Discontented with the current Albanian parties working in coalition with Macedonian ones, some Albanian intellectuals say it is time to consider the option turning Macedonia into a federation./
Nga Fatjona Mejdini/BIRN/
Intellectuals and others who have contributed towards the rights of Albanians in Macedonia say it is time to find new ways for an ethnic community comprising around 30 per cent of the population to organize itself afresh within the Macedonian state.
At a time where the country is being swept by political crises and by institutional stalemate, these Albanian voices say the way they have been represented for the last 25 years in Macedonia has to change, as they still feel like second-class citizens, with little rights.
The creation of a federal state or a parliament with two chambers are seen as two possible ways to give the two main communities in Macedonia equal rights.
However, the majority of Albanians are also clear that before pioneering new forms of organization they first have to unite with each other.
They are disappointed with the main Albanian parties that have represented them in government or opposition in the past, and have little trust even in newly formed parties.
Nijazi Muhamedi, an author and publicist living in Tetovo, told BIRN that now is the time for Albanians in Macedonia to unite in a kind of league that will bring about a social, cultural and economic awakening.
“We need a unification league, where Albanian political representatives in a unified way can elaborate a political and economic program for the Albanians in Macedonia and later think about the ways in which this program can be implemented,” he said.
Discontended with implementation of Ohrid agreement, which ended the armed conflict between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas in 2001, they believe that a new deal is necessary.
Disappointed with old Albanian parties:
Teuta Kamberi Llalla was 24 when she quit her job as assistant professor in Tetovo University and left to fight the Macedonian security forces in northwest Macedonia.
Her brother had left to fight with the guerillas before her, and many their relatives and friends did the same.
Fifteen years after the 2001 conflict, she believes the Albanian political parties lost all their ideals and sacrifices at the table of political agreements.
Now an activist for Albanian issues, far from the political parties, Llalla told BIRN that parties like the ruling Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, had “privatized” and abused the gains of the war in 2001.
“The DUI took all the credit from the war, at a time when most of the people now ruling the party were not even present during the war itself,” she said.
“They have privatized the contribution of all of Albanians in Macedonia; they made the war their private property,” she added.
For Llalla, the Ohrid agreement was never fulfilled and the Albanian politicians have disappointed the people who trusted that after the war they would have more rights.
Nevzat Halili, leader of the first Albanian party in Macedonia, the Party of Democratic Prosperity, PDP told BIRN that the ethnic Albanian politicians in Macedonia have followed only their own interests.
“None of the requests made by Albanians during the 2001 conflict was fully met and the parties never respected the 90 martyrs and other civilians killed in the war. They have pursued the personal interest of people… and have lied to Albanians for a long time,” he said.
Some of these Albanians do not believe the situation with their rights will change much because of the newer political parties have emerged on the political scene.
“These new parties are being used by the Macedonian opposition – and they just contribute to the further division of the Albanian political factor in the country,” Nijazi Muhamedi told BIRN.
Federation might bring about equality:
Teuta Kamberi Llalla believes Albanians in Macedonia can feel equal and free only once the structure of the state is changed fundamentally.
“It has been proven for years now that the collaboration of Albanians with the Macedonian parties is not bringing about either prosperity or equality. Albanians are still second-class citizens,” she said.
“To achieve our rights, we either have to create a parliament with two chambers or a federative state, in order for us to be equal partners, and not give the Macedonian party the right to choose which of the Albanian parties they will take into government,” she continued.
Nevzat Halili told BIRN that the bi-national state in Macedonia might be difficult to be implement, which is why a federal state like Switzerland or Belgium could be the better option.
“States in Europe that have the same ethnic structure have been organized as federations, so this could be a sustainable solution – for equality and prosperity,” he concluded.
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Caption: Albanians in Macedonia during a protest | Photo: BIRN/Sinisa Jakov Marusic