Hysni Shaqiri is a veteran politician in FYR Macedonia, one of the first masterminds of the discussions for causes concerning Albanians in the parliament of FYROM at the start of the ‘90s. In 2004, he abandoned the biggest Albanian party BDI (Democratic Union for Integration) and the post of the vice speaker of parliament, because the agenda for the formalization of the Albanian language and the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement were neglected. Today, he’s a protagonist of political developments in the country, by leading the nationalist party BDK (National Democratic Union). At the same time, he’s also an active participants in the recent protests of Albanians in FYROM.
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti/IBNA
How do you assess the latest developments in the country with the protests of ethnic Albanians, which were triggered by a court ruling which sentenced 6 Albanians to life in prison, accused of the murder of five Macedonians in 2012 in Skopje.
Shaqiri: In order to talk about the latest developments in Macedonia, we must look at many issues that relate to the historical right of Albanians in the foundation of this state. Without any doubt, at all times, the role of Albanians has been crucial in the foundation and in all other processes that relate to the development and the perspective of Macedonia. It’s an illusion and political adventure of all of those that think that Albanians can do whatever they want, claiming that every action for an isolation of Albanians for them it’s reasonable, because this way, they want to defend an ideology for a state which has a Slav language and culture. In general Slavs must detach themselves from the old mentality and forget the past, because it may perhaps be too painful, but by remaining in the past, they will have an even more painful future than our past. For us, Albanians, what’s important is to understand us as soon as possible, because we don’t intend to give up on our rights, which are no different to those of Macedonians.
What do Albanians claim as far as their rights are concerned?
Shaqiri: As a very important factor in all historical periods when decisions about the future have been made, Albanians only seek what they’re entitled to and will not allow to be treated in the land of their ancestors as new arrivals. We have been a decisive force and nobody will deprive us of this historical merit of state consolidation. Macedonians must never think that the state only belongs to them and that they decide the fate of the others. But let us not even forget that the impact of Albanians on preserving peace and stability in Macedonia is not any smaller than theirs and if they’ve chosen violence and repressive measures to solve problems with Albanians, then they’re mistaken.
But, Macedonian authorities, namely the party in power, VMRO-DPMNE, doesn’t take the agenda for the rights of Albanians into consideration and it says that protests are motivated by groups that have religious agendas and which are dangerous for the country?
Shaqiri: The tendency to neglect Albanians will lead Macedonia toward division and the only way to preserve the state is by means of federalization. The attempts of the government by which it can orchestrate trials to kill and sentence Albanians to life in prison, it will force them to keep quiet and give up on their demands, are a political misconception and this leads the country to destabilization. Albanians, as a political factor and as a real cohesive force, must not be neglected by the politics of Nikola Gruevski and his collaborators. Violence and barbarism that police manifested in Skopje against Albanian protesters and against protesters in other cities where Albanians live, is unacceptable. The case of the killing of five Macedonians in 2012 is an orchestration, the consequences of which are being seen now. This case must be investigated and discover the true authors of this murder. The sentencing of six young Albanians accused of the murder is an unfair sentence, because this has been done without any facts and evidence. The entire judicial process has been put to question with this. Besides this, we also have a serious discrimination of Albanians and a failure to implement the Ohrid Agreement, which should have been implemented since 2004, three years after the 2001 conflict in the country. Due to this situation and the failure of parliamentary political parties, Albanian citizens are forced to take on the roads in order to seek justice and their rights.
What must be done in a situation like this? Are protests an option or must new ways be explored, including institutional ones?
Shaqiri: Protests must continue in support of the young men who were sentenced and justice and equal treatment must be sought for all the citizens. Anti Albanian politics which is acting in an institutional way, must be put to a stop, otherwise, the life of every Albanian in these circumstances continues to be unsafe. Albanian party in power Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) proved unable to protect the interests of Albanians with political actions. They have lost control and they don’t know what they’re doing. I have told to my dear fellow Albanian citizens that the leadership of BDI and the other Albanian opposition party PDSH (Democratic Albanian Party) is their biggest misfortune. Albanians today are being denied their historical right of being a state formation people although they enjoyed this status with the 1974 Constitution, when Macedonia was part of the former Yugoslav federation. /ibna/