Intensive debates on the census in FYR Macedonia

Intensive debates on the census in FYR Macedonia

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, July 24, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

In the recent days, a debate has taken place in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the issue of the registration of the population. This issue is being discussed following the complaints of the international community, which has said that this process must be finalized as soon as possible, after the country failed to do this in 2011.

But, three years later, the government has not done any institutional plans to prepare for the census. There is no approved law and no funds allocated for the census to be carried out in 2014. The only thing that can be mentioned is a letter of prime minister Nikola Gruevski sent last week to the head of the Albanian party of the governing coalition BDI (Democratic Union for Integration), Ali Ahmeti, where he stresses the need to hold the census. Prime minister’s Gruevski cabinet has sent a written reply to IBNA saying that the letter has been sent to have the opinion of the joint governing party, BDI.

But, BDI says that this party is analyzing all the details about an efficient holding of the census.

General secretary of BDI, Abdilaqim Ademi says that a few days ago, a letter by head of VMRO-DPMNE and prime minister Nikola Gruevski on the issue of the census was received.

“A group has been established to examine the content of the letter and it will offer its version about the process of the census in the Republic of Macedonia. Of course, our version will be based on previous experiences, such as the one in 2002 and the failed census of 2011, but also on international experiences which have to do with the process of registration”, said Ademi.

Donce Gerasimovski, former head of the Body of Statistics says that the registration doesn’t only have to do with the ethnic composition of the population, but also with other issues, which will serve as a basis for future projections. He says that in order for the census to be held, there must be political will.

“The registration is of a crucial importance. This is a process which must secure data on the general developments in a country or in other words, registration sets the foundation about future projections. Registration doesn’t only have to do with the population. It’s a very important process and I believe big preparations must be made to secure the necessary human resources for the process in order not to see the failure that we saw in 2011. First of all, I believe that there must be political will to finally have an census accepted by all in Macedonia”, declared Gerasimovski.

Former member of the State Registration Commission, Fati Iseni told IBNA that the failure of two years ago was a result of the fear for the growth of the Albanian population in FYR Macedonia.

“I believe that the reason for not holding the census relates to political motives. Based on the analyses made in the recent years, or from 2002 until now, it’s well clear that the number of Albanians is increasing every day, while the Macedonian population has seen a significant fall. This worries them and this is why they want to buy time. But, one day it must take place, because it cannot be evaded forever”, said Iseni.

Iseni supports the claims for a growth of the number of Albanian population on several studies, such as the movement of population, birth rate and death rate and the number of pupils in elementary and middle schools in FYROM.

“Number of Albanian pupils in elementary schools has increased by 33-34%. In more than a decade, the number of Albanian students in elementary schools is over 33% greater and this is another argument that shows that Albanian population doesn’t run the risk of decreasing, but this risk threatens the other side”, says Iseni.

Based in the last census of 2002, number of Albanians in FYR Macedonia amounts to 25.17 of the total two million population, but besides Albanians who claim that they’re more than this, there are certain Macedonian circles that claim that this percentage is much lower and according to them, it has been increased in order to implement the Ohrid Agreement.

Registration of the population failed in 2011 due to disputes between Albanian representatives and Albanian representatives in the Central Registration Commission.

The disputes had to do with the inclusion in the census of those Macedonian citizens who have lived abroad for a period more than a year and which was believed to increase the percentage of the Albanian population in the country. Other disagreements related to claims that many areas inhabited by Albanians were not included in the census. /ibna/