Thursday, March 19, 2009

Macedonia: Ethnic Discrimination still a Problem

Macedonia's progress in building a civil society and guaranteeing minority rights has not gone unnoticed by international organisations, whose reports in recent years have taken on a noticeably warmer tone. Most continue to warn, though, that substantial work remains to be done.

The US State Department's Human Rights Report for 2008, published last month by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, is the latest example.

It found that the Macedonian government "generally respected the human rights of its citizens" during 2008, but noted problems in some areas.

The report cited many positive trends. Despite some political pressure, the independent media were described as flourishing. The authors saw no restrictions on academic freedom and said the government generally respected the right of assembly. They also took note of a new law enshrining religious freedom and said the authorities had generally respected this right in practise.

Thousands of NGOs are operating freely in Macedonia, and increased co-operation is evident between the government and the ombudsman's office, the US State Department said.

At the same time, it said, the country still faces serious challenges. Two of the most important are judicial reform and interethnic relations.

Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, it remains a work in progress. The judicial branch is still swayed by corruption and political influence, according to the report.

Moreover, it said, the government "continued to delay the implementation of a number of judicial reform laws", thus lowering the efficiency of the system

As for interethnic relations, the State Department found they continued to be strained. "Tensions between the ethnic Macedonian and Albanian populations continued to impact areas including education, employment, and political participation," the report said.

Minority rights in the country enjoy guarantees under the Ohrid Agreement, and successive governments have taken concrete steps to make these rights a reality. Employment of minorities in civil and public administration has risen and is reaching 20% representation of ethnic Albanians in some sectors -- a doubling in the last eight years.

If a minority represents more than 20% of the population in a municipality, its language enjoys official status there. Some towns and cities in Macedonia thus have Albanian, Roma, Serbian, or Turkish as an official language. The law provides for primary and secondary education in Albanian, Turkish, and Serbian.

The popularity of Imer Selmani -- an ethnic Albanian running in the March 22nd presidential elections -- is seen as a bellwether of change. In some polls, he is ahead of the main opposition candidate, Ljubomir Frckovski.

Despite these trends, complaints were still heard from minority groups and, in some cases, from members of the ethnic Macedonian majority who alleged "reverse discrimination". Ethnic Turks said they still lacked representation in the government, the media and the school system, while Roma continued to suffer widespread discrimination.

Other problems cited by the State Department include "credible reports" of police abuse, as well as corruption at the interior ministry. Prison conditions in the country barely meet international standards, it said.

International criticism of the June 2008 elections also received mention, as did the scourge of human trafficking.

By Zoran Nikolovski for Southeast European Times


Anonymous said...


I promise you all, you can try with all the diplomatic policy and rhetoric-bullshit all you want, and pretent that Albanians can live alongside Slavs, etc., but the God-damn reality is, that the demarcation line that cut into the heart of ancient Albania in 1912MUST BE REMOVED if we want any peace and stability in the Balkans.

The fucking international community is so fucking blind.

Anonymous said...

i agree. the albanians get their land back, theres no more problems in the balkans. thats a 100% guarantee. the slav stays within their borders, and surely the albanians will stay in theirs. that is the easiest and error-proof solution there is.

Anonymous said...

The United States hailed Macedonia for holding violence-free elections but urged the country to keep up the effort for the run-off vote on April 5, local media report.

Mary Ann Tyson, the Press Secretary at the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, told Voice of America's Macedonian news service that the people of Macedonia deserve credit for coming out to vote in large numbers despite heavy snowfall on Sunday.

"Demonstrating the capacity to conduct successful elections is crucial for Macedonia's further progress in Euro-Atlantic integration," Tyson said.

The State Department urged the government and other relevant authorities in Macedonia to sustain their efforts in the coming two weeks to ensure that voting can again take place under a safe, free and fair climate in the second round.

After last year’s June general polls were marred by violence and fraud amid a clash between the main ethnic Albanian political parties, the European Union set this election as the last chance for the country to redeem and amend its crippled democratic image.

With the voting assessed as positive by OSCE and local monitors, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party presidential candidate, Georgi Ivanov took firm lead over his main opponent Ljubomir Frckoski from the main opposition, the Social Democrats.

Local analysts say that the votes of the other five candidates that were eliminated in the first round will be crucial in the runoff.

At the same time, in the local election 32 out of 84 municipalities voted in mayors in the first round.

“The first round is of course only a semi-final of this election process. The final will take place in two weeks and I expect fair play,” the EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told media on Monday.

If the country pulls off a smooth election it can hope for the swift removal of EU visas put up against travelling Macedonian citizens and a date for the start of its EU accession talks this autumn.

Anonymous said...

"I promise you all, you can try with all the diplomatic policy and rhetoric-bullshit all you want, and pretent that Albanians can live alongside Slavs, etc., but the God-damn reality is, that the demarcation line that cut into the heart of ancient Albania in 1912MUST BE REMOVED if we want any peace and stability in the Balkans.

The fucking international community is so fucking blind."

be careful in what you wish for because you just might get it... our "malesor" peoples vote in elections will be destroyed because of it .. if you think albanias bad now just think if ther is a "greater albania" how insuficant our voice will be... malesors need 2 wake up and realize albania as it is 2day kosove and macedonia could give a flying fak about us. our best hope is 2 be armed and stedfast in our conviction of freedom.. NORTHERN ALBANIAS FREEDOM.. ITS OUR TERRITORY AND WE SHOULDNT LET OUTSIDERS KOSOVAR OR OTHER ALBANIANS INTERFERE IN OUR BUSINESS... IM NOT SAYING 2 HATE JUST DISLOCATE FROM THE REST BECAUSE WE DONT WANT THEM 2 SWALLOW US UP... WE HAVE 2 REMAIN IN CHARGE OF NORTHERN ALBANIA ITS OURSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

its that kind of idiotic ideals that keep us from getting a free, idependant malesia...all that northern albania shit is old news. i dont know what you mean by "outsiders like kosovar, albanian macedonians", etc..the slavs are the only outsiders i see..youre pretty warped there..effin' idiot..its that small minded thinking that screws everyone up..the slavs are in your business..and the slavs already swallowed you up, moron!

Anonymous said...