Home >> Europe >> The Balkans
Ali Ahmeti understands the West better than Macedonian elite
Sasha Uzunov - 6/18/2013
The problem with many of Macedonia's leading “public intellectuals” is they make the mistake of underestimating the political ability and natural intelligence of controversial ethnic Albanian leader Ali Ahmeti--for he understands better how the West operates.
On paper anyway, soft and fuzzy pacifist Brits, Dutch and Swedes (the hat trick of Euro-cool) are happy to dole out the university scholarships and invites to international seminars to anyone wanting to "make the world a better place" or embrace the European Union Nanny State.
These people are happy to read the endless "scientific papers" on "international law" written by the over-credentialed Macedonian elite such as Dr Vasil Tupurkovski, Dr Ljubomir Frckoski or Professor Doctor Biljana Vankovska. Even former Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, from the once nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, is tolerated with his rantings on “a questionable Macedonian national identity” which contradict his earlier view.
You deserve a medal if can get through reading these pieties to peace, written or translated into awkward and awful bureaucrat English and which a student at Outback High School somewhere in the Australian bush or a first year university student (freshman) at Banjo Playing College in the Deep South of the United States or Diversity Outreach Community College in Chicago could do a better job at composing.
But the Euro-cool guys and gals in reality are secretly turned on by Albanian Alpha Males, tough guys and terrorists or "romantic rebels" such as Ali Ahmeti, the former Commander of the NLA and now political king maker in Macedonia's parliament.
Ahmeti clearly understands this. He managed to package his ethnic Albanian uprising against the Macedonian state in 2001 as a "cry for civil rights" successfully winning over the West. By doing so he became a major political player and gaining a slice of the action, in which he missed out in Kosovo in the 1999 War backed by NATO and in the process putting rival ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, DPA's nose out of joint.
Macedonia had cooperated with NATO during the Kosovo War and took in many Kosovar Albanian refugees but later was "rewarded" with the 2001 war.
Conservative Canadian thinker Mark Steyn in his book "After America - Get ready for Armageddon,” identified this phenomenon--the West's penchant for bad boys:
"There is a moral frivolity to the…generalised concerns for "the planet." But it quickly advances to the next stage--a moral decadence that expresses itself by venerating those who will gladly kill them when they have served their purpose as useful idiots."
Early in the 2001 war NATO-Secretary General Lord George Roberston called Ahmeti's NLA murderous thugs but later changed his tune.
In a 2001 interview with British academic and journalist Timothy Garton Ash, Ahmeti spelt out his course of action:
"Summarising what he told me, I would say that the now forty-two-year-old Ahmeti drew two main conclusions from the Kosovo war. First, you could win more by a few months of armed struggle than Albanian politicians had achieved in nearly a decade of peaceful politics. As in Kosovo, so in Macedonia. Second, that you could do this only if you got the West involved. That was the great tactical goal—and the great unknown. He told me that when the insurgency took off in February, “I knew that without the help of the West we couldn’t win. But we didn’t know how much they would help….” So he had to do everything possible to bring the West in. That meant being deliberately restrained in both their goals and their methods. This was Albanian Macedonia’s chance. This was Ali Ahmeti’s chance."
As a clever bush lawyer, Ahmeti was preparing his defence in advance, should he be called to face charges of terrorism or war crimes. As he explained to Ash:
“After a few minutes of preliminary conversation, I told Ahmeti that there was much discussion since September 11 [2001 attack on New York] about terrorism and that “some people would say you are a terrorist.” How would he answer them?
"As my question was translated, his bodyguards shifted slightly in their seats. Ahmeti replied calmly and quietly. I expected him to say words to the effect “No, I’m a freedom fighter,” but his response was more thoughtful. “That person cannot be a terrorist,” he said, “who wears an army badge, who has an objective for which he is fighting, who respects the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Tribunal, who acts in public with name and surname, and answers for everything he does…. Someone who is aiming for good reforms and democracy in the country—and that people should be equal before the law.”
Danish academic Anne Marie Dinesen took a more sceptical view of Ahmeti's motivation, highlighting the ethnic Albanians, who form about 20 to 25% of the population in the Republic of Macedonia, already had their rights protected by the Macedonian Constitution as approved by the European Union a decade before the Albanian insurgency erupted and more importantly Albanian parties since independence in 1991 from Yugoslavia had been members of successive Macedonian coalition governments.
Ethnic Macedonians form 65% to 70% of the population of the Republic of Macedonia and are predominately Orthodox Christian.
But to end the 2001 Albanian insurgency, the EU and NATO strong-armed the then Macedonian government and President Boris Trajkovski into signing the Ohrid Framework Agreement and permit Ahmeti to enter the Macedonian parliament with his own party, DUI (BDS) – Party for European Integration. DUI is a coalition partner in the current Macedonian government with nationalist VMRO-DPMNE. Paradoxically, VMRO-DPMNE was ruling government partner in coalition with DPA at the time of the 2001 War.
The mistake made by Macedonia's “public intellectuals” --and the cultural elite in general--is they refuse to recognise Ahmeti's ability as a politician and natural intelligence. He has already sized up his opponents, those in the ethnic Macedonian political bloc, as being over-educated and soft.
United States Ambassador Reeker, according to diplomatic cables published in wikileaks, visited Ahmeti at his farm in Western Macedonia in August 2009. An interesting conservation developed:
“Ahmeti said President Ivanov actually seemed like a "good guy," but felt that he was "more of a professor than a president" and lacked real power as a de facto subordinate of the Prime Minister [Nikola Gruevski]. see link for document
Gruevski--Ahmeti also told Reeker--was too young to be Prime Minister.
KOSOVO TOUGH GUYS ?
So you are now getting an idea of Ahmeti's train of thought. But he has a double-track strategy: playing the victim of “nasty Slav-Macedonians” in front of Western liberals but then importing foreign thugs from Kosovo for the 2006 Macedonian elections. A US embassy cable spells this out: see link for document
May 12, 2006
“Anecdotal evidence indicates that DUI and DPA, despite
their protestations to the contrary, have imported K-Albanian
"muscle" to assist them in the elections. Such K-Albanian
involvement could lead to electoral fraud and violence,
damaging Macedonia's democratic system and near-term
prospects for NATO membership. It would be useful if local
authorities in Tirana and Pristina strongly urged K-Albanian
political parties to avoid providing such "reinforcements" to
their eAlbanian counterparts in Macedonia, and to recall
those already here."
This revelation raises the question, why does DUI and DPA, need to bring in foreigners to help in the election campaign if they have such supposed strong support from the local ethnic Albanian community?
Perhaps it suggests there is a large body of moderate ethnic Albanians in Western Macedonia--predominately Sunni Muslim and socially conservative--who do not necessarily agree with Ahmeti's methods or goal.
The goal of most in the Albanian nationalist political bloc is a Greater Albania or the federalisation of Macedonia, which would spell the end of the country. It would be ignoring the elephant in the room.
THE OVER-EDUCATED MACEDONIAN ELITE?
Ahmeti rocked many of the illusions and complacent attitudes held by the over-educated Macedonian elite when on a disability pension in Switzerland and only holding a Philosophy degree from Pristina University, he launched an ethnic Albanian uprising with the intention of grabbing Macedonian territory.
Now the term "public intellectual" here in Australia sets off alarm bells. And anyone being a member of Macedonia's "Capital City of Skopje" elite sets off more alarm bells.
What do I mean by Capital City of Skopje elite? It is a milieu, or a tiny group of people, ethnic Macedonians, marinated in a way of life oblivious to ordinary Macedonians. You do not have to be born in Skopje, as long as you adopt the behaviour and you have the "street cred" then you are in. You know you say: U'Skopje instead of V'Skopje. Bingo, you are a member of the in-club.
They are either on the left or right in politics, whether they be members of SDSM or VMRO-DPMNE Parties. They are highly educated, some say over-credentialed, and who are obsessed with their own cultural superiority.
They engage in Western style debates about gender, feminism, the environment, freedom and so on. But it is not a real feminism they seek where truly liberated women determine their own fate and break through male dominated professions such as say motor mechanics-- for that would involve physical labour and that's a big no-no. Nothing beats a state or government job in a comfortable office. For that matter, not many of the City of Skopje males would go for the motor mechanic thing either! They are probably busy playing video games.
They usually hold high positions in academia or public service, funded by the Macedonian taxpayer or by some European Union grant or international organisation.
Many of them have never worked in a real job: either in a factory or run their own business and so on. They go to university till they are in their 30s. This born to rule mentality was fostered by the old Communist Yugoslavia until 1991 when Macedonia broke away and in essence has not changed. Some have replaced the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) with the Socialist Federal Republics of the European Union (SFREU)!
But the cold hard reality is that their country may or may not survive within the next 25 years because of enormous demographic changes sweeping all of Europe. From time to time to show their radical chic they complain about a police state--even though they are the ruling elite within in it.
They expect to be the leaders of their country. Some advocate a soft warm fuzzy naive pacifism which appeals to soft warm and fuzzy Westerners and earns them visits to seminars and scholarships to foreign universities. The irony is that the old Yugoslav Communists realised that national service (conscription) was the last mechanism left to snap people out of the Nanny State torpor. But with the abolition of national service in Macedonia in 2008, it raises the question who will defend the country?
So if you some poor slob ethnic Macedonian from Bitola driving a taxi, or some girl picking tobacco leaves on a farm in Prilep or a Macedonian deep Southern "redneck" from down under in Australia and you question the Capital City of Skopje elite then the default setting is abuse. You are the one who is "uncultured" or glup (dumb).
In stark contrast to Ahmeti, you have the “overly credentialed” Dr Vasil Tupurkovski, a one time member of the Collective Presidency of the then SFR Yugoslavia in 1990-91 and later to become Macedonia's Deputy Prime Minister in 1999 till 2000.
He holds a Law degree from the Saints Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje; is a postgraduate of Michigan State University in the United States and obtained a Doctorate from Skopje.
He boasts on his website:
“At a professional level, he is member of the International Association for International Law, as well as the Association World Peace through Law, and held lectures in over 40 states through-out the world.”
On his website Tupurkovski, an international law expert, has proudly placed a photo of himself with then Yugoslav Communist ruler Marshal Josip Broz Tito, the man responsible for the Nanny State mentality that still exists and who did not respect international law when it came to his secret police, the UDBa, assassinating opponents abroad.
And in what can only be described as breathtakingly insane, Tupurkovski, pushed for Macedonia's recognition of Taiwan in 1998 and thereby angered the People's Republic of China. In revenge, Beijing cut off the UN peacekeeping mission on Macedonia's border known as UNPREDEP, which had been successful in keeping Macedonia's northern border safe from infiltration from hostile Kosovo and Serbia.
With UNPREDEP gone, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Ahmeti's western Macedonian off-shoot, the National Liberation Army (NLA) were able to roam across the border bringing in weapons in the lead up to the 2001 war.
So you have to say that Ahmeti's degree from Pristina University would be more valuable to Tupurkovski's many degrees!
This obsession with over-education in Macedonia has reached such a pathological level. You look at history and you see US President Abraham Lincoln had 2 years of formal schooling but won the Civil War (1861-65); Tupurkovski's idol, Marshal Tito barely passed primary school before becoming a blacksmith and later ruler of a communist empire.
Let us not forget Dr Ljubomir Frckoski, who revels in being called a “public intellectual.” But when not writing lengthy theses or the Macedonian Constitution or the Ohrid Framework Agreement or showing off his long flowing hair, he is busy denouncing as kitsch art the heavily nationalistic Macedonian monuments that have sprung up in the capital, Skopje and playing to a post-nationalist West which in fact prefers the other guy, Ahmeti.
Ljubomir,his first name, means Love able-peace in Macedonian. Ljubomir just doesn't get it – the West and its secret fetish for bad boys ! Hasn't he heard of Hybristophilia or the Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome? It is where people, usually women, fall in love with violent male offenders in jail and send them fan mail and even marry them.
Frckoski the SDSM politician is a different species to Frckoski the soft intellectual. He was Macedonia's Interior and Police Minister between 1992-1996 and Foreign Minister in 1996-97. Read an in depth interview of Frckoski by respected Balkan Watcher Dr Sam Vaknin:
THE POLITICAL MINEFIELD OF WESTERN IDENTITY POLITICS?
Whilst Ljubomir is now seeking peace and indulging in western style post-nationalism, Ahmeti and DUI have cleverly sidestepped the political minefield of Western style identity politics such as feminism, gender, gay rights, abortion and so on. They've left that to the Macedonian political bloc to take the heat over from Brussels or Washington or Amsterdam or San Francisco !
Here is where Ahmeti, the politician, is at his brilliant best, and why the US has hitched its wagon to DUI and not DPA. There is no love between Ahmeti and DPA leader and real tough guy Menduh Thaci. Reading the US cables on wikileaks, you get a sense Washington does not like Thaci either. The US should not be playing favourites.
Ahmeti is smarter than Thaci and the Macedonian elite. It is no coincidence that Ahmeti, who packages himself as the alcohol drinking Albanian nationalist secularist, has two very capable and highly intelligent females by his side in DUI. One is the sultry Ermira Memeti, who resembles a young Isabelle Adjani, the French actress and sex symbol. The other is Teuta Arifi.
DUI's constituency, electorate or audience is predominately socially conservative Sunni Muslim Albanian nationalist. This is where it gets tricky for Ahmeti but he manages the great balancing act—he does not alienate Western Liberals but at the same time he does not scare the Imams.
PLAYING THE ISLAMIST CARD?
In one of the wikileaks documents dated 11 December 2008, Ahmeti's lieutenants Abdulkadir Memedi was appointed the Secretary of Macedonian Foreign Affairs in 2008. In his powerful position he offered on behalf of the United States to combat “Islamic fundamentalism” in Macedonia if the country was turned into a federation, which in effect would mean the end of Macedonia. It is ironic that Ahmeti, who is not an Islamic fundamentalist, and his KLA and NLA colleagues created the space in which the Islamists were able to move into Western Macedonia. American author Chris Deliso in his The Coming Balkan Caliphate goes into more detail on the subject.
Memedi told the US Ambassador:
...own projects in MFA, chief among them building a cadre of
ethnic Albanian diplomats and ensuring money from, the Middle
East does not reach any radical Islamists in Macedonia.
Memedi believes only a "federal" system of government where
e-Albanian consent would be required on all major policy
decisions is the way to avoid ethnic confrontation...
ALBANIAN SURROGATE FEMINISM?
In a sub-theme, which would make an ideal Phd thesis for someone out there, Albanian feminism is permitted within the context of Albanian nationalism because it allows independent women to vent their frustration at their own socially conservative society by turning that anger onto the “nasty Slav-Macedonians.”
The Macedonian Nanny State has realised probably too late that demography will determine who ultimately decides Macedonia's destiny. The recent abortion rights protests in the country highlight this concern, as ethnic Albanians have the highest birth rate in Europe as opposed to ethnic Macedonians.
MASTER MOVE BY MEHMETI
In one of the best moves of political chess, Ermira Mehmeti, without sacrificing her “Western Liberal” credentials on feminism has slammed the new abortion laws introduced by the Macedonian government, formed by the Macedonian nationalist VMRO-DPMNE and her own DUI. An incredible paradox if there ever was one. But this is the Balkans and anything is possible.
And without scaring the Imams or Mullahs, she has expressed this in the context of Albanian nationalism. This is such a brilliant strategy that not even Macedonian “public intellectuals” such as Dr Biljana Vankovska or Ljubomir Frckoski could have thought of.
In doing so Mehmeti has highlighted the fact that Albanians are self sufficient and do not need the Nanny State to regulate their birthrate: see link for full story
“The reasons for bringing this bill in parliament are political. They are not humanist, moral or religious. The only scope is to encourage artificial birth by exploiting the mechanisms of the system for populist projects. Secondly, the creation of first instance commissions threatens privacy and exposes women to unpleasant and indiscreet situations. Albanians have never needed state programs to increase population, therefore they don’t need legal projects for the restriction of birth rates.”
Albanian self-reliance and strength to Macedonian laziness and softness !
That is the moral to the story: Albanian self-reliance and strength to Macedonian laziness and softness ! Guess who the West secretly prefers? Let me give you a hint, Lord George Robertson was British Defence Secretary and later NATO Secretary-General and in 1999 strongly supported independence for Kosovo but is now petrified of his own country Scotland from leaving the United Kingdom, even though not a single bullet or bomb will be fired or exploded.. that sums up the paradox of the West.
|Sasha Uzunov graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, in 1991. He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army as a soldier in 1995 and was allocated to infantry. He served two peacekeeping tours in East Timor (1999 and 2001). In 2002 he returned to civilian life as a photo journalist and film maker and has worked in The Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. His documentary film Timor Tour of Duty made its international debut in New York in October 2009. It picked up a Platinum Reel Award from the 2009 Nevada Film Festival (US). He blogs at Team Uzunov. His camerawork featured in a 2010 Canadian documentary film, "Afghanistan: outside the wire," Produced by Scott Taylor.|