TIMES: Fears of plan for ethnic states
THE TIMES (UK), Tuesday, August 7, 2001
Fears of plan for ethnic states
BY MICHAEL EVANS
THE six-month conflict in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which
started when rebels of the National Liberation Army began firing from the
hills above Tetovo, was supposedly launched to win a better deal for the
Albanian minority population.
However, a more sinister view is that there is a plot by radical Albanians
in the region to divide territory on ethnic grounds in the Balkans to create
a Greater Albania. The map of the Balkans makes it easy to see how this
interpretation bears examination.
The 666,000 ethnic Albanians in Macedonia live principally in the west,
bordering the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, whose Albanian majority - about
1.9 million, compared with 100,000 Serbs - have Nato to thank for their
To the west of Macedonia is Albania, with a population of 3.5 million. In
southern Serbia, to the east of Kosovo, bordering the Albanian-dominated
areas of Macedonia, is the Presevo Valley, whose population is largely
ethnic Albanian (70,000). Geographically, even if not ideologically, ethnic
Albanian communities, sharing the same language and culture, live
cheek-by-jowl, separated by frontiers.
The notion of an historic struggle for a Greater Albania - matched only by
the vision of a Greater Serbia championed by Slobodan Milosevic, the former
Yugoslav President - has been behind much of the apocalyptic warnings of a
Balkans conflagration in recent years.
Albania itself has disclaimed such territorial ambitions. Earlier this year
Ilir Meta, the Albanian Prime Minister, said that he was opposed to the idea
of a Greater Albania. The way forward was for Albanian communities to be
properly integrated into the different countries in which they were living.
Mr Meta's view is also that of Nato. The alliance does not want multiple
single-ethnic states emerging throughout the Balkans. So, while planning to
send troops into Macedonia to collect weapons, Nato officials have insisted
that the alliance will not be sucked into a new commitment, effectively
guarding a "green line" dividing the country into Slavic and Albanian
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