The main topic in the region this weekend was the renaming of a street in Skopje, from “The Second Macedonian Assualt Brigade”, one of the most active Macedonian fighting units in WW2, to Adem Demachi, Kosovan politician and writer, political leader of the Kosovan resistance army UCHK. With absolutely no connection to Macedonia whatsoever.
Adem Demachi was one of the first dissidents in former Yugoslavia, and the creator of the underground Revolutionary Movement for the Union of Albanians in 1963. He was arrested for the first time in 1958, and sentenced to three years in jail for insulting the then-communist leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. He went to jail two more times, serving a total of 28 years, more than Nelson Mandela, hence the nickname “Balkan Mandela”. In 2010 he received the Medal of Hero of Kosovo. He died in 2018, spending his last years defending the human rights of the Serbs in Kosovo.
He never gave up on the idea of independent Kosovo and he lived to see it. He never accepted anything less than full independence, even rejecting the pressure of the then US Secretary of State, Madelin Ollbright, to take part in the negotiations in the French town of Ramboulle in 1999 because the negotiations offered just autonomy for Kosovo.
He was also a spokesperson for the UCHK during the conflict with Serbian forces, and his aid was the current Kosovar PM, Albin Kurti. Kurti often abuses his name for his political gains, trying to position himself as the next all-Albanian hero.