Albanians reject peace plan for Macedonia

Ethnic Albanian leaders reject EU-US peace
proposal for Macedonia and insist on radical constitutional
changes

EU and US mediators insist that the proposed plan, which
gives wider rights to ethnic Albanians, is the only way
forward. However, Imer Imeri, leader of the second main
Albanian party, the Party for Democratic Prosperity, said
Albanian leaders would disagree with the proposal “for the
most part” at today’s negotiations.

The proposal introduces constitutional
changes that would allow greater usage of the Albanian
language in public institutions, give more jobs to
Albanians in public service, and give more power to
municipalities.

However, both main Albanian political
parties insist on the same radical constitutional changes
that have kept negotiations deadlocked for weeks. They also
call for peace talks to be held outside Macedonia. The
Macedonian Slav majority (about 70 percent of population)
fear that this would split the country along ethnic lines
and lead to separatism.

 

Leaders of the Albanian minority in Macedonia rejected the
EU-US peace proposal, shredding hopes for lasting peace in
the country torn by ethnic strife since February. "This
offering cannot stop the war," Arben Xhaferi, leader of the
Democratic Party of Albanians, told Reuters on 8 July
Sunday. The EU and US will press on with negotiation
between the Slav majority and Albanian minority on 9 July.

 

The Macedonian government and Albanian rebels, who invaded
Macedonia from Kosovo, signed separate ceasefire agreements
with NATO on 5 July. Fighting between the Albanian
guerrillas, who call themselves the "national liberation
army", and government forces started in February when armed
Albanian guerrillas attacked the north of Macedonia across
the border from neighbouring Kosovo and Southern Serbia.

 

NATO has pledged to send 3,000 troops to Macedonia to
oversee a voluntary disarmament of the Albanian guerrillas.
However, NATO will only send in troops once there is a
lasting ceasefire and a viable peace agreement.

 

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