Name dispute with Greece, Skopje’s strategy to avoid the Albanian ethnic cause

Name dispute with Greece, Skopje’s strategy to avoid the Albanian ethnic cause

Interview with the chairman of the Association of Albanian Historians in FYROM, Skender Asani

Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti

The academic at the National History Institute in Skopje and chairman of the Association of Albanian Historians in FYR Macedonia explains in an interview the interconnected historical impacts in the current political and government developments in Skopje. The claims of Macedonians with their historical approaches about the name Macedonia against Greece, the position of Albanians in the domain of culture and cultural heritage and history in FYR Macedonia along with other sensitive topics which are at the focus of the current debates in FYR Macedonia are explained by historian Skender Asani.

Dr. Asani (photo) believes that officials in Skopje are being the artificial cause of the name dispute with Greece. According to him, officials are initiating inter ethnic and religious conflicts and are launching an anti-American politics. He says that this is a strategy launched in order not to open the Albanian ethnic cause.

How do you consider the current politics in FYR Macedonia, which is filled with historical debates and different interpretations?

I can relate this question to a citation by Bismarck during the Congress of Berlin when the new borders of Europe were being determined. Bismarck has said that “Balkan is the largest producer of history”. Intellectual and political elites of Serbia and Greece created their great projects during the 19th century, which directly aimed the Albanian ethnic lands. These two people manifested the complex of the creation of identity which was the main pillar of their projects, because the main obstacle in manifesting the historical complex was the Albanian people, which had historical claims upon these lands. It’s not incidental that current Macedonian politics is following the same example in the 21st century. FYR Macedonia is trying to build a state in conflict with the historical right for these lands. Instead of taking good historical examples of Albanians and Macedonians, they are shaking the main pillar of the establishment of the state, creating a history without scientific and historical grounds. Albanians are the only people which don’t have any claims about the Macedonian identity, whereas they, in turn, have suffered great severities during these years.

Can this politics based on the past rather than the future be dangerous?

During the 19th century, every people in Europe created their renaissances, which promoted the formation of their nations and states. Macedonians could not finalize this process and proclaim their ethnic state. This is where I see the defects brought by Renaissance in the 100 steps of VMRO for inter ethnic and inter religious relations which led to the destruction of the multi ethnic state and the gridlock of Euro Atlantic integrations. 19th century events which brought wars are often in conflict with the concepts of 21st century, when everyone is committed to be integrated in the global systems of economy, politics and security.

Given the historical aspect too, how do you see the name dispute between Skopje and Athens?

State institutions are revealing their face because during this historical period they’re abusing with history. They’re not as naïve as we think. They work according to a well coordinated strategy with other Slav countries and Greece, knowing that after NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, Albanians in the Balkan are being considered as a factor for the first time in history and they know that the existence and integration of FYR Macedonia is in favor of the Albanian cause. Aware of this, they are artificially causing the name dispute with Greece, they’re initiating inter ethnic and inter religious conflicts and are launching an anti-American politics. Unfortunately, in these historical moments, when the finalization of processes in the Balkan is taking place (especially after the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia), the integration of FYR Macedonia should have been a state interest and not only a commitment of the Albanian political parties. This politics is well coordinated in order to distract the Albanian political parties from partial demands, to discourage them from their demands for constitutional advances, contrary to the Serbs of Kosovo who enjoy their constitutional status. Albanian political parties must be aware of the fact that if they don’t insist upon the progress of the Albanian cause in FYR Macedonia, they cannot do this when they feel like doing it. Ethnic processes are opened every hundred years and Albanians in particular have felt this throughout history.

Balkan is and has been a crossroad where different cultures and civilizations have crossed their path. Is such trend taking place now and what is the place of FYR Macedonia?

In the past and present, the Balkan Peninsula, in spite of being a source of great wars, it has also been an important geopolitical and geostrategic place, where different political, diplomatic and economic interests have been combined. Nonetheless, in the past century, Balkan has been a place of clashes, conflicts, but also cooperation and cultural cohesion. It has been the place of many civilizations where each civilization has left traces on the national identities of the Balkan people. Seen in the contemporary aspect, the position of FYR Macedonia in the geopolitical and geostrategic point of view remains the same as before. While the trend of political clashes between the states of the region continues, while conflicts and ethnic and historical frustrations are present, politics, and especially that in FYROM, is trying to appropriate history and ancient identity. This produces a situation whereby FYR Macedonia today is weak in the international arena, it has a poor cooperation with the countries of the region, including Kosovo and Albania and its priority in terms of neighborly relations is Belgrade. Meanwhile, integration has stagnated. Based on these facts, today’s FYROM is in a crisis which is produced by the crisis of ethnic, linguistic and cultural identify of Macedonians and the constant disputes with the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs. Conflicts with the Albanians have been fabricated by themselves in different Albanophobe laboratories.

Who is Skender Asani?

One of the most renowned historians in FYROM, Skender Asani is a professor, doctor and writer. He has published several books, scientific works etc, mainly on the history of FYROM throughout the years. Asani is the chairman of the Association of Albanian Historians in FYROM and professor in the State University of Tetovo.