Friday, September 25, 2009

Flawed FYROM encyclopedia sparks row over ethnic past

Ethnic Albanians are seen fleeing the village of Lojane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), during a standoff between ethnic Albanians and FYROM police back in 2003. A new encyclopedia has fueled controversy in the multiethnic country.

By Kole Casule - Reuters

SKOPJE – The leading academic institution in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) said yesterday it would revise a new encyclopedia after protests by the Balkan country’s ethnic Albanian minority as well as in neighboring Kosovo and Albania.

The row has highlighted the still fragile ethnic balance that led to fighting in FYROM in 2001 and wars during the 1990s elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.

The encyclopedia sparked outrage by recounting that ethnic Albanians settled the region in 16th century. Albanians say they were present long before Slavic tribes arrived centuries ago.

It also refers to Ali Ahmeti, leader of country’s 2001 ethnic Albanian insurgency, as a war crimes suspect.

Ahmeti now heads the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which is a junior partner in the government. The Netherlands-based UN war crimes court has investigated atrocities in the conflict but never implicated Ahmeti.

“While [the encyclopedia] will be partly rewritten, the edition will not be withdrawn,” Georgi Stardelov, head of the editorial committee of FYROM’s Academy of Sciences and Arts, said in a statement.

The book was first promoted last week as a key national document at an event attended by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Albanian media quoted Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha as saying the encyclopedia was “absurd and unacceptable” and said he warned FYROM President Georgi Ivanov that no one can build “identity based on the forgery of history.”

In Kosovo, which has unresolved border issues with FYROM, parliament leader Jakup Krasniqi said that Skopje was “isolating itself and making enemies.” Ethnic Albanians account for a quarter of the population in the country of 2 million which peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia in 1992.

In 2001, ethnic Albanians launched an insurgency which ended after a Western-brokered peace deal disarmed rebels in exchange for broader Albanian rights and their inclusion in the society, something that riles many Slav-Macedonians.

Some academics in FYROM criticized the book as hastily prepared and politically motivated.

“Any encyclopedia cannot be written under the influence of politicians,” said Milan Gjurcinov, an Academy of Arts and Sciences member. “It is a book teeming with politics and that’s not good.”

Gjurcinov warned that a similar dispute between Serb and Croat academics in the 1980s contributed to the rise in nationalism that led to the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame!!! Considering that this encyclopedia didn't meet the professional, historical and political standards. Big disinformation have caused the heavy protest of Albanians in FYROM (30%) but as well from foreign diplomacy.
    The problem is easy to explain. [FYROM] Macedonia works as multhietnic state only when gets taxes or investments. When it comes to resolve the interethnic problems everything get lost and works only for 65% of national majority. Just to remind you 8 key points of Ohri agreement are been forgotten and now that agreement result in a dead agreement.
    I’m not happy for what is happening because in one or two states we will be always neighbors. But if we want to live together in one state, first of all we should build confidence and respect for each other. Every citizen of this country should feel that this is his country.
    Encyclopedia of MANU is one symptom of that is called not tutti-frutti state but mono-fruit megalomania.
    What is intended doesn't harm so much other peoples who will regret what is written there. Harmed will be the majority of population there who 1. will not have a proper and true reference to know their story. 2.national fanaticism stimulated by this edition will obstacle them to build a healthy country based in reciprocity of respect with other nations who are important components of FYROM. As well this "Encyclopedia" doesn't help the future state to build good relationship with surrounding countries. 3. This thesis sounds as a call for conflict and are very similar with Nazis references to nationalism before the WWII.

    I'm really sorry that this first edition is been a lost chance. This edition could have been good, because the FYROM is not missing true intellectuals.


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