The Ohrid Agreement: the Travails of Inter-Ethnic Relations in Macedonia, by Armend Reka

Topics: Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia Pages: 6 (2013 words) Published: May 13, 2011

The article talks about the most important changes in Republic of Macedonia in connection with the Framework Agreement, better known as the Ohrid Agreement. Internal political instability in Macedonia led to conflicts between Albanian armed groups and government forces. The Framework Ohrid Agreement saved the state from the brink of civil war. It effected decentralization of the country by increasing the rights of minorities and giving more power to local authorities. However, challenges remain; the perception and language gap between the two main ethnic communities hinder efforts for a truly functioning multi-ethnic state. My hypothesis for the analysis is that the Ohrid Agreement, which was adopted under pressure of the international community at the time of the armed inter-ethnic conflicts, has made the basis for the stabilization of political authority and strenghtened the democracy.


The Constitutional Status of Minorities: Who Owns the State? The dynamic of the Macedonian-Albanian relationship has been especially amplified since Macedonia's independence in 1991. Albanian representatives in the National Assembly boycotted the vote and the Albanian population did not vote in the referendum on Macedonia's independence. The root cause of the arisen situation is the adoption of the 1991 Constitution of the Macedonian state, which denied the non-majority communities equal status. The Preamble to the 1991 Constitution establishes Macedonia as a National state of the Macedonian people, which guarantees the full civic equality and permanent coexistence of the Macedonian people with the Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Roma and the other nationalities. So, symbolically this means a classification of peoples into three categories: the Macedonians as the primary bearers of the right to the state, the members of the mentioned minorities as peoples with equal rights but not being the primary claimants to the right to the state, and the members of the nations not even mentioned; specified as 'others'. The primacy of the Macedonians also translated into the superiority of the Macedonian Orthodox Church over other religious communities. In addition, the 1991 Constitution broke with the 1974 Constitution of SFRY by denying Albanians their right to university education in their native language and declared Macedonian written in the Cyrillic alphabet the only official language of the country. Albanians complained of the 'tyranny of the Macedonian majority.' In 1993, 86 % of Albanians polled considered themselves second-class citizens. The accumulation of ethnic resentment led to the Albanian uprising of 2001, which brought Macedonia to the brink of civil war. The General Framework Ohrid Agreement in 2001 put an end to the armed conflict and transformed the inter-ethnic political framework by effectively turning Macedonia into a multy-national entity. The Agreement addressed all of the Albanian political parties demands (reform of the Constitution, greater representation of Albanians in the civil service sector, provision of university education in the Albanian language, and the decentralization of state power). The first task of the Agreement was to rectify the legal status of minorities transforming Macedonia from a mono-ethnic to a civic state. It called for an ethnically neutral and liberal Constitution, thereby eliminating all references to specific ethnic groups. The first agreed amendment of the Preamble began with 'The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia,…', but later on the deputies from the Macedonian parties argued that they could not accept it. The original formula agreed in Ohrid was discarded, and the following amendment began with 'The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, the Macedonian people, as well as the citizens living within its borders…'. This Preamble remains problematic, but it was accepted. However, the Ohrid process also recognized Albanian as an official language on the...
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