Ethnic Albanians group in FYROM calls protest

Associated Press
2009-06-12 11:04 PM

A group of prominent ethnic Albanian nationalists including a military commander who brought FYROM to the brink of civil war said Friday they will organize a demonstration to demand a new constitution.

The protesters said they will stage the protest June 23 in FYROM’s capital, Skopje. They want to create a federal state and grant self-government to the country’s restive ethnic Albanian minority.

Their demands would challenge the terms of a peace agreement that ended the fighting between government forces and rebels eight years ago and formed the basis of constitutional reforms adopted in late 2001.

Under the deal, rebels agreed to disarm and give up separatist demands in return for political reforms aimed at granting greater minority rights but not federal status.

Ethnic Albanian nationalist protest groups said the deal had failed to deliver any improvement for ethnic Albanians.

“The Albanian language is not on par with FYROMacedonian. Albanians are not equal with FYROMacedonians,” said Nevzat Halili, head of a nationalist group known as “Ilirida,” the main organizer of the protest.

Rebel commander Izair Samiu also backed the demonstration. There was no immediate reaction from the government to the protest plans.

Ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million population.

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