping affair and handle other issues. How do you suggest that this situation should be overcome?

The reform in the media is part of a wider structural reform which must be done. This has much to do with the general level of democracy and freedom in the country. The issue of collective mentality is both a legal issue and also a cultural issue. It’s a social domain which requires more than simple legal adjustments. Not that the formal aspect of the cause is not important. Connected to this is also the sensitive issue of wiretapping. Thousands of citizens have been put under surveillance and everything is attempted to be covered with the resignation of a few public officials. A typical Orwellian scandal of such dimensions that it should bear criminal responsibilities for its perpetrators and masterminds. The new prosecution must seriously handle this substantial issue for democracy here. Otherwise, the country will degrade into a society where the powerful government determines, watches and controls everything, from the private lives of its citizens to the public activities of social groups.

Will your movement participate in the 24 April 2016 elections?

Our objective is and remains the advancement of the constitutional status of Albanians here and the improvement of the quality of life for our citizens. To achieve this, we first want to raise the awareness of our citizens about the grave situation that they’re in today. This will be achieved through concrete activities in society, by debating, clarifying and reaching out to the Albanian individual here. As far as the electoral process is concerned, we believe that the cleansing of electoral lists and an open, transparent registration under the European supervision of the population are issues without which it’s absurd to think of free and honest elections. What’s more, we would like to take the opportunity through this interview, to appeal to political parties to think about these issues and also other issues and reflect if they must become part of future electoral processes.

This entire crisis has led to a gridlock for the country’s Euro Atlantic integration. What do you think is the best solution for the future of this country?

Our country and for that matter, the entire region belongs to the European family. It’s very clear that that the elites and the Albanian community are determined in favor of this strategic option. On the other hand, we must look into the objectives and the will of particular ethnic Macedonian circles in relation to the Euro integration process. There are strong indications that right wing radicals in power are not interested for a full integration in the EU. This, besides the well known and old name contest with the southern neighbor, remains the main obstacle for the integration of the country. However, as a movement, we completely support and are interested to become part of the European family, but by first solving pending issues of an ethnic and political character here. /ibna/