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[Nettime-bold] Briefing 26-03-2001




Daily briefing from Macedonian press about Macedonian crisis
Daily briefing from international press about Macedonian crisis
Supplement 1: from "Welt am Sontags": The net of the Albanian mafia
Supplement 2: Wolfgang Petritsch: Balkan Progress is real
Supplement 3: Interview with one of the NLA commanders, nicknamed ‘Sokoli’


-Action for destroying the terrorists hideouts
The Macedonian security forces at 7:00 a.m. undertook a forceful action to totally destroy the terrorists’ hideouts in the Tetovo region that the Albanian extremists have been occupying for 12 days. The latest information is that all strategic points were taken during yesterday, and the army and police entered the villages Selce, Lavce, Gajre and Vejce. The last information received was that 4 civilians, two soldiers and a policeman have been injured in the fighting. The Macedonian army insists that the circle around the terrorists is closing. (“Dnevnik”)

-The command for offensive was signed by the Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski
The Macedonian security forces prevented a direct terrorist attack on Tetovo to happen, the Macedonian army and the police inform us. The attack was planned for early dawn, this was the concrete reason to activate the army plan for yesterday’s action that started the previous evening. The command for the attack of our forces against the armed terrorist groups on Shara was given by the Macedonian president and Supreme Commandeer, Boris Trajkovski in accordance with the Constitution regulations, accepted the plan of the Macedonian Army General Headquarters. The command for the start of the search and sweep action against the terrorists with military action and the police was also signed by the Chief of Macedonian Army Headquarters, Jovan Andrevski. The legitimacy of the action is supported by the Resolution 1345 of the UN Security Council by which each state has the right to defend its sovereignty and integrity. (“Utrinski Vesnik”)

-Menduh Thaci's statement after meeting with president Trajkovski
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski had a two- hour meeting late Sunday with the vice-president of the Democratic Party of Albanians. "We have discussed on the crisis in Macedonia and on finding ways to surpass it, Thaci said, adding that the dialogue was the only way out of this critical situation. Asked about his optimism regarding the crisis outcome, Thaci said, "Our policy in the last few days shows that we are optimists, presenting great political courage." (“MIA”)

-Menduh Thaci, vice president of the DPA: I was wrong about the cellular phones, they were hand grenades
The two Tetovo citizens, father and son, that on Thursday in the neighbourhood of Drenoec were shot by the police before the cameras of foreign and domestic TV crews, had hand grenades in their hands after all, said Menduh Thaci, the DPA vice president concerning the dramatic incident that was shown around the world through TV recordings and photos. “My first statement the evening after the incident, before the start of the meeting of the political parties with the president Trajkovski, was given under impression from the incident and as a doubt. As a citizen and politician I have the right to distrust the given information. The DPA is a government coalition party and has the right to be informed and participate in the investigations conduced about this incident. After we considered all the facts, the TV recordings of the foreign TV crews, the photos and documents on the incident, we were convinced that it really was about hand grenades, says Thaci.” (“Vecer”)

-Humanitarian convoy for the inhabitants of Shipkovica
The Ministry of internal Affairs in collaboration with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations is preparing a convoy for about 2.000 people that want to leave the Municipality of Shipkovica. The convoy will be accompanied by police forces, and the Mayor of this municipality will help the transport. The Government Spokesman, Antonio Miloshoski, said that most of the inhabitants of the Municipality Shipkovica have said that they want to leave. The citizens contacted the Red Cross organizations in Skopje and Tetovo. Two days ago, the Government appealed to the citizens in the critical areas in Tetovo to urgently leave the region to avoid becoming hostages of the Albanian terrorists. (“Dnevnik”)

-Ernad Fejzulahu, the DPA (Democratic Party of Albanians) spokesman:
“The information that DPA is leaving the Government is a speculation. It is no time for such actions. The party remains on its decision to accomplish the set goals for protection of the population and for the calming of the tension”, stated the spokesman of the DPA, Ernad Fejzulahu, rejecting the information that the coalition partner is leaving the Government. Concerning the started offensive of the Macedonian Security forces in Tetovo, Fejzulahu stressed that it was expected to happen and that “it was no surprise”. “The DPA will continue with the endeavours for a peaceful end of the situation”, he added. (“Nova Makedonija”)

-PDP press conference
The President, Boris Trajkovski as Supreme Commander should announce the stop of the military actions. The Albanian rebel groups should lay down arms and return to their homes, said Ymer Ymeri, leader of the PDP, on yesterday’s press conference in Tetovo. He appealed for stop of the military actions and finding a solution with dialogue and peaceful means. The PDP representative group announced that it freezes its activity in the Parliament because of the Macedonian Army offensive. (“Dnevnik”)

-Interview with Boris Trajkovski for CNN
“We have to make a strategy for isolation of the terrorists with political and military means and with the support of our friends from the international community”, stressed the President Boris Trajkovski in the interview for the American TV network CNN. Regarding the issue whether the Albanians in Macedonia will become involved in the conflict if the situation does not resolve soon, Trajkovski stressed that “ the Albanian political parties don’t support this conflict”. “We continue with the dialogue with the Albanian political leaders and we believe that we will succeed”, stated the Macedonian President, adding that the Albanian political leaders will keep their government power. “We got what we asked for. We established military and political communication with K-for. We hope that our border will be protected from all illegal entering from Kosovo and we will localize these conflicts with the help of the army”, said Trajkovski. (“Nova Makedonija”)


-Opposition party quits parliament The Party for Democratic Prosperity, Macedonia's main ethnic Albanian opposition party announced yesterday that it was pulling out of the parliament in protest at the "increasingly aggressive" attitude of the army. The announcement came as a ground offensive began against ethnic Albanian rebel positions in the hills above Tetovo. The party accused the army of escalating the conflict, causing civilian casualties and destroying villages. It has 10 seats in the 120-seat chamber. Imer Imeri, the PDP leader, also called on the rebels to lay down their arms and for the government to halt its offensive. The party asked the other 25 deputies representing the ethnic Albanian community to follow its example. (Excerpts from Daily Telegraph)

-Europe offers support but calls for restraint EU leaders gave reluctant support to the Macedonian offensive yesterday, but urged the Skopje government to show restraint. In a flurry of telephone calls to the capital, European leaders have accepted private assurances that the attack is a limited operation to regain the high ground immediately behind the city of Tetovo and will not be directed at Albanian civilians. Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, was among those who made urgent calls to President Boris Trajkovski after the offensive had started. "He reaffirmed our support for Macedonia's independence and territorial integrity and urged the president to maintain a policy of restraint in the face of provocation by terrorists," said a Foreign Office spokesman. European leaders are urging the Macedonian government to distinguish between the acts of Albanian extremists and the legitimate political aspirations of constitutional Albanian parties. (Excerpts from Daily Telegraph)

-Isolated Albanian guerrillas suffer reverse on two fronts  As Macedonia drove back ethnic Albanian guerrillas near Kosovo's southern border, Yugoslav troops moved into a previously de- militarised zone on the UN-run province's north- eastern fringe which had become a safe haven for a second rebel group. Belgrade and Skopje claim the rebels are infiltrating from Kosovo to further their dream of a "Greater Albania". The international community has backed those claims, fearing increased rebel activity could spark another Balkan war." If Skopje does not halt (its offensive), it will spark a war with terrible consequences for the whole region," said Skender Hyseni, the spokesman for the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo. (Excerpts from AFP)

-The Balkans: A One-Time Ally Becomes the Problem  USA and NATO are reaping what they sowed in the Balkans. Their war against Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia, justified by humanitarian intervention, also justified their alliance with Albanian extremists who are now trying to do in Macedonia what they did to Serbian authority in Kosovo. In intelligence terms, this is called "blowback". Washington and its Western allies, using secret agencies, funded, trained, armed and set the Kosovo Liberation Army against Mr. Milosevic in Kosovo during the war. Mr. Milosevic is gone. The K.L.A. remains what it always was, but now it runs much of Kosovo. The Albanians seem to be interpreting Washington's desire to leave the Balkans to others as a message that they can get away with fomenting civil war. An argument can be made that Europeans should police it alone. But America is the only country with real leverage over moderate and militant Albanians. Now, in a matter of weeks, extremist Albanians have succeeded where Mr. Milosevic could not, bringing bloodshed to the one country of the former Yugoslavia that had avoided it. Washington and NATO pretended that the K.L.A. had disbanded and disarmed, closing their eyes to organized efforts to drive out non-Albanians from Kosovo, to murder moderate Albanian politicians, to intimidate witnesses and judges and to rebuild and dominate illegal activities like drug-running, arms smuggling and people trafficking. In a year, the group, protected by the zone, grew from some 40 fighters to as many as 1,500. With Mr. Milosevic toppled, peacekeepers' laxity along Serbia's border became an embarrassment. (Excerpts from The New York Times)

-Drugs and guns  Just down the road, a black-bereted guerrilla opened the back door of a van and passed out a dozen weapons—including belted heavy-calibre machine guns—to a cluster of eager recruits. Still, the wartime fervour has not infected everyone. I met Nejazi Kadrija, a fluent English and German speaker who had returned to Sipkovica last week from a job in London to rescue his young son. “These rebel fighters in the hills are jobless, angry,” he said. “The European countries are full, there is no work for them, so the only solution they found was guns.” (Excerpts from Newsweek)

-Robertson in bid to end Macedonian conflict
Lord Robertson is visiting Skopje, along with the EU's defence and foreign policy chief Javier Solana. They will seek to ease tensions between the Macedonian government and the ethnic Albanian minority.
"Javier Solana and I are going to Skopje essentially to give some advice, some reassurance, in many ways commendation to the government in Skopje about what has been going on in the recent past," said Lord Robertson. Lord Robertson has told the BBC he also wants the Macedonian government "to get involved in a political discussion with especially the Albanian parties in the parliament, to make sure that now that the rebels have been pushed back, they now move onto the political offensive. "But former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown, who has a long-standing interest in the Balkans conflicts, says he believes Lord Robertson has a huge task ahead of him. The Macedonian government has very good reason to feel let down by Nato, and it is very significant and very worrying indeed that they have now turned to Greece, and Bulgaria, and the Ukranians have provided arms, said Ashdown (Excerpts from Ananova)

-Act now to save Macedonia  Once again, there is the threat of war in the Balkans. This time, Macedonia is at risk. Once again, Albanian guerrillas are to blame. Their aim is to redraw the borders of the region. There is no need. They can be stopped; to avoid a wider war, the West should do just that. Macedonia has, despite its mix of ethnic groups, escaped the wars that ravaged the former Yugoslavia during the past decade. (Excerpts from The Japan Times)   -Two versions of the truth
There is a war being fought in Macedonia, not just between two armies but also between two versions of the facts. On one account, the democratic government of this troubled part of former Yugoslavia faces an insurgency from neighbouring Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians, emboldened by the "success" of their guerrilla war against the Serbian tyrant Slobodan Milosevic, are fighting for a "greater Albania", which would extend through Kosovo and into the Albanian-dominated western part of Macedonia. On this version, the fighters in the hills around Tetovo are terrorists and must be crushed. The other story of the same events relates how Macedonia is a state in which the Slavic majority controls the government, army and police, which in turn tolerate or even take part in intimidation and oppression of the ethnic Albanian minority. On this version, the terrorists in the hills are freedom fighters desperately defending the human rights of their people and deserve the support of the international community.
Both versions contain truths, but neither is the whole truth, and the problem is that the European Union, at its summit in Stockholm, and the United States seem to have leant too far towards one version of reality. (Excerpts from Independent)

-Trajkovski held talks with Xhaferi
Trajkovski held talks this evening with Arben Xhaferi, leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians. Xhaferi had threatened to withdraw from the government if excessive force were used. The ethnic Albanian political party in opposition has withdrawn from parliament because of the offensive. "It's very important to have Xhaferi on board," said Dimitrov. Early indications are that he will stay, according to Western and Macedonian officials. "The meeting was very good," Trajkovski said; Xhaferi could not be reached. But ethnic Albanian analysts said Xhaferi will be discredited unless the government couples its military offensive with bold reforms, including a change to the constitution, whose language Albanians view as exclusionary, and a commitment to bilingualism. The government has already signalled its intent to change the constitution so that it would refer only to citizens of Macedonia, not any individual ethnic group. But the language issue is much more divisive, not least because the government fears that addressing it would be seen as bowing to violent extremism. Moreover, many in its Slav constituency would find such a far-reaching change intolerable. (Excerpts from Washington Post)

-Shadow of death squads’ returns to haunt Balkans
Peter Beaumont reports from Tetovo on the rapid growth of hatred in two communities receptive to new slogans of violence. The graffiti are in a crude Cyrillic scrawl, spray-painted on the walls of Skopje. It tells of an organisation, previously unheard of in the Macedonian capital. It announces the People's Front of Macedonia. The graffiti are interpreted for us not by an Albanian but by a senior Macedonian official. His voice sinks to a whisper as he tells the story with disgust. 'It is at a very early stage,' he said, 'but one of the Interior Ministers recently hosted a lunch for a small group of Macedonian criminals. (Excerpts from The Observer)


-Welt am Sontag, 25.03.2001
The net of the Albanian Mafia
The Albanian extremists want to provoke new war. Their donors are primarily in Germany and Switzerland.
Who are the real leaders of the extremists of the new UCK? There is an impression that a group of former and present emigrants, currently living in Germany and Switzerland, is financially backing all of the activities of the terrorists in Macedonia and Southern Serbia. They are well connected with some of the most powerful Albanian clans in Kosovo and Macedonia. The same people were very active during the Kosovo crisis (1999).
One of those people is Ali Ahmeti (42), from the village of Zajas, near Kicevo in Macedonia. As a student, Ahmeti organised mass demonstrations in Prishtina in 1981, which was a reason for his arrest. He stayed in Yugoslav prison for several years. After leaving the prison Ahmeti goes to Switzerland, where he becomes one of the founders of UCK.
Another activist of the so-called "Swiss network", is Fazli Veliu (60). Veliu was a writer and a journalist, former editor of a newspaper in Kosovo. Veliu was sentenced to 14 years in prison, for his anti-regime writing. Like Ahmeti, once out of prison Veliu moves to Switzerland. Veliu showed up in Germany last year, where he was arrested over a charge of organising terrorist activities. He was released only several weeks after his arrest, under still uncleared circumstances.
Veliu and Ahmeti are related (Veliu is Ahmeti's uncle). They both come from Zajas. Veliu is a close friend of the Kosovo's Jashari clan. This clan, together with other close "families" started the fight against the Serbs. Former leader of the Kosovo UCK, Hashim Thaci, who also lived in Switzerland, is a close friend of the Jashari family, too. Emrush Xhemaili, long time advisor of Thaci and a "grey-shadow" in Kosovo's underground scene, is thought to be a real military leader of the extremists in Macedonia and Southern Serbia. His representatives in Southern Serbia are his brother Mahmut (Xhemaili) and Shefket Musliu. Last summer, Musliu was arrested by KFOR for a murder, but released immediately afterwards.
The central base of the terrorists in Southern Serbia is the village of Dobroshin. There, UCK undertakes a forced recruitment. According to our (Welt am Sontag) sources, the activities of UCK a financed by the Albanian diaspora, where every "gast-arbaiter" is forced to pay 3% "war- tax".
Significant portions of the terrorists’ finances also come from the drugs and people trafficking in Kosovo and Macedonia. One of the Albanian "godfathers", former king of drugs in Milano and one of the biggest UCK donors, Agim Bashi, has been arrested by the Italian police. His arrest provided the Italian police with documents that prove Bashis involvement in mass weapons smuggling into Kosovo. Amarildo Virioni, an Albanian narco-business boss, admitted that the weapons sent to Kosovo (and Macedonia) were paid in heroin and other hard drugs.
The UCK in Tetovo has been provided with huge amounts of money, which origin is becoming increasingly clear.


-{HYPERLINK "/cgi-bin/generic.cgi?template=articlesearch.tmpl&dt=articleLocation&location=SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina"}Just as international engagement in the Balkans has been showing positive results, after 10 hard years and a difficult start, there are growing calls on both sides of the Atlantic to cut that engagement short. Now, with heightened fears of being drawn in between a hazy group of ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Macedonian security forces, many look to a definitive ethnic carving of the former Yugoslavia. Such a solution would be a disaster for both the region and the world. . It was Otto von Bismarck who said that the Balkans was "not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier." His sentiments were echoed this month by Lord Owen, a negotiator during the Bosnia war and a former British foreign secretary, who wrote, "What is needed today is a Balkans-wide solution, through a present-day equivalent of the 1878 Congress of Berlin, with pre-agreed boundary changes endorsed by the major powers." Similarly, speakers at a Columbia University symposium in early March agreed that Balkan borders should be redrawn to create "smaller, more stable monotonic states.” That monotonic states don't exist anywhere else - except perhaps Iceland - appears not to have worried the symposium participants. The appeal of ethnically homogeneous states is evidently that strong. The recipe, at least, is simple: gather together the Great Powers - now called the "international community" - and ask them to pore over maps and fix a solution with a red pen, drowning out the cries of competing nationalist leaders with dry sherry. Then get out. . The 1878 Congress of Berlin, presided over by Bismarck, did not achieve peace by dividing the region into such interesting entities as Eastern Rumelia and North Bulgaria. Representatives of the Great Powers refused to listen to the people whose fate they were deciding. The refugee crises, forced population movements and violence of the time barely figured. . Over a century of missed opportunities, bloodshed and suspicion cannot be swept, now, under a carpet in a conference room. To pull out of the Balkans would risk another horrific round of ethnic cleansing. I say this with particular urgency because I am in charge of implementing the civilian side of the Dayton peace accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina. . The Dayton accords, to this day, satisfy none of the noisy ultra nationalists that claim to represent Bosnia's Muslims, Serbs and Croats. But they do win the support of the multiethnic majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as indicated by the landmark election last November that brought to power the country's first non-nationalist government. And implementation of the accords may serve as a model for fractured societies like Macedonia. . This month, with the full agreement of the international community, I removed Ante Jelavic as a member of Bosnia's joint presidency and as a leader of the nationalist Croat Democratic Union. He had openly supported two war criminals convicted by the Hague tribunal for crimes against humanity. His party had carried out banned campaigning on election day last November. The final straw was a declaration of "Croat self-rule," which would effectively have torn up the Dayton peace accords and the country's delicate constitution. . All this, proponents of a new Congress of Berlin would argue, only shows the wisdom of dividing everything up and going home. But to do so would be a gross injustice to the millions of ordinary citizens, not only in Bosnia but also across southeastern Europe, who want nothing to do with a nationalism that leaves them poor, frightened and isolated. . The victory of Dayton and international engagement has been a lasting peace, a slow but perceptible lessening of fear in Bosnia and Herzegovina and an increasing focus among ordinary citizens on issues that really matter: jobs, a decent education for one's kids, a state that can do business with the outside world. . Our work in Bosnia and elsewhere in southeastern Europe is slow and painstaking. But the progress is real. Careful international engagement is allowing people to forge their own futures, and gives moderates confidence to rebuild their country in the face of extremist and criminal threats. To walk away now would be to throw away billions of dollars and years of effort. It would vindicate only the proponents of ethnic cleansing. It would lead to territories of ever decreasing and more absurd proportions - and to continuing instability in Europe. The writer, who heads the international administration of Bosnia-Herzegovina, contributed this comment to The New York Times.
International Herald Tribune

e)Supplement 3: Interview with one of the NLA commanders, nicknamed ‘Sokoli’
-INTERNATIONALS WILL REALIZE THAT WE ARE WAGING JUSTIFIED WAR  Q: What is happening in Tetova hillside?  A: The clashes begun in early morning hours when a group of Special Forces from Ukraine and Bulgaria was set on action. We have information that they had been surrounded and we expect some of them to surrender, while others are already killed. We destroyed five armored vehicles, three of which tanks. There are many killed and wounded soldiers. So far we have three wounded. Their soldiers are deserting, and this can be seen by the footage of Croatian and Danish TV crews.  Q: How do you know that the Special Forces are Ukrainians and Bulgarians?  A: They, about 30 of them, had been transferred to the fortress with two helicopters. We know this as we could here them talking from our positions.  Q: Which villages are under the control of Macedonian forces?  A: None of them.  Q: Are there any victims in civilian population?  A: I have no information about that.  Q: Were helicopters used in this attack?  A: They had been used for civilian, non-military purposes?  Q: What are your next military steps?  A: We warned earlier that this war or wide military engagement of the Macedonian Army would cause damage to the Macedonian Government first, and especially the Albanian political parties that have not fenced itself from this Government.  Q: How do you comment on the USA promises to offer military assistance to Macedonia?  A: USA are not that naïve to provide assistance to a government that exercises violence and bombards villages and civilian targets and does not wage a war that matches the international conventions.  Q: However, all relevant international factors, especially USA, say they will help Macedonia to protect its sovereignty?  A: That does not mean that their standings would not change. I think they will change soon, as the Macedonian government is using its entire military potential against the civilians.  Q: The Government and the President of RM claim the dialogue could begin after a ceasefire. What do you think about it?  A: We told all the media that we are not the ones that want to expand the war, it is the Macedonian government that wants that. So far we did not attack any civilian target. There is no argument at all, not one argument that would prove that we have done anything of that kind, meanwhile that the Macedonian government is doing that in front of TV cameras.  Q: Do you think of expanding the conflict?  A: If the Government continues in this manner, we will react as we have potentials to do that.  Q: How do you think to continue further now that all Albanian political parties in Kosova, Albania and Macedonia have fenced themselves from you?  A: They have fenced itself for this moment, as they don’t properly understand the aims of our war. I think that as of tomorrow, both the international community and the Albanian political parties will realize that we are waging a justified war. We are not threatening any civilian, regardless of which ethnic group he might belong to.  Q: Is it true that you are holding the local population as hostages in Tetova hillside?  A: such claims are nothing else but manipulations. This can be confirmed by foreign informative services that had visited the villages. The local population has abandoned own villages after the attack was launched.(“FAKTI”)

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