At the end of World War II, the Albanian border was redrawn and many found themselves in the new Yugolslav repubic of Macedonia. Under Marshall Tito, ethnic tensions were smothered. The reign of Serb nationalist Slobadan Milosevic resulted in the breakup of Yugoslavia and Macedonia declared its independence (now given the Prince-like title "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia")

Fervent nationalism resulted in conflicts in Croatia,Bosnia and Kosovo but Macedonians and Albanians continued to live peacefully together.

The Albanians in Macedonia constitute between 20% and 40% (depending on who you ask) of the country's population. They are mostly Muslims, as opposed to the Orthodox Christian faith of most Macedonians. They live in the western part of the country with Kosovo to the north and Albania to the west. They complain of discrimination and marginalisation of their language. However, an ethnic Albanian party is a member of the coalition government and demographic trends favour them (by dent of a higher birthrate among the Albanians).

There is evidence the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has stockpiled weapons in Macedonia rather than hand them over to KFOR peacekeeping troops. In January 2001 a Macedonian police station was attacked by a group calling themselves the "Liberation Army". The Kosovo conflict began with small scale attacks like this a few years ago...

Update 5/10/01- The National Liberation Army quickly grew in size and soon posed a serious threat to the stability of Macedonia. Initially the Macedonian Government decided to use force against the rebels. However, following international pressure, a tentative peace agreement was reached. The Government agreed to increase the status of the Albanian language and culture within the constitution of Macedonia. The rebels agreed to hand over their arms. A NATO force was tasked with collecting the rebel arms. So far they have collected about 3000 weapons and they are soon due to withdraw. The rebels still retain a majority of their weapons (mostly old ones were handed in) and the Government have yet to ratify the peace treaty.

Update 26/11/01 The Macedonian parliament has adopted a series of constitutional amendments aimed at boosting the rights of ethnic Albanians. These amendments include changing the preamble to the constitution from referring to the "national state of the Macedonian people" to "citizens of the Republic of Macedonia". The Albanian language is now an official language of Macedonia and may be used in parliament, and in official institutions in areas where at least 20% of the people are Albanian. The proportion of the police force that is Albanian will increase from 5% to 25%.

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