Police raid on Albanian office

January 27, 1995

The new university of Tetovo, which will provide Albanian-taught higher education for Macedonia's Albanian ethnic minority, is continuing to prove an embarrassment to the Macedonian government.

The authorities ruled last month that the plans for the university were illegal. Tetovo police tore the roof off the building which had been designated the natural sciences department, the only building which the university so far possessed.

When the Albanians made it clear that they would teach in makeshift premises and began registering students, police raided the university's temporary office, confiscated registration documents for 144 intending students and barricaded the office door.

Members of the university founding committee, including its chairman, Faoil Sulejmani, were subjected to what were officially described as "informal talks" with the police.

Simultaneously, the Macedonian government ordered the deportation of a number of ethnic Albanian refugees from the province of Kosovo, in Serbia -- an action regarded by the Albanians as a reprisal for the founding of the university.

The deportations evoked protests from Albanian community and political leaders in Macedonia and Kosovo, and also from Albania, which keeps a close eye on the rights of the Albanian minorities of ex-Yugoslavia.

Then Macedonia's four-party coalition (Social-Democratic Alliance, Liberals, Socialists, and Party of Democratic Prosperity) need to form a new cabinet. One Liberal whom prime minister Branko Crvenkovski favoured for a ministerial post, turned out to have signed the founding document of the university.

Since the other Liberals agreed with the official verdict that the university was "illegal and unconstitutional", they considered their colleague's behaviour as improper. The 25 Liberal MPs felt obliged, therefore, to abstain from voting on the new cabinet. While the other MPs voted, the Liberals muttered darkly that the situation had "opened the door to all kinds of unconstitutional actions".

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