Cable by Dazzlepod US Embassy Diplomatic Cables from WikiLeaks Released 251287 Cables (Sep 2, 2012)
SECRET (11322)
Reference ID 10SKOPJE6 (original text)
OriginEmbassy Skopje
ReleasedAug 30, 2011 01:44
CreatedJan 6, 2010 12:56
DE RUEHSQ #0006/01 0061256
P 061256Z JAN 10 ZDK
E.O. 12958: N/A 
SKOPJE 00000006  001.2 OF 004 
 1. (U) Summary:  Though eight years old, the Ohrid Framework 
Agreement (OFA) remains the key instrument for maintaining 
interethnic harmony in Macedonia.  Even though it has been 
imperfectly implemented, it is still an effective tool to 
reduce the risk of another civil conflict.  This cable 
contains background of the events leading up to the signing 
of the OFA, a summary of the Agreement's contents, and an 
overview of the Agreement's implementation to date. (End 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
The 2001 Conflict and Creation of the Framework Agreement 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 2. (U) In the final months of 2000, tensions between the 
ethnic-Albanian community and ethnic Macedonian community 
began to rise in the primarily e-Albanian villages along 
Macedonia's north-western border.  The e-Albanians 
(comprising approximately 25% of Macedonia's population) were 
angered by an environment of discrimination and a perceived 
general deterioration of their rights in Macedonia since the 
country's independence in 1991.  They specifically cited a 
downgraded status under Macedonia's post-independence 
constitution, which declared Macedonia to be a "national 
state of the (ethnic-) Macedonian people.  Conversely, 
Macedonia's previous, Yugoslavia-era constitution defined the 
e-Macedonians, e-Albanians, and e-Turks as three equal 
nationalities comprising the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. 
 In January 2001 the situation rapidly deteriorated when the 
newly-formed e-Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA), (led 
by current government coalition party leader Ali Ahmeti) 
attacked a police station in the village of Tearce, killing 
one police officer.  The fallout from that event led to a 
clash between the NLA and Macedonian security forces in 
February in the border town of Tanusevci that resulted in the 
deaths of three police and one e-Albanian.  The clash in 
Tanusevci launched the country into a wider armed conflict 
that lasted into the summer of 2001 and resulted in an 
estimated 100 to 200 deaths and more than 170,000 displaced 
 3. (U) In June 2001, the two sides agreed to a cease fire and 
began peace negotiations.  The e-Albanian and e-Macedonian 
sides were each represented by the leaders of their two 
largest political parties at the time: DPA and PDP on the 
e-Albanian side, and VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM on the e-Macedonian 
side.  The NLA did not participate in the talks directly. 
The negotiations took place in the city of Ohrid, situated on 
the shore of Lake Ohrid in southwest Macedonia, and focused 
on establishing a legal framework and implementation plan for 
improving ethnic equity in Macedonia.  Representatives from 
the United States and the European Union mediated the 
negotiations.  The OFA is the result of those negotiations 
and was signed on August 13, 2001 by: then-president of 
Macedonia Boris Trajkovski (VMRO), then-Prime Minister Ljubco 
Georgievski (VMRO), then SDSM leader and future president of 
Macedonia Branko Crvenkovski, DPA leader Arben Xhaferi, PDP 
leader Imer Imeri, U.S. mediator James W. Pardew and EU 
mediator Francois Leotard.  NATO played a key part in the 
resolution of the conflict through Operation &Essential 
Harvest,8 which disarmed the NLA, and the OSCE Spillover 
mission in Macedonia assumed a central role in the 
implementation of the Agreement.  The U.S., EU, NATO and OSCE 
are widely considered to be informal guarantors of the OFA 
based on their aforementioned roles in resolving the conflict 
and implementing the OFA. 
The Ohrid Framework Agreement 
 4. (U) The OFA consists of nine main sections and three 
annexes which outline the terms of the cease fire, new laws 
to be adopted, required changes to existing laws, benchmarks 
to be reached for a successful implementation of the 
Agreement, and a timetable for reaching those benchmarks. 
The specific areas addressed by each section of the Agreement 
are: decentralization of the Government, non-discrimination, 
equitable ethnic representation in public institutions, 
restructuring of Parliamentary procedures, the use of 
languages, education, and permissible expressions of 
SKOPJE 00000006  002.2 OF 004 
 A. Decentralization - One of the first tasks mandated by the 
OFA is a new national census in order to accurately assess 
the ethnic composition of the population.  Using the results 
of the census the OFA then calls for Macedonia's municipal 
boundaries to be redefined to rectify ethnic inequities 
within the municipalities.  The Agreement also calls for a 
legislative framework that delegates more power and financial 
authority to local governments to ensure individual 
municipalities have adequate levels of influence over local 
policy and resources. 
 B. Equitable Representation - To address ethnic inequities in 
the government and public administrations, the Agreement 
mandates hiring policies that ensure all of Macedonia's 
public institutions generally reflect the ethnic composition 
of the population of Macedonia. 
 C. Parliamentary Procedures - Under the agreement, laws 
pertaining to local-self government, culture, use of 
language, education, personal documentation and the use of 
symbols are all subject to a Badinter double-majority voting 
system, which requires a majority of the ethnic minority 
members of parliament in addition to an overall majority of 
parliament to vote in favor of a law for the law to be 
 D. Use of Language - The OFA states that in addition to 
Macedonian, any language spoken by at least 20% of the 
population is also considered an official language according 
to terms specified by the agreement.  Languages not spoken by 
20% of the population at the national level but spoken by at 
least 20% of the population in any individual municipality 
are also considered official languages within that 
 E. Education - The Agreement mandates equitable school and 
university funding, the availability of education in 
languages spoken by more than 20% of the population, and the 
application of positive discrimination in state university 
 F. Expressions of Identity - Under the agreement, majority 
ethnic groups in any municipality are permitted to place 
emblems representing their cultural identity alongside the 
emblem of the State.  (Note - this was specifically included 
to allow ethnic Albanian municipalities to fly the Albanian 
flag in front of municipal buildings, an issue that resulted 
in violent inter-ethnic clashes four years before the 2001 
Implementation: A Mixed Bag 
 5. (SBU) Successive governments have successfully pushed 
through virtually all the legislation and constitutional 
amendments called for by the Agreement.  However, in the case 
of the law on the use of languages, the GoM hastily adopted 
legislation in Parliament in a form that international 
observers and some within the GoM believe was poorly 
formulated and more detrimental than positive.  In other 
cases, working closely with the international community, the 
GoM has drawn up relevant pieces of legislation more 
meticulously and made efforts to obtain broad political 
consensus for their approval. 
 6. (SBU) In the year following the signing of the Agreement, 
the GoM also set up the Secretariat for the Implementation of 
the Ohrid Framework Agreement, headed by the Deputy Prime 
Minister for Framework Agreement Implementation.  However, 
since its inception, the Secretariat has been granted little 
power, left exclusively in the hands of e-Albanian 
leadership, and the e-Macedonian leadership has shown little 
sense of responsibility for the Secretariat's success or 
failure.  Some e-Macedonian politicians (especially in the 
ruling VMRO party) have even suggested that implementation of 
the Agreement is an exercise solely for the e-Albanians and 
that by providing them with the Secretariat and a Deputy 
Prime Minister the Macedonian leadership has fulfilled its 
end of the bargain, and they are aggravated by calls for 
their continued involvement in the process. 
 7. (SBU) The weakness of the Secretariat combined with spotty 
political will has made the successful real-world 
implementation of the OFA challenging.  Some parts of the OFA 
have been well implemented.  Performing a census in 2002 and 
re-drawing municipal boundaries was done competently and 
SKOPJE 00000006  003.2 OF 004 
within the timelines set forth in the Agreement.  The 
government has largely respected the use of the Badinter 
voting system in parliament.  In the years since the 
conflict, the display of cultural emblems (primarily Albanian 
and Turkish flags) in non-ethnic-majority municipalities has 
been widespread and sparks almost no controversy.  However, 
the implementation of other laws has been sluggish.  While 
appropriate legislation has been passed on government 
decentralization, municipal governments still have 
considerable financial constraints imposed on them by the 
central government, limited power over state-owned land 
resources, and receive a small percentage of their 
citizenry's tax revenue compared with the central government. 
 Additionally, wide disparities along ethnic lines still 
exist in tax revenue distribution to municipalities. 
Achieving the Agreement's benchmarks for equitable ethnic 
minority representation in public administration has also 
proved challenging.  No reliable system for assessing 
equitable representation statistics currently exists, and 
where numbers do exist they show positive increases in ethnic 
minority representation but continue to reflect overall 
shortfalls compared with the ethnic composition of 
Macedonia's population.  The tendency of the e-Albanian party 
in power to create artificial jobs within the government 
under the guise of improving equitable representation and use 
those jobs to buy party support is an unfortunate byproduct 
of equitable representation efforts as well. 
 8. (SBU) Evaluators of the OFA often refer to its &letter8 
versus its &spirit8 when accessing the success of its 
implementation.  This is another oft-criticized area of 
implementation.  While the government has adopted much of the 
legislation required under the agreement and taken some 
strides to implement it, the implementation efforts are often 
half-hearted and scoffed at by the e-Macedonian leadership as 
unwelcome chores imposed by the international community and 
by e-Albanian threats of renewed conflict.  One example is 
the Agreement's guidelines on the use of languages.  Language 
legislation has been adopted but it is not widely respected. 
In many ethnically mixed municipalities the local 
governments, without flagrantly violating the law, make it 
bureaucratically impossible for ethnic minority groups 
comprising more than 20% of the population to carry out 
business with the local government in their native language, 
a provision required by the law.  (However, a recent OSCE 
survey found that only 4 percent of respondents had language 
problems in dealing with their municipal governments.) 
Additionally, small gestures that would illustrate a 
commitment to the &spirit8 of the legislation, such as 
dual-language signage in government buildings, is almost 
non-existent.  In fact, much of the public signage displayed 
in Skopje,s government buildings carry Macedonian with an 
English translation, neglecting the Albanian language 
 9. (U) On August 13 of this year, the 8th Anniversary of the 
signing of the OFA, the principal officers of the four 
"guarantors" the OFA (the U.S., EU, NATO and OSCE) presented 
an assessment of its implementation to date to Prime Minister 
Gruevski. (REFTEL)  The objective of the presentation was to 
jump start new implementation efforts in areas that have 
stalled.  The Principals cited education, decentralization, 
equitable ethnic representation, non-discrimination, and use 
of minority languages as areas for further implementation. 
In early 2010, the Principals are planning a follow-up 
meeting with the PM to assess what steps the government has 
undertaken to remedy these implementation shortfalls since 
the August assessment. 
--------------------------------------------- - 
General View of the Agreement within Macedonia 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 10. (SBU) In general, senior e-Macedonian government 
officials understand the International Community's 
expectations pertaining to OFA implementation, and their 
public statements reflect that understanding.  However, their 
actions and private assertions about the Agreement often 
betray those statements.  While International Republican 
Institute polling shows that 52% of Macedonia's population 
support the OFA and believe its implementation will make 
Macedonia more stable, many e-Macedonians also believe the 
OFA represents huge concessions to the e-Albanian community 
and feel the Agreement is a symbol of the Macedonian security 
forces, humiliating defeat at the hands of e-Albanian 
&terrorists.8  Even though much of Macedonia's e-Albanian 
population has resided within Macedonia's modern borders for 
SKOPJE 00000006  004.2 OF 004 
centuries or more, many e-Macedonians still view them as 
outsiders.  On the other hand, the e-Albanian leadership 
tends to over-invoke the OFA in their grievances, citing 
virtually every perceived slight against the e-Albanians as a 
violation of the Agreement.  E-Albanian leaders also have a 
tendency to view the OFA as a means of furthering only their 
constituency's interests, overlooking other minority groups 
in Macedonia.  One formally powerful but now struggling 
e-Albanian political party, DPA, (one of the signatories of 
the OFA) has recently declared the OFA a complete failure and 
is calling for a new agreement (which they have already 
prepared).  This campaign has gained almost no traction 
outside of DPA,s inner circle.  The international community 
has publicly reiterated its support of the OFA and its 
continued implementation as the only logical way forward. 
The Embassy endeavors to highlight the OFA as exactly what it 
is:  a framework, to guide citizens of this multi-ethnic 
state to find strength and stability through diversity, 
tolerance, and mutual respect.