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Albanians in Macedonia should not get mixed up in the dispute between Kosovo and Serbia, Ali Ahmeti, the head of the largest ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, says.
The head of the junior ruling party in Macedonia was speaking following a meeting with Kosovo's ambassador to Macedonia, Skender Durmishi.
Asked whether the Albanians in Macedonia would seek special autonomy if Serbs in northern Kosovo obtained such status, the head of the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, said there was no point in mixing up matters in the two countries .
“We [in Macedonia] need to implement the  Ohrid Framework Agreement and... work on a faster solution to the 'name' issue [between Macedonia and Greece], which is holding back our EU and NATO membership bids,” Ahmeti said.
The Ohrid accord ended a short-lived armed conflict in Macedonia between ethnic Albanian insurgents and the Macedonian security forces. The accord granted more rights to ethnic Albanians who make up about a quarter of the population of 2.1 million. In exchange, Albanians had to accept life in a unitary state and drop demands for a federal entity of their own.
Ahmeti, who at the time of the 2001 conflict led the insurgents, shortly after became a politician and is now the most influential Albanian leader in Macedonia.
Referring to the dispute in the Serb-run sliver of northern Kosovo, where locals are blocking roads and border crossings, Ahmeti confined himself to rejecting the partition of Kosovo.
“Our region, now more than ever, needs stability and respect for laws and institutions. Any change in borders would have consequences for the [whole] Balkans and we should not be experimenting with peace and previous successes,” Ahmeti said.
He also dismissed talk of offering Serbs autonomy in northern Kosovo, and possibly the Albanian minority in southern Serbia receiving similar autonomy, saying: "It won’t solve the problem”.
Ahmeti said Serbia should not interfere with northern Kosovo.
Along with the current tensions in Kosovo, Ambassador Durmishi and Ahmeti on Tuesday tackled ways to develop cooperation between the two neighbouring countries and mulled opening new border crossings and speeding up border procedures to allow greater mobility.
Macedonia recognized Kosovo's independence in 2008 despite strong opposition from Serbia. Since then, Skopje has succeeded in maintaining good relations both with Belgrade and Pristina.
NATO peacekeeping forces used CS spray, also known as tear gas, to disperse an angry crowd of 500 Serbs, close to the Jarinje border point in northern Kosovo today.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.