Macedonia sacks chief editor of controversial encyclopedia

10:32, October 09, 2009      

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Macedonia's leading academic body on Thursday dismissed the chief editor of a controversial state-funded encyclopedia that has drawn harsh criticism from the Albanian community in the western Balkans.

The Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts decided to fire Blaze Ristovski and the editing team that worked on the project.

The encyclopedia, published by MANU in September, offended the country's ethnic Albanians by using derogatory terms and calling them "settlers" in Macedonia from the 16th century.

Ristovski told local media he had no intention of resigning because he felt no responsibility for doing anything wrong.

Ethnic Albanians account for 25 percent of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million people. Several protests were staged to express anger with claims made in the book.

Officials from neighboring Albania and Kosovo called the book a "political pamphlet" and a "forgery of the Albanian history."

The book also shook the ruling coalition between the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party and its junior partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integrations (DUI) party.

The DUI threatened to leave the government, forcing the prime minister and VMRO-DPMNE head Nikola Gruevski to publicly condemn the book. The two parties later reconciled.

The MANU already has withdrawn the book. It also has offered to correct parts of the book's narrative about ethnic Albanians and decided Wednesday to form a new editing committee that includes scientists from the Albanian community.

In 2001, tensions between Macedonia's ethnic Albanians fighting for greater rights and the government brought the country to the brink of a civil war that was averted with the mediation of the EU and NATO.

Source: Xinhua
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