Skopje: Riotous protest over appointment of KLA turncoat Talat Dzaferi as defense minister

by 1389 on March 3, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), KLA/UCK, Macedonia (FYROM)

Macedonia: 10 injured, broken cars, burnt bus during protests in Skopje

03 March 2013 | 09:11 | FOCUS News Agency

Skopje: At least ten people were injured, three vehicles were completely damaged, one bus was set on fire, while several demonstrators were arrested. This is the result of the clashes in Skopje, which took place on Sudaturday, Radio Free Europe reported.

Spokesperson of the Interior Ministry, Ivo Kotevski, said that the clashes caused damages to bus stops, the road infrastructure, but mostly on private vehicles and sites.

The protest started yesterday in front of the building of the Macedonian government. Several underage youths of Albanian origin were injured. The protest escalated and went out of control when the participants started throwing stones at the police, break the road signs and damage the bus stops.

Authorities used tear gas at the demonstrators. The protest started as a mark of dissatisfaction with the appointment of Talat Dzaferi for Minister of Defence.

Talat Dzaferi
Talat Dzaferi [photo source]

Mactel (AU): Talat Dzaferi was deserter from ARM. How can he be good defense minister now?

24.02.2013 12:28:10

Setting Talat Dzaferi as Defense Minister caused numerous reactions in the public, largely because of his participation in the 2001 conflict in UCK uniform. For many, it is unacceptable, almost 12 years after the armed conflict, command in the opponent’s hand to be one of the highest civil defense functions today. Military-political analyst, Dr Blagoja Markovski shares this view, and cites the moment that the new Minister, at that time the ARM captain, he left the army and put himself in the service of the then military opponent.
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Why there is so much resistance in you to the appointment of Talat Dzaferi as Defense Minister? Whether it is only because of the symbolism that his name is associated with UCK?

No, it is not only about symbolic but also about the practical action of Dzaferi in 2001, when he put himself on side of the extremist armed groups and from the position of commander of the so-called 116. UCK brigade, planned and performed actions over the security forces of the Republic of Macedonia. So the question is essential, so essential is the resistance that occurs, and not only in a certain layer of our citizens, but also in people that are part of the largest ruling party. The only ones supporting this appointment are the members of DUI, or their supporters, and no one else. We should keep in mind that Dzaferi was a member of ARM, Captain First Class, and he along with three officers and nine non-commissioned officers deserted from our army. After the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him on June 23, 2001, he got fired. All this states that his past does not guarantee that it is not going to be repeated what he have done before. When a man deserts once he remains with that mark forever. So I think that Talat comes as Defense Minister with a heavy burden, which will burden him personally, because he will be faced with doubt in trust toward him.

Can these resistances make the OFA to fully function? 2001 was very difficult, with more problematic actors in it, which made things that are not easily forgotten. However, will we ever get out of this maze of distrust if we keep returning to one’s actions in the past, and there was an amnesty. How much time it will take to begin to accept some things?

There are different views of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. For me, at that time it was the only real solution, which has created a situation to end armed hostilities, to restore the peace and to find a political agreement on further organization of the state. Therefore, I consider it as very positive. But setting Talat Dzaferi as Minister should not be viewed through the prism of this Agreement. In this situation, if DUI approached seriously to this question than it would be possible to easier anticipate any adverse reactions that will occur, and to suggest any other of their officials. I am convinced that in this party there are many good people who are trustworthy and have opportunity to develop that trust as Prime Minister.

However, some of the experts in this field say that Talat belongs to the benign variant among those eventually possible suggestions. Or, that Ali Ahmeti knowingly does not set on top state functions the actual “idlers” of DUI, even though some of them are more influential in the party, because he knows that he will cause a much stronger reaction in the Macedonian side and foreigners.

I cannot get into the inter relations of DUI. What I speak are Macedonian interests. When is set to feature someone like Talat Dzaferi than we need to have in mind the consequences of that step. If the interests of the state are primarily and there is a vision of where and how will continue to move Macedonia, then this solution is not so good, or it is not appropriate to the present moment. It should take a lot more time since the conflict, to be able to put such figures on such functions. I will repeat again, if DUI really aimed Macedonia’s democratic development, then the party had to find another person.

Do you think he will be different from the predecessor, Besimi?

The period of his setting to today is so short, so I cannot evaluate the ministerial work of Dzaferi. However, I analyzed the speech he delivered at the inauguration, and such speeches tell a lot about the intentions of the man and his understanding of the function. The fact that he will bring the ARM standards to NATO is OK, and it should be so. But already, his following paragraphs are quite problematic. He says: “The Army to reflect the reality in our country, to be a symbol of inter-ethnic coexistence and tolerance, to respect the diversity, and to contribute to reconciliation between the ethnic groups.” This is in contrast to the role of the modern army in the current political system. There is no document, starting from the National Defence Strategy, through the Law on Defense, the Law on Armed Services, that states that the Army should act with “reflection of the reality in our country.” In fact, taking into account the actual conditions it will be very negative if he tries to reflect them in ARM. Really at this point I cannot think of anything positive in the state, which should be reflected in the Army. On the contrary, it will be very bad if he switches the problems on army level. Second, according to the constitution, the ARM function is defense of the country and not be placed in socialist context, and to develop brotherhood and unity, or co-existence and inter-ethnic tolerance. ARM members should have quality training, and then the knowledge to pursue professionally through the missions and tasks. And that’s all. Military should not be loaded with other social functions.

How much powerful is the Defense Minister function?

The Minister does not command ARM. Supreme Commander is the head of the state, and further the powers are transferred from the General Staff to the lowest levels of command and leadership. But the ministry appears with significant activities, which plans and approves, exactly the Minister, with his associates. These are 19 extremely important tasks that determine the development and readiness of ARM to carry out its functions. Here are ARM budgeting, equipping, necessary funds for training, etc., etc.. Therefore we cannot ignore the functions, missions and the role that the Minister has, because they are very important for achieving the constitutional task of the Army.

In what condition is the ARM today? On several occasions we have heard statements of its members, who say their uniforms are torn, boots are old and working conditions unsuitable.

It is a fact that is acknowledged and by the political structures. In the recent handover of duty, the former Minister Besimi wished his successor as soon as it is possible to get new equipment for the soldiers. Otherwise, for the Macedonian army characteristic are two contradictory moments. On the one hand, cash funds are too small and constantly decrease, as a percentage rate of the budget, but also in terms of actual amount. Specifically, in 2005 ARM received 2.27 percent of GDP, and in 2012 – 1.2% or then 102 million euro and 93 million last year, despite the nearly twice increased state budget.

Is the professionalization of ARM proved to be good? Recently there has been an initiative to consider the recovery of the recruiting system. What do you think about that?

I am an advocate of the thesis that if we want a modern army that will answer today’s security challenges, than we need to develop fully professional army. World, and our experiences speak it. We started with professionalism in 2006, and I think that process is going very successfully. The proposals for partial return of the recruiting system are not because of failing to achieve results in the training and readiness of the soldiers, but because of insufficient funds for the Army. But it is not a solution. The logic that the recruit seems less than professional soldier is going back, in a process that we have already exceeded. The solution is in consistent alimentiranje of the needs of the Army by the state. And all, ancillary, logistics and non-combat activities will be realized, but not by setting recruits, but with an actual understanding of the needs of the Army.

“… Xhaferi was part of a guerrilla army that fought for greater rights and representation for Macedonia’s 25% ethnic Albanian minority.

The West brokered a deal whereby the guerrillas disarmed and entered politics, and one faction is now in coalition government with rightist Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski…”

No hope for ‘Macedonia’ if there is already ‘25% minority’. Beware of ‘West-brokered deals’. The result is a whole lot of ‘breakage’.

EurActiv: Violence erupts after Füle mission to Macedonia

Riot police in Macedonia clashed with ethnic Albanian protestors over the weekend following the appointment of a former guerrilla fighter as defence minister. The clashes came after Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle visited the country to defuse tension between the government and opposition.

Ethnic tensions continue to simmer in the impoverished former Yugoslav republic more than a decade since it was brought to the brink of civil war during an ethnic Albanian guerrilla insurgency.

Saturday’s violence, in which at least 20 people were injured and a dozen arrested, appeared to be a response to angry demonstrations by Macedonians late on Friday against the appointment last month of former guerrilla commander Talat Xhaferi as defence minister.

Several hundred ethnic Albanians in the capital, Skopje, torched a bus and several cars, and attacked shops. Police in riot gear fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse them, a Reuters photographer said.

“The situation is under control. A dozen people have been arrested, while the others fled,” said a police spokesman. “Police are on the ground and working on finding the others who took part. The material damage is great.”

Xhaferi was part of a guerrilla army that fought for greater rights and representation for Macedonia’s 25% ethnic Albanian minority.

The West brokered a deal whereby the guerrillas disarmed and entered politics, and one faction is now in coalition government with rightist Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

But relations remain tense, exacerbated by the slow pace of progress in Macedonia towards European Union membership and the freedom of movement and economic opportunity the country’s 2 million people hope this will bring.

Macedonia’s bid to join the EU and NATO is being held hostage to a long-running dispute with neighbouring Greece over the country’s name, which it shares with a northern Greek province. Greece wants it changed (see background).

Local elections to be held

On Friday, Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle visited Skopje in a bid to defuse tensions between the government and the opposition that have been growing since last December.

He was accompanied by British MEP Richard Howitt (S&D), the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Macedonia, and former Parliament President Jerzy Buzek (EPP, Poland).

Füle and MEPs held meetings with Gruevski and opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski, who had led a boycott of parliament.

The opposition would return to Parliament and that all parties would participate to the local elections on 24 March.

“We are pleased to see that the political leaders have finally been able to show their political responsibility and courage to agree on a solution which should bring the country back to the resumption of normal functioning of the political institutions and continuing constructive work on its Euro-Atlantic priorities for the ultimate benefit of the country and its people,” the three Brussels envoys said a statement.

Under the agreement, seen by EurActiv, a parliamentary commission would look unto the events on and before 24 December, when opposition MPs tried to block the parliamentary debate on the 2013 budget and were expelled from the chamber.

Also, electoral reform would be held after the local elections.

Regarding the parliamentary elections, discussions on “all options” should continue to be discussed, so that results of these discussions could be taken into account in an April Commission report.

EurActiv.com with Reuters


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