Macedonia's ethnic Albanians want nation declared bilingual

AP News
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Posted: Jan 07, 2017 3:07 PM

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Three ethnic Albanian political parties in Macedonia adopted a joint platform Saturday that demands a larger say in the country's affairs in return for their support in forming a coalition government.

Elections held last month gave the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party 51 seats in the 120-member Parliament and 49 to the opposition Social Democrats.

Albanian minority parties won the remaining seats; the largest, the Democratic Union for Integration, a coalition partner of the conservatives over the past decade, won 10.

The platform approved by the three parties demands that the Constitution define Macedonia as a bilingual country where both Albanian and Macedonian are recognized as official languages.

The parties also are calling for a parliamentary resolution condemning past persecution of the Albanian minority, especially during the period 1912-1956.

Their platform also seeks "equal participation" in the country's army, security, intelligence and judicial branches and a say in negotiations with Greece regarding a dispute over the country's name.

In addition, the Albanian parties want a special prosecutor to investigate corruption and criminal allegations stemming from a wiretapping scandal that led to early elections to diffuse country's political crisis.

Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov is expected next week to give the mandate to form a government to the coalition that secures at least 61 seats in Parliament.

Ethnic Albanians comprise a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million.