Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Delaying agreements feeds "Albanian nationalism", Macedonian commentary

Text of commentary by Emin Azemi: "What is Albanian nationalism?", published by Macedonian Albanian-language newspaper Fakti on 27 December

The pan-Albanian movement is seen by many observers as a serious danger to the stability in the Balkans. A century of border changes has resulted in Albanians being dispersed among between Kosova [Kosovo], Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Serbia. The NLA [National Liberation Army - UCK in Albanian] in Macedonia and other groups have undertaken violent campaigns for the rights of ethnic Albanians. How far do their ambitions go?

This is how the International Crisis Group [ICG] presented open issues at the beginning of this year.

The ICG study suggested the pan-Albanian movement is more complex and more layered than crude characterisations about a Greater Albania or Greater Kosova. It is worth stressing that the NLA in Macedonia and the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] in Kosova increased their support when they abandoned pan-Albanian goals and focused on more rights for their people.

The wish of the Kosova Albanian population for independence is supported by the majority of Albanians in the Balkans. However, an independent Kosova is an entirely different matter from Greater Albania. The problem of the international community is to manage the talks on the final status of Kosova without destabilizing its neighbours.

However, most of the Macedonian-language media in Shkup [Skopje] and the majority of Macedonian academicians and intellectuals do not differentiate between Greater Albania and independent Kosova.

Dissatisfaction with the delays in implementing political agreements and promised reforms has not been sufficiently studied by ruling political oligarchies. This dissatisfaction could become a permanent breeding ground for Albanian nationalism. This nationalism can be controlled depending on the degree of implementation of political agreements (Oher [Ohrid], Koncul [Konculj], etc), which have been brokered by the international community, but also by Albanians, who are the ones who should be fighting the evil in their midst rather than others having to do it.

The quality of the offer for decentralization and speedier implementation of the Oher Agreement in Macedonia and independence for Kosova in exchange for assurances by all Albanian entities in the Balkans that "the current borders in Southeastern Europe will remain unchanged" would also help to stabilize the situation.

It is as much up to Albanians as it is up to the governments in Macedonia, Serbia, Kosova and Montenegro to generate positive energy for lasting stability to pave a cleared path for integration of the region in the EU and NATO.

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