Tirana MAPO in Albanian 19 Jul 10 p 9
Report by Habjon Hasani: “Bulgaria, [FYR] Macedonia Battle for Albanian Villages”
Bulgaria and [FYR] Macedonia are engaged in a real political and propaganda battle on the Albanian soil, more specifically in the area along Lake Oher [Ohrid]. At issue is the origin, nationality, and citizenship of the people living in these border villages. The representatives of the two sides are even exchanging mutual accusations over the distribution of passports to the inhabitants of the villages of Golloborde, Prespe, and Gore, all on the Albanian territory. Vreme, a [FYR] Macedonian newspaper, published yesterday an article under the title “Nakedness of Bulgarian Demagogy in Golloborde.” Edmond Themelko, its author, a representative of Albanian [FYR] Macedonian Alliance and a representative of the [FYR] Macedonian community living in these areas, told the [FYR] Macedonian newspaper that this community would send a note of protest to the OSCE representatives in Tirana to complain against Bulgaria’s efforts to assimilate the [FYR] Macedonian minority living in Albania’s border villages. In his declaration, Themelko, a representative of what claims to be a [FYR] Macedonian minority, even accused the Bulgarian Government and Bulgarian state bodies of launching an extensive campaign in these villages in an effort to persuade the community and the inhabitants to declare they are Bulgarians, not [FYR] Macedonians. “Bulgaria is dishonestly seeking to take advantage of the difficult economic situation of Prespe inhabitants by promising them Bulgarian passports and other facilities on the condition that they declare they have a Bulgarian nationality,” declared Themelko yesterday.
Following a number of articles in the [FYR] Macedonian media, Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s minister without portfolio for diaspora affairs, issued a statement to the media in which he voiced his conviction and that of the Bulgarian Government that [FYR] Macedonia is engaged in an all-out propaganda campaign in the villages inhabited by Albanians and [FYR] Macedonians to persuade them to declare themselves as people of [FYR] Macedonian nationality. According to Bulgarian Minister Dimitrov, a monitoring of the three Albanian regions of Golloborde, Prespe, and Gore, shows that the [FYR] Macedonian Government has taken all the measures to grant [FYR] Macedonian citizenship to 100,000 Bulgarians who live in these villages on Albanian territory. In contrast to Bulgaria, which forces people to wait for three to four years before taking citizenship, the [FYR] Macedonians are handing over passports within a period of two months against a payment of only 50 Euros. “The Albanian authorities plan to conduct a population census next year, and Shkup [Skopje] expects the census to provide proof of the presence of a big [FYR] Macedonian minority,” Bulgarian Diaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov said yesterday.
Since June this year the Bulgarian and [FYR] Macedonian Governments have been engaged in mutual accusations over the origin of the minorities living on the Albanian territory along Lake Oher. On 24 June this year Krasimir Karakachanov, a Bulgarian politician and leader of the Bulgarian National Movement Party, called publicly on the Bulgarian Government to undertake an active role vis-a-vis the Bulgarian minority in Albania. “There will be a population census in Albania in 2011 and it is very important to undertake an active role to ensure that the Bulgarian minorities in Albania identify themselves as Bulgarian, not [FYR] Macedonian,” this politician reportedly declared. He said that the Bulgarian state had ignored this issue during the last 20 years. Another paradox, he added, is that during all these years the citizens of Bulgarian nationality in Albania who had Orthodox names have received Bulgarian citizenship, and those with Muslim names have not been able to receive Bulgarian citizenship. Instead, they have received [FYR] Macedonian citizenship.
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