Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia

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Macedonian Albanians
Shqiptarët e Maqedonisë
Moisi Golemi.jpg
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Vehbi Dibra, ( 1867–1937) Albanian cleric.jpg
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Regions with significant populations
 Macedonia 509.083 (2002)
Languages
Albanian (Gheg dialect and Tosk dialect), Macedonian
Religion
Predominantly Sunni Islam,
Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Atheism.
Related ethnic groups
Albanians
Part of a series on
Albanians
Albania
Nation
Communities
Balkans
Diaspora
Subgroups
Albanian culture
Albanian language
Dialects
Religion
History

Albanians are the largest ethnic minority in the Republic of Macedonia. Of the 2,022,547 citizens of Macedonia, 509,083, or 25.2%, are Albanian according to the latest national census in 2002. The Albanian minority lives mostly in the north-western part of the country. The largest Albanian communities are in the municipalities of Tetovo (70.3% of the total population), Gostivar (66.7%), Debar (58.1%), Struga (56.8%), Kičevo (54.5%), Kumanovo (25.8%) and Skopje (20.5%).[1]

Population[edit]

According to the official census data (held every 10 years), Albanians made up 19% of the total population in 1953. The population fell to 13% in 1961, but grew again in 1971 to 17%. The group formed 19.7% in 1981 and 21% in 1991.[2] At the last census in 2002, the Albanian population was at 25.2%. Ethnologue in 2002 estimated some 500,000 people speaking the Albanian language in Republic of Macedonia.[3] In the decade since the republic declared independence from Yugoslavia, some Albanians have claimed to account for 30% of the population and demanded an appropriate share of power. On the other side, ethnic Macedonians said Albanians were barely 20%.[4] However, the widely accepted number of Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia is according to the internationally monitored[5] 2002 census. The census data estimated that Albanians account for about 25.2% of the total population. In the 2008 Macedonian parliamentary elections, Albanian political parties received 22.61% of the total vote, receiving 29 of 120 seats.[6]

The Albanian population in the country is largely rural with ethnic Albanians forming a majority or plurality in only 3 of the country's 34 cities.[7]

Municipalities with an Albanian majority[edit]

Of the 80 municipalities in the country, 15 have ethnic Albanian majorities. These are (according to the 2002 census data):

History[edit]

Albanians from Debar in 1863

Shortly after the defeat of Turkey by the Balkan allies, a conference of ambassadors of the Great Powers (Britain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Italy) convened in London in December 1912 to settle the outstanding issues raised by the conflict. With support given to the Albanians by Austria-Hungary and Italy, the conference agreed to create an independent state of Albania, which became a reality in 1913. However, the boundaries of the new state were drawn in such a way that large areas with Albanian populations remained outside of Albania, including the area that would go on to become the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.

When the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was established in 1946, the constitution guaranteed the right of minorities to cultural development and free use of their language. Minority schools and classes in minority languages were introduced immediately, in order to counter the high percentage of illiteracy among these groups. In the following two decades, the communist party continuously introduced measures meant to promote the incorporation of the Albanian community into the economic and social life of the new socialist state through education, professional training, and social opportunities (Milosavlevski and Tomovski, 1997:15, 49-105).

Since the end of World War II, Socialist Republic of Macedonia's population has grown steadily, with the greatest increases occurring in the ethnic Albanian community. From 1953 through the time of the latest census in 2002 (initial results were released December 2003), the percentage of Albanians living in the Republic of Macedonia rose 31.3%. The western part of the country, where most ethnic Albanians live, is the most heavily populated, with approximately 40% of the total population. The net influx in the past 30 years has been close to 100,000 Albanians.

Albanians from Štirovica, Gostivar in 1907

In the late 1980s when the autonomy of the province of Kosovo was revoked, and the repression of the Albanian population significantly increased, these developments also took place in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. The Albanian language was removed from public sight, Albanian families were prohibited from naming their children with Albanian names on the ground that it caused divisions with the other communities in the republic, and finally, to lower the significantly high birth rate of the Albanian population, Albanian families were prohibited from having more than two children (Milosavlevski and Tomovski, 1997:205, and Politika ekspres 10-6-1986). This assimilative campaign can be clearly seen by the fact that in 1990 the amended Constitution redefined the state from "a state of the Macedonian people and the Albanian and Turkish nationalities" to a "national state of the Macedonian people" (Poulton, 1995:122).

In January 1992, Albanians organized a referendum on territorial autonomy. The Macedonian government claimed this was an attempt to secede and began a crackdown by declaring the referendum illegal. The Council of Albanian Political Parties in the Former Yugoslavia, an organization that represents ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Montenegro, Central Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia, promptly decided that autonomy would only be a possibility for Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia if other democratic efforts failed to procure political and cultural rights.[citation needed]

The Albanian National Meeting in the city of Tetovo(center left, Xhem Hasa and center right, Mefail Shehu).

Ethnic minority grievances, which had erupted on occasion (1995 and 1997), rapidly began to gain political currency in late 2000, leading many in the ethnic Albanian community in the Republic of Macedonia to question their minority protection under, and participation in, the government. Tensions erupted into open hostilities in the Republic in February 2001, when a group of ethnic Albanians near the Kosovo border carried out armed provocations that soon escalated into an insurgency. Purporting to fight for greater civil rights for ethnic Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia, the group seized territory and launched attacks against government forces. The insurgency spread through northern and western Republic of Macedonia during the first half of 2001. Under international mediation, a cease-fire was brokered in July 2001, and the government coalition was expanded in July 2001 to include the major opposition parties.[citation needed]

The expanded coalition of ruling ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian political leaders, with facilitation by U.S. and European Union (EU) diplomats, negotiated and then signed the Ohrid Framework Agreement in August 2001, which brought an end to the fighting. The agreement called for implementation of constitutional and legislative changes, which lay the foundation for improved civil rights for minority groups. The Macedonian parliament adopted the constitutional changes outlined in the accord in November 2001. The grand coalition disbanded following the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement and the passage of new constitutional amendments. A coalition led by Prime Minister Georgievski, including DPA and several smaller parties, finished out the parliamentary term.[citation needed]

In September 2002 elections, an SDSM-led pre-election coalition won half of the 120 seats in parliament. Branko Crvenkovski was elected Prime Minister in coalition with the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) party and the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP).

Social impact[edit]

Macedonian Albanians retain both a cultural and economic connections with Albania. The agriculture sector of the economy is progressively developing for the Albanians despite poor soil quality, little industrial infrastructure, and a serious lack of jobs.[citation needed]

Albanian political parties[edit]

The Republic of Macedonia has a few Albanian parties. The Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and the Democratic Party of Albanians are the two largest Albanian political parties in the country. In the 2008 Macedonian parliamentary elections, DUI won 11.3% of the total vote, while DPA got 10.1%.[6] However, due to pre-election fights between the two main Albanian political parties, some Albanian areas of the country have revoted.

In the 2011 Macedonian parliamentary elections, Albanian parties received 20.96% of the total popular vote. DUI received 10.2% of the vote, giving it 15 seats. This is a loss of 3 seats from the previous elections. DPA received 5.9% of the vote, winning 8 seats which is also a drop of 3 seats from the 2008 election. The third Albanian party to receive seats in parliament is the National Democratic Revival party which received two seats with 2.7% of the vote.[8]

In the 2014 elections, three Albanian parties, DUI, DPA, and NDP won 19 seats, seven seats, and one seat, respectively, out of the 123 total seats. Ethnic Albanians parties received just under 21% of the total popular vote.[9]

Current issues[edit]

According to the United States' Country Report on Human Rights 2012 for Macedonia "certain ministries declined to share information about ethnic makeup of employees". The same report also added:

"...ethnic Albanians and other national minorities, with the exception of ethnic Serbs and Vlachs, were underrepresented in the civil service and other state institutions, including the military, the police force, and the intelligence services, as well as the courts, the national bank, customs, and public enterprises, in spite of efforts to recruit qualified candidates from these communities. Ethnic Albanians constituted 18 percent of army personnel, while minority communities as a whole accounted for 25 percent of the population according to statistics provided by the government."[10]

Culture[edit]

Albanian catholic family from Skopje

Pjetër Bogdani (ca. 1630 - 1689), known in Italian as Pietro Bogdano, is the most original writer of early literature in Albania. He is author of the Cuneus Prophetarum (The Band of the Prophets), 1685, the first prose work of substance written originally in Albania. Born in Gur i Hasit, Has, near Kukës district, Albania about 1630, Bogdani was educated in the traditions of the Catholic Church to which he devoted all his energy. His uncle Andrea or Ndre Bogdani (ca. 1600-1683) was Archbishop of Skopje and author of a Latin-Albanian grammar, now lost.

Palace of the Ottoman Albanian officer Niyazi Bey in Resen

Culturally, Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia are closely related with Kosovo and Albania. The common flag, the national hymn, the common history, national folk songs, language, etc. are only among some of the factors that prove the close relation between Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia, and those in Kosovo and Albania.[citation needed]

Education in Albanian language is provided in all levels, including university levels, such as State University of Tetovo,[11] South East European University,[12] also in Tetovo.

The spoken dialect of Albanian is mainly Gheg, and Tosk in parts of the south.[3]

The main religion among Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia is Islam, though there are some who are Roman Catholic, with the most prominent member Agnes Bojaxhiu, also known as Mother Teresa.

There are also a few Orthodox Christian[13] Albanian villages located in Gostivar, Reka, and scattered in the southeast. They are remnants of a once larger Albanian Orthodox population in the area,[13] and some fear that they will be "assimilated and forgotten".

Prominent individuals[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]