Macedonia 2002 – 2003: Assessing the risk of violence

By Jan Oberg

Written in 2001


1. Introduction

This report offers a framework and some tools for analysing the conflicts in Macedonia and the larger conflict formation of which it is a part. The purpose of the analysis is to assess the risks of violence and war in the country in the near future and the long-term.


1.1 Early warning and preventive initiatives

Early warning studies are meaningful only if combined with early listening and early action. Numerous organisations, among them Amnesty International and the Transnational Foundation, have repeatedly pointed out from the early 1990s that there would be war in Kosovo if no actors in the international community undertook mitigating, mediating and negotiating efforts. In Kosovo, there was minimal early listening and no early action to deal with the conflicts and their resolution. The conflict grew more serious and became militarised; due to the absence of early listening and action, NATO’s bombing in 1999 was promoted as the only solution, in spite of the fact that it caused even more human suffering and did not lead to a sustainable peace in the region a good three years later.


1.2 Theory and empirical work – diagnosis, prognosis and therapy

 Nothing is as practical as a good theory. Without thinking about it, we use theories and make assumptions when we drive a car or cook a meal. This report includes bits and pieces of general theory and some concepts to help readers understand this conflict as well as other conflicts. If the analysis increases the understanding of complex conflicts in general and those pertaining to Macedonia in particular, it will have served two of its major purposes. Without comprehensive ‘diagnosis’, we can neither produce a reasonable ‘prognosis’ nor hope to provide adequate ‘treatment’ or ‘therapy.’

A doctor uses knowledge of medicine and theories about the causes and symptoms of diseases and combines that with theories and concepts when examining a patient. In this report, we do much the same; we diagnose a ‘patient’ as suffering from serious conflicts and violence and explore the possibility that the disease may not have been completely cured and may reoccur. We also look into what is required for the patient to recover completely.

Only on the basis of both theory and empirical analysis can we hope to assess the risk of violence and war in complex systems. And only by adding constructive thinking can we hope to prevent violence and help people and societies move towards peace.


1.3 Causes of war and causes of peace

One particularly important, underlying assumption throughout this report is that violence and war happen not only because of the presence of causes of war, but also because of the absence or weakness of causes of peace. A society may have many active elements of a peace culture such as, say, solid institutions for conflict-management, a lively and trustful public debate, a high degree of government legitimacy and a sense of leadership perceived by the citizens. There may be peace education in schools, myths and rituals symbolically emphasising peace, tolerance and diversity, etc. A society that lacks such elements is, naturally, much less immune and resistant in cases where the ‘bacteria’ of war attacks the body social.

One of the report’s central conclusions is that Macedonia is at risk in a rather unique way. On the one hand, its reasons for war may have weakened after war was experienced in 2001 and, thus, a new round of major fighting is not likely in the near future. On the other hand, its peace factors – its ‘immune defence’ – have also weakened. The limited war in 2001 weakened, indeed undermined, the single most important factor for peace: the conviction among the huge majority of Macedonians and Albanians that, although the nations did not love each other as collective groups, it was both possible and desirable to live together. It was a widely held belief, particularly on the person-to-person level, that it was possible to interact and live together in one state.

In 2002, there is a widespread belief, however not publicly stated, that “after this we can’t live together.” The fragile faith in co-existence and the trust among the groups that existed before is eroding. In the eyes of the Macedonians, it seems, the war was a zero-sum game in which they lost internally to the Albanians and to the international community.


1.4 War risk assessment: a science and an art 

A few words on the methodology and philosophy of war risk assessment employed in this report is also in place. There are schools of thought that believe that war is possible to predict in a rational, scientific manner. Armed with a theory of what causes war, advocates of this school tend to argue that when factors a, b, and c are empirically present to a certain, defined extent and in a certain combination, war will break out. This is a rational, natural science-inspired philosophy but not the one applied in this report.

There are lots of cases where wars have not broken out when, according to the theory and the indicators, they “should” have. Most theories of what causes war indicated that it was highly probable that the old Cold War would eventually become hot. It didn’t. Instead, and quite surprisingly to most observers, the Soviet Union collapsed. In numerous other cases, wars have broken out to the surprise of virtually everybody in the international community. Few, for instance, had any idea in 1991 that Yugoslavia would fall apart in war, let alone still be the scene of wars ten years later.

This report is based on a) several hundred interviews/dialogues with Macedonians and Albanians from all walks of life since 1991, including the 2001 war period; b) similar research activity in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, including Kosovo during the same period, and c) the author’s twenty-years of academic peace and conflict research experience. It goes without saying that it is also based on book reports and on materials available on the Internet, many of which are listed in the link section of TFF’s website.


1.5  Macedonia: a war assessment enigma

When wars raged in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, many feared that Macedonia was next. A United Nations mission, UNPREDEP, was set up to prevent “spill-over” based on the hypothesis that the then Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, would invade Macedonia. But war did not break out. Before, during and after NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, most people – including the author – estimated that this would place such a burden on Macedonia that violence and war could well break out. It did not happen. When NATO/KFOR and the UN took over the administration of the Kosovo province, many diplomats and scholars interpreted that to mean an increased stabilisation of the region.

However, among several factors which led to the 2001 war in Macedonia is the failed disarmament of the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK/KLA), the ongoing militancy of those KLA troops who did not join the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), as well as the ongoing trans-border arms traffic.

In other words, Macedonia has proved a pretty unpredictable object of war risk assessment. That should be kept in mind when reading this report too.


1.6 Peace is the highest goal and, fortunately, it can be learnt

Few people are professionally trained in analysing and dealing with conflicts. That’s one of the many reasons why there is so much violence and human suffering in our world. If we could all become more conflict “literate”, there is a chance that global violence, direct as well as structural, could be reduced. If so, fear – a much more important cause of violence than ‘evil’ – would also be reduced and safety and hope increase.

Peace takes a lot of intellectual and spiritual work and requires education and training. But peace is possible. The United Nations Charter delivers the normative framework of creating “peace by peaceful means” and its highest goal is to abolish war. Whenever we deal with concrete problems, such as the future of Macedonia, we should remember that greater task.



2. Bird’s eye view of the conflicts in Macedonia 

2.1 The inner/societal conflict circle

We are used to associating Macedonia (FYROM) with ethnic conflict between the majority – the Macedonians and the minority – the Albanians. However, there are many other nationalities in Macedonia. Among the 1.9 million inhabitants registered in the 1981 census, 63% were Macedonians and 20% Albanians. (The official figure for the number of Albanians today is 23%. Albanian leaders mention anywhere between that and 40%. Albanians have boycotted the recent census, however). The others are Turks, Roma, Serbs, Moslems (known as Torbeshes, Pomaks, or Poturs), Vlachs, Bosniaks, Bulgarians and others.

There are other axes along which one could imagine that conflicts might erupt. There is a class dimension (rich/powerful versus poor/powerless) that may criss-cross that of ethnicity; for instance, the Macedonian and the Albanian mafias have no problems co-operating. There is a centre-periphery dimension – Skopje, the capital with at least one-third of the citizens, and Tetovo, the perceived capital of the Albanians, as one group, and the rest of the country and quite poor countryside as the other. Indeed, the class-material conflict potential may be more fundamental than that of ethnicity.

In addition, there is conflict potential surrounding the issues of political legitimacy and democratic governance. It is difficult to find citizens who believe in politics as a noble occupation or believe that the country has an honest, democratic leadership. Corruption – economic, moral as well as political – flourishes. Likewise, the near-civil war of 2001 raises the question, to what extent are the armed forces under democratic control?

Macedonia is also a society in transition from Yugoslav socialism with its absolutely unique features (which differed considerably from those of the Soviet Union and was by no means a communist dictatorship as is often stated). It is supposed to move toward some more or less foreign-imposed liberal capitalist market economy and presumed democratic system based on a multi-party system. Such a transition has proved much more difficult and time-consuming than anybody seems to have thought when the old Cold War structure disappeared.

Thus, today’s Macedonia exhibits deep splits between the ‘old’ ways and the ‘new’ ways of doing things, or, some may say, a carry-over of old ways into the new system. Its society displays some of the worst elements of both systems.  The political transformation has taken place without a solid economic foundation, indeed in constant, worsening economic anomie. The simultaneous economic transition has taken place without there being any political culture or ethos, sense of dialogue/debate or respect for minorities that one would like to associate with a genuine democracy. In short, Macedonia’s contemporary society consists of a series of vacuums in terms of politics, economics, and in terms of identity as a sovereign state.

Finally, there is the sphere of culture and religion, styles of living. Macedonia, like her neighbours, is incredibly rich in culture, history, drama and myths. In and of themselves, they may not spark off violence and war, but they make up a deeper collective subconscious that might well be mobilised should some of the other conflict dimensions move from latent to manifest mode. So much about the inner-conflict circle. We turn now to the regional circle.


2.2 The middle/regional conflict circle

Macedonia is also called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM. Underlying this we find a highly controversial issue, which serves as the title to one of the modern classics about the region, Who are the Macedonians? by Hugh Poulton (1995)

. It is possible to define them as the people who have historically lived in the geographic space bound by the Black Mountains north of today’s Skopje, the eastern Rila and Rhodope mountains in today’s Bulgaria, the Aegean Sea coast near Thessaloniki, Mount Olympus and the Pindus Mountains in the south, and the Ohrid Framework and Prespa lakes in the west.

Indicative of the conflict space in the contemporary southern Balkans, this space has sometimes been divided into three parts: namely Vardar Macedonia for the portion that was part of Yugoslavia (today’s FYROM), Aegan Macedonia for the Greek portion, and Pirin Macedonia for the Bulgarian part. A fourth division would be the small slice that went to Albania.

Today’s Macedonia/FYROM, therefore, is only one of four Macedonian identities or politico-psychological spaces with some kind of Macedonian identity. Its nationalist sentiments in the late 1980s lead to considerable antagonisms and tension with Greece, Bulgaria and Albania and their national sentiments. It was then that the international community concentrated almost all of its attention on the perceived risk of a Serbi – or Rump-Yugoslav – invasion of Macedonia which, in this larger perspective, was the least polarised or tense among Macedonia’s external relationships and thus the least likely to erupt in war.

This was also the time when many Macedonian leaders talked about the ‘four wolves’ surrounding her: Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania. Aegan, Vardar-Serbia and Pirin, with Albania-cum-Macedonian Albanians seen as the fourth wolf, were all looking hungrily at little, innocent Macedonia that could be the victim swallowed any day.

Most of these conflicts remain unsolved but have faded nonetheless. When Macedonia became independent, Greece got upset about the name, the flag and certain formulations in the Macedonian constitution. Bulgaria formally recognised the new state but not that there was a nation of people in it calling themselves Macedonians. Albania feared that the status of Albanians would be as a ‘minority’ rather than a constitutive people. And with regards to Serbia, Macedonian and Serbian maps of the now international border differed at a number of points. Since then, the flag has been modified and Greece has lifted its sanctions against and invested heavily in Macedonia. The border with Serbia has been settled and considerable parts of the Constitution changed (by the Ohrid Framework Agreement of August 2001). The other regional conflict issues remain unresolved or have deteriorated further.

As we shall see later, the psycho-history of victimisation and weakness or powerlessness play an important role for Macedonia/FYROM nationalism and her present manifest identity insecurity as a state. And, what is worse, that insecurity has been confirmed, or increased, by much of what the international community has done in the name of conflict-management during the 1990s.


2.3 The outer-global circle

Political attention, media coverage and popular debates most often focus on one conflict area and one dimension or interpretative pattern at a time. This is unfortunate and is likely to lead to failed conflict-management and intervention. In the age of globalisation, as the world is getting more and more integrated, functions and relationships intertwine. Steps taken to solve one conflict will have repercussions elsewhere. In the Balkans, in particular, there is one rule of thumb that should never be ignored: everything is related to everything else.


2.4 Questioning the standard image of local conflicts

The standard image of conflict contains, among other features, a division between “them”, those who have a conflict – say the Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia – and “us”, the international community acting as exclusively well-intentioned, impartial mediators and peacemakers.

The analytical approach chosen in this report considers that this view is grossly simplifying or false. The history of the Balkans tells us with abundant evidence that many external powers have had interests there, have conducted wars, signed peace agreements and drawn boundaries in these foreign lands. Such activities may cause violence to erupt at a later stage. Today, countries such as those of the European Union, NATO, OSCE and, naturally, a super-power like the United States have interests in the Balkans: economic (including access to certain resources), strategic, military (including building allied relationships and selling arms), political, cultural, etc. And they compete with each other in order to achieve their goals.

When such interests are present, the international community (if it is indeed a community) and its member states are not indifferent to the outcome of local conflicts; they do not tend to go along with any solution that may satisfy the conflicting parties. A solution also has to be compatible with these various external interests. It can even be argued that there are cases where local conflicts are (mis)used to steer developments in directions suitable for the achievements of such interests.

To put it crudely, there is hardly a single government about which it can be said that it is a disinterested and impartial mediator and pursues only the pure and noble aim to help people in conflict live in peace. This point is quite fundamental to the basic argument and conclusion of this report.


2.5 Triangular conflict-formation around Macedonia

While the focus is on a geographical place, in this case Macedonia, the conflict there may be part of a much deeper and wider conflict formation that is not often seen by people outside the conflict-analytical profession.

Macedonia is part of the Balkans. The Balkans are but one corner in a triangular zone of conflict that encompasses the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus/Central Asian Republics. The Balkans are also part of Europe, in which we find organisations such as the EU and NATO with their agendas. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO is now in an expansionist mode. For example, the leader of that alliance, the U.S., has built the largest military base since the Vietnam War some twenty kilometres outside of Pristina. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that Kosovo is part of a larger picture and has strategic importance in a long-term perspective. Macedonia’s proximity to Kosovo means that the situation there, which is still highly problematic and without a clear formal status, is likely to influence the future of Macedonia.

A chain of military bases and NATO/Partnership for Peace (PfP) relationships have been built since the early 1990s. As early as 1992, the U.S. began sending small groups of people to the military commands and ministries of defence in some ten East-European countries under the Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP).

Securing Western/U.S. access to oil resources throughout the aforementioned triangular region is a fundamentally important explanatory factor behind various long-term policies and tactical moves on the ground by the international community, which also occurred in Macedonia.


2.6 Civilisational aspects

There is also a macro or civilisational dimension: the relations among a) the generalised West or Western West and b) the Eastern West, Russia, c) the East, the Indian subcontinent (now nuclear) and d) South-East Asia including China, Japan and the Koreas. Many tend to forget that the Cold War did not only take place on European territory. It had also existed in the Orient since the Korean War. Through hundreds of base arrangements and military co-operation agreements, the Cold War’s purpose was to encircle or “contain” Russia and China. Among these military co-operation agreements was the AMPO Treaty between the U.S. and its former aggressor/enemy-made-ally, Japan.

The southern Balkans is a network of transport corridors: highways, train lines and rivers, including the Danube. There are those which run North-South (of interest to the EU) and those being developed which run East-West (of interest also to NATO). The latter are related to the oil of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which shall be transported through above-ground pipelines to the Mediterranean through Turkey and, also, north of that, through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania to the Adriatic. One such project corporation is AMBO, the Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corporation, with its projected pipeline from Bourgas in Bulgaria to Vlore in Albania estimated at some US$850 million. And it is only one among many.

It is in the interest of the oil-dependent West and the United States in particular that this oil flows through friendly territories – i.e. which have governments that are stable or controllable/dependent clients of the West – and that it does not flow through any place Moscow or unfriendly, local governments could gain access to.

Seen through macro lenses in time and space, one should hardly ignore the significance of events such as the China/Taiwan dimension of the diplomatic game that, unfortunately, led to the closing down of the United Nations’ highly respected, violence-preventive diplomatic mission in Macedonia, UNPREDEP. It was forced to leave a week before the bombing of Yugoslavia began. Also, seen in a larger civilisational perspective, it becomes perhaps a bit less of an enigma why the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was hit by NATO’s bombs in 1999.

From another angle, increased Western/US engagement with the other two corners of the triangle or tripod, including the Middle East with Afghanistan and now the occupation of Iraq may lead correspondingly to less engagement in the third corner, the Balkans. It is quite striking how media and political attention disappeared from the Balkans when September 11 happened and the Afghanistan issue came up, and how that in turn was toned down when problems in the Middle East flared up.


2.7 Cultural-religious borders

There are also the deeply cultural, civilisation-related and religious dimensions. The Balkans contains a series of fault-lines which may also be perceived as a kind of collective subconscious. There are Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Moslem cultural spaces and, while the Balkan conflicts do not have a religious base, religion is a force that can be mobilised in support of other, more mundane, political goals. NATO has now expanded to include Protestants and Catholics who are pitted against Orthodox people (Russia and Serbia) and has thus hardened the cultural borders in Europe.

This expansion undermines what were once conflict-diffusing soft borders with historically neutral buffers such as Austria, ex-Yugoslavia and the now de-facto aligned Sweden and Finland. This will not help to diffuse future conflicts; rather unavoidably, it is likely to harden and polarise the region in case a serious future conflict emerges, by asking “are you with us or against us?” It is suggestive that in today’s Macedonia there is no other plan in town than NATO membership, no research projects or public debate about possible alternatives.


2.8 The international community’s role in Macedonia

In this macro-perspective, this outer circle of the “Macedonia +” conflict formation, it’s now time to ask, has the international community influenced the risk of violence and war positively or negatively since the country’s independence?

This report argues that the net influence has been negative. To put it crudely, if war breaks out in Macedonia at some point in the future it cannot be explained exclusively by circumstances inside Macedonia itself. Actors in the international community apart from Macedonia’s regional neighbours should not be perceived as observers or neutral mediators; they are, have been and will remain participants in the conflicts of the region and deeply responsible for what happens in Macedonia.

What are the pointers, the intellectual indicators? Macedonia’s major exports of agricultural produce went to other Yugoslav republics, with Serbia as the largest recipient. Years of war blocked transport roads not only to the (former) Yugoslav republics but also to Ukraine, Russia and Romania. The international sanctions against Serbia were officially respected; however, there immediately emerged a black market economy which involved the smuggling of all kinds of goods, including oil, over the Macedonian-Serbian border. It developed and maintained local Macedonian, Serbian and Albanian mafia groups. The present, rampant corruption in Macedonia has most of its roots in that period. Even in the spring of 2002, there were reports about intra and/or inter-mafia violence in north-western Macedonia.

For a long time, Western countries took it more or less for granted that the territory of independent Macedonia was at their disposal, free of charge. The military’s so-called “extraction” mission that was set up over the border near Kumanovo to evacuate OSCE mission staff in the event that they would be threatened by Milosevic was one of the first examples. Another example is the bombing simulation exercises undertaken in the autumn of 1998 in Macedonian air space at a height which made the planes visible on Yugoslav radars and thereby signalling “this is what we could do to you if…”.

While there had been very few refugees from the Kosovo province before NATO’s bombing, around 250,000 Albanians fled over the border into Macedonia in the first weeks of the bombing. They went to live in camps along the border, lived among Albanian relatives and friends, or, not to be forgotten, with Macedonian families who opened their homes to them. For all intents and purposes, Macedonia was turned into a refugee camp overnight, with refugees suddenly making up about 15% of the people living there.

For the succeeding de-facto occupation of Kosovo by NATO/KFOR, Macedonia was used for international military deployment and as a base area. Had a ground invasion been deemed necessary, troops would have had to go in mainly through Macedonia.

Next came the various steps and moves that lead to the outbreak of fighting in 2001. There were many and complex causes behind it, but one very central reason for the fact that the conflict could become militarised was that the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA or UCK, contrary to announcements made by NATO/KFOR and the UN as early as autumn 1999, was neither disbanded, regarded illegal or fully transformed into the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC.

As weapons flowed in from Albania to the Macedonian-Albanian National Liberation Army, NLA, it was obvious that the NLA could not have operated without close physical, political, economic and military ties to various Albanian hard-liners across the border in Kosovo. Fighting erupted inside southern Serbia and in Macedonia. It would hardly have been possible had the groups been completely disarmed and the Macedonian-Yugoslav border sealed off by at least some of the more than 40,000 heavily armed international peace-enforcing troops, including those in the American zone.

At the political level, the international community set itself up as mediators and peace-makers while war-like activities threatened to get out of hand. The diplomats’ basic message to the Macedonian government (mixed Macedonian and Albanian ministers) was that it would be unacceptable if Macedonia fought back too hard, or disproportionately, against this armed incursion and de-facto occupation of areas making up perhaps 10-15% of the territory.

Furthermore, Ukraine came under strong EU pressure not to deliver weapons to Skopje and there were quite serious and repeated reports of Western involvement on the Albanian side through intelligence services and through private military advisory corporations, one of them being Military Professional Resources Incorporated, MPRI

, from Virginia, in the U.S.. It is now well documented that America used Islamists to arm the Bosniak government in Sarajevo.

This may sound like “conspiracy” theories, but it does not have to be. The Dutch Srebrenica Report published in April 2002 provides evidence of early, secret U.S. military assistance to both Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia.

Richard J. Aldrich writes about this unnoticed section of the Dutch Srebrenica Report in The Guardian on April 22, 2002. In particular,

“Now we have the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in “the war against terrorism”. Pentagon operations in Bosnia have delivered their own “blowback”.

Richard Norton-Taylor writes on the same day in The Guardian about the Dutch Srebrenica Report that,

“The Dutch report reveals how the Pentagon formed a secret alliance with Islamist groups in an Iran-Contra-style operation. US, Turkish and Iranian intelligence groups worked with the Islamists in what the Dutch report calls the “Croatian pipeline”. Arms bought by Iran and Turkey and financed by Saudi Arabia were flown into Croatia initially by the official Iranian airline, Iran Air, and later in a fleet of black C-130 Hercules aircraft.

The report says that mojahedin fighters were also flown in, and that the US was “very closely involved” in the operation which was in flagrant breach of the embargo. British secret services obtained documents proving that Iran also arranged deliveries of arms directly to Bosnia, it says.

The operation was promoted by the Pentagon, rather than the CIA, which was cautious about using Islamist groups as a conduit for arms, and about breaching the embargo. When the CIA tried to place its own people on the ground in Bosnia, the agents were threatened by the mojahedin fighters and the Iranians who were training them.

The UN relied on American intelligence to monitor the embargo, a dependency which allowed Washington to manipulate it at will.”

This is the kind of event one misses if one looks only at the conflict scene (and inner circle) and not the wider framework. Through numerous interviews conducted by the author of this report with Macedonian high-level sources, it is fairly safe to assume that something similar, albeit on a much smaller scale, may well have been done in support of the Albanian militarists in Macedonia. Additionally, this support for militarists is likely since it is well-documented that this type of operation also took place in support of KLA/UCK Kosovo.

A foreign-mediated, lengthy negotiation process produced the Ohrid Framework Agreement of August 2001, which contains provisions to make laws granting amnesty to most of the Albanian military leaders, to change the constitution in favour of Albanian citizens and to grant wider autonomy to the regions and municipalities.


2.9 A steadily weakened Macedonia

For a young sovereign state with, as mentioned, a considerable problem with identity and insecurity, these international developments were tumultuous. The citizens, state and government shook to their very foundations. Time and time again, Macedonia’s rights as an independent, sovereign state were surprisingly, and unwisely, disregarded. It is fair to say that neither the mature, democratic European states nor the United States would have accepted the same treatment that Macedonia received. In addition, according to President Trajkovski, the country has not been paid any compensation, nor does it expect to be.

In all fairness, it deserves mention that the UNPREDEP mission as well as OSCE and several foreign NGOs have treated the country of Macedonia with respect and served all of its various citizens and overall stability well. But to the extent that such matters can be estimated at all, they have by no means been able to positively balance the overall negative influence of the other, stronger factors and policies introduced by the international community.


2.10 Summarising the bird’s eye view

Conflict analysis takes a broader view, in time and space, of conflicts than do the media and diplomats in general. We have used three points as the basis for our analysis:

One, that media or virtual reality is not identical with real reality and that everything is related to everything else in this globalising world. For instance, there are more conflicting actors and issues than usually perceived.

Two, that we should look not only at conflict spots but conflict formations to assess the risk of violence and wars in the future. Macedonia is one element in a huge, post-Cold War jigsaw puzzle and the stuff that conflicts in Macedonia are made of can be used or misused by others. The prisms or lenses we choose to use will determine our conclusions and assessment of the risks of war.

Three, that it is not enough to only look at the violence; our task is to try to identify the underlying conflicts or root causes which, under certain circumstances, explode into various types of violence.

Next, in Chapter 3, we shall expand the intellectual tool box in professional conflict management and then determine a diagnosis for Macedonia in Chapter 4.



3. A guide to the theories and concepts used in this report

3.1 Conflicts and violence: the ABC of conflict analysis

Conflicts happen. Without them life would be dull. Human beings and societies have different values, aspirations and goals. Going through conflicts with ourselves and others and coming out wiser, we learn and grow as human beings. Democracy, for instance, means that we have differences but decide to deal with them through peaceful means such as referendums, debates and elections. Thus, the task in front of all concerned human beings is not conflict prevention. The task is to learn to conflict or clash as civilised creatures and reduce or prevent violence when we deal with conflicts, our own as well as those of others.

Conflicts consist of A = attitudes, B = behaviour, and C = contradiction, incompatibility or antagonisms. If we want to help solve conflicts, our own or those of somebody else, a solid analysis of all three is imperative. In conflicts and wars, B can be filmed and reach our television screens whereas A and C are much less visible.

Well-intentioned peacemaking focuses on attitudes and makes this appeal to the parties involved: “try to be kind and tolerant, see the point the other party is making, turn the other cheek…” It may be very humanitarian, sometimes religious, but it will not be enough to solve the conflict.

International governmental peacemaking often focuses on behaviour and puts pressure on actors: “stop the violence, withdraw from this territory or…, come to the negotiation table, behave as we say or we will bomb you, if you continue behaving this way we’ll send you to the Hague, we expect you to find a compromise”. This more manipulative, sometimes threatening, approach misses of course both A and C.

Critical, structural and Marxist-inspired approaches emphasise the contradiction – e.g. class struggle – and argue for “struggle, rather than compromise, mobilising the collective of more or less underprivileged to turn over the system, etc.” and ignore A and B.

The first two approaches focus on the individual, the third on society’s organisation and material, productive aspects. What they have in common is that they underestimate the other two dimensions. We really need all three to do proper conflict analysis.

But back to A, B and C. Attitudes (A) have conscious and unconscious levels; they deal with how we see each other, ourselves and with our views of what the conflict is essentially about. They are best explored through dialogue, through listening actively to what is said and, sometimes, not said.

Behaviour (B), too, has many faces. There are the opinions we hold, the words we speak and our deeds and they usually come out one way or the other. Behaviour covers all types of ways we operate when in conflict and in war, be it avoidance, turning our back, rolling our eyes, ridiculing about expressing anger and frustration, uttering threats, or actually starting to shoot, beat, cleanse or rape. A bad word today may imply violence tomorrow.

Then there is the Conflict or Contradiction (C). It can be latent and not articulated; it can be lying deep down in an individual or collective sub-consciousness. Various external stimuli can turn dormant or latent dynamics into manifest ones. Traumas can be actualised, humiliation made to cry for revenge, yesterday’s defeats turned into victories. Conflict means incompatibility, that a number of parties are blocked from achieving their desired goals – or somehow sense that they are threatened, feel uncomfortable or live in fear due to something “indefinable”.


3.2 Other ways to deal with conflicts: challenging conventional methods

We are used to hearing that conflict-resolution means a mutual give-and-take; it means compromising. However, one should also see that conflicts challenge us to go beyond the compromise since compromise means that both or all parties lose something. Conflicts and their resolution may mean that we explore new territories, new ways of structuring our lives or doing things through which all the parties gain something.

A real and sustainable solution or settlement means that all participants change their A and B and experience a change in C, enough of a change that it will not come back in the same shape. In contrast, much international conflict-management and peace-making implies that the external mediator/manager persuades or forces the parties to change B – behaviour – while little, if anything, is done to address Attitudes and the Contradiction/Conflict itself.

When a conflict turns violent, it is a sign that the conflict itself has been ignored, misused or treated in counterproductive ways by the parties and/or the mediator. Violence never strikes out of the blue except in cases of, say, a mental disorder. If someone gives conflicting parties a means of violence (and no tools for peace-making), the risk increases that violence will be the order of the day and a genuine solution will be made much more difficult.

Hundreds of books have been written, of course, on these themes, but they are seldom discussed or taken into account when big powers “manage” conflict. Let’s move on and mention a few points of immediate importance for a concrete case such as Macedonia.


3.3 Attack the problem rather than the parties

First, it is common to locate the conflict, the issue, in the other: “we are not the problem, we did not begin all this and we are peaceful, but they are the problem”. A more constructive approach is to see a conflict as a kind of problem or stumbling-block that stands between the parties. Thus, working with conflict should mean that we work intensely on issues rather than attacking one or the other side and use the parties in a conflict (listening, dialogue, ABC analysis) to understand what the problem is, not to decide who is right and who is wrong. Buddhists talk about good and bad Karma, about there being something in the whole situation that hits the parties and blinds them so they cannot move towards possible solutions.

So, when we approach a conflict region and want to mediate and bring peace, we ought to be aware of our own methods and values. There is not only one right way to deal with conflicts. If a conflict region is not really peaceful after Western-based organisations have intervened, it may be explained by what the parties say and do, but it could also be that our conflict-management has been deficient, even to the extent of being mis-management. So, we may, little by little, learn to take a hard look upon our own assumptions and – perhaps – seek inspiration in other traditions and cultural perspectives on what conflict is all about.


3.4 From blindness to seeing creative solutions 

Blindness is a major feature of anyone’s behaviour in conflict. It is reasonable to say that a lot of violence, perhaps most of it, grows out of feelings such as: “we/I have tried everything, but the other side will not listen. We now see no alternative but to use violence (starting a war against them) so we can finally make them understand what we say…” Conflicts are about tunnel vision, darkness, feeling cornered, pain, seeing no way out of the conflict to a better tomorrow. It is seldom about plain human evil.

This is where, under the best of circumstances, the professional conflict expert can make a difference. He or she can invite the parties to dialogue and re-thinking. “Have you thought of this dimension or that move? How would you see yourself if you imagined you were in their shoes?” Or, “I understand your goals and dreams. You have told me your means to achieve them. Let’s explore how likely it is that the means you have chosen will lead you to the desired goals?” Or, “We have now listened to all sides and would like to hear how each of you react to the following three proposals. Are they possible, feasible and are they compatible with your long-term dreams? Would it be possible for you to live with the provisions of one or more of these proposals?”

In short, you help the parties:

  1. introduce elements of creative thinking that softly-softly help the parties who naturally feel unable to move out of the impasse;
  2. break up the zero-sum situation (all that I lose, the other wins) and explore positive sum options (both winning something and, sometimes, both also losing something);
  3. move away from formal negotiation positions (we want all of this land, full independence and no less);
  4. explore, together if possible, their respective interests (such as security and economic development) and individual, human, very basic needs (such as freedom, rights, safety, hope and feeling respected);
  5. move from focusing on the past, their dissatisfaction or wish for revenge towards focussing on the future, what they would be satisfied with and on reconciliation and normalisation.

Conflicts imply a sense of locking, closing, and retracting. Conflict-resolution is a process that unlocks the past and the present, opens vistas to another future order and engages the parties either as neighbours or eventually as partners in exploring positives rather than negatives. It goes without saying, as we shall see in the case of Macedonia, that the past has to be dealt with too, but not as a shaper of the future.


3.5 Our own attitudes, an analogy with medicine

It is only possible for the mitigator/mediator to facilitate effective conflict-resolution by building trust and proving one’s boundless patience and empathy with the parties. It takes a good listener, and all sides must perceive the conflict-mediator as fair and impartial. It hardly needs to be pointed out that the mediator should not use any type of violence or threat in the process. For genuine peace to unfold, the basic road – the means – must be non-violent. Why?

First, it is their conflict, their pain, fear and hopes that are at stake, not ours. If we declare the parties incapable of managing their own affairs and present them with a fait accompli peace agreement to sign, they will feel no commitment to its provisions. Ideally, mediation and settlement should be democratic processes. Second, they and future generations must live with the solution in their region, whereas the mediator normally departs. It is the locals, not the intervening mediator, who will “manage” the remainder of the conflict as well as their future, post-war relationship. Third, the UN Charter stipulates that peace should, as far as possible, be brought about by peaceful means (Article 1.1).

So, much of what we need in conflict management is modelled upon the science of medicine and the good doctor. Health is more than not being ill. Peace is more than the absence of manifest violence. The doctor does not say “no” to operating on a patient because the patient has been smoking too much and developed cancer; the doctor saves lives without conditions or attribution of guilt.

The doctor – as well as the conflict “doctor” – makes a solid analysis of the problem and its history and talks at length with the patient about his/her symptoms and pain, as well as about what the future will hopefully be like after the operation. The basic model is Diagnosis (D), Prognosis (P) and Treatment (T). If there is a superficial or deficient D (ABC above), the prognosis will be wrong and the chosen treatment will not lead to recovery.

Indeed, the conflicting parties (whether we like them or sympathise with them or not) have a right to be respected by the conflict worker coming in from the outside. No sane people start killing others or destroying whole societies, including their own, for fun. They do so because there is a problem to which they cannot seem to find any other solution. Arguing that conflicts can be explained by sheer human evil is, in 99% of the cases, nothing but self-deception, propaganda or reductionism; indeed, it serves more often than not as an excuse for one’s own violence.

Some kind of humility when facing complex, often existential problems, coupled with respect for each conflict party as human beings and impartiality is the sine qua non of conflict-transformation. If none of this is present, why should they trust us to mitigate/mediate in their conflict? A patient who puts his or her life in the hands of a surgeon likewise shows confidence. Finally, if the medical doctor/conflict mediator has little or no professional training in medicine/peace and conflict studies and related issues, the chances are that the operation will do more harm than good.

All this may sound quite idealistic and time-consuming. It is! In some respects, it is the very opposite of what is considered to be conflict-management and peace-making in formal politics and mainstream media. But there are no quick fixes in the business of healing complex, deep and protracted conflicts.



4. Diagnosis of Macedonia 2002

Given the three conflict circles that make up the Macedonian conflict formation – inner/society, medium/regional and outer/global – that we dealt with in Chapter 2, the war fought through most of 2001 can be seen as the result of a destructive interplay between the inner and the global while the medium/regional dimension retreated into the background. Of course, the image of the four “wolves”, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania, looking hungrily at Macedonia is one held by Macedonian in Macedonia rather than Albanians and Serbs, but it is not heard often these days.

This diagnostic chapter will focus more on attitudes (A) and aspect of what the conflict(C) is about rather than on “what happened” and who did what. Behaviour (B) is comparatively well known from the media. Behaviour such as armed struggle, refugee columns, bombings and crying people can be filmed and make up a central features of war reporting. Behaviour, thus, recedes a bit into the background in what follows.


4.1 The most important regional factor: Kosovo/a

At one point the regional circle plays an important role, namely what one may call the “fifth wolf,” i.e. Kosovo/a after the province was de facto separated from Yugoslavia/Serbia by the UN and NATO/KFOR taking over its affairs in late summer 1999.  The main role of this regional-medium circle is, thus, the events in Kosovo/a since then and how they have impacted on the war-peace potentials of neighbouring Macedonia. It should be emphasised that we are not arguing that Macedonia’s problems are caused only by this factor but that it is the most important, together with the role of Albania, among the regional factors. The conflicts with Greece and Bulgaria have retreated into latent mode, at least for the time being, while those with Serbia have been solved.

As long as the geographical border between Macedonia and Kosovo/Serbia is as open for all kinds of more or less illegal trans-border activities, military and civilian, as has been the case hitherto, there is not going to be peace in Macedonia.

As long as there is general agreement that sovereignty and self-defence are basic norms in the international community – and they are according to international law, including the UN Charter – no government of sovereign states can be expected to sit idly and watch while armed incursions happen and sizeable parts of country’s comes under control by one single group. No Western government would. But they have all demanded of the Macedonian government to accept that reality; thereby Macedonia was effectively deprived of its right to self-defence.

In other words, this conflict – the C in our diagnosis – is about ethnicity, traumas, “wolves”, economic crisis and deprivation etc. But it is also about the identity of Macedonia and its right to perform as an independent, sovereign state. Why is this seldom mentioned?

Over 40.000 international peace-enforcing soldiers were set down on the ground in Kosovo. In September 1999, the world was informed that the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK/KLA) had been disarmed and disbanded and that 5.000 of its allegedly 20.000 troops had been transformed into the purely civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC. In March 2000, the author and colleagues of TFF participated in an international training program for the KPC on human rights, reconciliation and related matters in Pristina. Its top leaders took part in the course in full battle-dress, some with body guards and some carrying arms. The official KPC leader was, and still is, Agim Ceku, who had been a high-ranking officer in the Croatian Army during the 1995 Operations Flash and Storm on the Serb-majority areas in Croatia. In an interview with the author, Mr. Ceku stated that he had helped set up the KLA/UCK from 1993 when, from time to time, he was back home in his native Kosova.

Albanian units were able to take up armed struggle inside southern Serbia and afterwards, the militarised malaise began spilling-over into Macedonia. Of course this also became possible due to the 1997 chaotic breakdown of Albania. Allegedly 575.000 weapons and tons of ammunition disappeared from the depots and were taken care of by people who seemed to have had a long-term plan for their use: in Kosovo/a and in Macedonia. 

This “Kosovo connection” of the 2001 war in Macedonia is controversial. There were plenty of stories about Americans and other nationalities doing covert operations and supporting NLA inside Macedonia. Likewise, there are reports on how the KLA/UCK established itself since 1992-93 and received training, arms, uniforms etc from various sources in the West. In April 2002, one could read reliable reports in The Guardian about how the United States co-operated with Islamists in arming Croatia and Bosnia’s Bosniak leaders before (see footnotes 11 and 12 above).

The present author is not a specialist on intelligence and covert operations. But my conversations with high-level personalities in the Macedonian Ministry of Defence, including its crisis group set up during the 2001 war, and a former chief of intelligence back up such report to a remarkable extent. In addition, when during the war, I repeatedly asked Albanian party officials I met with whether they could help me to get in contact with NLA’s political spokesman, Ali Ahmeti (by 2002 leader of the Albanian all-Party coalition) one of them told me that an internationally known intellectual in Pristina would know where Ahmeti was, since he was his liaison and knew his whereabouts when he was in Kosovo, rather than in the mountains around Tetovo.

The reason why all this was not talked much about by Western media during the 2001 Macedonian war is pretty self-evident: NATO/KFOR and the UN have far from succeeded in de-militarising the province. The border seems as porous as it’s always been, and weapons have somehow seeped through the U.S.-controlled zone and entered the war zones in northern Macedonia. 

To the extent that arms trade or smuggling is related to the rampant corruption and black economy of the region in general and the Albanian, Kosovo and Macedonian space, this is likely to continue until mafia activity is reduced, controlled and finally eradicated there.

Since Chapter 2 took account of quite many of the outer/global elements, we shall now focus more intensely on the inner, societal circle: What were and are the main factors to look at when assessing the issue of risk of war in the country?


4.2 Factors of war and peace in the inner circle: the Framework Agreement

The 2001 6-month war, like any war, left deep scars on the human mind and collective consciousness. The Agreement that was signed in Ohrid Framework in August 2001 represents rather much of a defeat as seen from the Macedonian viewpoint, while the Albanian political elite circles can point to manifest progress (the amnesty, the local government law and changes in the constitution) which are important parts of this side’s struggle for more recognition and rights.

By this we do not wish to judge the Agreement as such, we merely point to the difference in interpretation by the two groups as compared with the pre-war situation. Objectively speaking, the Macedonian side has reason to feel weakened vis-a-vis both the Albanians and the international community; some used “humiliation” to characterise the feeling in conversations with the author. The Albanian side can look back on the event and draw the conclusion that not before violence was introduced did they make progress toward achieving their goals.

The Agreement must be seen, however, in the perspective of the ethnic conflicts through the 1990s to which it is supposed to be a solution.


4.3 Inequality yes, but internal conflicts alone can not explain the 2001 war

In some respects there has been more repression of the Albanians in Macedonia than in Kosovo. Thus, for instance, Pristina University was the centre of learning for Albanians while for almost a decade the issue of higher education for Albanians have been controversial. Since 1997, the majority Macedonians considered the Tetovo University illegal. Albanians do not play a role in the state administration, police, or military commensurate to the proportion they make up of the population (25 – 40 pct depending on sources); whether this is a relevant criteria is another question, but this is the way they perceive their subordination.

If you go to the National Museum in Skopje you will not see a trace of Albanian (or any other minority) culture. The constitution was ethnic-oriented rather than citizens-oriented. Tourist books and brochures hardly mention Albanians or mirror their culture; the language, images and symbols of bank notes and stamps are devoid of anything non-Macedonian.

Those in Macedonia who had it in their power to do so never really sustained an honest inter-ethnic dialogue throughout society or at a government level. Informal segregation is practised by both sides in schools, media, clubs, restaurants and residential areas: “We don’t mix with ‘them’ – – “we can’t live together but perhaps as neighbours” – – “I would never have a boyfriend among them” – – are statements visitors have heard repeatedly throughout the 1990s bot more so stated by Macedonians than by Albanians.

There was no overall policy or strategy, no bridge-building state leadership at least not after former President Gligorov. There was and is no vision that could bring substantial reforms and promote genuine trust. Making political deals and muddling through by postponing decisions and changes became the order of the day practised by both sides in government as well as municipalities.

Most unfortunately this fragile state of affairs was implicitly endorsed by US and EU diplomats who, contrary to the time bomb character of the situation that dragged on year after year called Macedonia “an oasis of peace.” Presumably they badly needed a success in the Balkans, in this case one created by the small but very energetic OSCE mission and the UNPREDEP mission by the UN.

A marked difference from Kosovo was that there was enough formal co-operation to make everybody pretend that things would go well, in spite of all. The conflict in Macedonia was more about the future than about the present, more about structures and relative influence or power-sharing than about violence and repression. Generally speaking, Macedonian Albanians have had more moderate demands than have the Kosovo-Albanians who long ago declared that the only thing acceptable would be an independent Kosova.

Macedonia’s Albanians have been much less confrontational. They correctly assessed their own potential influence on all Macedonia as much greater than would the Kosovo-Albanians in the much bigger Serbia. They have a stake in Macedonia to an extent that Kosovo-Albanians could never expect to envisage for themselves in Serbia, and certainly not under Slobodan Milosevic’s leadership).

That is why moderate Albanians in Macedonia are now squeezed. They must feel quite some sympathy for those who have taken to arms since there is a structural as well as direct repression that makes Macedonian Albanians see themselves as 2nd class. So, in principle, therefore, the struggle of the Albanian National Liberation Army, NLA, had wide legitimacy in Albanian circles. On the other hand, they recognise that, in the long-term perspective, an armed struggle could well split Macedonia and ruin the vision of one whole future Macedonia over which they have substantial, if not dominant, influence. This attachment to Macedonia (which we do not find similarly to Serbia among Kosovo-Albanians) have to do with the long-term vision but also with the fact that Albanians in Macedonia generally consider themselves to be in a better socio-economic and political position than Albanians in Albania and Kosovo. One evidence is that tens of thousands of Albanians have come from Albania and from Kosovo to live in Macedonia.

This being said, it is important to emphasise that this second-class status in no way is mentioned to justify the armed struggle in 2001 or the extremist claims on both sides that ‘the others’ understand only weapons. 

Based on numerous fact-finding missions and several hundred conversations with all sides since 1991, the present author is of the firm belief that the de facto presence of Albanians in politics, trade, educational system and media in today’s Macedonia did not justify the extremist claim that “we are so repressed and nothing else will help so we must take to weapons”. 

It is not true that warfare was the only way; but it is true that the Albanian had reason to feel that the willingness among Macedonians to accept equality, or serious negotiations about it, was very limited.

As easy as it is to see that there is not a completely fair treatment of Albanians in today’s Macedonia, it is just as easy to understand that many Macedonians fear for their relative status and influence in tomorrow’s Macedonia. Macedonia is their motherland; their argument is that Macedonians who live as minorities in other states do not demand equal status with the majority whose motherland they live in. Deep down many Macedonians fear that, at a certain point in the future, they will become a minority within an Albanian majority and that they will become 2nd class citizens in their motherland. This fear builds on three factors: a) ethnic polarisation in general, b) the marked difference in Macedonian and Albanian birth-rates (quantity) and c) on the struggle for higher status and more power in society (quality).

The fact that, over the border in Kosovo, hard-line Kosovo-Albanian leaders have managed, through different methods, to squeeze out presumably about 200.000 Kosovo-Serbs after KFOR and the UN took over, i.e. under the very eyes of tens of thousands of civilian and military internationals, that fear has hardly decreased.

Macedonians also readily make reference to the fact that Albanians participate in the government, that Macedonians and Albanians get along well in the countryside and in the factories. Although there were examples of unfair treatment and police violence, Macedonian in power have not set up, or attempted to set up, a repressive system of exclusion, day-and-night political control or human rights violations that could be compared with the police-state-like one established by Belgrade in Kosovo.

To put it in psycho-political terms: both the Macedonian and Albanian political elite perceived their conflict within the framework of a common state, but each side saw the other as threatening to itself and thereby potentially destructive of the state.

In that sense, the main ethnic relations in Macedonia always looked different from those in e.g. Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia/Kosovo. Any visitor would note that there existed a certain amount of tolerance and a lower level of anger or hate in the public sphere, expressed both in Parliament, in the media and in social life, than was the case in the other republics. Perhaps exactly for that reason, most people were taken by surprise that the country blew up. As we shall argue, the igniting factors had more to do with the outer/global circle than with these inner features.

In summary and this is a fundamental point to the present analysis, even if controversial: Macedonia was the place in the Balkans where the careful observer would not find enough psychologically destructive energy channelled into the ethnic relationship per se to predict or explain a war. The major cause that the war anyhow took place was a complex interplay between the inner societal dynamics on the one hand and, in particular, the global framework around it as they developed particularly around time before, during and after the bombing of Yugoslavia.

But before we develop this track further, let’s challenge a few of the myths about ethnic relations as explanatory factor behind internal wars.


4.4 Challenging the myths around “ethnic conflicts”

What has just been said may convey the impression that Macedonia is just another “ethnic” conflict and that its problems can be brought on the formula: Macedonians versus Albanians. It can not. On the other hand, the diagnosis also can not leave out the conspicuous ethnic dimension of the problems in the country.

In all the complex conflicts that media usually term “ethnic conflicts”, there are other, deeper-lying structures such as socio-economic crisis, constitutional chaos, latent traumas from earlier wars, individual economic deprivation, misery, anomie or value vacuums, unemployment, hopelessness, etc.

In many cases it is more fitting to say that ethnicity is a channel through which destructive energies rooted in these other factors are played out; it is the dimension around which it is most easy to mobilise the social energy that makes people hate and fear and go to the killing fields. Macedonia certainly displays a series of such non-ethnic conflict dimensions. We have mentioned them in Chapter 2 and want the reader to keep them in mind: classes, legitimacy, State identity, insecurity in relation to neighbours, etc. as well as regional and global/civilisational influences.

The present report challenges the standard (and often media-promoted) image of two well-defined, exclusive groups pitted against each other with strong polarisation. Such images are based on simplifying, or no, analysis. At an early stage of the war in 2001, leading mainstream media suddenly changed from mentioning “Macedonians” to calling the Macedonian side “Slav Macedonians” or “Macedonia Slavs” and contrasting it with “the ethnic Albanian minority”. Why this happened or who introduced it, is not known to the author, but it was conspicuous. It seemed to cast a Serb-like shadow over the Macedonians and implicitly compare the Macedonian leaders of the republic with President Milosevic in Yugoslavia. In short, a manipulated replay of the Kosovo conflict on Macedonia’s territory.

Finally, there are also conflicts inside each conflicting party. There are hard-line and soft-line Macedonians and Albanians. There are class division, divisions of education and there are ideological diversity. No conflict in the world displays complete inner homogeneity. Furthermore, Macedonian attitudes to the Albanians differ widely depending on where the roots of the person are. Macedonians have a much less negative attitude to a Macedonian Albanian whose roots have always been in Macedonia and who was born there; he or she is considered more loyal with the State.  An Albanian who, at some point in the past, has come from Kosovo or Albania to live and work in Macedonia is much less appreciated; and these “foreign” Albanians or “newcomers” are again divided into those who have become Macedonian citizens and those who are considered illegal immigrants. Newcomers are viewed with suspicion and as potential troublemakers.


4.5 Macedonian “fatalism” and Albanian “voluntarism”

This section is about tendencies and very impressionistic aspects which the frequent or long-term visitor to Macedonia can hardly help noticing. Admittedly it cannot be backed up by scientific proof and it is, of course, gross generalisations to be taken with a grain of salt. But it is not only impressionistic, it is also what people will tell you about themselves and about the others.

The generalised Albanians appear rather voluntaristic and dynamic, while Macedonians come across as rather more fatalistic or deterministic in their outlook on life and political style. The Albanians in Macedonia set up their own university in Tetovo years ago and financed it out of their own and the diaspora’s pockets. They establish armies, struggle for their rights, see business (trade) opportunities everywhere and come across much more as a unified nation, not only inside Macedonia of course, but with their kin in Kosovo and Albania. Of course they are split too in family or clan loyalties, different mafia groups fighting each other and there is a quite clear perception of status differences, of degree of “civilisation” among themselves. Thus, for instance, Kosovo- and Macedonian Albanians may discuss who is more educated and modern, but hardly that they are both more so than Albanian Albanians. Many of Macedonia’s finest Albanian intellectuals and political leaders hold degrees from Pristina’s University from the days of old Yugoslavia.

Throughout the 1990s under the leadership of moderate Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo-Albanians developed their own state (Kosova) which, for most practical purposes, had little to do with Serbia proper. This parallel society provided income, health clinics, education, culture and eventually an army for the nation, much of it financed by donations from the Albanian diaspora around the world who were expected to pay up to 3 per cent of their income to this Albanian project. (Something like that was never done by the Serb for their minorities in say, Eastern and Western Slavonia or Krajina in Croatia). So, Albanians may have many divisions but when it comes to the great long-term goals, they seem highly united.

This type of entrepreneurial attitude is less frequently found among the generalised Macedonians. There is more or a come-what-may approach like “yes, the situation is bad but what can we do, except wait for a better tomorrow?” There are fewer visions of a better life, less national leadership, more citizens disillusionment and sense of powerlessness. It’s a classical debate culture, with everyone being an expert on social and political affairs. While there is a great readiness to talk, not the least in cafés over coffee, there is little capacity for concerted action in any direction. Citizens feel that there are endless debates in Parliament but no perceived improvements of everyday life whatever the outcome of these debates, if any.

National solidarity seems limited; somewhat like Serbs, Macedonians quarrel with each other and do not seem to get a larger visionary project off the ground. You can hear internationals say about them that politically “they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Thus, the political system muddles through, a lot of energy is wasted on internal squabbles and economic as well as political deals; Macedonian citizens do not really expect anything good to happen, life just is like that. For sure, after former President Kiro Gligorov they have a strong sense that they are without national leadership in times of crisis.


4.6 Porous ethnic borders: “besa” and “kultura”, individual and collective images

Inter-ethnic relations are important for the understanding of Macedonia. Quite a lot of empirical research has been conducted since the late 1980s; it gives ample evidence to their intricacies, complexities and sophistication. Emilja Simoska has summarised it well in her article, Macedonia: A view on the inter-ethnic relations from 1997.

Here is an excerpt of only one of several interesting findings she reports, pointing in the direction of a increasing polarisation of attitudes already five years before war broke out:

“While 10 years ago ethnically ‘clean’ marriages were desirable for less than one-third of the young people, in 1996 the percentage was two times higher, with evident differences between the different groups. Homogenous marriages were preferred by 38 per cent of the Macedonians, 50 per cent of the Turks and 79 per cent of the Albanians.

The choice of friends or associates had never before been related to their ethnic background, but last year’s data indicated that over one-quarter of the young people would be friendly only to members of their own ethnic group. Thirty-four per cent also claimed that it was ‘difficult to be friendly with people who do not belong to their people’ (10 years ago this response was given by less than 4 per cent).

Undoubtedly, barriers of this kind do not have to lead to practical hostility, just as mixed marriages and friendships in some other countries were no guarantee of the prevention of radical conflicts or wars. Nevertheless, if compared with previous years, they indicate a deepening of the ethnic distance between different groups.”

Vasiliki Neofotistos, a Greek-American anthropologist of Harvard University who has spent eighteen months 2000-2001 doing field studies in Macedonia, argues that the ethnic borders are indeed permeable, even porous. This does not mean that there are no negative stereotypes or that perfect harmony exists between the groups. But we should be analytically aware of the distinction between collective images used by groups for self-identification and/or political purposes (including the creation of a ‘war psychosis’), and the individual, everyday experience where it is perfectly possible to relate to individuals among “them.”

Thus, for instance, for Macedonians a person can possess kultura which denotes a state of (European) civilisation, urban values and good manners irrespective of ethnicity and formal education. To be ‘modern’ means something like following fashion, wearing perfume, trademark clothes, driving expensive cars, spend a lot of money and using a mobile phone while going to the right ‘in’ places. If Albanians possess kultura or performs as ‘modern’ in the eyes of a Macedonians, “they inhabit the realm of being an Albanets. At the same time, kultura forms the mechanism through which Macedonians transform an Albanets into nash tsovek or, ‘our man,’ ” says Neofotistos.

On the Albanian side, she finds the same important mechanism. “Besa is an Albanian term that could be translated as ‘credibility/trustworthiness’ in Macedonia. Similarly to kultura, besa is a quality that a person possesses. The means to achieve it are loyalty, respect, understanding and communication with others. …Exactly like kultura, the local notion of besa both brings about the creation of alternative classifications to those of ethnicity, and also renders the classifications that ethnicity renders porous by permitting the admittance of Macedonians within the Albanian community as ‘almost Albanians’ co-ethics.” An Albanian may say about a Macedonian who has besa that he or she is “exactly like an Albanian!” (eshte bash si Shqiptar!).

So there are two levels. There is the collective level where stereotyping (“seen one and you’ve seen them all”) and polarisation (“all of we against all of them, we have nothing in common”) is possible. Then there is the individual level which is much less clear-cut and where, by definition, stereotypes are impossible because the actors perceive each other as human beings with good or bad characteristics and manners. Here you are not good or bad because of your ethnicity or who you are but because of how you are and behave. The picture is much more blurred, porous or ‘soft’ and the parties build on sympathy and develop empathy.

One may say that this compares to some extent with Max Weber’s distinction between Gemeinschaft (informal, need-oriented community) and Gesellschaft (formal, functional society). However, for the assessment of the risk of war and violence one may advance the simple hypothesis thus: the stronger the besa/kultura dimension is in Macedonia, the stronger the body social immune defence against violence. And the weaker it is, the fewer such personalised bonds we find across ethnic borders, the weaker society’s immune defence.


4.7 The erosion of besa and kultura weakens the future peace potential

One may fear that, after the fighting in 2001, this is exactly what has happened. In late May, 2001, in the midst of fighting, the U.S. State Department published a survey of Albanian and Macedonian attitudes on a variety of essential issues. In several ways, as Tim Judah states, they were mirroring a will to live together, rather than split the country, on both sides.

The atmosphere, as the author has been able to gather in April 2002, is different. The unspoken requirement to be loyal with one’s own ethnic group, being disciplined and not risking to be perceived among your peers as a ‘traitor’ who see good traits in even single persons among “them” has risen tremendously. Lots of kultura/besa-based relationships have had to be cut. Extremists and militants on both sides have displayed a gross lack of besa and kultura and done bad things to each other. Norms have been broken down, atomie (normlessness) is on the increase. Both sides know that there are individuals on their own side who have done cruel things, and at the same time one must be loyal. So, the reaction is to retreat, mind one’s own business, not seek contact with the other side but seek security in your own – stereotyped and stereotyping – groups.

In summary, to the extent kultura and besa were factors for peace throughout civil society, that factor is much weaker now. Violence has its own subtle consequences, one of them is that in future it will be less difficult for extremists to mobilise energies along hard, rather than soft, collective ethnicity-based borders. This was the last thing the Macedonian (civil) society and the Macedonian State were in need of.


5. Prognosis

5.1 Four scenarios 

In principle, four “scenarios” are possible. We list them according to desirability:

1. Peace factors strong + War factors weak = peaceful development/stability

2.  Peace factors strong + War factors strong = dynamic equilibrium/unpredictable change

3.  Peace factors weak + War factors weak = negative equilibrium/stagnation

4.  Peace factors weak + War factors strong = violence and war/instability

On may say that Macedonia was on 3 during most of the 1990s and slid down to 4 in 2001. The question is if she can be helped from the outside, and has the energy herself, to move up to 2 or, better 1.


5.2 War- and peace-inducing factors

Here is a list of factors (no priority) that are likely to increase the risk of war in Macedonia. It is believed that no single one of them is “strong” enough to cause war. The more “war factors” that manifest themselves over time, however, the higher the risk:

War-inducing factors

Deepening negative subjective perceptions of “the others”, polarisation, stereotyping.

Deepening socio-economic crisis, misery, unemployment, strikes, chaos and “law and order” policies as response.

Partial cancellation of promised foreign aid, no matter the reason; in short, the use of foreign aid as a leverage. Aid now is a small compensation of what Macedonia has paid for international sanctions and international warfare against its neighbour.

Anomie and hopelessness: the less attractive civil life becomes, the higher the risk that people think “anything, including war, is better than this and I have no more to lose.”

Continued presence of thousands of weapons with civilians, with para-military groups such as “The Lions” and with Albanian extremists in NLA/ANA, the splinter Albanian National Army. NATO’s “Essential Harvest” mission last year removed only a fraction of the weapons.

Side-taking or otherwise biased involvement by the international community, including increased influence of foreign intelligence services and private military consultant firms on one or both sides.

Tendencies to develop a two-bloc political system with all Albanian parties in one bloc and the Macedonian parties in the other, as it signals a division of the country.

Failing implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement and the laws that follow from it, eroding whatever mutual trust that may still exist. Macedonians may feel that there is too much implementation too fast, Albanians that there is too little too slowly.

Unpredictable events such as e.g. the killing of a leading politician, a riot in some village, or pre-election provocations by paramilitary groups; in short, socio-psychological sparks that may ignite the local “powder keg;”

Continued flow of arms coming over the border from Kosovo and Albania;

Solution to the problem of status of Kosovo; should it lead to early recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, it could very well trigger a) dissolution of the Dayton process, b) unpredictable developments in the present Serbia and Montenegro and c) raise the Albanian issue in Macedonia: if they can have it, why can’t we?

Should one or more of these factors begin to hit the front pages of the international press, Macedonia must be seen as entering the road to war again.


Peace-inducing factors

And here follows a list of factors (no priority) that may increase the probability of peace:

  1. Overall economic development reaching all, that life and welfare improve: a focus on the citizens basic needs;
  2. Increased government leadership and a perception among citizens that it is legitimate and honest;
  3. A broad public discussion about future defence and security, including the option of NATO membership (given that the latter is a divisive issue, Albanians positive, Macedonians negative to the organisation);
  4. EU membership as it may offer a sense of direction lacking now, but the price will be the further erosion of Balkan and Macedonia/Albanian specificity and culture. But many may be willing to give that up and feel that “it is better to hand over our future to somebody else.”
  5. A healthy socio-economic development and democratic governance in Albania and Kosovo;
  6. Normalisation in all spheres of life in the regions affected by the 2001 war, not the least constant presence of (mixed) police and provision of safety for all.
  7. Socio-psychological healing, reconciliation and tolerance training in the education system: things like peace education, production of new school books with more than one side’s history, old as well as contemporary; train people in dealing with conflicts and their resolution without violence.
  8. Socio-psychological healing, reconciliation and tolerance training in media: things such as educational programs on conflict-resolution, positive news (such as Utrinski Vesnik reporting on 5 April 2002 that ‘Confidence between Macedonian an Albanians returns in Neprosteno’) and stories about inter-ethnic co-operation in Macedonia and elsewhere; denouncement of hate speech.
  9. Socio-psychological healing, reconciliation and tolerance training in cultural life: inter-cultural events, celebrations, museum exhibitions, poetry evenings, drama and theatre to express what happened and the hurt and harm – but without blaming each other;
  10. Socio-psychological healing, reconciliation and tolerance training in politics: deepen and expand the opportunities for inter-ethnic initiatives, promote investments and political projects that reward ethnic tolerance, make a serious effort at some kind of inter-ethnic “ombudsman” and
  11. Socio-psychological healing, reconciliation and tolerance training in economy: institutionalising economic benefits to those who operate companies, banks and infrastructure projects with reconciliation and tolerance built into them. It is particularly important that international donor money is allocated with a view to inter-ethnic economic co-operation, rewarding projects in which parties work together.
  12. A national process and a Commission of Truth and Reconciliation.
  13. A multi-year conference for the Balkans modelled upon the OSCE. It would approach the many issues and perspectives on economic stabilisation, security and democracy in a larger forum; solutions on specific issues would be stitched together a larger, regional framework, and thereby lay the foundation of future, sustainable peace in the whole region.

But there may be quite a few stumbling-blocks on the road to peace.


5.3 Immediate stumbling-block A: Winners and losers, victory and humiliation 

In general terms, Macedonians and Albanians judge the internationally-brokered Framework Agreement of August, 2001, very differently. The former see themselves as losers/dissatisfied, the latter as winners/happy. An article by Kole Casule, Macedonians pay price for peace with rebels, can be compared with an interview in August 2001 with NLA spokesperson Ali Ahmeti for VOA, NLA supports the peace agreement.

This analysis does not take a stand on whether or not the Agreement is fair. It also expresses no opinion as to whether Albanians are “right” in demanding a higher, equal status (or fighting for it with arms), neither does it express views on whether Macedonians should have granted such rights and status long before and, perhaps, thereby would have avoided the war last year.

But what the analysis does emphasise is that it is unfortunate – with a view to future peace in the country – that the Agreement is of such a kind that one side feels it has lost all and won nothing.  It feels it has been humiliated not only by the opponent in the internal conflict but also by the international community. Humiliation is bound, one way or the other, to have a negative impact on future relations.

It would be a Balkan miracle if, with this as a background, the implementation of the Agreement on the ground will be smooth and according to the timetable. Here is how Casule quotes an internationally respected expert: “People thought that when they passed the constitutional reforms, the hardest part was over. They didn’t understand or actually realise (the underlying meaning) of some of these steps,” said Edward Joseph, senior analyst in Macedonia for the International Crisis Group think-tank. Parliament may prove the most obvious example of how unprepared Macedonians are for their brave new post-war world.”


5.4 Immediate stumbling-bloc B: Pressure by the international community on the government side

A recent press report offers the basic elements of this – very dangerous – stumbling-block. IWPR reports under the heading “EU scolds Geogievski”:

– “EU representatives accused Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski of dragging his feet over legislation to widen the official use of the Albanian language and to allow equal Macedonian-Albanian representation in state institutions. The Ohrid agreement in August stipulated that these and other reforms should be introduced within the lifetime of the current parliament but little sign of movement has been detected so far.

The rebuke was delivered at a meeting in Luxembourg on April 16 of delegations headed by Georgievski and the EU Commissioner Javier Solana. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to review the progress of last April’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement, a forum for charting Macedonia’s progress towards integration with the EU.

“Of course,” said David Daly, head of the EU Balkans Office, “we cannot force anybody to do what we think is right. We merely offer an overview of what is necessary for European integration.” Since Macedonia’s main hope for the future lies in joining Europe, Brussels’ “advice” cannot easily be ignored.”

The report lists about ten other, very comprehensive changes that are requested by EU leaders Chris Patten and Javier Solana. Given the events independent Macedonia has gone through due to actions by the international community, one must now question the wisdom of further “do-as-we-say-or-else” type of pressure. Economic aid, not the least that of the EU which is by far the largest donor, is tied to satisfying the demands of the EU. Thus, Chris Patten, external relations commissioner, expressed it this way in Thessaloniki on April  11, 2002:

“In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, we expect all parties to continue to adhere scrupulously to the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. Our assistance will continue to depend on that… The EU has lived up to the promises it made on assistance for the implementation agreement, not least at the Donors’ Conference we arranged with the World Bank last month. Huge sums were raised at that conference. We expect the money every euro of it to be properly spent. And we are determined to see in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and indeed throughout the region, a really determined effort made to root out corruption. Corruption poisons political and economic life throughout the region: it has got to be tackled by with total and unstinting resolve. (italics by the author)”

The March 2002 donor conference should have been held in October 2001 but was cancelled because of concerns that the Macedonian government was not fulfilling its part in the country’s peace agreement. Donor funding of about $274 million was pledged at the meeting for macroeconomic assistance for support of reconstruction and implementation of the Framework Agreement. In addition, donors indicated another $241 million of assistance for general economic development in 2002. According to CNN’s report, most of the funds will be used for helping the Macedonian government balance its budget for 2002, with the remainder allocated for rebuilding homes, schools, power lines, etc. More than $22 million would cover costs of implementing the peace deal, including removal of land mines, decentralising government, improving teaching and promoting the use of the Albanian language.

Macedonia, thus, is a country which, for all practical purposes, is under foreign political, economic and military control, having to acquiesce with external demands to survive and, at a later stage, become a member of the EU and of NATO. $274 million is a rather small sum in international affairs. 

For the EU and NATO to obtain virtually full control of a strategically important country through which pipelines for the Caucasian oil are already being built, must be seen as a rather profitable investment. But it also indicates that if Macedonia does fall into war again, the international community is so deeply engaged and steering the process that it will not be able to wash its hands. 

It should be remembered that this situation comes in the wake of a series of events that have all contributed to destabilising the country as well as undermined its already fragile identity as an independent and sovereign state:

– negative effects on its economy because of a decade of sanctions against Yugoslavia;

– being overrun by refugees;

– serving as military base for NATO and risking thereby being drawn into a war with Serbia;

– a war made possible through, among other things, an inflow of arms rooted in failed peacekeeping by the international community in Kosovo and Albania;

– experiencing war on its territory and simultaneous pressures not to practise its right to self-defence (UN Charter Article 51);

– experiencing the presence of at least some elements of uninvited Western intelligence services and private military corporations;

– being  pressured to accept a peace agreement that is considered grossly humiliating to one side and, in the eyes of many, as a “sell out” – to this is now added an economic leverage. The donor funds is not a compensation for the above-mentioned events but is used as a leverage to secure that Macedonia does what is required by the Western community, the EU and NATO in particular.

It would seem to be a safe prediction that the international community is about to reach the limits of the political carrying capacity of Macedonia’s political system. The Macedonian side, government as well as citizens, may at some point in the future signal that it does not see this as fair and that it has not been given a reasonable stake in shaping its own future. It must be feared that the Framework Agreement, when seen in the perspective of the preceding seven fundamentally important events mentioned above, will be implemented much more slowly than demanded by the international community and, naturally, by the Albanian side.

In a historical perspective, there is something enigmatic about the present situation in Macedonia of 2002; it was the country that avoided the wars that ravaged most other places, it was consistently and without exception presented as “the oasis of peace” by all leading members of the international community.

The hypothesis advanced in this report, controversial as it may be, is that the sorry state of affairs today is due not only to the manifest lack of leadership and reforms, including of inter-ethnic relations, but also to the unfortunate influence of the international community under whose administration the country for all practical purposes now exist. One wonders whether any EU or NATO country would enjoy or accept being the object of the principles, policies and pressures they have applied on independent Macedonia, which raises the issue of how to practise international democracy and peace-making?


5.5 Immediate stumbling-block C: The low priority given to the human dimension of reconciliation after war by the international community

As we have seen, the EU contributes considerable funds to Macedonia but its specific support to what, on its website, is called inter-ethnic dialogue is, surprisingly, limited. It contains a) assessing the performance of a national census; b) start-up financial support for the creation of a secretariat to the President of the Republic designed to organise inter-ethnic dialogue, and c) funds committed to the reconstruction/rehabilitation of the houses which were destroyed or damaged by the fighting in the areas of Tetovo and Skopska Crna Gora.

None of this will do anything to heal the socio-psychological wounds or increase tolerance and trust. It can be concluded that most of what we have called peace-inducing factors above will not be promoted by any of the international conditional funds made available to the country.



6. Conclusion: Will there be war in Macedonia?

6.1 Summarising the analytical elements

We have outlined four scenarios in Chapter 5: A) Peaceful development/stability, B) Dynamic equilibrium/unpredictable change, C) Negative equilibrium/stagnation, and D) Violence and war/instability. Which way will Macedonia go within the next few months, 1-2 years up to, say, the year 2008?

To answer that question, we must now put together the theories and concepts, the three circles of the conflict formation in and around Macedonia. We must then add the analysis of the Attitudes, the Behaviour and the Conflict inside and the empirical evidence we have mentioned and referred to. Then we must evaluate the likely balance between peace- and war-inducing factors. Finally we must judge the mentioned immediate stumbling-blocks and, finally, make the best use of the personal intuition of the author and his accumulated knowledge derived from field missions and general knowledge of the country over some ten years.


6.2 Three answers for 2002 to 2008

Answer # 1: May-September 2002, low risk, Scenario C

Between now and the elections in autumn, there is little risk of war. What to look for is whether the conflicts deepen. All sides will choose to wait-and-see: to what extent will the Ohrid Framework Agreement be implemented and to what extent will the new reality be accepted? All sides will have an interest in appearing seriously committed to it in front of the international community which is likely to use economic assistance as a carrot and its possible withdrawal as a stick.

Answer # 2: September 2002 to 2004, could go both ways, Scenario D) and B) but not A) 

This will depend on the extent to which peace factors are strengthened so as to make it unattractive, so to speak, for all to start a new war. The immediate stumbling blocks must be removed which implies a changed attitude on the part of the international community in the direction of treating Macedonia as a respected partner in which all the multi-ethnic Macedonia feels it has a stake and something to gain. It will also depend on whether the international community will remain more engaged elsewhere such as Afghanistan, Iraq, the wider Middle East (but outside the Balkans).

Answer # 3: 2004 to 2008 

The character of this period will be dependent on developments in the midterm. It will not be able to reach the highly desirable Scenario A, because there is little understanding inside and internationally for the factors of peace in general and reconciliation, forgiveness and tolerance in particular. If over the years, dissatisfaction mounts on both sides and the Framework Agreement implementation process stalls – the Albanians seeing too little and too slow implementation, the Macedonians seeing too much – then the risk of war increases.


6.3 A new war will mean the end of Macedonia: some possible emergencies

It must be understood that the war and the Framework Agreement of 2001 are a sort of final call. It will either function as a turning point in the direction of solidifying peace once and for all. For that to happen, constructive support from the outside will be needed and peace-inducing factors developed. Alternatively, the war and the Agreement will lead to a new war.

It must also be understood that a new war is extremely likely to cause the final destruction, dissolution and division of Macedonia as we know it today.

And if so, only a huge violence-preventive military and civilian presence deployed at an early stage of deterioration, perhaps already in late 2002 or spring 2003, will be able to prevent catastrophe.

In particular, if a new war breaks out in the mid- or long-term, it will have extremely serious consequences for Macedonia, for the entire region and for the international community. Due to built-up energies over time, the war will hardly be contained within the northern and north-western parts of the country but engulf the whole territory, Western Macedonia in particular.

Given a further internal split on the Macedonian side, there is an added risk of Macedonian-Macedonian civil-war-like fighting. This combined with Macedonian-Albanian military struggle is likely to cause a snowballing trend towards dissolution. The more total the dissolution, the more likely Albania, Kosova, Bulgaria and perhaps Greece will throw their lot in with various parties or be drawn into the catastrophe.

It is difficult to see how a purely Albanian North-Western Macedonia and a purely Macedonian South-Eastern Macedonia could survive each as independent states – or would be allowed to by the international community.

A division would mean that hundreds of thousands of people would have to move, Albanians East-West, Macedonians in the opposite direction. If so, the Vardar River would divide the two communities in Skopje if the capital could at all remain multi-ethnic. In addition to the population movement, one may foresee that tens of thousands of Albanian refugees will flow into Albania and Kosovo while Macedonians, not really having anywhere to flee to outside, are likely to remain internally displayed persons presumably for years until some kind of viable, political settlement could be implemented.

The international community can decide to prevent the worst from happening. It can help boost the peace-inducing factors, work on reducing the war-inducing factors and remove the stumbling blocks. That would stimulate the conflicting parties internally to move in the direction of peace.

The future is not only decided by Macedonians and Albanians inside Macedonia. To a larger extent than is usually recognised, Macedonia’s fate is now in the hands of the international community because of the ways it has interfered in Macedonia the last decade. There may be Europeans and Americans who believe that the Ohrid Framework Agreement, sweetened by promises of (conditional) economic aid, will bring stability, security and peace to Macedonia. This report offers a series of arguments that this could turn out to be a dangerously misleading assumption.

A responsible international community must change its own peace-making principles sooner rather than later and become pro-active. It must be ready to do its utmost to prevent violence while simultaneously prepare itself to help citizens should violence prevention anyhow fail.

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