Albanian President Concerned By Macedonia Tension

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

President Topi on Thursday launched a two-day visit to the neighbouring country at a time of heightened tension between Macedonians and country’s Albanian minority.

“Each nationalistic or ultra-nationalistic reflex or a climate of prejudice harms relations between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians in Macedonia as well as regional relations,” Topi said.

Ivanov and Topi sent a joint message urging people to preserve peace and harmony despite provocations.

The Albanian President extended condolences to the families of the victims and supported the police investigation into the case.

President Ivanov expressed his own wish for a quick resolution of the case that has shocked the nation.

“It is in everyone’s interest to find the perpetrators, because if they had the courage to do this here, they could do the same elsewhere. It is obvious that someone has no interest in the region’s progress,” Ivanov said.

As part of his agenda, Topi also met Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski and Ali Ahmeti, the head of the junior government party, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on Thursday on the northern outskirts of the capital, at a popular fishing destination. All had gunshot wounds.

The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was found a short distance away from the rest.

The news of the killing has sharply fuelled ethnic tensions following the spread of rumours that the men were killed by Albanians. Police have said there is no evidence to support such claims.

But on Monday a mob mainly composed of hundreds of youngsters and hooligans tried to move across the city’s Vardar River towards an area mainly populated by ethnic Albanians.

In a short clash that followed, police prevented this attempt and arrested some of the youngsters.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister of mainly Albanian Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, also called for tolerance, peace and restraint in neighboring Macedonia.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (forner the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes.

BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention.

Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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