UMD Strongly Opposes New Language Law in Macedonia

The late Samuel Huntington wrote “Without a common language, communication becomes difficult if not impossible, and the nation becomes the arena for two or more language communities whose members communicate far more intensely with the members of their group than with those of the other group.”

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) expresses its profound disappointment with the language law proposed by Macedonia’s ruling coalition government and expresses its strong opposition against it. This law will be put before Parliament on September 13th and aims to codify Albanian as an official language throughout the Republic of Macedonia. The proposed law is both unconstitutional and divisive and goes far beyond the already deeply-flawed Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001, brokered by the U.S. and EU, which was designed, then, to put a final end to such talk and demands. Rather than uniting the people of Macedonia, this law serves solely to further divide Macedonia along ethnic lines, which is completely antithetical to Macedonia and its government’s goals of peace with its neighbors and stability throughout the region. Rather than partitioning ourselves into ethnic enclaves, Macedonians of all backgrounds ought to remain united under a singular official language – the Macedonian language.

The attempts by certain individuals within Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian minority in the Macedonian government (and others) to pass this law right now is yet another in a series of unprovoked assaults on the culture and identity of the Macedonian people. Macedonia’s ethnic Albanians – and others – already enjoy the highest degree of respect for their linguistic rights as a matter of law in full agreement with internationally recognized standards by the United Nations and EU but this proposed act goes far beyond those laws and is, in fact, an unreasonable and unjust demand. At the same time, confidence in the government – and more importantly, confidence between the ethnic communities – will be thrown into further doubt for the simple reason that Macedonia’s citizens cannot be certain of the current population figures which give force to existing laws on language rights for the simple reason that a census has not been conducted since 2002. Ramming this law through now – without a proper documentation of those numbers – will only serve to further erode confidence among Macedonia’s citizens, between the ethnic groups, and between Macedonians and the government.

UMD fully supports providing minorities their basic human right to speak their language is and believes that the Albanian minority in Macedonia already enjoys such right – the very same modern Albanian language was codified in Bitola, Macedonia. UMD only wishes that similar basic human rights were granted to Macedonians in neighboring countries, which the U.S. and EU have consistently turned a blind eye to. Macedonians everywhere must unite with UMD in proclaiming to the Macedonian government and all parties in Macedonia that this compromise of Macedonian sovereignty and values is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated by Macedonians both within Macedonia and around the world.

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