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   briefing 24-03-2001                                                             
     "geert lovink" <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>                                                

   Briefing 25-03-2001 "EURO-BALKAN" INSTITUTE ON MACEDONIAN CRISIS                
     Kalina Bunevska Isakovska <kalina {AT} scca.org.mk>                                  


Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 03:39:08 +1000
From: "geert lovink" <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: briefing 24-03-2001



a) Daily briefing from Macedonian press about Macedonian crisis
b) Daily briefing from international press about Macedonian crisis
c) Supplement 1: U.S. President's Statement On U.S. Joining Allies And UN In
Condemning Violence In Macedonia
d) Supplement 2: Chronology of the Macedonia Conflict
e) Supplement 3: Statement by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Severin
on Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo


The tension in Tetovo continues
An Albanian terrorist sniper nest was destroyed in the fire yesterday at
about 3:00 p.m. from the side of the Macedonian security forces located in
the neighborhood of the City Stadium. After the occasional gunshots in the
early afternoon hours, the police forces noticed two snipers on the hill
Beltepe when immediate action was taken. The conflicts ended at about 2:00
a.m. the evening before yesterday after midnight, after that only occasional
conflict occurred. In the period between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., a round
of mortar shellfire was noticed from several positions in the city. The
target of the grenades were locations of the terrorists behind the Old
Tetovo Fortress and Beltepe, i.e. the region of the villages Gorno
Balchishte, Selce and Jermo. Several grenades struck the top of the Old
Tetovo Fortress. ("Dnevnik")

Albanian terrorists in the village Grachani in the neighbourhood of Skopje
A few dozen heavily armed Albanian terrorists are stationed in the houses of
the village Grachani, that is 7 km from Skopje. The terrorists, from this
position the day before yesterday at about 5:00 p.m., opened mortar
shellfire at the Macedonian police in that region of the Macedonian-Yugoslav
border in the part towards Kosovo. The attack of the Albanian terrorists
from Grachani was supported from several positions of guerrilla formations
from the territory of Kosovo, so again the Macedonian security forces were
caught in crossfire. The inhabitants of the nearby village Kuchkovo, only 2
km from Grachani complain that there are not enough policemen on the
terrain. ("Dnevnik")

The Macedonian Government appeals to the civilians from the region where the
terrorists' positions are
"We appeal all civilians and citizens not to leave their homes and become
hostages of the terrorists that act against the Macedonian security forces
from their villages", stated the spokesman of the Macedonian Government,
Antonio Miloshoski. He said that Macedonia is prepared to find accommodation
for all, as well as food and to guarantee them safety."This is the first
case in world history that a sovereign state is under aggression from a
territory under international protection", said Miloshoski. ("Vest")

Vahid Saiti from the PDP (Party for Democratic Prosperity) caught with two
hand grenades in his car
The presidency member of the PDP, Vahid Saiti, was arrested by the police
two days ago, not as a suspect for the murder of the two policemen in the
shopping center "Chairchanka", but for illegal possession of two hand
grenades, as we are informed by sources from the Ministry of Internal
Affairs. As they say in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, two days ago in
the afternoon, on the road near the Kumanovo village, Lipkovo, Vahid Saiti
was stopped and his car searched by the police. The police found two hand
grenades in his car. Saiti was immediately arrested, and the Kumanovo police
filed two complaints for illegal possession of firearms and explosive
devices. The president of the PDP, Ymer Ymeri and the parliament member
Naser Ziberi, in the name of the party, two days ago, strongly protested
against Saiti's arrest to the Macedonian authorities. The PDP spokesman,
Zahir Bekteshi, stated yesterday that the party still doesn't have any
official information from the ministry of Internal Affairs on Saiti's
arrest. He considers this to be "a form of pressure to the PDP", and added
that someone has something against the activity of this party. PDP requested
the arrested Saiti to be immediately released. ("Dnevnik")

A peaceful protest in Pustec - Mala Prespa, Republic of Albania
In Pustec, Mala Prespa, two days ago, a peaceful protest was held, on which
more that a thousand Macedonians expressed their support to the Macedonian
Government concerning the latest events in the country. "We have gathered
with great responsibility because of the concern that we feel about the
difficult situation in our native country and to raise our voice against the
Albanian terrorism in Macedonia", said, among other things, the president of
the association "Prespa", Edmond Temelko, in his speech before the gathered.
According to Temelko, for the practice of their rights in Albania, the
Macedonians have chosen dialogue and peaceful solving through the state
institutions in accordance with the laws and the Constitution of the
Albanian State. "The Albanians in Macedonia have schools, even an university
in Albanian, as well as an Albanian party in the Government Coalition. It is
clear to us that there are no theoretical chances to compare the rights that
we have, with their rights, but our way to achieve our rights is dialogue
and tolerance", stated Temelko. ("Dnevnik")

Appeal of the Islamic Community in Macedonia
The Islamic Community in Macedonia makes efforts with all available means to
keep the peace and stability. Justice and stability are reached with
dialogue and mutual understanding, not with arms. This was stressed by reis
ul ulema Arif effendi Emini after his meeting with Vatican's ambassador for
Slovenia and Macedonia, Edmond Farhat. On the meeting, the guest showed
special interest in the view of the Islamic Community on the situation in
Macedonia and its opinion on the overcoming of this crisis. ("Dnevnik)

Permanent Council decides to strengthen OSCE mission to Macedonia
Because of the escalation of violence in Macedonia, OSCE decided to
temporarily strengthen the monitoring mission of OSCE in Macedonia. In the
passed document it is stated: "In this way the number of OSCE mission
members in Skopje will be doubled from 8 to 16. The additional members will
work on the border region with the intention to improve the mission's
position for monitoring and reporting on the events in that area. They will
also have other duties in accordance with the missions mandate".
("Makedonija Denes")


Holbrooke: "If necessary-with force"
A new Balkan war is threatening from Tetovo, "and the detonation cord is an
old dream called 'Great Albania'. The attempt to realize it can provoke
regional explosion", says the representative of USA's former president for
the Balkans and one of the creators of the Dayton Agreement, Richard
Holbrooke, in the interview with the publisher and head editor of the renown
German weekly Die Zeit". Holbrooke recommends the Albanian leaders to revise
the situation "of what we have done for them in Kosovo and what they are now
doing to the Macedonians". "The former leaders of the Liberation Army of
Kosovo", "must be taken responsible for the doings of their relations in
Tetovo". German NATO troops around Tetovo must be strengthened and "if
necessary use force". Asked if the West is really prepared to risk human
lives, because they can't bomb the Albanian extremists from above, but must
use military troops, Holbrooke replied "Ones own casualties are not law".
(Excerpts from SENSE)

Macedonia today reminds us of developments in Chechnya
"What is happening in Macedonia today reminds us of developments in
Chechnya... We're witnessing absolutely the same thing in Macedonia," said
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a new conference after talks with
European Union Leaders. (Excerpts from Reuters) Putin suggested that unless
ethnic Albanian insurgents in Slav-dominated Macedonia are dealt with "in a
robust manner" - much as Russia did with Chechen rebels - unrest in that
country "will create the conditions for shaking Europe in its very heart. I
am not confident that other countries in the region are secure" (Excerpts
from Associated Press)

Separatist aim to confront the ethnic groups
The Chief of German Diplomacy Joseph Fisher stated on the press conference
that now "it is evident that the strategy of the Albanian extremists and the
leaders of the Liberation Army of Kosovo is not to occupy or disintegrate
part of the Macedonian territory with military action, because they neither
have the strength nor the knowledge". "Their aim is to confront the largest
ethnic groups in Macedonia and to in a long run realize their separatist
ideas about the namely impossible coexistence", stated Fisher. (Excerpts
from SENSE)

Nothing can be solved with war in Macedonia
"The presence of hope and danger is in the same proportion for Macedonia and
Kosovo", stated Bernard Kouchner on a meeting in Lyon as Health Minister in
the French Government. "The current conflict, which I hope will be resolved
in a few days, witnesses the Albanian population's mistrust in Macedonia, in
Serbia and in Kosovo in the future. There are 30% Albanians, and only 3% are
in administration, police, judicial authorities, educational institutions."
In his opinion, changes in that direction is a political endeavour that
Macedonia must make. "Macedonia should receive unreserved support, as well
as the Albanian parties who are against violence and whoa are reasonable
enough to take actions for a place in the Government and peaceful,
democratic solving of all open issues. The extremists should in no respect
triumph". (Excerpts from SENSE)

Macedonia Annans biggest concern
NATO secretary-general George Robertson said Macedonia had succeeded in
isolating the armed ethnic Albanian rebels. "This country is still on a
knife-edge but in the last three days the government has regained
confidence, regained ground and regained the initiative. They are surrounded
both in the political and in the military sense," he added. "I do not think
there is going to be another Balkan war, nor need there be." (Excerpts from
CNN) UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that the crisis in Macedonia
could escalate to other countries in a degree, which no one wants unless "we
are able to control the situation." Annan told a press conference in New
York that currently Macedonia is his biggest concern. (Excerpts from Tanjug)
The Albanian foreign minister Pascal Milo has called on both sides in
Macedonia to lay down their weapons and start negotiations. (Excerpts from

NATO questions Macedonia's ability
Macedonian President Trajkovski said his armed forces were able to cope with
the insurrection without outside help, provided NATO kept to its pledge to
secure Macedonia's mountainous northern border with U.N.-administered
Kosovo. (Excerpts from Reuters)Senior British officials in London expressed
concern that the army was not capable to contain and dislodge the NLA
guerrillas. The officials said there was a danger the government will
overreact to the activities of the NLA, which had an absolute maximum of 800
men and, while hard to dislodge, was not posing a particularly aggressive
threat. "The Macedonian army is not the most sophisticated army and is not
capable of carrying out a sophisticated counter-insurgency campaign. We are
concerned there might be a backlash." (Excerpts from LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Albanians Urged to stop
Friday's statement represents a victory for Western efforts to pressure the
rebels by showing that Kosovo's leadership did not support their struggle.
It was signed not only by Ibrahim Rugova, known for his peaceful struggle
against Serb repression in Kosovo, but also by Hashim Thaci and Ramush
Haradinaj. Thaci was the head of the KLA that fought Serbian forces, and
Haradinaj was a senior commander of the now formally outlawed guerrilla
army. (Excerpts from Associated Press) Ali Ahmeti, the only identified
leader of the National Liberation Army which has been operating in
Macedonia, was a local commander under Haradinaj in western Kosovo and a key
figure in organizing the KLA' s gun-running and logistics. (Excerpts from
The Guardian)

Macedonian president at EU
Trajkovski insists the guerrillas are former fighters from Kosovo, seeking
to foment tensions in ethnically fragile Macedonia. His government ignored a
unilateral guerrilla cease-fire, called on Wednesday. But a Skopje daily
said Macedonia had delayed a threatened army offensive under pressure from
EU security chief Javier Solana, who visited the capital on Thursday.
Western diplomatic sources said the EU was pressing for restraint in hopes
of calming the situation. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said on
Friday: "We must do everything to avoid letting this turn into a real war.
We cannot accept that the means some groups of Albanian terrorists use can
put a question mark over the borders, because that will never stop," he told
French RTL radio. (Excerpts from Reuters)

More than 22,000 Macedonians Have Left Home
Over 22,000 Macedonians have fled their homes since security forces and
ethnic Albanian rebels began fighting in the northern flashpoint town of
Tetovo a week ago, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. The figures
for internally displaced within Macedonia and for those who have gone abroad
have doubled since Tuesday. (Excerpts from Reuters)

Nato pulls out troops to avoid Balkan fighting
The German contingent had been concerned that the Macedonian government
wanted to suck them into the fighting. Macedonian tanks firing into the
rebel positions in hills around Tetovo were positioned close to the Kfor
base, and Capt. Hans Gunther Bender accused the Macedonian government of
deliberately trying to provoke Nato casualties. A Nato officer near the
fighting said: "The Macedonian army knows that it would take a great number
of casualties if it tried to capture the high ground where the NLA is
positioned. At the moment the rebels possess much of the territory between
the villages on this side of the mountains to the Kosovo border." (Excerpts
from Daily Telegraph)

Macedonia leader wins total EU support at summit
European Union leaders, anxious to avert a wider Balkan conflict, gave
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski their unqualified support on Friday in
his efforts to crush ethnic Albanian guerrillas. Swedish Prime Minister
Goran Persson, chairing a European Union summit, said EU leaders and
Trajkovski had agreed on the need for a broad political dialogue with
elected representatives from the ethnic Albanian community. "We will stand
by Macedonia at this critical moment in its history. It must be made clear
that extremism has no place in 21st century Europe," Persson said the EU
would further signal its support for a democratic and multi-ethnic Macedonia
by signing a stabilisation and association pact with Skopje next month -the
first formal step on the road to eventual membership of the Union.
Trajkovski ruled out negotiating with the rebels, whom he repeatedly
described as "criminals" and "terrorists," but conceded his country still
had some way to go to integrating its Albanian citizens, who make up about a
third of the population. "We are not allowed to negotiate with terrorists
because terrorism breeds terrorism," he said. (Excerpts from Reuters)

c) Supplement 1: U.S. President's Statement On U.S. Joining Allies And UN In
Condemning Violence In Macedonia

The United States joins its allies and the United Nations in strongly
condemning the violence perpetrated by a small group of extremists
determined to destabilise the democratic, multi-ethnic government of
Macedonia. The United States and its allies have a long-standing commitment
to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Macedonia.
The insurgents in Macedonia claim to be advancing the cause of the Albanian
minority. They are not. In fact, their violent methods are hurting the
long-term interests of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, Kosovo and throughout
the region. We support instead those political leaders in Macedonia and the
region who have rejected violence and terror in favour of democracy and
dialogue as a way to achieve political change.
I strongly support the efforts of President Trajkovski and the Macedonian
government to uphold democracy and the rule of law. We encourage the
government to act with restraint and to work closely with elected
representatives of the Albanian community to address legitimate concerns,
while taking the necessary steps to prevent further violence.
The United States is working with its allies and friends in the region to
assist the Macedonian government in countering the violence perpetrated by
the extremists. We support NATO's effort to assess Macedonia's immediate
security needs. We are already providing surveillance information to the
Macedonian government, and our Defence Department is dispatching Predator
unmanned aerial vehicles to assist in this effort. KFOR patrols have been
increased along Kosovo's border with Macedonia in order to improve border
security and curtail the insurgents? Activities.
Macedonia is a close friend, a partner country of NATO, and a successful
example of a democratic, multi-ethnic state in the Balkans. As the United
States knows only too well, perfecting such a state -- and addressing the
legitimate concerns of minorities -- is a continuous process. It can only be
done through dialogue and democracy -- and never through violence. That is
why we call on all those who seek political change in Macedonia to work
through the democratic political process.

d) Supplement 2: Chronology of the Macedonia Conflict

1991 - Macedonia declares independence from Yugoslavia and secedes, the only
republic to do so peacefully. Members of the ethnic Albanian minority join
the first government. Their first demands for equal rights are voiced - and
generally ignored.
1993 - A new government is formed, again with ethnic Albanian participation.
Ethnic Albanians are appointed to the ministries of labor and welfare. But
demands for equal rights are again ignored. Radicals start pushing for more:
cultural and political autonomy.
1994 - Police announce the discovery of an "attempt ... to form an Albanian
paramilitary," complete with bunkers, weapons depots, maps and 0other
intelligence material. Twelve people are arrested in Tetovo and nine are
sentenced to prison for conspiracy and related charges.
1995 - Ethnic Albanians proclaim the formation of an Albanian-language
university in Tetovo. The government declares it illegal, and clashes
follow. Three Albanians are killed and 10 policemen wounded in a village
close to Tetovo. President Kiro Gligorov survives an assassination attempt.
One theory is that Albanian criminal elements were involved.
1997 - Ethnic Albanians take down the Macedonian flag and raise the Albanian
flag above public buildings in Tetovo and Gostivar. Police are sent in.
Clashes ensue in Gostivar, and the mayors of the two cities are temporarily
1998 - A series of bomb attacks rocks Macedonian police stations and court
buildings and the National Liberation Army makes its presence known for the
first time by claiming responsibility. Six Albanians are arrested and
sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison for terrorism. The Supreme
Court later orders them retried.
1999 - The Kosovo crisis sends 360,000 ethnic Albanians fleeing the Serbian
province and into neighbouring Macedonia. Ethnic tensions rise, with the
Slavic majority fearing a huge increase in the ethnic Albanian population if
the refugees stay. Most end up going to third countries or returning home.
2000 - Isolated attacks on police continue. Fraud and violence mark local
elections in western, ethnic Albanian parts of the country, leading to lack
of final results in some areas, despite multiple reruns.
2001 - Rebels attack police in the border village of Tanusevci on Feb. 18,
triggering the conflict that is now in its fifth week.
("The Associated Press")

c) Supplement 3: Statement by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Severin
on Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo

After a four-day visit to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to
Kosovo Mr. Adrian Severin, President of the Organisation for Security and
Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, made the
following statement:
1. The international community and its institutions are present in some
countries of Southeastern Europe in order to contribute to the construction
of modern state and administrative institutions. This means building up
civic institutions for multi-ethnic societies, to promote democracy,
prosperity, human rights and the rule of law. This international aid and
solidarity must not be offered to those who may use it to promote policies
of hatred and confrontation, or who use
violence to promote their goals. As long as the political and democratic
process is in place and the international community
is present there are no excuses for violence.
2. The legal authorities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
Presevo and Kosovo must act to restore peace and security. At the same time
they must refrain from such action which might aggravate relations between
different sections of society. I urge all sectors of the Macedonian society
to co-operate peacefully and to pursue constructive dialogue to build
inter-ethnic confidence.
3. The future regional elections in Kosovo will be an important
event in the construction of stability in Kosovo and in the
region. The elections must take place in a clear legal framework
and be a multi-ethnic event. They are needed for the
construction of a multi-ethnic civic society. I appeal to all
communities in Kosovo, to the Albanians and Serbs in particular,
to participate constructively in the electoral process.

Press and Public Information Section OSCE Secretariat Kaertner


Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 10:50:41 +0200
From: Kalina Bunevska Isakovska <kalina {AT} scca.org.mk>



- - Daily briefing from Macedonian press about Macedonian crisis
- - Daily briefing from international press about Macedonian crisis


- - Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski: Decisive blow against terrorism -
Today's action is a long expected operation for driving the terrorists out of our mountains. According to information I have, the offensive is going as planned and the key strongholds have been already conquered. I must point out that neither the army nor the police have reported any casualties so far, with an exemption of two or three injured, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski said Sunday in Tetovo.
Now, we would have to decide on an operation in the villages, despite the fact that the population had run away from some of them, Georgievski said, adding that hard banditry was committed there in the last two days. He said the army and police were expected to resolve those problems. 
When this action is completed, we will begin on the long road to finding a political solution," Georgievski said. 
An additional operation would follow at the junction of the villages Malino-Brest-Gosince, to drive away the terrorists, located there. 
Referring to the term "banditry", the Prime Minister said, "We are not dealing with a classic example of criminal banditry, but with a well-organized banditry, i.e. logistic support by some paramilitary structures, which, until today, do not wish to declare themselves as legal power. However, they are not accepted by the international community, or by the political parties in Kosovo and Macedonia. I have used the word banditry because the Albanian population in the villages Selce, Lavce and Sipkovica are now exposed to mistreatment, particularly those who are willing to leave their homes and to run away from the villages." 
Asked whether some exemptions regarding the demands of the Albanian political parties, even extremists, could be expected, Georgievski said that the talks with the Albanian parties and their leaders had never stopped. 
"We shall continue to talk. I have said recently that before these unpleasant developments, the Government has adopted a draft law on local self-government. This law will give more power to the municipalities, mostly populated with ethnic Albanians," Georgievski said, adding that the construction of the SEE University in Tetovo was also underway, as well as the opening of the new TV third channel, aimed to broadcast multi ethnic program. "We shall talk on many other issues, but no one wishes to talk in such conditions, " he added. (MIA) 

- - Security forces take actions out of populated areas only on military goals -
Macedonian security forces at 07:00 Sunday morning started actions for defense of the territorial sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Macedonia, prior to Saturday's preparations. 
Operation comprises of two phases, Colonel Blagoja Markovski said. "First phase is consisted of artillery attack and helicopter landing, which lasted an one hour and a half and ended at 08:30. Artillery actions have been taken outside the populated settlements, on the Kale and in the villages of Lavce, Gjermo and Selce. Second phase is fortification of determined positions which are seized by the terrorist and is ongoing now," Markovski said. (MIA) 

- - Counselor for national security of the President of the Republic of Macedonia - Nikola Dimitrov: 
"Military actions against the terrorists is in the interest of defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Macedonia, the values which are supported by the international community and UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which reads that Macedonia has legitimate right to defend the sovereignty in accordance with a rule of law," counselor for national security of the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov said. He explained that action is taken against the terrorism "regardless of ethnic affiliation," and that the Macedonian security forces "will do everything to protect the civilians regardless of their ethnic affiliation." The success of the action will free the political dialogue in the country, although it has never stopped, because it can not go on "in conditions when Macedonia has not full sovereignty of its territory." (MIA) 

- - Antonio Milososki, Governmental Spokesman:
Reminded on the ultimatum issued by the Macedonian security forces on March 21 at noon until March 22 at noon, for lying of terrorist's arms. 
"The terrorists remained deaf on this ultimatum, as they remain deaf on the appeal of the Albanian leaders from Kosovo and the official Tirana to lay their arms and return home, and continued to attack the territorial sovereignty and integrity of the country," Milososki said at Sunday's press conference, adding that since than shelling of civil objects in Tetovo and attacks form the Kosovo side on watchtower in Caska happened. He stressed that the action is taken for protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country and multi-ethnic relations in the country. (MIA) 

- - Spokesman of the Defense Ministry, Gjorgji Trendafilov:  
"This is a more serious phase for destroying of the Albanian extremists or their expelling from the Macedonian territory." "The action of the security forces is directed totally to military and legitimate goals, as commanding places, sniper nests, machine gun nests and possible warehouses where ammunition of the terrorists is kept," he said. Trendafilov said that Army of the Republic of Macedonia is in continual touch with KFOR troops in Kosovo exchanging relevant information on the security situation. (MIA) 

- - Spokesman of the Interior Ministry Stevo Pendarovski - said that five civilians were injured from Saturday's shelling on civilian objects. He said that Sunday also civilian objects near the river Pena and the building of the Red Cross of Macedonia in Tetovo have been shelled, whereat only one person is injured. Answering on journalist question Pendarovski said that there are no terrorists in the village of Gracani and due to the mined terrain the police does not searched every house in the villages of Malino and Brest. (MIA) 


- - President Bush offered his support to efforts to disarm the rebels. -
"I am hoping, of course, that the government is stable and we're able seal off the border to prevent people and arms from getting to the rebels," President Bush told reporters Sunday. In Skopje, Macedonian national security adviser Nikola Dimitrov pledged that government troops would "do everything to protect the civilians." The army and police were only using the "proportional amount of force" needed to flush out the rebels, he said. "This is a fight against the terrorists, not against any single ethnic community," Dimitrov said. "We undertook this action because the long-term existence of terrorism here endangers the pillars of Macedonia's multi-ethnicism." (Excerpts from USA Today) 

- - Macedonian Forces Push Back Rebels -
The terrorists are misusing the civilian population and using them as human shields," a Macedonian government spokesman said. "Our forces are extra careful and have not used unnecessary force." Refugees from villages in the hills began to trickle into Tetovo as night fell, bringing what few belongings they could carry. Others may have moved across the mountains into the neighboring U.N.-governed Yugoslav province of Kosovo. (Excerpts from LA Times)

- - Macedonian troops push rebels back - 
More than 200 troops, sheltering behind tanks and armored personnel carriers, advanced about a kilometer up the thickly forested hillsides. After several hours fighting, they took the village of Gajre, which faces the main ethnic Albanian rebel base across the valley at Selce. National Liberation Army rebels had withdrawn into the woods above the village. At least one policeman, a soldier and four civilians were wounded. The director of the Tetovo hospital said the policeman and the four ethnic Albanian civilians had suffered bullet wounds. The government says it expects the offensive to be over in two days. Correspondents say that given the rebels' knowledge of the terrain and their mobility, that may be optimistic. The guerrillas have threatened to escalate the conflict if the Macedonian authorities reject their offer of a truce and talks. (Excerpts from BBC) 

- - USA will improve Macedonias military capabilities -
In a 20-minute phone call to Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States and its NATO allies were doing everything they could on the border and that "we would be ready to assist in improving their military capabilities where necessary and supporting their efforts to bolster a democratic, multiethnic state," according to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. The call - and a supportive statement on Friday by President Bush - reflect the White House's mounting concerns that Macedonia may become a war zone like other former Yugoslav republics. "The concern is that ... the extremists are attempting to control territory and carry their violence to Macedonia, and we need to help the Macedonian government cope," Boucher said. (Excerpts from Associated Press) 

- - "He deplored and condemned the actions of the extremists and applauded and supported the actions to uphold the coalition in Macedonia that includes members of all ethnic groups," a US State Department spokesman told Reuters. Powell had called the Albanian rebels in western Macedonia "terrorists" and "gangsters" on Friday. (Excerpts from Reuters) 

- - Germany sends paratroopers, Pentagon orders Predators, Italy to send battalion -
Germany's Defense Ministry said Saturday that it plans to send about 100 paratroopers to Tetovo to shield its soldiers based there to perform supply duties for the NATO-led peacekeeping force in neighboring Kosovo. Britain, meanwhile, said it would send troops to join in beefed-up controls along the border with Kosovo to help prevent arms from being smuggled to the rebels in Macedonia. (Excerpts from USA Today )"The timeframe of when we will send them is still open. It depends on how the situation develops there," ministry spokesman Detlef Puhl said on Saturday. He did not say how many troops would be sent to act as a KFOR reserve unit. General Inspector Harald Kujat, Germany's highest ranking uniformed officer, warned of a civil war in Macedonia but said that German soldiers could not get involved in such a conflict. The United States and Britain have both said they have no plans to send more soldiers. Citing a delivery document from the Defense Ministry, the vehicles include!
d 115 "Hermelin" armored vehicles, which are used by the German police and border guards. (Excerpts from Reuters) 

- - The Pentagon has recently ordered a unit of Air Force "Predator" unmanned drones to the Balkans to increase the NATO allies' ability to monitor the rebel activity along the Kosovo-Macedonia border. The Associated Press Italy will transfer a battalion to the Macedonian border by March 31 from its present posting in Pec in western Yugoslavia, Italy's joint chief of staff said on Saturday. "A parachute battalion will reinforce the East International Brigade guided by the United States," it said in a statement. (Excerpts from  Reuters)

- - EU's Solana says Macedonia conflict under control - 
European Union foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana said on Sunday that he thought the conflict in Macedonia was under control for the time being. "I get the impression that we've passed the high point of tensions," Solana said in an interview with the German Die Welt daily, released ahead of publication on Monday. In a separate interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Solana said, "We will strengthen our engagement, while the United States will generally reduce its presence in the area. We're not talking about Taiwan or Latin America here. We are called on to take responsibility," he said. Comparisons with previous Balkan conflicts were exaggerated. 'We're talking about 300 to 400 guerrillas here. That can't be compared to the Balkans in the 1990s," Solana said. He said the party representing the Albanians should stick with the government coalition. "And the other two parties in the opposition should form a national security council along the line!
s I have suggested, setting aside all the ideological barriers," Solana said. (Excerpts from Reuters) 


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