From an open letter to Macedonian friends
by Veton Surroi
‘Among all Macedonia's neighbours, only the Albanians have fully recognized the existence of the Macedonian people. In Bulgaria, the term Macedonia has traditionally had a geographic meaning, describing a territory populated primarily by people of Bulgarian origin. Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of a separate Macedonian language as distinct from Bulgarian, although it quickly recognized its neighbour as an independent state. Serbia has politically recognized the Macedonians as a people, but not the autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church, which was part of the Serbian Orthodox Church until relatively recent times. And despite improvements in the diplomatic and economic relations between Greece and Macedonia in the past few years, Greece does not recognize a Macedonian, but only a Slavophone, community within its borders.
Isn't it weird that in the current conflict [Macedonian Slavs] hate precisely those who have no problems with the identity of the Macedonian people? And that they see the demand for equality of the Albanian language as a threat to the existence of the state and the identity of the Macedonian people? For the political elite, Macedonia is the only state where the Macedonian identity has developed; and that has happened through the dominance of Macedonian Slavs and the Macedonian language.
The Albanians and Macedonians are now in a situation where they can take a step beyond electoral democracy to consensual democracy, in which two things must not be allowed to happen: that one side outvotes the ethnic minority, or that the other side blocks all manner of decisions in the name of the ethnic minority.’
From Veton Surroi, ‘Open letter to my Macedonian friends’, Koha Ditore (Prishtina), 19 August 2001