Velimir Smilevski, Mayor of Skopje’s Butel district who was elected on the ticket of the ruling SDSM party, made a shocking statement when pressed on the recent practice of ethnic Macedonians declaring themselves to be Albanians or Roma to gain public sector employment.

Albanian journalists asked Smilevski about the alleged hiring of a woman with a clearly Macedonian name who apparently listed “Albanian” in her CV to get a job as municipal accountant. Ethnic minorities get preferential treatment in Macedonia under a quota regime that gives positions to less qualified candidates if their ethnic community is under-represented. Smilevski initially indignantly replied that he can’t question the woman’s feelings – that she belong to the ethnic community she feels she belongs to. But the journalist then asked if it’s true that the woman is also married to a cousin of Mayor Smilevski.

Is your cousin also Albanian?

Well I suppose they are Albanian, came the response from Mayor Smilevski.

Recent such examples included Macedonians applying to firefighter positions and listing their ethnic identity as Albanian or Roma.

Public sector hiring is so influenced by the ethnic quotas that some recent ads were nearly completely booked for ethnic minorities.