SRS vo Makedonija
Erstellt von Schiptar, 28.05.2006, 22:31 Uhr · 1 Antwort · 2.324 Aufrufe
SRS vo Makedonija
Serbian Radicals Move in on Macedonia
Attempt by hard-line Serb nationalist party to register raises hackles in Macedonia.
By Boris Georgievski and Tamara Causidis in Skopje (Balkan Insight, 4 May 06)
When the Serbian Radical Party announced in early April that it was about to open a branch in Macedonia, most people there saw it as another desperate attempt to keep the idea of Greater Serbia alive.
Local analysts said they doubted that the ultra-Serb nationalist party would gain an important foothold in Macedonia, where several small parties already cater to ethnic Serbs.
But they saw the move as a provocation from Belgrade, and one which could inflict fresh damage on the deteriorating relationship between Macedonia and Serbia.
After the party submitted a first request for registration in Macedonia on January 25, the courts turned it down on technical grounds.
Milan Dogandziski, a judge at Skopje Court 1, to which new parties have to submit registration requests, said he rejected their application “because the initiators did not submit either a statute or a party programme”.
“Another problem is the name of the party, which is identical to the name of another party in a different country,” he added, referring to the Serbian Radical Party in Serbia.
Although the Macedonian branch of the party has yet to resubmit an application, they has not given up their ambition.
Next time, local activists say, they intend to get round the legal objections to sharing a name with a party abroad by renaming their branch the Radical Party of Serbs in Macedonia.
In their shabby, cramped office in Skopje, portraits of the Hague indictees Vojislav Seselj, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic dominate the room.
“Radicalism for us is... aiming for change, and change for better,” Kiro Pirkovic, the local Radical leader, told Balkan Insight.
Pirkovic sat beside Dragisa Miletic, leader of another fringe party representing Serbs and pro-Serb Macedonians, the Party for Orthodox Unity of Serbs and Macedonians.
Miletic told Balkan Insight he had nothing to do with the new party but wanted to offer moral support for the enterprise.
In a reference to Macedonia, he said, "If a company is not doing well, something has to change, it has to undergo some radical changes.”
Pirkovic, a middle-aged man with no previous political experience, hails from Kuceviste, a village on the outskirts of Skopje known for its pro-Serb sympathies.
Kuceviste it gained attention after villagers opened a book of condolences for Serbia’s disgraced president, the late Slobodan Milosevic.
The promoters of the Radicals do not want their group labelled as a direct affiliate of the original party, which is well known for denying the existence of a separate Macedonian identity.
“We have contacts with the Radicals in Serbia but the Radicals in Macedonia will strongly insist on the sovereignty and integrity of the state,” said Pirkovic.
At the same time, they freely admit to regular contacts with the Serbian party and do not hide the fact that they have organised rallies of Serbs from Macedonia in Serbia in support of Seselj, Mladic and Karadzic.
“They are Serbian heroes,” insisted Miletic. “These people are victims of a global conspiracy. They did nothing wrong, because they were defending their country.”
Local political observers do not believe the emerging party will become a key player on the political scene, partly for demographic reasons.
The Serbian community in Macedonia, according to the last official census of 2002, is small, amounting to only 35,000 of the country’s population of two million.
Some link the Radicals’ drive for registration with the tortuous struggle between the Serbian and Macedonian Orthodox churches, which recently entered a new and bitter phase.
Attempts to set up and register a parallel Serb church in Macedonia by creating an archdiocese in Ohrid under a renegade Macedonian archbishop, Jovan Vraniskovski, have caused much anger on both sides of the border.
Dragan Nikolic, a publisher, says the same doctrine, based on interference in Macedonia’s internal affairs and denial of its statehood, stands behind both phenomena.
“The [Serb] Orthodox Ohrid Archdiocese and the emerging Radical party are part of the same project, only with the actors wearing different clothes,” he said.
Analysts say the manner with which the information on establishing the party was announced was deliberately provocative.
Speaking on Serbian television in early April, Tomislav Nikolic, the acting president of the Serbian Radicals, said his party would spread to all Serbian lands including the Republika Srpska (part of Bosnia), Kosovo and Montenegro. “The good news is that a Serbian Radical Party is also established in Macedonia,” he went on.
Dragan Nikolic says the fact that the official failed to differentiate between Macedonia, Montenegro, the Bosnian Serb entity and Kosovo confirmed that the Radicals remain committed to a Greater Serbia that would encompass most or all of the former Yugoslavia.
“The establishment of a party’s branch in another country objectively means they don’t recognise that country,” he said. “If nothing else, it means they have aspirations towards Macedonia.”
Ferid Muhic, a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, said it showed the Radicals have ambitions to unite all Serbian and pro-Serbian forces in the region.
Pirkovic said the Radicals believed the true size of the Serb minority in Macedonia was far larger than the official figure, and was closer to 200,000 than 35,000.
Miletic added that local Serbs were far from happy with the work of an existing ethnic-based minority party, the Democratic Party of Serbs, led by Ivan Stoiljkovic, which is part of the ruling left-of-centre coalition.
But Muhic said he doubted the initiative to create the new party came from Macedonia’s Serbs.
“The initiative did not come from the ethnic Serb citizens of Macedonia - the source of the entire project lies in Belgrade and in the Serbian Radical Party,” he said.
Stoiljkovic agreed, saying anything that tended to split the Serbian vote in Macedonia was unlikely to benefit the community, “For a small electorate, even the current number of Serb political parties is too large.”
Muhic feels the new party will not amount to much, "The good thing about this idea is that on the ground, it will soon be revealed that it is meaningless and lacks support."
However, he cautioned that when it came to the Radicals, “there is always room for anxiety”.
Muhic said this was because parties that held fascist or hard-line racist ideologies could always find ways to stir up confrontation and trouble, “At a time when the decision on the final status of Kosovo is approaching, one cannot rule out this scenario.”
Balkan Insight approached the Serbian Radicals in Belgrade for an interview, but they declined.
Boris Georgievski is a journalist with the daily newspaper Utrinski Vesnik. Tamara Causidis is editor of BIRN Macedonia. Balkan Insight is BIRN’s online publication.
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