Citation
The Albanian-Macedonian conflict

Material Information

Title:
The Albanian-Macedonian conflict the peace process and some perspectives
Creator:
Andoni, Eno
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
86 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political Science
Committee Chair:
Stefes, Christopher
Committee Members:
McGuffey, Lucy
Kazak, Amin

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Since 1992 ( fast )
Albanians -- Macedonia (Republic) ( lcsh )
Nationalism -- Macedonia (Republic) ( lcsh )
Albanians ( fast )
Ethnic relations ( fast )
Nationalism ( fast )
Ethnic relations -- Macedonia (Republic) ( lcsh )
History -- Macedonia (Republic) -- 1992- ( lcsh )
Macedonia (Republic) ( fast )
Genre:
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 82-86).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Eno Andoni.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
55200874 ( OCLC )
ocm55200874
Classification:
LD1190.L54 2003m A52 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN CONFLICT. THE PEACE
PROCESS AND SOME PERSPECTIVES
B.A., University of Tirana, 1999
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
hi partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
2003
by
Eno Andoni


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Eno Andoni
has been approved
by
oh \bo joy
Date
Amin Kazak


Andoni, Eno (M.A., Political Science)
The Albanian-Macedonian Conflict. The Peace Process And Some Perspectives
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Christoph Stefes
ABSTRACT
Geographic Macedonia has historically been the epicenter of competing
possession claims between its surrounding neighbors, Serbia, Greece, and
Bulgaria. The people who live in Macedonia have endured the promises and the
failures of nationalism for long periods of time. When Macedonia finally became
an independent country in 1991, the centrifugal currents of ethnonationalism
determined the outcome of the sociopolitical aspects of the Macedonian Republic
in the years to come. This study uses historical and comparative analysis to reveal
how nationalist policies constructed a Macedonian identity in the Yugoslavian
era, and how the evolution of nationalism based on one dominant ethnic group has
created a modem conflict between the Albanian minority of Macedonia and the
Macedonia majority. It also shows how legalized ethnic divisions framed
constitutionally can cause serious ethnic ruptures that seriously endanger the
stability of the state. This study, points however, that the ethnic divergences have
an instrumental aspect indicating that divisive issues display a competing nature
over resources and primacy within the Macedonian economic and political realm.
Therefore, this thesis argues how power-sharing initiatives can be successful in
building common political grounds and reliable civic institutions that the two
communities can trust in order to overcome historical distrust and fears that have
kept them apart.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
Christpon Stefes
m


CONTENTS
Chapter
1. Introduction.....................................................1
1.1 Literature Review..............................................11
2. The Balkan Image and Ethnic Nationalism........................18
2.1A brief history of Macedonia....................................29
2.2 The Current Albanian-Macedonian Conflict -
The Politics of Nationalism....................................40
3. Modem Day Approaches to Conflict Resolution.....................62
3.1 Power Sharing approaches.......................................64
4. Conclusion......................................................74
Bibliography
iv
82


1.
Introduction
The Balkan region has historically been an unstable part of Europe. The area
has been a center of ethnic clashes and radical nationalistic movements
throughout modem history. The last tragic conflict, the Yugoslavian bloody
disintegration, is still fresh in our collective memory. Just when the international
community believed that Balkans was reintegrating itself into the European
community, war, caused by ethnic divergences, struck again. This time it was
Macedonia: a region whose ethnic belonging has been historically debated to be a
national property of Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. But the current crisis presents a
conflict of a totally different nature from the usual territorial, ethnic-based conflict
that Greece, Bulgaria, and Macedonia have long been involved. It is a conflict
between the Macedonian-Albanian minority that constitutes around 23-30% of the
whole Macedonian population, and the ethnic Macedonian community. Thus, the
Macedonian question has evolved from a historical enmity between Greece,
Bulgaria, and Serbia, into an armed conflict of modem times between the
Albanians and Macedonians. Unfortunately, the unpleasant term powder keg,
itself a negative connotation, acquires an almost perfect meaning when used as a
signifier for Macedonias recent troubles.
After many decades of ethnic submission under Titos Yugoslavia, which
recognized Albanians only as a nationality (narodnost) not as a nation (narod) of
1


the Federation, the Albanian community of Macedonia started to organize for
broadened political rights. After this political movement for equal representation
failed to improve their status, Albanians started engaging in direct military
conflict with the Macedonian government. The Macedonians considered such
claims as separatist and also as threatening to the sovereignty of the Macedonian
state. When the conflict aggravated, claiming lives of both communities, the West
became more involved in trying to find a satisfactory solution, acceptable to both,
Macedonians and Albanians. After closely examining the situation, the European
negotiators agreed that the Macedonian government should at least discuss with
the Albanians side their demands for increased representation, the right to use the
Albanian language, and the right to be recognized as an equal ethnic group within
the Macedonian Republic. As the conflict in Macedonia became more violent, the
consensus of the Macedonian leaders was that the Albanian demands were
excessive within the Macedonian realm of power and that their fulfillment would
significantly undermine the fragile identity of the Macedonian state. While some
moderate Macedonian intellectuals state that minority-right improvements need to
be implemented in order to secure the cooperation of the whole Macedonian
citizenry in the process of building the new Macedonian state, other radical
nationalist leaders stress the importance of maintaining the present situation in
which the Albanian minority is excluded from enjoying extended rights. The
conflict has been less violent recently as the European negotiators are trying hard
2


to reconcile the two sides through solutions that are mutually accepted. These
approaches consist of proposals that urge for constitutional concessions from the
Macedonians. While there is no principal disagreement, at least officially, there is
a common perception that the Macedonians would be very hard-pressed to go
ahead and implement such drastic changes, which they view as dramatic and
perilous to their very existence as a nation.
In this study I argue that by implementing the Albanian demands for expanded
rights, the Macedonian state will not disintegrate. On the contrary, it will become
more viable as a modem state that has the support of all citizens regardless of
their ethnic backgrounds, and the making of a multicultural society that respects
its citizens equally. By accepting the Albanian demands the Macedonians achieve
their long sought dream of having a sovereign uncontested state, at least in
regards to the Albanians. Albanians and Macedonians alike do not share deep-
hatred for each other that can lead them toward a definitive separation, but rather
disagree about the distribution of political power and economic resources. A
useful strategy to bring the two sides together would be an approach that focuses
on the possible power-sharing avenues that conflicting parties can pursue.
My main focus throughout this study will be in presenting enough evidence
and providing reasonable arguments as to why changes in the Macedonian realm
of power politics would not compromise its existence as the state of Macedonians.
At the same time, in the absence of irreconcilable attitudes between Macedonians
3


and Albanians, I will argue that the Albanian-Macedonian co-existence through
integrative initiatives can indeed be an optimal solution to the conflict. These
arguments will be examined through an analysis of the political psychology of
Albanians and Macedonians alike, and the compatibility of their manifested
political reactions to the proposed solution. The analysis will focus on the
experiences and behavior of both elites and ordinary citizens, in finding common
premises of economic and political interaction. Then, by presenting the integrative
measures as an established conflict resolution approach in Macedonia, I will
construct an argument to my main thesis of co-existence.
The approach on this subject is in the form of a case study of the Macedonian-
Albanian conflict and some perspectives under the light of the peace process that
has recently started with the initiative of the European Union. I will point to the
sensitive spots of the conflict such as the issues concerning the public use of the
Albanian language and flag, the request for an Albanian university, the ever-
present danger of partition of Albanians, and the potential chances for genuine
cooperation between ethnic groups. This study also attempts to discount widely
held beliefs that over-emphasize either the religious aspect of the conflict, or point
to the alleged inherent conflictive disposition of the Balkan people. Many authors
have argued that the Albanians, who usually are ignorantly portrayed in Europe as
devoted Muslims, are not particularly religious (Poulton, 2000, Cviic, 1999).
This aspect is particularly central to the understanding of the conflict. The self-
4


distancing of some European political actors from the conflict on the grounds of
conceptual incompatibility of civic ideas on democracy, between them (the West)
and the Balkan people (the East), and more specifically in the handling of ethnical
cleavages, consequently creates an artificial gap between Western and Eastern
Europe. It also stems from established beliefs of barbarous East opposed to the
peaceful West. Many approaches fail to retain a continuous contact with the
developing dynamics of this conflict. Positioned in time in the globalization era,
when material gains often outweigh moral ones, the conflict itself evolves and
transforms into different dimensions, jeopardizing all conventional constructs
about nationalist conflicts. Consequently, established Western constructs about
the management of ethno-nationalist conflicts often remain isolated from the real
dynamics of the conflict considering
The tensions between Slav-Macedonians and their Albanian fellow-
citizens are not products of primordial animosities between tribes nor
are they extensions of ethnic tensions that can stake universal claims.
They are certainly tensions which are constructed around ethnic
signifiers, often stated in essentialist terms by the communities
themselves, but one can observe that the parameters of the conflict are
closely defined by administrative boundaries which have specific
historical as opposed to ethnic significance (Blumi, 1999, 9).
Obviously, a full-blown ethnic conflict has failed to materialize in Macedonia
in the form of expulsion or accentuated ethnic hatred between Muslim Albanians
and Orthodox Macedonians, leading to the conclusion that more than anything it
is a conflict of rather important socio-economic-political interests between these
5


two communities. It is obvious that the Albanian rendering of Macedonia is
much closer to the American instrumental ethos of state, and close to the
European Unions new found totem of the multi-cultural society (Vaknin,
2001). Such contentions clearly point to the fact that rather than primordial
animosity the socio-political differences between the citizens of Macedonia fit the
instrumental category of divergences, indicating how the identity of the individual
changes as the surrounding conditions change. And to be accurate, the new
republic of Macedonia has experienced many cultural, societal and political
transformations in the last decade, after the declaration of independence in 1991.
The newfound freedom of the Macedonian leadership after 1991 has led to ethnic
mobilization and elite competition over domination of the state and its political
and economic resources. This is also known as the communalist approach,
explaining causes for ethnic strains within the competition over resources
dominion, and it serves as my theoretical tool for examining the Albanian-
Macedonian conflict.
The real issue in this whole complicated conflict seems to reside in the
question of the viability of Macedonian Albanian coexistence. Several observers
have pondered whether ethnic marginalization of Albanians will lead to partition
(Vaknin, Ackermann). Throughout this study I argue that the Albanians and
Macedonians, for all the hostility and animosity expressed at each other, can
indeed coexist within Macedonias current borders. For the tradition and history
6


they share is more essential than the troubles that separate them. Their
commonness is stronger than their distinction. The strong nationalist wave that
unleashed through Balkans in the last decade cannot erase centuries of co-
habitance and good will. The most important challenge will be to withstand the
promises and romantic allures of nationalism promoted by irresponsible leaders,
and to realistically evaluate the chances for peaceful coexistence in the scope of
democratic ideals of twentieth century, the same ideals that made Macedonia an
independent sovereign country in 1991. For Macedonia, to survive the nationalist
pressure of all sides, all elements of population should be enfranchised
economically and politically beyond ethnic polarization into a legitimate system,
which social fabric withstands the pressure of ethnic mobilization, and has the
endorsement of all of Macedonias constituents.
The struggle against the ethnic sentiments that erupted during the last decade
will be a complicated one. Furthermore, the longer the conflict lingers the harder
it will be to bring both sides to a consensus. With the conflict still unresolved and
with distrust spread widely, the time is perfect for nationalist myths to be
constructed against other ethnicities that usually become portrayed as destructive
and dangerous to anothers nation very existence. The problem becomes even
more difficult when we take into consideration that throughout the Balkan area
nationalism has been pursued as the only weapon that truly amends past historical
injustices, and yet, can assert new identities. Those identities that were suppressed
7


either by force as both Albanians and Macedonians accuse each other, or by
ideology as Communism unsuccessfully attempted to accomplish in the name of
proletarian idealism. The ideological impact of nationalism is still a power to
reckon with as long as the old and new elites, who cling to power in the Balkans,
utilize the nationalist rhetoric as means for rallying people behind them.
While there are many shared cultural beliefs and traditional customs between
Albanians and Macedonians living in Macedonia that stem from the same Balkan
commonness, it will be more challenging to construct a legal framework for
cooperation. Among many conflict resolution approaches, power sharing has
resulted to be an effective strategy that creates sound legal spaces for long-term
cooperation across ethnic cleavages. I believe that in the absence of fundamental
contradictions between Albanians and Macedonians, rather than a conscociational
approach which preserves different identities but also retains the ethnic gap, an
integrative approach that stresses power-sharing across ethnic lines and the
formation of political blocks that have the backing of a multiethnic electorate
would ascertain an improved path towards a better future of coexistence. At the
same time, the ruling elites would have a harder time retaining a homogenous
group of voters that stays always loyal to them, since the electorate can transcend
ethnic divisions by voting for the party of their choice. As the Bosnian case
shows, the creation of policomunnal federations as the conscociational practice
suggests, has led to ethnically defined federations that have less and less in
8


common. Limited power sharing in the local level has been already experienced
in Macedonias Western areas and no major obstacles have been reported
(Shekulli, 2001). Saying that groups should be understood not as entirely other,
but as overlapping, as constituted in relation to one another and thus shifting their
attributes and needs in accordance with what relations are salient. This relational
conception of difference as contextual helps make more apparent the necessity
and possibility of political togetherness in difference (Ward, 1999).
Furthermore, the European political community fully encourages coexistence
beyond ethnic and cultural boundaries. In my view, this support greatly increases
Macedonias chances for becoming an equal democratic society.
This study is divided in four chapters. It employs narratives by presenting an
overview of Balkan and Macedonian history and an analysis by examining the
grounds of division and coexistence. The first chapter is an introduction and a
literature review. The second chapter presents a historical and cultural view of the
Balkans, a history of the region known as Macedonia and concludes with
developments of the Macedonian-Albanian conflict in our times and some
valuable perspectives from both sides. The third chapter offers different
interpretations for the origin of ethnic conflicts and societal alienation, and
examines possible approaches for pluralistic cooperation that transcend ethnic
lines, focusing mainly on the integrative approach as a potential long term means
9


to concretely bring sides closer together. Finally in the last chapter, I will briefly
conclude my findings.
10


1.1 Literature Review
Unfortunately, the literature that specifically deals with the Albanian-
Macedonian conflict is relatively limited. A reason for that is the fairly recent
outbreak of conflict. After wars erupted in Yugoslavia, all the attention focused
on Macedonia centered on its historical hostility towards Greece and Bulgaria and
vice versa, overshadowing the growing strains between the Albanian community
and the Macedonian authorities. It is certainly possible to believe that the shortage
of studies on Macedonia comes from the fact that the first wars in Yugoslavia
were fought in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, and most studies were focused in
those events. A major problem with books about Macedonia is that they are more
on the descriptive and theoretical side of the issue. As conflict erupted violently in
a relatively short period of time, many studies seek to emphasize the prevention of
conflict rather than examine its essence.
Extended articles about Macedonias new problems have been published by
Duncan Perry, Misha Glenny, Janusz Bugajski, Biljana Vankovska, Graham
Craft, Isa Blumi, Stefan Troebst, Kristina Balakovska, etc. Yet, there are plenty of
quality books that deal with Yugoslavian affairs and for that matter with
Macedonias struggles for international recognition. Other books are explicitly
concerned with the Macedonian Question and shed light on a lot of intriguing
aspects of its history, culture and social perceptions.
11


Hugh Poulton, a specialist in Balkan and Turkish affairs, is a respectable
scholar who has written extensively on Macedonias identity under a historical
perspective. His publications include The Balkans: Minorities and States in
Conflict, a valuable statistical account of Balkans peoples and minorities in other
states, Muslim Identity and the Balkan State (co-edited with S. Taji-Farouki), a
collection of works by different scholars which reveals the fact that despite
dramatic changes Muslim communities in Southeastern Europe have remained an
integral part of the Balkans, and that among Albanians in Macedonia Islam
appears incapable at present of fully overcoming the primary influence of
ethnicity (pg, 113). In Who Are The Macedonians? (2000) Poulton traces the
origins of people who occupy todays Macedonia from antiquity while revealing
the construction of national identities under the Ottoman rule and argues that
some nations have predated the onset of modem nationalism, whereas in the
modem world nations can in certain circumstances and under certain conditions
be seen to be created-a process of ethnogenesis (pg, 3). He also observes that
nationalists use history to show past control of a territory to which a modem
nation can claim affinity. Macedonia is a prime example of that (pg, 8).
Generally, Poulton maintains that the Macedonians have an inherentlty racist
attitude toward Albanians (pg, 193).
Loring Danforth, an anthropologist at Bates College, has written a widely
acclaimed book on Macedonians, The Macedonian Conflict (1995), but his
12


emphasis is mostly on Macedonias relations to Greece. This book, nevertheless,
reveals interesting insights regarding the construction of identities within the
Macedonian Diaspora and how members of the same family identify themselves
as Greek or Macedonian. For Danforth the Macedonian conflict is not simply a
dispute between two Balkan states, Greece and Macedonia, but a global cultural
war that involves ethnic minorities, diaspora communities, and international
organizations like EU and UN (pg, 7).
Another knowledgeable author, Alice Ackermann, has contributed modestly
to the subject with her book Making Peace Prevail (2000), which is an
observation of the Macedonian affairs from the International Relations
perspective and a discourse as to how to prevent the escalation of ethnic conflicts
from the international organizations perspective. In her words it takes
considerable international supervision and intervention in order to secure a safe
path for Macedonias future. Later she examines how the destabilization that
befell Macedonia in 1999 was not of its own making but the work of external
forces such as expulsed Kosovar Albanians from Serbia who placed all of
Southeastern Europe at risk, and indirectly the rest of Europe as well.
James Pettifer is a renowned scholar who specializes mainly in Balkan
studies. He is a visiting professor at the Institute of Balkan Studies in
Thessaloniki. His work The New Macedonian Question (1999) is a valuable
contribution for those who want to familiarize themselves with the historical
13


evolution of the Macedonian region, geographically and culturally. It contains
essays by several prominent Balkan scholars. Petiffer sums up best when he states
that the purpose of the book is not to put forward any blueprint for solution of
the issue but to indicate what the basis of the old Macedonian question was and to
suggest some comparisons between the past and the present. This approach
would facilitate understanding of the various problems for the international
community working on this issue (Pettifer, 1999, 12). The most helpful account
of this collection comes from Stefan Troebst, probably one best experts of the
Eastern Europe and Macedonia, who asserts that the Republic of Macedonia is
not a result of systematic work by a Macedonian national movement, but a by-
product of the implosion of the post-Titoist Yugoslavia (Troebst at Pettifer,
1999, 102). This is a central assertion that basically discards claims that
Macedonian animosity toward their Albanian counterparts originates from deeply
entrenched historical variances based on mutually exclusive ethnic mentalities.
Victor Roudometof has edited The Macedonian Question, a collection of
essays from other renowned Macedonian experts like Danforth, Perry, Brown and
others. This book is rich in information about culture and history of Macedonia,
explaining the twisted history of ethnicities inhabiting Macedonia.
Stephanie Sievers and Bemd Fischer have edited Albanian Identities, Myth
and History (2002), a helpful piece of secondary importance regarding myth
construction and deconstruction within Albanias conventional identity. In this
14


book, Fatos Lubonja points how in Albania the dominant representation of
history did not make sense for recipients in terms of their individual memory,
experiences and expectations. Also, emerging subgroups in contemporary
society which re-emphasize their particular mythistories, provide illustrative
examples of ideological dilemmas emerging when national myths of homogeneity
are in conflict with apparent diversity (pg, 16). Another author, Pirro Misha,
notes that Albanian nationalism resulted from the need to defend an identity
denied within the processes of disintegration of the late Ottoman Empire and by
the other evolving Balkan nation-states, but also as a reaction to experiences of
repeated, often violent encounters (pg, 21). This is a crucial assessment for those
arguments that label Albanian nationalism as historically overreacting.
Nicholas Gianaris, a distinguished Balkan expert, has contributed positively in
the field of regions socio-politics with his book The Balkan Countries (1996).
Gianaris properly affirms that the complex terrain, the struggles against
invasions, and the political and economic instability within the region have
hindered regional cooperation and racial assimilation of the Balkan peoples (pg,
10). On the other hand the strategic position of the peninsula has attracted the
intrusion and repeated involvement of the great powers in affairs of these
countries, for the promotion of their geopolitical and economic interests.
There are many Balkan specialists whose work is published independently in
political journals or websites. Zlatko Isakovic, a very knowledgeable Balkan
15


analyst, insists that minority populations will not be secure unless they develop
workable political and economic relationships with majority populations
(Isakovic, 1997, 53). He goes to imply as a loyal minority could expect a
present-time majority to be a loyal minority in the future, minorities must come to
see the majority position as own future position. For Isakovic, political elites
wish to take control over the same territory and resources. And surprisingly,
these are the same nations who have lived in this area for centuries, waging wars
but also being good neighbors and even close relatives through mixed marriages
(Isakovic, 1997, 56).
Carsten Wieland, a German expert of ethnic conflict, emphasizes the fact that
the Republic of Macedonia is currently in a state of psychological nation-finding.
In this process two levels of national concepts and national identification compete
with each other. He identifies these concepts as the political-etatist and the
ethnic concept. If the Macedonian state wants to be fully recognized by its
neighbors, it must ensure that a clear concept of the nation is reached (Wieland,
1999,13).
Biljana Vankovska, a professor at the University of Skopje, comments that
Macedonia is very sensitive to the destabilizing waves of the region and
therefore can be quickly turned into a powder-keg (Vankovska, 2000).
Isa Blumi, an AJbanian scholar, contends that the Wests approach to
Macedonias problems is doomed to fail as long as it views it as an ideal
16


environment for the materialization of the clash between civilizations made
possible by essentialized ethnicity and identity (Blumi, 2001).
Graham Craft, an English researcher, believes that Macedonias troubles
with its neighbors are not merely a reflection of ancient hatred or tribal behavior.
The solution is more likely to be found in an attempt to transcend the confines of
sovereign nation states (Craft 1996,12).
Kristina Balakovska, a young analyst from Macedonia, argues that mutual
fears, suspicions and feelings of group vulnerability on both sides are elements
that have defined the national psychics of the Macedonian and Albanian ethnic
communities (New Balkan Politics 3, 2002, 9). Thomas Buck, on the other hand,
attributes problems to the official under-representation and discrimination of
Albanians in Macedonia. (CIOAnet, 1996, 7).
Other informative sources include recommendations from The International
Crisis Group (a renowned organization for international conflicts) whose
approach is to instruct and to channel policy interests into the right direction,
rather than assist directly the sides in conflict.
17


2. The Balkan Image and Ethnic Nationalism.
One cannot entirely understand Macedonia without first observing the area it
occupies both geographically and metaphorically: the Balkans. Much has
happened in Europe this last century that has had either political actors or impetus
coming from the Balkans region. For its size, Balkan events have occupied a
much larger place in European politics than common sense would suggest. In a
similar note Churchill once famously said that the Balkans generate more stories
than they can consume. A downbeat Bismarck could not be appeased that the
Balkans are not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. It is
simple then to rationalize about the perpetual negative credence that such
depreciatory remarks transmit to modem day approaches toward Balkan ethnic
issues.
The twentieth century started with a World War provoked in Bosnia and
ironically ended with the NATO intervention against war in Bosnia and Kosovo.
But the subsistence of such events is directly connected to centuries of
antagonism caused by the amalgamation of different ethnicities, religions,
cultures, habits of life, and if those were not enough, foreign intervention from the
west. A decent analysis should be careful to locate the precipitation of history of
Balkans at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa, and then
to contemplate several possible outcomes.
18


The very name Balkan, which comes from the Turkish word meaning
mountain, is indicative of the mountainous nature of the region. This geographic
element has contributed toward keeping a distance between different people living
in the area. Aware of this position Gianaris comments: The complex terrain, the
struggle against invasions, and the political and economic instability within the
region have hindered regional cooperation and racial assimilation of the Balkan
peoples in a way no other countries have experienced throughout history
(Gianaris, 1996).
It is a historical fact that the Balkans has been inhabited since 1000 B.C. The
Balkan region provides commercial routes, has a good climate and for too long
has been the place where East meets West, Christianity meets Islam. It is believed
that Illyrians to whom todays Albanians trace ancestry settled first in the area
around 1000 B.C., and then Hellenes moved in. In the seventh century Slavs
followed into Balkans coming from Asia, pushing Illyrians south. Later they were
transformed into Serbs, Croats, Macedonians, Slovenians, and Bulgarians.
Turkish people appeared in the Balkans in the seventh century as well. Romans,
who invaded the area just before the first millennium, conveyed Christianity, but
when the empire was divided every part south of Croatia and Slovenia remained
under Byzantine jurisdiction. This was the first development that created
dissimilar cultural identification based on different religions. By the fourteenth
century the Ottomans were moving toward the Balkans, effectively setting up
19


their millet system of administration, built upon religious differences of
nationalities (who at the time possessed collective rather than national identities)
under the Ottoman empire. The chief of millet was in charge of every aspect of
living under his jurisdiction. Nationalities who converted to Ottomans Muslim
religion acquired a higher degree of preference by Sultan, those who did not were
treated differently. At the same time different religions radiated different customs
and cultures preserving different national identities. This conservation is exactly
what Mazower describes as a social fabric divided into a modernizing surface
and a traditional substance (Mazower, 2000).
The decline of the empire by late nineteenth century set the stage for
nationalistic movements for all the nationalities once under Ottoman umbrella.
Territorial boundaries within the Ottoman Empire were never clearly settled,
leading to violent contention of almost every new state in the aftermath of
liberation.
After WWII, the newly created Eastern block was made of all Balkan
countries with the exception of Greece and Turkey. Communist regimes for as
long as they lasted managed to keep nationalist ideas in check by various means,
mainly stressing the internal unity. In Yugoslavia ethnic co-existence of its
nationalities was achieved through federalization. As soon as the Communist
regimes collapsed in the early 1990s, previously conserved nationalist sentiments
regained their allure to the detriment of the new democracies.
20


The demise of Marxist regimes and the advent of democracy in Eastern
Europe and the Balkans blew off the lid that kept simmering
dissatisfaction and national agitation under wraps. Expanded political
participation, provided a window of opportunity for ethnic groups and
exacerbated the likelihood that conflict would emerge either as a result
of, or in spite of, democratization (Danopoulos, 1997,11).
The nationalist tide, which acquired strength on widespread vernacular
mobilization, was particularly far-reaching considering that in the Balkans one or
more groups in a given state are members of an ethnic group that governs a
neighboring state. Yugoslavia, a country that experienced four wars in eight years,
is a prime example of the tumult that swept Southeastern Balkans this last decade.
Yugoslavia (which literally means land of the South Slavs) was created in
1918 as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. After WWII, three new
republics were added to the union, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
Montenegro, while Kosovo and Vojvodina were autonomous provinces of Serbia.
This time it was named the Second Yugoslavia and the communists in power,
mindful of the fragile ethnic balances that proved hardly manageable during the
reign of first Yugoslavia, promoted with minimal success through the slogan
Brotherhood and Unity an all-inclusive genuine Yugoslavian identity that
superseded any national, religious or ethnic identity. However, there was a
different recognition for Albanians and Hungarians who were considered
nationalities as opposed to other constituents of the state who were discerned as
nations.
21


Accommodating different ethnicities inside Yugoslavia nevertheless proved to
be a difficult experiment. Despite efforts to displace ethnic identification,
Yugoslavia was a melting pot that never quite melted (Treadwey in
Danopoulos, 1997, 32). Titos charisma and maneuvering between west and east
only prolonged its existence. Rather then a civic state, Yugoslavia was a triumph
of constitutional nationalism; a constitutional and legal structure that privileges
the members of one ethnically defined nation over the others resident in a
particular state (Hayden, 1996). This system officially legitimized discrimination
of minorities like Albanians, Hungarians, Romas, and Turks. Also, the
authoritarian policies that had alienated minorities systematically mobilized a
backlash in the form of military confrontations all over Yugoslavia when
communist grip weakened. This proved to be the last fatal development in the
country of brotherhood and unity. The political dynamic of Yugoslavias
collapse was not driven by the desires of citizens within the republics, but rather
the by demand that each nation, ethnically defined, should be in its own sovereign
state (Hayden, 1999).
Several factors should be considered when we estimate Balkans position
during communist rule. First, we should assess limitations for maneuvering within
its given semi-supreme jurisdiction in a Cold War context. In this context
Balkans were given a very narrow social and ideological base for formulating
guiding policies; they were in effect denied the opportunity to create pluralistic
22


political environments (Tupurkovski at Danopoulos, 1997, 138). Besides,
political uniformity as practiced by the bloc structure provided temporary relief
from a series of problems. Strategic parity in Europe implied a sociopolitical
status quo for Balkans. In this framework major security considerations
substituted for the necessary and historically unavoidable social and political
processes in the Balkan countries (Tupurkovski at Danopoulos, 1997, 139). Even
with all the inclusive measures with the intent of suppressing nationalistic
sentiments that communists imposed upon their people communism never stood
a chance of bypassing, let alone supplanting nationalism, because nation rather
than class has been the main political category throughout regions history
(Cviic, 1995, 92). This accurate observation was once more vindicated in the
post-communism aftermath of Yugoslavia.
Where did the spark that ignited the tragic wars of the nineties and so many
other less violent conflicts in Balkans come from? This question has mobilized
countless intellectual input and is still a matter of contention. Many scholars
retain that, more than anything, religion has been the motive that transforms
massive popular disgruntlement into concrete national discordance. In Balkans
three major religious beliefs are practiced: Orthodoxy, Christianity, and Islam.
While there is a religious aspect to the unrest in Balkans, it is not in the form of
strains between religions. Rather, it has to do with the very nature of the religions
23


themselves. Examining fundamental principles of Orthodox Christianity,
Kosokolakis states that:
The historical origins of contemporary individual human rights lie in the
natural law which has been alien to Orthodoxy. In Western Europe the
new nation-states were an affirmation of secularism and liberalism. In
sharp contrast in the Balkans nationalism and religion, particularly
Orthodoxy, became intertwined. The ethnos and orthodoxy became a
unity. The inexorable conclusion which flows from the above analysis is
that individual human rights cannot be derived from Orthodox theology
(Kosokolakis in Pettifer, 1999, 231).
Similarly, Orthodoxy rejects modem individualism and modem society
(Lipovatz at Petiffer, 1999, 45). On the contrary, Islam, beyond preservation of
human activity, does not appear to be a deterrent of individual freedom. Islam in
particular, establishes no less than Christianity the principle of universal human
equality (Fukuyama at Petiffer, 1999,165).
At first glance, the version of Islam practiced in Balkans is not the most
fundamental, one that emphasizes religious differences as insurmountable. Also,
Islam has not been the authentic faith of Balkan people. The Ottoman invaders
introduced it and it was embraced by a large number of people as means for
escaping hardship or heavy taxation, as it is commonly known that the people of
Muslim religion enjoyed relative advantages within the empire. Today, Bosnians,
Albanians, and Pomaks (Bulgarian Muslims) are not particularly religious people.
But in a more complete analysis one can point to the fact that religious variations
can serve as complimentary motivation for a conflict that is otherwise based on
24


ethnic strains. This is the case in Bosnia were Slavic Bosnian Muslims engaged in
ethnic war against Slavic Orthodox Serbs. In Croatia as well, war for territory was
enhanced by the Catholic-Orthodox incompatibility of Croatians and Serbs. The
same rationale holds true in Macedonia where the Albanian-Macedonian conflict
by no means carries a distinctive religious flavor as we are often made to believe
by established Balkan stereotypes. As John Nandris notes, Balkan religions, like
the cultures of their practitioners, often exhibit an ability to reconcile disparate
elements harmoniously whether through syncretism or symbiosis. It is mostly
the politicians and the purists seeking exclusive solutions who so often create
strife (Nandris, 2001). The same reflection is shared by Ivo Banac, a Croatian
intellectual who stresses that religious relations among Yugoslav people never
occasioned religious wars on the scale of those fought in Western Europe after the
Reformation (Perica, 2002). More than anything, Yugoslavias collapse came
from the failure to create a nation-state whose identity dominated the identities of
its constituent nations.
A decent analysis for the origins of the Balkans recent troubles should be
focused on the romantic, vernacular and cultural side that Balkan nationalism
came to represent in its ascendance in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The pattern that has been well identified by Miroslav Hroch begins:
In the first stage by a group of awakened intellectuals studying the
language, culture and history of subjugated people. In the second stage,
which corresponds to the heyday of the national revivals, the scholars
25


ideas are transmitted by a group of patriots that is the carriers of
national ideologies who take it upon themselves to convey national
thought to the wider strata. In the last stage the national movement
reaches its mass apogee (Hroch, 1968).
This well constructed pattern fits both Albanian and Macedonian nationalist
movements. In Albania proper this nationalist movement started to develop last
century by patriots educated abroad, and it achieved its mission with the
declaration of the independent Albanian state in 1913, albeit only one third of the
Albanians living in Balkans were incorporated in the mother-state. The remaining
Albanians were citizens of Serbia (who also controlled Vardar Macedonia) and
Greece. Macedonian nationalism developed along the same lines, with the
exception that it never succeeded establishing an independent Macedonian state,
as Macedonia was for a period of time part of Serbia and later part of Yugoslavia.
Only after 1991 has Macedonian nationalism revived again.
A detrimental factor to the building of nation-states in Balkans can be found
in the tangle of several nations in such a small area. The boundaries of each state
are so blurred, and the populations so mixed, that is impossible not to have
competing claims for the same land by a number of different people. This
territorial confusion can be attributed to the administrative legacy of the Ottoman
Empire, which defined its people by religion, not by ethnicity.
Many scholars have identified different pattern of national mobilization
between Western and Eastern European countries. In the East (and in Germany
26


also), citizenship rights are usually subordinated to nationhood (Kohn in
Hutchinson, 1994, 162); whereas in the West citizenship implies the inclusion of
all people regardless of origin to a political structure that itself adheres to
universal principles. Western European civic-territorial nationalism arose when a
strong, centralized state emerged long before the masses began to play role in
politics. As a result the nation took the shape of the institutions of the state and
citizenship meant becoming an equal participant in those institutions (Snyder,
2000, 186). In the Eastern concept where national consciousness preceded the
creation of the modem state, the nationhood dimension excludes citizens whose
origin differs from that of the majority. Michael Roskin argues that the different
approaches stem from the fact that West European monarchies had political,
military, economic and cultural power to turn divergent ethnic groups into
subordinate parts of their kingdoms, in time assimilating them and their cultures
(Roskin in Danopoulos, 1997,2). On the other hand, being under Turkish rule for
centuries, the Balkan countries were left behind in their own suffering. When
liberated these countries faced myriad problems, mainly because
The Eastern concept of state was slow in coming about and when it did
emerge, its extractive, protective and conflict resolution capacities
remained limited and its institutions lacked legitimacy and citizen
allegiance to the state was weak. Eastern and Balkan nationalism lacks
assimilationist or egalitarian processes and instead claims right for a
chosen people, not the individual or the citizen (Danopoulos, 1997, 3).
27


It is clear that the Eastern blend of nationalism apprehends not only local
inputs in the form ethnic exclusion, but also reflects historical circumstances
within the Ottoman Empire. This holds true as long as the Eastern model of
nationalist affirmation is examined for what it is, a unique development that has
circumstantial influences embedded throughout it. But when nationalist experts in
the West portray it as a reflection of attachment to ancient hatred, it merits a
strong counter-argumentation that points toward the slow historical evolution of
the Balkans nation-states under the Ottoman invasion.
The West is sometimes quick to ticket every Balkan problem within its
carefully constructed stereotypes of Balkanisation, which has come to mean
everything from fragmentation to savagery. Most times this is a consequence
of perpetuated ignorance, but often can be the outcome of a deliberate discourse
that results in a sanctimonious satisfaction at showing up the other half of Europe,
the uncivilized Europe, the un-Europe.
Speaking of this, Maria Todorova, a Bulgarian scholar, has convincingly
confronted persisting Western stereotypes in her book, Imagining the Balkans.
Todorova argues how what started as tales of exoticism from travelers
wandering in Balkans was soon transformed into a legitimate reality (Todorova,
1997, 29). Balakovska marks that there would not have been a West or
Europe as a basis for self-identification without concepts such as the East, or
Balkans (Balakovska, 2002, 6). Todorova goes further when she states that the
28


Balkans is the internal outsider, and by being different they are potentially
subversive to Europes safety (Todorova, 1997, 35).
The late creation of the nation-states in Balkans, however problematic, does
not constitute any moral base for their rejection. As I explained above, the late
coming of national-states in Balkans was a matter of complex historical
development. If anything, the rise of Balkans states is indicative of how historical
circumstances (in this case it was the unusually long Turkish invasion) have
shaped the paths of different nations in different ways. In Yugoslavia historical
legacies created the conditions from which the conflict could emerge, but the
institutional context of ethnofederalism and the mythmaking of opportunistic
elites were required to activate this latent potential (Snyder, 2000,169).
2.1 A Brief History of Macedonia
Macedonia has been invaded by so many surrounding countries and has a
population that consists of so many different nationalities that it is very hard to
determine the true identity of the state.
In the 1990s, Macedonians speak a language codified in 1946, spoken
by less than two million people. They are members of an Orthodox
Church whose authority was established by a socialist political regime in
1968. They are heirs to a 1903 revolution that until the 1940s was
described by almost all sources as Bulgarian. They are descendants from
people who were called, and at times called themselves, Serbs or
Bulgarians. They have no modem history of independent statehood. The
Republic of Macedonia, established by consensus, has no internationally
agreed name. Yet, its Slavic inhabitants have no doubt that they are
Macedonians, and that the territory that they occupy has always been
and should always be occupied by Macedonians. The question that
29


baffles many Western observers is simple: how do these people now
who they are? (Keith Brown in Troebst, 2001,1).
Geographic Macedonia lies right at the heart of the Balkans. It borders Cma
Gora and Shar Planina mountains in the north, Aegan Sea and Pindar Mountains
to the south, Lake Ohrid and Prespa to the west and Nestos River to the east. This
covers an approximate area of 60000 square miles, but only 26000 are inside the
present Macedonian borders.
It is hard to find other regions in the world that have had a more contested
history than Macedonia. Ruled by different tribes in ancient times and later by
Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, and the Ottomans, Macedonia has never been under
the control of a single nation. In the fourth century BC, Philipp II invaded all the
surrounding regions. Later Alexander the Great, set his legacy all around the
world as the King of Macedonia. During the medieval times Bulgarian and
Serbian empires had possession of the area (Poulton 1992). It is widely believed
that the Macedonians are the Southern Slavs settlers who moved to this area
around the 6th century AD. This claim is vigorously contested by Greeks who
claim that Macedonians are nothing more than slavized Greeks, and that the
whole Macedonian region that stretches as far south as to Thessalonica, which is
the second biggest city of Greece, has been historically inhabited by Greeks.
(Tasmanos in Pettifer, 1999, 79).
30


In the ninth century, two Greek monks, Cyril and Methodius, initiated the
long process of conversion of the Slavic inhabitants of the region to Christianity.
They also created the written Slavic alphabet and language. In the fifteenth
century, the Ottoman Empire conquered this region and was its sole possessor for
almost 500 years. In 1878 the new Bulgarian state created by the Treaty of San
Stefano incorporated almost the whole of Macedonia. As part of the Ottoman
Empire, Macedonia was defined as a region and not as a nation. In fact there were
Greeks, Slavic Macedonians, Turks, Bulgarians, and Albanians who lived and still
live in Macedonia.
This confusion in depicting the true inhabitants of the area is directly
connected to the fact that no one can tell with full certainty whether there exists
indeed a unique Macedonian nation. Bulgaria will assure anyone that the only
inhabitants of Macedonia are Bulgarians; Greeks will make the same claim, going
even further when they state that the Macedonians are people with Greek identity.
Serbians calmly assure that the Macedonians are their Southern Slavic relatives.
While there is no similar Albanian claim, there is a sizable Albanian community
in Macedonia living in Western part of the country that is as old as and larger than
the other minorities who live in the area.
In 1913, The Bucharest Treaty, which was held after the Balkan War
involving Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece, set the modem boundaries of the
Macedonia that we know, the Vardar Macedonia. Bulgaria got what is territorially
31


known as Pirin Macedonia and Greece took Aegan Macedonia. With the creation
of first Yugoslavia, Macedonia was put under Serbian control. Tito, the leader of
post-war Second Yugoslavia elevated its status to republic, and Macedonia was
one of the six republics comprising Yugoslavia. Aware of the pressure that the
bigger republics of the Federation such as Croatia and Serbia would exert on
Federal politics, Tito deliberately created the new republic as a counter-balance
means. For the first time in the modem history after 1945, the Macedonian
nationalists had their own republic, albeit smaller than ever, to foster popular
nationalist sentiments liberally.
Despite attempts to describe the existence of the Republic of Macedonia as a
direct result of years of nationalist movement, it is safe to say that it was Titos
policies that elevated Vardar Macedonia into the status of a republic. In 1950 an
observer notes that the feeling of being Macedonians and nothing but
Macedonians, seems to be a sentiment of fairly recent growth and even today is
not very deep-rooted (Danforth, 1995, 65). The disintegration of Yugoslavia and
the discontinuation of dependence on a separate central authority, coupled with
the institutional vacuum of the post-nineties, served as a perfect environment for
the revival of the long-suppressed nationalist spirit and the reemergence of
nationalist myths. About this phenomenon Troebst notes:
The majority and the foreign historiography for Macedonia have always
presented the process of creation of a Macedonian nation as a
32


combination of autochthonous aspirations for integration from beneath,
and of a state nation-building from above (Troebst, 2001).
After the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia held a referendum
for independence with the overwhelming majority voting for secession from
Yugoslavia. During these years, the politics of self-determination were followed
with such vigor that other important issues concerning minority status in
Macedonia were overlooked in the process. However, it is incorrect to put all the
blame on the Macedonian leadership. The prospect of being able for the first time
in modem history to openly express their long-questioned identity was so
tempting to the collective consciousness of Macedonian people, that it was quite
difficult to consider rationally the potential consequences of such ventures with
respect to those marginalized minorities who did not feel at home during the
Yugoslav reign.
In 1994, Macedonias population consisted of 64% people of Macedonian
identity, 23% of Albanian descent, 4% of Turkish descent, 2% Serbs and the rest
Romas and Vlachs. These numbers are firmly contested by Albanian-
Macedonians, who claim to be between 35-40% of the whole population. As a
result of popular discontent among Albanians on this issue, a new census is being
conducted this year under the supervision of the European Union.
Ever since Macedonia was proclaimed an independent country, Greece has
refused to recognize it, pretending that the only Macedonia is the Greek
33


Macedonia, and any other state bearing that name is clearly counterfeit and a
serious threat to Greeces sovereignty, since the northern part of Greece is called
Aegean Macedonia. Greeks also believe that the new state, once recognized
internationally as Macedonia, would want to incorporate other pants of
geographical Macedonia to itself. Tensions reached a climax in 1994 when
Greece staged a blockade and closed its border with Macedonia. A temporary
agreement was reached after long negotiations to name Macedonia as The Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Just when Macedonia seemed to be immune from the violent conflicts of
former Yugoslavia, the historically ignored Albanian community, which had been
waiting more or less peacefully for an improved status within the new republic,
first raised its voice and then demonstrated against the policies of the new
republic, especially those concerning minorities. Particularly within the borders of
Yugoslavia, the Albanians were one of the most oppressed people of all
nationalities for being different both ethnically (not Slavs, but descendants of
Illyrians, Mayer, Mazower) and religiously (overwhelmingly of Muslim faith).
The Albanians demands consisted basically of claims for increased representation
in all levels of Macedonian society. These demands were met with stiff opposition
not only by the Macedonian leadership but also by the Macedonian citizens. By
2000 the confrontations had turned to full-scale war between ethnic Albanians
organized under the NLA (National Liberation Army) and the regular
34


Macedonian Army. In the beginning, the NLA was organized similarly to Kosovo
Liberation Army, with many experienced fighters coming from the Kosovo
proper. As the reaction from regular Macedonian army units turned more violent,
so grew the support for the NLA by ordinary Albanian citizens who would
otherwise have stayed away from the politics of armed confrontation. In its
heyday, the fighting was so intense that the very existence of the Macedonian
state was in doubt. The Western part of Macedonia, practically in the hands of
Albanian guerillas, was a hostile territory to Macedonias army.
While the means for opposing the perceived oppression were considered
unacceptable by the international community, there was no direct objection to
validity the Albanian demands by European political negotiators. After it failed to
battle the insurgents effectively, the Macedonian government became aware that a
prolonged war would further divide the countrys diverse minorities and
undermine the fragile ethnic balances that the new republic was trying so hard to
contain. With the full assistance of the European negotiators, a Peace Agreement
was signed in Ohrid in August of 2001. This agreement called for a cease-fire but
also granted Albanians the right to be recognized as a national-building factor, the
right to use Albanian language as a national language, and increased
representation for the Albanian community in the Macedonian institutions in
numbers respective to their overall population. That such concessions were made
under the threat of violence and destabilization, and not as genuine steps of
35


rapprochement, came as a troublesome reality to the people of Macedonia and
international observers. It signaled not only the absence of political will but also
the uncertain future lying ahead for the Macedonian state. The intense
involvement of European envoys has notably borne fruit in preventing the
escalation of armed conflict and bringing the two sides into negotiation.
Meanwhile, as it typically happens in these situations, this involvement was
deemed to be unfavorable to the national interests of Macedonia by its
Macedonian majority, as they were put into the position of acknowledging
existent social cleavages disadvantageous to the Albanian minority. When the
Framework Agreement was signed in August of 2001, there many accusations
addressed at the Macedonian leaders for yielding to easily to Albanians demands,
and the bitter furor did not stop even from calling NATO an organization that
aids terrorists, a clear reference to NATOs protection of Albanian guerillas in
accordance with the agreement after the peace agreement was signed.
The initial hopes for a long-lasting peace in Macedonia have since cooled off
considerably, as the commitment of the Macedonian leaders to the fulfillment of
the provisions of the Agreement has been half-hearted. Whenever there are signs
of distrust by any of the involved sides, threatening gestures are made in
disagreement. Last year, the Macedonian leaders of VRMO- DMPE (Internal
Revolutionary Party), whose chairman acted as prime minister at the time of
signing the agreement, threatened to pull out of an agreement they consider a
36


failure. But Albanians at the same time have failed to live up to their promise for
patience, and have not been able to avoid isolated acts of terror, complicating the
fragile truce even more. It appears again that the process of reconciliation
between the Macedonian-Albanians and Macedonians has a long way to go, and
along that course there is much animosity that needs to be surmounted by both
sides. That will take considerable courage and patience.
Macedonia faces two major problems concerning its existence. The first threat
comes from its neighbors who do not recognize the existence of a unique
Macedonian nation-state. The second problem is internal and concerns struggles
between Macedonians and Albanian-Macedonians who recognize the state of
Macedonia but strive for a better representation within this state. However, this
internal conflict does not appear to have the makings of an ethnic conflict, despite
numerous attempts to present it in that spirit. The disagreements that Macedonia
has with its neighbors have an evident antagonistic makeup and have also proved
to be persistent over times.
Most scholars agree that the Macedonian history was twisted into a question
in 1870, when the newly-created Bulgarian Orthodox Church extended its
authority into Macedonia, then part of the Ottoman Empire. This roused the
reaction of both Serbia and Greece, which felt that their interest in Macedonia was
threatened by Bulgarian involvement.
37


Greece claims that a genuine Macedonian nation does not exist. The
Macedonian flag is for Greeks part of their cultural history. They maintain that the
ancient region of Macedonia was ruled by Alexander the Great, a Greek.
Hellenism gradually lost its domination as Slavs moved in and altered much of
regions culture and demography. As long as we cannot construct a direct
relationship between current Macedonians and ancient Greek tribes, who are
thought to have lived in the area, we cannot consider the Greek position on this
issue as irrefutable. On the other hand, we can easily identify Macedonians
distinctive Slavic origin, which makes it difficult to bring the two sides to a
common accord. Regardless of the origin contentions, one can argue that just
because presumed ancestry can be historically traced to modem Greeks, how does
that prevent other people who have lived for centuries in the same land from
claiming to be legitimate inhabitants of Macedonia?
Between the first and second world wars, Macedonia was part of Southern
Serbia. When Yugoslavia disintegrated wars that empted in Slovenia, Croatia, and
Bosnia probably spared Macedonia from a violent conflict with its northern
neighbors. Serbians officially acknowledge the Macedonian nation and state but
tacitly believe that for historical reasons the Macedonian Slavs have not been able
to demonstrate a visible Slavic identity that clearly defines them as Slavs (as is the
case with the Bosnian Slavs).
38


Bulgarians on their part accept that the Macedonians are Slavs, but claim that
they bear a visible Bulgarian connection in terms of ethnic identity. This claim is
reinforced by the similarity of the Macedonian and Bulgarian language. For
Bulgarians the Macedonian is simply a dialect of Bulgarian. They recognize the
Macedonian republic but not a Macedonian nation distinct from the Bulgarian
nation. Bulgarias position has been established quite recently, when in 1968, the
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences proclaimed, there is not a Macedonian Question,
but only intrigues of imperialist powers in Balkans. Macedonians are of Bulgarian
origin. Macedonia is not an ethnic, but a geographical concept.
Summing up all the regional claims, Zlatko Isakovic says
Bulgaria is the main identity threat to the extent that identity is anchored
in language; Serbs are the main identity threat to the extent that identity
is anchored in religion; Albanians are the main identity threat to the
extent that identity is anchored in statehood, and the Greeks are the main
identity threat to the extent that identity is anchored in the name of the
nation, its language and state.
Why so many conflicting claims for such a small territory? This question
requires a good understanding of Balkans internal logics, to be answered properly.
In the Balkans people will hardly acknowledge that
Nations exist in time and are shaped by temporal processes and thus
have temporal components. For these people nations exist not only in
time but also in space, as a sense of territory and emotional attachments
to place are integral components of national identity. Nations express
their identities in the cultural landscape of places and territories (White
in Isakovic, 2000,3).
39


Clearly, all the ongoing arguments and counter-arguments caused by
subjective perceptions of national origins by Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs have
directly and indirectly affected the Albanians and Macedonians living in
Macedonia, creating the necessary sparks, as if they were needed, for distrust,
suspicion, ethnic alienation, and social marginalization.
2.2 The Current Albanian-Macedonian Conflict -
The Politics of Nationalism
The Balkans has always been a volatile area that has instigated many
European or local wars. Rebecca West has characterized Macedonia as the
Balkan of the Balkans, (West in Balakovska, 2002, 2). For many people
The Macedonian Question presents, on one hand, such a medley of
jarring races, long-standing animosities, and ever-recurring atrocities,
and, on the other hand, such a jumble of ethnographical uncertainties,
unreliable statistics, assertions and counter-assertions flatly
contradictory on every point, that one almost despairs of an idea as to
how it ought to be settled, of the hope of ever seeing it settled at all
(Haskins and Lord in Blumi, 1999,1)
While Macedonias troubles with its neighbors carry a distinctive historical
significance in terms of competing mythologies on the subject of historical
Macedonia, its conflict with Albanians essentially encloses features of civic and
social disagreement. Upon further consideration, this reality is apparent in the
demands of the Albanian minority for increased representation within the republic
of Macedonia and better co-existence within the same borders. This is crucial to
40


the future of Macedonia, because it indicates there are no overwhelming priorities
for territorial partition.
Nationalism has been a very powerful tool in the hands of people since the
nation-states came into existence. That ethnonationalist waves would sweep
Eastern Europe with such enormity in the last decade came as a surprise to many
people. A closer examination of the Yugoslav republics reveals many factors that
serve as fertile grounds for nationalist movements. Weak institutions, lack of
democratic traditions, fragile economies, delicate ethnic balances, repressed
minorities, exclusion of citizens from decision-making institutions, and
concentration of power in the hands of communist elites have provided all the
necessary ingredients for nationalists to exploit.
What is so gratifying about nationalist sentiments that pervade almost every
aspect of peoples lives? Yael Tamir, an Israeli philosopher, has offered one of
the most accurate descriptions on the topic of individual nationalist feelings.
Tamir notes that nations are cultures that provide their members with meaningful
ways of life across the full spectrum of human activity (economical, political,
recreational, religious). As a result, the value of national identity then is tied to
the value of cultural membership. Exploring the importance of cultural
membership, Tamir explains that in order to make autonomous choices about
their aims in life, people need a cultural context so that individual liberty is
dependent on membership in a cultural community. Thus, cultural identity
41


reflects a choice worthy of respect; it is a constitutive aspect of ones identity. At
the same time cultural identity is also seen as a contribution to the development
of ones culture and a shared membership in a culture promotes a sense of
belonging. Tamir identifies nations as bearers of distinct cultures; therefore the
right to self-determination comes from the right to develop a distinct culture.
(Tamir, in Kymlicka, 2001, 250).
Similarly, Anthony Smith defines ethnonationalism as an ideological
movement for the attainment and maintenance of autonomy, unity and identity on
behalf of a population (ethnie) some of whose members deem themselves to
constitute an actual or potential nation. He also identifies civic nationalism as
characterized by shared culture, common law, and territorial citizenship.
On the other hand, in Nations and Nationalism Gellner argues that the need of
modem societies for cultural homogeneity and that the congruence between the
state and the nation, creates nationalism. This approach means that the state as a
sovereign authority exerting power on a specific territory can rule on behalf of a
particular nation. Such model has been particularly present in Eastern European
countries and especially in Yugoslavia, when elites, after regime change in 1990s,
exploiting weaknesses of democratic institutions, resorted to nationalistic themes
to gain support from masses.
Paul Brass echoes Gellner when he says nationalism develops when new
elites challenge a system of ethnic stratification or existing patterns of distribution
42


of economic resources and political power (Brass, 1991). Will Kymlicka
assumes from a conservative point of view that the failure of liberalism to
understand nationalism is related to its failure to acknowledge connections
between state and culture. He cannot envision a state that does not support a
particular national identity or culture (Kymlicka, 2001, 253). He suggests that
assimilation is the only way for minorities to gain full power within a state. When
this approach fails, secession seems as the best answer.
An important factor that contributes to determining what political course a
country follows is the economic status of its citizens. Advanced countries with a
significant middle class tend to follow a civic form of nationalism that is
identified by strong established institutions and by civil rights for minorities.
Western Europe is a good example of civic nationalism. The Czech Republic, an
Eastern European country with a relatively decent living standard and a long
history of legal institutions, has also followed the same path.
However, in countries where democracy is unconsolidated, middle class is
weak and economic standards pitiable, and the social fabric is susceptible to
disturbance emanating from ethnic mobilization. All former Yugoslav republics
fit this characterization, especially Macedonia whose revival of the national
spirit in the first years of independence, has unfolded along the same lines that
Hobsbawm identifies as invention of traditions to create a sense of common
ethnic belonging.
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When Macedonia became independent in 1991, the state was very weak, and
its structures were under the control of old communist bureaucrats. The danger
from its neighbors was ever present. In situations like this:
When state institutions are still in their infancy and when pressure for
mass political participation arises, ethnic nationalism is especially likely.
Lacking effective democratic or administrative institutions to attach the
citizenry to the state, political entrepreneurs will by default attempt to
create loyalty through cultural attachment. Granting equal civic rights to
ethnic minorities would thus threaten the nationalist ideology of the state
elite, which becomes locked into a rigid definition of state interests
centering on the social position of the dominant group (Snyder, 2000).
This accurate definition by Snyder is very close to the political reality of
Macedonia this last decade. Besides institutional inadequacies, the Macedonian
nationalist drive employs other relevant factors as well. Cultural themes are
appropriated to lend legitimacy to the task of building a wholly new state
(Snyder, 2002). In accordance to such a model, the Macedonian Institute of
National History in 2001 in a historical publication establishes direct continuity
between ancient and modem Macedonians, even in ethnic terms, something that is
very debatable in scholarly studies of antiquity:
After the settlement of the Slavs in Macedonia (6-7th century), there was
an integration of the greater part of the assimilated Hellenic and Roman
descendants of the ancient Macedonians into a Slavic majority, and in
this way they contributed to the creation of the new ethnicity on
Macedonian soil, in which the dominant role was played by the Slavic
element and Christian culture.
44


Such ethnic narratives exclude the existence of other inhabitants living in
Macedonian region for as long as the Macedonians. They also set dividing
barriers between communities.
Besides singular cultural themes, competition over state resources, be that
political or economical, is an undeniable factor that emphasizes communal
differences. The exclusive rights of policymaking often transform into control of
economic resources. This means further access to state controlled jobs and rights
to craft statewide policies concerning a variety of issues, like education, military,
legal status, or policies of development (Bookman, 2002). Raj at Ganguly
identifies this process as a communalist approach, a result of elite competition
for political and economic resources (Ganguly, Taras, 1998). Macedonia has
experienced this method of nationalist mobilization. A revival of cultural myths
by evoking heroic moments of Macedonian history like the uprising of 1903, or
the long negated identity under Turkish or even Yugoslav rule has enabled the
reconstruction of a legal nationalist basis for Macedonian leaders to claim full
ownership of the state. In that process, it is crucial to render irrelevant the
credence of competing actors like minorities. Demands for political participation
by marginalized societal groups (like Albanians or Turks) has been opposed by
the mobilization of nationalist themes to demobilize the affirmation of minorities.
In Macedonia this was achieved by constitutional means that relegate minorities
to an adverse position.
45


The Macedonian identity has been artificially instilled to the national
consciousness of Macedonian people from above (by elites), acquiring legitimacy
from the questionable defining historical moments such as the 1944 inclusion of
the new Republic of Macedonia to the second Yugoslavia, and the 1991
Declaration of Independence that had the full support of only the Macedonian
Slavs. This process has also been accompanied by evocation of cultural myths
like the 1903 revolution for autonomy from Turks, or by the enduring spirit of
survival that Macedonians have manifested under constant threats of assimilation
by hostile neighbors. (Mother Macedonia is very weakened. After it gave birth to
Saint Cyril and Methodius, mother Macedonia is lying, very weak and exhausted
a 1997 quotation from The Macedonian Times quoting Prlichev, a patriot in
1885). However, what undermines this self-identification process is the general
lack of socio-political participation at the time of inception from legitimate
constituents of the republic, who also happen to be the minority, i.e. the Albanians
and other less populous minorities.
Another matter of discussion is the extent to which such approaches have
influenced the mind-set of ordinary Macedonians and Albanians. They have
historically lived together in the same small territory, sharing the same destiny,
feeling the same pains. Recent electoral cooperation between Albanian and
Macedonian parties indicates that nationalist attitudes seek to mobilize ethnic
sentiments to surmount a gap that does not actually exist in overwhelming
46


proportions. Moreover, Albanians and Macedonians besides their religions share
the same Balkan cultural traditions as inhabitants of the same land. In the words
of Drummond, culture is not an isolated, homogenous system, but an
intersystem, a continuum of overlapping differences characterized by
heterogeneity and change (Drummond, 1980).
Yet, the internal processes of identity-construction have created a gap in
perceptions about the republic from supportive of Macedonians to hesitant of
Albanians. Furthermore, disparities in perceptions replicate in socio-economic
inequalities. Albanians make 23% of Macedonia but only 7% of the armed forces
and 3% of the police force. Only 1.3% of the University of Skopje student body
was Albanian in 1991, 2% in 1995. The Macedonian state bureaucracy employs
only 4% of the Albanians. Recently these numbers have increased but remain still
low. Only 7% of Albanian parents would allow marriages outside their ethnic
group in 1994. In 1993, 86% of the Albanians considered themselves second-class
citizens, 77% had a negative view of the parliament and 75% felt economically
disadvantaged (Poulton, 1997). These numbers have decreased lately, and the
inclusion of minorities in public positions reflects in increased support for the
central government. When the Framework agreement was signed in 2001, it was
promised that such practices of discrimination would change into representing
Albanians proportionately in government offices.
47


A poll conducted between 1995-1997 by the Institute of Sociological Studies
of Skopje revealed that only 0.2% of the textbooks studied in Macedonian schools
are dedicated to ethnic co-existence. Literature books study only Macedonian
writers. 51% of the Macedonians considered the existence of different ethnicities
as dangerous to Macedonia, while 15% of the Albanians chose to agree. Asked
whether Macedonia has suffered injustices through centuries, 90% of the
Macedonians, and 29% of the Albanians agreed. Interestingly, the study revealed
that the school curriculum had remained intact; the communist era terminology
was still present, heroes and renowned writers from minorities of the republic
were suspiciously absent in textbooks, while wars in Yugoslavia were hardly
mentioned at all. It is easy to conclude that not only is this educational process
outdated; it is also organized in an ethnocentric comportment that seeks to
minimize the actual presence of minorities in Macedonia in cultural terms.
Other problems derive from contrasting socio-economic realities. Albanians,
who mostly live in the countryside, are underdeveloped and less urbanized.
Economic insecurity has impacted Albanians disproportionately. While
Macedonians still enjoy privileged access to the state sector, Albanians have
immigrated in large numbers to Western Europe. For most Albanian households
income comes mostly from immigrants working abroad.
However, Albanians most central claim for a long time has been about their
constitutional status as just another minority. When the Preamble was approved in
48


1991, a history of systemic inadequacies and enfeebled constitutional resilience
resulted in the rescinding of even the fa9ade of ethnic cohabitation for the
growing Albanian population in Macedonia. (Blumi, 1999, 6). The Macedonian
constitution states that Macedonia is the national state of the Macedonian
people, in which full equality of citizens and permanent co-existence with the
Macedonian people is provided for Albanians, Vlachs, Turks, Romanics and other
nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia, therefore defining statehood in
ethnic terms rather than using citizenship as its main principle. Equality of
citizens is not the same as equality of ethnicities, suggesting that ethnic
Macedonians are the primary shareholders of the state.
Bearing in mind the modem history of the region around Macedonia,
this is actually a completely unhistorical definition, because the
movement for autonomy in the Osmanli Macedonia near the end of the
19th and the beginning of 20th century, which the Constitutional
Preamble refers to, operated in a multiethnic even supranational regional
concept in which the notion Macedonian existed as a common term for
the Bulgarians, Turks, Vlachs, Serbs, Albanians, Greeks, and others. The
ethno-national connotation of the signifier Macedonian aimed at
Christian Orthodox, South Slavic nation, unknown in the central Balkan
region of that time, gained significance only after the Second World War
(Troebst in Petiffer, 1999,8).
Albanians in Macedonia are mostly concentrated in the western part of the
country, adjacent to Albania. Statistics about their number vary, but the 1994
census shows that they constitute 23% of the total Macedonian population of 2
million. Albanians hotly contested such a figure claiming to be anywhere from 30
49


to 40%. For Albanians, anything falling below 700000 is a historical forgery. For
that reason, another census is being conducted this year with the supervision of
European Community.
Albanians resistance to Macedonian policies of self-determination and ethnic
profiling of the state has a long documented history. During the Yugoslavian era
discrimination against Albanians included efforts to deny Albanian language
official status, and social and economic marginalization of Albanians was a direct
consequence of their different ethnic origin and religion. The brutal repression of
Albanian demonstrations for increased rights in 1968 and for a Republic of
Kosovo in 1981 infused deep distrust about their Slavic counterparts in Albanians
living in Macedonia. In the nineties, frustration became widespread as soon as
Macedonia was declared to be an independent political entity in June 25, 1991. In
1992 Albanians organized an unofficial referendum on territorial and political
autonomy in Western Macedonia to proclaim that region as the Republic of
Ulyridia, a direct reference to Albanians Illyrian roots. In the words of Albanian
leaders at that time the rights of Albanian minority in Macedonia are trampled
underfoot (Haliti, 1992). They have constantly claimed that Albanian language
needs to be used more widely in official documents of Macedonia, but also for
educational matters. Gradually the peaceful demonstrations turned violent in
Tetovo and Gostivar, which are predominantly Albanian towns, and later in
Skopje. The first victims were registered in 1992 in Bit Pazar where four people
50


were shot dead by Macedonian police. In 1995, another delicate moment
unfolded, when Albanians in Tetovo declared the establishment of the Tetovo
University, which would use Albanian language as the official language. The
Macedonians police intervention was quite violent. The Albanian dean, Fadil
Sulejmani, was arrested and the protesting masses were brutally dispersed, one
dying from a bullet. Equally troublesome was the reaction of the fellow
Macedonian students protesting in Skopje against the Albanian movement, who
chanted death to Albanians, and put Albanians in gas chambers (Koha Jone,
1994). Similar reactions were displayed in 2001 when fighting between guerillas
and regular army troops threatened the capital city of Skopje. Many shops were
covered in graffiti with calls for the annihilation of Albanians. Albanian
businesses were set afire while police remained neutral. It would be a speculation
to suspect that such slogans symbolize the sentiments of a wider Macedonian
society, but nevertheless, these developments deeply ruin that little existing room
for ethnic interaction.
In 1997 three Albanians died in the city of Gostivar, as FYROM paramilitary
police intervened against demonstrators protesting the right to fly an Albanian
flag. It was a legal right to fly the flag for public occasions under the provisions of
the old Yugoslav constitution, but this right was abolished under the new
FYROM constitution.
51


Ethnic divergences culminated in heavy gunfire in 2001 between Macedonian
army and Albanian fighters in western parts of the country and later in the suburbs
of capital city of Skopje. As casualties mounted and the whole region was facing
further destabilization, intense negotiations under the tutelage of European envoys
led to a Peace Agreement in August of 2001. The Framework Agreement (as it
was called later) declared an end to the fighting and guaranteed in principle to act
upon Albanian demands for improved constitutional, educational and legal rights.
The implementation of the agreement has been slow and half-hearted at best, but
what is more concerning is the fact that Macedonian leadership was forced to
make these concessions; it did not initiate a genuine appeasing approach to bring
together antagonistic segments of its state. To truly be lasting, constitutional
changes that recognize countries diversity need to be embraced by Macedonian
citizens not as imposed provisions from above, but as democratic modifications of
a democratic constitution.
Despite efforts to portray Macedonias problems with its Albanian minority as
chronic, the split in terms of socially defined concepts of constitutionality and
statehood is fairly recent. Some roots of suspicion can be traced back to the
communal system of millet in the Turkish administration of Balkans. Most
Albanians converted to Islam partly to escape heavy taxation that would
otherwise be subjected to them had they remained Christians. Consequently,
Albanians are depicted as backward and culturally conservative in an isolationist
52


manner. This narrative supplements the collective memory of separation within
the Turkish Empire only to a certain extent, because under Turkish rule
Macedonian people of different faiths lived together. Moreover, as Poulton
stresses, more than anything the Albanian Islamic feelings today illustrate the
extreme cultural conservatism and rather isolated provincial nature of Western
Macedonian Islamic life more than any specific political juncture (Poulton, 1999,
123). Nonetheless, it is the manipulation of historical components like this that
composes the necessary conceptual nationalist basis for elites to explore. As
Segesten explains:
The elites initiate policies that would differentiate groups and attach
them to labels according to ethnicity. If persistent over time, this
strategy would make groups assume the label as their true identity. In
other words, elites shape an environment where ethnic identities are
assigned to groups and are made relevant to their everyday life
(Segesten, 2002).
Some other roots can be found in what Macedonians perceive to be a Tack of
commitment and loyalty of Albanians to the new republic and underlying fears of
partition to join the greater Albania. Aware of this perception, Albanian leaders
have repeatedly stated that Albanians only home is what they have called home
for centuries, and that is Macedonia (Haliti, 1992). Another high ranked leader,
Xh.Murati member of Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP), states that
we see Macedonia as a multi-ethnic state, in which Macedonians, Albanians,
Serbs and other Slavs live (Murati, 1997).
53


Each group perceives the other as more aggressive and considers itself to be
the tolerant side. Macedonians are mistrustful of Albanians often because of the
lack of close contact with them. Albanians in their part believe that Macedonians
have an inherently contemptuous attitude toward Albanians whom they consider
conservative, backward, and inferior. Albanian leaders in turn accuse their
Macedonian partners of the inability to adopt a new value system, and of
remaining essentially communist in their core structure (Xhaferri, 1995).
Heavily involved in this issue with precarious security implications for
Southeastern Europe, the European Union has openly encouraged a multicultural
and a civic approach to statehood in Macedonia. Such an approach, though,
seriously undermines the ethnic sense of identity among Macedonians who have
already expressed their one nation one country mind-set in the constitutional
formulation of nationhood. Overestimation of fears of more claims from Serbian
or Turkish minorities create a murky picture of co-existence for Macedonians
who can easily find themselves to be a small majority of a multiethnic state. All
the efforts invested in the Macedonian state for the last fifty years have had a
different maxim, that of a well-defined ethnic state of Macedonians. Not only
that, it is safe to say that the Macedonian nationalism has historically arisen in the
face of competing nationalistic attitudes of Balkan neighbors who question the
existence of the Macedonian nation. Angelka Peeva, a Macedonian moderate of
the Liberal Democratic Party, says that a Western European concept of citizens
54


state is dangerous. This is the Balkans. If you delete the nationalities from the
constitution, you will die. (Wieland, 1999, 5). On the same subject Ackermann
notices how the development of Macedonian national identity conflicts with the
need of the Albanian minority to preserve its cultural identity (pg, 66).
Furthermore, the more the Slavic Macedonians assert their cultural identity the
more ethnic Albanians feel the need to assert their, leading to a vicious circle
(Ackermann, 2000, 66).
Unequal treatment has in turn made the Albanians feel like second-class
citizens. The classification as a minority does not appropriately reflect their
significantly large number, considering that even within former Yugoslavia
Albanians were regarded as a nationality not as a minority. It appears that for
Macedonians, an assertion of identity bestows legitimacy to the state, while the
promotion of citizenship increases dangers of separation. The significant
admiration that Macedonian leaders have shown for the ethnically defined state
has in turn made them to see Albanians as obstructive factors to Macedonian
ethnic unilateralism. When Macedonia was declared independent in 1991, issues
of democratization and minority rights took a secondary role to the more pressing
need of national identity affirmation. The comfort of governing alone along with
the uncertainty stemming from a future that promises a substantial affirmation of
minorities in the public sphere makes Macedonians uneasy and in turn increases
their affection to maintaining the existing ethnic realities. Poulton notes that
55


Albanians do not object to the name Republic of Macedonia, and neither do
they oppose Macedonian national references to antiquity (Poulton, 2002). Their
center of attention is focused on the recently created legal and cultural spaces of
Macedonias political realm, issues of language, representation and education. For
that reason, Albanians pledge to replace the ethnic concept with the political
concept of the citizen. Citizens rights are rights for all nationalities regardless
of origin, they dont need any further subdivisions, says Albanian leader Murati.
(Wieland, 1998, 3).
Macedonians regard Albanians requests for better representation as over-
exaggerated in approach and secessionist in substance. They are worried that a
high Albanian birthrate will eventually alter Macedonias demographic
composition.
As a result of these changes, the position of the Macedonian people as a
majority is seriously threatened. The ratio of 5:1 between the
Macedonian majority and the Albanian minority in the first years of
liberation were reduced to 3:1; this represents an alarming warning that
in the not-so-distant future the Macedonian nation will become a
minority, thus losing its constitutionality (Krste Bitoski in Troebst,
2001, 3).
But more than anything Albanian contentions transmit a much more
dangerous discourse. Any concession to Albanians demands would acknowledge
their competing identity. Equally, the sovereignty of Macedonian state is
sacrosanct in a way that it asserts a unique Macedonian identity strong enough to
56


counterweigh identity contentions by its bigger neighbors. Invisible goes the fact
that Albanians claims are carefully crafted in a social-civil realm that establishes a
coexistence pattern not in opposition to the sovereignty of Macedonia. In the last
decade, moderate leaders have dominated the Albanian political sphere. The
present Albanian leader Ali Ahmeti clearly states that we are not fighting to
divide Macedonia because it is our country too. We took to arms because we cant
live with the politics of discrimination. In Europe, in countries like Switzerland
and Belgium, nationalities live seemingly peacefully together, and I believe we
can live together in the same land (Ahmeti at Shekulli, 2002). Another respected
Albanian intellectual, Veton Surroi, claims that for their part Albanians have
made a quite atypical choice: they dont covet domination, but at the same time
theyre not aiming at legitimizing their rights in Albania proper. Instead, they
want to define Macedonia as their state too (Surroi at Korrieri, 2001). Here he
sees a truly sensitive problem: How to build a state that Macedonians consider
their national state, and at the same time this state is not incompatible with
Albanians aspirations? How to build a state that integrates Albanians without
hurting the national mind-set of Macedonians? Surroi then goes to argue about
the achievability of such a goal by discerning several encouraging aspects of
Albanians political and social conduct, such as a noticeable predisposition to
consider the national question not as placed in a territory but in the substance of
commitment to representation as constituent factors of civilized societies. He
57


notes that as a polycentrict, fragmentary nature of Albanians national sentiments;
which can be accommodated in favorable social conditions anywhere, the absence
of an all-Albanian ethnic center that defines policies for the rest of Albanians
everywhere, contrary to the Slavic model of ethnocentrism (the unification of all
territories in a single state-unit). Mindful of their own deficiencies, Albanian
leaders on the other hand criticize what they see as an outdated concept of
political engagement. One of the most respected Albanian leaders, Arber
Xhaferri, leader of the PPD, has warned that for the Framework Agreement to
work properly, Albanians must become a respectable political and diplomatical
factor; must organize around standards of liberal democracy; seriously engage in
building a Western system of values; and guarantee the free interaction of
independent ideas and competing expressions in their societal environment
(Xhaferri, Shekulli, 2002).
A realist sense aimed at co-existence certainly prevails even by taking into
consideration geopolitical aspects. Whereas Albanians living in Macedonia can
always join their mother-state of Albania, Macedonians who have no other
homeland would be left in a very feeble position. Macedonian-Albanians have as
many reasons to be worried about Macedonias territorial integrity as
Macedonians themselves. Albanians consider Serbs and Greeks to be a bigger
danger to their existence than, say, Macedonians. They overwhelmingly consider
Macedonia to be their home too, and do not display the same separatist aspirations
58


as their Kosovo Albanian brothers, who have suffered systematically under
Milosevics reign in power. Albanian leaders repeatedly stress that if they wanted
separation they would not push for cultural and constitutional rights but simply
for federalism. Throughout history a sense of community between Macedonians
and Albanians has been displayed in many occasions. A profoundly visible
comparable mentality, manifested in similar social and political behavior, erases
any doubts that they are indeed inherently different. Neither nationality has shown
to be intolerant and aggressive to the surrounding nations. Economic poverty and
social isolation that has hit Albanians disproportionately has also led to demands
that bear a political nature as well. For all the fears of a Greater Albania that
nationalists assign to Albanians calls for increased representation, 81% of
Macedonians believe that the countrys national security is endangered by Greece,
53% identified Serbia, and 43% feared Albania. 58% of Albanians in Albania
identify Greece as the main threat, and only 26% see Macedonia as a problem
(Dimitras, 2000). When the Kososvo crisis reached its zenith in 1999, Macedonia,
despite its fragile ethnic balances opened its borders and accommodated some 200
000 fleeing Kosovar Albanians refugees in camps. In another precarious moment
in 1994, the Albanian government opened its ports and its borders to the
Macedonian government, which at the time was suffering badly from a Greek
embargo imposed as a result of the Macedonia name argument. Albania also
was one of the first countries to recognize the Republic of Macedonia in 1992.
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Relations between two countries have never been as unstable as Macedonias
relations with its other neighbors. Both countries aspire to become members of
EU and NATO and share the same transitional problems from a centralized, to a
free-market economy. I order to fully integrate in Europe, Macedonia in particular
needs to exhibit a unitary consensus of its people that is not threatened by ethnic
and minority issues. Moreover, Macedonia cannot afford to further estrange its
minorities. Demographic trends show a growing Albanian minority, and constant
discrimination of minorities can easily transform into sharply opposed identities
that can explode when the tables are turned. A worsening of inter-ethnic relations
would endanger Macedonias existence. It appears that Macedonians and
Albanians are constrained to work out their differences together, without breaking
up the Republic of Macedonia.
However, all problems concerning a more peaceful co-existence need to be
addressed in a better mode that emphasizes at the same time strategies and
systems that facilitate ethnic coexistence through an even distribution of power.
What would be an adequate model that equally affirms all nationalities interests?
Ethnic groups in Macedonia are relatively equal in numbers to fully assimilate
each other. Partition of Albanians, while sufficient for them, would practically
mean the end of Macedonia, a state of 26000 square miles and 2 million people.
Besides, both communities consider partition not an option, and many people
have come to accept the Framework Agreement concessions for increased rights
60


to Albanians as inevitable not only in a moral sense, but also in a practical sense
as well. European and NATO memberships come with many democratic
standards for ethnic and minority rights that need to be fully sanctioned. In this
viewpoint, a reconsideration of governance concepts that encourages ethnic
crosscutting in social and political matters through increased participation of all
ethnic groups would work. The prospect merits serious consideration.
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3. Modern Day Approaches to Conflict Resolution
As I mentioned above, the fact that the Framework Agreement of 2001 was
imposed upon Macedonian leadership by an armed resurrection and by foreign
negotiators trying to reach a cease-fire, points to the fact that it was not a decision
reflecting a moral-practical conviction but a reaction to internal political
developments. After heavy fighting resulting in many victims from both sides,
ethnic separation had become even more profound, and feelings of distrust were
reinforced again. The agreement only focuses in resolving constitutional and
educational issues, without seeking long-term opportunities to bridge political
dissections. More importantly, provisions were primarily conceived in minority
rights logic rather than comprehensive power-sharing per-se. Albanians demands
for increased representation in public posts and the official use of the Albanian
language in Macedonian Parliament were accepted, but no plans that laid ground
for genuine cooperation in the political stage between Albanians and
Macedonians were envisioned.
In spite of such a conclusion, there are a number of strategies that the
Macedonian and the Albanian leadership can pursue to enfranchise ethnic
communities. It is clear that identity is a central signifier of human conduct and
cant be eliminated. The question is how to neutralize its salience, how to make it
less determinant in issues of ethnic-interaction, how to emphasize social
62


collaboration that is identity blind. Among other approaches, power sharing
appears capable of creating a cooperative atmosphere based on mutual
concessions. Power-sharing initiatives have been relatively successful in countries
like South Africa and Belgium, but largely ineffective in countries like Bosnia
(Bieber, Sisk).
A democratic Macedonia dictates a modem state that radiates a civic identity.
A civic identity transcends national group identities, promoting pluralism. That is
equal participation of all constituents of a state in every aspect of public life.
However, as the Western European experience suggests, strong institutions are
needed to have a strong, stable state. As this study has shown, Macedonia is still
in its early phases of democratic institution-building. In addition, these institutions
need to seize the trust of all the citizens they come to represent. A weak economy,
an unconsolidated democracy and a powerless middle class make this task even
more difficult.
In these conditions, power-sharing tactics come to assist ethnic
rapprochement. Power sharing is a set of principles, which contain measures that
transcend policies favoring particular ethnic communities through legal provisions
that stimulate cooperation across ethnic lines. It manages ethnic tensions by
assigning power making abilities to disenfranchised minorities through autonomy
and equal representation and it fosters governing coalitions inclusive of all ethnic
groups. Generally, power sharing is a valuable political solution that can mitigate
63


problems raised by majoritarianism, a system that rewards dominant ethnicities.
Building a civic identity in Macedonia based on liberalism and democracy will
take some time, and appears to be a remote enterprise at the present, however, a
power-sharing strategy based on integrative requisites is the first step toward that
direction. In the absence of many solutions notes Sisk
Efforts to promote democracy in deeply divided societies must
proceed. The alternatives are few and unattractive. Sustained peace in
deeply divided societies requires a formula for the recognition and the
tolerance of ethnic differences, strong legal protections for individual
and group rights, political institutions that encourage bargaining, and
inclusive coalitions. These necessary ingredients of sustained peace
can only be achieved through democracy (Sisk, 1999, 11).
The premises for an integrative power sharing approach are fortunately
identifiable in the Framework Agreement that Albanian and Macedonian
political leaders signed in 2001. It states that no territorial solutions are practical
for ethnic issues and goes on to promote that multiethnic makeup of
Macedonian society must be preserved and must find an illustration in the public
and political realm of Macedonian society (Framework Agreement, 2001). It is
up to the leaders of Macedonia to seriously pursue strategies of ethnic-
coexistence.
3.1 Power Sharing Approaches
There are two major power-sharing strategies that differ considerably in their
approach. The Consociational approach mostly associated with Arend Lijphart in
64


Democracy in Plural Societies, and the Integrative approach associated with the
work of Donald Horowitz in Ethnic Groups in Conflict.
Consociationalism, as Lijphart advocates, creates arrangements and
institutions that protect group rights. It suggests territorial autonomy for
minorities at risk, federalism, proportional representation in public posts, a
proportional voting system recognizing group rights. Federalism provides
internal autonomy for minorities, a right that can be exercised in the area of
exclusive concern (communal autonomy). Its major premise is the concept of
proportionality, in the electoral system and in government representation as a
whole. It guarantees a minority veto that minorities can use in matters of vital
interests (Lijphart, 1977), and elite cooperation after elections. Sisk regards this
feature as coalitions of convenience, meaning that elites may pursue conflict
rather than reduce it (Sisk, 1996, 44), by conveniently using the veto right to
their liking or disliking of an issue at stake. This system seems to have worked
relatively well in Belgium but has resulted ineffective thus far in Bosnia.
The Integrative approach implies the creation of a central, unitary state. It
strongest facet is the implementation of ethnically-blind public policies, vote-
pooling, a presidential system, ethnically neutral majoritarian decision-making,
and the utilization of an electoral system that encourages voting across ethnic
lines. Parties can create pre-election coalitions. Governments are inclusive but
majoritarian. Horowitz argues that by designing institutions that encourage
65


multiethnic parties, ethnic identities can be overcome. He also regards interethnic
group competition endorsed by consociationalism as less effective in reducing the
likelihood of conflict compared to intragroup competition endorsed by
integrativists. However, federalism serves as principal means for Horowitz as
well.
One of the most imperative decisions to make for many political actors is to
'determine which approach is more functional in a given conflicting situation.
Most critics of consociationalism point to the reliance on elites (ignores grassroots
backing of mass constituents), the reification of ethnic identity, and inefficient
decision making as major flaws of this approach. Elites monopolize the
mediating role between the groups and reduce the possibilities of direct
cooperation between citizens in the areas they control (Sisk, 1996, 83). Moreover
elites do not seek to build bridges across the segments of society that are in
conflict. A good validation of this claim is Yugoslavia; where regional leaderships
pushed, through the use of the mutual veto, for the breakup of the country in spite
of constituents desire not to break up Yugoslavia. Consociationalism also appears
capable of perpetuating ethnic variances by officially legalizing group
distinction. Federalism has a literal territorial significance, but over time,
distinction my gain an exclusive characteristic, thus leading toward a likely
partition.
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While the consociational approach celebrates the segmentation of
education, the pluralist approach suggests that common educational
institutions valuing group identities and cultures equally, especially at
the university level- are a potentially powerful means of fostering
intergroup contact, communication and understanding, encouraging the
discovery of shared values and interests.... While the consociational
approach depends on goodwill among elites for whom competition is the
source of personal power, the pluralist approach depends on goodwill
among citizens...Whereas consociationalism leads to the politics of
identity, the pluralist approach fosters politics of interests (Burg, 2001,
3).
On the other hand, critics of integrative measures notice the lack of evidence
linked to countries that have had a successful experimentation with integrativism.
This is not completely true, to be fair. As Sisk and Stefes argue in Power sharing
and Democracy in South Africa, South Africa (and Lebanon to a certain extent)
has achieved a good level of success through the implementation of power sharing
initiatives between the African National Congress (ANC) and lesser political
groups. To reach a sound conclusion about the advantages of the integrative or
consociational approach, one must closely examine all political parameters
relevant to the socioeconomics and political environment of the country, and
accurately calculate all potential outcomes of the approach chosen. It is generally
more difficult to be successful in implementing the integrative approach when the
identities of the sides involved are perceived to be deeply incompatible.
Conversely, success is more likely when most obstacles are socially constructed
as means of competition, thus making the appeasing approaches less burdensome.
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As we take a closer look at Macedonias specific situation, one can detect that
traits of inherent violence and antagonistic ethnic attitudes between the two
communities are not as prevalent as to make appeasing strategies improbable. The
armed conflict of the last two years reached to amplify ethnic rhetorics to a certain
perilous level, but on a second assessment it appears difficult to discern
incompatible primordial characteristics as reasons that negate the utilization of
integrative measures. The conflict never materialized in a Bosnian version,
something that would have certainly made rapprochement much harder. The
Albanian-Macedonian conflict, displays mainly an instrumental feature
originating from a not-so-old antagonism that unfolds in matters of state control,
economic resources, and competition over cultural primacy. More than ethnic
enmity it is a lack of social interaction between Albanians and Macedonians who
live together that usually transforms into suspicion and fear. Where primordialist
traits are absent, chances for reconciliation are always better. In such a social
environment, when the democratization of Macedonian society requires a model
for co-existence, integrative measures seem better applicable and hold more
promise in coalescing ethnic cleavages than the consociational approach. From a
moral point of view, the issue at hand is not just to manage a conflict of ethnic
characteristics in a system or another. It is to accommodate it in the best possible
way, a system that does not keep ethnic communities at bay, but seeks to bring
them closer together. A system that values interaction more than seclusion.
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Therefore, keeping in mind the instrumental nature of the conflict, an integrative
approach seems to be the better method of resolving contentious ethnic
divergences in Macedonia. Its advantage comes from a conceptualization of
peoples rights in an individual context, rather than a group-based rights
approach. Ethnic profiling has plagued Macedonias treatment of minorities for a
long time, thus, leading us to believe that an individual approach may ease
societal friction.
At the same time, the citizens of Macedonia know all too well the
consequences of a full-scale conflict like the Bosnian one, to be intolerant to each
other. The consociationalist approach applied in Bosnia has been a failure thus
far. It is important to familiarize ourselves with the Bosnian experiment
considering both Bosnia and Macedonia were republics of former Yugoslavia and
their populations share similar social and political characteristics. In Macedonia
the Bosnian inferno never materialized due to the fact that interethnic relations
had never been as malevolent as in Bosnia; increased external pressure from EU
not to engage in violent ethnic conflict had a restraining effect; and because both
Albanians and Macedonians lacked support from stronger supporters outside
Macedonia (like Serbian support for Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian conflict).
The Bosnian situation is different. The Serbs, Bosnians, and Croatians are not
closer today then they were eight years ago. Nationalist parties have monopolized
the Bosnian political scene. In fact, they are seen as the only true political entities
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capable of preserving distinct national identities. The two provinces, Republika
Srpska and the Muslim-Croat federation coexist in a loose arrangement that may
even disintegrate once the external authorities that still oversee the Bosnian states
affairs withdraw. Florian Bieber notes how the powers of central state of Bosnia
are extremely curtailed to the advantage of the ethnically-defined entities who
provide protection for group members within their territory (Bieber, 2001, 115).
He also stresses how the post-war years have brought only slow progress, and
the success of the experiment of reconstructing Bosnia as a multiethnic society
has not yet been secured (Bieber, 2001, 115). Besides, the political center of the
federation, representing all three ethnic groups, is extremely weak.... central
government has limited policy-making authority... and citizens of Bosnia
consider multi-ethnic institutions as unable to protect their interests (Sisk and
Stefes, 2001, 365). Adding to the problems,the principle of mutual veto among
the three dominant ethnic groups has produced political deadlock and the complex
patterns of ethnic settlement require complex negotiation among elites (Burg,
2001, 2). Speaking of democratic institutions, Burg adds that they are too weak
to constrain actions of nationalistic elites...elites have monopolized any
crosscutting efforts Burh, 2001, 2). A key instrument of consociationalism, the
mutual veto, sometimes can lead to the use of political blackmail (Sisk, Stefes,
2001,345).
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In Macedonia, Albanian parties have been mainly concerned with collective
rights rather than individual ones. They have often joined in coalitions, although
this has happened after elections, and has mostly been coalitions of convenience,
i.e. joining the Macedonian parties with the least measure of nationalist ideology.
The formation of pre-election coalitions across ethnic divides would introduce a
new measure of cooperation. Another obstacle is the existing Macedonian
proportional electoral system, where voters vote basically for their representing
parties. In an integrative approach, a winner-take-all principle would apply, and
because coalitions are formed across ethnic affiliations, it is imaginable that
different ethnic groups would have representatives in power. Moreover, the
executive, legislative and administrative decision-making bodies would reflect an
ethnically diverse configuration.
An encouraging aspect of integrative measures is that by promoting ethnic-
blind policies and electoral systems that support voting across ethnic lines, it
fosters an identity that typically unfolds in a civic way, rather than an identity that
is solidified in groups. Along this process, individuals will be encouraged to
identify with parties democratic platforms and institutions that reflect protection
rather than a meager party affiliation on ethnic terms. Such identification leads in
turn to the creation of affinities based on institutional confidence, the foundation
of a liberal, civic state.
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Another matter of crucial importance is the adaptation of public policies, and
laws that ensure non-discrimination on the basis of identity. This is especially
imperative to the Albanian community, which wants to achieve a more favorable
status in cultural and educational matters. Not only that, but considering that most
misconceptions Albanians and Macedonians hold against their respective groups
come from having minimal contact with each other, public policies that encourage
intergroup cooperation through informal means (like social organizations, or
common educational and cultural institutions) would greatly mend distances
between ordinary, non-elite people. This is the most positive aspect of pluralist
initiatives, the cooperation between people on a lower and informal level.
In a constructive picture, the first step in implementing pluralist measures
would be to establish democratic institutions. By crosscutting societal
polarization institutionalized cooperation between group communal groups
mitigates ethnic conflict. Important in this aspect is the fact that both
communities see each other as inseparable, in a sense that they realize they
possess what Sisk identifies as a shared or common destiny (Sisk, Stefes, 2001,
347). Both communities reject not only territorial separation, but territorial
federalization as well.
Then, by isolating elements that violate organizational rules, the focus
should be in organizing civic groups across ethnic lines. At the same time
another important aspect would be the cultivation of links of political and ethnic
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elites with representatives of multi-ethnic organizations. (Sisk, Stefes, 2001,
346). A straightforward implementation of such drawing would probably assist
Macedonias problems with its minorities better than a formal acknowledgement
of minorities rights.
Once again, the success of power sharing in Macedonia depends on the
goodwill of respective communities involved in conflict, but also on the leaders of
these communities. Albanians have more incentive to go ahead with strategies
that institutionalize power sharing, since they claim to be politically
underrepresented, economically underdeveloped and socially ignored in
Macedonia. It is a good indication that their leaders are considered moderate. On
the other hand, Macedonians are more hesitant in implementing broad power
sharing initiatives. In this regard, their moderate leaders face a harder mission in
convincing their constituents about the necessity of conceding more legal space to
other communities that live in Macedonia. To a large extent, the success will
hinge on the ability of Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, his moderate deputies
in parliament, and President Boris Trajkovski, to build a consensus on the
importance of legalized intergroup cooperation with the good intention of creating
an integrated Macedonia.
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4. Conclusion
The disintegration of Yugoslavia put Macedonia on its own course of
recreating Yugoslavinism in its own country. By not being able to contain its
long-suppressed nationalist emotions efficiently, Macedonias elites replicated
Yugoslavias mistakes, which culminated in a year-long armed confrontation
between an Albanian minority and a Macedonian majority. Observing the
unsteady rise of Balkan countries toward democratization, Zlatko Isakovic notices
how in the relationship between democratization and ethnic conflicts democracy
has the potential to help mitigate and eliminate ethnic conflicts, but the transition
toward democracy creates a fertile climate for hatred, and resulting conflicts
(Isakovic, 2000,11).
Macedonia is at crossroads again. Many times in its history its territory and its
identity have been debated to be the property of stronger, bigger neighbors. The
threatening discourses stemming from surrounding neighbors have decreased
recently, even though its name issue is still unresolved as Greece continues to
reject any combination that includes the name Macedonia. This time however,
marred in its own internal conflicts of ethnic self-determination, Macedonia
controls its future itself.
To reconsider the whole issue, if we reach the conclusion that coexistence is
impossible because the pains already inflicted are too hard to overcome, then the
idea of keeping these two nations together seems fruitless and most probably
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leads to a definite territorial separation. I personally discern enough cultural and
legal space for these ethnicities to coexist. Ultimately such a marriage would be
a matter of convenience, especially for Macedonians. Otherwise, Macedonian-
Albanians always have the option of uniting with the Albania proper with whom
they share the same culture and language. Despite heightened hostile rhetoric and
the attention that nationalist endorsers draw to themselves, I believe that a
common sense of realism will prevail between both sides, because there is much
to lose in case of Macedonias separation. To assess the spirit of understanding of
Albanians towards their Macedonian counterparts as a self-defeating national
sentiment of Albanians would be a critical error on the Macedonians part; the
same error that led to the armed confrontations of last year. To properly integrate
them to the mainstream Macedonian politics as equal constituents of the
Macedonian state would significantly coalesce most of ethnic cleavages. It helps
to know that Albanians throughout their long-documented existence in the Balkan
Peninsula have almost never manifested or exerted hostile feelings toward their
neighbors, or invaded any other Balkan countries (Jacques, 1995). This has not
been the case with other countries of the region that have all engaged in some
kind of regional war (Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Bulgaria in the well documented I
and II Balkan wars). Numerous studies and respected scholars have pointed to the
peaceful posture of Albanians especially in regards to their neighbors. Albanians
demonstrate a polycentric national identity that does not identify itself with the
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construction of greater Albania. They can live far and wide peacefully, as long
as their identity is being respected. Not once in history have they tried to
accommodate their territorial and social needs at other nations expense. It is clear
that such attitude will make it easier for Albanians to fully integrate in the
Macedonian society as equal citizens of an equal state (Xhaferri, 1999).
However, on its part, the Albanian leadership should make every effort to
minimize the radical national rhetoric of some factions, paralyze all separatists
ideas within its ranks and retain a more flexible perspective in its approach for
increased rights. After all, any untimely concessions to Albanian demands would
also be viewed as an act of national treason by a large number of Macedonians
(but also by Macedonian leaders like Boskovski and Georgievski who consider
the signing of the Peace Agreement by the Macedonian side in 2001 as premature
and excessive). As for the Macedonians, aware of their contested history, this new
conflict after a long-sought independence is an enormous blow. Feeling
endangered again, their reaction to the minority demands has been irrational and
unbalanced. Apparently, the unending dilemma as to whether there is a distinct
Macedonian identity has at times impaired the ability of the central Macedonian
authorities to make appropriate decisions regarding the status of its minorities.
This is obvious in the reluctance of the Macedonian government to define
statehood based on citizenship, rather than ethnicity, thus creating a constitution
that states Macedonia is primarily the state of the Macedonians and also of
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Albanian, Turks, Serb and Vlach minorities. This has been a hotly contested
constitutional formulation by the Albanian minority who in turn feel
discriminated. However, not everything has been Macedonians governments
fault. A weak Macedonian economy as a result of several embargos imposed
during the Bosnian conflict has only exacerbated existing problems, creating a
vacuum for nationalism to exploit. Also, democratization of Macedonia is a slow
process, conditioned by the reform of central institutions like judiciary system and
state ministries. Macedonia does not have a history of well-established state
institutions that could assist in building a liberal state.
In a more complex analysis, the Macedonians would benefit from their equal
coexistence with Albanians. First, they would be assured that no trouble comes
from ethnic tensions, and second, the achievement of equal status for all
Macedonian citizens would offset the Greek claims. The Greek contention (which
holds that Macedonia cannot be recognized internationally by the name
Macedonia, because the name itself constitutes a territorial claim to the region of
northern Greece, to which Greeks refer as Macedonia) would rather be weakened
under the rationale that a state that consciously rejects ethnicity as a fundamental
concept for national- building intentions, cannot envision such claims at the
expense of another nation.
Macedonias colorful ethnic composition has at times created conflicting
issues of co-existence. Nevertheless, the rifts between its main ethnicities, the
77


Albanians and the Macedonians, have never gone as far as to appear
irreconcilable. The Republic of Macedonia has survived nationalist fervors partly
because Macedonia has been under constant European supervision, and partly
because most ethnic disagreements reveal a competitive aspect reflected even in
the economic sphere, rather then an exclusive primordial temperament. In the
last decade nationalist sentiments have in a large extent dominated the official
policies of the Macedonian state. This in turn has caused different ethnicities to
drift apart. The attraction of nationalist rhetorics it too appealing to Macedonias
majority, but the prospect of extreme ethnic alienation of its minorities is as
dangerous to the future of the country. With that in mind, it is obvious that
Macedonians and Albanians look at each other with distrust when it comes to
matters of state resources, cultural dominance and government control, but appear
less antagonistic in matters of Macedonias security. They both fear the foreign
dangers coming from Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria, and both consider Macedonia
to be their natural homeland. When it comes to internal security, Macedonians
and Albanians together, relegate their mutual contradictions to a lesser importance
for the sake of Macedonia.
In these realities the Macedonian leaders must be patient and wise enough to
construct a balancing act that takes into consideration the interests of each and
every Macedonian citizen. The entire idea centers in shifting away from policies
that define statehood based on nationality to a definition of statehood based on
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citizenship. In this difficult test Macedonia is not alone. It has the advantage of
knowing the terrible consequences of ethnic confrontation from countries that
have experienced the tragic events of ethnic wars like Bosnia and Kosovo, and the
valuable assistance of European Union countries not keen to see another ethnic
war in Balkans. Chances are Macedonia will steer clear of more violent conflicts
that include its ethnically different communities. The presence of EUs Task
Force forces in the country indicates that the political and social situation is still
unsettled. Recent violent incidents resulting in 3 victims between Macedonian
police and Albanian citizens in Tetovo illustrate how tenuous relations between
the two communities are.
Economic reforms are under way, and European aid has greatly assisted the
survival of Macedonias economy. Economic improvement will probably take a
long time, as Macedonia still tries to shift from the old centralized economy to a
modem, flexible market economy. However, among other things, the application
of integrative measures is central to its efforts of survival. Efforts to bring
together disenfranchised communities like Albanians, Serbs, Turks, and Vlachs
through orchestrated integrative arrangements that make possible equal political
and social input of all groups are of primary importance. Favorable in this context
has been the dominance of moderate leaders on both sides, a development that
Sisk considers of paramount importance to the success of integrative strategies
(Sisk, 1996, 103). Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski leader of Social
79


Democratic Party (SDP) and Albanian leader of Unity and Democratic Integration
Party (DUI), Ali Ahmeti, have both manifested a strong resolve to maintain good
ethnic relations while they push their respective constituents toward a more
liberal, all-inclusive stance that embraces other communities equally. Their most
difficult task will be to contain radical elements within their groups who either
accuse their leaders of capitulation, or decelerate improvements, (like certain
segments of Macedonian VMRO party; the Macedonian National Front (MNF),
and ex interior minister Ljubo Boskovski who wants a hard line stance against
Albanian separatists, or the radical Albanians organized in Albanian National
Army (ANA), a group that rejects cooperation with Slavs), (ICG, 2002).
Macedonia is not only under European pressure to solve ethnic problems in a
democratic, civic way; it aspires to be part of this Europe and the finest way to do
it is to embrace the liberal and democratic values that it presently lacks. To do so
it will have to relegate ethnicity to the periphery of its politics, and promote
modem civic values to the core of its mainstream social and political demeanor.
The absence of an established middle class and a weak economy impair the
likelihood of a rapid improvement of interethnic relations, but a dependence on
European economic support and the rise to prominence of moderate leaders are
encouraging signs. An economic recovery is particularly vital to the outcome of a
new Macedonia. Otto Bauer claims that modernization raises the educational and
cultural levels of the population, thus, making people think and act as members of
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civic societies not based on ethnic communities (Bauer, 1992) A more educated
generation is a good promise for the future.
The challenge that lies ahead for Macedonia is to dissociate itself from
influential ideas of solitary credentials based in a dominant nationality, to the
embrace of all-inclusive ethnic policies. This shift must not be perceived as
compulsive change, but rather as a concrete opportunity from which to build a
modem democratic state. The focus should be in accommodating aspirations of all
minorities within a political framework that recognizes the socio-political
capabilities of all communities interested in being serious nation-building factors.
Macedonia represents an ideal environment for incentives approach. The level
of animosity is not as worrying as in Kosovo or Bosnia where consociational
measures have been hampered by deep ethnic enmity, and partition increasingly
seems a likely solution. Implementing comprehensive integrative policies will
greatly help generate a social equilibrium that balances between ethnic
predisposition and equivalent representation of all Macedonian communities.
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