Friday, March 21, 2008

Macedonia Divided over Kosovo

20 March 2008 Skopje _ Almost half of the people in Macedonia oppose the recognition of their northern neighbour Kosovo,an opinion poll by a local non-governmental organisation shows.

Of the people surveyed, 45% answered negatively while 36% approved when asked whether Macedonia should recognize Kosovo’s independence, the Centre for Research and Policy Making, CRPM said.

The other 19% answered either that they are indifferent or that they do not have an opinion.

Macedonian Albanians represent around one quarter of the overall population and had a much stronger opinion regarding recognition with 95% of ethnic Albanians surveyed saying they want to see Kosovo recognised by Skopje.

However 60% of ethnic Macedonians are against recognition.

A slight majority of people, 55%, think that the mutual border should be marked first if Macedonia is to recognise the newly declared state.

Skopje’s border with Kosovo has been left unmarked for years due to an earlier dispute between Pristina and Belgrade over who has jurisdiction over Kosovo's boundaries.

The CRPM poll also shows divided opinion over regional security with nearly 28% believing that security will be increased with Kosovo’s recognition while 25% say it will worsen. The rest of those surveyed answered either that it will remain the same or that they do not know.

The poll was made by telephone on a sample of 1100 people, CRPM said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in mid February. Macedonia has not yet recognized the newly emerged state in part due to fear of retribution by Belgrade since its economy is closely linked to the country. 2008

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