Controversial language law reignites debates and clashes in Macedonia

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-16 01:07:24|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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SKOPJE, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- A law on a wider use of Albanian language in Macedonia has already been sent to the Macedonian parliament for approval.

Actually, the law has passed in the parliamentary committees and the parliament is now expected to vote it after discussions during Thursday's and Friday's plenary sessions.

This has reignited strong debates between the country's two main political camps, the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) and the opposition led by VMRO-DPMNE.

While Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has voiced confidence that the government would adopt the law on languages before the local elections, VMRO-DPMNE of ex-PM Nikola Gruevski has requested the withdrawal of this bill from the agenda of parliamentary proceedings.

According to the opposition parties, such a law is anti-constitutional and hampers Macedonia's national interests.

VMRO-DPMNE's lawmaker, Ilija Dimovski said Friday at plenary session that this law does not comply with the Parliament's rulebook so it should be withdrawn from the parliament and sent to academics for discussions.

But, Prime Minister Zaev strongly condemned such claims saying that opposition's statements were "baseless" since nobody would be obliged to speak any other language but the mother tongue.

On the other hand, Branko Manajlovski, the lawmaker representing the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the largest ethnic Albanian party, told media Friday that the law didn't relate to the language, but national hatred.

"The problem is that among Albanians and Macedonians alike, there's national hatred. I know this better than anyone else because I am an Albanian and have grown up like a Macedonian," Manojlovski said.

The approval of this contested law was the main condition that ethnic Albanian parties put to SDSM in order to join coalition and form the new government since the Dec. 11, 2016 elections did not produce a new government.

In past days, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Parliament and Macedonia's capital city of Skopje, seeking the withdrawal of the law that, according to them, supports only Albanians' minority and discriminates others.

A few months ago, thousands of people protested against any agreement that would ensure the wider use of the Albanian language.

Now it remains to be seen what will happen before local elections, which are scheduled to take place on Oct. 15, 2017.