August 16, 2001

Macedonia's Futile Surrender

The Reuters photographer who captured the moment when Macedonia capitulated may not get a Pulitzer, and more's the pity. Such honor is usually reserved for dubious but heart-rending pictures of politically correct refugees, yet how often can one picture capture all the anguish of a nation being murdered with words, as the entire world is watching?

With that one gesture of his hand, covering his face in despair (or dismay?) as Albanian power-monger Arben Xhaferi signed the papers that cut Macedonia's throat, Ljubco Georgievski may have secured himself a place in the history books, right next to the infamous photo of Neville Chamberlain holding up the treaty of Munich and promising "peace in our time."


So wonderful was this peace agreement, Macedonian leaders had to sign it in secret, for fear that the people they were supposedly saving might seek to stop them. Imperial legates Francois Leotard and James Pardew looked on with satisfaction as Macedonia's Prime Minister, President and opposition leader signed a document giving in to all the demands of the UCK, embodied in its political wing and its leaders, Arben Xhaferi and Imer Imeri.

NATO's Secretary-General, Lord George Robertson, praised the signing. "This day marks the entry of Macedonia into modern, mainstream Europe... a very proud day for this country," said the man who became a peer for advocating the terror-bombing of Serbia. He was echoed by his predecessor, Javier Solana – the actual bomber of Serbia – who called it a "great day in the history of Macedonia." Even His Most Exalted Majesty congratulated the president (whose name he could never pronounce) on a pact that somehow "strengthened democracy" and "preserved sovereignty" by encouraging armed rebellion, apartheid and ethnic quotas.

The pact has nothing to do with democracy, even less with sovereignty, and least of all with peace. It has everything to do with appeasing the people who want "the utter and complete destruction of the Macedonian state," as Alan Bock put it so well, and "not a few crumbs from the state's table in response to bullying from NATO officials who want to feel important and effectual."

This is painfully obvious. That is why the pact has not been published yet, and is unlikely to be anytime soon. Summaries that are available to the public are sparse and sterile, but even they make it obvious that Skopje agreed to ethnic quotas in government and police, state funding for separate Albanian schools and – most significantly – redefining Macedonia as a state of nameless citizens, as opposed to a nation-state of Macedonians, thus giving minority Albanians de facto rights to nationhood. If true, this is still a shade better than original Albanian demands for a bi-ethnic Constitution, but only a shade.


Another thing seldom pointed out is that the Treaty of Ohrid (or maybe the "Ohrid Agreement"?) was technically signed between two parts of the Macedonian coalition government, and not the separatist paramilitary UCK. Of course Xhaferi and Imeri have the same agenda and work hand in glove with Ali Ahmeti's bandits, but officially, the UCK has no obligations whatsoever. All it is invited to do is voluntarily surrender its weapons to some 3,500 NATO troops scheduled to arrive as soon as the fighting stops. Of course, the fighting is not stopping, since the UCK never signed any peace deal....

Even if NATO was to deploy – ostensibly for 30 days, just like the US mission in Bosnia was going to take no longer than one year – how could 3500 NATO troops with no mandate disarm twice as many UCK bandits (emotionally attached to their AK-47s, no less), when 40,000 NATO troops with near-absolute power could not do it in Kosovo? That is probably what made Premier Georgievski cover his eyes, despite Imperial diplomats' piping how the deal that "roughly corresponds to key demands" of the UCK is good and should not be a "hard sell." How does one "sell" the idea of selling out the country he swore to protect, anyway?

Quick to declare a victory, and quite rightfully so, the UCK nonetheless continues to fight the Macedonian army. NATO still denies Macedonian claims that the country is being invaded from Kosovo, as the UCK is reinforced by Kosovo Protection Corps (UN-sponsored employment program for "former" KLA) members crossing over from the protectorate, but the lie is too thin to cover anything. Who fired on KFOR, then, as it detained 16 UCK infiltrators on the border with Kosovo? And how many UCK/KPC/KLA/NLA/ANA or whatnot get through for every dozen that KFOR stops, and eventually releases?

With the "new" Albanian bandit group unequivocally rejecting the Ohrid pact and even denying Macedonia's right to exist, it is obvious that the surrender will not benefit Trajkovski, Georgievski or Macedonia in general, in any way. Having obtained this much by the force of arms, the UCK has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by fighting even harder. Or dirtier.


Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported that Albanians were accusing the Macedonian army of "massacring" civilians in the village of Ljuboten, a scene of heavy fighting for the past few days. Apparently, a village resident spoke to Associated Press by telephone (!) and claimed seven civilians were summarily executed in a gruesome fashion. Unnamed international officials "confirmed bodies had been found, but would not say how many."

Where, oh where is William Walker and his clear, unequivocal language? Made unnecessary, perhaps, by the Daily Telegraph's confident choice of headline: "Albanians Slaughtered in Macedonia."

The Observer was not nearly as decisive as it spun the story of documented UCK atrocities against Macedonian civilians – condemned even by the loyal Imperial "human rights" crusaders – into a story of alleged Macedonian atrocities against innocent Albanians. If it bleeds, it leads, especially if the sucker-punched guy on the ground can be made vicious villain of the day.

Then again, there is no need for NATO bombs, a la après Racak to usher in the UCK victory. Skopje already gave up, remember?


The wise sages in the Western press also ignored the fact that the Macedonian situation has rapidly deteriorated ever since Ambassador James Pardew arrived to represent the White Marble Throne at the Ohrid "negotiations." Until then, Macedonians at least had verbal support for their sovereignty and defense from UCK attacks, though they were still pressured to refrain from fighting. Within two months, openly supported from Kosovo, the UCK had grown exponentially stronger, while the Macedonian position grew weaker by the day.

The June 5 "ceasefire" helped the UCK infiltrate and conquer Tetovo, ethnically cleanse dozens of villages, and open two more fronts. Eighteen Macedonian soldiers were slaughtered in broad daylight in UCK ambushes and mine attacks. But in the end, what most likely made Georgievski and Trajkovski throw in the towel was the Empire's order to Ukraine to stop selling Macedonia weapons it so desperately needed.

Javier Solana confidently stating that the UCK "will comply" with the agreement it had not signed; American "advisors" among the UCK; American troops acting as UCK's taxi drivers during the retreat from Aracinovo; the entire "peace" proposal that basically kowtowed to all the bandits' demands... clues pointing to the real mastermind behind Macedonia's murder are too numerous to dwell on. The Empire is a sloppy criminal, since it can do its dirty work with absolute impunity, under the cover of a little creative PR.

For example, AFP featured three Washington analysts (Susan Blaustein, Eric Witte and Jim Hooper) who deny US bias towards the UCK and demand more robust action. Three different analysts from three different institutions speak in complete agreement. Well, no wonder: Witte and Hooper both worked at the International Crisis Group, and Blaustein still does.


What-ifs are not very useful, except to academicians analyzing events of the past in order to warn about possible perils in the future – though hardly anyone ever listens, anyway. Yet one cannot help but wonder if Macedonia would be doing as badly today had it not aided NATO in its attack on Yugoslavia two and a half years ago; had it not lent its territory for NATO's flyovers and troops concentration, had it not taken in hundreds of thousands of Albanians loyal to the KLA, had it not, in effect, helped the KLA carve Kosovo away from Serbia... would the KLA/UCK/KPC/ANA have been able to disembowel Macedonia as it has done?

Perhaps the rulers in Skopje counted on support of Albanians that brought them to power. Maybe they even thought NATO and the Empire would protect them as a return favor for obedience in 1999. But the Empire does not like to remember favors, especially if their giver is in no position to call in the debt. Besides, what has Macedonia done for NATO lately that would be worth the Alliance turning around 180 degrees on the entire Albanian issue? It really seems none of this was personal, at least not on the Empire's side. Albanians are their chosen horse in the Balkans race, their dog in the fight, and the Macedonians... well, they just got in the way. Perhaps, later on, Albanians will be discarded as Croatians, Bosnian Muslims (sort of) and even, yes, Macedonians, were. That would be a thing to expect of a culture that celebrates disposability, from dinner plates to servants. For Macedonia, however, that would come too late.

Signing the "peace" of Ohrid will help the brave, betrayed people of Macedonia as much as Munich helped Czechoslovakia. Unless something changes in a major way, within a year at most their country will disappear down the long, dark road to extinction and the Empire will claim yet another victim in the Balkans.

Text-only printable version of this article

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo, and contributed to the Independent. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and Serbian politics, many of which have been published by the Serbian Unity Congress. His exclusive column for appears every Thursday.


Past Articles

Macedonia's Futile Surrender

Murdering Macedonia

Rambouillet Repeated?

Empire's Willing Servants

Kostunica's Choice

Betrayal in Belgrade

The Empire Shows Its Hand

The Return of Kings

Meditations On The Edge Of The Abyss


Terms of Betrayal

Presevo – A False Victory

The Balkans: Land of Delusions

Enemies at the Gates

ICG's Blueprint for Destruction

Kosovo: Between Death and Taxes

Madness in the Mountains: Montenegro's Looming Secession

A House Divided


Empire at the Gates

Macedonian Maelstrom

Pax Americana

The Fourth Balkan War

Mayhem in Macedonia

Surreal Realm

Santayana's Curse

The Croatian Conundrum

March of the Black Eagle

Showdown in Belgrade

Out of the Shadows

With a Grain of Salt

Crusade's End

The Worst of Times

Moments of Transition

Déja Vu

The Crucible

Bandits on the Border

It's the Spelling, Stupid

Zoran Djindjic: Serbia's Richard III

Wheels of Injustice

The Tragedy of Bosnia

The Suspended Castle

Hand Of The Empire: Decision in Kosovo

Introduction: The Balkans Babylon

ITN: Case Closed

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