ebalkan on 30 Mar 2001 23:53:16 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Briefing 30-03-01




- Daily briefing from Macedonian press about Macedonian crisis
- Daily briefing from international press about Macedonian crisis
- Supplement: Statement by NATO Secretary General on the incident near Krivenik


Macedonian Army denies that yesterday it used artillery grenades against the terrorists outside the borders of Macedonia. Reuters yesterday sent an announcement to the American agency APTN that during the mortar attack from Macedonian territory, their producer Kerim Loton (30), British, died. NATO’s spokesman in Brussels asked the Macedonian Army to immediately give details on the military activities in that region. Bernd Jandesek, K- for’s spokesman in Kosovo, gave a statement for “Dnevnik” that “the grenades are not fired from the territory of Kosovo”. He explained that the case doesn’t involve mortars, but artillery grenades fired at the Kosovo village Krvenik. K- for didn’t allow Macedonian experts to be present during the autopsy of the deceased producer of APTN. A mixed commission, in which the Macedonian commander of the Chaska sector was also part of, investigated the place of the event. The first information given by the Ministry of Defense was that Macedonian mortars couldn’t reach the range of the Kosovo village Krvenik, the place of the tragic event. The official results of the mixed commission are going to be finalized today. The place of the tragic event, at that moment, was passed by helicopters of K-for who had the equipment with which it can be confirmed from where the grenades were fired. (“DNEVNIK”)

K-for, until now, has arrested 200 people, Albanians under the suspicion that they are members of the extremist groups in Macedonia. All are handed over to the police of UNMIK, supposed to conduct an investigation process in order to confirm their involvement. Because there is no Interpol bureau in Prishtina, and the one in Belgrade does not have authority in the province, everything is left to the good will of UNMIK to turn over all the arrested. In accordance with the regulations for civic administration, a person can be held imprisoned only 72 hours. According to unofficial sources, almost all arrested people are released and given their freedom, because the administration has no authority to engage in an official investigation process and therefore cannot file charges against them. (“VEST”)

“The Government’s opinion is that the dialogue in Macedonia has never stopped, except in the period of the terrorist aggression which introduced an interference disabling the continuation of dialogue. That dialogue in the last two years is especially intensified and it will continue in that direction with respect to all open issues. However, without any threatening limits and such, which in this case would be unproductive and would have an opposite effect”. Concerning Javier Solana’s,
High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy for the European Union, statement given in Brussels after his recent visit with the Macedonian state officials, during which he allegedly asked Macedonia to change the Constitution, i.e. the preamble of the Constitution, and that it is speculated in public that the Macedonian Government has agreed to that, the Government spokesman, Miloshoski, underlined: “We, as a Government, are fairly satisfied with the endeavors of Mr. Solana in Macedonia, and if he really made that statement in Brussels, that can only come as a surprise to us, because at the meeting between the Macedonian state officials and Mr. Solana, this issue for change of the Constitution or its preamble, was not even brought up”.(“NOVA MAKEDONIJA”)

The Ministry of Internal Affairs yesterday filed charges against the DPA Member of Parliament, Hysni Shaqiri, on grounds of Article 312, paragraph 2 of the Criminal Law, which is on appealing to armed rebellion directed towards endangering of the Constitution and the security of the State. The Member of Parliament, in such a case, cannot call upon Member of Parliament immunity that he is entitled to by the Constitution, since for the criminal act of organization or inducement of armed rebellion, the minimal penalty is 5 years. (“DNEVNIK”)

Macedonia will not make steps that will affect its long-lasting stability and the integration processes, informs the President’s, Boris Trajkovski, Cabinet. “No concepts leading to the disintegration of the state will be accepted”, stated for “Dnevnik” a representative of the Cabinet concerning the announced platform for the dialogue for improving the inter-ethnic relations, after which concrete solutions will be made. The President Trajkovski, after the attacks by the extremists on Macedonian territory began, held three meetings with the leaders of political parties. In the Conclusions from these meetings it is stated: “after the neutralization of the armed extremist groups, the political dialogue of all legitimate political parties will be intensified on the open issues in the inter-ethnic relations and adequate solutions will be found”. The representatives of the parliamentary political parties have agreed to conduct the dialogue within the frames of the institutions of the system, in the direction of building a clear civic concept. (“DNEVNIK”)


What the West does not seem to realize is that more rights for the Albanians does not mean more integration and national unity. If the Albanian language is officially recognized, Albanians will no longer learn Macedonian. If Albanians are given their own educational institutions, they will no longer go through the Macedonian school system. If Albanian-populated areas in western Macedonian are granted more local powers, they will be better able to resist national laws. A history of exclusion has simply made the Albanians more culturally protective, more self-reliant, less willing to integrate into Macedonian institutions, and more oriented toward fellow Albanians in Kosovo. (Excerpts from The Times)

Javier Solana, obviosely with his EU and Nato partners blessing, took the job of changing the Macedonian Constitution. During his last visits to Skopje (three in less than ten days) he insisted that not being his business, but Wednesday he demanted himself; admiting to the Internall affair Commity that „he believed that he succeded in proving to the Macedonian leaders the neccesity of making a clair step towards Albanian community – so that Albanian parties would remain in the Government and the Parliament.” And that’s not all. Solana added that the Macedonian government, even though not saying that in public, has agreed that the Constitution preambula is unappropiate and that it has to be changed”! (Excerpts from Vecernji List) Solana suggested that the government in Skopje invite moderate political leaders from the Albanian minority to a signing ceremony between Macedonia and the EU. The Republic of Macedonia is due to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step to negotiations on EU membership, in Luxembourg on April 9th. (Excerpts from The Irish Times)

For more than a year, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski tried to get an appointment at the White House, first with Clinton and then with Bush. He even flew to Washington last month for the National Prayer Breakfast and sat within 30 feet of Bush in the Washington Hilton's ballroom. The question remains whether the Bush administration has been so determined to reduce U.S. involvement in the region that it failed to foresee the violence - and missed opportunities to prevent it. "We haven't been paying attention and have been sending the wrong signals in the past, which is the reason we're in this mess," said Ivo H. Daalder, a Balkans expert at the Brookings Institution. "It's a pretty studied effort to do nothing major additional in the Balkans and to have the Europeans take care of it," said Daniel Serwer, director of the Balkans program at the United States Institute of Peace. (Excerpts from Washington Post)

Skopje knew only too well that in dealing with the ethnic Albanians entrenched in the north- western hills, it was effectively walking a tightrope between allowing lawlessness to spread and launching a crackdown so tough it polarized its own population and alienated international opinion. For NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who had been expected to admonish, came to praise, delivering a glowing report on what he called Macedonia's "commendable restraint and determined firmness". But the one thing the Macedonian authorities should not underestimate is their own good fortune. For it would have taken very little for the whole situation to blow up in their faces. All it needed was for a stray shell to have caused civilian casualties in the hills where the guerrillas were sheltering and there would have been a worldwide outcry and talk of atrocities. NATO, the European Union, the United States and Russia all remain on Macedonia's side, largely because, as the country's Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim observed: "The escalation of the conflict will not only jeopardize Macedonia but the whole region." The trick now is for Macedonia to keep all that international goodwill on-side while continuing to be seen engaging in dialogue with moderate Albanians concerning their demands for equal rights in employment, education and the status of their language and citizenship. (Excerpts from Agence France Presse)

Macedonia's politicians could sit down to talk as soon as next week on easing ethnic Albanian frustrations. Already there is disagreement about what should be discussed and where the talks should take place. Government spokesman Milosovski said Thursday President Trajkovski was preparing a program for dialogue between all political parties to start in Skopje as soon as the rebel ethnic Albanian insurgency is quelled. "The talks must start very soon," Arben Xhaferi told Reuters. "I would prefer in Europe, probably in Brussels, because Europe wants to take responsibility for the negotiations." But Western diplomats say Macedonia's governing institutions are the best forum for discussing legal changes addressing Albanian complaints they are second-class citizens. Most of Macedonia's Slav politicians are also opposed to foreign involvement in what they see as internal affairs. Albanian parties will want to get political mileage out of the insurgency that raised fears of a new Balkan war. But Slav politicians will be wary of a backlash if they concede too much to the one-third Albanian minority. "We want to become a state-forming nation, and for that reason we want the constitution to say clearly this state also belongs to the Albanians," said Imer Imery, chairman of the opposition Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP). Opposition Slav and Albanian parties found some consensus -- both calling for the formation of a new coalition government. (Excerpts from Reuters) The defection this week of an Albanian member of Macedonia's parliament to rebels fighting the government has underscored the growing unease among Albanian politicians as the conflict in the country drags on. Shaqiri's move "is a personal decision which was probably provoked by frustration with the current situation," said Zamir Dika, chief of the DPA parliamentary group. However, he acknowledged that Albanian politicians present in state institutions "are between the devil and deep blue sea until a real dialogue is established" between the guerrillas and the authorities, as the NLA demanded. (Excerpts from Agence France Presse)

While confronting an Albanian guerilla force composed of a few hundred people, the Macedonian government, dominated by Slavs, has refused appeals for negotiations and instead launched a military offensive against villages inhabited by Albanians where the insurgents had positioned themselves. Unlike the former Serb government of Slobodan Milosevic, which responded to the rise of insurgents in Kosova with a brutal military campaign, the government of Mr. Trajkovski is democratic and pro-Western and its coalition includes a modern Albanian party. The Macedonians, lightly equipped and barely professional, are not to be confused with the brigades of Milosevic. Even if negotiations go well, in order to prevent further wars in the Balkans, a satisfactory political solution for the Albanian population in Kosova, Serbia and Macedonia must found. This cannot happen without the active engagement of the United States, who is considered by the Albanians to be a protector and dispenser of justice for the entire region. Koha Ditore argues that the Bush administration is still trying to avoid taking this responsibility, thus creating a vacuum that risks more violence. (Excerpts from Koha Ditore)

TRANSCRIPT OF A BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY A SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S MEETING WITH CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER  Finally, they discussed Macedonia. Both expressed, actually, some  satisfaction with the way things have been going the past - over recent days, including the very restrained and responsible use of force by the Macedonian military and, in parallel, the efforts to accelerate a political dialogue between the government and the ethnic Albanian political parties in the country. President Trajkovski has shown leadership in this. He's been quite forward looking. And that situation, in the immediate term, looks better than it did 10 days ago.

RUSSIA PRESIDENT BLAMES ETHNIC ALBANIAN  Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said "The crisis in Macedonia is a manifestation of the threat facing Europe -the threat of terrorism spreading across the continent from its epicenter in Kosovo. ” Russia blames ethnic Albanian nationalists for the conflict in Macedonia and says they are linked to guerrillas in the Albanian-dominated Yugoslav province of Kosovo. (Excerpts from Reuters) Putin is not alone in thinking the Americans have given Albanian terrorists too much succor. But across the international community there was general agreement on the best holding pattern: keep arms and men from Kosovo out of Macedonia, back the Macedonian government in its fight against the insurgents, and hope the government wins. "The discrimination that the ethnic Albanians face in Macedonia cannot match up to what the Serbs have had to endure here in Kosovo," said a senior American official. (Excerpts from TIME)

Before and during the Kosovo conflict Debar was a hotbed of recruitment for the KLA - some of whose former leaders are now the main players in the self-styled NLA, using the Albanian border as a weapons supply line. And because Debar is accessible only on narrow, winding mountain roads, the area is much more difficult for the Macedonian army to fortify and reinforce. Poverty, desperate in some areas, helps fuel anti-government sentiment among the ethnic Albanians living in the border zone, and the proximity to Albania itself tends to enhance a sense of ethnic solidarity. "If they ask us, we'll fight," said Aziz Adiku, one of the few men in the village with steady work in the nearby town. "We could take Debar in an hour." (Excerpts from Associated Press)


NATO Secretary General, George Robertson regarding the mortar explosions near Krivenik, inside Kosovo, expressed early Friday the deep concern of NATO about this incident, informing that he asked KFOR to provide any additional information, MIA reports.
Immediately after the incident took place, the senior NATO liaison officer in Skopje, Ambassador Hans-Joerg Eiff, was in contact with the authorities of the Republic of Macedonia. Secretary General spoke by telephone with President Boris Trajkovski late this afternoon.
"President Trajkovski made clear to me that his government has launched an investigation to determine what occurred, and we agreed to set up a joint commission. We look forward to seeing concrete results from these investigations at the earliest possible time," Robertson said.
According to him "this incident is a regrettable reminder that the real victims of the recent violence in the southern Balkans are civilians, expressing condolences to the families and friends of the civilians killed and injured in the incident near Krivenik. "There is no place in a democratic society for the armed extremists who seek to impose their political views by force." He underlined that it is important that all the parliamentary parties in the Republic of Macedonia regardless of ethnicity, "to intensify their dialogue to address the legitimate concerns of the ethnic Albanian community through democratic processes."

NATO Secretary General George Robertson, call on, once again, all armed extremists to lay down their arms. ("MIA")

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