Macedonia Encyclopaedia Editor Sacked

The chief editor of the controversial Macedonia encyclopedia, which caused outrage among ethnic Albanians, has been removed from the post.

Blaze Ristovski was discharged from his duties at a Wednesday afternoon session of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, MANU, which released the tome.

Ristovski had resisted pressure to resign over references in the encyclopaedia to ethnic Albanians as “settlers” in Macedonia and as “Shiptari” – an offensive term.

Albanians make up one quarter of the Macedonian population, and consider themselves indigenes. After the publication of the book, ethnic Albanian movements staged several protests to show their resentment at what they labelled a forgery of Albanian history.

The book also shook the ruling coalition, threatening a split between the VMRO-DPMNE party and its junior coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

The DUI threatened to leave the government unless VMRO-DPMNE head, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski publicly condemned the book, but the two parties subsequently reconciled.

Neighbouring Albania and Kosovo also excoriated the book as both factually inaccurate and provocative. Representatives of the EU, US and the UK in Macedonia warned that the publication threatened the country’s ethnic stability.

MANU subsequently withdrew the encyclopaedia, offering to correct the problematic passages. It has decided to form a new editing committee, which will include members of the ethnic Albanian community. The recently withdrawn edition was boycotted by Albanian members of the academy from its initial compilation.

In 2001, Macedonia suffered a short-lived ethnic Albanian insurgency, that ended the same year with the signing of a peace treaty. The treaty envisaged the disbanding of the insurgent forces and, in return, offered greater rights to the local Albanian community.

In a further controversy related to the book, DUI head Ali Ahmeti, who led the insurgents, was described in the encyclopaedia as a “war crimes suspect”, although his name never appeared in any court probes or indictments related to the conflict.

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