SKOPJE, Macedonia – Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests in the capital of Skopje and other cities against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language.
Ethnic Albanians comprise a quarter of Macedonia's 2.1 million people, and Albanian is an official language in minority-dominated areas.
But ethnic Albanian parties want its adoption nationwide, emboldened by their new-found political influence after December's inconclusive parliamentary election.
The conservatives won the most votes, but not enough seats to govern alone. Talks to form a coalition with the Albanians failed over the language demand.
The leader of the left-wing party that finished second is expected to be handed the mandate to try and form a government this week, but also needs the Albanians' support. Zoran Zaev's position on the language issue is unclear.