News 08 Sep 14

Macedonian Collaborator Hunters Eye Secret Serbian Files

Macedonia’s Lustration Commission, which investigates suspected collaborators with the former communist regime, now hopes to gain access to classified Yugoslav files stored in Serbia.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

The Macedonian Lustration Commission.

The head of the Lustration Commission, Tome Adziev, said he hoped that an agreement on the exchange of classified files with Serbia will allow access to the secret files of some prominent Macedonians which are now believed to be stored in Belgrade.

The agreement on data exchange was signed in February and is awaiting ratification in the Macedonian parliament this month.

“If this deal makes available the dossiers of the former Yugoslav secret services, this would open up a lot of new work for us. We would certainly take a look what’s in there and if we determine that someone has been a collaborator, we would make that information public,” Adziev said.

Since the Macedonian lustration commission started working in 2009, it has been through some 29,000 personal files and discovered some 130 people who allegedly collaborated with the Yugoslav Communist-era police or ordered surveillance of others for ideological reasons.

All the files so far were procured from the Macedonian archives and were produced by the Macedonian communist-era secret police. But many observers insist that the lustration work cannot be considered complete without reviewing the vast quantity of classified data that was collected in Belgrade by the former Yugoslav State Security Service, UDBA and the Counter Intelligence Service, KOS.

Macedonian law professor Osman Kadriu said that if the exchange of files works, it might help significantly in shedding more light on former collaborators and correcting past injustices.

“This will be a valuable help for the [lustration] commission” Kadriu told Radio Free Europe.

He warned however that it would still be up to the 11-member body to verify the authenticity of the data contained in the documents, and to assess correctly whether someone had really been a collaborator.

The Macedonian Directorate for Security of Classified Data, DBKI, confirmed that the agreement with Serbia refers to UDBA and KOS files as well.

But it said that in order to get the files, the Macedonian side will have to follow a strict procedure and the Serbian side will have to approve the transaction.

“The Lustration Commission will have to go through us to get the files. After approval from the Serbian side, the means of transfer will have to be determined. The dossier that the Lustration Commission will get will have to be strictly used for the stated purpose of the verification of facts on whether some person has been a collaborator,” the DBKI told BIRN.

Macedonia is following in the steps of many former Communist states that have brought in lustration laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically-motivated prosecutions.

But ever since the commission started work, it has been marred by controversy. The opposition argues that it has been misused to target government critics and in December 2012, it removed two of its members from the commission in protest.

Parliament passed a first lustration law in 2008 and a second one in 2012 after the constitutional court on two occasions scrapped many key provisions from the original legislation, narrowing its time span and the range of professions to be subjected to checks.

Unlike the first law and the first Lustration Commission, which at the beginning enjoyed wide support, the more recent legislation was adopted only on the basis of votes from the ruling party.

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