Published by Wikileaks & Bivol.bg
  date: 8/21/2009 13:20 refid: 09SKOPJE411 origin: Embassy Skopje classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination:  header: VZCZCXRO8167 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR DE RUEHSQ #0411/01 2331320 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 211320Z AUG 09 FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8480 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 0549 RUESEN/SKOPJE BETA RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC  ----------------- header ends ----------------  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SKOPJE 000411    SIPDIS    E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2014  TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, MK  SUBJECT: MACEDONIA: AHMETI RATES STATE OF AFFAIRS A "FOUR  OUT OF TEN"    Classified By: AMBASSADOR PHILIP REEKER FOR REASONS 1.5 (b) and (d).    1. (C) Summary: Following the commemoration of the 8th  Anniversary of the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement,  Ambassador Reeker joined DUI leader Ali Ahmeti at his family  sheep station deep in the mountains of western Macedonia on  August 16.  Ahmeti was critical of Prime Minister Nikola  Gruevski, expressed concerns over Intelligence Chief Sasho  Mialkov's disdain towards the ethnic Albanian community, and  noted President Ivanov's relative lack of power.  Ahmeti  assessed the country's current state of affairs and commented  on Menduh Thaci's latest antics.  He also expressed his  dissatisfaction with Gruevski's religious agenda and had  harsh words for Islamic Community of Macedonia (ICM)  President Sulejman Rexhepi.  Ahmeti presented two project  ideas to the Ambassador and asked for U.S. support. (End  Summary)    ------------------------------------------  Critical of Gruevski and His Inner Circle  ------------------------------------------    2. (C) Prime Minister Gruevski is too young and his youth is  reflected in his decision making, according to Ahmeti.  Ahmeti said that he warned the Prime Minister to resolve the  name issue with Greece and establish diplomatic relations  with Kosovo a long time ago, otherwise relations with Serbia  and Bulgaria would also become problematic.  Ahmeti asked  Ambassador Reeker to put more public pressure on the PM to  resolve the name issue.  The Ambassador noted that we need to  calibrate public comments to avoid exacerbating Gruevski's  insecurities and that behind the scenes actions can often be  more effective.    3. (C) Ahmeti was also concerned that Security and  Counter-Intelligence Director Sasho Mijalkov has too much  influence over his cousin, the PM.  He noted that Mijalkov  has made remarks in government meetings expressing his deep  disdain for the ethnic Albanian community. He is worried that  Mijalkov has the contacts and desire to provoke rogue ethnic  Albanian elements in Macedonia into creating problems, which  Mijalkov could use to justify broad action against the ethnic  Albanian community at large.  Though mostly critical of  Gruevski's inner-circle, Ahmeti said President Ivanov  actually seemed like a "good guy," but felt that he was "more  of a professor than a president" and lacked real power as a  de facto subordinate of the Prime Minister.    ----------------  How's it Going?  ----------------    4. (C) When asked to rate the current state of affairs in  Macedonia between one and ten (ten being ideal and zero being  2001) Ahmeti rated Macedonia a 4 or 5.  He said ethnic  Macedonians still believed the country was theirs alone.  He  pointed to the lack of official use of the Albanian language  throughout the country and the lack of equitable  representation of ethnic Albanians in leadership positions in  government as the two biggest issues for the ethnic Albanian  community.  He noted that during DUI's previous government  coalition with SDSM, DUI controlled stronger Ministries than  it controls now.  Ahmeti said overcoming the name issue and  joining NATO would make it easier to focus on the other  interethnic issues and would alleviate a lot of the mounting  frustrations in the minds of ethnic Albanians.    ---------------  Thaci's Antics  ---------------    5. (C) DPA leader Menduh Thaci's New Agreement (proposed to  replace the Ohrid Framework Agreement), his most recent  boycott of Parliament and his announcement that he will ask  Albania to veto Macedonia's NATO bid are all indications of  Thaci's gradual marginalization, according to Ahmeti.  However, he believes Thaci's behavior has become more erratic  and could threaten the stability of Macedonia.  Ahmeti noted  he would meet with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha on  August 19 and said he would reiterate that the ethnic  Albanian community in Macedonia did not support Thaci's call  for a NATO veto.  (Comment: Overall support among citizens of  Macedonia for NATO membership remains around 95% according to  recent IRI polling.  Among ethnic Albanians, the figure may  be closer to 100%. End Comment) Ahmeti told the Ambassador  that he preferred New Democracy leader Imer Selmani to Thaci  as the primary ethnic Albanian opposition voice.  He felt  Selmani at least represented a constructive and reasonable    SKOPJE 00000411  002 OF 002      opposition.  He also said Selmani was very close to Gruevski  and the two visit each other's homes.    -------------------------------  "More Churches Than Believers"  -------------------------------    6. (C) Ahmeti said he has a very different perspective from  the PM on matters of religion.  He does not agree with  the  PM's political-religious agenda and insistence on erecting  ever more churches and religious symbols. There are more  churches and mosques in Macedonia than believers, according  to Ahmeti. He believes government money could be spent more  effectively on other projects.  Ahmeti also asserted that  Islamic Community of Macedonia (ICM) President Sulejman  Rexhepi-- who recently criticized the Ambassador for meeting  with the Sufi Islamic Bektashi Community-- was everything but  a believer.  Ahmeti called the ICM "God's bureaucracy" and  said he does not support it.    --------------------------------------------- --------  Consolidating Higher Education and Cleaning the Water  --------------------------------------------- --------    7. (C) Ahmeti mentioned two projects he was considering and  asked Ambassador Reeker for his feedback and support.  First,  Ahmeti said he felt the State University of Tetovo and the  private South Eastern European University in Tetovo were  essentially duplicating efforts and unnecessarily competing  with one another for limited resources.  Ahmeti wanted to  merge them into one university with state funding and  international support.  Second, Ahmeti mentioned that he had  met with the Mayors of six municipalities located in the  mountains south of Skopje to discuss cleaning up the  contaminated rivers and lakes that flow into Macedonia's  popular local tourist destination, Matka Lake, and eventually  into Skopje by way of the Vardar River.  He asked the  Ambassador if he and EU Special Representative Fouere would  also be willing to meet with the mayors and support such a  project.  Ambassador Reeker made no firm commitments to  either project but offered Ahmeti advice on ways to proceed  and said the Embassy would consider other ideas as the  projects progressed.  REEKER 

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