Thousands Protest Wider Use of Albanian Language in Macedonia

Several thousand people protested in Skopje against an agreement that would ensure the wider use of the Albanian language in the ethnically divided state.


Last Thursday, the leader of the Social Democrats, Zoran Zaev, said he expected to be able to form a government in March after he had secured support from ethnic Albanian parties in the 120-seat parliament.

Those parties had made their support for any potential coalition conditional on the passage of a law backing broader use of their language in Macedonia.

But on Monday, a movement that called itself "For Joint Macedonia" called on social media for people to come out on the street and protest the deal Zaev had made with the Albanian parties.

Protesters marched from the government building to the state parliament in Skopje shouting "This will not pass" and sang Macedonian national songs.

"With one symbolic gesture we want to show how you should love Macedonia," said Bogdan Ilievski, a member of the movement.

The crisis was the worst since Western diplomacy helped drag the country of 2.1 million people back from the brink of civil war during an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001, promising it a path to membership of the European Union and of NATO.

In a snap vote in December, VMRO-DPMNE won 51 seats to the Social Democrats' 49, and neither was able to form the government without parties representing ethnic Albanians who make up one third of the population.

The conservative VMRO-DPMNE party had tried but failed to form a coalition.

On Monday Zaev asked President Gjorge Ivanov to give him the mandate to form a government and had presented him with the signatures of 18 deputies from ethnic Albanian parties.

On Sunday evening former prime minister Gruevski called on Social Democrats to revoke the deal, saying it was unconstitutional and jeopardised state interests.

Albanian is currently an official language only in municipalities where Albanians account for more than 20 percent of the population.

Comments

Most Read

Macedonian Philharmonic kicks off 2018 season with Russian wunderkind Daniel Kharitonov

Cannabis oil available in pharmacies across Macedonia without prescription

Macedonia's government orders Poll to sell opinion for name change

Macedonians living abroad rally against name change

Kotsias will visit Skopje this week carrying proposal with seven points

Evergreens

City of Skopje subsidizes pellet heating

New evidence: in the 70’s Greece had no problem with our country’s name Macedonia

More than 30000 Macedonians in Sydney

Macedonia Marks 10 Years of Tose Proeski's Death

Czech Republic to keep assisting Macedonia in guarding of its southern border