Macedonia's ethnic Albanians want nation declared bilingual
Posted January 7
SKOPJE, Macedonia — Three ethnic Albanian political parties in Macedonia adopted a joint platform Saturday that demands a larger say in the country's affairs in return for their support in forming a coalition government.
Elections held last month gave the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party 51 seats in the 120-member Parliament and 49 to the opposition Social Democrats.
Albanian minority parties won the remaining seats; the largest, the Democratic Union for Integration, a coalition partner of the conservatives over the past decade, won 10.
The platform approved by the three parties demands that the Constitution define Macedonia as a bilingual country where both Albanian and Macedonian are recognized as official languages.
The parties also are calling for a parliamentary resolution condemning past persecution of the Albanian minority, especially during the period 1912-1956.
Their platform also seeks "equal participation" in the country's army, security, intelligence and judicial branches and a say in negotiations with Greece regarding a dispute over the country's name.
In addition, the Albanian parties want a special prosecutor to investigate corruption and criminal allegations stemming from a wiretapping scandal that led to early elections to diffuse country's political crisis.
Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov is expected next week to give the mandate to form a government to the coalition that secures at least 61 seats in Parliament.
Ethnic Albanians comprise a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million.