Kalina Bunevska Isakovska on 28 Mar 2001 10:47:08 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Briefing 27-03-2001 "EURO-BALKAN" INSTITUTE ON MACEDONIAN CRISIS



- Daily briefing from Macedonian press about Macedonian crisis 
- Daily briefing from international press about Macedonian crisis 
- Supplement 1: Declaration on FYR Macedonia by meeting of European Council
- Supplement 2: Press statement by the office of the temporary media commissioner in Kosovo 


The spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, Gjorgji Trendafilov, stated that the Old Tetovo Fortress is under complete control of the Macedonian security forces from yesterday, and that armored vehicles of the Macedonian army are positioned on the site. Yesterday the special forces of the Macedonian army and the police continued to clear the villages Gajre, Selce, Lavce, Lisec and the Old Tetovo Fortress from the presence of the terrorists. There was no organized resistance from the side of the terrorists. The security forces clearing the terrain found artillery mines, snipers, uniforms, automatic infantry weapon and an improvised kitchen for making bread, all left behind by the extremists while they fled under the attack by our forces two days ago. About 900 Albanian terrorists in the last 24 hours, fled in panic from the terrain in the vicinity of Kobilica and passing Karanimolichka Shija and Karanikolichko Ezero, returned to Kosovo, inform police sources. Trails of blood wher!
e found on the Old Tetovo Fortress, also three rocket launchers-type "zolja", hand grenades and explosives. The Albanian terrorists defiled the holy ground of the church " Sv. Atanasij" as well, that is located on the Old Tetovo Fortress, using it as food storage for bread and such. Yesterday morning, occasional fire came from the terrorists' positions in the vicinity of the villages Germo and Veshala. Distant battles are taking place in the depth of the Shara Mountain. According to information, the terrorist groups had a great number of casualties, but there is no official confirmation on that. Remains of the terrorist groups, yesterday morning, tried to make their way through to Kosovo using the region of the massive Plocha, but their number was drastically diminished and, in panic, they retreated in the direction towards their bases above the village Bozovce. ("Dnevnik")

The DPA (Democratic Party of Albanians) vice president, Menduh Thaci, on Sunday met with the President Boris Trajkovski and concluded that dialogue is the only acceptable means for the overcoming of the existing crisis. The purpose of this meeting, as stated by Thaci, was to ask the Macedonian President and Supreme Commander of the Army, Boris Trajkovski, to guarantee that the norms will not be breached and that no Albanian civil casualties will be caused. According to Thaci, the Prime Minister, Ljubcho Georgievski, and the Government have to be prepared for dialogue because there simply is no other way. "The dialogue should be started as soon as possible, meanwhile DPA will work on the starting of dialogue for the sooner end of the crisis. We will not retreat any longer. A dialogue will be opened and a debate for changes to be made in the Constitution and about the exercising of Albanians' rights", said Thaci. He underlined that the Macedonian security forces destroyed, quite!
 severely, with Sunday's offensive, the possibilities for resolving the situation. ("Dnevnik")

A citizen of Skopje, Etimi Bejtula (28), in whose possession the police, in a search two days ago, found a hand grenade, is suspected for preparation of a terrorist act. The Internal Affairs Sector in Skopje, yesterday filed a law suit against Bejtula, and an investigative judge set a 30 days confinement. The police noticed the suspect on Sunday about 2:00 p.m. passing several times in a car "Opel -Asscona" with Tetovo register plates by the police station in Chair. Later, the police stopped the suspect in the neighborhood of the Inquiry Prison "Shutka". After the search, in a specially designed bunker in his car, a hand grenade of Chinese production was found. After interviewing the suspect Bejtula, it was concluded that he intended to activate the grenade with the intent to spread fear and tension among the citizens. ("Dnevnik")

'Fakti' learned from reliable sources that more than 150 citizens from Tetova hillside villages have been brought and detained at Skopje 'Shutka' prison. They had all been forced into a separate block, and now are held in most difficult conditions. One could even say that this is kind of a small concentration camp. The same source says all of the detained are males, probably civilians. The information could be confirmed by the images from State Television, showing police separating adult males from refugee groups fleeing the war zone. No one knows where they had been taken to. It is possible that the detained are civilians from villages Poroj, Xhepciste, Shemshova etc. Officials at Shutka prison refused to share any information in relation to this case. ("Fakti"- Albanian Language Daily)

"The action of the Macedonian Security Forces was conducted with ease and with an adequate use of force", is the opinion of the spokesman of the K-for Headquarters, Martin Tracy. "In the last 24 hours, 290 refugees crossed the border between Macedonia and Kosovo. Part of them were turned over to UNHCR, and after a detailed investigation of their identity, four of them are suspected to be connected with the extremist groups in Macedonia. From last Wednesday until now, 36 individuals are handed over to the police of UNMIK under suspicion that they took part in the extremists' actions in the country. Members of K-for prevented 26 individuals to enter Macedonia from the province and they are suspected of being extremists", explained Tracy. ("Vest")

The PDP will take all steps towards the immediate start of political dialogue with international mediation in order to resolve the crisis with political and diplomatic means despite the decision for freezing the participation in the activity of the Macedonian Parliament, says Zahir Bekteshi, the PDP spokesman. According to Bekteshi, the disobeying of the Conclusions of the Macedonian Parliament of the state leaders for the resolving of the crisis is the main reason for the freezing of the participation in Parliament. He considers the actions so far, taken by the Government, have offended the Conclusions no. 3, 6 and 7 made by the Macedonian Parliament, that are in connection with the non-interference of the neighboring countries in the conflict, as well as the treatment of the civil population. PDP considers that the donation of military technology by some neighboring countries, directly involves them in the conflict in Macedonia. They suspect that together with the military t!
echnology from Bulgaria and Greece, teams directly involved in the armed conflicts have arrived. ("Vest")

The recently formed People' Democratic Party, whose leader is Kastriot Hadziredza, yesterday, with an announcement "condemned the violence over the civil population in the name of the so called war against the Albanian rebels". The opinion of this party's leaders is that "the Government actually announced war to all Albanian people in Macedonia", informs MIA. NDP in the announcement, condemns the "collaboration of the Albanian partner in the Macedonian Government", because, as they say, the last actions of the Macedonian Security Forces now legitimized the war repression over the Albanian people. The leaders of the party decided to, by memorandum, turn to all relevant international organizations, and to, from their view, explain the reasons that brought Macedonia to this situation and also give proposals for the resolving of the crisis. The presidency of NDP "condemns the war moral of the Macedonian Official Authorities, starting with the President himself". These are the reas!
ons why these leaders decided to "freeze the activities in the institutions in Macedonia until some more adequate conditions for constructive dialogue are created". ("Dnevnik")


NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and EU security chief Javier Solana were due in Skopje later Monday for crisis talks. "We are for their territorial integrity, we are for the sovereignty of the country. We do not accept anything that can be obtained politically through violence," Solana told Reuters. But he urged that if violence had to be used, it be used in a "reasonable manner." Speaking in Rome earlier in the day, Robertson urged rebels "to give up, to realize there is no future in the bullet." Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned that the battle was not "anywhere near over". "There are two options for the people of this country - it is a united Macedonia or another Balkan bloodbath." British Prime Minister Tony Blair said British and Swedish soldiers serving in the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo would form a 400-strong unit for quick deployment along the province's border with Macedonia.(Excerpts from Reuters) Earlier Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said: "The!
re is no support anywhere in Europe for any attempt to re-draw boundaries in blood." But the response of the Macedonian government must be "proportionate" to the terrorist threat. (Excerpts from BBC)

Bush should at the least appoint a weighty negotiator to play the kind of role Richard Holbrooke did for Clinton in bringing an end to the fighting in Bosnia. This is the beginning of a new phase, which could eventually draw in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. Throughout most of the 1990s, the Balkan "bad guys" were Serbs, now it is Albanians who are doing the fighting for a Greater Albania. And the Macedonian Slavs have no intention of relinquishing their position as top dogs. If the neighboring countries had their way, Macedonia would not exist. The Bulgarians claim the Macedonians are really Bulgarians. The Serbs say they are southern Serbs. The Greeks even refuse to acknowledge the name Macedonia, which they say belongs to them. Bush now needs to stop this new war in its tracks. He needs to show American leadership by spurring an effort for an overall solution not just in Macedonia but in the whole region as well. (Excerpts from The Sunday Times)

At least a year before the NATO air strikes, the Americans were preparing for a possible assault against Serbia, which included organizing and training the Kosovo Liberation Army so that it could support a NATO ground offensive. During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the Americans may have hinted at some form of separate status for Kosovo as well as encouraging the Montenegrins to secede from Yugoslavia, but no one told the Albanians their struggle for independence was merely a stratagem to bring down Milosevic regime. The new Bush administration is intent on terminating America's military role in the Balkans, and consequently, the Albanian insurgents had to maintain or instigate a crisis environment to keep the Americans in the Balkans. The consequences could be devastating: unlike Serbia, which survived the loss of Kosovo, Macedonia cannot maintain its coherence if the eastern part of the country is lost or becomes a battle zone. This tiny republic is a microcosm of the Balk!
an quilt of nationalities. (Excerpts from Vancouver Sun)

The Macedonian army this weekend achieved a success that Western observers had thought unlikely. It put ethnic-Albanian guerrillas onthe run from their bases in the densely wooded hills around Tetovo, Macedonia's second-largest city. Western military sources said the gunship would be a formidable weapon against relatively lightly armed guerrillas not known to possess shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. While NATO has been widely criticized for being ineffective in checking the infiltration of men and supplies from Kosovo to the insurgents in Macedonia, the Ukraine may have provided assistance of decisive value. (Excerpts from United Press International)

Hundreds of Macedonian Albanians streamed into the Kosovo village of Donje Ljubinje, fleeing the guns of the Macedonian army. According to some reports, the entire 1,200 population of the village of Vejce abandoned their homes. UN High Commissioner for Refugees said another 250 refugees also arrived in Prizren, Kosovo. (Independent) Ethnic Albanian rebels appeared in this village 12 days ago and made it their headquarters as they advanced on the town of Tetovo. Today, streets are mostly empty. After a day of heavy bombardment by Macedonian forces on Sunday, the rebels told the villagers to pack up and leave by 8 p.m., and the rebels themselves fled into the wooded hills, said the few residents who trickled back today. The rebels' withdrawal seemed to be a coordinated effort, and may be part of a deal to allow Albanian political parties time to negotiate with the government, said one person with ties to the rebels. (Excerpts from The New York Times) 

As Macedonian officials spoke with pride and relief about the operation, which caused few government or civilian casualties, they came under renewed pressure from the West to make good on their parallel promise to move more quickly to address the political concerns of the ethnic Albanians. Macedonian officials privately worried that the rebels would turn to urban terrorism or emerge in more widely spread towns, stretching the small Macedonian security forces. Two policemen were shot and wounded Monday when their patrol van was hit by machine-gun fire on a road between Skopje and the border with Kosovo. Government officials promised that there would be aid to villagers to rebuild any damaged houses. Scattered gunfire and explosions could still be heard in the hills. (Excerpts from International Herald Tribune)

"It is not true that armed groups have been seen intending to cross from Kosovo into the territory of Macedonia," KFOR spokesman Lt. Colonel Tracey said Monday in Skopje. "Four persons were arrested yesterday, who were suspected of having links with extremist groups, and were handed over to UNMIK police in Prishtina." He added that in eight operations undertaken by MNB (East) Wednesday, 28 persons were arrested and transferred to the American Camp Bondsteel. (Excerpts from KosovaLive) 

KFOR peacekeepers on Monday seized 9,000 ammunition rounds for Chinese recoilless rifles and small arms in southern Kosovo in a truck driven by an ethnic Albanian, near the southern town of Gnjilane KFOR said in a statement. (Excerpts from Reuters)

More than 10,000 Kosovo Albanians gathered in Pristina on Monday for a demonstration of support for ethnic Albanian rebels in neighboring Macedonia. The march, called to mark the 20th anniversary of a revolt against Serb rule in Kosovo, came a day after a successful assault by the Macedonian army on ethnic Albanian rebel positions outside the town of Tetovo. Demonstrators carried banners reading "Stop Macedonian terror against Albanians" and "Freedom for Albanians in Macedonia". (Excerpts from Financial Times)

The ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement in Macedonia have both succeeded and failed in their goals. On the one hand, the whole world is denouncing the violent means used by the NLA to improve their conditions. On the other hand, it has helped bring world attention to the plight of the Albanian minority. "I believe that in any case this will mean that the international community will see to it that the situation of the Albanians is improved. For instance, especially language questions will come forward", said former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari during a visit to Macedonia on Sunday. During his visit to Macedonia Ahtisaari met President Boris Trajkovski. The Albanians have called for an outside mediator. "It is important that people manage to take care of their affairs on their own. It is always a sign of failure of sorts when it is necessary to bring in someone from outside". Ahtisaari says that he understands the actions of the government aimed at pushing the Albanian gue!
rrillas out of Macedonia, as negotiations with the Albanian guerrillas are not possible without a loss of prestige for the government. "I think that the Kosovars have already gotten the message that sympathy for them will start to decline if they support this action in any way." The area is also an important route for smugglers largely controlled by criminal organizations. (Excerpts from Helsingin Sanomat)

"Albanians here suffer a repression that is not clear to a visitor on the surface," said NLA commander "Kusha". The Macedonian government points to the fact that Tetovo's police chief is an Albanian, proof, it says, of its policy of non-discrimination. Albanians complain they are still excluded from jobs in the state sector and unemployment among their number is high, forcing them to go abroad to seek work. "We build our houses here with money sent from every country in the world. Now they want to destroy them," said a businessman called Shaqir. Veton Surroi, the highly respected Kosovo newspaper publisher, doesn't buy this emotional line of argument. "It's madness, it ought to be stopped now by a negotiated effort," he said in a BBC interview on Monday. There was no way in which Macedonia could be compared to Kosovo under the harshly repressive regime of ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. (Excerpts from Reuters)

"For 10 years, Macedonia has been the most successful experiment in the Balkans in keeping together a small multiethnic state in a democratic environment. It has also been a loyal ally of the United States as it struggled with problems nearby, including taking in 350,000 refugees during the Kosovo crisis," said Henryk J. Sokalski, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general who led the U.N. Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia. "Unfortunately, it has not received aid commensurate with its efforts. The United States should have been more involved from the beginning because every day of fighting will end up costing U.S. long-term interests in a stable Europe." (Excerpts from Los Angeles Times)


(Annex III to Presidency Conclusions, March 23-24, Stockholm) 

To President Trajkovski and the FYROM government, - we reaffirm our solidarity with you in the current crisis and urge you to continue to respond with restraint. Every effort should be made to prevent an escalation of military activity. We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of FYROM and the inviolability of borders in conformity with OSCE principles. We are determined to pursue our efforts collectively and individually in close co-operation with NATO to help the authorities to cope with the present situation. It is essential to strengthen control over the FYROM Kosovo border. We welcome the provision of advice and support by member states including in the security field;
- effective internal political reforms and consolidation of a true multiethnic society are indispensable. We stand ready to assist in this process in FYROM within the framework of the considerable assistance, which the European Union is giving already to FYROM. This includes border management projects; support for refugees; help with local government throughout the country, including a municipal - level infrastructure improvement programme; work in the field of minority rights, including substantial contributions to the new south-east Europe University at Tetovo; help with judicial reform and training, including emphasis on minority rights; and help with the forthcoming census.
To the leaders of the ethnic Albanian community in FYROM, we demand your continued commitment to the democratic process, to the renunciation of violence and to dialogue, and urge you to hold to this
- commitment in pursuing your legitimate aspirations to consolidate FYROM's multiethnic society.
To the Albanian political leaders in Kosovo, we call on you to continue to dissociate yourselves unambiguously from the extremists, to condemn violence unconditionally, and to respect the principle of the inviolability of borders, as the Albanian government has done. We welcome its strong stand.
To all those who defy international legality, you discredit the cause of improving the condition of your people which you claim to promote. 
The European Union decided at the Zagreb Summit that FYROM would be the first state of the region to be linked to the European Union through the Stabilization and Association Agreement which will be signed on 9 April.
The European Union welcomes the adoption of UNSCR 1345. The European Union's objectives are fully reflected in this resolution. At the time when new perspectives for the region are opening up, we reaffirmstrongly that there is no future in our Europe for those who follow the path of intolerance, nationalism and violence. The Union will not give assistance to those who take this course. We will only support those who choose clearly peace, democracy reconciliation and regional co-operation.


On Friday the 23rd March 2001, all of the major newspapers in Kosovo carried the story of Thursday's tragic shootings at a military checkpoint in Tetovo in the former Yugoslav Repiblic of Macedonia. These stories were all accompanied by photographs, most of which originated from the Reuters news agency. With the exception of Bota Sot, all these newspapers showed a black object on the ground close to the body of one of those who was killed. Indeed there has been considerable debate as to precisely what this object was. 
The Office of the Temporary Media Commissioner understands that the circumstances surrounding this incident have caused considerable controversy. In this respect it is not the intention of the Office to comment on these circumstances or on the editorial line taken by any of the newspapers in their Friday editions. However, what is extremely alarming is the apparent removal, by Bota Sot, of a crucial piece of evidence from a photograph taken from an international source. The Office of the Temporary Media Commissioner is currently in discussions with the Senior Legal Council of the Reuters News Agency to determine conclusively whether or not Bota Sot altered the original Reuters image to suit the thesis of their article. The Office has also consulted with Reuters on how they may wish to proceed. Additionally, the Office of the Temporary Media Commissioner is corresponding with other international news and press agencies, including CNN and AP TN, and has discussed with them their!
 footage and reports of the incident. All have confirmed the presence of the object in their respective photographic or video sequences and from the eyewitness accounts of their journalists. If it were indeed the case that Bota Sot did manipulate the images they obtained from Reuters, this would constitute gross professional misconduct. Furthermore, their attempts to portray all the other media who carried these images, as being misleading would be a further example of deliberate distortion in the face of the overwhelming evidence. It is the duty of editors to report the facts as accurately as possible and to distinguish opinion from fact. This is particularly important when tensions are high and the subject matter is so sensitive. To alter the available evidence to support an opinion and pass it off as news is unconscionable and discredits the profession of journalism. 

Kalina Bunevska Isakovska
Visual Arts Program Coordinator
CAC - Skopje, Macedonia
Address: Orce Nikolov 109, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
tel./fax: ++389.91/133-541; 214-495
e-mail: kalina@scca.org.mk

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