date : 09/05/2001


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


    In the Kumanovo village, yesterday the most intensive combat between the Macedonian soldiers and policemen and the Albanian terrorists took place, and after it, after the fighting that lasted several hours, the extremists retreated towards the hills surrounding the village. The intensity of the fighting in the entire Kumanovo region was somewhat weaker in the late afternoon hours, and diplomatic sources announced a soon ceasefire. The Macedonian security forces continued the military actions over the machine- gun and sniper nests of the Albanian terrorists in the north and west part of the village Vaksince and the Kumanovo region. There was fighting in the village Slupchane as well, although a larger terrorist group the day before yesterday left the village and the Macedonian security forces completely neutralized their positions in that region. The Macedonian Army and the Internal Affairs Ministry did not enter Slupchane yesterday. The inhabitants of Vaksince, yesterday around 8:45 until 9:00, requested several times by phone to be given a chance to leave the village, and that is why the security forces allowed a bus to enter the village and take all those that wanted to leave the village Vaksince. The inhabitants of Vaksince were allowed to evacuate with civil vehicles as well and to retreat towards Kumanovo. But by 10:30, before the action of the security forces began, not even one inhabitant left the village. They contacted the security forces by phone and informed them that the terrorists, in particular the foreign mercenaries and mujahedin, wouldn’t let them leave their houses and also tormented them. (“DNEVNIK”)

    The leaders of the main political parties in the country on the 6-hour meeting held the day before yesterday in the evening with the EU representative, Javier Solana, reached an agreement for the forming of a grand coalition government. Its promotion was expected for late yesterday evening or at latest for today, and the Government will vote to pass it on Friday or Monday. But, yesterday the Albanian parties PDP and DPA showed reservation for the participation in the government coalition because of the continuation of the military actions in the village Vaksince and the disagreement over the concept of higher education between the two parties. According to the agreement, SDSM and the opposition parties should get the defense resource, foreign affairs, health and environment and the vice prime minister position in the Government. VMRO-DPMNE should keep the resources of finance, transport and communication, culture, education and agriculture. The DPA should keep the Economy Ministry, Local Self-Government and Labor and Social Policy. PDP should get the resource of legal affairs and a minister with no resource. Stojan Andov should keep the position of president of the parliament, and the current vice prime minister, Zoran Krstevski and the Minister Srdjan Kerim should leave the Government. SDSM will most probably give the LDP the resource of health in “package” with the Health Fund. The Environment Ministry, together with some other deputy and managerial positions, should be offered to VMRO-VMRO, whose leader, Boris Stojmenov, yesterday stated that they want to first see the platform of the new government and the resources of the opposition to enter the coalition. Dosta Dimovska will definitely leave the ministerial position in the Internal Affairs Ministry, but VMRO-DPMNE will assign her successor. The current director of the Public Security Office, Zvonko Kashirski, is already mentioned as her successor. But, he will conduct this position only until the start of the extraordinary parliamentary elections. After that, according to our sources, SDSM should suggest a new candidate for the ministerial position, acceptable for VMRO-DPMNE as well. In the first phase of the agreement, SDSM should get the position of State Secretary in the Internal Affairs Ministry, that is now held by Ljube Boshkovski, as well as the managing in the Security and Counterintelligence Administration. It is foreseen that the opposition should have the right to in half of the municipal internal affairs administrations set chiefs from their own party. (“DNEVNIK”)

    In the intensive discussions between the leaders of the two main political parties in the country VMRO-DPMNE and the SDSM, Ljubcho Georgievski and Branko Crvenskovski, for the forming of a grand coalition, among other things decided, also decided on the date for the next elections. Unofficially, by sources close to the ruling party, we are informed that the extraordinary parliamentary elections are going to take place on 27th January next year. (“NOVA MAKEDONIJA”)

    About 2,800 Albanians from Macedonia, the day before yesterday, went to Kosovo, the most numerous refuge in the last five days, with this there are about 6,600 refugees in Kosovo from Macedonia, announced the agencies. An OSCE representative stated that the extremists are hindering civilians to leave the villages, and they remain there under force. At the border- crossing at Preshevo on the Macedonian-Yugoslav border, 40 Macedonian citizens were registered, announced the press-center in Bujanovac. According to this center’s information, from the start of the last wave of violence from the Albanian terrorists until yesterday, about 60 Macedonian citizens left the country and found refuge in Kosovo. (“UTRINSKI VESNIK”)


    Macedonian leaders have agreed to form a Government of national unity including all main ethnic Albanian and Slav parties. It is a move seen by the West as key to countering an ethnic Albanian insurgency threatening civil war. But the main goal of forging a grand coalition required tough negotiations, EU sources said. In Western eyes, the ideal strategy centres on depriving the nationalist guerrillas of all plausible political support while driving them out without inflicting major civilian casualties. A big move to defuse the conflict cannot come too soon. Robertson said Macedonia was "on the brink of an abyss" and he denounced the guerrillas as "murderous thugs" who have no mandate but were bent on destroying a small, fragile democratic state, using civilians as "human shields." (New Zealand Herald) Solana, returning to Brussels after talks in Skopje, said he was optimistic about the coalition. "I think that to have now the possibility of a unity government in which the most important parties are engaged ... is very, very important and I hope that they will be able to move the process of internal dialogue with this structure in the government," he said. (CNN) After marathon talks that included the European Union's top diplomat, Javier Solana, President Boris Trajkovski and leaders of all main parties, premier Ljubco Georgievski said a coalition government was all but in place. Georgievski said that two main opposition parties -the Slav-dominated Socialists and the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP)- would join the government. This would create an administration with a clear two-thirds majority in parliament, giving the coalition unchallenged power to enact new laws and make constitutional changes to deliver the promise of equal rights for ethnic Albanians. The Albanian PDP spokesman Zahir Bekteshi said his grouping was insisting that military operations against the rebels must stop before it agreed to join the government. Government officials said they had no information about rumours of an imminent cease-fire declaration. (Los Angeles Times)

    Macedonia's new coalition is the product of twin- track negotiations conducted in parallel with an armed offensive against ethnic Albanian rebels. On the one hand, there have been talks between senior representatives of the majority Macedonian and the minority ethnic Albanian communities to deal with the grievances of the Albanians.
    On the other, discussions have been held to broaden the governing coalition and bring in the main opposition parties, from both sides of the ethnic divide. Part of the price the opposition parties have extracted was a promise of early elections to be held by the end of January next year, almost a year ahead of schedule. In addition, several key ministries - including defence, foreign affairs and justice - will go to the parties now joining the administration.
    Prime Minister Georgievski and his allies have had to pay a heavy price for enticing the opposition into government at a time when politicians are not queuing up to be lumbered with responsibility. Of course, having a grand coalition is no guarantee that all the governing parties will agree to a settlement. Ethnic Albanian guerrilla commanders have warned that there can be no end to the fighting unless the government holds talks with them. BBC NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana had backed the plan for a coalition, but PDP parliamentary group head Naser Ziberi said after the talks in Tetovo: "We have not taken a decision yet. "The priority for us is how to stop the war." (CNN) Macedonia will hold early legislative elections before January 2002, government spokesman Antonio Milososki said on Tuesday. The elections, which had been scheduled for autumn 2002, will be held by January 27, Milososki said. (The Times of India)

    The Albanian guerillas of the National Liberation Army (NLA) in Macedonia said Tuesday that the new government of national unity would only continue the bloodshed and destructions and that negotiations with NLA are the only hope to end the crisis in the country. "Any kind of government that it is created with the cooperation between the EU without the inclusion of the NLA, would only continue the bloodshed causing even more damage," NLA commander Sokoli from Slupcan told KosovaLive, while grenades of Macedonian forces that fell on the villages could be heard on the telephone. According to Sokoli, it is not time for governments of unity, but it is time for Macedonian authorities and NLA to sit at the table and negotiate. "If it has come to this crisis, then the initiators of the crises should sit down - the Macedonian party on one side, that is shelling the Albanian villages and the Albanian party on the other side, that are protecting the villages," Sokoli said. Commander Sokoli harshly criticized two Albanian parties with influence in Macedonia, meaning the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) and the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP). According to Sokoli, after the recent crisis in the Kumanovo region, these parties do not represent the Albanian population in Macedonia anymore. "It is not possible that a political party such as the PDP or DPA, fails to raise its voice against the shelling, to continue representing the interests of the Albanian population," commander Sokoli said, adding that if they were representatives of the Albanians "they would at least have come and see the real situation of the people here." (KosovaLive) Although there was no indication that the rebels were returning fire, another rebel leader, Commander Hoxha, told The Associated Press by telephone Tuesday that the insurgents had not withdrawn as the military had claimed. He said the government was "in deep crisis" because of widespread support for the rebels. (Las Vegas Sun)

    A senior NATO official claimed that the rebels were trying to lure the Macedonian army into causing civilian casualties that they could then exploit for propaganda purposes. "Let’s face it," said the senior western European NATO officer, "KLA saw what the results were when the Serbs killed 45 Kosovars at Racak, and they’re thinking of the propaganda value of something like that being made to happen in Macedonia." Other NATO officials and Macedonian defence sources fear that the thousands of civilians trapped against their will in villages under constant bombardment north of Kumanovo, just ten miles from the Kosovo border, are being held by the NLA rebels partly as "human shields" and partly because the Macedonian forces would be almost certain to kill civilians if they launch a ground assault. (The Scotsman)

    Most Kosovars and Macedonians don't have the stomach for another war; they see peaceful dialogue as a better path to more independence. But an explosive war could radicalise the ethnic- Albanian minority in Macedonia against the Slavic majority and the government. President Bush and NATO are right to back the Macedonian government, but the U.S. should strongly oppose the government's effort to declare a state of war to get emergency powers to deal with the insurgents. Yes, it's a small band taking on the government. But the greater risk lies not in the rebel assault, but in the government's response. Any crackdown on the rights of ethnic-Albanians could lead to disaster. Ethnic-Albanians in Macedonia are vulnerable to exploitation by their Kosovar cousins. Even though they hold five Cabinet posts in the Skopje government, they still feel treated like second-class citizens. The only solution is a diplomatic solution, and that should be guiding NATO's efforts. Here's an ideal case where European governments, not the U.S. for a change, could take the lead. The stakes are high. Much has changed in the Balkans in the past 10 years. Former Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic is cooling his heels in jail. There is every reason for both ethnic Albanians and Slavic Macedonians to seek a peaceful accommodation. (Chicago Tribune)

    NATO’s Chief, George Robertson, and Head of the European Committee, Romano Prodi, received Albanian’s Prime Minister, Ilir Meta, in Brielle’s. Robertson assessed the stand of the Albanian government as moderate in connection with the incidents in Macedonia. The Albanian Prime Minister ensured NATO's General Secretary that the Albanian government would be consistent in its stand that will serve the interests of Albania and stability in the region. After his meeting with Prodi, Meta said that Albania had never and will never favour terrorism or extremism of any form. "We our doing our maximum to keep our borders with Macedonia under control," Meta said. "We want to promote cooperation with all countries in the region and we condemn extremism and extremist who think they can solve problems using violence. We also express our full respect toward the territorial integrity of Macedonia and the sovereignty of Skopje's government," he said. However, Meta also emphasizes that Tirana has requested that the Macedonian government engages in making a concrete improvement of the conditions and rights of the Albanian minority by isolating extremists. (KosovaLive) Meta told the EU yesterday his government would not allow the country to become a base for ethnic Albanian rebels fighting in Macedonia. "From Albanian territory there is no help that is going to the terrorists," Mr Meta told reporters in Brussels. (The Scotsman)

    United States on Tuesday gave Macedonia its full backing to the Balkan state against the Muslim separatists. "US President George W Bush supports the efforts of the government of Macedonia to fight the extremists who have brought violence to the region," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters here. Asked whether during his meeting with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski at the White House Bush gave "the green light" for attacks against Albanian extremists, he said the escalation of violence in Macedonia began prior to Trajkovski's visit to the United States. However, he added "Bush is very concerned about extremists operating in Macedonia who are threatening the peace in the region. The President wants to make certain that Trajkovski is able to focus his efforts on the extremists. " (The Times of India)