Etem Aziri

Political Parties of Albanians in Macedonia and the Kosova Issue


For more than two decades, Kosova and the Kosova issue have been in the centre of attention of the political and scientific circles on the Balkans and beyond. The interest in this former province of former SFRY, which is now under a United Nations protectorate, will most probably still be in focus for some time. All analyses point to the fact that even the most interested sides, including the international community, are tired and aware that the Kosovo people cannot be held in uncertainty much longer.

We only want to remind that until the disintegration of SFRY, Kosovo was an “equal” federal unity, with one “small” difference, that the Kosova people – with the Constitution from that time – did not have the right to self-determination. However, the Albanian people in Kosovo, less numerous than only the Serbs and Croats, soon realized that the right to self-determination is not given, but it is taken.

The penultimate decade of the 20th century is characterized by the well known events in Eastern Europe, which culminated with the disintegration of the largest “communist dynasty” and with the replacement of the one-party systems of a Bolshevist type with the multi-party system characteristic of the Western democracies. The changes were happening in exactly the part of Europe which self-confidently claimed that it has a leading role in the promotion of the rights and freedoms of the people and citizens, that it is an example in building ideal societies, societies of welfare, equality, even societies of close nations in multinational, multi-religious and multi-cultural states. Foreign analysts were even previously foreseeing changes in SFRY, but after the death of its charismatic leader J.B. Tito, it became more obvious that something big and terrible is going to happen. The question which was asked indirectly in the last years of the penultimate decade from the past century was: will the Yugoslav nations, who obviously cannot live together, find alternatives to live next to each other: is there still hope that they can live as good neighbors if all possibilities for them to live as “brothers” are exhausted. Although certain political structures of the leaders at that time were in favor of finding certain different forms of common life, the efforts of the military-political structures, who were thinking in one dimension, were much stronger. Their idea was: a common state according to their assessment, a common state with domination of the most numerous people and their allies over the other nations.

Such desperate efforts, instead of peaceful resolution of the crisis, led to bloody civil, interethnic and inter-religious wars in many parts of the country. When weapons speak, usually logic and reason are silent. The former “brothers” became greatest enemies in a short period of time.

The disintegration of Yugoslavia was not a result of accidents. It wore in itself the general characteristics typical of all countries of the real-socialism – in the political sphere: the negative position towards the civic democracy as quasi-democracy; and in the economic sphere: a negative attitude towards market economy and favoring the planned economy as the only alternative. However, the Yugoslav crisis wore in itself its own specifics, such as the wrong position on resolving the national issue, lack of adequate mechanisms for control of the national-chauvinist tendencies of the dominant nations, uncompleted mechanisms for successful fight against the unitary-centralist tendencies, etc.

In the last decades before the disintegration, there was a great stagnation in the economy sphere, and we can even say, collapse of the whole economy. However, the economic crisis was not felt equally in all parts of the country. The country was divided into the “developed north” and “undeveloped south”.

As a result of the difficult economic crisis and unequal situation of the federal states in the “equal and brotherly community”, mass demonstrations of the students from the Pristina University were organized in 1981 under the motto “Kosovo Republic”. All serious observers of the political events in former SFRY agree that these demonstrations announced “The beginning of the end of Tito’s Yugoslavia”.

These demonstrations incited the nationalism of different nations. The aim of its activity was “fight against Albanian nationalism and irredentism”, and the essence was to destroy all that is Albanian, and, above all, to discipline the Albanian progressive forces, especially of the intellectuals. These processes were characterized with massive political differentiation, dismissals from work, destroying the wall fences, punishing the parents who baptized the newly born children with “suspicious names”, changes of the names of places, punishing all those who sang and listened to “irredentism” songs on weddings, all the way to punishing the closest relatives if there were persons “suspected of national-irredentism activities” present at funerals. The Serb-Montenegro-Macedonian coalition was leading in all these segments. This well-planned anti-Albanian mood, on the other hand, led to a greater homogenization of the Albanians in the former Yugoslav areas, which culminated with political organization of the Albanians on national basis in the republics and in the province of Kosovo, where a large percentage of Albanian population lives.

In the period when the Yugoslav society of that time began to assume pluralist character, a process that started in the northwestern parts of the state (Croatia, Slovenia), where there was a better climate for such a thing, Kosovo was “leading’ in the number of political prisoners and had the lowest rate of economic development. In such conditions, the Albanians in Kosovo, aware of the national-chauvinist tendencies of the Serb political elite, started massively to abandon the Alliance of Communists of Yugoslavia, and under the leadership of its intellectuals, near the end of 1989, they formed their first political party – “the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo”.

In the beginning, when there were still minimal hopes that the Yugoslav federation could survive, the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo was the only political force of the Albanians in Yugoslavia, and it had serious intentions to formally spread its influence in Macedonia, Montenegro and the parts of Serbia where Albanian population lives, through forming branches. However, it soon became clear that the forming of plural system is many-dimensional, and that it cannot be set down only to a national dimension. In other words, the Albanians in Yugoslavia realized that for them “pluralism is fate” , which cannot be avoided, as it is for the other people. Thus, in the first years of pluralism in Kosovo, several Albanian parties were formed, such as: the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo, Albanian Demo-Christian Party of Kosovo, Liberal Party of Kosovo, Social-Democratic Party of Kosovo, etc. The wave of democratic pluralism with the same pace and the same dynamics encompassed the other parts of the state populated with Albanian population. Thus, two political parties, which represented the interest of the Albanian population were formed in the Republic of Macedonia. They are the Party of Democratic Prosperity and the National-Democratic Party. In Montenegro, the Democratic Party of Albanians was formed, with a seat in Ulcin, while the interest of the Albanians in Preseva, Medvega and Bujanovac in the beginning of the plural society were represented by the Party for Democratic Action, with a seat in Preseva. The number of political parties of the Albanians in the former Yugoslav republics has visibly increased, but their position towards the Kosovo issue is the same and unchangeable – “respect for the political will of the Albanian people in Kosovo, expressed at the referendum in 1991” – meaning, Kosovo an independent and sovereign state.

For the Albanians, the disintegration of SFRY meant another disintegration of their national being. They were forced, without being consulted, to accept, against their political will, to live under the jurisprudence of three countries from former Yugoslavia, out of which one proclaimed full independence after the referendum in 1991. The new situation is not anything new and unknown for the Albanian people, because all of their history is full of divisions of their territories among the Balkan people, starting from the time of the Roman Empire until today. The divisions have always been at the expense of the Albanian people and at the advantage of the great forces, which led to half of the Albanian people to live outside the administrative areas of their native state. Today, the Albanian people are the only example in Europe, divided by fifty-fifty, and Albania is the only state which borders on all its sides parts of its people. However, all these barriers did not manage to disintegrate the Albanians in the spiritual sphere.

In the last decades, there has been an increasing tendency for a stronger spiritual unification of the Albanians as a nation, i.e. the tendency for “spiritually united Albanians in united Europe” is becoming more acceptable, which means stop to the tendencies for creating greater national states, and accepting the new standards and values with which no Balkan nation loses anything, and all of them together gain a lot. In other words, that means making the borders more free and allowing free movement of people, goods and products on Balkan frames and beyond.

However, the definitive resolution of the Kosovo status is essential in order to accomplish this concept, behind which there are relevant political, economic, cultural and scientific elites of the Albanians in the wider sense.

The political parties of the Albanians in Macedonia have an unchanged position towards the Kosova issue, which is: “Kosova, a sovereign and independent state and an important precondition for the stability of the region and beyond”. The political parties of the Macedonians so far have a completely different position. They still treat Kosova as part of Serbia, affirming the well known attitude that independent Kosova is a great danger for the Macedonian nation and the Macedonian state. For these attitudes, they have not presented some strong arguments either to the foreign or to the domestic public. Their “facts” are usually based on “unnecessary fear” and emotions that have roots in the past. The fact that the Albanians are the only nation from all the neighboring ones who recognized the Macedonian nation, the Macedonian state and the Macedonian language without any calculations speaks in favor of the idea that there is no place for such complexes and fears.

We also have to say that a great evolution is felt lately, I would say a “revolutionary evolution” in the positions of certain Macedonian intellectuals and politicians. However, that is not sufficient because the Macedonian decision-making centers cannot and do not want to gather courage yet and openly say “Independent Kosova, guarantee for the security of the region”. Let us hope that this will happen soon, but in our opinion it is not the wisest thing that Macedonia and the Macedonians realize this among the last.

Regarding the Albanian political parties, it should openly be said that the Kosova issue takes a very important place in their political programs. However, they do not see and do not treat the resolution of the Kosova issue as a national problem of the Albanians, but as something that surpasses the national boundaries. On the other hand, the Albanian political parties are convinced that with the resolution of the Kosova issue, both the Albanians and the Macedonians gain equally. Logically viewed, the concept for “Balkanization of the Albanians” and “Europeization of the Macedonians” or vice versa is absolutely unacceptable for the international community. Regardless of the present differences between the Macedonians and the Albanians, they are connected by fate in many things. They will either swim together towards a happier future or will remain on the periphery of the events in the contemporary world. Both of them should realize that the world is becoming more and more tired of them every day. The world has never revolved around small nations, but it has always given a possibility to the small nations to find themselves in the great family of nations. The Albanians and the Macedonians have that opportunity today. It depends only on them how much they will be capable of using it. Therefore, the Kosova issue for them must not be a factor of discord, but, on the contrary, a factor of unification.