Timithy Bancroft-Hinchey: Albanian demands in Macedonia made clear

The Albanians have laid down their claims for peace in Macedonia. Predictably, they pushed the frontiers of what they already have further, just as was the case in Kosovo. Already having their own schools and cultural institutions, the claims of this ethnic minority, which numbers 25% of the population of Macedonia, are explained by Democratic Albanian Party Member of the Macedonian Parliament, Demush Bajrami. “This Constitution is the origin of the crisis. We demand an equal status for all the peoples who live in Macedonia and not this difference between a majority population and the ethnic minorities”, he stated. His colleague in Parliament, the Secretary-General for the Party for Democracy and Prosperity, Muhammed Halili, went even further, demanding “a nation inside Macedonia, equal to that which the Macedonians have, with Albanian as the official second language in government and in the country’s institutions”. The Macedonian Constitution was approved in 1991 when the country proclaimed its independence. It declares that “Macedonia is a nation-State of the Macedonian people” and guarantees the rights of ethnic minorities (Albanians, Gypsies and Turks). To pass comment on these claims by the Albanians would be tantamount to interfering in the Balkans, a practice which Pravda.Ru has condemned in others. The same measure of hypocrisy will certainly not be used by this newspaper. That the Albanian political leaders can express themselves in this way speaks volumes about the patience and political maturity shown to these people by Skopje. The Albanians have their own democratically-elected organs to represent them and still they are dissatisfied. Thanks to NATO, the spectre of a Greater Albania continues to hang over the Balkans like a recurring nightmare. Thanks to Skopje, the nightmare may fade away into the sunset behind the Albanian Alps. This demonstrates the difference.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON