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Cablegate: Macedonia: Dui Leader Ahmeti Opposes Name Issue

VZCZCXRO3664
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSQ #0538/01 3131832
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091832Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8651
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 0567
RUESEN/SKOPJE BETA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SKOPJE 000538

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2014
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GR MK
SUBJECT: MACEDONIA: DUI LEADER AHMETI OPPOSES NAME ISSUE

REFERENDUM, WOULD BOYCOTT EARLY ELECTIONS

REF: A. SKOPJE 525
B. SKOPJE 356

Classified By: AMBASSADOR PHILIP REEKER FOR REASONS 1.5 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: During meetings on October 26 and November 1,
ethnic-Albanian coalition party leader Ali Ahmeti and
Ambassador Reeker discussed PM Nikola Gruevski's recent trip
to Brussels and his meeting with new Greek PM Papandreou.
Ahmeti noted that the PM seemed to have a renewed openness to
solving the name issue but was still hung up on the same
obstacles. Ahmeti generally opposed the idea of a referendum
on the name issue but insisted that if necessary, the
language of any proposed referendum must have broad support.
Ahmeti again declared that his party and ethnic Macedonian
opposition party SDSM had agreed to boycott early
parliamentary elections should they be called. He also said
that the parliamentary group investigating the Sopot case
would ask for the case to be retried and believed his party
and VMRO-DPMNE were close to agreeing on a social package for
the former NLA fighters. (End Summary)

2. (C) Ahmeti positively noted PM Gruevski's apparently
renewed determination to address the name dispute with Greece
following the PM's recent trip to Brussels and October 29
meeting with new Greek PM George Papandreou (ref a).
However, added Ahmeti, PM Gruevski is still hung up on the
same obstacles regarding identity, geographical identifiers,
and bilateral versus multilateral use of the name. Ahmeti
also feels the PM's insistence on a referendum is unnecessary
and stems from the PM's fear of his own (ethnic Macedonian)
constituency. Ahmeti believes the PM does not have the
courage to lead Macedonia to a resolution of the name issue
without first establishing public consent through a
referendum. However, if a referendum were proposed, Ahmeti
indicated that his party would only be willing to support it
if the language of the referendum received broad approval
from all the major political parties in parliament.

3. (C) According to Ahmeti, former PM and President and
current opposition party leader, Branko Crvenkovski, claimed
to have reliable information that early parliamentary
elections were being planned and asked Ahmeti if those rumors
were true. Ahmeti said the owner of the A1 media outlet,
Velija Ramkovski, was Crvenkovski's source and Ahmeti did not
consider him reliable. Ahmeti indicated that he was not
aware of any plans for early elections, pointing out that
elections would not make sense given the GoM's lack of
achievements thus far. Without resolution of the name issue,
tangible Euro-Atlantic accession progress and a continued
lack of implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, the
government had nothing to campaign on. Ahmeti-- reiterating
declarations from a previous meeting (ref b)-- said that he
and Crvenkovski had agreed that their parties would boycott
early elections. If Macedonia solved the name issue and got
into NATO, Ahmeti joked that he would call for early
elections himself. Ahmeti also pointed out that
Crvenkovski's party was currently too weak for elections.
(Comment: Gruevski has told Ambassador that he has no/no
plans for early elections. End comment.)

4. (C) Ahmeti said the special parliamentary group
investigating the Sopot case had experienced substantial
difficulty obtaining information about the case from most of
the government bodies from which it had requested
information. (Background: the Sopot case was a controversial
case in which eleven ethnic Albanians were convicted to a
combined 156 years in prison, based primarily on the
testimony of one witness (who later recanted), for allegedly
planting a mine that that killed two NATO soldiers and
injured an interpreter in 2003.) Nonetheless, based on the
limited information the parliamentary group had received,
Ahmeti believed the group would ultimately determine that
human rights violations were committed in the detention and
questioning of the main witness and would request a retrial
of the case. (Note- The court is under no obligation to
submit to the recommendations of the parliamentary group.)

5. (C) Ahmeti believes the GoM is close to coming to terms on
a social support package for the former National Liberation
Army (NLA) fighters and their families. Ahmeti said the
proposed package is within the terms of the May 29th
agreement-- which ended DUI's boycott of parliament in 2007--
and conforms to Macedonia's laws. Ahmeti said his party had
prepared three variants of the social package and ultimately
expected the version granting the lowest social support would
be accepted, but DUI would be comfortable with that result.
Ahmeti believed that his party had reached an understanding
with the PM on the NLA social package and it would only be a
matter of time until the package was passed into law.
(Comment: The social package continues to play prominently in
the press; it is not 100% clear that there is real agreement
on the way forward. (End Comment))
REEKER

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