[Alb-Net home] [AMCC] [KCC] [other mailing lists]

List: ALBSA-Info

[ALBSA-Info] Conferences on Macedonia

Agron Alibali aalibali at
Thu Jun 7 22:41:40 EDT 2001

Two academic conferences in Washington over the past seven days have highlighted some of the difficult policy questions facing Macedonia, the southern Balkan country which is confronting guerrilla war by disaffected Albanian separatists. 
At a conference on the Balkans one week ago, British academic Jane Sharp said if violence came to the capital, Skopje, she feared that the Macedonian conflict, like Bosnia before it, could descend into civil war. Ominously, on Wednesday gunmen fired shots on the Skopje office of President Boris Trajkovski. 
Other speakers said it is imperative that the Macedonian government act quickly to grant equal rights to the up to 30% Albanian minority. Law professor and Institute of Peace scholar Julie Mertus blames the international community for not moving faster to promote ethnic equality in Macedonia. "A couple years ago I was a little bit concerned because a lot of attention was being paid to democratization in Macedonia," said Ms. Mertus. "But Macedonia stood out as a kind of an illiberal democracy. Because there was democracy in terms of voting, and political parties and more speech but still not full human rights. And there were a lot of problems in terms of policing and the military. And I see we're paying the price for that now." 
Ms. Mertus spoke Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. 
But at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies several speakers put the blame on the ethnic Albanian guerrillas, accusing them of seeking polarization and civil war. Jim O'Brien until recently was the U.S. presidential envoy for the Balkans. "Part of the problem is in Kosovo," Mr. O'Brien said. "There is a very small group of people who have been behind the problems in southern Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. And I think it is important that the special U.N. representative Hans Haakerup and KFOR take all the robust action they can in order to stop the people who are fomenting the violence." 
The Albanian guerrillas operate along the mountainous border that separates Macedonia from Kosovo. 
Law professor Mertus, who has been studying the effects of humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and Bosnia, said a long-term solution might involve changing national borders so that they better match the ethnic makeup of the inhabitants. There have been suggestions that Albanian populated western Macedonia could be joined to either neighboring Albania or Kosovo. This idea is vigorously rejected by western governments. "It's very ironic because there's great reluctance on behalf of the international community to deal with the redrawing of boundaries question," Ms. Mertus said. "Because they fear that would be an intrusion into state sovereignty. But what we're talking about here in many different ways [ie, the bombing of Kosovo and the sending of KFOR to Kosovo] is the intrusion into state sovereignty. But when it comes to the redrawing of borders, hands off." 
For now the Macedonian government is moving on two tracks, one peaceful and one military. It is mounting, with increasing international support, a sustained campaign against the rebels. And it is also moving to address the grievances of the Albanian minority, whose principal political parties are part of a new national unity government. 

Voice of America

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail Personal Address - Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.
-------------- next part --------------
HTML attachment scrubbed and removed

More information about the ALBSA-Info mailing list