The State Statistics Bureau director Apostol Simovski announced that the coming 2020 census will not be a typical census of residents, like the one held in 2002, but would be geared toward adding the migrants – citizens who left Macedonia and live abroad.
We will try to cover as many people living abroad as possible. Their data is exceptionally important for us, given that Macedonia, like other countries around us, is unfortunately a high emigration country, said Simovski.
The decision reflect a common political issue with the census in Macedonia, where the political weight of the ethnic Albanian community is constitutionally tied with it reaching the 20 percent mark of the total population. Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia used to have a higher birth rate compared to Macedonians, however that has now sharply fallen, in addition to their very high emigration rate. During the 2002 census overseen by the US, the SDSM run SEC tempered with data after the results came in which ended up putting the Albanian community at 25 percent.
The issue became especially contentious during the failed 2011 census, when ethnic Albanian parties insisted that permanent and long term emigrants are tallied by Skype, and introduced in the total count to bolster the percentage of Albanians. The census was called off mid work, after a joint position could not be reached. The true numbers of Albanians in Macedonia hovers around 15-16% (with numbers dwindling on daily basis), and this was easily proven with a simple ethnicity check on the population’s ID and passport applications.
As the Zoran Zaev Government faced the same issue, it was initially proposed that census workers don’t ask the residents about their ethnic background. Outcry followed after this proposal as lack of an official document declaring the number of ethnic Macedonians in the country would have compounded the erosion of Macedonian national identity initiated with the Prespa treaty with Greece. So, the Zaev Government is now accepting to add permanent emigrants, who may have even given up their Macedonian citizenship, into the census data.
The goal is quite simple: do whatever it is necessary to show Albanians as at least 25% of the population to keep them as the primary destabilizing factor in the country at all times for years to come. This way, the Albanians control 50% of the Government while being 15% of the population.