Dallas, Texas — A Slavic Macedonian man who lost his brother in a recent lake-side shooting near his country’s capital, Scupi, has denied the possibility of a crime motivated by ethnic hatred, Albanian-language media report.
Mr. Cvetan Stevkovski (also Stefkovski) blames Serbian news outlets of wrongfully accusing ethnic Albanians for the incident, which claimed the lives of five Slavic Macedonian men, including his brother, Borce. He says the Serbian media are purposefully seeking to incite ethnic hatred and violence in Macedonia.
Serbia, which was at war with Albania and Kosovo at the turn of the century, claims that Albanian irredentists are trying to create a “greater” nation-state at the expense of regional countries. Serbian media has linked the Macedonia incident to five ethnic Albanians from Southern Serbia.
While Macedonian authorities have denied rumors of a hate crime, the killings sparked violent anti-Albanian protests, causing fears of an escalation.
Mr. Stevkovski, who lost his brother, calls on his compatriots to refrain from violence. He says there can be peace and coexistence between Slavic and Albanian Macedonians.
Albanian friends, he adds, have attended the funeral and expressed their condolences for the tragic loss. Political leaders and public figures of the Albanian community in Macedonia and the neighboring countries have strongly condemned the incident, too.
Aggressive anti-Albanian slogans have recently become pervasive among the Slavic Macedonian youth. Earlier this year, a Slavic policeman shot dead two ethnic Albanians, causing renewed tensions. Albanians responded with minor protests in certain parts of the country.
The ethnic Albanians, who make up over a third of the population of Macedonia, staged an armed uprising over a decade ago in demand of civil rights. Political observers note that little has changed since then as the country’s government has failed to implement the agreement that ended the 2001 conflict.
Macedonia, in the meantime, has struggled to resolve disputes over its name, national identity, and church autonomy with neighboring countries, as it hopes to become a member the European Union and the NATO military alliance.
(Source: KohaNet, “Stevkovski: Vëllanë tim nuk e vranë shqiptarët,” last accessed Apr. 20, 2012)
Initially published on a personal blog and transferred here after merger