Ideas for Peace in
October 31, 1999
"Read the farewell interview with Macedonian President
Kirov Gligorov and the analysis by TFF's Macedonian adviser
Dr. Biljana Vankovska on our site and you will understand
how fragile Macedonia's stability and peace is. Why not try
a citizens' 'early warning'? We invite you to send us your
ideas on how we can help Macedonia avoid violence and move
towards peace in spite of all the obstacles," says director
"After the Kosovo war, all citizens of Macedonia go
through very difficult times; presidential elections take on
October 31. If there is one lesson from Kosovo, it is this:
the earlier we deal with the problems, the more options
there are, and the easier it is to solve conflicts without
resorting to violence.
It is a safe prediction that, unless various types of
violence-preventive measures are taken and taken in time,
Macedonia is likely to slide into chaos. If citizens around
the world apply their experience from violence-prevention
and peacebuilding and their creativity, we could produce a
series of proposals for early action.
You can participate even if you do not have
detailed knowledge about Macedonia. Lots of generally
violence-preventive steps can be taken to prevent violence
and solidify peace anywhere. Below we provide some ideas -
just a beginning. Readers, their friends and colleagues, are
invited to brainstorm and send us more and better proposals
which we would be happy to publish in future PressInfo(s).
And we would very much like to receive proposals FROM our
readers and subscribers in Macedonia!
Watch the Kosovo-Macedonia connection.
It is important that the international community does not
make any final decision now about the future status of
Kosovo. At this juncture, any final settlement will impact
negatively on the fears, hopes and political strategies of
both Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia.
Respect Macedonia's sovereignty.
The international community must respect that, however weak
and small, Macedonia is a recognised, sovereign state having
a right to expect that others respect its independent
decisions and territorial integrity. It is ruthless and
dangerous to keep on doing to Macedonia whatever NATO
pleases and expect it to obey just because it wants
membership of NATO and the EU.
Compensate the country economically.
The country has suffered a lot economically - since 1991
because of the sanctions against their largest trade
partner, Serbia; and recently because of NATOs presence, use
of facilities, damage to the environment. The inflow of
refugees diverted energy and already scarce resources away
from the country itself. The costs of the Kosovo War to
Macedonia is estimated at over US $ 1.5 billion, a huge sum
for a country like Macedonia.
Reestablish the UN as a civil mission and
expand the OSCE mission.
The successful preventive UN mission (UNPREDEP) mission was
sacrificed in an international diplomatic game that opened
the country to NATO - which was not a success for Macedonia.
A new UN mission, with predominantly civil affairs people,
monitors and civil police and with a new type of unit for
conflict-resolution and reconciliation training would suit
the Macedonian reality well. The same applies to an expanded
OSCE mission in Skopje. If the international community can
do so much for the Kosovo province it would be foolish to
ignore Macedonia's needs for an international presence to
help it through the crisis.
Bring peace and reconciliation education to
citizens, with special focus on youth.
Competent NGOs from Christian and non-Christian countries
should be invited by the government and local NGOs to help
develop curricula and other educational activity in full
cooperation with relevant ministries and local civil society
organisations - building peace and tolerance into spheres of
culture, education from primary to university level, into
the media and - last but not least - into the economy.
Invest in Macedonia.
Risk-willing investments are needed now. It is now regional
and global business can contribute to peace. Big companies
making small investments would mean a huge difference here.
Given the costs the international has incurred on the
region, the international Stability Pact is far too slow and
limited in scope. There should be many sources - it is not a
safe strategy to let one country more or less buy up the
country, as is presently what Greece seems to do.
Move from ethnic balancing to a state of
Macedonia must be helped to move from the risky ethnic
tightrope-walk it has practised since independence and
toward an integrated democratic welfare state for all. It is
not a matter of giving the Albanians a larger say in
society's various spheres: what needs to be done is to rise
above that division and create a future in which that
division has much less relevance, where people will talk
politics, values and visions and not quarrel about whether
the Macedonians or the Albanians shall have this or that
advantage, position, or proportional representation.
Creating multiethnic parties and reduce the present
influence of exclusively Albanian and Macedonian parties is
Not only the economic one, but also that of the political
system. The present government makes deals constantly about
which party's people shall run which institutions, agencies
and companies. This leads to overall moral decay and closes
doors to democracy. Honest and morally principled people
should not feel handicapped in the Macedonian society, as is
the case today. Also, the mafia boom in Kosovo must not be
allowed to spill-over (further) into Macedonia.
Liberalise the media.
The de facto government control of media and its
distribution system is only marginally smaller than that in
Croatia and Serbia. Nationalistic, im- or explicitly hate-
or prejudice-based reporting and debates should be arrested
now. Media have contributed greatly before to wars in the
Balkans. One creative idea would be for European media to
"adopt" Macedonian sisters and let Macedonian journalists
and editors work abroad for periods while European
journalists work in Macedonian media.
Give Macedonia a stake in the international
People in Macedonia must be constantly consulted. We have
seen enough of top-down approaches in Croatia, Bosnia and
now Kosovo. They don't work. The international community
must learn the lesson that violence-prevention and
peacebuilding cannot be imposed. Democracy can only be
"sold" by practising it, not by giving someone courses in it
or by promising them money if they learn to say the right
things. In addition, no country should remain a dependent
Alternative defence and security.
Macedonia could be helped in developing a security and
defence policy that is adapted to what the region and the
country needs and fits its culture and economic abilities,
NOT what NATO or the US think it needs. Modern high-tech
defence is extremely expensive. If the country itself shall
pay for that, it means a tremendous set-back for civil
socioeconomic development for decades. It means loss of de
facto sovereignty. Macedonia may need a military - but a
defensive, dense, decentralised one suited to its
environment. Solving the problems we list here is far more
relevant for the country's long term security and stability
than acquiring a fancy high-tech defence. A good civil
defence and a people trained in non-violent resistance could
work miracles, will cost a fraction and preserve real
independence in contrast to militarisation and
clientilisation. If it joins NATO, let Macedonia be the
Iceland of the Balkans - having no military but being useful
in other ways to its region and to the international
community: something more like Switzerland.
Establish innovative institutions there.
Macedonia could host a regional Centre for the Study and
Practise of Reconciliation and Forgiveness, for example (see
PressInfo 76). It could be offered the opportunity to host
important European educational facilities related to, say,
human rights and intercultural learning in various fields.
What a learning experience it would be for privileged EU
students if they could achieve not only professional
competence but also learn what the Balkans is about while
studying in, say, Bitola, Tetova or Skopje!
Break the sanctions and co-operate with
It would be highly understandable if Macedonia openly broke
the sanctions and started co-operating with the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia again. It would be a tremendous boost
to the Macedonian economy and welfare and, given the sad
human situation in Serbia and Montenegro, it would be a
truly humanitarian act, too. Furthermore, it would
contribute a little to prevent a breakdown in FRY and
improve strained relations between the two countries.
Start an OSCE-like process for all of the
It is sad to see the international community deal with
one issue at a time over 8 years (Croatia, Bosnia and now
Kosovo) without recognising the interrelatedness of the
problems as well as the solutions. It's time to start a
multi-year process with all participants: international and
regional governments and civil society organisations.
"The country has survived a series of challenges that
observers like myself predicted would be fatal. One must not
conclude that Macedonia is therefore resistant to every
event and pressure. Macedonia is neither Kosovo nor Bosnia;
its level of tolerance is higher, still. But take care!
President Gligorov has been singularly effective in
providing leadership, tolerance and stability; the
candidates seeking to succeed him don't naturally match
these qualities. Secondly, Macedonia was seriously
destabilised by NATO's militant conversion of it into a
combined military base and refugee camp.
I think we have a duty to make good for that - in
Macedonia, in Yugoslavia and in Albania - and not put all
the eggs now in the basket called Kosovo. Remember, whatever
NATO, OSCE and the UN try to do in Kosovo will be
meaningless if its neighbours fall apart, one after the
other," concludes Jan Oberg. "So please send YOUR ideas and
we will send them on to the thousands who receive
TFF PressInfos. When it comes to learning how to avoid
violence, even the smallest idea and initiative must be
© TFF 1999
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