- Language: English
- Published: January 2013
- Region: Global, United States
Country Report Macedonia
- Published: December 2013
- Region: Macedonia
- 28 Pages
- The Economist Intelligence Unit
Recent displays of ethnic Albanian nationalism have caused some observers to fear a resurgence of ethnic unrest in Macedonia. However, we believe that these organised events have more to do with political grandstanding and infighting within the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Macedonia's largest ethnic Albanian party. Although recent more strident rhetoric from ethnic Albanians has caused some unease among ethnic Macedonians, ethnic Albanian political leaders would have much to lose by changing the status quo. As a result, we do not see major risks at present to domestic political stability, or the functioning of the current coalition government.
November 28th, the annual "Day of the Albanian Flag" was the focus of more attention than usual, owing to several occurrences considered provocative by ethnic Macedonians. The most prominent of these was a thwarted attempt by young activists to drape the flag of Albania across the walls of Skopje's Kale (Ottoman castle), one of the city's most visible landmarks. In Debar, a hamlet in western Macedonia with an ethnic Albanian majority, a huge Albanian flag was raised by the mayor. Meanwhile, Ali Ahmeti, the leader of the DUI, a member of the coalition government, spoke at the inauguration of a monument in his home village of Zajas in western Macedonia, dedicated to Albanians killed in the Balkan wars. Mr Ahmeti, who has sought to present himself as a moderate and reliable statesman since leading the 2001 nationalist uprising, used the occasion to speak of forgiveness and reconciliation.
More complex issues were evidenced in nearby Struga, which despite having an ethnic Macedonian majority, has had two consecutive ethnic Albanian mayors. This is owing to the 2005 national decentralisation programme, in which the large ethnic Macedonian Muslim village of Labunista and other similar villages were annexed to Struga. This unique Muslim population, historically known as the Torbeshi, were originally ethnic Macedonians who converted to Islam under Turkish rule. As a result, when ethnic nationalism returned to prominence among Macedonian Christians and ethnic Albanian Muslims after 1991, this unique population did not fit neatly into either side. However, since 2005 efforts at assimilation by the Albanian parties, and particularly the DUI, have led many locals to support ethnic Albanian candidates in elections. In early 2013, an Islamic protest in nearby Struga involved Torbeshi religious activists and ethnic Albanian party members. SHOW LESS READ MORE >
Country Report Macedonia
Intellectuals vs the military
Discord in the DUI
DUI military wing looks to increase its influence
Mr Ahmeti looks to bolster nationalist credentials