"Civil Society or a Nation-State?" Macedonian and Albanian Intellectuals Building the Macedonian State and Nation(s).

Nevena Dicheva Dimova

PhD Thesis 2003s

This dissertation deals with two major discourses, that of the nation and that of civil society, as they are played out in public debates about the constitution of the Macedonian state and nation(s) by Macedonian and Albanian intellectuals and politicians. The concept of civil society came to Macedonia together with the influx of western money and ideas after the fall of socialism in 1991 and was offered by the international community as a mechanism for amelioration of ethnic tensions between the Albanian and the Macedonian communities in the country. Although the only republic which was not drawn into the bloody wars following the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Macedonia's independence in 1991 was followed by increasing tensions between the Macedonian majority and the Albanian minority.

The main disputes between the elites as well as the general public of both communities are focused on the construction of the new Macedonian state and the constitution of the relations among the populations in the country. In the 1991 Constitution Macedonians are defined as the constitutive nation of the Macedonian state, Macedonia is conceptualized as the homeland of the Macedonians where other minorities are provided guarantees for co-existence, Macedonian is the official language of the state and Albanians, together with the Serbs, Vlachs, and Roma are defined as a minority. The Albanian intellectual and political elites argue for a status of the Albanian population as a second nation in the country and for Albanian to be recognized as the second official language in the state. In public debates the elites of both communities envision Macedonia as the nation-state of their group, ethnically defined and argue against similar images projected by the other group.

I have shown that in these debates members of the Albanian and Macedonian elites utilize the discourse of civil society to argue for their competing visions of the state and justify such claims before the international community and their respective public. Thus, while intended to 'put a lid' on ethnic tensions, the concept of civil society taken out of its context of origin- Western Europe, acquires different meanings and, in fact, could facilitate nationalist claims projected by local actors. Research has been done among two sets of intellectuals, the 'socialist' elites and the 'new' intellectuals by conducting semi-structured interviews, analysis of published materials by these intellectuals, and continuous monitoring of the daily medias.