Once an empire reaching from Greece to India under Alexander the Great,
Has become the focus of the latest Balkan crisis.
A rebellion by ethnic Albanians against the Skopje(Macedonian) government has broken out,with clashes erupting near Tetovo.
The Macedonian government says the fighting was instigated by ethnic Albanian infiltrator from Kosovo,where a NATO-led force ousted the Serb-led Yugoslav army two years ago.
Unlike ethnic Albanians in Kosovo,Those in Macedonia have equal protection under the law,although they complain of serious discrimination.
After centuries of rule by Romans,Byzantines and Ottomans,the Macedonian area was
absorbed by Serbia,Greece and Bulgaria at the end of the Balkan wars,1912-13.
The Serbian part became a republic of Yugoslavia in 1946,and it declared independence in 1991.
The Macedonian goverment says the Albanian minority is well represented:
Ethnic Albanians hold 5 slots in the 17-member cabinet.
Albanians hold 7 ambassadorship of 30 overseas representations;each embassy has at least one Albanian staffer.
An Albanian-language university is to open in Tetovo this fall.
There are Albanian-language elementary and secondary schools.
Albanian representatives in the goverment have condemned the insurgency.
But the insurgents demand:
Constitutional changes to declare Masedonia"a state of two constituent peoples".
An end of alleged discrimination against ethnic Albanians in political institutions,the police forces,the job markets and education.
Release of political prisoners,apparently a reference to six suspects facing trial for terrorism in 1999 bombings.
International mediation and a new census.
The government has refused to negotiate with the militants,saying they are dominated by Albanian radicals from Kosovo.
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