In an exclusive interview for IBNA, the head of the Albanian Diaspora known as the Albanian Diaspora League for FYR Macedonia, talks about the latest developments in the country, the rights and position of the Albanian community, latest protests and political alternatives to bring back the dignity of Albanians.
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
ALD is now a very active association as far as developments in FYROM are concerned, which are being accompanied by tension and protests. What’s your assessment on this situation and what measures must be urgently taken?
Sherifi: Two years ago, when we started our activities in FYROM, we noticed that the political and economic and social situation of Albanians is being threatened. What’s happening today is not anger or revolt relating to an individual case, but an accumulation of cases, where the individual rights of every Albanian and collective rights of Albanians in FYROM have been violated. All of this situation could have been easily capitalized in favor of Albanians if the protests were joined by the parliamentary group of BDI and PDSH in order to send a message to Gruevski that this is not the way to go on, but as it has happened in the past 8 years, they’re more worried of losing their chairs and in my opinion they cannot be ranked alongside the people, because they have become rich at the detriment of the Albanian community in the country.
What is your assessment on the protests that were backed by ADL, but which also became part of the debate and different scenarios?
Sherifi: In principle, we considered the protest and the revolt against the anti-Albanian power as necessary. But, we said that if we wanted for the protest to be effective, it should have been quiet and without violence. As a League, we never abused with the protest and we were among the citizens. Although I think someone in those protests tried to politically benefit, we believe that the protests were successful and they damaged the comfort of Albanian government officials.
What are the latest activities and the projects that you’re planning in the near future?
Sherifi: If you have closely followed the situation after 2001, the Diaspora has not undertaken many activities, because everyone has believed that with the end of the 2001 war, the torture and violation of the rights of Albanians would end, but this wasn’t the case. We can say that the first structure which started to worry about the issues of Albanians in FYROM were us. When we started this journey, we were aware that there would be many people who would misuse the Diaspora once again, but we continued our path. Recently, we have proclaimed our political platform, Albanian Pact, which aims to offer an alternative of the Albanian problems in FYROM. We’re keeping in touch with intellectuals and different personalities to strengthen this Movement which would bring a change.
We’re marking the 13th anniversary of the Ohrid Agreement, which aimed at advancing the rights of Albanians. How do you see this Agreement today 13 years later?
Sherifi: The Ohrid Agreement has not been implemented and we’re seeing that it has failed. The responsibility here also falls on those who must implement this agreement. I can say that we’re convinced that we have started a fair mission and we have opened the doors for the final solution of the problems in FYROM. We will work in order for the US Congress to come up with a resolution for Albanians in Macedonia and from there, to start a project for the improvement and advancement of the issues of Albanians in FYROM.
ALD has been often mentioned that it will establish a new political subject. How do you comment these warnings?
Sherifi: ALD has its structures everywhere in FYROM and today, if we decide to establish a political subject, we can do it, but our mission is greater. We want Albanians in FYROM to have a different system, which will be based on intellectual people who take the processes forward and not leave the fate of Albanians in the hands of bandits and criminals who do not care about the issues of Albanians, but only want to benefit for themselves.
Thus, when we’re convinced that there’s a need for a political subject, then, in coordination with our structures and all Albanians, we will establish the political subject.
What must happen in order for the final status of Albanians and their equality in the country to be achieved?
Sherifi: The Constitution of FYROM must be changed and all the demands of Albanians must be specified, not based on percentages or numbers, but based on all our elements as a nation. Albanians demand the use of the Albanian language, the use of the flag as a national symbol, a fair representation in all state institutions, a proportional part of the budget, and everything else that relates to the equality of Albanians. This would be the only solution. /ibna/