FEDERALISING ALBANIA? From a slam-dunk to a nasty rebound for Rama?
By Sasha Uzunov
The federation genie is now well and truly out of the bottle in the Balkans, in particular Macedonia, and driven hard by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Albanian Kosovar counterpart Hashim “the snake” Thaci. This populist political platform could rebound on Rama and reopen cultural faultiness which criss-cross the Republic of Albania.
- Sunday 8 January, 2017 - previous post - link
SURRENDERING THE STATE Post-Macedonia ?
by Sasha Uzunov
The two year crisis in which Macedonia still finds itself in has only gotten worse. An indecisive election in December leaving no party from the Macedonian bloc able to claim a clear mandate to form government has left the ethnic Albanian parties in a huge bargaining position, so much so they are now going for broke. Their chance to push for federalisation of the country and with European Union and US backing.
In essence, the demands can never be met because they have no justification and are not intended to be met, and if they are met then they will simple lead to the federalisation of Macedonia and eventual partition and disappearance.
Albanian Prime Minister Rama (right) bringing all four major Albanian political parties from Macedonia to Tirana to work out a joint strategy had created panic stations, justifiably so, of an attempt of “foreign influence” in Macedonia. No leader from the Republic of Macedonia has ever dared to bring leaders of Macedonian ethnic minorities from Greece, Bulgaria and Albanian under the one roof in Skopje to discuss joint strategy. The juxtaposition has been well and truly noted. Yet there has been no reproach from the EU or the US for Rama to stay out. see link here
It is ironic that Macedonia’s destiny as a unitary state is being decided in Tirana.
There are two Albanian states in the Balkans; there are three Serbian states in the Balkans - Serbia, Montenegro, and Republika Srpska in Bosnia.
There is barely one Macedonian state in the Balkans. Macedonia has bent over backwards to please the EU and US and appease ever increasing Albanian demands, despite Albanian extremists from Kosovo kick starting an uprising in Macedonia in 2001, which had its genesis in NATO’s war in Kosovo in 1999.
- LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE?
Sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie, rather than awaken them…. Albania is a dysfunctional state, riven by internal divisions and cultural fault lines between two warring Albanian sub groups - the Tosks and Ghegs and further complicated by religion - Islam and Christianity plus ethnic minorities…Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Aromanians (Vlachs), Roma, “Egyptians.” see links here and here and here
The figures vary but anywhere between 20 to 25 per cent of the population in Albania does not regard itself as Albanian.
The short lived civil war in Albania in 1997, caused by a pyramid scheme scandal, revealed the intense hatreds of the north (Gheg)-south (Tosk) divide of ethnic Albanians. Prime Minister Edi Rama, in his sponsorship of a defacto Greater Albania as a political project is taking a big gamble. His intentions, we can only speculate, is to paper over these fault lines in Albanian society with “ultra nationalism.” But the question remains, could it backfire on him? Others will be watching in the Balkans and taking note.
Federalising Albania - an idea whose time has come?
A Greek Republic of Northern Epiros? Macedonian, Aromanian (Vlach) and Montenegrin cantons? More rights for Tosk Albanians?
There is large restive Greek minority in Southern Albania, which no doubt, as would Athens look upon developments in Macedonia with a keen eye. The Greek authorities would welcome the Macedonian issue being “settled” in their favour by the Republic of Macedonia disappearing. But it could unleash a ripple effect in Albania itself.
If the Albanians can pull off federalisation in Macedonia, why can’t the Greeks in Southern Albania?
A 1994 CIA report about the simmering tensions between Tirana and Athens of the large Greek minority in the Epirus region which borders Albania and Greece.
Greek nationalists claim half of Albania… Whilst Albania nationalists counter claim a large chunk of “Greek” territory in the Epirus…
After Macedonia, is Epirus the new flashpoint of Albanian nationalism as it collides with Greek nationalism? Which side will the US take, as both Albania and Greece are US allies?
Does ex UK diplomat Timothy Less advocate partitioning Albania or does this only apply to Bosnia and Macedonia ?
HISTORICAL MACEDONIAN HEARTLAND
Macedonia had fallen under Ottoman Turk occupation for five hundred years. Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria started the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 which led to the end of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Macedonia was then mostly divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. Albania took a tiny slice in 1919. Macedonians were then subjected to a brutal campaign of denationalisation and forced assimilation. Resistence broke out. The territory that was annexed by Serbia was named Južna Srbija, "Southern Serbia". In 1944, Macedonia was elevated, mostly in part by its own efforts, to republican status within Tito's Communist Yugoslavia. Though nominally the nation-state of the Macedonian people its autonomy was limited by federalist power in Belgrade. In 1991 that part became the independent state of the Republic of Macedonia.
THE FORGOTTEN MACEDONIANS OF ALBANIA:
The Albanian government recognizes as Macedonian only the minority living in the Prespa area and excludes Macedonians living in other areas, especially those in Golo Brdo who are mainly Muslim. Elementary schooling in Macedonian is provided. A radio and TV programme in Macedonian was broadcast by the Korca state radio and TV station. The areas where Macedonians live are extremely poor and many survive as day labourers in the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonians in the Prespa region are Eastern Orthodox Christian and those in Golo Brdo are predominantly Muslim.
The part of Macedonia known as Mala Prespa was given to Albania by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Albania is the only neighbouring country which recognizes the status of the Macedonian ethnic minority, but restricts it to the region of Mala Prespa. There has been instruction in Macedonian in this region since 1945 in elementary education up to the fifth form, for which textbooks have been issued by the state. It is expected that the right to instruction in their mother tongue, according to international standards, will also be extended to pupils of Macedonian ethnic affiliation in the other parts of Albania. The introduction of instruction in Macedonian in secondary education is also expected. Albania must respect the cooperation agreements in the field of education signed four years ago.
There are several organized and active associations of Macedonians in Albania, but the opportunities for political activity are small because the state does not financially support their organization. It was as late as 1993 that the first periodical in Macedonian, the journal Mir (Peace), appeared.
The four Macedonian organizations in Albania, Mir (Peace), Gora, MED (Macedonian Aegean Society) and Prespa, boycotted the 2001 census in Albania because there was no option for Macedonian in the census list. In 2003, the Association of Macedonians in Albania (consisting of the four organizations) conducted their own census of the number of Macedonians in Albania. It estimated a population of between 120,000 and 350,000, while the Albanian state only officially recognises 5,000.
In its 2005 report the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recorded complaints by ethnic Macedonians that not all sections of their community had access to mother tongue education. This was due to the fact that they live outside of areas previously categorized as ‘minority zones’ during the communist era. ECRI notes that, under Albanian law, minority-language schools are only established if a sufficient number of parents must request such a school and they must be recognized as belonging to that ethnicity. The Albanian authorities indicated to ECRI that they check the civil registry in order to determine ethnicity. However, members of minority groups living outside of areas previously categorised as ‘minority zones’ have difficulties registering their ethnic belonging in the civil registry.
ECRI furthermore recommends that the Albanian authorities ensure that people are not denied the possibility of having their ethnic identity officially recognised simply due to their geographic location in the country outside of areas previously categorised as minority zones.
In 2005 most of the Macedonian organizations united into the political party Macedonian Alliance for European Prosperity, which participated in the 2007 elections.
- Minority Rights Group International profile on Macedonians in Bulgaria. see link here.
- Minority Rights Group International profile on Macedonians in Greece. see link here
Ethnic Macedonians from Albania were forced to flee their ethnic heartland for Australia before World War II looking for a better life… they remain the forgotten Macedonians.
When Stalinist Enver Hoxha came to power in 1945 in Albania, some of these people were cut off for forever from relatives.
Here is Koli Ylo, who wrote down Macedonian as his nationality but from the village of Shulin in Mala Prespa region of Albanian. This is an Australian immigration document, amongst many others, in the National Archives of Australia, which proves a Macedonian consciousness prior to World War II.
1937 - NESTOR KOLE - of Macedonian nationality born at Globocani, ALBANIA (Mala Prespa). Nestor KOLE, born 1888 in Mala Prespa, arrived in Australia in 1928 and becomes a “naturalised” Britiish Subject or AUSTRALIAN citizen in 1937.
Published in the The West Australian newspaper, (Perth, WA), Wednesday 16 June 1937 & The Western Mail newspaper (WA), Thursday 17 June 1937.
1974 - US IGNORANT ABOUT MACEDONIANS IN ALBANIA !
Wikileaks cable - 1974 - 6th Congress of the League of Communists of Macedonia. Party President Angel Cemerski (pictured below) takes the US by surprise by expressing concern for ethnic Macedonians in Albania. He also expresses concerns for ethnic Macedonians in Greece and Bulgaria.
US diplomats, bizarrely, admit they had no idea of the existence of ethnic Macedonians in Albania !
APRIL 1991 - THE AUSTRALIAN PRESS - 50,000 Macedonians in Albania, according to "Yugoslav" estimate.
The Canberra Times newspaper (Australia), Monday 8 April 1991, page 14. see link here
"Meanwhile, informed diplomatic sources here said that almost 4000 Albanians of Macedonian origin were planning to cross illegally into Yugoslavia yesterday to celebrate Orthodox Easter with relatives.
"Albanian authorities were planning to prevent them crossing in the southern Prespa region, the sources said.
Three weeks ago, border guards shot and seriously wounded four people when 1200 ethnic Macedonians crossed the border near the northern town of Debar, the sources said. Macedonians form a community of 50,000 in Albania, according to Yugoslav estimates."
"An organisation they formed to promote their cultural and national rights, Prespa, was legalised last week."
THE UNDOCUMENTED & THE OVERDOCUMENTED - “They do the jobs that Americans and Macedonians won’t."
The Undocumented are largely Mexican illegal immigrants in the US trying to eke out a living.
The Overdocumented are ethnic Macedonians in Mala Prespa, in Albania who, to a large extent, have out of basic survival grabbed at whatever political party in the Republic of Macedonia has thrown at them, as in the scraps from the table. That has been VMRO-DPMNE, the current party in power. In return for such “help,” these Macedonians are expected to vote for VMRO-DPME, the nominally Macedonian “patriotic” party, which has been in power for a decade in coalition with Albanian nationalist party, DUI, lead by ex insurgent/terrorist Ali Ahmeti. An odd political marriage, to say the least.
Many of these Macedonians from Albania do the jobs in the Republic of Macedonia and in neighbouring Greece that Macedonians in the Republic, and ordinary Greeks won’t do, as in work in the fields or as stone masons or as labourers.
What remains interesting is this zealotry of some Macedonian “internationalists” to expose this “relationship”of ethnic Macedonians and the Republic of Macedonia; the same level of zealotry doesn’t exist in exposing the thousands upon thousands of illegal Kosovars in Macedonia; the patronage that exists. Moreover, despite Albania being a dysfunctional state and ethnic Macedonians having genuine grievances, they have never taken up arms nor engaged in any “separatist” behaviour - yet there is an obsession with “Albanian rights” in Macedonia, where aggression and starting a war in 2001 in Macedonia has been “rewarded.”
In a Wikileaks US cables - both ALBANIAN parties in Macedonia, DUI & DPA, were importing toughs or thugs from Kosovo to intimidate local Albanians at election time in Macedonia in 2006. see links here and here and here
There are some who want to help Syrian immigrants transit Macedonia for a better life in Germany but Macedonians in Albania are not allowed to seek a better life in Macedonia. It’s strange logic.
Moreover, this picking on ethnic Macedonians from Mala Prespa has another agenda - and that is to knock them out as a factor in the Republic of Macedonia - they act as a protective wall against a Greater Albania in Western Macedonia and they are an emergency ace to play on the Albanian nationalist bloc if it gets out of control.
You don’t have to be a chess grandmaster to see or read or anticipate the moves !
IN THE US:
Approximately 11 million illegal immigrants are estimated to be living in the United States. Estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center show the number of illegal immigrants has declined to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007. The majority of the illegal immigrants are from Mexico. Illegal immigration has long been controversial.
In 2007, President George W. Bush called for Congress to endorse his guest worker proposal, stating that illegal immigrants took jobs that Americans would not take.
The Pew Hispanic Center notes that while the number of legal immigrants arriving has not varied substantially since the 1980s, the number of illegal immigrants has increased dramatically and, since the mid-1990s, has surpassed the number of legal immigrants. Penalties for employers of illegal immigrants, of $2,000–$10,000 and up to six months’ imprisonment, go largely unenforced.
Political groups like Americans for Legal Immigration have been formed to demand enforcement of immigration laws and secure borders. ALIPAC has also called for “safe departure” border checkpoints, free of criminal checks. Sources: see links here and here