Macedonian Minister Slated For Honouring Albanian Fighters


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia’s President has criticised the presence of government ministers at a ceremony laying flowers before a monument to ethnic Albanian guerilla fighters killed in the 2001 conflict.

In the country’s first ever institutional expression of respect for former National Liberation Army fighters who died in the conflict, Defence Minister Fatmir Besimi, an ethnic Albanian, accompanied by other ethnic Albanian ministers and uniformed persons, laid flowers and bowed before an NLA monument in Slupcane, near Kumanovo, a former NLA stronghold.


The ceremony was part of the events marking 11 years since the signing of the Ohrid Peace Accord, which ended the 2001 conflict by extending greater rights to the Albanian minority.

“The President urges all institutions to refrain from misusing the army for political or party objectives,” Gjorge Ivanov said in a press release adding that “Institutional regulations and procedures were not followed” in this case.

The event caught by surprise the government, the Army General Staff and the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party. They have all condemned the move and denied any involvement, saying the Defence Minister acted alone.

The Army has said that the uniformed men seen at the ceremony were not part of the Army but were merely employees of the Defence Ministry.

The opposition Social Democrats have also criticized the move, asking whether the head of state, who has overall command of the armed forces, approved it.

Paying respect to war memorials built by the Albanian community remains highly controversial among the Macedonian majority.

But the Defence Minister in question, a member of the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, a party in government, has not backed down.

“I sincerely regret that the act has not been perceived as one of reconciliation in the spirit of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which is an integral part of the constitution,” Besimi said on Wednesday after an informal meeting with the army chiefs.

He said he did not need the President’s consent for his move, arguing that the Framework Accord clearly implies the right to equally respect all victims of the conflict.

Balkan Insight

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.

3 thoughts on “Macedonian Minister Slated For Honouring Albanian Fighters

  • August 18, 2012 at 4:24 am

    The Macedonian Slavs still think of Albanians as second class citizens, that is why the uproar on a non-issue item such as this if it were truly a democratic equal society.

    Also that Skopjie 2014 monument building program has only 1 statue dedicated to an Albanian (Mother Teresa) but Albanians are nearly 30% of the population and only 1 statue? In a democratic nation they would have 3 out of every 10 statues for Albanians.

  • August 18, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Reconciliatory actions such as paying respect to all vicitms of conflict never goes down well in a nationalistic driven land. The skopjian authority has yet to recognise its genocidal actions towards the thousands of innocent non-Slavic citizens just for the simple reason that they were not ethnic Slavs.

    For this reason alone, if not for the many other atrocites commited by the Slavic military, victims of both the indigenous Albanian freedom fighters, who died protecting their families and homes and those of the Slavic overlords should be rightfully respected for a war that was committed and perpetrated by Slavic aggression but on indigenous Albanian terms and soil.

    The skopjian leadership can celebrate its puny and rather impotent military, but it should be well to remember, had the West not intervened in 2001, today we, the indigenous people of this land would be the skopjian authority.

    Proud that our sacred land would once again be back with the indigenous descendents of our ancestral Illyrian and Paeonian forefathers.

    The skopjian leadership’s jingoistic attitudes should stop impersonating ancient figures borrowed from the Greek tribes to the south or medieval figures from their Bulgarian kin to the east.

    It is time for the skopjian leadership to grow up and act their age, as you have turned 20 years old now and people expect a little more maturity by now.

  • August 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    The state officials represent the state and not their ethnic groups (minority or majority). State officials should pay respect only to citizens who lost their life on duty (army, police, etc) for defending the state and its citizens, no matter of what ethnicity the victims were. There was no need for state officials (and was very wrong, too) to pay respect for someone who fought for their own ethnic rights, against the state. Of course, privately, any ethnic community can honor any person of their own ethnic group, but just them, not the state officials!


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