The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) reproves Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s recent statements regarding the Republic of Macedonia, addressing a regional conference in Tirana on May 20. Mr. Rama stated that he would veto Macedonia’s NATO membership if Macedonia did not implement the Ohrid Framework Agreement fully. He also asserted that Macedonian authorities incorrectly categorized the recent violence in Kumanovo perpetrated by Kosovars and Macedonians of Albanian ethnicity as terrorism.
UMD is disappointed by Mr. Rama’s unstatesmanlike provocations:
First, Mr. Rama should focus on the affairs of his own state, and not intermeddle in the internal affairs of its neighbor, Macedonia. Among the matters within his own country to which Mr. Rama should devote attention are the rights and treatment of the Macedonian identifying ethnic minority therein. Indeed, it is ironic that Mr. Rama chooses to toss verbal stones across the border while he lives in his own glass house. This is particularly the case given the great extent to which the Republic of Macedonia has formed multiple governments during the past few years that have been comprised of leaders from both the ethnic Macedonian and Albanian constituencies in the country. Put another way, Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian minority has had, and continues to have, a major role in the governance of the country in which its members are citizens. To indicate otherwise is dissembling. We would expect, and hope, that Mr. Rama is not trying to stir the pot toward a greater Albania that at some point includes portions of Macedonia, as well as Greece, Kosovo, and Montenegro. To do so would be a highly irresponsible act.
Second, Mr. Rama’s aversion to use of the term terrorists to describe those who instigated the heinous violence targeting Macedonian police forces in Kumanovo is puzzling. What term is a more accurate descriptor for individuals who seem intent on destabilizing the area (and the country)? Particularly given prior irredentist activity, as well as associated propaganda, in portions of Macedonia, it certainly is sensible to see the current violence as politically inspired – which makes it a prototypical form of terrorism.
Finally, given the considerable violence that the Balkans have experienced during the past 25 years, it is quite troubling for a leader in this region to add fuel to the tinderbox. This is especially the case given the political fragility that Macedonia has been experiencing of late. To analogize: When homes in a village are nestled very close together, one should be willing to help one’s neighbor put out a fire. Mr. Rama, in contrast, seems to be fanning the flames for his own misguided aims. Southeast Europe in general, and Albania and Macedonia in particular, would be safer and more stable if Macedonia were a member of NATO. To threaten to improperly use a veto power to keep Macedonia from joining the Alliance is testament to Mr. Rama’s myopic view of the situation in this region.
UMD calls upon Mr. Rama to cease his intemperance and, instead, become a good neighbor. By doing so, he would be helping to create a more prosperous and secure Southeast Europe.