Between Impositions and Promises : Democracy in Macedonia

Gromes, Thorsten


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 91
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2010
Publikationsdatum: 02.02.2011
Originalveröffentlichung: (2010)
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.40 (Innere Beziehungen des Staates: Allgemeines), 89.35 (Demokratie)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

Democracy promises intrastate peace therefore post-civil war societies are often prescribed democratization. However, in ethnically divided societies building democratic institutions where all former warring parties operate is tantamount to an impertinent demand. In many cases at least one of the conflict parties refuses to be a single demos together with the other party and coexist with it in the same political community. There can, however, be no success in building or remodeling democratic institutions as long as one of the conflicting parties rejects the state, its borders or internal structures. Likewise, an absence of common democratic institutions prevents all the conflicting parties from accepting the state as their own. In the context of these considerations the present report discusses whether democratization in Macedonia has succeeded in making progress after the fighting in 2001 and fulfilling the promise of peace through democracy. In 2001 the (Albanian) National Liberation Army (UÇK) attacked the Macedonian security forces. Initially, it also promoted secessionist objectives but later it restricted itself to demands for empowerment of Albanians in Macedonia. The fighting came to an end with the Ohrid Agreement between the largest Macedonian and Albanian parties. The peace agreement required the dissolution of the UÇK and promised comprehensive reforms of state institutions in return. Macedonia enjoyed initially a relatively favorable environment for democratization because the government institutions where Macedonian and Albanian parties shared power had persisted even during the fighting. Hence the subsequent democratization only required a remodeling of common institutions rather than having to set up new ones from scratch. A large majority of Albanians accepted the Republic of Macedonia but not its old structures. Even so, Albanian politicians avoided showing their loyalty to Macedonia. The majority of Macedonian citizens wanted Macedonia to be their nation-state and rejected the reforms envisaged in the Ohrid Agreement. Therefore it appeared questionable that the formula of “peace for more rights” could work. However, many of the remodeling measures in state institutions as envisaged in the peace agreement were implemented after 2001. Moreover, the UÇK disbanded itself and its political leadership established a new Albanian party that in 2002 joined the Macedonian government against which it had fought just a year and a half earlier. Advances in democratization were achieved although the Macedonians rejected the new definition of the Republic and institutional reforms. The prospect of accession to the European Union cancelled out the lack of acceptance for the conceived institutional order. A very large majority of Macedonian citizens wanted the integration, which was used by the European Union to press for implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. Without the implementation of this agreement there could be no further convergence. Once the provisions of the peace agreement were implemented Albanian citizens and politicians started to show greater commitment to the Republic of Macedonia. Nevertheless, they continued to shun the national flag and venerate Albanian symbols. But the number of opponents of the agreement diminished because of increasing avowals of loyalty by the Albanians and the realization that the Macedonians’ fears of being degraded proved to be unfounded. In the last II few years only fringe organizations or politicians consistently repudiated the Ohrid Agreement or the common state. Despite some improvements Macedonia even in 2009 exhibited a democracy deficit in some respects. Violent incidents and irregularities overshadowed the most recent parliamentary elections. The ruling parties sought to fill public service jobs with their supporters. Independence of judges remained precarious. Multiple boycotts of parliamentary sessions presented another problem. However, most of these shortcomings stemmed neither from insufficient acceptance of the common democracy, nor from interethnic conflict but from the legacy of the long authoritarian rule and a lack of democratic attitudes in the political elite. The largest source of potential destabilization in 2009 was the quarrel over the name of Macedonia with Greece, which threatened to block Euro-Atlantic integration. Politicians and experts thought that the fundamental consensus holding the Republic together was at risk. If accession to the European Union remains barred, the acceptance of the Ohrid Agreement as well as a common democracy would possibly diminish. The report advises the international presence in Macedonia not to circumvent the rules of democracy in its efforts to mediate between the ethnic groups and political parties. In the quarrel over the name of Macedonia with Greece both parties should be urged to exercise restraint so that the success story of the Macedonian peace process does not come to a bitter end after all. Despite the hitherto relative success Macedonia is hardly a suitable model for democratization in other post-civil war societies because the conditions for its success are absent in most of the other cases.

Kurzfassung auf Deutsch:

Die Demokratisierung von ethnisch gespaltenen Nachbürgerkriegsgesellschaften gilt bisweilen als aussichtsloses Unterfangen. Dagegen kommt der makedonische Friedensprozess einer Erfolgsgeschichte gleich. Der Angriff der albanischen Nationalen Befreiungsarmee UÇK auf die makedonischen Sicherheitskräfte 2001 lief relativ glimpflich ab; die anfänglichen sezessionistischen Ziele der UÇK wichen schnell Forderungen, die Albaner mit den Makedoniern gleichzustellen. Der bewaffnete Konflikt endete mit dem Ohrid-Abkommen, das eine umfassende Reform der staatlichen Institutionen versprach und größtenteils umgesetzt wurde, trotz der Skepsis der Makedonier. Kann Makedonien als Modell für andere Nachbürgerkriegsgesellschaften dienen? Thorsten Gromes bezweifelt das und benennt die besonderen Bedingungen, die hier zum Erfolg beitrugen. Zudem macht er einige Demokratiedefizite aus: Gewalt und Unregelmäßigkeiten bei den Parlamentswahlen, Boykotte von Parlamentssitzungen, die prekäre Unabhängigkeit der Richter. Dazu blockiert der Namensstreit mit Griechenland die euro-atlantische Integration Makedoniens. Der Report empfiehlt der deutschen und internationalen Politik, die politische Führung Makedoniens immer wieder zu Mäßigung, etwa im Namensstreit mit Griechenland, sowie zum entschiedenen Vorgehen gegen politische Gewalt zu ermahnen. Zudem gilt es, die Regierung Griechenlands zu einer moderateren Position zu drängen.

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