Letter from an Albanian-Macedonian Friend

A young Albanian friend, about 22 years old, writes from Sarajevo, Bosnia. He was born in Gostivar, Macedonia, and spent about half of his youth in Sarajevo. During the war in Bosnia his family fled back to Gostivar and returned to Sarajevo afterwards. He has family in Sarajevo, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

In this translation of his two letters, we have preserved certain colloquial phrases as they are in the original.

The letters are translated fairly faithfully. Burhan is distraught about what is happening in Macedonia, and asked us to write something about the situation there. But his words are more eloquent than anything we could write.

* * * * *

April 14, 2001

I don't know how familiar you are with the situation in Macedonia, but it is truly screwed up there. People are fighting at every step, and three days ago special forces of the Macedonian army attacked a village named Poroj near Tetovo, and they started to beat up villagers in that village, and all this happened because they were supposedly "terrorists, separatists..." and so on.

I hope that this is being seen in America, and that people know what is happening with this poor people whom they call "Shiptars" just because God determined that this people would live in that fucked part of the world called the Balkans. Today the deadline expires that was set by the Albanian party (which participates in the Macedonian government) to fulfill the demands of the Albanians in Macedonia, or else they will withdraw from the Macedonian parliament.

What this means, and how much it can be useful or harmful to the Albanians of Macedonia, I don't know, because I am no longer smart enough to be able to give an exact analysis. But I know that it could be very bad, equally bad for both Macedonians and Albanians. That's the way it is, for those ordinary mortals.

I have never felt as bad as I feel now. I felt bad for Bosnia and for Kosovo, but that can't be compared at all with this bitter feeling that oppresses my soul.

I hope that nothing will come of all this, but I am very pessimistic regarding this situation, because if there were a will for negotiations, the Macedonian government would show its better side and would not behave that way towards people who never even saw a member of the National Liberation Army.

I ask you to do me a favor if you can, and that is to write something about this situation. I would prefer to do it myself but who would listen to me in the West, I'm just one fucked (jebeni) nationalist from the Balkans who, in the eyes of the Europeans and Americans, wishes for blood. But I'm writing you because I know what kind of opinion you have of me.

I won't keep you longer, take care and thank God that you were born in America, but cry for the people of the Balkans.


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April 19, 2001

I am glad that you wrote me and showed that you care about this new situation in which there could be many deaths for some goal that could be achieved in a better way than this.

Since when I wrote you several days have passed and the situation is getting better, and I hope that it will continue to go at this rate, although it's not really great.

I hear that life in Macedonia is normalizing and that better days are coming for my people; however, I am skeptical as far as that is concerned and I am taking all this with great reservations, because it's hard to tell how things will develop in the future.

Albanians, as far as I am acquainted with this situation, want the constitution to be changed, and recently I heard the Macedonian Ambassador [to Bosnia], who was on the radio, and he said that under no conditions will that happen because that would signify the end of the sovereignty of the republic of Macedonia. However, if there is no change I really would not be able to give a promising prediction that all the people of Macedonia will be able to live in peace and to make long-term plans for the prosperity of Macedonia as their own state.

Albanians will feel that Macedonia is their own state only when they are participating in all areas of public and cultural life, and if we go back several decades, even to the Turkish rule in the Balkans, some members of the Albanian clans gave their oath to the Serbian priests that they would guard the Serbian monasteries, and that oath held all the way up to the Second World War...

I have said all this in order to get to my desired point, and that is that one can count on the Albanians as people who can live with their neighbors of any faith or ethnicity and that that would not present a big problem, and that the fact that people now have seen weapons as the best option is the result of terror practiced on Albanians as if they were some uncivilized people.


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