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Balkan Report: May 18, 2001


18 May 2001, Volume 5, Number 36

The next issue of Balkan Report will appear on 29 May 2001.

THE NEW MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT IN FACTS AND FIGURES. On 13 May 2001, a new government was formed in Macedonia after the international community had stepped up pressure on both the ruling political parties and the opposition. Long weeks of bargaining for positions and portfolios thus came to an end (see also "RFE / RL Balkan Report," 6 April and 11 May 2001).

The main tasks of this new "government of national unity" will be to solve the current crisis in the interethnic relations of the small Balkan state and to prepare early elections in January 2002.

Taking a closer look at the composition of the government, one can observe several interesting points.

It is obvious that Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski managed to obtain the most ministers and deputy ministers for his party. Out of a total of 18 ministers (14 ministers with and four without portfolio, the latter being at the same time deputy prime ministers), Georgievski's Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for the Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) will have six ministers and four deputy ministers out of a total of 13 deputy ministers.

The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), is represented in the government with three ministers and three deputy ministers. Despite the relatively large size of the SDSM parliamentary faction, the Social Democrats were thus given just as many posts as the much smaller ethnic Albanian parties, the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) and the Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD).

The smaller Macedonian parties -- the Liberal Party (LP), the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Real Macedonian Reform Option (VMRO-VMRO) -- now have one minister each; the LP and the Socialist Party of Macedonia (SPM) have one deputy minister each.

The following short biographies of the new ministers appeared in the Skopje daily "Nova Makedonija" on 15 May.

LJUBCO GEORGIEVSKI (VMRO-DPMNE): Prime Minister. Born in Stip on 17 January 1966. Studied comparative literature in Skopje. Member of parliament 1991-1994. Prime minister since 30 November 1998.

LJUBE BOSKOVSKI (VMRO-DPMNE): Defense Minister. Born in Tetovo on 24 April 1960. Studied law in Skopje. Worked in courts and as secretary of the Health Insurance System. Later he became a businessman in Rovinj, Croatia, and in Skopje. Between December 2000 and January 2001 he was director of the Directorate for Security and Counter-Intelligence. Since the end of January he has been secretary of state in the Interior Ministry.

NIKOLA GRUEVSKI (VMRO-DPMNE): Finance Minister. Born in Skopje on 31 August 1970. A graduate of the Economic Faculty in Prilep. Director of the Directorate for Liquidity, Plan, and Analysis in the Balkanska Banka between 1995 and 1998. From November 1998 to January 1999 he was minister without portfolio, from January 1999 to December 1999 trade minister. Since 27 December 1999 finance minister.

NENAD NOVKOVSKI (VMRO-DPMNE): Minister for Education and Science. Born in Kriva Palanka on 14 May 1958. Holds a doctorate in physics from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Skopje. From 1993 to 1997 he was in charge of the Institute for Physics; since 1997 he has been director of the Institute [zavod] for the Physics of Condensed Material. Between November 1998 and December 1999, he was minister for education and science, a post that he has held again since November 2000.

GANKA SAMOILOVSKA-CVETANOVA (VMRO-DPMNE): Minister of Culture. Born in Skopje on 3 January 1968. Holds an MA from the Faculty of Music in Skopje. Worked at the State Musical Academy in Skopje. Lecturer at the Faculty of Music. Director of the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra from 1999 to 2000. Since July 2000, minister of culture.

LJUBCO BALKOVSKI (VMRO-DPMNE): Minister for Transport and Communications. Born in Struga on 17 January 1966. Studied town planning at the Architectural Faculty in Skopje. Worked as an engineer at Blanko Engineering between 1992 and 1999. Chief inspector at the Republican Inspectorate for Urbanism and Construction from March 1999 to July 2000. Minister for transport and communications since July 2000.

VLADO BUCKOVSKI (SDSM): Defense Minister. Born in Skopje on 2 December 1962. Holds a doctorate from the Law Faculty in Skopje. Worked as an assistant [strucen sorabotnik] in the Macedonian parliament and at the Law Faculty. Lecturer [docent] at the Law Faculty since 1999. Author of a number of publications on private law. Before his nomination as minister, he was the spokesman of the SDSM.

ILINKA MITREVA (SDSM): Foreign Minister. Born in Skopje on 11 February 1950. Studied at the Philological Faculties in Skopje and Belgrade, holds a Ph.D. She worked as assistant, lecturer, and director in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department of the Skopje Philological Faculty between 1974 and 1994. She has been a member of the parliament since 1994. Mitreva was president of the Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs and headed a number of parliamentary projects in international relations.

ILIJA FILIPOVSKI (SDSM): Minister without portfolio, Deputy Prime Minister. Born in Galicnik on 6 June 1941. Studied economics in Skopje. Filipovski made a career in the state enterprise RO OHIS-Komerc between 1963 and 1986. From 1986 to 1991 he was president of the Executive Council of the Socialist Republic Macedonia. He worked for private enterprises abroad between 1991 and 1998 when he became a member of the parliament.

IXHET MEMETI (PPD): Justice Minister. Born in Tetovo in 1961. Lawyer. Worked as a secretary in the PPD party structure, later as a secretary in the Crvenkovski government.

FAIK ASLANI (PPD): Minster for Local Self-Government. Born in Negotino-Polosko on 17 January 1959. Studied law in Novi Sad. Held various posts in the judiciary before he became a judge in Gostivar [Osnovniot sud] in 1998.

KEMAL MUSLIU (PPD): Minister without portfolio, Deputy Prime Minister. Born in Tetovo in 1958. Holds a diploma from the Institute for Social Policy in Skopje. Musliu held several posts in the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy and later was deputy director of the state firm Komunalna higiena. Currently he is vice president of the PPD.

BESNIK FETAI (PDSH): Minister for Economics. Born in Bogovinje. Has a degree in banking from the Economic Faculty in Prishtina. Worked in several private enterprises and as economic advisor to the mayor of Tetovo. Between December 1998 and November 2000 he headed the agency to reform banking. He has been minister for economics since November 2000.

BEDREDDIN IBRAIMI (PDSH): Minister for Labor and Social Policy. Born in Mala Recica (Tetovo) on 25 October 1952. Holds a diploma from the Law Faculty in Prishtina. He worked as an advisor in several enterprises between 1976 and 1996. Secretary of the Tetovo commune [obstina] in 1997 and 1998. Minister for labor and social policy since November 1998. He has also been deputy prime minister since July 2000.

XHEFDET NASUFI (PDSH): Minister without portfolio, Deputy Prime Minister. Born in the village of Velesta near Struga on 15 October 1948. Holds a diploma from the Law Faculty in Prishtina and an MA from Zagreb. He worked in a private enterprise between 1992 and 1998. From November 1998 to January 2000 he was a minister without portfolio. In 1999 he was minister for local self-government. Between January 2000 and May 2001 he was minister of justice.

PETAR MILOSEVSKI (LDP): Health Minister. Born in Skopje on 22 October 1948. Holds a doctorate in clinical pharmacology. Director of the Institute for Pre-clinical and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical Faculty. Held several functions in professional organizations.

VLADIMIR DZABIRSKI (VMRO-VMRO): Minister for Environment and Regional Planning. Born in Bitola on 18 June 1958. Holds a doctorate from the Agricultural Faculty in Skopje, specialized in stock breeding. Lecturer [docent] at the Agricultural Faculty. Minister for agriculture, forestry, and water between 1998 and 1999. He worked as a consultant and researcher on several projects.

ZORAN KRSTEVSKI (LP): Minister without portfolio, Deputy Prime Minister. Born in Skopje on 11 July 1960. Studied law in Skopje. Member of the parliament from 1991 to 1998. General director of the "Makedonija" Public Enterprise for Airport Services from 1993 to 1996. He worked at Makpetrol from 1996 to 2000. Minister without portfolio since November 2000.

DEPUTY MINISTERS

VMRO-DPMNE: Jovan Damcevski -- Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Water; Risto Georgiev -- Ministry for Labor and Social Policy; Petre Trajkovski -- Ministry for Local Self-Government; Marjan Dodovski -- Ministry for Environment and Regional Planning.

SDSM: Eleonora Petrova-Mitevska -- Ministry of Culture; Tome Trombev -- Ministry for Transport and Communications.

PPD: Muhamed Halili -- Foreign Ministry; Sabri Asani -- Ministry for Education and Science.

PDSH: Refet Elmazi -- Interior Ministry; Muharem Nexhipi (PDSH) -- Health Ministry.

LP: Zoran Teofiloski -- Justice Ministry.

VMRO-VMRO: Petar Duljanov -- Finance Ministry.

SPM: Zoran Vitanov-- Ministry of Economics. (Ulrich Buechsenschuetz, ub@itinerarium.de)

DESTROYING THE TOWN TO SAVE IT. Albanian President Rexhep Meidani said in New York on 14 May that Macedonian authorities have used excessive force in dealing with ethnic Albanian insurgents, AP reported.

Macedonian Ambassador to the UN Naste Calovski then asked Meidani: "Who is financing the rebels?" Visibly irked by the tone of the ambassador's remarks, Meidani replied that he is not the person to ask. He stressed that "if an Albanian policeman is killed in Albania, I wouldn't order the army to shell the entire area." He noted that armies have not bombarded entire towns in either Northern Ireland or the Basque country.

Meidani also noted that a continued U.S. presence in the Balkans gives the region an example of democracy and a measure of confidence. "It would be a big mistake if there is a decision to decrease the American presence," he added. (Patrick Moore)

POWELL REMAINS FIRM: MILOSEVIC MUST GO TO THE HAGUE. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on 15 May that the Bush administration continues to insist that Serbia extradite Milosevic to The Hague (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 May 2001).

Powell noted that the authorities have arrested Milosevic but added: "I certainly encourage them to understand, without any question about it, that we will not be satisfied until ultimately he [Milosevic] stands before The Hague," RFE/RL reported.

Powell also said: "I am hopeful that [the Serbian authorities] will take actions between now and the time a decision has to be made on attendance at the donors conference that will allow me to remove the condition [for U.S. participation], or they satisfy the condition because they have done a lot more. I would hope that 'lot more' includes something about Mr. Milosevic, but I think that's unlikely," Reuters reported.

The next day, Hague prosecutors identified three concrete steps that they want Belgrade to take if it wants to be seen as truly cooperating with the tribunal: the arrest and transfer of suspects, especially Milosevic; access to Yugoslav and Serbian archives; and the ability to interview witnesses. (Patrick Moore)

FREE MEDIA PROMOTE RECONCILIATION IN BOSNIA. The independent media in Bosnia are the key institution reducing the power and influence of nationalist groups in that troubled country and thereby promoting national reconciliation, democracy, and integration into broader Euro-Atlantic institutions.

That was the message two senior leaders of those media delivered to an RFE/RL briefing in Washington on 15 May. Natasa Tesanovic, the director of Alternativa Televizija (ATV), and Senad Pecanin, the editor in chief of the investigative magazine "Dani," said that the independent media are virtually the only institution promoting these goals.

Tesanovic said that her station and other independent media outlets in Bosnia face three serious challenges: the absence of other institutions of civil society that could help to support them, an economic collapse that means many citizens have little or no money, and government pressure -- both direct and via the discouragement of advertisers in the free press.

But she and Pecanin stressed that their balanced and objective coverage of the situation not only has helped to calm ethnic passions but also to force the government to behave better. Sometimes, the people in power behave better out of fear of exposure. At other times, the authorities do so because ordinary people view the independent media as their ombudsmen to whom they can appeal when the government ignores them.

Because of the difficulties they face, both journalists said that their outlets will continue to need some outside funding as the independent media work toward sustainability. They stressed that the continuation of such funding is "the best possible investment" in stability and democracy in Bosnia.

Asked about a possible American withdrawal from the Balkans, each said that this would be the worst possible step because nationalist and extremist groups would be encouraged to re-enter the political scene, undoing much of the progress the society and independent media have achieved over the last five years. (RFE/RL)

ALBANIAN WHODUNIT: POLICE ARREST HAJDARI KILLER. Albanian special police arrested Jaho Salihi, the suspected killer of Democratic Party (PD) legislator Azem Hajdari, on 6 May in the northern district of Tropoja, the weekly "Klan" reported on 14 May. Salihi admitted to having shot Hajdari on 12 September 1998 outside the Democratic Party headquarters in Tirana. The arrest took place only one day after Salihi returned from Kosova to northern Albania, apparently feeling protected by his family and friends there.

Hajdari was a popular politician who was an important student leader in the 1990 movement that triggered the fall of communism. At the time of the killing, Salihi was a high-ranking police official in Tropoja, the birthplace of both Hajdari and Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha.

The arrest and Salihi's testimony will facilitate the reconciliation between the opposition and the government coalition, which is led by the Socialist Party (PS), the successors to the communists. The PD boycotted parliamentary sessions for months after the killing, accusing the government of involvement in the crime. The arrest may thus ease political tensions in Albania in the runup to the general elections in June.

Even though Salihi has admitted his guilt, it remains unclear whether he will testify about the motives behind the killing. At the first court session on 8 May, when confronted with the charges by Tirana Judge Arben Micko, Salihi just said: "Yes, I killed him." He did not elaborate about his motives or others involved, according to "Klan."

The weekly noted that the admission of guilt came as a surprise to many observers, considering that "Salihi has become infamous as a ruthless killer and bandit, who would never give himself up." "Klan" also noted that Salihi "fell into the hands of police like an amateur," adding that he apparently did not expect to be arrested. Within a few minutes, special police surrounded the building where Salihi slept and "gave him just enough time to put on his pants and tie his belt before flying him to Tirana" by helicopter. Salihi did not resist arrest.

PD officials had named Salihi as a key suspect already a few hours after the 1998 killing, but it took investigators almost two and a half years to find Salihi and arrest him.

Even though the arrest shows that the Albanian justice system is working better than in previous years, opposition politicians commented on the arrest with sarcasm. The PD used communist-era terminology when noting that the arrest marks "an achievement of the Socialist Party before its fifth congress," according to the Kosova Information Center on 9 May. "Klan" quoted unnamed PD officials as saying that the arrest was staged, and suggesting that Salihi gave himself up after being promised a short jail sentence.

But unnamed officials from the Prosecutor-General's Office told "Klan" that during a ten-hour interrogation, they offered Salihi better jail conditions in exchange for a full testimony. Salihi initially refused to accept the offer, but later changed his mind, saying that "the prosecutors know everything, anyhow."

Salihi explained that Muharrem Haklaj, a friend of Salihi's, had previously planned to kill Hajdari. The killers, including Muharrem's relatives Fatmir and Halil Haklaj, observed Hajdari's daily routine. Shortly before the murder, Hajdari began to change cars and routes frequently. He also chose different drivers. It was thus clear that Hajdari expected an attack.

The killers chose the immediate neighborhood of the PD headquarters as the location for the crime because it was the only place where Hajdari moved around without taking any apparent precautions. The group of killers arrived in Tirana on 11 September. (Salihi also admitted that the killers had made a previous attempt on the life of Hajdari on 4 June 1998 in Bajram Curri.) According to Salihi, the group of people involved in the Tirana killing numbered about 50, who were brought together by Muharrem Haklaj. The former police chief of Tropoja, Ismet Haxhia, was involved. He was using an official police car from Tropoja that day in Tirana. The killers returned to Tropoja using police cars and managed to pass police roadblocks on the way without any problem.

Salihi nonetheless left one important question unanswered: why he killed Hajdari. Some of the prosecutors suggested that the killing may be related to a personal feud between the Haklaj family and Hajdari, which goes back to the 1997 electoral campaign. At that time, Shkelqim Haklaj, a Socialist supporter and member of the extended Haklaj family, told Berisha to leave Tropoja. Berisha reacted to the threat by telling Haklaj that he "would like to see him dead in Tirana." On 5 January 1998, unidentified attackers shot Shkelqim Haklaj in Tropoja. Prosecutors believe that the Haklaj family held Hajdari responsible for the killing of Shkelqim, which thus constituted the beginning of a blood feud. (Fabian Schmidt)

MILOSEVIC DEFENSE GROUP FORMED IN MOSCOW. A group of 24 prominent Russians, including members of both houses of the Federal Assembly, have formed a committee to defend former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic who is now -- in the words of the group -- "a political prisoner," Interfax reported on 14 May. (Paul Goble)

QUOTATIONS OF THE WEEK. "We are very pleased that this [Macedonian coalition government] has been established. We want to send the message...that they have to get to work rapidly on questions pertaining to the [security] of the country, but also [on those] about interethnic dialogue." -- the EU's Javier Solana. Quoted by RFE/RL in Brussels on 14 May.

"One of the main tasks before the new [Macedonian] government is halting violence. There must be a clear understanding: terrorism and national extremism are evil for all, whatever their source. Russia looks with understanding on any action of the Macedonian leadership, including force, aimed at liquidating the groups of Albanian extremists with the goal of protecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity." -- Russian Foreign Ministry statement. Quoted by Reuters in Moscow on 14 May.

"It should be clear that we will not allow the terrorists to grab part of the territory of Macedonia. They should lay down their weapons because they will not win. They can be defeated in one or two days. But this is not just a military problem, so every measure taken should be one that will lead to a more long-lasting solution. The goal is to avoid unnecessary bloodshed." -- Macedonian Boris Trajkovski, announcing an extension of the cease-fire on 17 May. Quoted by Reuters in Skopje.

"Compared to where I come from, it's more difficult to reach compromise here. I had hoped it would be possible to reach a compromise [on the November elections in Kosova]. It was not." -- Former Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup, now head of the UN civilian administration in Kosova. Quoted by Reuters in Prishtina on 14 May.

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