Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Albanians are against ethnic business

Low-level tensions between Macedonians and Albanians during Kumanovo events and afterwards, the increase in communication in Macedonian language of Albanians with no need for translation in media and social networks and the bankruptcy of the fourth mobile operator, present a different public image than the one we have been witnessing for years regarding relations between the two major ethnic communities

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Columnist: Goran Momiroski

Can the centuries-long constructed barriers between Macedonians and Albanians be ruined, although they have been cemented in the past decade with major prejudices and stereotypes?

The collapse of “Albafone” mobile operator, although it is disastrous in terms of business, in terms of inter-ethnic relations gives hope that things can maybe come to the right place and that the viewpoint of Macedonians that Albanians are led exclusively by their own national interests would turn out to be wrong.

The bankruptcy of “Albafone”, which managed to attract only 16.000 out of the official number of 500.000 Albanians in Macedonia, shows that nation-driven emotions cannot win over the desire for quality life, including a good mobile reception. A failure was also the plan B of Albafone’s managers who were advertising the company only in Albanian language, presenting it as “purely Albanian”, hoping that every Albanian would go for “Albafone” as second, if not as a first option, driven by patriotic motives. Although Albanians are known to be great patriots who do not spare any money, time or life for the cause, they still chose “T-Mobile” or “ONE” to be their main operators – companies whose top management is comprised by mostly Macedonians, beside the foreign owners. Such logical and market behavior in mobile operators selection shows that Albanians are sending a signal that they can also behave logically when interests of the country of Macedonia are in question.

Understandably, one cannot just leave out the option that Albafone’s services were less than professional and therefore the Albanians did not become clients of the “ethnic company”, thus making the entire thesis of reconciling signals untrue. But, even if so, it can be analyzed by political parties in future because it can provide answers to numerous questions of the Macedonians, such as whether they can trust their Albanian fellow citizens in times when all Albanian leaders in the region speak of Great Albania.

Can a decrease in Albanian population number change their behavior towards Macedonians?

The sink of “Albafone” opens another dilemma on the situation of Albanians in Macedonia. Some of the experts claim that (apart from dissatisfaction with company’s services) one of the reasons for the small number of Albanian subscribers is the reduction of their population number in Macedonia. It can be explained with the low number of over 40% of voters in the majority Albanian settlements, but also with DUI’s refusal to conduct a census, fearing the number of Albanians might drop below 20%. Also, it should be mentioned that Albanian parties have turned down the idea for a single electoral district, which would end in them having a quarter MPs less than the current 27.

There were times when Macedonians used to be DUI members, now Albanians are asking for party cards from VMRO-DPMNE. What sounded as sci-fi couple of months ago, is now turning into reality. Some thirty Albanians from a Skopje settlement have asked local VMRO-DPMNE activists to fill in the necessary forms to join the party. Although their request was interpreted as a joke in the beginning, mostly due to the coincidence with the wiretapped conversations which contain insulting comments for the Albanians, the activists of the ruling Macedonian party were shocked when they were told the joining request is serious. To make things even more interesting, the Albanians did not ask for any counter favors, nor employment, rehabilitation of any roads, or any other benefits. As information has it, the joining request has also upset some of the higher-ranking issuers of member cards in Skopje region, who claim that there is no obstacle for anyone to join the party if they respect the party’s Statute and Macedonian laws. Immediately after it was revealed a group of Albanians wants to join VMRO-DPMNE, DUI activists had a field trip, aimed at re-educating the disobedient ones who – if not part of DUI, than have to be part of DPA or Besa. Up to date, their mission is unsuccessful.