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News 28 Nov 12

Macedonian President Snubs Albania's Birthday Party

After Macedonian flags were torched in Tirana, Macedonia's President will not attend Wednesday’s celebration in Tirana marking the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian President, Gjorge Ivanov

President Gjorge Ivanov has decided to miss the celebration owing to the torching in Tirana of several Macedonian flags during last week’s visit of the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski.

During the visit, Gruevski’s car was also pelted with eggs.

Tirana condemned the incidents, saying it will find and prosecute the perpetrators.

Albanians from around the Balkans, as well as guests and dignitaries from the region, are marking the centennial today at a central ceremony in Tirana.

The only representatives from Macedonia are the ethnic Albanian Vice Prime Minister for European Affairs, Teuta Arifi, and the Defence Minister, Fatmir Besimi.

Ivanov’s decision not to go is correct, Macedonian diplomat Risto Nikovski says. He said the Tirana incidents were not the only reason for the President’s absence.

“Last week in Skopje the Prime Ministers of Albania and Kosovo [Sali Berisha and Hashim Thaci] attended a ceremony that ignored the Macedonian state,” Nikovski complained to Deutsche Welle on Wednesday.

The centenary celebration in Skopje on Sunday was organized by Macedonia’s biggest ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which is part of the Macedonian government. Albanian's make up about a quarter of the population of Macedonia.

Skopje political analyst Albert Musliu said the President's no-show sends the wrong message concerning bilateral relations.

“This is one of the biggest celebrations that Albanian have held in the last 20 years and to avoid it with such an excuse is inappropriate, and it will surely damage relations with Albania, Kosovo and the entire Albanian public,” Musliu said.

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