Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Macedonian shooting

On wednesday 12 may four Albanians were shot by the Macedonian police near Radusa on the border with Kosovo. According the police they were trying to smuggle weapons from Kosovo to Macedonia and opened fire when the police wanted to stop them. The men were wearing black uniforms and UCK emblems were found in their car. A day later the Macedonian police searched a house in Novo Selo (Tetovo municipality). They found another weapon stash and arrested four people. This raid was linked the shooting the day before.

On thursday 29 april there had been a previous shootout on the border near Blace. Some twelve people were involved, the police found many weapons but made no arrests and no one was hurt. The police tried to dismiss the smugglers as just criminals, but the National Liberation Army, a former ethnic Albanian rebel group, claimed responsibility. Shortly after that incident the Macedonian police found four more weapon stashes.

The monday after this indident (3 may) 4000 Albanians held a demonstration against discriminination. The gathering - announced before the border incident - was organized by 40 Albanian NGOs and supported by the opposition New Democracy Party, but not by other Albanian parties. They claim that the Ohrid Agreement has not been completely implemented and claim ongoing discrimination. One of their aims is to declare Albanian as a second official language. There are other disputes as well.

Then there is the name dispute with Greece. Albanians don't like this because it blocks Macedonia's entry to institutions like NATO. But more important perhaps is the accompanying policy of "antiquisation". Saying that Macedonians descend from the ancient Macedonians and not from the 6th century Slav invasions implies that the Macedonians were first and the Albanians are later intruders.

Of course the tension has never really disappeared. Two and a half years ago 8 Albanians were killed by the Macedonian police. But the tensions end 2007 were more related to a border dispute with Kosovo about some villages (like Tanusevi).


Verneuil said...

just came back from Kosovo.

The incident generated a lot of movements and interests. In the bus carrying me back from Mitrovica to Belgrade (via Raska), two Albanian on board were arrested at the Kosovo/serbia administrative borderline : one was very likely a female prostitute, the other one was coming from Macedonia with forged papers. Two other middle aged Albanians also travelling from Skopje passed freely, with MUP identity papers...

Wim Roffel said...

Hi Verneuil,

What were your impressions from your Kosovo journey? I saw you wrote something about the Macedonian shooting on your blog. But what about Kosovo, where the government has been rather activist recently (mobile telephone, passports, minibusses)? What do you think they are aiming at? And what role play the internationals?