- Title: MACEDONIA: VOTING TAKES PLACE IN REFERENDUM ON ETHNIC RIGHTS
- Date: 8th November 2004
- Summary: (W3) SKOPJE, MACEDONIA (NOVEMBER 7, 2004) (REUTERS) 1. WIDE OF STREET; CLOSE UP ON MACEDONAIN FLAG 0.11 2. MV FIRST VOTERS ENTERING A POLLING STATION; SCU BALLOT PAPER; MV PEOPLE VOTING 1.02 (W3) TETOVO, MACEDONIA (NOVEMBER 7, 2004) (REUTERS) 3. SLV OF TETOVO; SLV MARKET IN TETOVO 1.12 4. (SOUNDBITE)(Albanian) UNIDENTIFIED TETOVO RESIDENT SAYING "We don't want to vote since we don't want to have anything to do with this referendum." 1.20 5. SLV POLLING STATION, NO VOTERS; SCU BALLOT BOX 6. ELECTORAL COMMISSION AT A POLLING STATION WAITING FOR PEOPLE TO SHOW UP FOR THE VOTE 1.36 7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PIETER DE VOS, A EUROPEAN UNION MONITOR OBSERVING THE REFERENDUM SAYING Polling stations opened this morning at seven o'clock and so far there have been no problems. 1.49 8. WIDE OF A POLLING STATION 1.52 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2004 12:00
- Location: SKOPJE, TETOVO, MACEDONIA
- Country: Macedonia
- Reuters ID: LVA1K61Z7L3AG3NOE1YJOYRX3PGE
- Story Text: Macedonians vote in referendum on ethnic rights.
Macedonians began voting on Sunday (November 7, 2004) in
a referendum that could decide if the country remains on a
pro-Western path and gives its Albanian minority more
rights or slips back on a nationalist course.
At stake are proposed changes to local self-government
laws giving the Albanians, who make up about a quarter of
Macedonia's population, more control over schools, health
and development wherever they are the majority.
Nationalists believe the West forced Macedonians to
make too many concessions to the Albanians after 7 months
of fighting with an Albanian guerrilla army in 2001. They
say the legislation will split the country.
Turnout by the some 1.7 million eligible voters must
exceed 50 percent for the result to be valid. Most
Albanians, who live mainly in the west and north, are
expected to boycott the poll.
There were no firm predictions on the outcome. Analysts
said a low turnout would favour supporters of the changes.
In a challenge to the divided opposition, Prime
Minister Hari Kostov said he would quit, forcing a snap
election, because rejection of the proposed changes would
trigger a "serious political crisis".
Opponents say his Socialist-led coalition and its
Albanian former guerrilla allies agreed on the plan only as
a political trade-off to stay in power.
The European Union, NATO and the United States, key
players in helping quell the fighting in 2001, are openly
hostile to the referendum. A British minister who visited
Skopje two weeks ago scandalised nationalists by advising
voters to "stay at home".
Stability in Macedonia is crucial to the Balkans before
a decision next year on potential independence for
neighbouring Kosovo, Serbia's Albanian-majority province
that has been run by the U.N. and guarded by NATO troops
for the last 5 years.
A stable republic would be less susceptible to any
spillover effects, violent or political. A weak state would be
vulnerable to break-up, possibly triggering a regional
On the eve of the vote, queues built up on the Kosovo
to Macedonia road as U.N. police searched vehicles for
In Skopje, Kostov and President Branko Crvenkovski
joined thousands of Macedonians in a street party to thank
Washington for recognising the country's chosen name
The U.S. State Department called it a reward to
Macedonia for building multi-ethnic democracy.
At the insistence of Greece, which objects to the use
of the name of its ancient northern province, the republic
is officially known at the EU, NATO and the United Nations
as "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" or FYROM.
One Macedonian analyst said the U.S. decision was a
If the law is implemented, local boundaries would
expand, reducing the number of municipalities from 123 to
84, of which Albanians would control 16.
Albanian would be a second official language in areas
where the Albanians are at least 20 percent strong. That
will include the capital Skopje and its street signs.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None