of the Future
Arben Xhaferi is the leader of Macedonia's Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), which is part of the nation's governing coalition. In October 1998, he wrote a remarkable article, "The Challenges of Democracy in Multiethnic States," which foreshadowed every problem this region has experienced during the past 3 years: the NATO bombardment, Macedonia's crises and the disastrous coalition government between the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) and Xhaferi's DPA. The appearance of the article on the Albanian-American Civic League website is problematic, since the Civic League, which is led by former Senator Dio Guardi, represents the mighty Albanian lobby in Washington. It seems that Xhaferi (and/or the Albanian lobby) has been directly provoking recent events in the area. I believe that unmasking Xhaferi's strategy should help us understand events in the Balkans.
COLLECTIVE VS. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
The true constitutional framework that will guarantee the rights of the citizen on both the collective and individual levels is a subject of dispute in the recent theory of International Law. According to Dr. Nikolas K. Gvosdev:
"Collective rights, do not start with the individual but rather with a specific group. Individuals are defined by their membership in that group, which thus differentiates them from others in society. Collective rights begin with the premise that the group has a claim to make."1
Gvosdev mentions the Ottoman Empire as a historical example of early collective rights:
"The Ottoman Empire was governed under the millet system, by which each group in the Empire was defined via their religious community. Under the influence of Enlightenment thought, which talked about human rights in general, universal terms, as something applying to all human beings, the system of 'collective' rights began to break down. The Ottoman Empire, in theory, replaced the millet system in 1856 with a constitution guaranteeing equal rights and treatment for all its subjects regardless of national origin or religious affiliation."2
Gvosdev mentions the revival of the idea of collective rights in the second half of the 20th century:
II, and the experience of the Holocaust, however, brought group and
collective rights back to the forefront. The Nazi attempts to wipe out
entire cultures and ethnic groups raised the issue of whether cultures
and nations have a right of survival and a right to transmit their values
to a next generation. There came the realization that certain groups
of individuals, on account of gender or national or ethnic origin could
never be assured an equal playing field as a 'generic' individual and
thus required special protections, since minorities, in a purely majoritarian
system, could always be outvoted. Collective rights are rooted, therefore,
in an understanding of the human being both as individual but also as
a part of a larger whole."3
In addition they conclude: "And most importantly, it is a system where the nation takes precedent over the state or civil society."5
Arend Lijphart, a Dutch professor formerly at Yale and now at the University of San Diego, has devised an influential system he calls "consociationalism," which, he argues, ensures that, "different groups, whether on the basis of class, race, religion, or ethnicity, may be guaranteed access to institutions."6
The basic concepts of consociationalism are:
He claims that the following countries have applied this system: Belgium, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland (after the Good Friday agreements of 1998).
Arben Xhaferi the leader of DPA has cited Lijphart's theories as the basis of his hope for the future societies in the Balkans. Thus at the end of his article he claims:
"As Arend Lijphart, a political philosopher at Yale University, has argued in his book Democracy in Plural Societies, consensual decision-making offers the only chance for the survival of multiethnic social formations. Anything else will lead to confrontation, polarization, ethnic despotism, and, in the end, the disintegration of the State."7
Lijphart's students influenced Xhaferi even more than Lijphart himself. Take the case of Lani Guinier for example. She has become something of a cult figure concerning Civil Rights and their implementation in the legal systems in the West. She followed Lijphart's theories, having studied at Yale, where she befriended an unknown law student named Bill Clinton. She later became a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. When Bill Clinton was elected President, he didn't forget his friend, who was nominated Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. But under heavy pressure mainly from the right, Clinton soon canceled her nomination. He termed her proposals "undemocratic" and even racist.
Tyranny of the Majority, argues that the system of "one man,
one vote" creates "dilatation" of the votes of the minorities who, after
becoming part of the state's institutions, are completely neglected
and looked upon as "mere tokens." To combat this problem, Guinier proposes
the idea of cumulative voting. Under such an arrangement, "people can
cast multiple votes up to the number of open seats and express the intensity
of their preferences by aggregating their votes. A voter could, for
instance, cast all of her votes for a single candidate."8 She also proposes
"supermajoritarian decision-making rules" that would "give minority
groups an effective veto, thus forcing the majority to bargain with
them and include them in any 'winning' coalition."9
As Randal Kennedy comments: "…supermajority requirement would be triggered for votes 'on issues of importance to the majority' or critical minority issues."10 In an interview, Guinier used the South African constitution as an example. It is a system: "…where in this new power-sharing arrangement, the black majority now is ruling, but the white minority is also participating in this government of national unity. They are getting to participate, to have a voice. They are assured not only a position as the deputy president or the vice president but also seats in the legislature and some cabinet positions."11
This model has been severely criticized. Kennedy writes: "She neither offers reasons for the limitations she notes nor guidance for distinguishing 'critical minority issues' from those that will be critical to all voters. Given the interdependencies at work within our society, such distinctions -- white folks' business and colored folks' business -- are dubious."12
that she overvalues the role of ethnicity and race as the dominant mode
within voters. Samuel Isaacharoff speaking about the socioeconomic position
of voters in America confronts Guinier's view. He says: "…53.5
percent of all blacks in professional or managerial positions are employed
by government. Only 27.5 percent of whites in similar positions serve
the public sector. Is it any wonder that blacks and whites have hugely
different views on the critical political issue of government responsibility
to guarantee employment and/or decent standards of living?"13
O'Connor calls Lani's electoral plan racial: "A reapportionment plan
that includes in one district individuals who belong to the same race,
but who are otherwise widely separated by geographical and political
boundaries, and who may have little in common with one another but the
color of their skin, bears an uncomfortable resemblance to political
The media named her "quota queen" and "race-baiting enemy of the American Way." Lally Weymouth in her Washington Post article written upon Lani Guinier's appointment as attorney general stresses: "President Clinton, it would seem, no longer finds it necessary to stress the commitment to equal opportunity rather than preordained results that animated the old-line civil rights movement." She finishes her article claiming that Guinier shows a vision of "a society in which a minority can impose its will on the majority."15
Even Lijphart warns about the drawbacks of his model of consociationalism: "On the negative side, it discriminates against individuals and makes the conferring of benefits be based not only on individual merit or achievement but on group identity. This can be especially problematic if talent is not distributed evenly among all groups in a particular field, but access to jobs or opportunities is restricted by quota."16
Lijphart colleagues try to position the institutions beyond the conflict
zone of the collective vs. individual rights dispute. Bernard Grofman,
for instance, arguing about the ideal function of the government, stresses
that it should have:
ability to reach decisions and (2) the avoidance of negative
consequences of those decisions for some members of a society."17
This proposal tries to bridge the gap between majoritarian/consensus options by adding the rights of the citizen as another important element in the institutional framework. The first condition diminishes the veto power as the basis of consensual democracy, opening more space for the effective functioning of the government without being continually blocked by minority pressure. The second condition will block the majority rule by regulating that the decisions made by the government should not be against the interests of any citizen or groups in the state. This model goes beyond the paranoia of "ethnic democracies" feared by Lijphart and Guinier and places the functioning of the government on a more solid basis, away from the old fashioned and undemocratic traditional "millet" systems. The role of the individual, therefore, even in closed ethnic societies, has to come to the fore, especially if such societies are internally based on the devaluation of the rights of some of its members -- for example, women.18
XHAFERI: BEHIND THE RHETORIC
It is clear that the Xhaferi's proposals are redirected legal reforms of the electorate model favored by the Democrats, and especially by Clinton. A whole team of well-paid legal advisers carefully prepare Albanian legal claims so that they should fit Western models. One of them, Paul Williams, even arrived in Skopje during the talks. He will probably try to ensure that Guinier's ideas are recycled into the future Macedonian constitution.
Xhaferi has proven to be good player in front of the media. Being once a journalist himself, he knows how to create a recognizable "man of peace" persona. His rhetoric is complex, though. It varies from the political moralising typical of post-Cold War era Western politics, Communist-Nationalist rhetoric of official Tirana some 20 years ago, as well as postmodern jargon and ideas.
"[The] United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles ... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values."19
Xhaferi is well aware of the Western concern for the issues of "human rights." Thus, he extensively uses vocabulary that triggers the Western conscience. For instance: "In the face of massive human rights abuses and economic, cultural, and political disenfranchisement, a people's right to self-determination must have priority over territorial integrity. Emerging new States should be recognized only if they guarantee human rights, freedom, equality, peace, and democracy for all groups."20
Or this: "The attempt of dominant ethnic groups to achieve hegemony is being orchestrated through the misuse of Western values. Democracy is proclaimed and then subverted by officials who have transformed it into an instrument of elimination, a method for marginalizing non-dominant ethnic groups."21
Xhaferi uses the West's post-colonial/apartheid guilt to attack the "ethnic state," by which he means the Slavic state. At the same time, he produces Freudian/Marxist pulp.22 Terms like "exclusion," "subjugation," "exploitation" and "colonization" pervade his text. If one doesn't know the topic, one may easily think that this is abstract, sub-cultural theorizing.
Lani Guinier is echoed throughout:
"The 'one man, one vote' concept was used to impose the will of one people over another during the secession and also in the course of establishing parliamentary procedures and the creation of the Constitution and the laws that define national rights."23
When describing the way votes of the Albanian community are diluted he also uses strongly Guinierian overtones: "The Constitution is narrower than reality; because that which is allowed under the Constitution is prohibited by law. What is permitted by law is, in turn, limited by the institution, and what is allowed by the institution is not realized by the individual."24
In conclusion, Xhaferi seems to have learned the propaganda mechanisms that will spur the interest of the Western politics and media. The politicians from the EU and USA have always treated him with respect, as someone with whom they find it easy to communicate. But considering the meticulous preparation by the Albanian legal lobby it is unsurprising that Western diplomats understand Xhaferi so well. The West knows and trusts this Democratic Party-inspired ideologist, but a comparison between Xhaferi's rhetoric and that of Communist Albania shows a different inspiration.
Nearly two decades ago, Zeri e Populit, Albania's government newspaper, in an article written about demonstrations taking place in Kosovo, stated: "The process of development and affirmation that cannot be stopped by anybody does not only apply to Macedonians. The fact is that there is a nation that only wants its right to pronounce its own Republic within the Federation. If this process cannot be stopped with the Macedonians why should it be stopped with the Albanians?"25 Xhaferi echoes these nationalistic claims: "The right to self-determination was given only to the state's Slav Macedonian population, not to its Albanian population, who against their will see themselves as separated from part of their national body."26
Similar rhetoric is used when discussing the will of the people from Kosovo: "Some people say if Kosovo gets the status of Republic within the Federation then the Federation will disappear. They would like to show that the places where Albanians live are 'the pillars' of the Federation. The Republic of Kosovo within the Federation was not invented by us, it was asked for by the people from Kosovo."27 "Under Tito's Yugoslavia, Kosovo was autonomous. Autonomy was granted to Kosova because the Albanians, not the Serbs, wanted it."28
According to Zeri, the reasons for the creation of the Republic are legitimate because: "Albanians in Kosovo have all the characteristics that constitute a nation, they live on the compact territory, have unique language and culture, they are capable of self-rule, they are in numbers that may lift their status to the level of Republic like the other Republics of the Federation."29
Xhaferi's rhetoric 17 years later is the same. The only difference is the use of words like veto and consensus to reflect new approaches for the justification of secession: "Kosova has always been an independent entity -- geographically, ethnically, and administratively. Kosova was a constituent element of the former Yugoslavia, with veto power. With the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Kosova automatically won the right to secession, as did all the other coequal members of the confederation."30
Another Zeri e Populit report gives an account of the reasons for two demonstrations in Kosovo, one in 1968 and 1981: "It was clear that the Yugoslav government wasn't thinking of granting Kosovo the status of Republic. That's why, in November 1968, massive demonstrations by Albanian youth and citizens were held in various cities in Kosovo. The demonstrators asked for their national rights, the keeping of their national flag, the right to bilinguality of the Albanian and Serb language, the formation of the Albanian university, the right for self-determination and the status of Republic. The demonstrations were stopped in blood by the police forces. After that, the Yugoslav government met the Albanian claims for bilinguality, national flag and the University in Pristina was founded. The claim for a Republic was not accepted, although after the change of the Constitution more competence was given to the autonomous province. Kosovo remained part of SR Serbia."31
Zeri reveals more reasons for the justification of Albanian separatist tendencies. They talk about a promise given to them: "After the liberation of Yugoslavia, the Albanians from Kosovo and from the other areas expected political recognition and the national right for their contribution against the occupying forces, the blood of thousands of fighters and numberless victims among Albanian people. Instead, in February 1945 a war administration was established in Kosovo."32
also thinks Albanians were cheated. They have been given only civil,
technical rights. The "real rights" of Albanians include the right to
self-determination, which would probably include the homogenization
of the divided national body and the uniting of all Albanians in their
historic territories -- Greater Albania. This demand is the complete
opposite of the rhetoric delivered to Western media and politicians
-- and seems to echo the views of a notorious Balkan politician that
also wanted the reunification of a divided national body.
WHAT DO ALBANIANS WANT?
the agreement not after three or four years but even earlier Macedonia
will get closer to Europe as the Switzerland of the Balkans."33
According to the Albanian agenda, the end scenario will be some kind of autonomy from the state governed by Macedonian majority. The state will be unitary but the relation between ethnic groups will be based on isolation and any political act affecting ethnic groups could be vetoed by the minority. A kind of cantonization will be built on the status quo between the ethnic groups, after the decision for that kind of institutional organization of the country.
How will this be accomplished? Lijphart warns of the instability of the political system built on the idea of a unitary state and a pluralist system. He says: "The stability of a political system built on such pillars is extremely vulnerable to changes in the character of the cleavage system, as exemplified in the case of Lebanon. Changes in the relative strength of the groups (demographically or economically) might easily create demands for changes in the power-sharing system agreed upon."34
The demographic and economic change of power will dissolve the unity of the state. The first factor is already threatening the stability of the region, with the extremely high birth rate of the Albanians in Macedonia. From the aspect of the economy we have to expect Albanian Mafia investments of some of the narcodollars in order to turn the "Tetovo Republic" into Switzerland.35 They have already developed a para-economic system, based on illegal businesses. Contrary to popular belief, Albanians are not only involved in drugs and prostitution, but also in the bootlegging and smuggling of tobacco, salt, paste and many other products. The whole village of Aracinovo for instance, has been turned into a big illegal Free Processing Zone. Judging from these examples it is obvious why most Albanians wouldn't want government jobs. Why should they take government jobs, when they already make a lot of money without paying a cent to the state? If Albanian Macedonia became autonomous, this para-economy, based on family or clan divisions, would prosper. The model is today's Kosovo. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the two conditions for the separation or cantonization are present.
If we compare Xhaferi's explanation of the reason for the division of Yugoslavia to the situation in Macedonia, we can see that the possible outcome of inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia may be the same: "Yugoslavia unraveled because the formula of coexistence did not work, and therefore all of the constituent parts, including Kosova, achieved the right to self-determination."36
couple of years, Albanians will ask for complete autonomy, thus splitting
the country. They will ethnically cleanse the territories, use only
the Albanian language there, cut any cultural and economic links with
the central government, announce that mutual life is impossible, and
call for a referendum on independence. As Lijphart explains: "In cases
where the socio-cultural cleavages to a large degree follow geographical
lines, regionalisation is a possible solution (as in the case of the
Swiss cantons). If the contending groups agree that their conflict of
power-sharing cannot be solved within one state, partition into two
(or more) separate states presents itself as a logical solution."37
WHAT DOES THE WEST WANT?
Macedonians don't know who they are, but know what they want. Albanians
on the other hand know who they are but don't know what they want."
Apart from the geo-strategic interests that are not a subject of this
study, it is interesting to see the West's legal justifications for
consensual democracy in Macedonia. Chester E. Finn Jr., commenting on
the model developed by Guinier, states: "At bottom, this is a strategy
designed for balkanized societies bedeviled by warring factions and
hostile ethnic groups. America is not (yet) such a society, and her
scheme contradicts several long-established and fundamental tenets of
our democracy, including preeminently the idea of one man, one vote."38
still doesn't need these mechanisms, but maybe it will in the future,
considering the ever-growing number of Black and Hispanic Americans.
Isn't it better to test the system before implementing it? What if it
doesn't succeed? Oh well, we'll find another country.
WHAT DO MACEDONIANS WANT? WHO CARES?
do you want? I want Skopsko."
Xhaferi states: "The independence of Kosova will create peace and stability in the region. Its occupation, or its remaining within the framework of the former Yugoslavia, destabilizes the region and poses a threat to peace and civilized values."40 But, so far, the "freedom" of Kosovo has brought neither stabilization nor peace. The way it's going, neither of the two preconditions Grofman mentions for normal functioning of a government will be met. A divided society will be paralyzed, the way the terrorists are paralyzing the peace process now. Decision-making and, as a result, the enforcement of the law, will continually be blocked by the Albanians' veto power. Even if some decisions are made, they will reflect more the bargaining of the negotiating parties than the factual situation. A sense of dislocation and hopelessness will pervade Macedonian society. Ethnic division and isolation will lead to ghettoization.
Macedonians only want peace and a minimum sense of identity. After being called "FYROM" (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) for a decade and after having suffered under enormous economic and political pressure, Macedonians would be happy to merely avoid being chosen as subjects of an experiment on the effect of depleted Uranium and chemical poisons.
WHAT DOES XHAFERI WANT?
"What we are fighting for is to become part of the majority. We don't want to be a minority any longer," said commander Matoshi.41
In an interview for Macedonian TV, Menduh Tachi accused the Macedonian bloc of not being willing to let Albanians use their own language. He called that position racist and similar to apartheid. This is their strategy: whenever Albanians are not satisfied with some issues they will call the Macedonian majority racist. Tachi had learned a couple of formulations from his party mentor, Xhaferi, and was boasting in front of TV cameras. He said that the whole world accepted the Albanian proposals, but still Macedonians wouldn't listen. The "whole world," of course, does not include Robert Badenter, who flatly denounced the Albanian proposals. The latest Pardew (read American) proposals promote legal mechanisms that will lead to further division of Macedonian society.42 They will give Xhaferi and his servants complete control over the legal system, and thus the government.
Xhaferi waits patiently until his wishes are met. He is not in a hurry. Being a "man of peace," he does not care if the country collapses economically due to the negative effects of the war. The West adores him. He symbolizes a system tailored for the Balkans and similar areas of the world. A world where the minority, due to personal or collective reasons and sometimes out of boredom, will terrorize the majority.
Dimitar Ilievski is a published author, journalist, and professor. Mr. Ilievski lives in Macedonia.
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