ebalkan on 26 Mar 2001 05:12:01 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Briefing 25-03-2001




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 included 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 lines I have suggested, setting aside all the ideological barriers," Solana said. (Excerpts from Reuters)

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