In this century of technological wonders and civilized societies you would think that images like these are a thing of the past and the only war is the one won through means of diplomacy and a lot of talking. It turns out that in my lovely country called Macedonia, things are not so civilized after all.
On November 23rd a football game was being played in the town of Kacanik which is located in southern Kosovo. The two teams playing were from Kosovo, KF Drita and KF Lepenci. Somewhere in the middle of the game the fans watching from the benches took out a Macedonian flag and lit in on fire, holding up a banner that said “ 2012 is not the end of the world, it’s the end of Macedonia” written in English.
This is a link from the video that was posted on you tube by someone from Kosovo on that very same day:
No one really knows what brought on this incident. Things between people from different ethnic backgrounds have never in our history been better than now.
This is not the first time a Macedonian flag burned in Kosovo. The first incident happened two years ago, when the first Macedonian encyclopedia was published.
The very same day the two major political parties in Macedonia judged the incident. Both parties said that this shouldn’t have happened now in the process of EU negotiations, that it is an act of vandalism against the country and that it created a feeling of nervousness amongst the Macedonian people. All of them agreed that the people who did it should be sanctioned both by the Football federation and the Kosovo authorities.
The next day the Kosovo ministry of internal affairs sent out a public announcement about the incident which said: “ The incident was caused by certain people who have hatred and should not be considered a general opinion of Kosovo. It is being investigated by our authorities.” Meanwhile the Kosovo ambassador in Macedonia was called for a talk in the Macedonian ministry of foreign affairs in order to explain this kind of behavior. Ambassador Skender Durmishi felt ashamed for the actions of his people and promised that the vandals will be held accountable for their actions.
November 28th was the day of the Albanian flag. It was celebrated amongst the Macedonian –Albanians thought Macedonia. Three different incidents happened that day…
In the early morning that day, 4 people from the NGO “Ilirikum Libertas” from the town of Tetovo drew a large graffiti on a wall on the Tetovo exit towards the capital Skopje. On the graffiti was a map of the Albanian Empire that included parts of Macedonia, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro as part of it. When arrested by the police, one of the drawers said that it is not a crime to draw up a historical map, and that they just wanted to honor the day in this way. The graffiti was erased but punishing the boys sparked up a quarrel in the town’s council. The ethnic Albanians wanted to turn a blind eye at the incident while the Macedonians fought to discuss it publicly.
At about 14 p.m. on the same day, high school students from the town of Struga were marching the streets celebrating the day of the Albanian flag. About 300 students were holding Albanian flags and calling out anti-macedonian sentences amongst which the most called out was: “ This is not Macedonia, This is Albania” and “ Struga belongs to the Albanians”. The case was confirmed by the local police and was investigated, but the principal of the school denied the whole thing happened saying that it was just a day like any other.
When the night came, the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, gathered on the Skenderbeg square near the Old bazaar in Skopje to celebrate the day together. At the very end of the celebration, the Macedonian flag was burned and videoed by a group of individuals. The video was then uploaded on the social networks and web pages and sparked up a verbal war between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. A few days later it was erased.
The political parties judged the incident harshly saying it is a crime against the country and should be sanctioned. The Ministry of internal affairs was trying to calm the people by saying that everything is under control and there is not going to be another war. Not one of the people involved in the above incidents has been held accountable.
Today the people of Macedonia are once again afraid for their safety, they feel angry that no one was punished for the burning of their country’s flag. Something that represents them as a nation and something they fought very hard to get.
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