Darko Angelov: The Albanians have nothing to complain about

Macedonia and its citizens are highly disappointed from NATO’s unwillingness or/and incapability to overcome the threat emerging from the Albanian extremists’ aspirations endangering everything that has been achieved in Macedonia’s 10 year successful democratic practice of establishing and maintaining a multicultural and multiethnic state. Significantly, the Albanian terrorists present a common threat for Macedonia and the whole Balkans that may result in a wider regional and even European war. Albanian extremism sets the stage for yet an another showcase of fleeing refugees, many innocent lives being lost, suffering of all people just for the sake of their radical aspirations.

The extremists are justifying their violent cause in the name of an alleged suppression of their Albanian brothers and sisters in Macedonia and by giving a parallel with the former situation in Kosovo. As I am sure you all know this is very far from being true. The terrorists’ sole intention is the destruction of Macedonia and the establishing of a Greater Albania where there shall be no place for other ethnic groups besides Albanians; where mafia interests, crime, and complete absence of the rule of law would become an everyday practice. The Albanian mafia has in its grasp not only Albania and Kosovo, but it also spreads its destructive influence all across Europe. Prostitution, terrorist attacks, weapons and drugs smuggling are just a fragment of the Albanian extremists’ everyday agenda. Additionally, since decades back in time pregnant Albanian women from Kosovo were being brought over the border into Macedonia in order to support one of the extremists primary goals, an artificial increase of the Albanian population bearing the right for Macedonian citizenship. The peculiarity of the Albanian issue in Macedonia lays in the never ending extension of the extremists’ demands on Macedonia by them knowing the fact of Macedonia being still a fragile state unable to suppress any Albanian radical claims without the consent of NATO.

In order to achieve all the foregoing, the Albanians are miss-presenting the already known facts about the status and enormous extent of maintained human rights by the Macedonian state. According to the last census in Macedonia supported and supervised by the EU and OSCE, the Albanians represent 22,9% of the total population of the country; thus the claims for a 1/3 presence of that ethnic group in Macedonia are utterly false. Nevertheless, in the last ten years of Macedonia’s independence, it has been an inevitable practice every government to be structured with an Albanian party being a member of the coalition. In the current Macedonian government DPA, the political party of the Macedonian Albanians holds five ministerial seats of which three are the key Ministries of Justice, Economy and Local Government. Additionally, there are several deputy Ministers from the Albanian party, of which the ones at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Police) and the Ministry of Defense, being the most crucial posts. Apart from that, the Macedonian 120 member Parliament has 28 ethnic Albanian MP’s. Furthermore, a large number of Macedonian cities have ethnic Albanian mayors. The Albanian minority has education in its Albanian mother language at all levels (primary, secondary and university level). At this moment, a brand new Albanian university is being constructed in the Macedonian city of Tetovo. Furthermore, there are many state supported and privately owned TV and Radio stations broadcasting entirely in Albanian. The Republic of Macedonia had Albanian TV programs much earlier than even Albania itself had a TV station. There is a large number of daily newspapers, magazines, books published in Albanian with the support of the state of Macedonia. In the municipalities where the Albanians are more than 20% of the population, the Albanian language is the official language of communication. Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia hold high ranking managing positions in government institutions, public enterprises, police, army, large corporations, etc. All the foregoing is only a very small fragment of the rights enjoyed by the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, extending much beyond everything prescribed by EU and UN conventions on the protection of human rights and of what the democratic practice in EU countries shows. It would be particularly useful if you take a comparative look at the extremely poor minority rights of the ethnic Macedonians living in Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. When there was war in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, Macedonian minority rights democratic practice was flourishing. Therefore, I urge you not to let this magnificent and unique example of democracy and peace on the Balkans to be destroyed by the madness of the Albanian extremists.

The response of NATO towards the significant threat coming from Albanian extremism was particularly disappointing and mild. The last two years have shown that NATO was (intentionally) not willing to act effectively fearing only for the security of its own forces. Now, when the Albanian terrorists are most active in Macedonia, we witness the severe consequences of NATO’s inactive approach towards Albanian radicalism. When during the 1999 Kosovo crisis Macedonia has accepted 400.000 Kosovo Albanian refugees, the West bothered to accept only a symbolic number of just a few hundreds of refugees. It was in those turbulent days when NATO has promised in many instances that it will support and protect Macedonia from any kind of extremist threat. The events occurring at the very moment I am writing this letter are showing exactly the contrary: NATO turning its back down to its most loyal ally on the Balkans. It was Macedonia that gave the unconditional political and logistical support to the NATO endeavor in Kosovo taking an enormous risk of allowing NATO to attack its first neighbor. Surprisingly, now NATO is doing very little to stop the escalation of the emerging new Balkan war centered in Macedonia. Future generations will judge NATO if it allows this crisis to further escalate.

All the beforehand mentioned, does not imply that the citizens of Macedonia (regardless of their ethnic and confessional background) do not have economic, social, and political difficulties that ought not to be resolved by means of violence. Macedonia is (was) on the right path of becoming a respectable member of the European family of nations, where all its citizens would enjoy a democratic, prosperous state. Darko ANGELOV University College Utrecht, the Netherlands At the author's permission

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