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Viewing cable 06SKOPJE118, MACEDONIA: PRIME MINISTER ON ELECTIONS, NATO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SKOPJE118 2006-02-06 18:06 2010-12-08 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Skopje
VZCZCXRO7436
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSQ #0118/01 0371811
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 061811Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4207
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUESEN/SKOPJE BETA
RUEHSQ/USDAO SKOPJE MK
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SKOPJE 000118 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

STATE FOR EUR/SCE (PFEUFFER) 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MK
SUBJECT: MACEDONIA: PRIME MINISTER ON ELECTIONS, NATO 
ACCESSION, ICTY AND KOSOVO FINAL STATUS 

REF: SKOPJE 104 

Classified By: P/E CHIEF SHUBLER, REASONS 1.4 (B) & (D). 

SUMMARY 

1. (C/NF) PM Buckovski told the Ambassador February 1 that 
parliamentary elections likely will be held in late 
June/early July, and that he expects the opposition to use 
rough campaign and electoral tactics in trying to replace his 
government. On Macedonia's NATO accession prospects, he 
agreed the government must do more to coordinate 
anti-corruption efforts and to ensure aggressive prosecution 
of corruption cases. The GOM will ask the ICTY to delay the 
return of four potential war crimes cases until at least the 
end of 2006. Buckovski believes Kosovo final status should 
be determined "the sooner the better" in order to safeguard 
regional stability; he is convinced final status ultimately 
will end in independence. The GOM will keep its head down 
and guard up regarding allegations that Macedonia has 
assisted the USG in the "el-Masri" case that has captured 
local media attention. With the 2006 parliamentary elections 
in mind and campaigning about to begin in the next several 
months, Buckovski wants to portray himself as a pragmatic 
leader, and to ensure that none of his policy stances differs 
significantly from ours. End Summary. 

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN EARLY SUMMER, CONCERNS ABOUT 
OPPOSITION TACTICS 

2. (C) During a dinner with Ambassador, DCM, DATT, and P/E 
Chief on February 1, PM Buckovski said parliamentary 
elections likely would be held in late June or early July to 
allow the next government to organize itself during the 
summer. The draft electoral code would enter parliamentary 
debate by the first week of March, with passage expected by 
mid-March. Buckovski, who was accompanied by his foreign 
policy and national security advisers, said he was hopeful 
the parliament would have passed important judicial reform 
laws (on the police and on the courts) before the election 
date. 

3. (C) Buckovski said he was concerned that opposition 
center-right party VMRO-DPMNE would play a "destructive" role 
during the electoral campaign and elections. He cited recent 
demonstrations by unemployed tobacco workers from Kumanovo 
and Prilep, and ongoing street blockades by an NGO protesting 
government plans to privatize the state electrical power 
company, as typical examples of VMRO-DPMNE destabilization 
tactics. (Comment: We agree there was a partisan political 
dimension to the protests, in addition to the underlying 
socio-economic complaints by workers and citizens. End 
Comment.) 

4. (C) Noting VMRO-DPMNE objections to government plans to 
staff local election boards with civil servants, Buckovski 
said that previous elections had been marred by the 
appointment of political party members to those boards, which 
made the board members susceptible to manipulation and fraud. 
The government proposal would, he claimed, be more 
reassuring to voters, especially in primarily ethnic Albanian 
areas where fraud had typically been most prevalent. Ethnic 
Albanians would put more stock in the integrity of civil 
service professionals than they would in party 
representatives. 

DPA'S RETURN TO PARLIAMENT 

5. (C) Buckovski thanked Ambassador for her constructive role 
in persuading the ethnic Albanian opposition party DPA to 
return to the Parliament after a 9-month hiatus to protest 
irregularities during local elections last March and April 
(reftel). He said that he would welcome receiving DPA's 
suggestions for amendments to the draft electoral code, and 
would discuss those amendments the following day (February 2) 
with a DPA representative. During the conversation, 
Buckovski spoke by phone with DPA Vice President Menduh 
Thaci, and with Speaker of Parliament Jordanovski, to arrange 
for DPA's return to Parliament the week of February 6. 

NATO ACCESSION 


SKOPJE 00000118 002 OF 003 


6. (C) Ambassador briefed Buckovski on the upcoming visit by 
a high-level US delegation to review Macedonia's progress 
toward meeting its MAP goals. She said it would be important 
for Macedonia to demonstrate that it was a net contributor to 
security. The country had to convince some skeptical NATO 
members that bringing Macedonia into the Alliance would not 
be tantamount to "importing instability." Also, the GOM 
would have do more to combat corruption, including better 
coordination of existing anti-corruption efforts and more 
aggressive efforts to prosecute high-level corruption cases. 

7. (C) Buckovski agreed that more needed to be done to fight 
corruption. He accepted the need for stronger coordination, 
and said Foreign Policy Adviser Mersel Biljali was in charge 
of "finding a methodology" for tackling the problem. 
Buckovski noted his personal ties to both the Public 
Prosecutor ("a friend") and the Minister of Justice (a former 
law student of his) and even offered personally to head the 
effort to improve coordination among the various judicial 
agencies to enhance anti-corruption efforts. 

ICTY RETURN OF CASES -- REQUEST FOR DELAY 

8. (C) Responding to the Ambassador's request for an update 
on the status of the return of four unindicted cases from the 
ICTY to Macedonian jurisdiction, Buckovski said that Chief 
Public Prosecutor Prcevski would meet with ICTY investigators 
in late February to ask orally for a delay in the return. 
Buckovski did not want a paper trail or any documentation of 
the request for a delay, since that could later be used by 
the opposition to attack the government for being soft on the 
ethnic Albanians (all four cases involved eAlbanians alleged 
to have committed war crimes during the 2001 internal armed 
conflict.) 

9. (C) Comment: Buckovski's information was at odds with FM 
Mitreva's report to the EU Special Representative this week 
that Prcevski would travel to The Hague on February 2 to 
request the delayed return of cases. This discrepancy 
reflects the general lack of coordination on this matter 
between the Prime Minister, Mitreva, and the President -- the 
only three GOM officials with the authority to make decisions 
regarding the return of cases. Buckovski reportedly told the 
press on February 2 that he expected the return of cases "to 
coincide with completion of the judicial reforms," and that 
the cases likely would be returned "by the end of 2006." End 
Comment. 

KOSOVO FINAL STATUS 

10. (C) On Kosovo final status, Buckovski said he could see 
no other possible outcome but independence. He said he 
agreed with the US position, that Kosovo final status should 
be determined "the sooner, the better" to reduce the 
potential for future instability in the region. As a 
positive example to Kosovo and the region of Macedonia's 
multi-ethnic experience, he said, the GOM planned to host in 
Ohrid in August the 5th anniversary commemoration of the 
signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended the 
2001 internal armed conflict in Macedonia. Buckovski said he 
hoped for high-level representation at the event from those 
countries and organizations that had signed the original 
agreement, in particular the U.S. and EU. 

EL-MASRI: STAY THE COURSE 

11. (C/NOFORN) Concerning the case of a German citizen of 
Lebanese descent who has claimed that Macedonian authorities 
detained him in January 2004 and handed him over to the CIA 
for a rendition flight to Afghanistan, Buckovski noted that 
the GOM would stay the course and would continue to support 
the Minister of Interior, who has declined to discuss the 
matter with the local press. Buckovski was relieved to hear 
from the Ambassador that we would not shift course, either, 
and would continue to decline to discuss in public specific 
cases. The Prime Minister suggested that the Ambassador 
coordinate on the issue with the German Embassy in Skopje, 
suggesting that the Germans were putting pressure on the 
Macedonians to be more forthcoming. The Ambassador demurred. 

TRILATERAL MEETING ALONG A-3 LINES 


SKOPJE 00000118 003 OF 003 


12. (SBU) Buckovski mentioned that he was organizing a 
"trilateral meeting" in Tirana with his Albanian and Croatian 
counterparts (mirroring the Adriatic Partnership), and hoped 
the U.S. Ambassador in Tirana would be able to participate. 
He gave no specifics regarding the objective of the meeting, 
other than to mention that it would strengthen regional 
cooperation. 

COMMENT 

13. (C) Buckovski characterized the dinner as a chance to 
further strengthen the close cooperation between the Embassy 
and his office. He pledged "open and frank" communication 
between his office and the Embassy, and suggested Macedonia 
continues to view the U.S. as its single most important 
"strategic partner." Buckovski clearly was eager to get 
feedback on sensitive issues, and to portray himself as a 
pragmatic leader who can listen to arguments at odds with his 
own views, and who is ready to compromise when needed. With 
parliamentary elections likely in summer 2006 and the 
campaign season about to begin, Buckovski also feels it is 
necessary to show that he has international community 
support, especially from the US, and that his policy stances 
do not conflict with ours on any high-profile matters. 
MILOVANOVIC