news 26 Nov 12

Albanians in Balkans Mark Centenary Celebration

Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia, as well as in Albania itself, are all gearing up for the centennial celebrations of the state of Albania, which declared independence in 1912.

BIRN
Pristina, Skopje, Tirana

More than 1,000 ethnic Albanians, decked out in red and black – the colours of the Albanian flag –marched on Sunday through the streets of the Macedonian capital Skopje to mark the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence from the Ottoman Empire.

On Saturday several incidents have been recorded in Skopje.  In the predominantly ethnic Albanian neighbourhood Chair the Macedonian flag was taken down and burned.

In a different neighbourhood, a group of around 30 people attacked several children.

The police have declined to comment on the ethnicity of the perpetrators and the victims, but the local media have reported that the children were Macedonian while the attackers were ethnic Albanians.

Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia’s population of 2.1 million.

Flag day commemorates November 28, 1912 when Albania proclaimed its independence from the Ottoman Empire and when the red-and-black flag of the Albanian hero, Skanderbeg, was hoisted in the town of Vlore.

In neighbouring Kosovo, whose population is overwhelmingly ethnically Albanian, they are also preparing a big celebration of their own on Wednesday in the capital, Pristina.

Albanian and Kosovo flags have already been put out on public and private buildings. Flags can also be seen fluttering from many cars and buses.

In Albania itself, the city of Tirana will mark statehood day with a four-ton birthday cake decorated with Albanian national symbols and an olive branch.

According to local media, the cake will be unveiled in the central square along. Some 7 million forks will also be provided - a symbolic invitation to share the cake offered to all the estimated 7 million Albanians in the Balkans.

Only about half that number live in Albania. The rest live in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, the southern tip of Serbia and elsewhere.

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