10 Years After The Ohrid Framework Agreement

Ali Ahmeti Proclaims: I Am Not “Keeper Of The Peace”

Macedonian Orthodox Church St. Anastasius in Lesok, Tetovo Region, Macedonia, was mostly destroyed by NLA terrorists in August 2001, after standing on that spot since the 14th Century AD.  The bombing remains a lasting symbol of violent Albanian extremism in Macedonia.  The perpetrators of this crime have never been brought to justice.  The Church is one of Macedonia’s most significant religious and cultural monuments. 

August 12, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – On the eve of the Ohrid Framework Agreement’s (“OFA”) 10-year anniversary, the United Macedonian Diaspora (“UMD”) expresses its outrage with the recent comments from Democratic Union of Integration leader Ali Ahmeti on his lack of commitment to peace in the region, and questions his commitment to the country in whose governing coalition he now serves.  Ahmeti, as a proponent of the OFA, should be well aware of the agreement’s provision “Macedonia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the unitary character of the State are inviolable and must be preserved.  There are no territorial solutions to ethnic issues.”

On August 3, 2011, Ahmeti spoke to Deutsche Welle on the topic of partitioning Kosovo: “If there are attempts to change the borders (in Kosovo), I can not take responsibility to be keeper of the peace in Macedonia, because it can come to a situation where (the Albanian) people will organize themselves … as in 1999 and 2001.  If such things happen . . . no one can guarantee that the Albanians will not organize a common front, if threatened as a whole.”

“Ali Ahmeti and members of the DUI party are Macedonian citizens, not representatives of Kosovo.” said UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov, “The Albanian-Macedonians should constantly work toward building a prosperous, stable Macedonia, and protecting the sovereignty of their country from any enemies, foreign or domestic.  If the Ohrid Framework Agreement was just a stepping stone toward the old dream of a Greater Albania in the Balkans, then I can see how DUI envisions there will be more instability in this region.”

In the aftermath of the 1999 Kosovo War, Macedonia accepted a massive influx of 400,000 refugees of ethnic Albanian origin, and received international recognition for the enormous humanitarian effort.  However, less than two years later, elements of the Al-Qaeda-linked KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) joined forces with local guerillas, rebranded themselves as the NLA (National Liberation Army), and attacked Macedonia, in January 2001.

Armed with assault weapons, mortars and rockets, the NLA launched a series of bloody attacks against civilian and Macedonian Army targets, terrorizing the entire population, burning buildings and homes, and destabilizing the country.  In all, approximately 200 people would be killed in the hostilities, with many more wounded.

In an effort to end the conflict, the beleaguered Macedonian government at that time made the profoundly controversial decision to sign the Ohrid Framework Agreement on August 13, 2001.  The agreement contained a variety of contentious provisions, such as granting the Albanian language semi-official status in the border regions with Kosovo and Albania, in exchange for a total ceasefire and disarmament of NLA terrorists.

“Under great internal and external pressure, the Ohrid Agreement was sold to the Macedonian people as a peaceful “answer” to ethnic Albanian demands for more power in Macedonia,” said UMD Voice Editor Mark Branov, “but 10 years later, the Macedonian people are starting to wake up to the fact that this agreement raises many more questions than it answers.  The OFA introduced a variety of deep, permanent concessions to Macedonia’s Albanian minority that are unheard of in the region, especially in countries like Greece or Bulgaria.  Ahmeti’s comments only underline that the OFA guarantees nothing from the Albanian side in return.  In 2001, Ahmeti chose to exchange his camouflaged military fatigues for a suit and tie, but 10 years later, his rhetoric remains the same.  If he is allowed to get away with that, it sends the message that violence is the key to political power, not democracy.”

Background

Ali Ahmeti was born in Zajas, Macedonia, the historical birthplace of Balli Kombetar fighter Mefail Shehu, who fought for a Greater Albania in the infamous Nazi SS Skanderbeg Division, World War II.  Ahmeti joined the Albanian separatist movement as a University of Pristina student in the early 80s, and was later imprisoned for one year by Serbian authorities.  Ahmeti was elected Supreme Commander of the NLA in 2001, which was officially recognized by the United States as a terrorist organization that same year.  However, after the OFA was signed, the Hague Tribunal chose not to press charges against Ahmeti for war crimes, to the dismay of the victims’ families.  In 2002, Ahmeti founded the DUI political party, which won in subsequent democratic elections, and entered into a governing coalition in 2008.

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