Ομιλία στην πρώην Γιουγκοσλαβική Δημοκρατία της Μακεδονίας, προσκεκλημένος του Αλί Αχμέτι, Προέδρου του αλβανικού κόμματος “Δημοκρατική Ένωση για την Ενσωμάτωση”, 28 Μαρτίου 2015.
Το Σάββατο και την Κυριακή παρεβρέθηκα σε διεθνές συνέδριο προσκεκλημένος του Αλί Αχμέτι, Προέδρου του αλβανικού κόμματος “Δημοκρατική Ένωση για την Ενσωμάτωση” στα Σκόπια ως ο μοναδικός σύνεδρος που έχει προσκληθεί από την Ελλάδα. Στο συνέδριο επίσης μετείχαν ο πρώην Ειδικός Αντιπρόσωπος της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης στα Σκόπια Ερβάν Φουέρε, ο πρώην Ειδικός Απεσταλμένος του ΝΑΤΟ Πίτερ Φέηθ και ο αμερικάνος Ντάνιελ Σέργουερ του Πανεπιστημίου Τζονς Χόπκινς της Ουάσιγκτον.
“Dear President Ali Ahmeti,
Ali Ahmeti builds bridges while others build statues
Ιt is an honour for me to be invited to the Democratic Union for the Integration ( DUI) first Thematic Congress and to such a fascinating and distinguished panel.
Allow me at the outset to thank Ali Ahmeti.
I will never forget our first meeting ,13 or 14 years years ago , somewhere in Tetovo , while he was still prohibited to leave his ”safe haven” and visit Skopje .
Since then , Baskimi Democratik per Integrim , managed to transform itself from a guerilla movement to a well established and performing political party .
Ali Ahmeti himself is much respected as an accountable and thoughtful political leader, in Skopje, in Brussels and in Athens as well .
While others are spending money ,political capital energy and time in building statues , Ali Ahmeti managed to build bridges including with Greece . In fact, he is the only political leader from your country that paid several official visits to Athens since 2007.
I have no intention of talking today about the 2001 events . My views and personal account have been published in the newspapers here in Skopje ,in Tirana , in Prishtina and in a more detailed manner in the book I published in 2013 .
As modesty is not a flower often growing in greek gardens , allow me to state that the fact that DUI included the then Balkan Affairs’ Political Director of Greece in today’s panel speaks for itself . It reflects the engagement and positive role played by Greece on stage and behind the scenes in 2001.
I want also to acknowledge here around this table the presence of personalities who by their word and by their sword , by their commitment and by their deeds shaped or influenced the political shaping and reshaping of the Balkans.
They have also much contributed to the stabilization process of your country.To my regret, this is doday deliberately forgotten.
Twenty years ago ; memories from the past
I have spent over 20 years working in our region or for our region. Since 1991 , I have been deeply involved in ‘our issue while serving as First Counselor for Political Affairs in New York.
The first time I visited Skopje was in Spring 1994 , while I was serving as the Sofia based Head of the Office of the European Union Monitor Mission ( ECMM) . At that time, Greece had severed consular relations , shut down the then Consulate General in Skopje , closed the borders and imposed an embargo.
I stayed for almost six months at the GRAND Hotel ,while being under the monitoring by the then Minister of Interior as he himself told me one year later when I was appointed the first Diplomatic Representetive of Greece in Skopje. For sure , his reporting was helpful to me.
Yet, never , never your authorities disclosed my presence to your media or to greek journalists . Would that have been possible today ? This is a rhetorical question of course.
I was working calmly under the protection of the OSCE’s HOM Ambassador Norman Anderson one out of three American Ambassadors in Skopje , including Victor Comras the first US HOM and the late Ambassador Robert Frowick.
Notwithstanding the troubled relations and the lack of any direct bilateral contacts both sides realised , with no previous consultation, that there was some kind of common interest in having someone from Greece hanging around in Skopje .
My regular contact , residing in Ulica Markovic 5, was the late Ambassador Vanja Tosevski with whom we were getting well since early 1993 , in New York, during this tough yet ”win- win” diplomatic battle which led to the adoption of the UNSC Resolution 817( April, 7 1993) and to the membership of your country to the U.N. under the provisional name ” the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.
Arben Xzaferi and Abdulrahman Aliti were also among my interlocutors. I am happy to acknowledge here among the delegates his daughter Nora Aliti.
I remember that from Sofia I was always flying to Athens through Zurich , so as to render the tracing of my mission by the greek border authorities difficult .They never noticed this ”stamp” on my passport . I still consider it to be one of my most delicate missions .
Well , I understand that all that belongs to the past. Yet , it looks so recent to me . It remains ingrained in my memory .
Some of us who truly undertook special missions and risks in the past and have not spared efforts to shape and to build our relations , we in fact feel very uncomfortable with the present situation.
Skopje :the new generation and the indoctrination policy
I am very concerned , in fact worried, by the image of the ”enemy” or the least to say ”bad neighbor ” systematically and officially orchestrated recently here in Skopje towards Greece . This is a very dangerous game.
If this trend persists , it will become an issue of serious concern for Greece.
Rendering the young generation fanatical is not the best way to come to terms with your neighbor . To my regret , this indoctrination begins at school with the textbooks . It is omnipresent in maps , books , public rhetoric and state controlled media . Everywhere.
I will spare you from referring to Alexander the Great and the official policy of ”archaization” .The only impact they had was to make the city of Skopje a symbol of antipathy and standing provocation to and towards the Greeks .
What is really needed are statues showing the way to Brussels and not towards Babylon.I know that this a well calculated and orchestrated risk.
Some years ago , the ethnic Albanians were the ”enemy” . At present , since 2007 at least , the nationalist leadership point the finger towards the Greeks. This was known as the ”underdog theory”. It is nothing new ; yet, it is increasingly present in the official rhetoric .
Alow me at this point to use Abraham Lincoln’s words and appeal to those in Skopje who play the nationalist card and feel well by exciting public opinion and the youth in particular :
”Passion has helped us , but can do so no more . It will in future be our enemy .”
I am afraid that the future is already present.
The ingredients for the solution on the name issue Greece is ready to cut a deal with you on the name issue on the basis of the UNSC Resolutions 817 and 845 and in line with the Bucharest , Chicago and Cardiff NATO Summit Declarations . Also , in line with the repeated European Council Conclusions.
Greece , already since September 2007, went the extra mile offering the possibility of reaching an agreement on the name issue along the following lines : ”a composite name , with a geographic qualifier for all uses”. Unfortunately, your government intentionally failed to present and to explain the importance of this proposal-a shift from our earlier stance-to your coalition partners and to the public opinion.
Since then , the successive governments in Athens , notwithstanding their important differences on a large array of issues , are reiterating this proposal.
This is precisely the position adopted also by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in presenting his coalition Government Program before the Parliament.
The sense in Athens is that there is no accountable and responsible political counterpart in Skopje. Those in Greece who in the recent past tried their best to build trust and confidence with your leadership , were systematically undermined by their interlocutor in Skopje.
The next generation initiative – a CBM’s proposal from Athens
Nevertheless, I understand that Athens will propose to your Government a Confidence Building Measures’ package and process . The initial negative official reaction from Skopje did not surprise me. We earnestly hope that your authorities will review their stance .
We must offer to the young generation a different , a better perspective compared to the past and in particular to the present status quo.
If we need to name this CBM’s package , let’s call it
”The Next Generation Initiative”.
Let’s offer to them a better future ; not simply condemned to be neighbors but willing to live as friends .
We need to work together to remedy the present situation.
I stand here in front of you as one of the pioneers of the shaping of our relations over twenty years ago .
Greece is ready and willing to get to YES on the name issue , along the lines that I have earlier explained.
At this stage , it is up to your leaders to go the extra mile and meet us in the middle.
The bridge over AXIOS_/VARDAR is there . Just decide to cross it.
To reach this goal or target , the role of the ethnic Albanians and that of the DUI in particular should become the catalyst.”