Macedonia overweighed by illegal weaponry
Kalashnikovs are being sold in half of the state
While the police claim the arm business does not pay off, dealers trade in Sipkovica, Aracinovo, Slupcane, Lipkovo and Skopje
(The research is supported by the Danish Association of Investigative Journalism)
Pistols for 180 euro, Kalashnikov for 500 euro, bombs from 15 to 20 euro are the lowest prices of the dealers on the black market, selling the weapons that remained in the country after the disarmament initiatives in 2001 and 2003 for which the locals and internationals spent around million euro.
Most of the weapons can be found in Skopje, Kumanovo, Gostivar and Tetovo regions. It is sold in every village from the former crisis regions. The dealers, which “Vreme” has contacted, brag the business is booming.
- Kalashnikovs amount from 500 to 800 euro. The cheapest are those from China and Albania. The most expensive are those manufactured in Serbia. They are the most wanted, says a dealer from Likovo.
He sells bombs kashikara for 15 to 20 euros. Pistol 6 is sold for 180-200 euros, pistol 7 from 300 to 350 euros. The most expensive is the famous “TT” at price of 500 euro. The bullets are half a euro. In summer, during the wedding season, the price is doubled.
The data from the non-governmental organizations show there is less quantity of weapons in Struga and Debar. Pistols and air rifles can be found among the residents of Prilep, Stip, Gevgelija and Strumica. The dealers are very cautious when speaking of the arms business. They show their offer, but are photographed only with face masks.
- The trade is mostly with weapons from 2001. However, it is still trafficked. There is an open trafficking channel from Kosovo, through illegal crossings from Presevo and Vitina on Kosovo side of the border to Lojane, Radusa, Brest and Tanusevci in Macedonia. The shepherds on Sar Mountain have at least one Kalashnikov – the local observers say.
The villagers report that the smuggling on Sara and near Kumanovo is on donkeys. The criminals from the bordering villages in Kosovo load the donkey and let it go. It can easily find its way back home, in the villages on the Macedonian side of the border. This is also confirmed by the NGOs.
- Exchanging donkeys among the villages is the most frequent way for arms trafficking – says Andon Davcev, vice president of the National Arms Association.
The estimations of local NGOs and UNDP are similar – 330,000 pieces of all types of weaponry are in the country. Half of it is illegal. The police operate with a smaller number from 50,000 – 100,000 pieces of weapons, illegally owned by the citizens.
The weaponry travels fast, but we have the control
While the dealers speak of the large quantities of weapons in their hands, the police reassure that the situation is under control.
- It is not hard to transfer the weapons across the border. The borders are permeable. Depending on the needs, the weapons travel fast from a country to a country. The same weapons can be found in Albania, Serbia, Kosovo or Macedonia. But, we have the control over the illegal weapons and arms trafficking have been reduced in comparison with the past – says Tomislav Nikolovski, head of the Sector for Arms Trafficking within the Ministry of Interior.
According to him, the black market of weapons is not profitable for the dealers.
- The profit is around 50 euro for a pistol and the penalty for the same pistol is one year in jail. It is more worthwhile to keep it at home than to sell it – says Nikolovski.