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news 06 Mar 17

Serbian Media Blame Macedonian Crisis on Albanian 'Terrorists'

The political crisis in Macedonia is receiving extensive coverage in Serbia, where the media are accusing ethnic Albanians of seeking Macedonia's destruction, terrorism and a 'Greater Albania' with help of the West.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbiantabloid Informer's front page claiming that the West plans to star a war in the Balkans and to split Macedonia.

The media in Serbia are following the crisis in Macedonia with intense interest, training their fire aggressively on the so-called "Albanian Platform" - a set of Albanian conditions for their participation in any new Macedonian government. 

One of the key points of the platform concerns extending the official use of the Albanian language.

But the issue that has caused the sharpest reaction in Serbia is the demand for Macedonia's parliament to condemn "the genocide against Albanians in Macedonia" from 1912 to 1956 - 1912 marking the year when Serbia seized Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire.

"Albanians planning bloody clashes”, “Shiptar [a derogatory term for Albanians] terrorists", and "Soros’s mercenary, " are just some of the latest headlines in the Serbian newspapers and web portals covering events in Macedonia in the past few days.

The state-owned Vecernje Novosti on Sunday accused the main Albanian party in Macedonia, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, of pushing a "tyrannical platform" in its negotiations on joining a new government.

The Albanian Platform, according to Novosti, could lead to a "series of moves that divide Macedonia on ethnic lines, into cantons or federal units."

Macedonia's political crisis has escalated since the tightly fought general election in December failed to produce a clear victor.

Zoran Zaev, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, is insisting on a mandate to form the government on the grounds that he has a majority in parliament.

But Macedonia's President, Gjorge Ivanov, has refused to give him one, claiming acceptance of the Albanian Platform endangers Macedonia's existence.

Supporters of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party have been staging almost daily street protests. Like VMRO DPMNE, the demonstrators claim a potential coalition government between the SDSM and the ethnic Albanian parties would endanger Macedonia's sovereignty.

In his comment published on Monday in the Serbian daily Politika, an MP from the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, Miroslav Lazanski, said another snap election was the only way out of the crisis, blaming the Albanians for making exaggerated demands.

He said acceptance of the Albanian Platform would be tantamount to "the capitulation of Macedonia" and accused the West of hypocrisy for supporting the SDSM's right to form a government in coalition with the Albanian parties. "What hypocrisy, unprecedented hypocrisy!,” Lazanski wrote on Monday.

The Serbian edition of the Russian outlet Sputnik on Sunday cited academician Kaplan Burovic as saying that the Albanians “want the whole of the Balkans and Europe”.

The daily Blic, considered close to the ruling Progressive Party in Serbia, on Friday published a  statement by Savo Klimovski, former President of the Parliament and President of Macedonia, saying that it would be “naive to believe that Albanians planted this cuckoo's egg since the elections.

“It is a broader strategic policy plan, made in Tirana and sealed in Pristina. Its creators were [Albanian Prime Miknister] Edi Rama and [Kosovo President] Hashim Thaci,” said Klimovski.

The pro-government tabloid Informer meanwhile wrote more aggressively: “Shiptars are threatening Macedonia with war”, accusing Prime Minister Rama and President Thaci of calling for an uprising of Albanians in Macedonia.

Informer on Saturday published photo of Zaev alongside what it called the “Shiptar terorist” Bekim Aliu, who allegedly shot at the Macedonian police and citizens during a bloody shootout in the town of Kumanovo in Macedonia.

Informer on Sunday claimed Albanians are not giving up on their “Great Albania” plan, and editor-in-chief Dragan Vucicevic wrote in his comment on the same day that Serbia should learn from “Macedonia's lessons” and not let “NATO command” Serbia, as personified in the opposition candidates for the post of Serbian president, who it said want to “cause a colourful revolution” with help of “Western ambassadors”.

The term "colourful revolutions" refers to the "orange" street revolution in Ukraine and "rose" one in Georgia.

Note: This article was amended on March 6 to include a correct in a statement by Savo Klimovski, former President of Macedonia, saying that it would be “naive to believe that Albanians planted this cuckoo's egg since the elections. The previous version of the article claimed it was said by Kiro Gligorov, also former Macedonian president.

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