Following a RECOM round table in Skopje, the Macedonian President, Gjorge Ivanov, met the team of regional REKOM advocates.REKOM advocates from Macedonia, Biljana Vankovska, from Bosnia, Zdravko Grebo, and from Serbia, Natasa Kandic met with Ivanov on Sunday.
“Every initiative that seeks to determine the faith of the missing, thus paying honors to the victims, is important for the victims, their families and for the entire society,” President Ivanov said.
The Coalition for REKOM is a non-political regional network of civil society organizations and individuals whose aim it is to promote the creation of a regional commission tasked with establishing facts about war crimes and human rights violations committed in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001.
A debate held on Friday, dubbed ‘REKOM and the Reconciliation in Macedonia’ gathered REKOM advocates and supporters from several former Yugoslav states, including former participants in and victims from the 2001 Macedonian armed conflict.
At the debate, Vankovska announced stepping up lobbying among Macedonia’s top politicians, encouraging them to look through the draft proposal of the initiative and put them in to action.
Vankovska added that they plan to send letters to other top politicians in the country, from the parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski, to the government ministers and lawmakers who are directly involved in the issue of reconciliation and inter-ethnic relations.
“The support [from Macedonian politicians] has so far been sporadic… we need a more systematic institutional support,” REKOM advocate from Macedonia, professor Biljana Vankovska said at Friday’s round table.
The team of REKOM advocates has emphasized the necessity of agreeing the exact number of dead in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001, as a way to stop the “political games concerning who is the biggest victim”, and thereby ease regional tensions.
“It now remains for the entire initiative to be transferred to the state institutions that need to give it an official meaning,” said former Macedonian ambassador and political studies professor Dimitar Mircev.
Mircev, who is a supporter of the initiative, said that the main goal would be “to draw conclusions [from past wars] thus preventing repetition of further conflicts”.
In 2001, Macedonia saw an armed conflict between the security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels. Hostilities ended with the signing of a peace deal that year that granted greater rights to ethnic Albanians who make up about a quarter of the population.
REKOM advocates, Grebo and Kandic said that Macedonia has a relatively easier task, owing to the comparatively shorter conflict that took comparatively much less victims and did less damage than the ones in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
“The countries and politicians from this region have a historical chance to make amends to the victims, and they must use it”, Kandic said.
Skopje based political analyst and REKOM supporter, Suad Misini criticized “irresponsible politicians” for fueling ethnic tensions.