Viewing cable 07SKOPJE932
Title: MACEDONIA: SCENESETTER FOR STAFFDEL SLOAT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07SKOPJE9322007-11-28 16:25:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Skopje
VZCZCXRO8081
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSQ #0932/01 3321625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281625Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6752
INFO RUESEN/SKOPJE BETA
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 0107
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 4356
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SKOPJE 000932 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/SCE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OREP PREL PGOV MK
SUBJECT: MACEDONIA: SCENESETTER FOR STAFFDEL SLOAT 
 
 
AN OPPORTUNE VISIT 
 
¶1. (SBU) Welcome to Skopje!  You will arrive shortly after key USG, 
NATO, and EU officials have called on the political parties, the 
government, and members of parliament to put aside their partisan 
differences, engage in constructive dialogue, and rollup their 
sleeves.  We have reiterated a consistent message: in order for 
Macedonia to have a chance of receiving a NATO invitation in April, 
the government and opposition need to work together, and the 
parliament needs to pass some key pieces of legislation during the 
next few weeks.  You can help reinforce the message that voters, 
whether in Macedonia or the U.S., expect their representatives to 
put aside partisan differences when the national interest (in this 
case potential NATO membership) is at stake. 
 
FIRST SOME GOOD NEWS... 
 
¶2. (SBU) We and the Europeans are pressing the Macedonian government 
(GOM) and opposition on critical NATO and EU membership-related 
issues.  But first, the good news: 
 
-- The GOM submitted for parliamentary approval a decision calling 
for doubling Macedonia's contributions in Iraq -- by an additional 
platoon -- and MOD Elenovski says Macedonia also is considering a 
future increase in its troop contributions in Afghanistan. 
Macedonia also successfully hosted the NATO EAPC Security Summit in 
June, demonstrating it could tackle the logistics and security 
challenge of hosting 49 delegations for the event, including the 
NATO Secretary General. 
` 
--Macedonia has made good anti-trafficking-in-persons (TIP) progress 
this year, moving from a Tier II Watchlist candidate to a solid Tier 
II performer.  The government also has shown progress on the 
anti-corruption front, jumping from 105th place on Transparency 
International's corruption perception index in 2006 to 84th place 
this year.  The government has actively pursued corruption 
investigations and prosecutions, although some cases clearly have 
been motivated by partisan considerations. 
 
--Implementation of the 2001 Framework Agreement (FWA), which ended 
a civil conflict between the government and ethnic Albanian 
insurgents, has progressed.  Under the FWA, this year municipal 
governments continued to gain additional powers as part of the 
"decentralization" process of moving decisions closer to the 
citizens.  The GOM also continued the hiring of ethnic Albanian and 
other minorities to implement equitable representation.  But more 
remains to be done.  The government needs to continue to work with 
the municipalities to iron out the remaining financial and 
procedural disputes.  the government also needs to clear up the 
currently murky process for hiring ethnic minorities with 
transparent, fair, and non-partisan hiring guidelines. 
 
--Macedonia is showing positive economic performance, with the 
country recently ranked by the World Bank as one of the top 10 "most 
improved" countries in carrying out business environment reforms. 
Prime Minister Gruevski has raised public sector wages and cut VAT 
rates on some key consumer items, which has helped keep his poll 
numbers strong.  Starting in 2008, personal and corporate profit tax 
rates will fall from 12 percent to 10 percent (flat tax), one of the 
lowest tax rates in Europe. 
 
--Rounding out its achievements, the GOM passed this year a liberal 
religious freedom law which generally meets ODIHR standards for 
protecting religious freedom.  Implementation, slated to begin in 
mid-2008, will be the key test. 
 
NEED TO SPRINT, NOT LIMP, TO THE NATO FINISH LINE 
 
¶3. (SBU) Despite positive accomplishments, movement on key political 
criteria has practically ground to a halt.  The current relationship 
between the government coalition and opposition parties is bitter 
and accusatory.  In September, physical scuffles broke out in 
parliament, a first for Macedonia.  Earlier in the year the largest 
ethnic Albanian opposition party, DUI, had boycotted parliament due 
to its disputes with the GOM.  In May, PM Gruevski's party, 
VMRO-DPMNE, reached an agreement with DUI leaders on a few of the 
most contentious inter-ethnic issues, and DUI returned to 
parliament.  Unfortunately, implementation of this "May 29 
agreement" has faltered, as the parties have not shown willingness 
to compromise. 
 
¶4. (SBU) Parliament needs to show it can work constructively over 
the next few weeks, despite the intense political differences.  It 
needs to implement internal parliamentary reforms, such as 
reconstituting the inter-ethnic relations committee (part of the May 
29 agreement), as well as pass key legislation, such as a new law on 
the public prosecutor. 
 
 
SKOPJE 00000932  002 OF 002 
 
 
¶5. (SBU) Progress in judicial system reform, another key NATO 
criterion, has also been slow.  The government has made some 
advances, such as filling 14 of the 15 seats of the State Judicial 
Council, which oversees the judiciary.  Unfortunately, these 
achievements were often made by using short-term tactical maneuvers 
that avoided engaging with DUI and other opposition parties. 
 
COURSE CORRECTION ALSO NEEDED ON THE NAME ISSUE 
 
¶6. (SBU) The GOM has, by and large, tried to act with restraint on 
the name issue, despite Greek threats to veto Macedonia's NATO 
candidacy if Skopje does not agree to a compromise solution before 
the NATO Summit in April.  However, there have been GOM missteps 
along the way, such as renaming the Skopje airport after Alexander 
the Great.  During negotiations on the name in New York November 1, 
UN Special Envoy Nimetz proposed guidelines and principles for 
moving toward a solution.  Even though we are not asking Macedonia 
to change its constitutional name (Republic of Macedonia), we are 
urging both sides to refrain from provocations and to "study the 
Nimetz paper with an open mind and with a view toward finally 
resolving differences and reaching a solution to the issue." 
 
POLICE ACTION TARGETS CRIMINAL GROUP IN NORTHWEST 
 
¶7. (SBU)  On November 7, the Ministry of Interior (MOI)carried out a 
major police operation around Brodec, near the Kosovo border, aimed 
at a group of 30-40 criminals, including several escapees from a 
Kosovo prison.  The group was suspected of, inter alia, arms 
smuggling and planning attacks on local police stations.  The MOI 
reported that six members 
of the group were killed in exchanges of gunfire with police, but 
there were no civilian casualties officially reported.  Police also 
discovered a large cache of ammunition, explosives, and weapons at 
the site of the incident.  The success of the operation, however, 
was undermined by the MOI's slow follow-up in responding to 
allegations that those arrested had been mistreated in police 
custody, and by a court's denial of access by the Red Cross. 
 
TIME TO SEE CONCRETE ACHIEVEMENTS 
 
¶8.  (SBU) When you meet with members of parliament, NGO leaders, and 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials they will be well aware that 
the U.S. and our NATO partners are looking for an end to partisan 
bickering and finger pointing.  However, it would be worth 
reiterating that 90 percent of Macedonians support NATO membership, 
so it is in the politicians' own domestic political self-interest to 
compromise and produce results. 
 
MILOVANOVIC