Leaders do not listen to Wohlers’ message
Reactions to American ambassador’s statement have been mixed. Analysts say it is a serious alarm for facing political challenges in Macedonia
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With a direct and undiplomatic language the Ambassador of the United States of America (USA) in Skopje Paul Wohlers said that “Macedonian political leaders are more engaged in their short-term and personal interests and this is destructive behavior”.
“Unfortunately, in many countries, and I have to say in this country – I see leaders who see politics as a short play for their personal and party gains rather than working to overcome conflicts”.
“I think that this is a recipe for destroying the country”, said Ambassador Paul Wohlers.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Popovski said that “the statement is taken out of context”, while the media close to VMRO-DPMNE agreed that the statement of Paul Wohlers presented at the scientific conference at the Institute for Culture and Spiritual Heritage of Albanians in Skopje is a manipulative attempt by opposition portals to use it in favor of the opposition’s interests.
Leaders responsible for the current situation in Macedonia
Pro-government web portals wrote that the message was aimed at the leader of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) Ali Ahmeti, not at the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
Despite such claims, the scientific worker at the Institute for Culture and Spiritual Heritage of Albanians in Skopje, Zekerija Ibrahimi, who was present in the hall when Ambassador Wohlers was speaking, confirmed the validity of the statement.
“Less important is the second part, that it was intended for”.
“The Ambassador, within its powers and diplomatic vocabulary, gave a piece of advice that only we do not want to understand”, says Ibrahimi for Inbox7.
“His message was that with such politicians the state is unlikely to move forward”, said Ibrahimi adding that “this group covers all the politicians who manage the political life of the country, from the President to municipal advisors”.
Professor at the South East European University, (SEE University), Mirjana Maleska commented for Inbox7 that the departing Ambassador said what he used to say with diplomatic tact and that other Western ambassadors certainly think that politicians in Macedonia deal with themselves and not with the country’s problems.
“The world is not peaceful. There are many trouble spots, and politicians do not rush to join the NATO. Other countries in the region are making efforts to integrate into the EU and to use the benefits of the developed world”.
“We behave as if we were not very interested. Of course the name issue affects us greatly, but the stagnation of democratic processes is also an obstacle and those are the issues that politicians need to offer a solution to”, says Maleska and concludes that “sometimes solutions come out from the deep crises and we ask whether to wait and what is the price to pay for this waiting”.
The country at a crossroads, beginning of the critical phase
On the other hand, director of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Ilber Sela says that Wohlers’ statement proves that the country is at a crossroads.
“After the slap at the Welsh summit and the next one from the European Commission report on the progress of the state, Macedonia enters the most critical stage of independence so far in terms of foreign policy”.
“The state is weakening every day more and more, problems are accumulating and they seem to have no solution”, said Sela, adding that “the country does not stand well even in foreign policy, since functioning as an authoritarian state”.
Ibrahimi added that instead of hermeneutics with the Ambassador’s statements, we should be more drawn to his message and not let failure to happen.
“We have so many irresponsible politicians the Ambassador aims at, that the chances of failure are very high. They are politicians who are largely in power, but this role does not exclude the opposition, too”, he said.
Professor Maleska projects that such statements will be often heard in the future, because the international community is interested in stabilizing the Western Balkans.
“Macedonian politicians do not have much choice, though they think they can choose which direction to move. Ambassador Wohlers gave a signal to other diplomats to pressure the government to deal with vital topics for citizens, such as reliability, stability, rule of law, democracy, employment, economic prosperity and to put aside their mutual accusations”, said Maleska.
Pressures by ambassadors and unruly leaders
Professor Sela added that the politics in Macedonia should understand its power and the role of the international community.
“State policy should not function according to the principle ‘country-that is me’ and to have a role on international policies, but the principle should function that international politics should be over internal politics and over the theory that “we are the state: Macedonians, Albanians, the government, the opposition …”.
“If our politicians declare integration, but act against integration, if they are committed to tolerance and coexistence, but blow the fire of interethnic and interfaith conflicts, if they claim they want to resolve the name dispute and work for greater irritation of Greece and if our politicians have so little state vision and so much personal and private vision, then apart from the advice of our international friends, our task remains to finish our work within the state”, said Ibrahimi.
At the scientific conference on the First World War the American Ambassador Paul Wohlers without using diplomatic vocabulary, expressed doubt against political leaders in Macedonia. Wohlers is about to leave his diplomatic mission in Skopje, while his direct statement is first of such shape and size. Former facilitator in the 2001 negotiations James Pardew addressed similar criticism over the leaders during an unofficial visit to Skopje in March this year.
Kabranov: Wohlers said what we all know
Ambassador Wohlers finally loudly said something that we, living in this area, know. We had kleptomaniac politicians in the previous government, but what happens to us in recent years to me is stealing without thinking how much. It is sad for all of us when we hear that the Prime Minister bargained selling a bank and the court instead of sentencing him, sentences the one who dared to show the audio tape to the people. I think departing Ambassador Wohlers just announced what we can expect in the coming months – disclosure of evidence about hair-raising criminals and possibly radicalization of the security situation directed by the government to divert people’s attention from such announcements. Wohlers probably did nothing rash. The defense was stupid of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE through its media trumpets that as it was said at the Albanian celebration, it referred to DUI, not to Gruevski. Funny and sad, like a little boy caught as a chocolate thief.
I think that diplomats and international factors are yet to address such messages of corruption and undemocratic rule of the current ruling coalition Gruevski-Ahmeti. Stories of their honesty, dedication to the good of the citizens will fall like a house of cards and they should not surprise us to get the punishment by the people, such that no government of independent Macedonia has received.