Oct 30, 2001

Developments in Macedonia

The UNPO's first impression of the recent developments in Macedonia was positive. Did the Macedonian parliament not agree to amend the country's constitution, allowing for a 15-point plan to grant more rights to the Albanian community? The NATO-sponsored Accord of Ohrid, signed on August 13, 2001, was announced with fanfare and it seemed as if Macedonia was finally on the road towards nation-building and equal rights to all its citizens. After all, the peace accord makes provision for the recognition of both the Slavic Macedonian and the Albanian languages as official languages. Albanians are also to get their own universities. At first sight the collection of weapons from Albanian rebel groups, including the UCK, under NATO military supervision, has been a success. NATO, represented by a German military contingent will also assist civilian officials in safeguarding the implementation of the Ohrid Accord. Mr Qenan Sheiji, Albanian (Macedonian) representative at the UNPO, in his reaction, raised some very important doubts on the situation.
First of all, it is alarming that a number of small Slavic Macedonian political parties represented in parliament are agitating against the 15-point plan. It is also clear that the Macedonian government is very slow and reluctant in their implementation of the agreed steps. The UCK and other Albanian rebel groups did cooperate in handing in their weapons to NATO peacekeepers, contributing to their own disarmament, while the Macedonian government is still buying military hardware from Russia and the Ukraine. No less than 30 tanks have been purchased lately. Why then this armament while the country is suppose to be disarmed for peace and stability? Will power again prevails over justice and the right to self-determination of Albanians in Macedonia?

There is definite reason for concern and the UNPO is closely monitoring further developments in Macedonia.