Erdogan calls for dialogue in Macedonia

Turkish President's call follows death of scores of people in clashes in Kumanovo city

Baku. 13 May. REPORT.AZ/ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for ethnic tensions in Macedonia to be solved through dialogue, days after scores of people, including eight police officers, were killed in clashes between security forces and an armed group in Kumanovo city.

Speaking at a joint press conference in the Albanian capital of Tirana with President Bujar Nishani, Erdogan said on Wednesday: "We give very great importance to peace, prosperity and stability in Balkans."

"We hope that the continuing tension, especially in Macedonia, will be solved through dialogue and that the peace which came to the country after the Ohrid Agreement will not be damaged."

Erdogan said that Turkey had suffered very much from "terror" over the past 30 years and it did not want any other country, in the Balkans or not and from any religious and ethnical background, to "pay such a fee."

"You cannot separate who wins or who loses from terror acts, the two parties lose, same as happens in war," Erdogan said.

Twenty-two people, including eight police officers, were killed during last weekend’s severe clashes between security forces and an armed group in the city of Kumanovo, near the Kosovo border, mainly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.

Ethnic tensions are regular in the multi-ethnic country that declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, where about a quarter of the population of 2.1 million is ethnic Albanian.

In 2001, Macedonians and Albanians fought an armed conflict, which came to an end after the signing of the Ohrid Agreement, which gave Albanians more political rights.

But Albanians have claimed that the agreement has not been implemented.

Albanian President Bujar Nishani called on Macedonian authorities "to investigate as soon as possible and shed light rapidly and completely over this shadowy and unclear incident which has shaken not only Kumanovo, but also the international community."

"I call too, for an immediate stop to the efforts to turn that unclear episode into a source of inter-ethnical conflict,” Nishani said.

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