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New national minorities report issues warning to Skopje authorities

A new report warns the authorities in Skopje of concerns over tensions among the national minority groups in “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”

The report from the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities states: “Political scandals and revelations in 2015 of corruption, systematic breaches of the rule of law , interference with judicial independence and massive violations of fundamental human rights have prompted outrage across ethnic lines and led to a substantial breakdown in trust in public institutions overall.

“Despite the unanimous protests against the political structures, society remains deeply divided, with little interaction between the two largest ethnic communities, Macedonians and Albanians. Relations between them are still dominated by mutual fear and distrust as few efforts appear to have been made on either side to overcome the post-conflict stage.

“Against this background, politicisation of ethnic issues continues and is accompanied by intensive nation-building processes. Political and ethnically based hate speech has become prominent among the political elites and is widely used in the media.”

The report urges the country’s authorities to take measures to ensure that the “objective of achieving equitable representation of national minorities in public administration is genuinely implemented through the development of a merit-based recruitment process and that the increasing separation along ethnic lines within the education system is comprehensively addressed through the promotion of inter-ethnic respect and awareness in all schools.”

The report’s authors also want improvements in the treatment of Roma people. They state:“Roma remain dramatically disadvantaged from a socio-economic point of view and are faced with discriminatory attitudes amongst public employees. Incidents of police brutality and ethnic profiling at the border continue, preventing Roma from exiting the country.”

The report advises the Skopje authorities to “take all necessary measures towards building an integrated society.”

It also recommends effective sanctions against hate-speech and hate crimes and encourages the building of a multilingual education system and the participation in public life and in decision-making processes at all levels, of people from the country’s different national minority groups.

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