The Ohrid Peace Accord - How is it Keeping the Peace in Macedonia Ten Years Later?

By Dr. Michael Seraphinoff

 

American and French negotiators helped craft the Ohrid Accord in 2001 that ended the military conflict in the Republic of Macedonia by granting ethnic Albanians new rights and entitlements. It also altered the Macedonian constitution so that it now grants new status to other ethnic groups besides the Macedonians, no longer emphasizing that their state as a national state of the Macedonian people.

The Accord was a source of humiliation to most ethnic Macedonians, but it put an end to a violent struggle that was tearing the country apart, and at a time when "only" hundreds had died in the fighting rather than the thousands who have been killed in other conflicts that have accompanied the break up of Yugoslavia.

Normalcy has returned to daily life. All governments are comprised of coalitions of Albanian and Macedonian political parties. Albanian militants who had only a few years before been leading armed paramilitary units now sit in the state assembly as elected representatives. incidents of ethnic violence are relatively rare.

However, there is increasing concern over the ongoing process of separation of the two major peoples. There are an increasing number of exclusively Albanian or Macedonian schools where only the mother tongue of the student is used. People continue to sell properties where they are in the ethnic minority in some neighborhood and moving to communities where their ethnic group
predominates.

The future of the Republic of Macedonia clearly remains at risk. Nationalism, as in the other states of the region, continues to be rewarded at the polls, and politicians ignore the requisite patriotic posing at their peril. On the other hand, there appears to be a willingness to seek compromise to avoid new outbreaks of ethnic violence.This tendency among Macedonian politicians is evident in the Macedonian sponsorship of UN General Assembly Resolution 48-84 B in 1993 that proposed the creation of a Balkan zone of peace and cooperation to be initiated through voluntary arms  reductions by all Balkan states. This is also evident in the signing of the 1995 peace accord with Greece which represented a compromise by both sides that again opened their border to trade and renewed diplomatic relations.

 

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