Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Macedonia celebrates fifth anniversary of Framework Agreement

The fifth anniversary of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, the document that halted the armed conflict in Macedonia in 2001, was formally celebrated on Thursday (17 August) at a reception hosted by President Branko Crvenkovski.

Representatives of political parties and the diplomatic corps in the country, including US Ambassador to Macedonia Gillian Milovanovic and EU Representative Erwan Fouere, attended the ceremony at the Biljana Presidential Villa in Ohrid.

"Tough and responsible decisions had to be made in 2001," Crvenkovski told the attendees. "That was why I put my signature with clean consciousness. The thesis that the Ohrid Agreement was imposed on us from outside by the international factors is often emphasised. War can be imported to a country from outside, but not a lasting and stable peace. Peace must be the source of sincere willingness of citizens and political elites within the country."

There can be no successful economy without political stability, and no new investments and jobs in conditions of ethnic tensions and distrust, the president said. Thanking everyone who took part directly or indirectly in concluding the Framework Agreement, he highlighted the contribution of the late President Boris Trajkovski, under whose auspices the Agreement was signed.

EU security chief Javier Solana, who was involved directly in the signing, summed up the importance of the agreement.

"What began as a framework and myth has become a safe and stable dynamic process leading the country to Europe. The same spirit of compromise and political elan between the authorities in office and opposition has been enabled by the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement until today. The past five years have shown the people and their political delegates' capability to overcome divisions and work on a common European future through open political dialogue," Solana said.

The Framework Agreement ended several months of fighting in Macedonia between the government and ethnic Albanian rebels. Even though it was formally signed in Skopje on 13 August 2001, the deal is symbolically called the Ohrid Agreement because negotiations leading to it had taken place in Ohrid.

A series of constitutional and legal amendments followed. In addition, a new territorial division was instituted and the "Badenter principle" -- requiring decisions by the majority to be confirmed by the minority -- applied to some legislation.

The Ohrid Agreement package also includes a new law on the flags of communities and the principle of just representation of communities in the state administration, police and army. Two other requirements -- one on languages and the other concerning the police -- have not been implemented.

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