After pressure from the international community, especially from Elisabeth Rehn, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Former Yugoslavia, the Macedonian parliament passed a Law on the National Ombudsman on February 13, 1997, that created the office of the national ombudsman.(1) According to Article 2 of the law:

The National Ombudsman shall be a state body who protects the constitutional and legal rights of the citizens when violated by the state administration organs or other organs and organizations that have public authorities.

The law established the offices of the ombudsman as an independent body appointed and discharged by parliament with substantial powers to investigate alleged violations of human rights. When the ombudsman determines that a violation has taken place, he or she may propose disciplinary action or criminal proceedings against the officials found to have violated the law.

On July 3, parliament appointed the first ombudsman, Branko Naumovski, a former high official in the Ministry of Justice. At a meeting in the Ministry of Justice on December 19, Mr. Naumovski told Human Rights Watch that he had already received more than one hundred complaints from citizens around the country.(2)

In her report from September 1997, Elisabeth Rehn said that she and the ombudsman had "agreed on several key aspects of the ombudsman's role," including that he or she must "institute proceedings ...when called for by current events," and that he or she should "use both formal decisions and public statements to advance the public interest."(3) As of February, Human Rights Watch was not aware of any public statements made by the ombudsman, either on the police violence in Gostivar or other human rights violations that had taken place since then.

While the Law on the Ombudsman established the office as an independent and potentially powerful institution, human rights activists in Macedonia expressed concern that the government would not allow the ombudsman to play a truly independent role. There was also concern that the appointment of Mr. Naumovski, a former government official, damaged the ombudsman's image as an independent body. While it is too early to judge the performance of the ombudsman's office, Human Rights Watch believes it is important that Mr. Naumovski, who as a former government official has a heavier burden in demonstrating his independence, be willing to make public statements on abuses that come within his office's purview.


Since 1991, the international community's stated policy has been to protect the stability and territorial integrity of the Macedonian state. The United States and European governments understood that, unlike Bosnia, fighting in Macedonia could easily spread beyond its borders, engulfing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, the latter two both members of NATO. Macedonia is needed as a buffer state between these historically hostile forces, known in Macedonia as "the four wolves."

Diplomatic efforts to guarantee this stability have focused on bolstering the Macedonian government and protecting it from external threats, such as the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo and the instability in Albania. In 1992, the United Nations deployed its first-ever preventive deployment force, whose most important function was to patrol the borders with Yugoslavia in the North and Albania in the West. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) established a spill-over mission in 1992 with a mandate to monitor and report on threats to the country's stability. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union, as well individual governments, such as the U.S., provided an estimated $616 million in foreign aid and loans.

What these intergovernmental organizations and foreign governments did not do was hold the Macedonian government accountable for its human rights violations. From the beginning, only mild criticism, if any, was directed against the government which was viewed as a stabilizing force. Foreign aid kept flowing, UNPREDEP and the OSCE rarely applied public pressure on the government, and, in 1997, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia recommended that Macedonia be dropped from her mandate. Internal OSCE reporting downplayed human rights violations committed by the government (see Appendices).

The international community successfully protected Macedonia from serious external threats. But it failed to respond to the internal threats to Macedonia's stability--namely, violence by the police, political interference in the judiciary, and restrictions on minority rights, especially against ethnic Albanians. Ongoing support and foreign aid sent the message to the Macedonian government that human rights abuses, the lack of democracy, and even corruption would be tolerated in the name of short-term stability. The international community ignored democratic values in its day-by-day attempt to keep Macedonia from exploding.

The result is internal instability. Without any doubt, inter-ethnic tension is higher in Macedonia today than at any time since 1991. The ruling party has influence over the courts, police, and the all-important privatization process. Parliamentary elections in 1998, the imminent departure of President Gligorov from politics, and the open conflict in Kosovo make the domestic situation all the more precarious. Social dissatisfaction is high, especially among ethnic Albanians, but also among ethnic Macedonians.

Some foreign diplomats have realized the danger of letting the Macedonian government off the hook. During research for a 1996 Human Rights Watch report on Macedonia(4), a European diplomat based in the country told Human Rights Watch:

There is no parliament here, no formal political parties, and there are human rights violations. There is no real democracy, and there is a certain domination by the [ethnic] Macedonians. But the OSCE can't write that because it makes the situation unstable.(5)

Human Rights Watch found the attitude explained by this diplomat to be true, if not more so, in 1998. Despite obvious human rights violations, like the police abuse in Gostivar, the U.N., OSCE, and individual governments like the U.S. continue to praise and support the Macedonian government. The criticisms that are public are veiled or excused by "the difficult situation in the South Balkans," and never result in punitive action. Any criticism of the government is accompanied by a condemnation of "radical approaches" by the Albanians or the "extreme nationalism" of VMRO-DPMNE (see Appendices).

In their defense, the Macedonian government must walk a political tightrope between nationalist Macedonian forces on the one side and more radical Albanian parties on the other who have sometimes taken provocative positions. The international community clearly fears the alternatives and sees this government as the best option for securing peace.

But unqualified support is short-sighted and counter-productive. Even if the current government is the best available option, there is no reason not to hold it more accountable for its actions. If the Macedonian government wants international support, economically, politically, and militarily, then it should be encouraged to respect its most basic international legal obligations.

In addition, long-term stability will only be achieved by building democratic institutions, such as independent courts and depoliticized police. Macedonia's long-term survival as a state-- rather than the existence of one or another government--is best served by implementing the rule of law and respecting the rights of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity. As the OSCE's High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities, Max van der Stoel, has pointed out, "stability and security are best served by ensuring that persons belonging to national minorities can effectively enjoy their rights."(6)

In policy terms, this means a commitment from the international community to help the Macedonian government implement human rights standards and to hold it accountable when it does not. Emphasis should be placed on promoting the rule of law, parliamentary reform, training the police, inter-ethnic projects, the independent media, and the development of civil society, as well as economic restructuring. At the same time, foreign aid should be linked to the government's respect for human rights, as is mentioned in some international agreements, like the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and Macedonia, where human rights are an "essential element" of the agreement.

Human rights concerns should also be a fundamental aspect of any future peace-keeping force. Whether UNPREDEP is replaced by another U.N. mission, NATO troops, or another preventive deployment option, it is critical that the civilian component of the mission not only be maintained, but strengthened. An international presence to monitor and develop programs on the rule of law and human rights inside the country is essential to keep peace in the long-term.

The U.S. Government

The U.S. government views Macedonia as the key to stability in the southern Balkans and has been the driving force behind the international effort to protect its territorial integrity. Three hundred and fifty U.S. soldiers participate in UNPREDEP, and at least $76 million has been provided in foreign aid since diplomatic relations were established in 1995. Macedonia is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and has participated in numerous joint training exercises. U.S. Ambassador Chris Hill, previously the chief of mission in the U.S. Embassy in Albania (1991-1993) and a member of the Bosnia Peace Negotiating Team, plays an important role in Macedonia's political life.

The U.S. bears a special responsibility for the behavior of the police, since it has trained at least 329 Macedonian policemen since 1995, some of whom were involved in the Gostivar incident on July 9, 1997.(7) In 1996, twenty-four policemen received tactical training through the State Department's Anti-Terrorist Assistance program (ATA) to form a Crisis Response Team, which responds to terrorist incidents and domestic disturbances, such as there was in Gostivar. Another forty-two policemen were trained through the ATA program in 1997, twenty-four of them in hostage negotiations and "incident management," and eighteen others were trained in VIP protection (protection of high state officials, diplomats etc.). Some of these policemen, most probably the Crisis Response Team, which is a kind of rapid response police force, were involved in the Gostivar action on July 9, 1997.

A much larger training program was administered by the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) program, but received funding through the Support for East European Democracy program (SEED). According to the State Department, INL coordinates programs that are run by a variety of government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Agency, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Immigration and Naturalization Services, the Customs Service, and the Secret Service. In 1996, 145 people were trained, either in Macedonia or at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), located in Budapest, Hungary. According to the State Department, one hundred and eighteen Macedonians went through the program in 1997, although the total number is not yet known, since, as of March 1998, the 1997 program reports had not been completed. The total number of Macedonian policemen trained in 1997 through INL programs, according to an INL official, is approximately 200.(8) Approximately U.S. $200,000 has been allocated for INL work in Macedonia during 1998.

To date, the Department of Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) has not done any training of Macedonian police. ICITAP is the only U.S. program established specifically to address the developmental and training needs of foreign law enforcement agencies. Programs by the DEA, the ATA, or the FBI are intended to train foreign police officials to meet U.S. law enforcement needs.(9)

The U.S. has repeatedly stressed the importance of constructing a multi-ethnic society in Macedonia built on the rule of law, and some U.S.-funded projects have worked toward that goal. But such statements have not been consistently backed up by policy. Human rights violations by the Macedonian government have never resulted in reduced or conditioned aid and have rarely provoked public criticism. Mention of human rights violations are always accompanied by a description of the difficult economic and political conditions that the Macedonian government faces, and calls for the ethnic Albanians to avoid the creation of parallel structures or ethnically-based federalism.

The administration's view of Macedonia is aptly summarized in the State Department's 1998 Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations:

FYROM is a parliamentary democracy. Its constitution guarantees fundamental rights recognized under OSCE principles. The government generally recognized these rights but ethnic tensions and prejudices persist, particularly in regard to the ethnic Albanian minority. While the FYROM leadership wants peaceful integration of all ethnic groups into society, it faces political resistance and the persistence of popular prejudices. Moreover, the economic crisis makes it difficult for the government to find resources to fulfill minority aspirations.

The State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Macedonia for 1997 was an improvement over the report from the previous year, which grossly downplayed the human rights situation. The 1997 report mentioned "credible reports of occasional police abuse of prisoners and police harassment of political opponents of the government," as well as the ongoing practice of "informative talks" and other due process violations. Still, the 1997 report minimized the level of police abuse in Gostivar, portraying it more as a clash between demonstrators and the police, and failed entirely to mention the trial of Rufi Osmani. The U.S. government's statement on the events in Gostivar were also bland and general. The U.S. embassy in Skopje deeply regretted the loss of life in Gostivar and stressed that:

The U.S. strongly supports the territorial integrity and peaceful democratic development of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which is an essential element of stability in the region. We urge all citizens and political parties to work within existing legal and political structures to address their concerns through peaceful, democratic means.(10)

The U.S. is helping Macedonia to build a modern, pro-Western defense force. The main concerns are the unresolved border dispute between Yugoslavia and Macedonia, the risk of civil unrest in Kosovo spreading across the border, and the military imbalance between Macedonia and its neighbors in the region.(11) In 1998, the U.S. is providing $7.9 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $400,000 through the International Military Education Training program (IMET).(12) Macedonia will also be eligible in 1998 to receive a grant of Excess Defense Articles (EDA) which provide equipment such as vehicles, office equipment, and medical supplies. The Macedonian government has offered the U.S. military and NATO forces use of its sizable Krivolak training grounds. In February, the U.S. revealed its Action Plan for South East Europe, which seeks to promote regional cooperation in the fields of security, economy, and trade among Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Slovenia.

The Support for East European Democracy program (SEED) will have provided $46 million by the end of 1998 for a wide range of projects, ranging from the rule of law to privatization.(13) According to congressional testimony, the 1998 SEED programs in Macedonia will focus on legal system development, private sector enterprise development, and citizen participation.(14)

In mid-March 1998, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott visited Macedonia in response to the outbreak of violence in neighboring Kosovo. In a speech addressed to the Macedonian public, he highly praised the progress Macedonia has made in democratic reform. "We know that there are problems in Macedonia in the fields of culture, religion and inter-ethnic relations," he said. "But you entirely avoided the violence and the repression through dialogue, democracy and tolerance. And the U.S. gives you its full support for this."(15)

The United Nations


At the request of the Macedonian government, the U.N. Security Council decided on December 11, 1992, to deploy a U.N. force in Macedonia--the first preventive deployment force in U.N. history.(16) Originally known as UNPROFOR, the mandate was to monitor the borders with Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), to strengthen the country's security and stability, and to report on developments that could threaten the country. First and foremost it was intended as a psychological deterrent against possible aggressors and as a sign that the international community recognized the legitimacy of the new Macedonian state (even though Macedonia had not yet been recognized internationally). In 1995, the mission became UNPREDEP and began reporting directly to New York. The annual cost of UNPREDEP is approximately $51 million.

From the beginning, the mission has had a three-pronged approach: troop deployment, the human dimension, and political action and good offices. Troop deployment includes two mechanized infantry battalions, a Nordic composite battalion, and a U.S. Army task force, each with 350 people, stationed at strategic points along the FRY and Albanian border. The two battalions are supported by a fifty-person heavy engineering platoon from Indonesia.

UNPREDEP also has thirty-five military observers, twenty-six civilian police, and a 189-person civilian staff, coming from forty-nine different countries. The mandate of the civilian police is to observe the conduct and performance of the Macedonian police in the northern and western parts of the country upon the invitation of the Ministry of the Interior. In fact, the civilian police are rarely invited, and the Macedonian government has expressed its opinion that the civilian police should not be part of any future UNPREDEP mandate. Since the civilian police can only monitor how the Ministry of the Interior deals with cases of police abuse upon the invitation of the ministry, they are relegated to addressing their complaints to local police chiefs and ministry officials. Their only tool is to discuss their concerns.

The good offices of the head of UNPREDEP, Mr. Henryk Sokalski, are intended to promote "the maintenance of peace and stability" in Macedonia.(17) According to the Secretary General's latest report to the Security Council, from November 20, 1997, the good offices are to encourage:

... a better understanding among the various segments of the population and existing political forces, with a view to easing inter-ethnic tensions and strengthening the application of international standards on human rights.(18)

According to UNPREDEP literature, the good offices includes monitoring and reporting on developments that promote understanding, reconciliation, and dialogue across ethnic and political lines, facilitating contact between the governments of FRY and Albania, and encouraging Macedonian civil society. Thus far, UNPREDEP has assisted in mediating in the border dispute between FRY and Macedonia and has contacted the Albanian military about illegal border crossings. The projects within the human dimension framework include supporting a social policy think tank, providing training in non-violent conflict resolution, and organizing micro credits for women.

Mr. Sokalski, special representative of the secretary-general, has interpreted his good offices mandate in a very limited manner, choosing rarely to make UNPREDEP criticisms public, or even to bring them to the Macedonian government. After the violence in Gostivar, for example, UNPREDEP failed to issue any public criticism of the police. Such inaction sends an implicit message to the government and the Macedonian public that police abuse is tolerable in certain cases. It also further alienates the ethnic Albanian community and undercuts UNPREDEP efforts to promote inter-ethnic dialogue.

The secretary-general's most recent report to the Security Council on UNPREDEP contained only scant information about the human rights situation in the country. There was a factual update on the trials of Rufi Osmani and the other ethnic Albanian leaders who had been arrested for raising the Albanian flag and the violence in Gostivar on July 9, 1997. But the report failed to mention anything about the procedural violations in their trials or the subsequent lack of accountability for the police violence.

The only mention of human rights in the secretary-general's report was related to the work of the special rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Elisabeth Rehn. The secretary-general's report mentioned Rehn's recommendation that her mandate for Macedonia be dropped "in light of the considerable progress in the protection of human rights in the country." At the same time, the secretary-general cited Rehn's report as saying that, "some important legal provisions continue to be violated with disturbing frequency, including in the form of abuse of police authority."

Previous reports of the secretary-general mentioned some human rights violations, but still avoided direct criticism of the government. The report from August 11, 1997, which covered the violence in Gostivar, contained a factual description of the events and concluded that there "appeared to be an excessive use of force by government special police forces."(19) The report also mentioned the informative talks that followed, which are "a practice restricted by the new law on criminal procedures." The report said that "some of the demonstrators complained of brutal methods of interrogations," but failed to confirm or deny this complaint.

UNPREDEP's mandate is scheduled to expire on August 31, 1998, but the U.N. and U.S. government have stated that, in light of the recent violence in Kosovo, the mandate should be extended. Whether UNPREDEP will continue in its present form, change into something else, or give way to a NATO presence is still undecided.

The Macedonian government has asked for an international military presence that promotes Macedonia's integration into NATO and the E.U. It has made clear that it does not want an extension of the U.N.'s good offices into the area of inter-ethnic relations or the civilian police, since, in the words of foreign minister, "there is no need for this, since Macedonia is a stable country."(20) Regarding the civilian component, the Macedonian government would like to see the work assumed by United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

In western capitals there is much discussion about the possible military options after August 31, 1998, but less talk about the civilian component. One option under consideration is for NATO forces to use the Macedonian military base of Krivolak as a training base, which would demonstrate the international community's continued interest in Macedonia. It is also possible that the UNPREDEP mandate will be extended or, at least, the withdrawal will be drawn out. The secretary-general must present his "exit strategy" to the Security Council by June 1, 1998.

Human Rights Watch believes that a military force is essential to avoid a security vacuum in Macedonia and the spread of war, especially with the recent outbreak of violence in Kosovo. But a civilian component is also a critical part of the UNPREDEP mandate and should be maintained. As the secretary-general said in his most recent report, there is a "growing recognition of the need for additional steps to be taken to harmonize inter-ethnic relations in order to enhance internal stability." Specifically, the civilian police program should be continued and its mandate expanded, drawing upon the experience of U.N. civilian police in other parts of the world, and the use of the good offices should be expanded, especially regarding human rights. Dropping these programs from any future international presence, whether it be UNPREDEP, NATO, or within the OSCE, sends the message that the international community does not consider human rights violations as a threat to stability. With tension rising throughout the southern Balkans, it is the opposite message that should be sent.

Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has had a special rapporteur for the former Yugoslavia since 1992. The first rapporteur, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, resigned in July 1995 and was replaced by the former Defense Minister of Finland, Elisabeth Rehn, in 1996. Rehn's mandate in Macedonia was reduced in March 1996, so that her Skopje office stopped sending regular reports, but continued to collect information and organize Rehn's periodic visits. Rehn still submitted occasional reports to the commission on human rights conditions in the country. In March 1998, Rehn was replaced by a new special rapporteur appointed by the Human Rights Commission, Jii Dienstbier, a former Czech dissident and first foreign minister of post-communist Czechoslovakia.

Rehn's last report on Macedonia, issued on September 30, 1997, was contradictory. The body of the report contained strong statements about human rights violations committed by the Macedonian government but the summary and conclusions were overly positive about the government's commitment to human rights. In the end, she ceded to a long-standing demand of the Macedonian government, and recommended that Macedonia be dropped from her mandate.(21) The Commission on Human Rights will decide whether to extend or drop the mandate at its next meeting in March and April 1998.

In the body of her most recent report, Rehn mentioned some serious human rights abuses, especially regarding the police brutality in Gostivar on July 9, 1997. "The police brutally attacked and beat many people who were offering no resistance, in some cases even assaulting children," said the report. "The Special Rapporteur is convinced that the force used by the police in the Gostivar incident far exceeded the reasonable level required to restore law and order to the situation."(22) Other sections of the report mentioned the ongoing practice of illegal arrests and "informative talks."

The general observations and conclusions of the report, however, praised the Macedonian government for "considerable achievements both in the maintenance of peace and in the protection of human rights."

In an interview given to the newspaper Dnevnik at the end of her last visit in August 1997, Rehn stated that her decision to recommend an extension of the mandate depended on the government's response to the events in Gostivar. She said:

Of course without the Gostivar events it would have been much easier to give my recommendations regarding the extension of the mandate. And now, I really have to receive strong guarantees from the authorities that the police will change its behavior, that there will no longer be informative talks at the police stations, that during such interventions the privacy of the citizens will be protected. What I have heard is unacceptable. It is inadmissible that the police officers ill-treat someone in front of the family, the wife and the children. There should be no question about that. It is impossible to speak of respect for human rights if the police are behaving in such a way, and that no one is brought to responsibility.(23)

Human Rights Watch questions what "guarantees" she received from the Macedonian government that "the police will change its behavior." As of today, no policemen or Ministry of the Interior officials have been held responsible for the events in Gostivar.

Human Rights Watch strongly believes that the special rapporteur's mandate should be extended. As Rehn's report itself shows, there are enough human rights violations in Macedonia to merit a continuation of the mandate. In addition, dropping the mandate would send the message that these human rights violations are tolerable, as well as undercut efforts by UNPREDEP or individual governments to pursue human rights issues with the Macedonian government. Unfortunately, Rehn's recommendation to drop Macedonia from the mandate has already had that effect.

In the meantime, Rehn also recommended that she retain the right to comment on developments in the country. Her specific interest is the work of the ombudsman, the education of minorities, and training of the police. The office of the Center for Human Rights will remain open, at least until May 1998, to provide technical assistance, as requested by the Macedonian government. As of December 1997, the government had asked for help with the office of the ombudsman, education in human rights, and a U.N. documentation center with a focus on human rights. The center and the government are still discussing the possibility of police training.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

OSCE Spill-over Mission

The OSCE deployed a spill-over mission in Macedonia in September 1992 with a mandate to monitor internal developments, promote stability, and prevent possible conflict in the region. The mission maintains regular contact with all political actors, such as government officials, leaders of the ethnic communities, nongovernmental organizations and the media; facilitates the work of international organizations working in the country; and investigates specific complaints regarding political grievances and violations of human rights.

The mission reports its findings to the OSCE chairman-in-office in fortnightly reports and occasional presentations by the Chief of Mission to the OSCE Permanent Council. The mission is mandated to have eight members, "to be supplemented as required." In 1995 and 1996 the mission had only four people, but that number was increased to seven in March 1998 after the outbreak of violence in Kosovo. The annual budget for 1997 was 5,001,424 Austrian shillings (U.S.$456,530).

The fortnightly reports contain a general overview, reportorial in nature, that describe the political and economic situation in the country, including relations with neighboring countries. There is no section dealing with human rights issues or the government's respect for OSCE documents, nor is there any information on the specific activities undertaken by the mission.

Human Rights Watch obtained four internal OSCE reports that spanned a period from July 1997 to January 1998. In all of them, it was clear that political considerations had overridden any commitment to report on human rights violations. Criticism of the government was expressed in the mildest and most indirect manner possible, if it was expressed at all.

The most extreme example was the report of July 29, 1997, which covered the violence in Gostivar (see Appendix A). The report presents the Macedonian government's version of events, without addressing the serious allegations of police violence or procedural violations. According to the report, the Minister of the Interior conceded that there "may have been instances where the police exceeded their authority," and that "such cases would be investigated." But the report does not go into detail about the nature of the violations, or attempt to confirm them independently. The report's conclusions failed entirely to criticize the police and seemed to place blame on the Albanians who demonstrated:

Summary and Assessment

- The recent events in Tetovo and Gostivar, which regrettably led to the deaths of three people, show the inevitable result if parties are not honouring the basic principles of constitutional order and the rule of law, when building or preserving a civil society;

- The events are also a reminder to all of how very fragile inter ethnic relations can become if extremist, nationalistic viewpoints get the upper hand and block the normal development of relations through dialogue;

- The physical and mental wounds inflicted will not only take time to heal but will also require a great deal of goodwill from all parties involved. If this were to happen, the events of 9 July may even become a turning point in developing future stability not only in the host country but in the region as a whole.(24)

The report mentions that the Albanian and Turkish press criticized "what they regarded as excessively robust police behavior." But there was no attempt to substantiate their complaints. The only direct criticism of police behavior dealt with the ongoing practice of "informative talks." The report said:

There has also been strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that in their investigations after 9 July, some police have been continuing the practice of calling certain individuals for informative talks, backed by the threat of arrest for non-compliance, for which there is no longer any legal basis after the implementation of the new Law on Criminal Procedure in April this year.

The OSCE's public position on Gostivar was in the same vein. The OSCE Newsletter from July 1997 characterized the riots in Gostivar as an "inter-ethnic disturbance" in which "demonstrators and police clashed," with no mention of the disproportionate police violence or procedural violations.(25)

The same biased reporting was evident in the OSCE report of September 22, 1997, which covered the trial of Gostivar Mayor Rufi Osmani (see Appendix C). The report gave an account of the trial without stating that there had been procedural violations, even though the OSCE had monitored the proceedings. Irregularities were only mentioned within the context of Osmani's legal team which announced "their intention to appeal to the appellate court, on the grounds of procedural violations, the denial of the use of the Albanian language in court, and for refusal of defense requests, inter alia, for prosecution documentation and to produce certain defense evidence and witnesses."(26) The report indirectly criticized the severity of Osmani's sentence by saying that it caused "widespread shock and dismay across the political and ethnic divide and has strengthened the sense of alienation apparent in the Albanian community." But the mission in Skopje refused to comment to the press about the trial.(27)

A fundamental problem is that the OSCE mission is in the country at the invitation of the Macedonian government. According to the Articles of Understanding between the OSCE and the Macedonian government, either party can revoke the mission's mandate within fifteen days. Since the mission's fortnightly reports make their way back to the Macedonian government, the mission's reporting may be tempered by its need to survive. According to a European diplomat who used to be based in Skopje, in the past the Macedonian government has complained directly to the mission that their reporting was "hurting Macedonia's image."(28)

Clearly, the OSCE's reporting is influenced by political considerations. There is an obvious attempt to soften criticism of the government and to focus blame on "the more extreme elements at both ends of the political and national divide"(29) --specifically the Democratic Party of Albanians and the Macedonian opposition party VMRO-DPMNE. While these two parties may have taken some provocative positions, the reports show an unsatisfactory attempt to investigate or analyze their grievances, or to criticize the government's disproportionate responses.

Representatives of minority groups and opposition parties expressed concern to Human Rights Watch that the mission was too close to the government and unwilling to confront the Macedonian authorities on human rights violations. One prominent member of the ethnic Albanian community told Human Rights Watch that he thought the OSCE was in Macedonia "just to give us the feeling like they are doing something." Despite this reluctance to criticize the government, members of the ethnic communities and opposition parties also thought that there might have been greater human rights violations if the mission were not present.

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities

The OSCE's high commissioner on national minorities, Max van der Stoel, is mandated to provide "early warning" and "early action" with regard to national minority issues that could develop into a conflict within the OSCE area.(30) According to van der Stoel himself, the mandate has two missions: to help contain and deescalate inter-ethnic tensions that could lead to conflict and to alert the OSCE whenever such tensions arise.(31) The mandate does not authorize or direct the high commissioner to report about the host government's respect for OSCE documents relating to minority rights.

A fact sheet produced by the OSCE elaborates further on the work of the high commissioner, specifically the role he/she should play regarding violations of OSCE documents:

If OSCE commitments such as those contained in the Copenhagen Document are violated, the High Commissioner has, of course, to ask the Government concerned to change its policy, reminding it that stability and harmony are as a rule best served by ensuring full rights to the persons belonging to a minority. However, he also has to remind these persons that they have duties as well as rights.(32)

Regarding police abuse in Macedonia in 1997, the high commissioner's public statements focused more on reminding ethnic Albanians of their obligations to respect the institutions of the state, rather than condemning government abuses and stressing obligations to OSCE principles.

Van der Stoel made an urgent visit to Macedonia after the Gostivar incident. On July 13, 1997, he issued his only statement on the matter, in which he understated the number of injured people and did not make any criticisms, let alone question, the behavior of the police. He expressed "deep regret" at the loss of life and urged Macedonia's nationalities to "strive to find solutions for inter-ethnic problems by rejecting ethnic hatred and intolerance and by seeking constructive and continuous dialogue, with equal rights for all ethnic groups as the guiding principle."(33) Van der Stoel visited Rufi Osmani, the mayor of Gostivar, in prison, but did not meet with any victims of the police abuse.

In February 1998, the two largest ethnic Albanian political parties, the PDP and DPA, called on the OSCE to replace van der Stoel on account of his "lack of objectivity." Both parties were angered by his comments, made in Skopje on February 11, 1998, that the government was not obliged to recognize the Albanian-language private university in Tetovo.(34)

The European Union

The European Union established diplomatic relations with Macedonia on December 29, 1995. Since then, at least ECU 125 million (U.S. $134,450,000) in aid has been provided.

On January 1, 1998, a Cooperation Agreement between Macedonia and the European Union came into effect, which is an important step toward full membership in the E.U.. Article 1 of the agreement states:

Respect for the democratic principles and human rights established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe underpins the internal and international policies of the Community and of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and constitutes an essential element of the Agreement.

The agreement included a joint declaration on political dialogue between the two parties. The first meeting of this dialogue was held on February 3, 1998, in Ohrid, Macedonia. A two-paragraph statement by the E.U. after the meeting said that the meeting, together with the Cooperation Agreement, "represents a significant step forward in FYROM's relations with the European Union and a recognition of its place in the European family."(35)

On January 20, 1998, the E.U. released the final installment of a ECU 40 million (U.S. $43,024,000) macro-financial assistance package that had been decided by the council in July 1997. Yves-Thibault de Silguy, European Commissioner for Economic, Monetary and Financial Affairs, commented that, since Macedonia's independence, "substantial progress has been made with democratization and the development of good-neighborly relations and regional cooperation in south-eastern Europe."(36)

On March 11, 1996, Macedonia was accepted into the PHARE program, which has allocated ECU 25 million (U.S. $26,890,000) a year until 1999. The program focused on private sector development, including infrastructure of a North-South corridor. Some PHARE Democracy Program funds have also gone for supporting Macedonian non-governmental organizations.

The E.U. issued a public statement on the police abuse in Gostivar, but it was more critical of the ethnic Albanians than the police. Point one of the ten-point statement welcomed a government report on the incident and point nine called on the Macedonian government to "ensure the rigorous control of the actions of the police force." But two other points reminded the representatives of the Albanian political parties "of their responsibilities" to avoid an escalation of tension and to respect the decisions of the Macedonian Constitutional Court. Point two reiterated "the support of the EU for the efforts of the Government of FYROM to defuse the ethnic tensions within FYROM, to the greatest extent possible."

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have been very active in Macedonia since 1991 and 1993, respectively. Macedonia has received approximately $330 million in loans and credits from the World Bank since it became a member in late 1993. In addition, the International Finance Corporation, which works directly with the private sector, lent $11 million to Macedonian enterprises in 1997.(37)

The IMF has provided Macedonia approximately $85 million in credit since 1991. From 1997 to 1999 the national bank will receive approximately U.S. $75 million as a structured adjustment facility ($25 million per year).(38)


Macedonia had to rebuild its police force rapidly after the country gained its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in 1991. By 1993, 70 percent of all policemen were new hires, and the force had grown in size by approximately 10 percent. Today, according to the Macedonian Police Trade Union, there are an estimated 11,000 regularly employed policemen -- 6,000 uniformed and 5,000 civilian officers. Another 11,000 citizens with minimal training are on hand as reservists.

The 1998 budget allocation for the Ministry of the Interior is 3.06 billion denars (U.S.$61,153,340), or 6.7 percent of the total budget. This compares to the Ministry of Defense's proposed 3.9 billion denars (U.S.$78,003,160), which is 8.57 percent of the total budget.(39) During an interpellation in parliament in 1997, however, then-under secretary at the Ministry of the Interior and chief of the Macedonian police, Dime Gjurev, publicly admitted that the ministry had "discretionary funds" at its disposal, but he did not reveal the amount available or its purpose.(40) According to the Macedonian Police Trade Union, the average salary of a uniformed policeman is between 9,000 and 11,000 denars per month (U.S.$180-$200), while inspectors earn between 11,000 and 16,000 denars (U.S.$200-$320).(41)

The Ministry of the Interior has ten regional offices, each with a structure that mirrors the ministry as a whole: sections for the uniformed police, the so-called criminal police (police investigators), and the ministry's civilian work (passport issuance etc.) According to the Law on Internal Affairs, all section chiefs are appointed by the ministry in Skopje. By law, local police chiefs are required to provide the local city councils with reports on their work twice a year. Other than these formal reports, Human Rights Watch found that the relationship between the local police and the local government was generally weak, if it existed at all (see below).

According to the Macedonian government, as of January 1997, 8.7 percent of Ministry of the Interior employees were ethnic minorities.(42) According to the U.S. government, 4 percent of ministry employees were ethnic Albanians.(43) These numbers show a gradual improvement since 1992, when ethnic Albanians made up only 1.7 percent of the Ministry of the Interior, mostly due to a 22 percent quota for minority students established at the Police Secondary School.

Despite the improvements, ethnic Albanians are still severely underrepresented in the police force, even in areas where they constitute a clear majority of the population. The U.S. State Department's human rights report on Macedonia for 1997 stated that, even in areas dominated by ethnic Albanians, "the police force remains overwhelmingly ethnic Macedonian." According to Alajdin Demiri, mayor of Tetovo, out of 435 local police officers, approximately thirty are ethnic Albanians, even though the town is 71 percent ethnic Albanian, according to official numbers.(44)


The Law on Internal Affairs

In 1991, the Macedonian parliament passed a new Law on Internal Affairs that restructured the Ministry of the Interior and the police. During the SFRY, when the Communist Party maintained strict control over all levels of government, local police chiefs were appointed by the local city councils. According to the new law, the selection process of local police chiefs was centralized. Appointments are now made directly by the ministry in Skopje so that there is no formal relationship between the local police and local governments, other than a bi-annual report from the police to the local city council.

Members of local governments in three cities--Štip, Tetovo and Gostivar--told Human Rights Watch that they had poor working relationships with the local police in their respective cities.(45) All three said that the police rarely responded to their inquiries, even when there was a crisis, such as the incident in Gostivar on July 9. When they did respond, the mayors or city council members were told to contact the ministry in Skopje. Gordana Cekova, head of the Štip City Council told Human Rights Watch:

The mayor has meetings with the local representatives of the various ministries every month. The Ministry of Interior representative, the local police chief, only came to the first meeting in December 1996, and not once since then. I can call the police chief but I already know his response. For example, after Kruševo(46), I called to ask about the people arrested from Štip and he said he couldn't say anything because it was not his responsibility.(47)

Former police chief Dime Gjurev accepted that relations between the local police and local governments in Macedonia are often poor. But he maintained that the centralization of the police was necessary to guarantee the depoliticization of the police force. He told Human Rights Watch that the law was:

A good step because of the multi-party political system... The best solution is not to have relations with the local government so that there is no risk of influences from different political orientations.(48)

The centralization of Macedonia's police may have reduced the possibility of political interference on the local level, as the ministry claims, but it has increased the possibility of political influence on the national level, since the entire police force is strictly controlled by the central government. The lack of local control over the police contributes to the problem of police abuse, since the local police are still not accountable to the local population or its elected representatives.

The Macedonian Police Code of Conduct

The Macedonian police have their own code of conduct, which is supposed to hang in the front hall of every police station. Among its eight articles are some direct references to the use of force, such as:

The New Code of Criminal Procedure

On April 11, 1997, a new Code of Criminal Procedure came into effect that brought Macedonian criminal law into accordance with the Macedonian constitution and international human rights standards. Notably, the new code made it illegal for the police to summon anyone for questioning--a practice known as an "informative talk"--without a court order, although this practice still takes place. Other articles eliminated contradictions that existed between the old code and the constitution. The new code guarantees:

The Macedonian Constitution

The Macedonian constitution, passed in 1991, forbids torture or inhumane treatment and provides for full due process guarantees. Regarding the use of force, Article 11 states:

The human right to physical and moral dignity is irrevocable.

Any form of torture, or inhuman or humiliating conduct or punishment is prohibited.

Regarding due process, Article 12 states:

Persons summoned, apprehended or detained shall immediately be informed of the reasons for the summons, apprehension or detention and of their rights. They shall not be forced to make a statement. A person has a right to an attorney in police and court procedure.

Persons detained shall be brought before a court as soon as possible, within a maximum period of 24 hours from the moment of detention, and the legality of their detention shall there be decided upon without delay.

Detention may last, by court decision, for a maximum period of 90 days from the day of detention.(49)

Persons detained may, under conditions determined by law, be released from custody to conduct their defense.

Article 13 guarantees a person's innocence until proven guilty, as well the right to legal redress when a person has been "unlawfully detained, apprehended or convicted." Article 15 guarantees the right to appeal.

International Obligations

Macedonia has ratified the major international human rights documents that guarantee due process and protect individuals from lethal force and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, such as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Other non-binding declarations adopted by the General Assembly of the U.N., such as the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials(50), the U.N. Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention and Imprisonment(51) and the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (and Procedures for Effective Implementation of the Rules), have also become universal norms by which police behavior is evaluated.


This report was researched and written by Fred Abrahams, a Research Associate in the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, based on a mission to Macedonia from December 3 to December 24, 1997. The report was edited by Holly Cartner, Executive Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, Dinah PoKempner, Deputy General Counsel of Human Rights Watch, and Jeri Laber, Senior Advisor to Human Rights Watch. Sven Lindholm helped conduct research and Emily Shaw provided production assistance.

Human Rights Watch is indebted to the many individuals who gave testimony for this report, as well as the human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and government officials in Macedonia who provided invaluable information.

Human Rights Watch

Europe and Central Asia Division

Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.

We stand with victims and activists to bring offenders to justice, to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom and to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime.

We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.

We challenge governments and those holding power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.

We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Michele Alexander, development director; Reed Brody, advocacy director; Carroll Bogert, communications director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Barbara Guglielmo, finance and administration director; Jeri Laber, special advisor; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Patrick Minges, publications director;Susan Osnos, associate director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Wilder Tayler, general counsel; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the board. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair.

Its Europe and Central Asia division was established in 1978 to monitor and promote domestic and international compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. It is affiliated with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which is based in Vienna, Austria. Holly Cartner is the executive director; Rachel Denber is the deputy director; Fred Abrahams, Erika Dailey, Malcolm Hawkes, Andreas Lommen, Maxine Marcus, Christopher Panico, and Diane Paul are research associates; Diederik Lohman is the Moscow office director, Alexander Petrov is the Assistant Moscow office director; Pamela Gomez is the Caucasus office director; Marie Struthers is the Dushanbe office director; Acacia Shields is the Central Asia/Caucasus Coordinator; and Liudmila Belova, Emily Shaw, and Alex Frangos are associates. Peter Osnos is the chair of the advisory committee and Alice Henkin is vice chair.

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APPENDIX A: Excerpts from OSCE Fortnightly Report 100, July 29, 1997

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje

Excerpts from OSCE Fortnightly Report 100, 29 July 1997


- The recent events in Tetovo and Gostivar, which regrettably led to the deaths of three people, show the inevitable result if parties are not honouring the basic principles of constitutional order and the rule of law when building or preserving a civil society;

- the events are also a reminder to all of how very fragile inter ethnic relations can become if extremist, nationalistic viewpoints get the upper hand and block the normal development of relations through dialogue;

- the physical and mental wounds inflicted will not only take time to heal but will also require a great deal of goodwill from all parties involved. If this were to happen, the events of 9 July may even become a turning point in developing future stability not only in the host country but in the region as a whole.



The event in the reporting period overshadowing all others, and with profound consequences for inter ethnic relations, was a confrontation on 9 July in Gostivar between demonstrators and police in the context of the issue of flags of nationalities, which lead to a tragic loss of life. Two Albanians died in Gostivar that day and a third in hospital in Skopje some days later. At least 25 persons were seriously injured, some by firearms. Casualties included both members of the police and demonstrators. On the same day there was disorder in Tetovo but on a more minor scale and there was no loss of life.

The HCNM, Mr Max van der Stoel, paid an urgent visit immediately after the disturbances from 10-13 July to assess the situation. Accompanied throughout by the Head of Mission he saw the Prime Minister and other members of Government, representative of Albanian political parties and the mayors of Gostivar and Tetovo, the former whilst on remand. A copy of HCNM's report to the Permanent Council describing the background to the events, the circumstances of 9 July and their aftermath is attached for ease of reference (HC/9/97 of 16 July 1997).

On 24 July the Government announced the setting up of a commission of three ministers under the Minister of Justice, Gjorgji Spassov, to 'monitor the situation in Tetovo, Gostivar and other municipalities in the western part of the country.' The two other members are Ministers without Portfolio, Vladimir Naumovski of the Socialist Party and Jemail Hajdari of the Albanian Party in government, the PDP. The commission is to analyse the past and future actions of members of the Ministry of the Interior in terms of possible exceeding of their authority by the police. The findings of the commission are to be made public. On the same day as the announcement of the commission the Government submitted to Parliament a report of the Ministry of Interior about the situation in Gostivar and Tetovo and the measures which the Ministry took on 9 July to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court of 11 June for the removal of flags illegally displayed in front of the municipal councils. The report was not debated in Parliament as had earlier been announced. Instead Parliament departed on its summer recess on 25 July. Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting an adequate presence of members in the precincts of Parliament, no quorum was present in the chamber for the debate. The absence of a quorum appears to reflect a decision of the Government, with the agreement of its ministers from the PDP, to delay discussion until after the summer recess.

The Government's report was submitted to Parliament only after it had been revised to take account of PDP objections. The PDP had earlier been boycotting Parliament and government business in protest at police actions on 9 July, reflecting the obvious and particular pressures which it had been facing which had led it again to threaten to withdraw from the coalition. The passing of the Law on the Use of Flags of Nationalities had itself created acute strains within the SDSM with four members of the party voting against the legislation, including the influential President of the Foreign Affairs Commission.

The Government report contains a chronology of the events of 9 July. It notes the first appearance of trouble in Gostivar at 7.30 am with an attack on the police by a group of some 200 using physical force, various weapons and chemicals. By 3.00 pm the police estimated the crowd at 7-8,000 people. According to the police, at 3.18 pm the first smoke bombs were thrown near the police cordon which led to the opening of fire on police positions from automatic weapons. Intensive shooting continued for an hour. Autopsies on the two Albanians who lost their lives were not carried out at the request of their families which prevented the establishing of the precise circumstances in which they died.

Order was re-established in the town around 5.00 pm. The report refers to the finding of Molotov cocktails and documents suggesting preparations for armed resistance upon removal of the flags. Over 200 individuals received hospital treatment. At least eight had injuries by firearms, including members of the police. To date at least 63 persons have been charged with various criminal offences. On the day of the disturbances, 318 people were arrested and 18 held in custody.

Separately form the report, the Minister of the Interior has conceded in interview that there may have been instances where the police exceeded their authority. He undertook that such cases would be investigated.

Following the events of 9 July, both Albanian and Turkish press locally have contained strong criticism of police actions, reflecting a deep and widespread feeling of resentment in those communities, bolstered by televisual reporting of what they regarded as excessively abuse police behaviour. The depth of resentment suggests that it will not easily pass and will remain a continuing and further complicating factor in the inter ethnic relationship. There has been strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that in their investigations after 9 July, some police have been continuing the practice of calling certain individuals for informative talks, backed by the threat of arrest for non-compliance, for which there is no longer any legal basis after the implementation of the new Law on Criminal Procedure in April this year.

APPENDIX B: Excerpts from OSCE Fortnightly Report 101, August 20, 1997

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje

Excerpts from OSCE Fortnightly Report 101, 20 August 1997


- Recent events have identified more clearly the extreme elements at both ends of the political and national divide and have high-lighted both the possibility and the necessity for more moderate options to join forces. At the same time the risks have been indicated for those who place political popularity before the stability of the country.

- The Commission established in the aftermath of the events in Gostivar has a crucial role in dealing with allegations of police brutality in order to restore confidence in the context of the inter-ethnic relations.

- The international community will have to change its unhelpful lack of financial generosity to the development of the host country if the expected political tension over ethnic as well as economic issues in the coming months is to be kept under control.



The reduction in formal political activity and the arrival of the summer leave season that accompanied the parliamentary recess from late July have contributed to a calming of the atmosphere in Gostivar and Tetovo and the western part of the country, following the disturbances of 9 July. But the scars remain, and the process of repairing the damage to inter ethnic relations will require patient understanding, tolerance and a commitment to dialogue on all sides. The heat has faded from the flag issue itself, but its place has been taken in Albanian communities far and wide by a deep resentment at what was perceived to be gratuitous and excessive use of force by the police in the latter part of the Gostivar disturbances and in the follow-up.

The work of the Commission of three ministers, established by the Government under the Minister of Justice, 'to monitor the situation in Tetovo, Gostivar and other municipalities in the western part of the country', is therefore of paramount importance. It has been charged, inter alia, with reviewing allegations against the police of exceeding their authority. Its work in this area will be crucial to rebuilding public confidence amongst the Albanian community, especially in the light of certain filmed footage of the Gostivar events and circumstantial evidence suggesting the continuing unconstitutional use of the former practice of 'informational talks' backed by threat of arrest. The Commission was due to begin work in mid August. Further details about its composition and modus operandi have yet to be made public.

The municipal court in Gostivar has remanded the mayor of Gostivar, Rufi Osmani, in custody for a further 60 days, but ordered the release of the chairman of the council. Osmani has been charged with causing national, racial and religious hatred, discord and intolerance and with organising resistance, under two articles of the criminal code. Both he and the council chairman have also been charged with failing to carry out a court ruling.

The trials of the mayor and chairman of the municipal council of Tetovo, both on charges of failing to carry out a ruling of the Constitutional Court, were due to be held on 30 July but were postponed until mid October at the request of the defence, which sought more time for the assembling of evidence.

In separate actions in late July, the government has used its powers under the Law on Local Self-Government to annul decisions of Tetovo council in May and June concerning the management of the municipality, and certain rulings on council employment and redundancies. The Government's actions are subject to review by the Constitutional Court. They follow allegations made that the council has made redundant certain Macedonian employees and replaced them with those of Albanian nationality.


The national celebrations on 2 August in the central town of Krushevo commemorating the uprising there in 1903 were marred by boorish behaviour amongst some hundreds of participants associated with the nationalist party, VMRO-DPMNE. There was whistling and chanting during President Gligorov's commemorative speech, shouting at the mention of the country's constitutional name, and an incident where the state flag was trampled on. There followed widespread condemnation throughout the media and by VMRO-DPMNE's political opponents at the debasement of a pre-eminent national celebration of great symbolic importance. The leader of VMRO-DPMNE, Ljubco Georgievski, subsequently acknowledged responsibility for the behaviour of party members, but sought to justify the protests as directed not against Ilinden or the state but those responsible for current difficulties.

The Ilinden Day incidents followed reports some days earlier of strains in the relationship between VMRO-DPMNE and the Liberal Democratic Party, suggesting that problems in existing coalitions at a local level were significantly damaging the possibility of collaborating at a national level. The signs are that VMRO-DPMNE will again in the autumn endeavour to raise the level of public opposition and protest, based on issues of social and economic discontent.

The events of recent weeks, both in Tetovo and Gostivar, have, however, tended to identify more clearly the more extreme elements at both ends of the political and national divide, counteracting the trend of political development over the past year, which has suggested a more seamless pattern in the political spectrum. This separation at the more extreme ends has highlighted both the possibility and the necessity for more moderate opinion to coalesce in the middle ground, whilst at the same time indicating the relative risks and reward facing those who place political popularity before stability.

APPENDIX C: Excerpts from OSCE Fortnightly Report 102, September 22, 1997

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje

Excerpts from OSCE Fortnightly Report 102, 22 September 1997



After a period of relative quiet during August, the events of Gostivar in July, their prelude and aftermath, have returned to dominate the political scene with the resumption of Parliament after its recess. On 17 September the mayor of Gostivar, Rufi Osmani, was convicted by the municipal court in Gostivar and sentenced to a total of 13 years 8 months imprisonment. He was charged and convicted on three counts: inciting racial, religious and national hatred, organising resistance and failing to comply with a court ruling. The verdicts and sentence are subject to appeal.

The severity of the sentence has caused widespread shock and dismay across the political and ethnic divide and has strengthened the sense of alienation apparent in the Albanian community in the aftermath of the Gostivar events. It has starkly underlined the size of the task that lies ahead in restoring mutual confidence in the constructive development of inter ethnic relations. In the minds of many, the severity of the sentence on Rufi Osmani was foreshadowed by the three year sentence for the individual who trampled on the state flag during the Ilinden celebrations on 2 August (reported in Fortnightly Report 101).

Mr Osmani's trial began on 10 September, having been postponed from 1 September at the request of the defence. The press were present throughout, with no reporting restrictions. Cameras were allowed selectively for the prosecution's opening statement, and at the end of the trial, but not during Mr Osmani's five hour long opening statement. There was attendance by international monitors, including the Mission. There were some controls on public access and limits on numbers. Mr Osmani was represented by three lawyers of his own choice but chose largely to conduct his defence himself. He addressed the court In the Macedonian language in his opening statement. Mr Osmani's lawyers resigned on the penultimate day of the trial in protest at the refusal of the court to grant more time for the preparation of the defence and to accede to other procedural requests. A replacement lawyer was provided by the state and the trial continued. Following conviction and sentence, Mr Osmani's original team of lawyers announced on his behalf their intention to appeal to the appellate court, on the grounds of procedural violations, the denial of the use of the Albanian language in court, and for refusal of defence requests, inter alia, for prosecution documentation and to produce certain defence evidence and witnesses.


The parliamentary debate on the Gostivar events which was postponed from late July took place over several days from late August. The proceedings were dominated by ethnic Albanian representatives from both the PDP of the governing coalition, and the DPA. The PDP complained, inter alia, at the absence of any prior warning for its ministers of the police operation, the inadequacy of information in the Interior Ministry report to Parliament, and at the congratulating of the police by the Prime Minister after the disturbances which had led to the deaths of Albanians. Both the PDP and DPA demanded the resignation of the Interior Minister, Dr Tomisiav Chokrevski.

The four day debate was finally concluded with the adoption of a resolution proposed by the president of the Assembly, Tito Petkovski, setting up a Commission of Parliament to investigate the possible excessive use of force and abuse of authority by the police within 30 days. The members of the Investigative Commission were to be chosen by the relevant Parliamentary Commission and approved by Parliament in its next session, beginning in mid September. The selections have yet to take place. The governing SDSM and Socialist Party voted in favour of the proposal together with the Liberal Democratic Party, whilst the PDP and DPA voted against.

The Commission of Parliament is quite separate from the Government Commission announced in late July to review the events of Gostivar and police actions, about which there has been no further public statement or indication of its work.

An interpellation in Parliament on the Interior Minister, brought by the DPA, was defeated when put to the vote. A number of attempts to debate a proposal to suspend the leader of the DPA from Parliament, Arben Xhaferi, who has absented himself from Parliament for more than two years, have failed for want of the necessary two thirds' quorum.

The debate on Gostivar and its outcome, together with the trial of Mr Osmani, have continued to underline the difficulties faced by the PDP and the tensions in their relationship in the governing coalition. In the absence of progress in inter ethnic relations there is an obvious risk of greater radicalisation of politics in general in the country as moderate voices find it increasingly difficult to assert themselves, and the otherwise silent majority finds common cause with the radicals.

1. Official Gazette No. 7/97.

2. Human Rights Watch interview with Ombudsman Branko Naumovski, Skopje, December 19, 1997.

3. Situation of human rights in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Final report submitted by Ms. Elisabeth Rehn, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/1998/12, September 30, 1997, paragraph 13.

4. A Threat to Stability: Human Rights Violations in Macedonia, Human Rights Watch report, June 1996.

5. Human Rights Watch interview with European diplomat, Skopje, August 9, 1995.

6. OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Fact Sheet, February 1997, Ref HCNM/FS-ENG/001.

7. Human Rights Watch confirmed that at least 329 Macedonian policemen were trained by the U.S. between 1995 and 1997. According to the State Department, the total number is closer to 400, but the precise number is not yet known because, as of March 1998, not all of the 1997 program reports had been submitted. The Macedonian Ministry of Interior, however, told Human Rights Watch that only thirty-four policemen had been trained by the U.S. between May 1994 and June 1997 in courses on hostage negotiations, anti-terrorism, and DEA management. According to the ministry, training was conducted in Norfolk, Virginia, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Washington D.C, and Quantico, Virginia (where the DEA and FBI have a training site).

8. State Department officials at INL told Human Rights Watch that, as of March 1998, they had not yet compiled all of the information from the 1997 program. From approximately twenty programs run with Macedonian police during 1997, only ten reports had been processed; thus, according to an INL official, 118 Macedonian policemen were trained, but "that number could be doubled."

9. Foreign Assistance: Meeting the Training Needs of Police in New Democracies, Report to Congressional Requesters by the U.S. General Accounting Office, January 1993.

10. Statement proposed by the U.S. embassy July 10, 1997. Unclassified embassy cable to the secretary of state.

11. According to UNPREDEP, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has 124,000 soldiers, Bulgaria has 102,000, Greece has 160,000, and Albania has 41,000. Macedonia has 20,000 soldiers and four tanks, four airplanes and five helicopters.

12. Figures for the previous two years for these programs were as follows:

1996-FMF $750,000 and IMET $249,000; 1997- FMF $1,500,000 and IMET 300,000. The sharp increase in FMF funding for 1998 was meant to compensate for the end of the UNPREDEP mandate on August 31, 1998.

13. The annual SEED allocations are as follows: $14,200,000 in 1996, $16,000,000 in 1997, and $16,000,000 for 1998.

14. Prepared Statement by James H. Holmes, Coordinator for East European Assistance, U.S. Department of State, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Europe, May 7, 1997.

15. MIC News, March 18, 1998.

16. Security Council Resolution 795 (1992), December 11, 1992. The mission was originally part of UNPROFOR, which was deployed in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and then Macedonia. Security Council Resolution 983(1995) later established UNPREDEP as a separate mission, that reported directly to New York, but the mandate remained unchanged.

17. Security Council Resolution 908(1994), March 31, 1994.

18. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1110(1997), November 20, 1997.

19. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1110(1997), August 11, 1997.

20. MIC News, February 12, 1998.

21. The Macedonian government has argued that Macedonia should not be considered together with the other countries of the former Yugoslavia.

22. Situation of Human Rights in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Final report submitted by Elisabeth Rehn, September 30, 1997.

23. Dnevnik, "Gostivar Events Will Determine the Mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur," August 29, 1997.

24. OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje Fortnightly Report 100, July 29, 1997.

25. OSCE Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 7, July 1997.

26. OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje Fortnightly Report 102, September 22, 1997.

27. Financial Times, "Mayor Jailed for 13 Years After Flag Riot," September 18, 1997.

28. Human Rights Watch interview with European diplomat, Skopje, August 9, 1995.

29. OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje Fortnightly Report, August 20, 1997.

30. Mandate of the OSCE's High Commission on National Minorities, Article 3.

31. Address given by Max van der Stoel to the workshop "An Agenda for Preventive Diplomacy," Skopje, October 18, 1996.

32. Fact Sheet on the High Commissioner on National Minorities, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

33. Statement of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel, Skopje, July 13, 1997.

34. Dissatisfied with their access to higher education, a group of ethnic Albanians opened a private Albanian-language university in Tetovo in February 1995. The government declared the university illegal, and the police clashed with demonstrators on the first day of classes, resulting in numerous injuries and one death. The main organizer of the initiative was imprisoned for ten months. Since then, the authorities have not recognized the university, but they have allowed it to function. The first graduates will receive their diplomas in Spring 1998, although the authorities have stated that they will not be recognized.

35. Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the first EU/FYROM Political Dialogue meeting, Brussels, February 13, 1998.

36. European Union grants financial assistance to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Brussels, January 20, 1998.

37. Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksander Nacev, Skopje, December 16,1997.

38. Human Rights Watch interview with Paulo Drummond, Skopje, December 17, 1997.

39. Numbers based on a press conference given by Finance Minister Taki Fiti in Skopje on December 2, 1997.

40. Gjurev was called to parliament because of allegations, subsequently proven, that the ministry was spending tens of thousands of dollars on artwork for ministry offices and for horses and a stable.

41. The average salary in Macedonia in December 1997 was 10,000 dinars per month.

42. "General Policy Toward Minorities," Republic of Macedonia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Skopje, January 1997.

43. Macedonia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997, U.S. Department of State.

44. Human Rights Watch interview with Alajdin Demiri, Tetovo, December 12, 1997. According to the 1994 census, Tetovo is 71 percent ethnic Albanian, but all ethnic Albanians claim the number is much higher.

45. All three of these cities are governed by opposition parties. Štip is run by the Internal Macedonia Revolutionary Organization (VMRO), the largest ethnic Macedonian opposition party, while Tetovo and Gostivar are both run by the Democratic Party of the Albanians (DPA), the largest ethnic Albanian opposition party.

46. On August 2, 1997, six VMRO activists were arrested in Kruševo for disrupting a speech by Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov.

47. Human Rights Watch interview with head of the Štip City Council, Gordana Cekova, Štip, December 15, 1997.

48. Human Rights Watch interview with Police Chief Dime Gjurev, Skopje, December 18, 1997.

49. In February 1998, parliament began discussing a possible extension of the 90-day pre-trial detention period. The Commission for Constitutional Affairs passed a proposal that would allow a court to extend pre-trial detention for up to six months in difficult cases.

50. General Assembly of the United Nations, Resolution 34/169, December 17, 1979.

51. General Assembly of the United Nations, Resolution 43/173, December 9, 1988.