Macedonia burning II

posted by istanbul on 2009/10/04 10:46

[ From the Media ]

Earlier this month the Macedonian Academy of Sciences has published its monumental, first "Macedonian Encyclopaedia", immediately sparking a furious response. The country's Albanian community is portrayed as the outcome of more recent (16th ct.) migrations (read an interview with that section's author here [in Macedonian]), which, according to a conventional Balkan rationale, means that their presence is less legitimate. The encyclopaedia moreover maintains that the UCK's offspring in Macedonia was trained and supported by British and American intelligence services -- a claim naturally upsetting the foreign diplomats. Furthermore, Ali Ahmeti, the leader of the coaltion party in the present government, is described as a "war crimes suspect". The Bulgarians were angry as well, finding it -- whichever sections in the texts they might refer to -- "unacceptable for a country aspirant for NATO and EU membership to resort to terminology typical for the ideology of the Cold War era"*. The consquent course of events: on September 23 members of the editorial board of the publication decided to "correct parts of the publication and start work on a second, revised edition"*. Four days later prime minister Gruevski "called for dialogue" on the encyclopaedia, recognizing that it offended the country's Albanians, incl. his own coalition partner,* with whom he agreed on September 29 "that the newly published Macedonian encyclopaedia should not affect interethnic relations. The coalition partners stressed that they will not allow anyone to profit from the situation or to harm multiethnic co-existence."* (Note: the party profiting from such tensions is Gruevski’s own VMRO-DPMNE.) The distribution of the encyclopaedia was stopped. Noting that the publication had "unintentionally become a source for new ethnic tensions", the academy "confirmed that they would correct inaccuracies, especially regarding Albanian minorities, but would keep the historical facts the same."* It has also promised to "make the corrections in cooperation with ethnic Albanian MANU members and scientists of non-majority communities in the FYRepublic of Macedonia."*

UPDATE 10-XI-2009: The editorial board responsible for the encyclopedia has been fired by the MANU: "The vote, after several hours of debate was 45-1, with two abstentions. MANU also decided that within a month, a new editorial board will be up and running, and will either correct controversial parts of the book or start fresh with a brand new encyclopaedia." Full article here.



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