RADIO FREE EUROPE/ RADIO LIBERTY:
August 29, 2006, Volume 10, Number 8
MACEDONIA'S OHRID AGREEMENT IS FIVE YEARS OLD. Macedonia has just marked the fifth anniversary of the Ohrid agreement, which was brokered in August 2001 by U.S. diplomats with EU support. The pact led to the end of armed hostilities between insurgents from the roughly 23 percent ethnic Albanian minority and government forces led by politicians from the ethnic Macedonian majority.
The main underlying principle of the deal was to institutionalize a role guaranteed by law for the Albanians in the public life of the country (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," August 14, 17, and 24, 2001). This has moved along by fits and starts, but the necessary changes are largely in place as far as the international community is concerned. Only sporadic armed incidents now take place, and these are probably more of a criminal than a political nature (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," February 25 and June 10, 2005).
A deep cultural and political divide continues to separate the two communities, however. Their shared political life remains stormy or even confrontational, but the same can often be said about the political tensions within each of the respective ethnic communities. This picture reflects political patterns in much of the postcommunist Balkans.
But Macedonia continues to hold largely peaceful elections and change governments on the basis of their results. In practice, two coalitions have emerged, which alternate in power. One consists of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) of outgoing Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski, and the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) led by Ali Ahmeti, the former leader of the insurgents. The second group is made up of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) -- long led by former Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and now headed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski -- and its partner, the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) of political veteran Arben Xhaferi.