ISSN 2330-717X

Macedonian Police On Alert for Fortress Violence


Skopje old fortress
Skopje old fortress

By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Security has been increased around Skopje’s old fortress amid fears of renewed ethnic violence at the weekend between Macedonian and Albanian extremists

After calls for new gatherings this weekend at the fortress appeared on the networking site Facebook, Macedonia’s police minister, Gordana Jankulovska, warned that police “will be harsh towards those who intend to make trouble and stir up violence”.

Eight people were injured when clashes erupted last Sunday between ethnic Albanians opposed to the controversial building of a museum in the fortress, and Macedonians who said they came to defend the construction site.

The museum lies on the site of a demolished medieval church, and some Albanian Muslims fear it will at some stage become an active church, in an area of the city that they see as their own.

The police ministry said it had filed charges against 60 people identified as participants in last week’s clashes.

Artan Grubi, head of the ethnic Albanian NGO “Razbudi se (Wake Up)”, which was involved in last week’s clashes, on Friday urged “all to retrain from further protests” at the fortress.

“Wake Up and out partner organizations do not plan protests this weekend. We call on Albanians and other citizens not to be manipulated and remain calm,” the NGO said in a statement.

Macedonia’s Vice Prime Minister, Abdulakim Ademi, an ethnic Albanian, joined calls for restraint. “I appeal to everyone, especially to young people, not to succumb to provocation and not to let themselves be manipulated,” he said.

Albanians make up about one-quarter of Macedonia’s population.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt 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.

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