That is unacceptable to the extreme nationalists who are pushing to win a place in the ruling coalition in the next election. They view Albanians as little more than terrorists, plotting to take over the country.
"All of . . . the ethnic Albanians, are involved with" the Kosovo Liberation Army, said Straso Angelovski, who heads the Movement for Pan-Macedonian Action.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 29, 1999 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Metro Desk 2 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Macedonia--In a Times story Thursday about Macedonia, a reference to that country as the homeland of Alexander the Great was misleading. Alexander was born in the ancient city of Pella, in what is now the Greek province of Macedonia, not the country of the same name. In the 4th century B.C., when Alexander was born, the entire area was known as Macedonia.
"By 2010, the Macedonians will be a minority in their own country," said Angelovski, "and we should not allow that to happen. . . . If the refugees [from Kosovo] do not all leave, it will happen even sooner."
The war only heightened the mistrust between the two groups. Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia were dismayed that few Macedonians opened their homes to the Kosovo refugees.
"There were a few Macedonian families who knew refugees through business dealings, who took them in, but very few," said Abdurauf Prusi, the president of El Hilal, an ethnic Albanian aid agency in Macedonia that helped refugees find shelter.
In the small town of Struga, ethnic Albanians held rallies supporting the war on one side of the main street while pro-Serbian Macedonians marched down the other side.
In Skopje, Macedonian taxi drivers organized convoys to drive across the Yugoslav border every Saturday at dawn to give blood for Serbian soldiers injured in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization campaign against Yugoslavia.
"Macedonia did too much to help the Albanian refugees," said Atalic Dijana, 28, who was riding in one of the taxis. "They should have gone to Albania to get help. It's no wonder other countries don't want them. They know who they are--they are the biggest Mafiosi in the world."
The prospect of an outright civil war still seems remote to many Macedonians, if only because they have avoided it so far. But as Vladimir Milcin scanned a newspaper with reports of a bomb that exploded a few feet from a mosque in the ethnic Albanian section of Skopje, severely injuring two people, he shook his head.
"Terrorism is coming," said Milcin, the director of the Open Society Institute, funded by Hungarian American financier and philanthropist George Soros.
"Ordinary people are not just uneasy but scared, and so it's much easier to manipulate them, to sell any story to them. . . . We're seeing a soft beginning of hysteria on a mass scale."