Nope, no Greater Albania to see here, Folks…move along…

Ethnic Albanian judges in Macedonia’s highest court resign over flag dispute

SKOPJE, Macedonia: Two ethnic Albanian judges in Macedonia’s highest court resigned on Tuesday to protest a recent ruling by the court on the display of national flags in restive Albanian-dominated areas.

Constitutional Court president Mahmut Jusufi and judge Bajram Polozani claimed political motives were behind the court decision, which was condemned by ethnic Albanian leaders.

The Constitutional Court ruled last week that the Albanian national flag cannot be flown on its own on public buildings in areas dominated by the ethnic Albanian minority — which accounts for a quarter of Macedonia’s 2 million people.

In a measure aimed at easing ethnic tensions in a country that came close to full-blown civil war in 2001, Macedonia’s parliament in 2005 granted ethnic minorities the right to display flags of their choice — beside Macedonia’s official flag — on public buildings. The law applied to areas where minorities make up at least half the population.

But in many Albanian-dominated areas only the Albanian flag was flown.

The leaders of Macedonia’s two main ethnic Albanian parties expressed “outrage” at the court ruling and called on their mayors in 16 municipalities to ignore it.

Macedonia, a tiny Balkan country that gained bloodless independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, has implemented dozens of reforms aimed at guaranteeing equal rights for the ethnic Albanian minority and Macedonian majority, as part of its bid to join the EU and NATO.

A six-month conflict in 2001 between government troops and ethnic Albanian rebels killed some 80 people.

Two ethnic Albanians and an ethnic Turk judge sit on the court, as Macedonia’s constitution ordains that one third of the judges must represent ethnic minorities.