As background information, the language issue regresses to the armed conflict between Albanians and Slav-led Army in 200-1 which resulted in the Ohrid Agreement. The Ohrid Agreement was hammered down by Javier Solana and George Papandreou out of which, the Albanians would not only defeat the Slav led Army, but the country would disintegrate.
Before the Ohrid Agreement emerged, the Slav government appreciating the impending danger worked simultaneously in two different directions to play it safe.
At first, the FYROM government requested help from the EU which moved fast with Javier Solana and George Papandreou. At that time, the Slavic speaking newspapers in the FYROM praised the efforts of the two men that kept the country together.
Concurrently, the President of the Assembly (Sobranie) Stojan Andov had authorized a parliamentary delegation of Slav deputies to visit the offices of the Socialist Party of Greece (PASOK) to request Greek help in case the FYROM disintegrated. At the time PASOK was in power in Greece. The delegation met with Mr. Beglitis seeking among other things Greece’s consideration for a federation with the remaining territory of the FYROM. The Slav parliamentary delegation had requested teachers to teach the children of the FYROM Greek, Greek language books, and money to finance such a project.
Because of the above conflict, the FYROM was forced to amend Article 7 of its Constitution by expanding its restrictions on the locality. While the article had declared the Slavic language being the only one in the country, Amendment V had made the language of any minority above 20% in the country an official language. Specifically it the amendment states, “Any other language spoken by at least 20 percent of the population is also an official language, written using its alphabet, as specified below.”
The first law the Skopje Assembly passed on the matter reflected the new reality, but that proposal was flawed. It granted the right only in areas where the minority was larger than 20 percent of the population. That law was unconstitutional although the UMD never complained.
Per the VMRO-DPMNE the bill upon passing into law "deepens the differences” between the two main ethnic groups. They believe that "Bilingualism will create legal chaos. It will create inefficient institutions that will be lost in the translation, instead of being of real benefit to the citizens". However, such arguments are unfounded as countries like Belgium and Luxemburg function just fine. After all, the FYROM started as a multicultural society, and it should grow as such. That was the message of the Ohrid Agreement.
Nonetheless, here is the real nightmare for the FYROM. Considering the demographics of the 2002 census and the death and birth rate of the Slavs and the Albanians the population of the FYROM will shift in 2033 for the Albanians as they will dominate over the Slavs (Slavs 44.71% versus Albanians 45.29%). Following the same trend in 2044, the difference will spread with Slavs 36% and Albanians 54%. Since the 2002 census occurred under considerably questionable conditions, neither of the two main ethnic political parties was interested in contacting the census in 2011 which was canceled by the VMRO-DPMNE led FYROM government.
Manipulation of statistics is nothing unusual for the FYROM and its Marxist past. For instance, according to the State Board of Statistics in Belgrade the 1921 census in the region that presently is the FYROM, the Greeks numbered to be 41,597; in 1931 census indicated that 44,608 Greeks lived in the same area. In 1949, Skopje alone had 30,000 Greeks. Also In 1948, the Bulgarian population in the FYROM was 61,140.
However in 1981, miraculously the above statistics faded away reappeared as follows: The 1921 population of the Greek in the FYROM region came down to 2,000, the population and the one of 1931 went down to 1,000 without explaining what happened in those ten years to the missing Greeks. As for the Bulgarian population it almost disappeared from the 1948 population of 61,140 to only 1,000 in 1981. It does mean that the number of the actual people had changed, but it says that in 1981 the Yugoslav Marxists re-visited the old statistics turning them to more politically convenient numbers (Stojković 1952, 29). Not one person in the world who understands statistics can accept round numbers as factual.
A new census is essential because it will answer three crucial questions.
- The first question is, how many people live in the FYROM because of the constant migration abroad.
- The second question is, how do the people live in the republic?
- The third competing question is, what are their practical social, economic, regional problems, so the government apply appropriate public policies?
The constituency of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI should stop being obsequious to their extreme right ideology as a factotum to political parties denying reality in their home country. A new census could bring unbearable news, but it is a must. Javier Solana summed it up very well saying, "In 2001, we were talking about being at the brink of a catastrophe; and now, in 2008, we are talking about being a candidate for the European Union. This is a great success." The FYROM should either cope with the multicultural reality or face catastrophe.