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News 08 Jan 17

Albanian Parties Set Terms For Macedonia's Next Govt

Albanian parties in Macedonia on Saturday agreed their key conditions for participation in a future coalition government - in a move hailed by neighbouring Albania as 'historic'.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian PM Edi Rama and the leaders of Albanian parties in Macedonia. Photo: Rama Facebook page

Representatives of Macedonia's ethnic Albanian parties on Saturday in Skopje signed a joint declaration that will serve as a platform for their furture participation in any government that is formed following the December 11 general election.

After weeks of discussion with each other and with Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama and Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati, three of the four parties have agreed on seven conditions that they will put to the main Macedonian parties as conditions for joining a new coalition government.

The election in December ended inconclusively after the ruling VMRO DPMNE party won 51 of the 120 seats and the main opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, won 49.

Each bloc needs at least 61 seats to form a majority, which is why both sides are eyeing the 20 seats won by the four Albanian parties.

The three parties - the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, led by Ali Ahmeti, the Besa movement, led by Bilal Kasami, and the Movement for Reform - Democratic Party of Albanians, LR PDSH, led by Ziadin Sela - which together have 18 seats - seek full equality between Macedonians and Albanians in the Macedonian state.

"The constitution of Macedonia should define the Macedonian language ...  and the Albanian language ... as official languages [throughout] the Republic of Macedonia," the declaration reads.

They call for the adoption of a resolution in parliament that condemns what they called "the genocide against Albanians in Macedonia during the 1912 – 1956 period." [The Kingdom of Serbia seized Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.]

The declaration goes on to demand economic and social development parity through the equal progress of all of Macedonia's regions.

They also seek the creation of a new ministry that will supervise "respect for the rights of communities and economic and social equality in regions that have not been favoured [previously]".

As another point, the parties want investigative commissions and independent international bodies involved in important court cases in which ethnic Albanians are involved.

A solution to the vexed issue of Macedonia's state name - which Greece contests - is required in another point of the declaration, as is the involvement of Albanians in a working group between Macedonia and Bulgaria, as a means of improving Macedonia's relationships with its neighbours.

Finally, the three parties want Macedonia's virtually stalled EU and NATO membership processes speeded up.

"Fulfillment of these objectives will be overseen through a roundtable of Albanian parties, a mechanism that is going to be formed," the declaration reads.

Albania's Foreign Ministry welcomed the joint declaration and confirmed its supporting role.

"Albania has always been interested in a stable, functioning and democratic Macedonia, which is part of Euro-Atlantic processes and we will support any initiative that leans in this direction," a statement read. 

Albanian Prime Minister Rama took to social networks to hail the agreement as well.

"The joint will of the Albanian parties in Macedonia is an historic step: the rights of Albanians will not be negotiated for seats in government," he wrote on Facebook.

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