Republic of Ilirida
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The Republic of Ilirida (Albanian: Republika e Iliridës) is a proposed state declared twice by politician Nevzat Halili, once in 1992 and once in 2014. The idea has been declared unconstitutional by the Macedonian government. The secessionist concept of Ilirida emerged in the early 1990s and was advocated by some Albanian politicians as a solution to concerns and disputes the Albanian community had regarding constitutional recognition and minority rights within Macedonia.
A referendum on the status of the Albanians in Macedonia, declared illegal by the Macedonian government, was held in January 1992. 74% out of 92% of those eligible to vote, voted for the autonomy of the Albanians. On March 31, 1992, about 40,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrated on the streets of Skopje, asking that Macedonia remain an unrecognized state until areas with an Albanian majority were autonomous.
6 days later, on April 6, 1992, the Republic of Ilirida, was proclaimed by Albanian Macedonian activists in Struga, Republic of Macedonia, the main organizer being former PDP member, Nevzat Halili, in front of a crowd of 2,500 people.
The proposed republic would have covered approximately half of Macedonia's territory, mainly where Albanians form large concentrations and/ or majorities in the west and northwest. It intended to unite all Albanians living under the former Yugoslavia. Later on, the aim of the republic was that of favoring the federalization of Macedonia.
On November 6, 1992 Macedonian police used force to disperse ethnic Albanians who were protesting for the release of a cigarette smuggler. Clashes with police resulted in the deaths of 4 Albanians and 36 injured. The Macedonian police seized 2,000 leaflets signed by the Ilirida Albanian youth movement, which called for the Albanians of Macedonian to wage war for their rights to self-determination.
At that time a group of Albanian activists were accused by Skopje that they were in possession of 300 machine guns and ready to organize an uprising of 20,000 Albanians to achieve the goal of the creation of the Republic of Ilirida. According to the official sources of the Macedonian government, there was coordination between the Macedonian Albanian activists, and the Kosovo Albanians, as well as by Albania. The government of Albania denied these accusations, and so did Ibrahim Rugova, then president of the Republic of Kosova. In 1993 Halili was tried for “paramilitary” secessionism, but was not jailed, however he quit politics since.
The opening of the University of Tetovo in 1994 served as a trial balloon for the parallel independent educational institutions of the Albanians in Macedonia. The plan was to create similar institutions around other areas of the economy as well.
In 1994 Muhamed Halili, then coordinator of the now split Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP), declared to a Bulgarian newspaper that the party still wanted to achieve autonomy, and the Albanians' autonomy in Macedonia was the "first stage of the two-nation state". The other Albanian leaders kept silent about the issue, but in June 1994 the Albanian National Party (NPD) resolved that "Ilirida autonomy is the minimum which the Albanians of Macedonia should realize", and, Abdurahman Haliti, president of the PDP, warned that "those who think that the autonomy option for the Albanians of Macedonia doesn't exist, are wrong".
In 2002 the Army of the Republic of Ilirida was created. The goal of the army is to incorporate Western Macedonia into Albania or into Kosovo. Allegedly composed of 200 members, it was rumored that the army members took an oath with Leka Zogu, then Crown Prince of Albania, however he denied that.
Although the idea of the Republic of Ilirida seemed to have been abandoned by its proponents, on September 18, 2014, a few dozen Albanians assembled in Skopje to declare the formation of the Republic of Ilirida. According to Nevzat Halili, the self-proclaimed president, the right of Albanians in Macedonia to self-determination and the proclamation of Ilirida as an autonomous region is based on the United States Constitution. Halili threatened to organise a referendum if his plans are ignored by the government.
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- Bugajski, Janusz (1994). Ethnic politics in Eastern Europe: a guide to nationality policies, organizations, and parties. ME Sharpe. pp. 116-117. "The PDP also abstained from voting on the new constitution, arguing that the document did not provide sufficient provision for the group rights of Albanians. Halili asserted that he would continue to press for amendments in the constitution to redefine the Albanians as a constituent nation and more solidly guarantee their “collective rights.” If this proved impossible to achieve, then the PDP would consider the constitution invalid and undertake steps toward full minority autonomy. PDP leaders have urged the holding of new elections once a fairer election law was passed by parliament and electoral districts were rearranged. They also supported some measure of territorial autonomy for regions containing Albanian majorities within an independent Macedonia. According to Halili, such regions could form an Assembly of Citizens that would be eligible to pass laws on education, the local economy, police, and local courts. A referendum on autonomy among the Albanian community in January 1992 was won overwhelmingly by a pro-autonomy vote, but the plebiscite was immediately dismissed as invalid by the Macedonian government. After the ballot, several local leaders in predominantly Albanian communes in western Macedonia declared the region as the Republic of Ilirida, Stating their objective as the unification of all Albanians in the former Yugoslavia. In the interim, they favored the federalization of Macedonia in which Ilirida would cover approximately half of the republic’s territory. The government vowed to combat any anti-constitutional attempts to create parallel authorities in Macedonia. PDP leaders criticized the Ilirida proclamation and denied that they intended to partition Macedonia and join the region with an independent Kosovo or with Albania. The state-controlled Belgrade media reported with some relish on the Ilirida declaration and the potential partition of Macedonia."
- Danforth, Loring (1997). The Macedonian conflict: Ethnic nationalism in a transnational world. Princeton University Press. p. 145. "The Albanians in Macedonia, however, have expressed dissatisfaction with their minority status in a variety of ways. They boycotted the September 8, 1991, referendum which established the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state. Then, in January 1992, they held their own referendum and voted overwhelmingly in favor of “the political and territorial autonomy of Albanians in Macedonia” and the establishment of their own state, to be named the Republic of Ilirida."
- Goldman, Minton (1996). Revolution and change in Central and Eastern Europe: political, economic, and social challenges. ME Sharpe. pp. 324-325. "With the failure of the republic leaders in discussions held in 1991 to agree on a plan for transforming Yugoslavia into a confederation, the Macedonian government planned for complete independence. In early September 1991, it held a national referendum on independence, in which Macedonians voted overwhelmingly for separation from Yugoslavia. In November 1991, Macedonia formalized its new status and a commitment to democratic processes when it approved a new constitution. Although the preamble was similar to the preamble of the Croatian constitution in that it emphasized historical aspirations for national independence, the constitution also called for “cohabitation” between Macedonian and non-Macedonian people and therefore was somewhat less ethnically chauvinistic than the Croatian document. To serve the interests of the ethnic minorities, the constitution provided for the establishment of a Council for Inter- ethnic Relations within the legislature. The new document nevertheless alarmed Macedonia’s Albanian minority, which made up 23 percent of the republic’s population and opposed independence. They were worried that, despite provisions that appeared to guarantee minority rights, the Skopje government, which was controlled by ethnic Macedonians fearful of an outbreak of Albanian separatism, would discriminate against them and get away with it because of the failure of the constitution to identify them as a “nation.” The Albanian minority wanted assurances, which they never received from the Macedonian political leadership, that once Macedonia was independent of Yugoslavia the new republic would not violate their cultural rights and try to assimilate them. By 1992, local Albanian leaders were demanding autonomy for Ilirida, as they called the territory in northwest Macedonia where the bulk of Albanian-speaking people resided. The demands of Macedonian Albanians and their talk of the possibility of joining kinsmen in Kosovo and in the Republic of Albania to create a “Greater Albania” began to resemble the situation of Croatia’s Serb minority in the Krajina. Albanian politicians in Macedonia urged the EC not to recognize the independence of Yugoslav Macedonia on the grounds that it failed to meet the Union’s human- and civil-rights standards. Other ethnic minorities, notably, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs, shared the worry of the Albanians. The problem for an independent Macedonia was to make sure that its powerful neighbors would not use the protection of these minorities as a pretext for interference in its internal affairs and possibly even some landgrabbing."
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- Albanians in Macedonia
- Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia
- Albanian nationalism in the Republic of Macedonia
- List of active separatist movements in Europe