Books on Macedonia
Update No: 125 - (26/10/07)
Europe faces a crisis
Thousands of Albanians in Macedonia staged a rally on October 19 to voice their
support for Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Over 5,000 people, carrying
banners that read "independent Kosovo-stable region," "together
for better future," gathered in down town of the Albanian-populated city of
Tetovo, 40 km west of capital Skopje.
"What Serbia did to the Kosovo people motivates all Albanians to commit
themselves to the goal of an independent Kosovo," said Menduh Thaci, leader
of the Democratic Party of Albanians. He asked for support for the plan of UN
envoy Martti Ahtisaari, which calls for Kosovo's independence, and protested
against all those who seek to divide Kosovo and destabilize the region.
The Macedonian issue
It is feared that a partition of Kosovo between ethnic Albanians and Serbs could
revive Albanian insurgencies in neighbouring Macedonia.
Ethnic Albanians account for 25 percent of Macedonia's 2.1 million population.
They mainly live in the north and west of the country.
In 2001, tensions between Macedonia's ethnic Albanians fighting for greater
rights and the government forces, brought the country to the brink of a civil
war which was averted with the mediation of the European Union and NATO.
Kosovo is Serbia's southern breakaway province, which has been run by the United
Nations since mid-1999, when NATO troops drove out Serbian forces fighting
ethnic Albanian separatists.
Serbia has insisted that Kosovo is an integral part of its territory while
ethnic Albanians, who account for 90 percent of the province's 2 million people,
have said they will accept nothing but complete independence. Thousands of
Albanians in Macedonia warned at a rally today that dividing Kosovo would have a
knock-on effect across the Balkans and demanded independence for their ethnic
kin in the breakaway Serbian province. Around 5,000 attended the rally in the
western city of Tetovo, the seat of a guerrilla insurgency in 2001 that sought
better treatment for Macedonia's 25 per cent Albanian minority. Kosovo's two
million Albanians are losing patience with the diplomatic deadlock between the
West and Russia over their demand for independence from Serbia, and NATO allies
fear unrest would spread to Albanian areas of neighbouring Macedonia. Some
analysts still see dividing Kosovo in two, leaving the Serb-dominated north as
part of Serbia, as a possible way out of the stalemate. Kosovo Albanian leaders
reject partition, warning it would reignite fighting in Macedonia and in
Serbia's southern Presevo Valley.
"We oppose the partition of Kosovo. We think it will have a domino effect
in Macedonia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia," Macedonia's ethnic
Albanian deputy prime minister, Imer Aliu, said.
Macedonia, an official candidate for membership of the European Union, was
dragged from the brink of civil war in 2001 by a Western-brokered peace accord
offering ethnic Albanians in the north and west greater rights.
After six months of fighting, the Albanian guerrilla army disbanded and entered
government, but the ex-rebels warn they are ready to fight again if Kosovo is
The province has been run by the United Nations and patrolled by NATO since 1999
when a NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to pull its troops out of Kosovo and
halt the slaughter of Albanian civilians in a two-year counter-insurgency war.
Greece and Macedonia to hold fresh talks on name
Macedonia has problems with its neighbours to the south as well as the north. It
is rather more of a symbolic affair, however, and does not involve even a
suggestion of mayhem or malfeasance
Representatives of Greece and, to give it its current accredited name, the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have agreed to hold a fresh round of
United Nations-mediated talks over the vexed question of the Macedonia's
"Both parties have indicated a sincere desire to reach a solution. I will
issue a statement at the conclusion of the meeting," said Matthew Nimetz,
UN's secretary general Ban Ki-moon's personal envoy for the Greece-former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia talks.
Greece and Macedonia established low-level diplomatic relations in 1995, despite
Greek objections to Skopje using the country name of Macedonia, saying it
implied claims on the northern Greek province of the same name.
Under a compromise solution, the country that was created after disintegration
of former Yugoslavia was internationally recognised as the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYRM), but Skopje continued to use the name of Republic
The last round of talks took place in New York on 16 May this year.