Macedonia Threatens Schools Over Albanian Plaques


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonian education minister, Pance Kralev, has ordered four schools in a mainly Albanian part of the capital to remove their new Albanian names on the grounds that they are illegal.

The four schools at the centre of the dispute lie in mainly Albanian areas of the Macedonian capital but are currently named after Macedonian heroes.

Education Minister Pance Kralev threatened to press charges if the Skopje municipality of Cair fails to remove the plaques, put up two weeks ago.


“The first move is to press charges for the offence… afterwards, if they do nothing, we have other mechanisms at disposal,” Kralev warned on Thursday, without specifying what he had in mind.

Kralev said that he remained optimistic that the problem could be solved by agreement and that police would not be needed to remove the disputed plaques.

The local authority in Cair renamed “Cvetan Dimov” school as “Hasan Pristina”, while “Rajko Zinzifov” became “Ismail Kjemali”, “Nikola Vapcarov” became “Imri Elezi” and “Jane Sandanski” became “Jashar Bey”.

This week, media reports said that the municipality had started removing busts of the Macedonians from the school grounds.

Cair mayor Izet Mexhiti said they acted unilaterally after it became apparent that the ministry, run by an ethnic Macedonian, would not allow them to rename any schools.

Bickering over the names of the schools is part of an ongoing conflict over symbols between Macedonia’s main ruling VMRO DPMNE party and its Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

The trouble started in mid-August when Defence Minister Fatmir Besimi, an ethnic Albanian, paid homage to a war memorial put up to honour Albanian fighters in the 2001 conflict, angering ethnic Macedonians.

Tensions increased after VMRO DPMNE then laid before parliament a new draft law increasing the rights and privileges of members of the Macedonian military who fought in 2001.

The sticking point for the DUI was that the bill does not include former Albanian fighters whose former leaders now dominate the DUI. They have threatened to leave the government if the bill, already in parliament, passes.

The DUI recently responded with another provocative move, when its government ministers intonated the Albanian national anthem, not the Macedonian anthem, at the opening of a new school in the village of Dzepciste near the mainly Albanian western town of Tetovo.

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The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin 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.

9 thoughts on “Macedonia Threatens Schools Over Albanian Plaques

  • September 15, 2012 at 12:35 am

    That’s pathetic. This country was known as Vardaska prior to its renaming in 1944 to “Macedonia”. They steal Greek and Bulgarian symbols and history and now they complain that the Albanians changing the names of 4 schools.

  • September 15, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Here is a quote from FYROMs own Foreign Minister. He admites that they invented their identity and history! At least the Albanian names are really Albanian.

    Denko Malevski(1st minister of foreign affairs in FYROM):

    The creation of the “Macedonian” nation, for almost half of a century, was done in a condition of single-party dictatorship. In those times, there was no difference between science and ideology, so the “Macedonian” historiography, unopposed by anybody, comfortably performed a selection of the historic material from which the “Macedonian” identity was created. In those years, we lost our capability for strategic dialog. With Greeks? No, with ourselves. Since then, namely, we reach towards some fictional ethnic purity which we seek in the depths of the history & we are angry at those which dare to call us Slavs & our language & culture Slavic? We are angry when they name us what we are if we have to define ourselves in such categories, showing that we are people full with complexes which are ashamed of ourselves.
    The idea that Alexander the Great belong to FYROM,was at the mind of some outsider political groups only!!These groups were insignificant the first years of our independence..the big problem is that the old Balkan Nations have been learned to legitimate themselves through their history. In Balkans,if you want to be recognised as a Nation,you need to have history of 3000 years old.Since Greeks made us to INVENT a history..we did invent it…

  • September 15, 2012 at 2:11 am

    Interesting how you question the legitimacy of the Macedonian nation and people when that has nothing to do with democratically chosen goverment who sets laws rules and is responsible for enforcing them. What group of animals do you belong to or should I say Clan, do you have your Clan members permission to write in this forum?
    That is the Albania way right no rights for women unless a man gives permission right! Get out of here you dumb dog!

  • September 15, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Based on what the Slavic FYROM are trying to do (Naming everything with Slavic names, Bulgarian names, and Greek names in FYROM. Its no wonder the Albanians are feeling threatened. How can they live peacefully in the very state that is trying to hide and remove even by force their culture , history and place in FYROM.

    What the Slaves have opened up in FYROM with this disaster “Skopjie 2014 project” is a PowderKeg of culture clashes and its about to blow up again in full scale ethnic war.

  • September 15, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Here is a tip in a democracy Albanians can build schools teach only Albanian play Albanian anthem after Macedonian when its privately funded. otherwise you follow government rules or face the punishment.
    Dont like being a minority move out, go to Albania and see how much you enjoy life there. Better yet come try these tacktics in Greece see what happens!

  • September 15, 2012 at 2:39 am

    If full scale war breaks out in Fyrom between the Slavs and Albanians. The blood of the innocent will have been caused by this Racist Individual:

    Macedonian education minister, Pance Kralev

  • September 15, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Dont forget that the people of Macedonia took in a huge number of Albanians when they had nowhere to go while running from Serbian ethnic cleansing. Macedonians could have easily closed borders and let many of you die. Instead they set up tent cities for you feed you clothed you gave you water. Im sure if they could turn back the hands of time things would have been dealt with differently, given the thanks they have recieved. HOW EASY IT IS TO FORGET.

  • September 15, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Greek, you forgot about the Ohrid Agreement, Albanians make up the majority in Cair district and 20% in Skopje as a whole and have the right to their school in Albanian named after Albanians and funded by FYROM because FYROM is their homeland just as equally as its the Slavs homeland. Enough of your BS about us going to Albania because the whole world knows that Half the Albanian population was left out of Albania upon the wrongfully drawn up borders of Albania in 1912.

    My great grandmother an Albanian was born in Üsküp and guess what state it was in when she was born? It was in Kosova not Fyrom.

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