Macedonia and Kosovo After the Military Operations
by Antonina Zhelyazkova Translated from Bulgarian by Violeta Angelova
I. Approaches to the research and methodology
II. Social specifications of the respondents
1. Albanian refugees in the camps and in the private houses in Tetovo
2. Albanians in Macedonia and Albanians in Albania. Their social relations with the Kosovars
3. The Macedonians
III. Psychological portraits of different ethnic and social levels
1. Albanian refugees in the camps and in the houses of Tetovo
2. Macedonians and Macedonian society as a whole
1. Albanians and Macedonians are ethno-capsulated to each other, they do not know each other and in some cases this verges on ignorance. It is obvious that the level of negative stereotypes is very high and even if this fact is concealed, quite notable is the fear of Macedonians from demographic and cultural invasion as well as the fear of the possibility of a gradual national erasing of the Macedonian identity.
The Albanians, on their side, are convinced of their future as an ethnos but they are filled with suspicion and haughtiness towards the Macedonians. At this stage they cannot forgive them for the years when they were citizens of low standing and they were not admitted to the Macedonian institutions and the all-Macedonian elite. An Albanian political leader described the Albanian community at the present moment in the following way: “We are like an empty house which had the barest necessities so far, i.e. a bed, a chair and a table. Everything is important for us, everything is necessary in order to upholster in the proper manner, like all the others”. The respondents among the Albanian politicians and intellectuals in all cases formulated their ethnic interests by linking the democratization and europeanization of Macedonia rather with the institutionalization of the Albanian interests and their legitimization through the laws and the constitution than with integration.
The interethnic situation is different from the one in Bulgaria, not because of the different demographic indices but because of the entirely reversed structure. The political elite in Bulgaria as well as the different governments were never willing to work with and for the minorities, to solve their problems, to work for their integration, etc. Usually, the ethnic confrontation and tension is between the political class and the society in its approximate entity including the minorities and the majority. Particularly in the regions with mixed population, there exists a normal co-existence on a wide social level as well as very good cognoscibility and sociability of the ethnic and religious groups with each other. The attempts of politicians to rouse nationalistic sentiments and to oppose the ethnic communities gave no results for the past ten years due to the functioning of a civil society and democratic rules in the political life. Still, one can say that it is the society that stops the attempts to set the ethnic communities against each other and to break the traditional good-neighborhood model.
In Macedonia it is vice versa (the situation analysis refers to this moment): There is a coalition and integration in authority on the level of political élites and governing authorities, the TV transmits special programs for the Albanians and the Romas, newspapers for the minorities are published, etc. There exists a sort of obvious, demonstrative political integration and cooperation among the ethnic communities on the high level but there is no equilibrium, balance and worked out mechanisms of mutual co-existence with confidence and respect for the traditions and customs of “the others” in all the social layers under the political elité. There was not such alienation in Bulgaria even during the years of the so-called “regenerative process”. This should be checked once again via comprehensive field work in Macedonia but one gets the impression that the governing authorities are trying to impose the tolerance “from high quarters”, to repress but not to settle the interethnic tensions. The Bulgarian experience showed that sometimes such a forced approach may work (see the resolutions imposed by the governing authorities for the ratification of the Framework Convention, as well as for the acknowledgement of the Macedonian language), but only after spending some years in solving the problems “from below” and carrying out a wide public discussion on the topics.
2. The impressive cross-purposes in the emotional and psychological attitudes of the two big ethnic communities that constitute the Macedonian society, i.e. Macedonians and Albanians, are dangerous for the civil peace in Macedonia. The first ones are pessimistic and deprived of faith leading to depression as they do not see any close perspective for a normal development and still less do they see any prospects for their family prosperity and the Macedonian nation as a whole. The second are in the apogee of their optimism for the future and they are filled with enthusiasm and conviction in their abilities, tested and confirmed in the crucial situation caused by the refugee's flow. This psychological disbalance could be gradually calmed down through the establishment of strong civil and non-governmental structures that will try to find a way of decreasing the tension, of opening and rapprochement of both communities as well as through the building up of a common and constructive prospect for the Macedonian state. Bulgaria is interested in supporting the development of the civil sector in the Republic of Macedonia as well as to encourage the Bulgarian non-governmental organizations to develop joint projects in the field of the interethnic understanding and all-Balkan cooperation.5th July, 1999Sofia