Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Macedonia prepares for politically sensitive census

  • Macedonia's census is carried out every 10 years. (Photo: Maja Zlatevska, Dnevnik)

Albanian opposition parties in Macedonia are considering a boycott of the national census next April because of fears that it may misrepresent the real make-up of the country.

In this country of 2 million, where Macedonians and Albanians are the two biggest ethnic communities, the 10-yearly census is a politically sensitive issue.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In 2001, the country was on the brink of civil war between the government and Albanian rebels who were demanding greater rights. With the mediation of the EU and US, both sides signed the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) which promised ethnic communities representing more than 20 percent of the population higher education in their language and equal representation in state institutions.

The agreement also stated that any language spoken by over one fifth of the population should be considered an official language on the municipal level – equal to Macedonian.

The census law was passed with support from all parties in parliament except two Albanian opposition parties: New Democracy (ND) and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA). These two claim the Albanian government party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), and its Macedonian senior partner, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, will manipulate the census numbers.

They also want the census to take place in the summer, to include the large Albanian diaspora returning home during the holiday season. Without it, they say, the number of Albanians will shrink by about 250,000.

Macedonian mainstream media have contested this argument, because the census is not to intended measure all Macedonian nationals but all citizens living in the country at the time of the count.

Albanians also complain there is no Albanian in a high position in the state statistic office, the main body responsible for the census. This complaint has been taken on board and the statistics office is now looking for qualified Albanians who could take the job.

The DUI also said that mixed ethnic teams will perform the census, that it will be monitored by experts from the EU's Eurostat office and that no manipulation will be possible.

Despite these assurances, ND is still not convinced. The Albanian opposition plans to hold its own census among the diaspora in Europe and the US. The DPA is threatening to boycott the census in April but ND disagrees with this strategy.

"We are aware and deeply convinced that boycotting the census is a way to help anti-Albanian policies pursued by the VMRO-DPMNE and DUI. They want to show that the number of Albanians is lower," said ND leader Imer Selmani. The parallel census would be conducted with the assistance of NGOs and activists in the Albanian disapora, Selmani said. "We will show the institutions that we are many more than they tend to present us," he added.

After the conflict in 2002, a census was conducted which showed that Albanians made up 25 percent of the population. Macedonians stood at 64 percent and other communities represented less than four percent percent of the population, the largest being Turks with 3.85 percent.

A census has to be conducted in Macedonia every 10 years.

Greek government collapse not helping Macedonia

The Greek government collapse and the advent of a new team of technocrats demanded by international lenders cast bleak perspectives for solving a long-standing dispute with neighbouring Macedonia over the country's name, say politicians dealing with the region.

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

EUobserved

Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

EU commissioners campaigning for a national post have to take a leave of absence - while those running for an EU job do not. This distinction undermines the effort to close the gap between EU and national politics.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us