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Angele Cvetkovski, who was held captive by the NLA (National Liberation Army) since August 11, 2001, is reunited with his wife after being brought to the Red Cross headquarters in Skopje August 26, 2001. NATO insisted on Saturday its latest Balkan peace mission was credible despite criticism from Macedonian's prime minister and government warnings that the operation had to restore stability, not just collect weapons. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
Angele Cvetkovski (C) who was held captive by the NLA (National Liberation Army) since August 11, 2001, is reunited with his wife (L) and daughter (R) after being brought to the Red Cross headquarters in Skopje, August 26, 2001. NATO insisted on Saturday its latest Balkan peace mission was credible despite criticism from Macedonian's prime minister and government warnings that the operation had to restore stability, not just collect weapons. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
Macedonian children wave to British soldiers from a Pathfinder platoon as they pass through the outskirts of Skopje August 26, 2001. NATO set a target of 3,300 weapons to be gathered from guerrillas under plans to defuse six months of ethnic conflict in Macedonia. (Petr Josek/Reuters)
A general view shows a destroyed Macedonian hotel in the village of Celopek, near Tetovo, August 26, 2001. The Macedonian-owned motel was blown up Sunday in an area of northern Macedonia dominated by ethnic Albanian guerrillas, killing two workers, police and state media said. REUTERS/str MACEDONIA OUT
Macedonian government rejects NATO arms figures.
SKOPJE, Aug 26 (AFP) -
Macedonia on Sunday rejected NATO's assessment of how many weapons it would collect from ethnic Albanian rebels, saying the figure would only encourage the guerrillas to continue the war they have been fighting since February.
"This is not a serious figure and it will encourage them to keep their arms and to continue the war," government spokesman Antonio Milososki said.
"We expected NATO to have a much more serious approach," he added.
NATO said on Sunday it would begin Operation Essential Harvest on Monday as planned despite not having reached an accord with Skopje. The alliance said it planned during the operation to collect 3,300 weapons from the rebels, not including small arms and ammunition.
Kosovo peacekeepers clash with NLA.
Sunday, 26 August 2001 0:44 (ET)
Kosovo peacekeepers clash with NLA
By JEFF BIELEY
SKOPJE, Macedonia, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Violence in Macedonia spilled over into Kosovo, when a group of ethnic Albanian insurgents fired on U.S. peacekeepers, the peacekeeping force reported Saturday.
The members of the National Liberation Army had crossed into Kosovo from the Macedonian town of Radusha when a combined American-Polish patrol spotted them.
Two of the militants dressed in NLA uniforms tried to flee, before one opened fire on the peacekeepers. U.S. soldiers took cover and then returned fire, wounding one guerrilla in the leg. He and four others were captured and taken to the main American base, Camp Bondsteel, for questioning.
No soldiers from the NATO-led peacekeeping force known as KFOR were injured in the incident, which took place Friday morning near the border village of Gorance.
KFOR did not immediately report the clash, releasing only a routine statement Saturday that a patrol detained a wounded man after illegally crossing into Kosovo.
A spokesman for the peacekeepers declined to release the man's name, but the NLA commander in Radusha confirmed that Emrush Suma, one of his soldiers, fired on the American troops. He said Suma, in his mid-20s, is from the southern Kosovo border town of Hani Elezit, about five kilometers from where he was shot.
The incident is likely to raise fears that some of the rebels who have been battling Macedonian security forces for the last six months will not abide by a peace agreement signed Aug. 13.
Kosovo is the main base of men and materiel for the NLA, which exploits a porous border with Macedonia to fuel its rebellion against the government.
KFOR says it has stepped up patrols along the Kosovo-Macedonia border in an operation it calls "Relentless Denial" to clamp down on ethnic Albanian extremists.
However, Friday's incident, in which guerrillas in uniform were traveling inside Kosovo in broad daylight, suggests that the militants do not fear the peacekeeping force.
KFOR did report some success in two unrelated incidents overnight Friday and Saturday morning with the arrest of 48 suspected NLA members who crossed in Kosovo from Macedonia. One automatic rifle was seized, along with hand-held radios and an unspecified amount of cash.
KFOR troops detained all of the men, who were taken for questioning to Camp Bondsteel. About 150 suspected ethnic Albanians are being held there while military tribunals process their cases.
However, penalties for extremist activity are light in the
U.N.-administered province. Most of about 500 guerrilla suspects arrested since June have been released after they were determined to no longer be a threat to security in Kosovo, KFOR spokesman Maj. Norman Johnson said.
Illegally crossing into Kosovo without a weapon is a misdemeanor in Kosovo, handled by U.N. police, rather than peacekeepers.
The flow of arms and fighters out of Kosovo has reversed in the last week, Johnson said, following the entry of NATO forces into Macedonia to disarm the militants. NLA rebels moving into Kosovo may be trying to hide their arsenal of assault rifles, grenades and mortars there before a NATO operation to disarm ethnic Albanians begins in Macedonia.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski has announced an amnesty for guerrillas who lay down their arms, following an Aug. 13 peace deal that granted more rights to ethnic Albanians. However, both the peace accord and the amnesty still await parliamentary approval.
The NATO disarmament mission, dubbed Operation Essential Harvest, is set to get underway Monday, if a disagreement about the size of the rebel arsenal to be collected can be resolved.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski ridiculed NATO estimates of the number of weapons to be collected, saying it was woefully inadequate. An alliance spokesman said talks with the government would continue Sunday.
Macedonia rebels give 'credible' arms list to NATO.
By Mike Collett-White
SKOPJE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Ethnic Albanian rebels have shown NATO officers "credible" lists of weapons including mortars and anti-tank rockets they promise to hand over to an alliance task force starting on Monday, a senior NATO official said.
But their expectations of what NATO would do to protect them after it withdrew in the planned 30 days far exceeded what the alliance, eager to avoid another Balkans quagmire, was prepared to offer, the official said.
"I have been out seeing the NLA commanders and I totally have that sense...that they want to give this peace agreement a chance," the official said late on Saturday.
"They seemed well-organised and presented us with a credible plan for doing it (weapons collection)."
The official, who asked not to be named, was shown a list of military hardware the rebels say they will hand over in the coming days. The first weapons collection site is expected to start up on Monday, patrolled by British and French troops.
"There were a lot of weapons (on the list), and if they are given in, that is a seriously credible amount of weaponry."
The list included anti-tank weapons and mortars as well as Kalashnikov rifles, a common sight in the hills controlled by the National Liberation Army above the northwestern city Tetovo.
There has been heated debate over what the Albanians will hand in. The official said it would be impossible to collect anywhere near the NLA's entire arsenal.
"Nobody has asked NATO voluntarily to collect all the weapons in the Balkans -- that would need about 300 nations," the official said. But he said the limited mission at least gave the peace process in the tiny former Yugoslav republic a chance.
Turning over weapons is to go hand-in-hand with parliamentary steps to ratify constitutional changes promised the minority Albanian community under the August 13 peace pact.
Critics of NATO's "Operation Essential Harvest" in Macedonia say it will create a vacuum after the 4,500 troops leave.
Several rebel commanders have said they will not disarm if they risked a backlash by Macedonian forces later.
"They have got expectations," the senior NATO official said. "They are based I think on what has happened in Kosovo."
Around 35,000 NATO soldiers in Kosovo, which borders Macedonia, effectively patrol ethnically-divided enclaves, a "mission creep" that NATO is desperate to avoid repeating.
"I can tell you absolutely categorically that this mission is going (home) in 30 days," the official said.
He said NATO troops would defend themselves if attacked by either side. "I can assure you if they do, they will get more than they bargained for."
But if security gets too risky the mission will be halted.
The NATO official said he was especially concerned about mines and unexploded shells from recent fighting.
Macedonian motel blown up in rebel-dominated area.
CELOPEK, Macedonia, Aug 26 (Reuters) - A Macedonian-owned motel was blown up on Sunday in an area of northern Macedonia dominated by ethnic Albanian guerrillas, killing two workers, police and state media said.
The incident took place as NATO troops prepared to start collecting weapons from the guerrillas under a shaky ceasefire twinned with a peace plan that is to grant Macedonia's minority Albanians better civil rights.
State news agency MIA said the two employees were found dead in the mined ruins of the Brioni Motel on a front-line riverbank opposite the rebel-held ethnic Albanian village of Celopek.
"There was a big explosion at the Brioni Motel just after 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) and it was totally destroyed," Shaip Bilalli, police chief for the partially guerrilla-controlled municipality of Tetovo, told Reuters.
Celopek is about 10 kms (6 miles) south of Tetovo off Macedonia's main east-west highway and in the shadow of hills largely held by insurgents of the National Liberation Army.
A Reuters reporter on the scene said the building was reduced to rubble except for one wall and part of the roof. Macedonian police investigators had blocked off the site and several NATO liaison officers arrived in jeeps.
The motel was believed to have had few, if any, guests recently given its vulnerable front-line location. Macedonian troops and police in the vicinity were tense after Sunday's incident and refused to speak with Western media.
Observers speculated that the motel might have been used by security forces as a position to prevent guerrillas crossing the river but this could not be confirmed.
"Overnight there were extended bouts of rifle fire from the Tetovo area of Cegrane (south of Celopek) and neighbouring hills. There was no response to the terrorist provocations from Macedonian security forces," MIA said.
Last week, a church inside a revered 14th-century Macedonian Orthodox monastery was blown up by what Macedonian authorities said were "armed Albanian terrorists."
Albanian rebels free 4 more Macedonians, 8 total.
LIPKOVO, Macedonia, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Ethnic Albanian rebels released eight Macedonian prisoners to the International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday in two separate handovers.
Four men captured by guerrillas in the former Yugoslav republic and released in Lipkovo, a village deep behind rebel lines, smiled and waved as they climbed into a Red Cross vehicle. Two were members of the Macedonian security forces.
Another four men were reunited with their families in the capital Skopje several hours later, having been handed over to the ICRC near the village of Radusa, also in the rebel heartland of northwest Macedonia.
They looked tired and dazed as they climbed out of the back of two ICRC cars to be greeted by waiting cameras. Their families surrounded them and shed tears of relief marking the end of three to four weeks of anguish.
"We were contacted once, and have not talked to him for the last 25 days," one relative said.
He added that three of the group had been kidnapped by the guerrillas in a market in the Albanian-majority town of Tetovo on June 28.
Amanda Williamson, ICRC spokesperson, said the Red Cross had given the National Liberation Army (NLA) rebels a list of 26 Macedonians reported missing by their families.
But the NLA has so far supplied information on the fate of only half that number, a senior NATO official said.
Red Cross officials met rebel leader Ali Ahmeti two days ago to seek access to the remaining captives and assurances that they were being kept well. He promised "unconditional access" to those still being held, Williamson said.
"This is a very positive development," she told reporters at the ICRC's headquarters in Skopje. "We have been waiting for months to visit some of these people."
Angry Macedonians, who have blocked a road vital for supplying the alliance's peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Kosovo, have demanded that NATO secure the release of all NLA prisoners.
The two civilians released in Lipkovo had been held since May, while the other two were seized in July. Most of the rest reported missing are believed to have been captured in the volatile Tetovo region, 60 km (40 miles) to the west.
The NLA occupied ethnically mixed villages on a contested road in the area last month. Most Macedonians fled as a result.
More than 125,000 people from both of the tiny Balkan state's main ethnic groups have been displaced since the NLA surfaced in February and fanned out across northern Macedonia.
Army fears slide to war in Macedonia.
the Sunday Times
Jon Swain, Skopje, James Clark and Tom Walker
FEARS were growing last night that the British-led mission to disarm the Albanian rebels in Macedonia will end in failure, leaving the country facing civil war and eventual partition along ethnic lines.
The gloomy analysis, by diplomats observing the process, came as the Macedonian government dismissed as "laughable" Nato proposals to collect only 3,500 weapons from the rebels. Ljubco Georgievski, the prime minister, said he had reliable information the Albanians had at least 70,000.
The authoritative Jane's Defence Weekly reported yesterday that the rebels have 8,000 assault rifles, 250 heavy machineguns, 200 sniping rifles, up to 200 mortars and 50 shoulder-launched missiles, including stingers.
It also emerged this weekend that the British defence ministry, fearing the worst, has contingency plans to keep its paratroopers in Macedonia for longer than the 30 days officially sanctioned by Nato.
British troops are expected to start collecting weapons tomorrow at points set up in the western mountains around the flashpoint town of Tetovo, near the Kosovo border. Nato's goal is to collect about 1,000 weapons by the end of the week.
If the timetable slips, however, the twin political track of the peace process will stall. The Macedonian government would then be unlikely to make constitutional amendments demanded by the Albanians, who claim to have been discriminated against for years in the majority Slav state that seceded from Yugoslavia in 1992.
Diplomats have warned that the whole process is too fragile to withstand the turmoil that normally accompanies civic strife in the Balkans. The rebels have already "cleansed" much of the territory around Tetovo.
"The Albanians will destroy Macedonia as we know it today," said one senior diplomat familiar with both sides. "It's common sense that they will hold on to their weapons.Over the next couple of months we will see a migration of Slavs from the western to central areas, and even into Bulgaria."
Nato hopes to avoid this nightmare scenario by destroying ammunition on site before driving off truckloads of weaponry to be broken up outside Macedonia.
All sides, however, know this is a charade and that the best weapons remain in the hills.
Hand-in-hand with disarmament, Nato says it has persuaded the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) to pull back from the contested areas around Tetovo, so that displaced villagers can return.
British experts were touring the area yesterday to assess needs, including rebuilding houses and re-establishing water and electricity services. The fighting has created more than 125,000 internal refugees from both communities, who will have to be resettled to make the ceasefire signed two weeks ago worth anything.
Britain's leading role in Operation Essential Harvest has grown with the arrival of more troops this weekend. The Nato mission will be made up of 4,500 to 5,000 troops - mostly from Britain and France.
American troops are providing logistics support. US marines, part of Nato's strategic reserve, arrived in Kosovo last week on a month-long exercise along the distinctly porous border with Macedonia. Some 45 guerrillas attempting to cross back into Kosovo were arrested on Friday.
Army sources have meanwhile admitted that "mission creep" could well see Essential Harvest last for a year or longer. Senior officers in Whitehall and at the army's permanent joint headquarters underground nerve centre in north London have drawn up contingency plans for at least four possible outcomes.
The most likely of these is thought to be a "renegotiation" of the length of time troops will remain. More doomladen scenarios envisage a resumption of fighting, in which case the British would have to withdraw rapidly from a guerrilla war.
But ministers, aware that images of troops leaving while villagers are slaughtered could backfire, are thought to be bracing for the most daunting option - a full-scale peacekeeping force, and the risk of Nato casualties.
The diplomat said the Albanian leadership knew that Nato, vulnerable to a counter-attack on its forces in Kosovo, was extremely reluctant to crack down on the rebels. "There is such a sense of Balkan déjà vu," he said. "We could have war very soon."
Macedonian PM calls for military action after motel blast.
SKOPJE, Aug 26 (AFP) -
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski called for military action on Sunday after two men were killed in a blast blamed on ethnic Albanian rebels that destroyed a motel near the northwest village of Celopek.
Speaking to journalists after taking part in a Macedonian security cabinet meeting, Georgievski said: "I can say the barbarian behaviour of the terrorists after Lesok is continuing. Today we have Celopek and Macedonia has to react with the military or with police."
On Tuesday, a 14th century Orthodox church was blown up in the village of Lesok near the mainly ethnic Albanian town of Tetovo.
Unconfirmed reports said the Macedonian employees, who had been guarding the motel two kilometres (a mile) from Celopek, had been bound with wire and explosives had been tied to them.
President Boris Trajkovski also condemned the bombing.
"With this latest act by Albanian terrorist gangs we are defintely discovering precisely marked plans for the ethnic cleansing of certain parts of Macedonia of Macedonians and others in the non-Albanian popluation," Trajkovski's office said in a statement.
Vele Ristovski, one of the owners of the Brioni motel, said: "I understand they are blowing up a motel to show that they are in control of the territory but I dont understand that they're killing innocent civilians."
But a commander of the rebel National Liberation Army said the motel was not in NLA territory.
A western military source said he believed the attack was not what it appeared to be and was probably a criminal act.
The area around Celopek, which is 80 percent Albanian and 20 percent Macedonian, has frequently seen incursions by NLA rebels.
Celopek is also the birth-place of hardline Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski.
Kosovo's refugee Gypsies feel forgotten, but they're afraid to return home.
By Susan Ladika, Associated Press, 8/26/2001 12:15
PODGORICA, Yugoslavia (AP) Two women take turns bathing outdoors in a plastic tub. A man fetches water from a crude homemade well. A housewife cooks her evening meal in an electric skillet set on the floor.
This is life at the Konik 1 refugee camp on the outskirts of Podgorica, capital of the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro and home to some of neighboring Kosovo's forgotten refugees 1,600 Gypsies who fled two years ago.
''Humanitarian aid agencies are forgetting us,'' Gazi Redzep, 27, said as he and relatives grumbled about the elimination of food deliveries for adults, a water shortage and trash littering the rocky ground.
Redzep and his family fled the city of Djakovica in the aftermath of NATO's 1999 air war on Yugoslav forces in Kosovo, the southern Serbian province. At least 30,000 Gypsies, also known as Roma, fled after accusations that they had collaborated with Serbs who committed atrocities against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.
''We had only two choices: To escape and live, or to die,'' Redzep said.
Now they live in wooden barracks on a dusty plain outside Podgorica. Down the road is a junkyard filled with scrap automobiles; across the street are rusted, cast-off appliances.
Although they have communal bathhouses and wood-burning stoves to cook their meals, many Roma holed up at the camp seem just as happy to do things in humbler, more familiar ways.
The refugees at Konik 1 are just a portion of the 7,200 Roma remaining in Montenegro since Kosovo came under U.N. and NATO control when Serb troops withdrew from the province.
Many refugees say they would like to go home, but they fear reprisals.
''Our family is thinking about returning, but no one is safe,'' said Mifail Nazifi, 38, who lives in a fastidiously neat two-room unit with 10 relatives.
Nazifi, who fled the city of Vucitrin, is one of the lucky ones, holding a steady job as an assistant at a health clinic at the camp. Some Roma are able to land day laborer jobs, while others dig in trash cans for food, he said.
''Since we came here, we didn't receive a dime'' from aid groups, Nazifi said.
Robert Breen, head of U.N. refugee operations in Montenegro, said that starting in April, aid agencies decided to hand out food only to those most in need: children, the elderly, the ill and single-parent households.
''Many of the people are, in fact, working in the Roma camps. They are not wealthy ... but they are getting by,'' Breen said.
The refugees at Konik 1 live in rent-free housing, and the cash-strapped government of Montenegro, which together with Serbia makes up Yugoslavia, says it is doing the best it can to support them.
''The social situation in Montenegro is not good at all, but we are doing our best to help all the refugees who come here,'' said Djordje Scepanovic, the government's commissioner for refugees.
Montenegro, with a population of only 650,000, has 47,000 refugees living within its borders. Besides the Roma, there are about 25,000 other people from Kosovo and 15,000 refugees who have been here since the Bosnian and Croatian wars of the early 1990s.
Unlike Kosovo Serbs, who have strong advocates in the Yugoslav government, few are lobbying for the return of the Roma to their prewar homes.
Those who speak Albanian, own property or have relatives who remained in Kosovo have the greatest chance of returning, Breen said.
Feelings about Roma vary widely within Kosovo.
Some allegedly helped the Serbs during the war by digging graves and loading bodies onto trucks and looted homes of ethnic Albanians. In other communities, Roma fought alongside ethnic Albanian rebels and are readily accepted.
''In some villages they're completely tolerated; they just left as a precaution. In other villages, they were chased away,'' said Astrid Van Genderen Stort, spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee office in Kosovo's capital, Pristina.
Efforts to encourage their return were knocked off track last year when four Roma men were gunned down shortly after they moved back to their home in central Kosovo.
''That was really a setback,'' Van Genderen Stort said. ''And at the same time, it made us more determined not to let it stop returns.''
NATO enters a well-armed land.
the Boston Globe
Smuggling bolsters Macedonian rebels.
By Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff, 8/26/2001
EAR TETOVO, Macedonia - Meet Commander Leka, a battalion chief of the ethnic Albanian rebels who control this area.
He wears a camouflage uniform with the signature red patch of the Albanian National Liberation Army. An AK-47 assault rifle is slung over his shoulder and his ammunition vest bulges with two full clips of bullets, two 9mm semiautomatic pistols, and a hand grenade.
As NATO's latest mission in the Balkans begins tomorrow with a voluntary collection of rebel weapons - a move intended to stop a war here before it starts - Leka says with a smile that he and the roughly 2,000-member NLA will hand over their arsenal and ''comply 100 percent.''
Then Commander Leka, who goes only by his nom de guerre, reached for a hip holster and unsheathed an 18-inch knife with a bone handle which he describes as his favorite weapon, adding, ''But I don't ever give up my knife.''
The limited NATO mission with a self-imposed deadline of 30 days is, to its supporters, a noble effort to derail another runaway conflict in the Balkans. To its critics, this is a hopelessly naive endeavor destined to fail.
Even the most senior planners of the operation acknowledge that NATO can never stop the easy flow of weapons to rebel forces along the mountainous borders of Kosovo and Albania.
According to analysts and diplomats, the region is awash in weapons. A report released in April by the International Crisis Group, a policy organization that attempts to prevent conflict, cites weapons estimates for Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo of 280,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 1 million antitank missiles, 3.1 million hand grenades, 1 billion rounds of ammunition, and 24 million machine guns.
Jane's Defense Weekly confirmed in report Friday that ''the NLA has a very secure supply line to western Macedonia'' of weapons which include surface-to-air missiles, 120mm mortars, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and antitank rockets. The publication also estimates that the NLA has 3,000 fighters and perhaps an equal number of volunteers who are not in uniform but mostly have access to weapons.
An array of defense specialists as well as NATO and Macedonian defense officials interviewed by the Globe last week confirm that even if NATO succeeds in collecting the rebels' weapons, the NLA could rearm in a matter of weeks or even days should it decide that the political process is not achieving its demands for constitutional changes that guarantee rights for ethnic Albanians.
Commander Leka and others know there are a variety of sources and trade routes into Macedonia.
The primary route is through Albania, where hundreds of thousands of weapons were looted from Albanian Army depots in 1997 and where criminal gangs conduct a flourishing market in the weapons trade.
Weapons have also continued to flow over a criss-crossing mountain paths from Kosovo into Macedonia, especially through the areas of Radusa and Vesala, according to a high-ranking official in the Macedonian defense department.
Macedonian officials claim that NATO's interdiction efforts - which were stepped up in June as part of a US-led mission known as ''Operation Eagle'' - along the Kosovo border have been largely unsuccessful in stemming the flow of weapons that fueled the fighting in Macedonia in July and early August.
This is one of the reasons the Macedonian government has been skeptical of the NATO mission, and one of the reasons why the American forces have a low profile in ''Operation Essential Harvest.'' There are only about 300 American soldiers involved in this NATO operation, which is deploying more than 4,000 troops. British soldiers have taken the lead role.
NATO officials argue that their interdiction efforts have been successful, and that increased patrols along the Kosovo border in recent months have brought in 2,000 weapons and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as the arrest of several arms dealers.
There have been reports in recent days of NLA weapons flowing in the other direction - out of Macedonia and into Kosovo. NATO has confirmed some of these reports, and specialists theorize that the moves are an attempt by the NLA to hide its best weapons before the NATO mission begins.
Another trail of weapons to the Albanian rebels in Macedonia comes from truck convoys into the country from neighboring Bulgaria, according to Jane's Defense Weekly.
Sometimes, the greed of arms dealers even rises above the seething ethnic hatreds in this region. Jane's also cites reports of weapons sales to Albanian rebels from Serbia. Corrupt officials in the Zastava arms factory in Serbia have made black market deals with rebels, says Jane's.
Commander Leka agrees. And to prove it, he handed his assault rifle across a table to show its unmistakable stamp: ''Made in Zastava.''
''The Serbs give us better prices than our brothers the Albanians,'' he said. ''If the Macedonian government does not live up to the agreement, we can get more weapons. When we started this we had to get weapons, and if we need to continue it we will just get more.''
The large supply of weapons has pushed prices down, and the rebels are backed by wealthy Albanian nationalists in the region and around the world, including the United States. Kalashnikov assault rifles, for example, go for about $150, according to Leka. Mortars can be had for a fraction of that price.
Still, NATO officials insist that the success or failure of Operation Essential Harvest will be defined by whether it can build enough confidence to help the Macedonian government and the rebels to move toward a political solution. At their daily press briefings, NATO officials acknowledge that their presence here is also about ''building confidence.''
Colonel Paul Edwards, NATO's chief of the operation, said yesterday, ''No one is going to remove every weapon in this region.''
''I come back to our position that'' the rebels' offer to disarm ''is a statement of intent'' that they seek to pursue their goals in the political process and not through fighting.
''The collection process is but one part of a process heading toward peace,'' he added.
NATO will collect weapons at about 15 sites in three regions. Officials have pledged to collect one-third of the rebels' weapons by Friday, when the Macedonian Parliament is expected to introduce legislation to change its constitution and local laws to guarantee the rights of ethnic Albanians, who make up roughly 30 percent of Macedonia's 2 million citizens.
The Macedonians are skeptical of the weapons hand-over. They say they want a real end to the hostilities, and many dismiss the NATO mission as a charade that benefits the alliance's public affairs department but does little to solve the issues behind the conflict.
It is not clear that the bill would pass in Parliament.
Fighting broke out along Macedonia's border with the Serbian province of Kosovo in February, after ethnic Albanians launched an insurgency, announcing they were fighting for greater rights. Hard-liners in the government say ethnic Albanians have their eyes on a state of their own.
After an Aug. 13 peace agreement was forged and a fragile cease-fire seemed to be taking hold, NATO's ruling council authorized a total of about 4,700 troops to help with disarmament of the rebels. That includes about 3,500 actively involved in the collection of arms and others in administrative and logistical roles, the alliance said Friday.
By far the most explosive issue surrounding this operation, and one that presents the possibility that it could collapse, is the widely differing assessment of how many weapons the NLA actually has.
The NLA has said that it has 2,500 weapons. The more moderate elements of the Macedonian government have said the rebels have no fewer than 8,500, and hard-liners have trotted out a number of 85,000. NATO officials balked yesterday at publicizing the number that they say they have come up with, but do not deny published reports that it is ''more than 3,000.'' Yesterday Macedonia's prime minister, Lupco Georgievski, said that figure is far too low, dismissing it as ''ridiculous.''
Ed Joseph, an American analyst for the International Crisis Group, said, ''Weapons equal time.''
''By collecting weapons, NATO can slow everything down and give the political process time to move forward,'' he said. ''If they can delay the momentum toward a war here until the fall, that means something.''
Autumn in the Balkans brings raw weather and difficult fighting conditions. But yesterday as the NATO forces braced for their new mission the muggy heat of late summer still lingered over the region.
Massacre report names Macedonia interior minister.
By Jessica Berry in Ljuboten
MACEDONIA'S hardline interior minister will come under pressure this week to explain his role in the worst alleged atrocity in the six-month conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels, The Telegraph can reveal.
Ljubce Boskovski, an ultra-nationalist and a bitter opponent of the current British-led Nato disarmament mission, will be accused by Human Rights Watch, an American-based pressure group, of involvement in the incident in Ljuboten.
The accusation will be made in a damning report to be submitted to the Macedonian government, but its timing has alarmed some foreign diplomats who fear that Mr Boskovski and his supporters could use it to rail against the West and oppose the Nato mission to collect weapons from the rebels. Operation Essential Harvest, which starts tomorrow, involves 1,900 British soldiers at the head of a total deployment of nearly 5,000 Nato troops.
The Macedonian security operation in Ljuboten two weeks ago left at least 10 ethnic Albanians dead. In a series of interviews last week, villagers described a three-day police operation in which civilians were tortured and shot dead in cold blood.
The government claims that it was hunting down rebels from the National Liberation Army (NLA) after 10 Macedonian soldiers were ambushed and killed and eight servicemen were blown up by land mines.
A tape filmed by Macedonian Television and seen by The Telegraph shows Mr Boskovski standing on the balcony of an empty house above Ljuboten and looking down into the village with other security officers. Houses can be seen burning and there is constant noise of shelling and machinegun fire.
The taped television narrative says: "Ljubce Boskovski was present during the whole operation of the Macedonian security forces."
The interior minister has not replied to requests for comment by The Telegraph, but he told journalists that there had been no massacre of civilians.
Peter Bouckaert, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who is writing the report after a series of interviews with witnesses, said, however, that the document would detail a massacre and raise questions about Mr Boskovski's role.
The hardline interior minister controls not only Macedonia's uniformed police force but also, according to diplomats, a renegade crew of paramilitaries known as the Lions.
The Macedonian police claim that the Ljuboten operation was targeting an NLA stronghold, and that eight NLA members were killed and 12 were captured. Villagers, however, gave a dramatically different account to The Sunday last week.
"There were children playing in the street. Suddenly a grenade hit one of the kids. The boy flew in the air and there was smoke and blood. Everyone ran," said Fasli, 25, a farmer.
When he tried to escape on Saturday he reached a checkpoint where, he said, there were "many police, some wearing balaclavas, and dozens of civilians with guns, axes and sticks".
He was then taken to a nearby police station where he and other men were severely beaten by masked policemen. "The carpet was filled with blood," he said.
Outside, Fasli heard a baying mob shouting "Let us kill them. Gas chambers for Shiptars!" Shiptar is a derogatory term for an Albanian.
Elmas, 55, a paraplegic, watched his 33-year-old son, Rami Youssef, die in agony. Unable to move, he could not help him. "They bombed my gate then they came to my house. There were 20 police in my yard." An explosion blew out his front door. This was followed by machinegun fire. He said his son was hit in the side and stomach. "He died very slowly. It took two hours."
Aziz Barami said he saw his son, Suleyman, murdered after they were ordered out of a basement where they had been hiding with other villagers. "They took us through a small gate where there were eight men lying face-down on the ground with their hands above their heads. We were told to lie down too.
" A policeman kicked Suleyman in the head. He was in pain and stood up and then the policeman shot him and then everyone was shooting. I heard one say: `This pig is still moving.' Then there was another single gunshot. Suleyman tried to flee and then they shot him in the head."
Blast heightens Macedonia tension.
Two people were killed in the blast.
Two Macedonians have been killed in a hotel blast which state television has blamed on Albanian rebels.
The explosion south of the city of Tetovo comes just a day before Nato is due to start collecting the weapons of ethnic Albanian fighters and despite Nato failing to agree with the Macedonian Government on the number of arms at stake.
State-run radio also reported exchanges of gunfire between security forces and rebels north east of the capital, Skopje.
Our correspondent in Skopje, Jacky Rowland, says the attack is a timely reminder of the continuing tensions and mistrust between the two main communities in Macedonia.
On Saturday, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski described Nato's estimates of about 3,000 weapons as "laughable", declaring the real number to be at least 70,000.
The hotel stood in an area where both Macedonians and ethnic Albanians have their homes. The building itself belonged to Macedonians and the two hotel staff who are reported to have been killed were also Macedonians
The collection of weapons is a key part of an agreement designed to end months of conflict in the Balkan state, exchanging the surrender of arms for amendments to the constitution benefiting the country's ethnic Albanian minority.
Nato, which is due to start the collection mission on Monday, has played down the disagreement.
"We have great confidence that this process is going to move forward and that our numbers will be accepted as being realistic," said the alliance's spokesman Major Barry Johnson.
Major Johnson says the sticking point is whether explosives and ammunition should be counted separately from rifles and missiles.
Details of the planned speed of the operation are not yet clear. The Macedonian parliament has said it will only begin to discuss ratification of the wider peace agreement when one-third of the weapons have been handed in.
But our correspondent Nick Thorpe says rebel commanders are also speaking of handing in only a third of their weapons until they have proof that the Macedonian side intends to implement promised reforms.
Members of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) will be able to hand in their weapons anonymously, and the Macedonian army has promised not to approach the collection points.
Nato soldiers will simply receive weapons that are handed over voluntarily and have no mandate to seize any guns.
In another confidence-building initiative, the NLA has allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit Macedonian prisoners they have been holding.
Agency staff reportedly visited some of the 26 prisoners on Saturday, while stressing it was unlikely they would all be released at once.
A brittle ceasefire between rebels and government forces is generally holding but doubts and fears persist over what impact the mission can ultimately have.
Correspondents say there is uncertainty as to whether the alliance can finish the operation in the 30 day time span it has set itself, but also anxiety that Nato could create a potentially dangerous vacuum when it eventually leaves.
Nato's peace force could take up to 14 days to fully deploy, although weapons collection is due to start on Monday.
The official strength of the force is put at 3,500 - but the total number of troops offered by individual Nato member governments exceeds that figure.
They will be divided between four areas - one British, one French, one Italian and one Greek, with contingents from other countries being assigned to one of the four.
Parliamentary moves are meant to accompany the surrender of the weapons.
NLA members, who say they have been fighting to improve the lot of their ethnic minority, will be granted an amnesty.
Amendments to the constitution will make Albanian an official language in some areas, and more jobs in the police force and in the public sector will be created for minority groups.
UK leading - 1,900
France - 530
Italy - about 500
Germany - 500
Greece - 350
Netherlands - 250
Canada - 200
Spain, Turkey, Hungary, Norway, Czech Republic, Belgium - under 200 each
US - providing transport
Commander: UK's Brigadier Barney White-Spunner
Angry Macedonians block Nato supplies.
By Justin Huggler in Blace
26 August 2001
"Nato is at war against Macedonia," said Simon Trajkovski, sheltering from the scorching sun in the parched hills on the country's border with Kosovo.
A few metres away from the old man, four large mounds of soil topped by Macedonian flags, and a few metres of barbed wire, are playing havoc with the Western alliance's entire operation in Kosovo. Mr Trajkovski and about 100 ethnic Macedonians have blockaded Nato's only effective supply route to Kosovo.
"Minefield" is painted jokingly across the road ahead of the blockade and a political minefield is what British troops have stepped into.
Ethnic Macedonians, like Mr Trajkovski, are incensed at the presence of Nato troops, some 2,000 of them British soldiers, who have come to Macedonia to collect the Albanian rebels' weapons. A burnt-out car lies across the road with "Nato" and a swastika painted across it. A heart and arrow on the road says "Nato 4 ANA", referring to a hardline rebel splinter group, the Albanian National Army.
Nato says it is in Macedonia to end the Albanian rebellion and avert civil war. But most of those manning the blockade at Blace firmly believe the West is biased in favour of the Albanians, and that Nato soldiers are here to help the rebels. "The West created the Albanian terrorists in Kosovo and Macedonia," said one man angrily.
"The bombing in Serbia was to allow Nato soldiers to make a base in Kosovo," said Mr Trajkovski, nodding towards the border. "Now they will come here."
From the start, the Macedonia crisis has been linked to UN-administered Kosovo. Rebel supply lines run across the border and protesters want reparations from the UN.
Blace is a place heavy with recent history. Thousands of Albanians fled here from Slobodan Milosevic's campaign of terror as the Nato bombs hit Kosovo in 1999. Macedonia was deeply reluctant to let them in, and they were stranded, starving, in no man's land for days.
The Macedonians blocking the road today have their own reasons to be bitter. They too are refugees, forced out of their homes by occupying Albanian rebels.
Mr Trajkovski was ordered out of his house in Tearce, near the Albanian-dominated city of Tetovo. It was at gunpoint, he said. Another man, Jordan Nikolovski, said rebels beat his 68-year-old father, Tripun, leaving him with 10 broken ribs and bruised kidneys. Mr Nikolovski has got a doctor's report to prove it. One woman, calling herself only Nikolina, wept as she spoke of her husband, aged 74, taken prisoner by the rebels.
The man behind the blockade, Todor Petrov, said the barrier would stay until all "kidnapped" Macedonians were released. He threatens more blockades to obstruct Nato's work in Macedonia. The Red Cross is negotiating for the prisoners' release.
Meanwhile Nato is struggling to supply goods to thousands of K-For soldiers. Everything from hamburgers to tanks goes up this road, and Chinook helicopters thunder overhead, huge crates swinging beneath them on steel cables. It's the only way Nato can get its supplies in.
Tetovo and Greater Albania: Tetovo During World War II, 1941-1944.
by Carl K. Savich
Tetovo during World War II, 1941-1944: Introduction.
The practical implementation of the Greater Albania ideology was achieved during World War II when Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini established a German/Italian sponsored Albanian state which incorporated Western Macedonia, Illirida, Kosovo-Metohija, Kosova, and southern Montenegro. Hitler and Mussolini set the historical and political precedent for the creation of Greater Albania which existed from 1941 to 1944. The Orthodox Slavic populations, the Roma and Jewish populations were to be exterminated and deported. Albanian was made the official language in Kosovo, Western Macedonia, and southern Montenegro. The Albanian Lek was introduced as the official currency. The Albanian national flag, a double-headed black eagle on a red background, was raised in the occupied areas. Hitler and Mussolini had achieved a Greater or Ethnic Albania. The UCK, the so-called Albanian Liberation Army, known also by the acronyms the NLA/KLA/ANA/KPC/LAPMB, seeks to re-establish and to re-create the Greater Albania first created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The agenda, the goals, and the objectives of the UCK are identical to those of the ideologues of Greater Albania during World War II who created a Greater Albania in Western Macedonia, Kosovo-Metohija, and southern Montenegro. Western Macedonia and the city of Tetovo are integral and inseparable components or parts of the Greater Albania ideology. Greater Albania would be incomplete without Western Macedonia. What is being witnessed in Kosovo and in Macedonia today is a repeat or replay of what occurred during World War II, when Hitler and Mussolini established Greater Albania.
Albanian Nazi's were specially brutal to the Serb Orthodox clergy. Here an Albanian is murdering an Orthodox priest in Devic in World War 2.
Tetovo during World War II: Italian Occupation, 1941-1943 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini established Greater Albania in 1941 following the occupation and dismemberment of Yugoslavia. On April 6, 1941, Germany and allies Italy, Albania, Hungary, and Bulgaria invaded Yugoslavia in Operation Punishment. Yugoslavia was subsequently occupied and dismembered. Hitler and Mussolini then sponsored a Greater Albanian state which included territory from Western Macedonia, Kosovo-Metohija, and southern Montenegro.
Tetovo became a part of Albania. The borders of Albania were enlarged to include not only Tetovo or Tetova in Albanian, but all of Western Macedonia (Illirida), Kosovo-Metohija, and regions of Montenegro. Present-day Macedonia (FYROM) was divided between Albania and Bulgaria. Tetovo was in the Italian zone of occupation until September 3,1943, when Italy surrendered and Germany re-occupied Macedonia. Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia formed the National Albanian Committee to advance the Greater Albania movement and agenda. The Balli Kombetar (BK, National Union) was formed by Midhat Frasheri and Ali Klissura to advance the Greater Albania ideology or cause. The Slavic Orthodox populations were targeted for deportation or murder. The Jews and Roma were similarly to be deported or killed.
Hitler and Mussolini had given the ethnic Albanians Greater Albania. In August, 1941, the Italian occupation forces in Tetovo established a prison for prisoners of war. The Italian occupation authorities gave the civil authority and administration to the Albanian population. All Albanian-inhabited territories, Western Macedonia, Illirida, Kosovo-Metohija, Kosova, and southern Montenegro, were integrated completely into Albania proper. Albanian language schools, an Albanian press, an Albanian radio network were established and an Albanian governmental and political administration was created. Vulnetara, an Albanian paramilitary formation, was organized. Albanian police units were established by the Italian occupation force. Albanian became the official language as Western Macedonia or Illirida became a part of Albania. The Albanian national flag, the double-headed black eagle on a red background, was raised in Tetovo and other cities and towns in Western Macedonia. The Albanian Lek was introduced as the official currency. Tetovo, Gostivar, Struga, Debar, and Kichevo were the key municipalities and districts in Western Macedonia incorporated into Albania, a Greater Albania. Eastern Macedonia was occupied by Bulgarian military forces.
Macedonia was divided between Albania and Bulgaria. Hitler and Mussolini sought to delineate the borders between Greater Albania and Greater Bulgaria. The Albanians and their Italian sponsors wanted to enlarge the borders of Albania eastward encroaching on Bulgarian occupied territory. The Bulgarians sought to expand westward. On April 20 and 21, 1941, the German foreign minister, Joachim Ribbentrop, and the Italian foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano, met in Vienna to discuss the Bulgarian occupation zone and the enlargement of the borders of Greater Albania eastward. Ribbentrop emphasized the importance of the mines in Kosovo-Metohija and Macedonia that were vital to the strategic interests of Germany. The German and Italian supreme commands reached an agreement on the final demarcation line in Macedonia. Hitler approved the agreement on April 25. The agreement was tentative, however, and was not a final, complete agreement on demarcation lines. The agreement was abandoned later as Italy and Bulgaria could not agree on a border between their two occupation zones in Macedonia and Kosovo-Metohija. Later in 1941, the two sides were able to reach an understanding on where the border should be.
The Italian occupation forces appointed Albanian Dzaferi Sulejmani the president of the Tetovo district. The vice-president was Albanian Munir Tevshana who had come from Albania. Later, Zejnel Starova and Shaib Kamberi replaced him. Kamberi worked for the Italian intelligence service. Selim Shaipi was the representative for Tetovo and was the leader of the Albanian youth movement. Shaipi was also a representative of the Second League of Prizren and was the president of the Third Balli Kombetar Committee. Shaipi fled with the German Army when Tetovo was evacuated in 1944. Husein Derala was made the commander of the gendarmes units in Tetovo by the Italian occupation forces.
Albanian troops in the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS "Skanderbeg", 1944.
The Albanian administration targeted the Orthodox, Slavic populations for elimination, disenfranchisement, de-recognition, and expulsion. Feyzi Alizoti called for the extermination and deportation of non-Muslims. The Greater Albania ideology was anti-Orthodox, anti-Slavic in nature, and atrocities, deportations, and murders were committed against the Slavic, Orthodox populations. Josip Kovac, a Slovenian who was placed in charge of the Tetovo hospital by the Axis forces, described the anti-Orthodox, anti-Christian, anti-Slavic activity of Alizoti as follows:
"There were exceptionally hard times in the annexed areas of Western Macedonia and Kosovo-Metohija when Fejzi Alizoti, the High Commissioner, visited. He gave a speech in Tetovo that demanded the annihilation of the non-Muslim communities. Publicly and openly he stated that there will be no peace until the last foreigner---Orthodox Christians---leaves his territory and settles across the border and only ethnic Albanians are left behind. Following his visit, the situation deteriorated and became unbearable for all non-Muslims."
The Italian military intelligence service, OVRA, formed an independent battalion in occupied Tetovo. The battalion was named Ljuboten, a special unit made up of ethnic Albanians in the Tetovo region. This Italian-created Albanian Axis unit was to uncover, question, and annihilate any resistance to the occupation. After the surrender of Italy in 1943, the German forces retained this Albanian formation allowing the unit to keep their Italian-issued uniforms and weapons. Members of the Balli Kombetar later joined the Ljuboten battalion. At the end of 1943, the Ljuboten unit was engaged in the attack on Kichevo in Macedonia.
The Italian occupation of Western Macedonia allowed the Albanian population to create an ethnic Albanian-ruled region. Albanian police and paramilitary units were formed as a proxy army by the Italian forces. The civil administration was entrusted by the Italians to Albanian leaders. Albanian became the official language;the civil and police administration was taken over by ethnic Albanians; Albanian schools, newspapers, and radio stations were established. Tetovo became Tetova, an Albanian Muslim city in the newly-expanded Albanian state.
From the 14th century, Tetovo has been an Orthodox Slavic settlement founded around the Orthodox Church of Sveta Bogorodica (Saint Mother of God)near the mountain source of the Pena river in the Polog valley. Sveta Bogorodica was built in the 13th century when Tetovo began to be regarded as a major Orthodox Church center. Tetovo was the first center of the Orthodox episcopate. The oldest settlement in Tetovo is the region around the Sveta Bogorodica Orthodox Church. The modern city of Tetovo grew from this small medieval Orthodox Slavic settlement of Htetovo with the building and construction of houses around the Orthodox Church. The Ottoman Turkish Muslim Empire invaded and occupied present-day Macedonia beginning in the 14th century. The Muslim Turks began settling and colonizing Macedonia with Turkish settlers. The Ottoman Turks began the Turkification and Islamicization of Macedonia. The Ottoman Turks altered the Orthodox Slavic nature of Tetovo, which in Turkish was renamed Kalkandele. The Ottoman Turks began settling the level lowlands of Tetovo. The Colored or Painted Mosque (Aladzha or Sharena Dzamija), also known as the Pasha Mosque, was built in 1459 by the Ottoman Turks. The earlier Slavic Orthodox population concentration in Tetovo was on the high ground and on the foothills of the Shar Planina or Mountain range.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the city began to expand greatly. The city was divided into the Orthodox Slavic quarter and the Muslim Turkish quarter. The Orthodox Slavic quarter or section was on the left side, on the Pena River, made up of the Potok, Dva Bresta, Koltuk, Sveti Nikola, Dol, Pevchina, and Dolno regions. The Turkish Muslim quarter or section included the following regions: The Colored Mosque (Sharena Dzamija) region, Banja, Gorna Charshija, Gamgan, and Saat. After World War II, the ethnic mosaic of the city changed with the displacement of the Serbian Orthodox and Turkish Muslim populations. The city then acquired its present ethnic configuration of Macedonian Orthodox Slavs and Muslim Albanians. Different city subdivisions emerged. New settlements and districts were formed such as Przhova Bavcha, Tabakaana, Gazaana, the Teteks textile plant district, and the Boulevard Boris Kidric.
In the town of Leshok, which had been known as Legen Grad, in the Tetovo municipality, is located the Leshok Monastery which includes the Orthodox Church of the Holy Virgin built in 1326 and the Sveti Athanasius Orthodox Church built in 1924. The tomb of the Orthodox scholar Kiril Pejchinovic lies in the Leshok Monastery. The Church has three layers of frescoes: The lower layer was built in 1326, the middle layer was built in the 17th century, and the top layer was built in 1879. The Leshok Monastery symbolizes the Orthodox and Slavic presence in the region. The UCK separatists deliberately mined and demolished the Monastery in August, 2001, to eradicate and cleanse the Orthodox Slavic influence. Cultural cleansing is followed by the ethnic cleansing of the Orthodox Slavic population. The UCK has ethnically cleansed or driven out much of the non-Albanian population from the Tetovo district.
Tetovo and its population have undergone an evolution and development over the centuries. Like a palimpsest, a parchment that has been written upon over time but that leaves impressions made on earlier layers and substrata, the city of Tetovo has accumulated layers and strata of the different populations, religions, and cultures that have existed in the city. The city presents a palimpsest or mosaic of the differing populations and cultures that have not been erased but remain to reveal the development and growth of the city.
In the 15th century, Tetovo began to be regarded as a major city in the region. The Turkish writer Mehmed Beg in 1436 in the Vakuf noted that Tetovo had stores and shops and was one of the most prosperous regions in the Polog valley. In 1470, Mehmed Kebir Chelebija noted the rapid development of Tetovo. In 1565, under Ottoman Turkish rule and occupation, Tetovo was refereed to as the episcopal religious place Htetovo, an Orthodox religious center, the seat of the Orthodox Church and domicile of the Orthodox religious leader. Haji Kalfa in the 17th century noted in his writings that Kalkandele, the Turkish name for Tetovo, that the city was expanding.
In the 19th century, the population of Tetovo began to increase with settlement from the surrounding villages. The French traveler Ami Bue noted that the population was approximately 4,000-5,000 persons in the 1900s. Half of the population was made up of Orthodox Slavs. In the Turkish quarter, there were the upper and lower Turkish charshi and the Konaci of the wealthy Turkish begs. Many clean streets were noted by the travelers. A. Griezenbach estimated there were 1,500 houses or dwellings in the city. By the end of the 19th century, the population increased as Tetovo became an important trading center. In 1912, the population declined due to the migration of the Turkish population and their resettlement to Turkey.
A large garrison of Ottoman Turkish troops was stationed in Tetovo during the 19th century when the city was a major military/strategic base. During the latter half of the 19th century, Ottoman Turkey was referred to as the sick man of Europe because it could not maintain its occupation and colonies in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Ottoman Turkey suffered military defeats following the Bosnian Insurrection by the Serbian Orthodox populations of 1875 and the First Balkan War in 1912.
Herbert Vivian published his account of his travels to Macedonia in 1904 and offered his eyewitness accounts of Kalkandele (Tetovo) under Turkish rule. Vivian described Tetovo as follows:
"Kalkandele is even more beautiful than most Turkish towns. Every house has its garden and a rippling rivulet, tall poplars and cypresses rise up beside the glistening minarets, storks nests, are poised upon the chimneys, weather-beaten wooden dwellings of fantastic shape are relieved by the gay arrangement, always artistic, of Turkish shops, and the women are among the most gorgeously attired in all Macedonia."
Vivian described the Macedonian system as a semi-feudal system. The landed estates are governed by chifji or seigneurs. The peasants have to pay a third of their crop every year in lieu of rent. Macedonians lead a medieval life. Vivian noted the tension between the Slavic Orthodox Christians and the Muslim Albanians. Muslims were allowed to own weapons, but Christians were forbidden to own any arms. Vivian explained:
"This question of arms is one which exercises the Macedonians excessively. It is a standing grievance with the Christians that they are forbidden to possess arms, while the Albanians bristle with weapons."
Vivian observed the ethnic and religious polarization and animus between the Orthodox Slavic Christian population and the Muslim Albanian population. In Tetovo, he was a guest of the Serbian Orthodox Prota, or archdeacon. Vivian described the residence as follows:
"His house was like a fortress. A high wall protected his smiling garden and huge doors were heavily barricaded at sundown. I asked the cause of all these precautions, and was told much about the fanaticism of the population, who might at any time wish to raid a Christian household."
Albanian Muslims sought to incorporate Western Macedonia, Illirida, into a Greater Albanian state following the 1878 Albanian League of Prizren in Kosovo-Metohija, which enunciated the Greater Albania ideology. In 1912, Albanian insurgents seized and occupied Skopje itself, demanding that the Ottoman Turkish regime grant them a Greater Albania.
In the 18th century, the population of Tetovo began to increase. Residents from the following surrounding villages and suburbs began to settle in Tetovo: Brodec, Lisec, Selce, Poroj, Shipkovica, Gajre, Zhelino, Dobri Dol, Zherovjane, Novake, Gorno Palchiste, Senokos, Kamenane, and Gradec. Macedonian Orthodox Slavs, Bektashi and Sunni Muslim Albanians, Sunni Muslim Turks, Orthodox Serbian, and Roma were the major population groups of the city. By the end of the 19th century, the population of Tetovo was 19,000. The Slavic Orthodox villages and towns in the Tetovo municipality or district included Vratnica, Staro Selo, Tearce, Leshok, Belovishte, Jegunovce, Rogachevo, and Neproshteno.
Tetovo or Htetovo was originally an Orthodox Slavic settlement. With the Ottoman Turkish conquest, the city was settled by Turks from Anatolia, Asia Minor, and Bulgaria. For much of its history, Tetovo was divided between the Orthodox Slavic section and a Muslim Turkish section. The majority of the Albanian settlement of Tetovo and the surrounding villages resulted due to the influx of Albanian migration and settlement from Albania. Albanian settlement is relatively recent and is due to Albanian migrations from Albania proper into the Polog valley. The Albanian migrations originated in the Albanian districts of Findi Berdita and Luma in Albania. Albanian migration and settlement in Tetovo and the surrounding villages from Albania began only in the 18th and 19th centuries. The massive, intensive migrations of Albanian settlers from Albania proper began slowly to alter the ethnic composition of the majority Orthodox Slavic city. Settlers also came from Kosovo-Metohija. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Slavic Orthodox migrated out of Tetovo for economic and political reasons. The total Slavic Orthodox migration out of the city amounted to 5,500 during this period. During World War I, 2,000 left. After World War I, 5,000 Turks migrated to Turkey. Following World War II, another large group of Turks migrated out of the city. These migrations of Turks again changed the ethnic make-up of the city leaving the Orthodox Slavic and Albanian Muslim populations as the bulk of the population of the city.
Tetovo: German Occupation, 1943-44.
The surrender of Italy on September 3,1943 forced Germany to re-occupy Tetovo and Western Macedonia. Germany organized the XXI Mountain Corps, led by General Paul Bader, made up of the 100th Jaeger Division, the 297th Infantry Division and the German 1st Mountain Division, to occupy the territory abandoned by the Italian forces. The German forces wanted to recruit and enlist ethnic Albanians into proxy armies that would assist the German occupation. The Germans retained the Albanian Ljuboten battalion initially formed by the Italian occupation forces. The Waffen SS sought to incorporate the Albanian manpower of the region into Waffen SS formations, as a German/SS proxy army to maintain the military occupation of the Orthodox Slavic populations. In 1943, the German occupation authorities sponsored the formation of the Second League of Prizren, reviving the 1878 League. The Germans sought to use the racist, extremist, anti-democratic, anti-Orthodox, anti-Slavic agenda of the Greater Albania ideology to maintain and support their occupation of Kosovo and Western Macedonia. Bedri Pejani, the president of the central committee of the Second League of Prizren, a militant and extremist Greater Albania ideologue, even wrote Himmler personally to request his assistance in establishing a Greater Albania and volunteering Albanian troops to work jointly with the Waffen SS and German Wehrmacht. Himmler read the Pejani letter and agreed to form two ethnic Albanian Waffen SS Divisions. Like Hitler and Mussolini, Himmler became an active sponsor of the Greater Albania ideology.
On April 17, 1944, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler approved the formation of an Albanian Waffen SS Division, which was then subsequently approved by Adolf Hitler. The SS Main Office envisioned an Albanian division of 10,000 troops. The Balli Kombetar, the Albanian Committees, and the Second League of Prizren submitted the names of 11,398 recruits for the division. Of these, 9,275 were adjudged to be suitable for drafting into the Waffen SS. Of this number, 6,491 ethnic Albanians were actually drafted into the Waffen SS. A reinforced battalion of approximately 200-300 ethnic Albanians, the III/Waffen Gebirgsjaeger Regiment 50, serving in the Bosnian Muslim 13th Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Handzar or Handschar were transferred to the newly forming division. To this Albanian core were added veteran German troops from Austria and Volksdeutsche officers, NCOS, and enlisted men. The total strength of the Albanian Waffen SS Division would be 8,500-9,000 men.
The official designation of the division would be 21. Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Skanderbeg (Albanische Nr.1). Himmler planned to form a second Albanian division, Albanische Nr. 2. The SS Main Office designed a special arm patch for the division, consisting of a black, double-headed eagle on a red background, the national flag/symbol for Albania. The UCK/KLA/NLA/ANA/LAMBP would have an identical arm patch in their separatist/terrorist war for greater rights and human rights in the 1998/99 Kosovo conflict and the insurgency in Macedonia in 2001.The SS Main Office also designed a strip with the word Skanderbeg embroidered across it as well as a gray skullcap with the Totenkopf (Deaths Head) insignia of the SS below the Hoheitszeichen (the national symbol of Nazi Germany, consisting of a silver eagle over a Nazi swastika). Josef Fitzhum, the SS leader in Albania, commanded the division during the formation stages. In June, 1944, August Schmidhuber, the SS Stardartenfuehrer in the 7th SS Division Prinz Eugen, was transferred to command the division. Alfred Graf commanded the division in August and subsequently when the division was reorganized.
The 21st SS Skanderbeg Division indiscriminately massacred Serbian Orthodox civilians in Kosovo-Metohija, forcing 10,000 Kosovo Serbian Orthodox families to flee Kosovo. Albanian colonists and settlers from northern Albania then took over the lands and homes of the displaced/cleansed Serbian Orthodox Slavs. The goal of the Skanderbeg SS division was to create a Serbien frei and Juden frei and Roma frei Kosova, an ethnically pure and homogenous region of Greater Albania. In Illirida, or Western Macedonia, the Skanderbeg SS Division sought to create a Macedonian frei, Orthodox frei, Slavic frei region. The Albanian SS troops played a key role in the Holocaust, the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem, which the sponsor of the Greater Albania ideology, Heinrich Himmler, organized. On May 14, 1944, the Skanderbeg SS Division raided Kosovo Jewish homes and businesses in Pristina. The Albanian SS troops acting as a proxy for the German occupation forces rounded up 281 Kosovo Jews who were subsequently killed at Bergen-Belsen. The Skanderbeg SS Division targeted Macedonian Orthodox Slavs, Serbian Orthodox Slavs, Roma, and Jews when the division occupied Tetovo and Skopje and other towns and cities in Western Macedonia. The goal and agenda of the ethnic Albanian Skanderbeg Waffen SS Division was to advance the Greater Albania ideology by deporting and killing the non-Albanian populations of Western Macedonia.
The Skanderbeg SS Division was formed at a time in the war when Germany was retreating and withdrawing its forces from the Balkans. The Russian Red Army was inflicting severe losses on the German military forces. By November, 1944, the Germans were withdrawing their forces from the Aegean islands and from Greece. At this time, the Skanderbeg Division remnants were reorganized into Regimentgruppe 21. SS Gebirgs Skanderbeg when it was transferred to Skopje. The Kampfgruppe Skanderbeg, in conjunction with the 7th SS Mountain Division Prinz Eugen, defended the Vardar River valley in Macedonia to allow Alexander Loehrs Army Group E to retreat from Greece and the Aegean. The Vardar Valley was crucial as an escape corridor for the retreating German military forces.
The Skanderbeg SS Division crossed into Macedonia and occupied Tetovo and Skopje in the early part of September, 1944. The purpose for the occupation was to garrison Macedonia and safeguard the retreat of German troops from Greece and the Aegean peninsula. By 1944, the German forces in the Balkans were in a defensive posture and were focusing their strategic efforts on a well-ordered retreat and withdrawal. The Bulgarian forces and the Italian forces had occupied Macedonia. The Bulgarian army continued to occupy Macedonia and their presence threatened the German retreat. The Skanderbeg SS Division occupied the Skopje and Kumanovo regions of Macedonia and the Preshevo and Bujanovac region of southern Serbia. The German XXI Mountain Corps was based in Tirana. The Germans also had the 181st Infantry Division at Lake Scutari and the 297 Infantry Division at Valona, both based in Albania, to prevent an Allied landing force in the Adriatic. The German XXI Mountain Corps crossed into Macedonia from Tirana, the capital of Albania and moved northward past Debar and the Tetovo and Gostivar area. By October 1, 1944, the 21st SS Division Skanderbeg then occupied Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. The first Regiment of the Skanderbeg Division occupied Tetovo. A Reconnaissance Battalion of Skanderbeg occupied Djakovica while a Signals Battalion occupied Prizen in Kosovo-Metohija. The Skanderbeg SS Division was based in the towns of Tetovo, Skopje, Prizren, Pec, Djakovica, Kosovska Mitrovica, Pristina, and Novi Pazar.
The SS ideology in forming volunteer Waffen SS Divisions of non-German nationalities was that the Waffen SS was advancing the cause of national liberation and national freedom for oppressed/repressed nationalities and aggrieved ethnic minorities. So the Waffen SS perceived itself as a military organization under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler which was made up of national freedom fighters advancing the cause of national liberation, freedom, and independence. NATO/US/EU would adopt the identical interventionist/occupation strategy or paradigm in the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict and the 2001 Macedonian conflict. The policy was divide and conquer. The SS exploited minorities and nationality groups in the various countries they sought to occupy and dismember. These oppressed/repressed national/ethnic groups and minorities were a natural Fifth Column in every country targeted for military occupation. Heinrich Himmlers SS took on the cause of liberation and freedom/independence for oppressed/repressed minorities and nationality groups. Foremost amongst the groups for SS sponsorship were the ethnic Albanians in the Balkans and the Palestinians in the Middle East. Indeed, Palestinian national leader Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, worked closely with Himmler and the SS and supported the Albanian and Bosnian Muslim aspirations to independence and separatism from Slavic Orthodox Christian countries. The SS argued that the countries the SS sought to occupy and dismember were artificial nations or states. But how is an artificial state to be defined and who was to make the conclusion? Germany itself was an artificial state established by Prussian leader Otto von Bismarck through military occupation and annexation. Germany consisted of many ethnic groups and many different religions. Bismarck launched wars against Denmark and Austria-Hungary to dismember those nations and to annex their territory to a Greater Germany. The creation of the artificial German state was through military force, through annexation and occupation, achieved by a Prussian military dictatorship and not through democratic means. Germany was thus itself an artificial state achieved through war by the Prussian army. National liberation of oppressed/repressed nationalities and minorities nevertheless remained the ideological basis for the Waffen SS. Later, this identical paradigm would be adopted by NATO/US/EU.
Heinrich Himmler was buttressed in his support of the Greater Albania ideology by Italian archeological research that purported to show that the Albanian Ghegs were of Aryan/Nordic origin, that they were the herrenmensch, the master race. Himmler planned to establish two ethnic Albanian Waffen SS Divisions but the war ended before this could be accomplished. This is the reason the Skanderbeg SS Division is referred to as the Albanische Nr.1 in the SS records.
By January, 1945, remnants of the Skanderbeg Waffen SS Division would retreat to Kosovska Mitrovica in Kosovo and then to Brcko in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Skanderbeg remnants would reach Austria in May, 1945, when Germany surrendered following the military and political collapse of regime.
Albanian and German Occupation Forces in Macedonia.
The German occupation forces retained the Albanian civil, political, military, and police control and administration of Western Macedonia. The Albanian national flag was flown, the official language was Albanian, and the Albanian Lek remained the official currency in Illirida. The Germans retained the incorporation of Western Macedonia and Kosovo-Metohija into a Greater Albania. Rejeb Bey Mitrovica, however, was replaced by Fikri Dine as the Prime Minister of the Greater Albanian state occupied by the German Wehrmacht. The Albanian Minister of the Interior was Dzafer Deva. Mustafa Kruja and Mehdi Bey Frasheri also held high positions in the Albanian regime. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who had replaced Reinhard Heydrich as the leader of the SD, was instrumental in setting up the Albanian Nazi Party, which replaced the Albanian Fascist Party that the Italian authorities had set up previously. Much of the civilian and military administration was exercised by ethnic Albanians during both the Italian and German occupations. In Tetovo, there was a total of 1,500 ethnic Albanian Waffen SS troops, members of the 1st Regiment of the Skanderbeg SS Division. In Gostivar, there were 1,000 Albanian SS troops, while in Struga there were 100, and 900 in Debar. In Kichevo, there were 1,500 Albanian SS troops. The total number of Albanian SS troops in Western Macedonia was 5,000. The Albanians made up the police force in Western Macedonia: In Tetovo, there were 16 members of the police force, in Gostivar 10, in Struga 11, in Debar 16, and in Kichevo, 5. There were a total of 5,500 members of the Balli Kombetar in Macedonia, 2,000 of which were based in Tetovo. There was a total of 250 Albanian gendarme units, or armed police units, in Tetovo. An Albanian Battalion for Security made up of 800 members was based in Tetovo. In addition, there were 80 Albanian finasi troops and border guards. The total number of Albanian police and paramilitary units in Tetovo during the German occupation was 4,646. The German Army only had 450 German troops and three Gestapo agents in Tetovo and a total of 2,180 troops and 34 Gestapo agents in all of Western Macedonia. Instead, the German occupation forces created a proxy army and police staff made up of ethnic Albanians, collaborationists who acted as the proxies for the German military forces. Like the Italian occupation forces had done before them, the German military was able to use the Albanian police and paramilitary forces as a proxy force.
The German Army used Albanian separatists to create a proxy army of occupation and administration in Tetovo and other cities and towns in Western Macedonia which were annexed to Albania. By furthering and advancing the agenda of the Greater Albania ideology, the German occupation forces ensured that their military occupation of the region would be safeguarded and assured. The German Army in 1998-2001 would play a similar role in the Kosovo and Macedonia conflicts. NATO would pursue an identical policy to that of the Italian/German occupation forces during the 1941-1944 period. The Greater Albania ideology would serve the same purpose again, expediting the military occupation and establishing a proxy army that would act on behalf of the NATO occupation forces. The racist and separatist Greater Albania ideology would be sponsored and furthered by NATO, like it had been by the German/Italian forces, to expedite the occupation and military, economic, and political control and exploitation of first Kosovo-Metohija and then Macedonia.
The Greater Albania established by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini from 1941 to 1944 set the historical precedent for establishing an ethnically homogenous Albanian state which would encompass all areas settled by Albanians. The UCK/KLA/NLA/ANA/KPC/LAMPB goal and agenda is to re-establish and re-form Hitlers and Mussolinis Greater Albania. The Albanian nationalist goal, the UCK goal, is Greater Albania. The terrorist insurgency by the UCK, first in Kosovo-Metohija, then in Southern Serbia, and then in Macedonia, ostensibly to obtain greater rights and equal and human rights is in fact a war of territorial occupation and partition. The British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG) has noted that Tetovo is the focus of the Greater Albania movement which seeks to turn the Slavic Orthodox city into a center or capital of an ethnically pure Albanian district or municipality. The BHHRG stated that the population of Tetovo was 40% Slavic Orthodox but that there was intense pressure to make the city into an Albanian town, based on the model of Kosovo where the Serbian Orthodox towns and cities were depopulated of non-Albanians creating an ethnically pure and ethnically homogenous Kosova, a de facto independent statelet demanding de jure recognition. The BHHRG alleged that Arben Xhaferi of the DPA appointed all local police chiefs in Tetovo. The DPA radicalizes the Albanian population and pressures the Albanian youth to become nationalist and separatist according to the British Helsinki Human Rights Group. The Group further alleges that Albanian youth are being pressured to attend the Albanian-language University of Tetova with a ideological curriculum based on that followed in Tirana and Pristina. The University of Tetova is nothing more than a boot camp for the indoctrination and training for the establishment of a Greater Albania. Xhaferi seeks to repeat in Tetovo what was done in Pristina. According to BHHRG, this compelled and forced separatist and Greater Albania ideological agitation has not met with unanimous approval within the Albanian population in Tetovo: "Not all local Albanians are happy with these developments. During the war some sent their sons to Serbia to prevent their mobilization into the KLA." The BHHRG further alleged that "the regional weapons market is run from Tetovo." Menduh Thaci of the DPA is alleged to control Tetovos shops and the black market, such as in oil. There is widespread political corruption and collusion with political leaders. The goal of the Albanian policies, according to the BHHRG, is to force Macedonians to leave Tetovo by a "subtle ethnic cleansing." The Orthodox Slavic population is the target of the Greater Albania separatists. The Kosovo model is being repeated in Tetovo, transforming an Orthodox Christian Slavic city into an Islamic Albanian city. Pristina is the blueprint. Kosovo is the model. The ultimate goal or agenda of the UCK separatists/terrorists is the partition/federalization of Western Macedonia, Illirida. Autonomy or de facto partition is the short-term goal. Independence from Macedonia is the long-term goal based on the Kosovo paradigm.
The UCK seeks to re-establish and re-create the Greater Albania created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini from 1941 to 1944. History is being repeated and replayed in Macedonia.
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