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News 29 Jun 17

Macedonian Albanians Gather To Push Joint Platform

Macedonian Albanian party chiefs met in Skopje on Wednesday to press the new Macedonian government under Zoran Zaev to implement their agreed joint platform.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Leaders of Albanian ethnic political parties in Macedonia on Wednesday. Photo: Anadolu Agency 

The leaders of Albanian parties in Macedonia - now part of the government led by Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev - gathered on Wednesday in Skopje to make sure the so-called "Albanian platform" becomes part of the new government's agenda.

The platform - signed by the leaders of the main parties representing ethnic Albanians in Macedonia with the help of Albania in January - took on new importance after the parties assumed a kingmaker role in the formation of a new government after the general election on December 11.

The document centres on the demand for full political and economic equality between Macedonians and Albanians in the Macedonian state and on the status of the Albanian language.

The meeting was called by the head of the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, Ali Ahmeti, and included representatives of the Movement for Reform - Democratic Party of Albanians, LR PDSH, led by Ziadin Sela, and the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA.

However, the BESA movement, which is in opposition to the government, did not attend, seeking more guarantees that parties in collaboration with the Social Democrats will implement the platform and a concrete draft on declaring Albanian an official language throughout Macedonia.

Speaking after the three-hour meeting, Ahmeti said the majority of points in the platform were already part of the Macedonia government program.

"We have done a good job until now," Ahmeti said. However, he said no deadline had been agreed about making Albanian as an official language throughout Macedonia.

At the same time, he emphasised their first result of the platform had been regular visits that Macedonian officials have started to the neighbouring countries of Bulgaria and Greece.

The "Albanian platform" triggered fierce debate in Macedonia, after the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party, the President and assorted nationalists claimed it endangered the stability and integrity of the country.

Tensions rose further after the Albanian parties refused to join Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE in forming a new government.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov’s initially refused to grant Zaev a mandate to form a government because of Zaev's agreement to implement the platform.

Boiling ethnic tensions culminated in nationalists staging a violent attack on Social Democrat and Albanian MPs in the Macedonian parliament on April 27.

Albanians make up about a quarter of the population of Macedonia, concentrated in the north and west of the country.

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