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11 Mar, 2008 05:33

Kosovo spurs more Greater Albania dreams

Encouraged by Kosovo’s independence, Albanians in Macedonia are now discussing ambitious plans for a new country made up of Albania, Kosovo, large parts of Macedonia and part of Ipiros in Greece.

If you walk down the streets of Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, the signs and the language is Slavic.

But if you drive just 25 kilometres on, it appears to be a completely different country where the language and tradition is Albanian and the religion is Muslim – that’s Tetovo. In 2001, civil war broke out there between Albanian and Slav populations. Nowadays it’s more peaceful.

Small restaurant owner Agim Berzati says Albanians are treated as second-class citizens in a country where they make up at least 30% of the population. He’s Albanian and the food he serves up is traditional kebab and shishlik alongside Turkish coffee.

“We are born here and deserve equal rights. Macedonians don’t give us equality. I don’t feel they treat us with respect. There were lots of things we fought for and were promised in 2001, but nothing has been implemented,” he complained.

But what has changed though is Kosovo’s declaration of independence. For Mustafe Hasani it was the dream of a lifetime. He spent a month in prison for his political activities and for years he’s donated part of his salary to developing an independent Kosovo.

“We only want an ethnic Albania, for all the Albanians in all the countries to get together. Now is the end of protest and war. Now we Albanians have to get educated and then we’ll get what we want. Albania is like our mother, Kosovo is our father,” Hasani thinks.

What many Albanians want is a greater Albania that incorporates the country Albania, Kosovo, big parts of Macedonia and part of Ipiros, which is in Greece.

Tailor Shahin Osmani, Albanian who has lived all his life in Tetovo believes a greater Albania is inevitable and will happen once the country becomes part of the European Union:

“There will be a time of great Albania in the future, maybe after thirty years. History repeats itself, and if we get into the European Union, borders will be eliminated. We’ll be free and it’ll be like having a greater Albania”.

But it’s not a certainty that Macedonia will join the European Union, largely because Greece objects to it using the name Macedonia.