Macedonia's ethnic Albanians want nation declared bilingual

Three ethnic Albanian political parties in Macedonia have adopted a joint platform demanding a larger say in the country's affairs in return for their support in forming a coalition government.

Elections held last month gave the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party 51 seats in the 120-member Parliament and 49 to the opposition Social Democrats.

Albanian minority parties won the remaining seats; the largest, the Democratic Union for Integration, a coalition partner of the conservatives over the past decade, won 10.

The three parties are demanding that the Constitution define Macedonia as a bilingual country where both Albanian and Macedonian are recognized as official languages.

They also are calling for a parliamentary resolution condemning past persecution of the Albanian minority.

Ethnic Albanians comprise a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million.