(Eleftherotypia, August 16, 2001)
The agreement has been signed. And thus to all intents and purposes recognition has been granted of the rights of the Albanian minority, and indeed to such an extent that one has the impression nothing can now be done in the supposedly unified country known as the FYROM without the consent of the Albanian minority. Can this really be viewed as a contribution to stabilization and peace in our northern neighbour?
And another aspect of the agreement: why does it state that the Catholic religion will be recognized on equal terms with the Orthodox and Muslim faiths? 67% of the population are Orthodox, 30% Muslim, and only 3% subscribe to other faiths. So why are the Protestants, Buddhists and Jews not recognized as enjoying equal status? And why are these Catholics suddenly so important?
A new situation has now taken shape in the FYROM. In Tetovo, Gostivar, Kumanovo and generally all the western provinces the population is now almost entirely Albanian, the Macedonian Slavs having been driven from their homes. And likewise in Monastiri (Bitola), Priled and other provinces the Macedonian Slavs form the overwhelming majority, the Albanians here having been forced to flee their homes. This state of affairs, following the signing of the agreement, serves to confirm that the FYROM is now essentially two states packaged as one. And the fear now is, that the word Former may gradually come to refer not to the countrys previous status as part of Yugoslavia, but to the country itself as a single, unified state.
And what then? The crisis, the armed conflict, the guerilla warfare there was never any real chance that the FYROM would avoid these. They were preceded by the break-up of the formerly united Yugoslav Federation, followed by the operation in Kosovo, which then became a protectorate, which in turn was followed by the next operation, again involving the Albanians, in the FYROM. When does it stop?
Southern Serbia and Voivodina are regions within what remains of Yugoslavia. There is also Transylvania in Romania. There are still a certain number of Albanian threats to Greece, and a certain number of Bulgarian Macedonians. What does this all mean? In the Middle East, meanwhile, the cycle of bloodshed continues unabated.