"Republic of Ilirida" declared in Macedonia

SKOPJE -- Former leader of the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Action in Macedonia Nevzat Halili on Thursday in Skopje declared "the Republic of Ilirida."

Speaking in Skenderbeg Square in Skopje, he said this "republic" was based "on the Constitution of the United States and its preamble that states that each human being has the right to govern itself."

Halili said that the new republic is also based "on the position of American President Woodrow Wilson who said that the people have a right to self-determination," the Macedonian media reported.

Halili asked Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to initiate proceedings for the federalization of Macedonia.

As "president of Ilirida," he asked that Macedonia in the future functions as a state of two equal republics - llirida and Macedonia - modeled on the former Union of Serbia and Montenegro and the Belgian federation.

"We are not in favor of changing Macedonia's external borders, but administrative boundaries between Illirida and Macedonia should be defined. This should be done according to the model Serbia and Montenegro had a few years ago, and what Belgium has now," said Halili.

If the Macedonian institutions ignore these demands, he said, there would be a referendum.

"We Albanians have 400,000 votes in Macedonia," he explained.

Halili said the federalization of the country was necessary because the Ohrid agreement, although it stopped the conflict in 2001, failed to provide equality for Albanians.

The proclamation of the Republic of Ilirida was welcomed by Idriz Sinani, president of the International Forum for Human Rights, who said it marked an end to the discrimination against Albanians in Macedonia.

"It seems as if Albanian political parties that are today active in the Macedonian government and parliament have abandoned Albanian requests for equality with Slavic citizens."

"Macedonian Albanians have been manipulated for years, because it has been so many years and we are still second-class citizens, if not third-class. The war that began in the name of national unification of Albanians into a single state has lost its mission and ended up as an uprising for respect of human rights. It's called treason because no Albanian would pick up a rifle for the sake of human rights. Albanians struggle for freedom and national unification with the motherland, Albania," said Sinani.

Sinani urged "Illirida institutions" to respect that "every man" is free to enjoy these rights regardless of ethnicity, race, color and religion, because it is the only democratic way, which is based on modern human rights and freedoms.