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An unidentified man, who was held captive by the National Liberation Army since August 11, 2001, is reunited with his wife after being brought to the Red Cross headquarters in Tetovo, August 27, 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
A French Legionnaire guards a weapons collection point in the village of Otlja, Macedonia, August 27, 2001. NATO troops started Operation Essential Harvest collecting weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels. (Srdjan Ilic/Pool via Reuters)
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva (L) answers a question from a journalist as German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer listens following their meeting in Berlin, August 27, 2001. Mitreva and Fischer discussed Germany's plans to deploy 500 troops to Macedonia as part of NATO's third Balkan peace mission. REUTERS/Alexandra Winkler
British troops secure the ethnic Albanian village of Matejce, some 30 km (18 miles) northwest of the capital Skopje, August 27, 2001. NATO troops began gathering guns from guerrillas in Macedonia on Monday, pushing ahead with a peace mission overshadowed by the killing of a British soldier in an attack on his NATO vehicle. REUTERS/Petr Josek
Undated photo released by the Ministry of Defence of Sapper Ian Collins of the 9th Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers, based at Aldershot, who died in Macedonia August 27, 2001. Collins, 22 from Sheffield, died from head injuries suffered after several rocks were thrown at a British Army Land Rover on a road east of Skopje, while taking part in Task Force Harvest (the collection of weapons from rebel ethnic Albanians). REUTERS/Ministry of Defense/Handout
Troops from the French Foreign Legion Second Battalion travel through Macedonia after crossing the border with Greece, August 27, 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. (Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters)
A French Foreign Legion soldier waves as a convoy travels through Macedonia after crossing the border with Greece August 27, 2001. A British soldier was killed in Macedonia August 26 when his army vehicle came under attack, highlighting the risks to NATO troops set to begin gathering up rebel weapons under a controversial peace plan. (Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters)
Two Albanian men drive their car as British troops secure the village of Matejce, some 30 km (18 miles) northwest of the capital Skopje, August 27, 2001. A British soldier was killed when his army vehicle came under attack in Macedonia, highlighting the risks to NATO troops set to begin gathering up rebel weapons on Monday under a controversial peace plan. REUTERS/Petr Josek
Albanian guerrillas drive trough the village of Matejce, near Otlia, some 30kms northwest of the capital Skopje, August 27, 2001. NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo said on Monday they had detained a further 96 suspected members of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group operating in neighboring Macedonia. Howard Rhoades, spokesman for the KFOR peacekeeping force, told Reuters they were detained when trying to cross the border illegally into U.N.-governed Kosovo on Sunday evening and Monday morning. REUTERS/Petr Josek
Troops from the French Foreign Legion Second Battalion travel through Macedonia after crossing the border with Greece, August 27, 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. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov (R) drinks champagne with U.S. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committe, after awarding him with a high-level medal, the "Stara Planina," in Sofia on August 27, 2001. McCain is on a two-day visit to Bulgaria. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff
Association of Macedonian Communities of Australia.
Media Release 27 August 2001
The Reality of NATO's 'Peace Agreement': Ethnic cleansing for Macedonians and minority rule for Albanians
The Association of Macedonian Communities of Australia calls upon the international community to 'wake up' to the human rights abuses committed by Albanian terrorists in the Republic of Macedonia and warns that the acceptance of the NATO and EU-brokered agreement will only endorse the ethnic cleansing of Macedonians in Albanian controlled territories and will fragment Macedonia along ethnic lines.
The Association's General Secretary Ms Violeta Brdaroska, sends a strong message of support to Macedonian civilians who have heroically blockaded the border between Kosovo and Macedonia in a desperate attempt to protect their lives and property from Albanian terrorists who come from NATO-controlled Kosovo.
"Macedonians have been ethnically cleansed from the regions controlled by Albanian terrorists within the Republic of Macedonia, even after a NATO and EU brokered peace agreement was signed ten days ago. Around 150.000 people have been pushed out at gun-point, and those who decide to stay in their homes face systematic rape, torture and murder." said Violeta Brdaroska.
"There is a real humanitarian crisis happening in Republic of Macedonia and the international community must not turn its back to the thousands of civilian victims - they need urgent help, similar to the care the Republic of Macedonia gave to 350,000 refugees from Kosovo two years ago".
"NATO and EU continue to allow this abhorrent behaviour by the Albanian terrorists and legitimise their goals by pressuring the Macedonian government to enter into undemocratic 'peace agreements'. Macedonian police and army are not allowed to protect their own citizens, under a pressure not to break the NATO brokered 'seize fire' which is only respected by the Macedonian army and police".
The Association also calls against any public or Parliamentary endorsement of the 'Framework Agreement'', signed under NATO and EU pressure which will ensure fragmentation of the Republic of Macedonia along ethnic lines. The Agreement would allows the ethnic Albanian minority in Macedonia (around 26% of the population) to have power of veto on most decisions in the Macedonian Parliament.
"The 'Framework Agreement' will not achieve peace and stability in Macedonia - the terrorist actions and violence we have witnessed during the past six months in the Republic of Macedonia, particularly after the agreement was signed, show that the Albanian terrorist groups are not interested in peace and stability. They are only interested in land grabs and a Greater Albania. With the provisions of the 'Framework Agreement' they are one step closer to achieving that goal" said Ms Brdaroska.
The Association of Macedonian Communities strongly supports the people of Macedonia who are calling for end to the hypocritical support given to Albanian terrorists to pillage and destroy the Republic of Macedonia and for return of Macedonians to their homes.
"We call upon the international community to launch a full investigation into the acts of ethnic cleansing, systematic rape and torture and other abuses of human rights and prosecute against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes by Albanian terrorists", concluded Ms Brdaroska.
WE DEMAND GUARANTEE FOR PEACE AND THAT IS SERIOUS DISARMAMENT.
"In the last six months Macedonia has violated many principles, international and own, and I think that at the end we should not violate our own principles again. If the Framework agreement is an agreement for peace that the basis for that peace is serious disarmament. That peace did not occur on Kosovo and South Serbia, and now we do not want the same disarmament to be repeated in Macedonia," Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski stated after his meeting with Director of the World Bank to Macedonia Christian Portman and Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski.
"We demand guarantee for peace from the other part, and that is serious disarmament. If there is no serious disarmament we have guarantee that the incidents or the war will continue," Georgievski added.
He reaffirms that big differences exist in the numbers of the weapons that is to be collected by the Albanian terrorists estimated by the Macedonian authorities and NATO. "Our estimations tell that 80,000 pieces of weapons should be collected, while NATO experts say around 3,500 pieces. So it is not small, but huge difference, and that we have the arguments on our side, show the examples from Selce, Lavce and Gajre villages, when we have collected 3,000 pieces only from one village, at the beginning of the crisis. So, now after five or six months if we still speak about 3,000 pieces, I think that is ridiculous figure. I believe that NATO experts will correct that number," Georgievski said.
Asked whether the problem would be prolong or resolved, the Prime Minister said: "we have stated our estimation, now NATO should change theirs."
Regarding the issue whether he will withdraw the proposal for dismissing Justice Minister Ixhet Mehmeti, as PDP has threatened to get out from the Government unless he does that, Georgievski said he would not do that and urged PDP to recommend new minister.
Georgievski stressed that the case with former Justice Minister Xhevdet Nasufi was completely different. "No one knew about Fazli Veliu affair until ten days after it ended. The investigation showed that there was not coordination between two different judicial levels," Georgievski explained.
Asked whether the international community would financially support Macedonia to cover the costs from the security crisis, Georgievski said that until now he had confirmation that only the money approved last year would be granted. "So, if we behave ourselves, the money that was promised to us, would be granted otherwise we will not receive it. I cannot see any additional money than those agreed besides those Euro 3,5 million donated by EU for restoring the houses and US $ 5 million stated by the State Department also for restoring the infrastructure in the crisis regions. The condition "to behave ourselves" depends on whether we will respect the Framework agreement, which should be ratified in the Parliament," Prime Minister Georgievski stressed.
Asked whether he regretted the signing of the Framework agreement, he said that he did not regret, although he did not consider the agreement as ideal.
Georgievski underlined that he did not believe that the war would end with the disarmament, although he wanted to believe in that.
Answering the question whether all parliamentarians would appear on the Assembly session when the Framework Agreement would be discussed, Georgievski said that he did not expect full support from all parliamentarians.
Macedonian Prime Minister Georgievski said that he did not sign the Framework agreement on the behalf of the Macedonian nation, but on the behalf of VMRO - DPMNE. "Regarding the legitimacy of the five people that negotiated in Ohrid I can say it suspicious. I can also pose the question whether those five people are the most responsible and whether they should sign such an agreement or five or ten more people should participate. So, I did not sign the agreement as a Prime Minister or as any other authority, but only as a leader of VMRO - DPMNE," Prime Minister Georgievski stressed.
4,500 - 5,000 NATO SOLDIERS WILL PARTICIPATE IN "ESSENTIAL HARVEST" MISSION.
"In the disarmament operation of the terrorists 4,500 - 5,000 NATO soldiers will participate instead of the previously announced 3,500 soldiers," Major Barry Johnson, NATO spokesman to Macedonia, has briefed at Saturday press conference.
He explained that the number has increased because NATO always asks the participating countries to contribute to the operation as much as they could.
"The first figure was based on our initial estimations. But now several nations decided to increase the number of their troops in order to protect their own soldiers. The number of logistic troops has also increased in order to secure the troops fully," Johnson said.
According to Johnson another 660 NATO soldiers are expected to arrive Saturday, so their total number will be 2,660.
"13 aircraft from UK, Canada, Netherlands and Italy as well as Greek convoy with 60 vehicles are expected to arrive. French troops will arrive Sunday at Thessaloniki port, while the Italian ship is due to arrive on Monday," Johnson said.
Besides the announcement, NATO spokesman did not state the final number of weapons that should be collected, but made another announcement that the figure will be known publicly by Saturday night.
Major Johnson explained that within Friday talks between NATO officials and the Macedonian authorities it was decided that the methodology of counting the collected weapons should be explained.
Johnson stated that the different figures in the initial estimations for the number of weapons came as a result of different methodology used by NATO and Macedonia. According to him, Macedonian Government included the ammunitions, while NATO teams did not do that.
"We are going to continue the technical meetings in order to surpass this issue. During the day, after the meetings with the Government end, we will present the final number," he said.
The location of weapons collection sites will not be discovered until the beginning of the operation due to the security reasons.
According to Johnson, the collected weapons that could not be transported safely will be destroyed on the collection sites.
"We will remove only that weapons that could be safely transported, as we do not want to endanger the persons involved in the operation," Johnson said.
IM: ALBANIAN TERRORISTS POSSESS 85.000 PIECES OF WEAPONRY.
Following the speculations about the exact number and type of weaponry NATO is to collect from the terrorists, the Macedonian Ministry of Interior announces that they hold around 85.000 pieces of various types of weaponry and five millions of ammunition of various caliber.
Namely, as found out by the Ministry of Interior, they possess 9.000 automatic guns, 2.000 semi-automatic guns with caliber of 7,62 mm, 800 rifles with various caliber, 8.000 pistols, 1.500 automatic guns, 20.000 hand-grenades, 20.000 pieces of anti-tank missiles and anti-infantry mines, mainly of Yugoslav or Chinese production.
They also have 500 anti-armour rifles and anti-aircraft missile systems, 19 mortars, 3.000 "zolja" rocket launchers, 300 light mortars, 150 "Arrow" missiles, 150 "wasp" missiles, 100 "stinger" missiles, 10 anti-aircraft German rockets, 60 hand cannons, 50 fixed cannons, 100 heavy anti-aircraft and anti-armour rifles, 100 anti-aircraft cannons and 20.000 mortar and cannon rounds of various caliber.
Macedonian Ministry of Interior expressed hopes that Albanian terrorists will surrender at least one third of this weaponry to the NATO forces prior to the Assembly debate on Constitutional changes, in accordance with the signed Framework agreement for peaceful solution to the crisis in Macedonia.
Government urged to clarify mission.
The Conservatives have criticised the government for failing to make a clear statement on the role of UK troops in Macedonia, after a British soldier was killed in the Balkan state.
As an investigation begins into the death of Sapper Ian Collins, the Tories raised concerns the limits of British involvement in Macedonia were changing.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken by telephone to Macedonia's President Trajkoski to stress the importance of investigating the death and bringing those responsible to justice.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the soldier's death was the result of "mindless hooliganism", as the government insisted the Macedonian mission had been carefully planned.
Sapper Collins died after a lump of concrete was thrown at his vehicle by youths near Skopje on Sunday evening, before the start of Operation Essential Harvest's collection of weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels.
Shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith joined politicians from all parties in sending condolences to the dead soldier's family.
But he was worried no cabinet minister had broken off their holiday to make a formal statement about the British operation, with announcements instead left to junior ministers.
"There are concerns about the way in which this operation seems to have just sort of grown and slid through without any real clear statement from the government on exactly what the limits are of the operation," he said.
Mr Duncan Smith said the parameters of the mission, including the number of British troops sent to Macedonia, appeared to have changed.
He also stressed the need for clear rules of engagement to allow Nato troops to defend themselves - a point echoed by Lib Dem defence spokesman Paul Keetch.
Mr Keetch called for those rules, and British deployment generally, to be kept under constant review.
Catching those responsible for the death was another key priority, said Mr Keetch.
"Finally, we must make it clear to both sides in Macedonia that any repeat of such an incident will put British participation in the Nato operation in doubt," he continued.
The UK government suggests the attack may have been unconnected to the peace process in Macedonia and it insists everything possible has been done to minimise the risk to British soldiers.
'Mission goes on'
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "Ian Collins went to Macedonia in the cause of peace.
"We have never pretended that this development was free from risk, but it would appear that his death resulted from mindless hooliganism, rather than a concerted attack on Nato troops."
Britain's military police were helping in the investigation into the death, said Mr Hoon.
"We remain committed to helping the people of Macedonia seize the opportunity for peace, and will not allow this tragedy to divert Task Force Harvest from completing its mission."
Downing Street spokesman said Mr Blair, who is on holiday in France, emphasised to President Trajkoski the need to bring those responsible for Sapper Collins's death to justice.
The president committed his government to achieving that end and expressed his deep condolences.
Both leaders also reiterated the importance of completing the weapons operation and of developing the political situation in Macedonia, the spokesman said.
Former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind warned of the risks of military operations in the Balkans.
"The British Government may feel these men and women are there purely in a peaceable role but they are in what is effectively a war zone.
"The Balkans is a very dangerous place. Whenever troops arrive they change the dynamics of the local combat situation.
"They are seen as helping either one side or the other, and one side is going to be upset."
Bombs explode as NATO prepares to collect Macedonian rebel arms.
SKOPJE, Aug 27 (AFP) -
NATO troops begin the task of collecting ethnic Albanian rebel weapons at dawn Monday, just hours after two bomb blasts and amid a row with the Macedonian government over the number of arms to be handed in.
In the latest violence, a large bomb exploded in northern Skopje late Sunday, causing substantial damage but no injuries, police sources said.
The device was placed in a large rubbish bin in a residential area near the Albanian embassy in the Macedonian capital. Shop windows were blown out and several cars damaged.
Earlier in the day two security guards were killed in northwest Macedonia when a motel owned by Macedonians was blown up near the mainly-ethnic Albanian town of Tetovo, state television said.
In other unrest Macedonian police and ethnic Albanian rebels exchanged gunfire near the northwestern town of Tetovo late Sunday, just hours before NATO troops were due to begin collecting rebel arms, police sources said.
The problems facing the multi-national NATO force have been increased by a growing row with the Macedonian government over its target number of arms to be collected, voluntarily, from the rebels.
NATO General Gunnar Lange said Task Force Harvest, as the 4,500- to 5,000-strong force is known, will collect 3,300 weapons not including side arms or ammunition.
"This is not just a gesture," Lange said. "The path will not be easy but the alternative is clear, the alternative is war.
But Macedonia rejected NATO's figures saying they would only encourage the rebel National Liberation Army (NLA) to keep fighting.
Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, a nationalist, rebuffed NATO estimations of numbers once again earlier on Sunday, describing them as "laughable and humiliating for Macedonia".
Government spokesman Antonio Milososki said: "This is not a serious figure and it will encourage them to keep their arms and to continue the war.
"We expected NATO to have a much more serious approach."
Essential Harvest is part of a wider peace agreement aimed at bringing an end to conflict that began in February when rebels began fighting, ostensibly for improved rights for Macedonia's large Albanian minority.
The peace accord, reached between political leaders on August 13, offers an amnesty to guerrillas who give up their arms and who are not wanted for war crimes.
It also provides for constitutional amendments that would make Albanian an official language in some areas and boost the number of Albanians in local police forces in areas with a large Albanian population.
Ethnic Albanians make up around a quarter of Macedonia's Slav-dominated population of two million people.
NATO will try to collect one third, or 1,100, of the rebel weapons by Friday when Macedonia's parliament meets to debate the implementation the peace agreement.
NATO and government representatives have been debating for days how many weapons the guerrillas should hand over for destruction during the alliance's arms collection mission in the troubled Balkan country.
Officials in Macedonia had said the NLA was holding anywhere from 6,000 to 85,000 "pieces of weapons".
Lange said the 3,300 arms would include two tanks, two armoured personnel carriers, six anti-tank weapons, 130 mortars and 210 machine guns, with the rest of the figure being made up of assault rifles.
"I am going to collect those weapons that they (rebels) want to hand over voluntarily, that is my mission," he said.
Lange said small arms, like pistols, would not be included in the tally, but in addition to the 3,300 listed NATO hoped to collect 600 mines and hand grenades, 1,100 rounds of support weapons ammunition and 110,000 rounds of small arms ammunition.
Figures aside, NATO's operation also relies on an often-flouted July 5 ceasefire agreement holding out.
Earlier on Sunday, the prime minister called for military action after the two security guards were killed in the motel blast near the northwest village of Celopek.
Speaking to journalists, Georgievski said: "I can say the barbarian behaviour of the terrorists (NLA) 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.
British soldier killed in Macedonia.
A British soldier serving with the Nato force in Macedonia has been killed near the capital, Skopje - the first casualty among the 3,500-strong force which has been streaming into the country.
Nato sources say a group of youths threw a lump of concrete at the soldier's vehicle, which crashed.
The incident happened on Sunday evening as the soldier - Sapper Ian Collins of the 9th Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers - drove the military vehicle along the main road towards Skopje from the airport.
Hours after his death, Nato troops began collecting weapons handed in by ethnic Albanian rebels, insisting that the mission would go ahead despite what officials called a "disgraceful" attack.
A statement from the Ministry of Defence in London said: "A piece of concrete or similar object came through the windscreen and hit a soldier on the head.
He was treated at a military medical unit and transferred to the neurological unit at Skopje hospital and unfortunately died."
The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Skopje says many Macedonians from the majority population resent Nato's arrival, accusing the forces of being biased towards the ethnic Albanian rebels - but he says there is no indication as to who carried out the attack.
Sapper Collins, 22, was taken to hospital, but died in the early hours of Monday morning. A second soldier was in the vehicle with him.
Hours later, the first weapons were picked up by Nato troops from collection points agreed with the rebels.
"We have begun the operation and collections are actively in progress," said Nato spokesman Major Barry Johnson.
At one site, the village of Otlja near Kumanovo, rebels handed over 350 Kalashnikovs as well as other guns.
Nato were said to be satisfied with the progress of the operation.
But questions remain over how effective the weapons collection will be.
Nato commanders say the operation will result in a meaningful reduction in weapons and is an important step towards disbanding the guerrillas.
Nationalist elements within the Macedonian Government, however, have dismissed Nato's planned collection of 3,300 weapons, alleging that the rebels possess an arsenal of at least 70,000 arms.
Nationalist Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski has described the Nato numbers as "laughable and humiliating for Macedonia."
Nato's most senior commander in Macedonia has rejected accusations that it is a cosmetic exercise, although the alliance has conceded that the National Liberation Army (NLA) rebels could re-arm themselves at any time.
Major General Gunnar Lange insisted that there was no alternative to the plan, except war.
"The turning in of 3,300 weapons plus an additional serious amount of other deadly armaments is not just a gesture," he said.
"It is a very real and substantial effort to remove the combat effectiveness of the so-called NLA."
The collection of weapons is a key part of an agreement designed to end months of conflict in the Balkan state.
In return, the Macedonian Government has agreed to various amendments to the constitution that will benefit the country's ethnic Albanian minority.
Albanian will be made an official language in some areas, and more jobs will be created in the police force and in the public sector for minority groups.
However, hours before the operation got under way, the government put forward a new set of demands.
An adviser to Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski told the BBC that security forces expected to be in a position to re-occupy territory held by ethnic Albanian rebels by the end of the operation.
The government also wants to see the swift return of up to 50,000 Macedonians forcibly displaced from their homes, and the release of all prisoners held by the NLA.
Peace efforts threatened
Nato's peace-building efforts have also been overshadowed by two bomb blasts on Sunday.
Two Macedonians died in the first explosion, in a hotel near the mainly-ethnic Albanian town of Tetovo.
A second blast outside the Albanian embassy in Skopje on Sunday night is not thought to have claimed any casualties.
State-run radio also reported exchanges of gunfire between security forces and rebels north-east of the capital, Skopje.
However, the peace process received a boost with the release by rebels of eight prisoners - two soldiers and six civilians, including an American.
Analysis: Macedonia's born-again nationalist.
Georgievski: Hardline statements throughout peace process.
South-East Europe analyst Gabriel Partos examines what lies behind the hardline rhetoric from the Macedonian prime minister.
Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski has delivered harsh new words on the country's tenuous peace process, as Nato's weapons collection mission gets under way.
His comments followed the blowing up of a Macedonian-owned motel in the village of Celopek on Sunday and an earlier attack on the Orthodox Christian monastery at Lesok.
Both acts have been blamed - despite their denials - on the ethnic Albanian fighters of the National Liberation Army, or NLA.
Emerging from a Macedonian Security Council meeting, Mr Georgievski declared the attacks "barbaric", and said he had called for retaliation.
Mr Georgievski's threat - just as the the weapons-collection programme was about to begin - was not the first time his intervention held out the prospect of disrupting the peace process. On several previous occasions, he has contributed to delays in the negotiations.
In recent months, the prime minister's rhetoric has returned to that of his nationalist roots during his rise to political prominence in the early 1990s.
Subsequently, when his centre-right party, known by its initials as VMRO-DPMNE, gained power in 1998, Mr Georgievski changed his tune to a much more pragmatic policy.
He included the Democratic Party of Albanians, the DPA, in his coalition government to give him a comfortable majority in parliament - and later he needed the help of ethnic Albanians to ensure that his party's candidate, Boris Trajkovski, was elected president.
Mr Georgievski's reversion to nationalism followed his sense of betrayal after the conflict broke out this year.
Although he had made concessions to the ethnic Albanians, the DPA - itself under pressure from the NLA guerrillas - failed to give its backing to his government.
Rebel weapons include this captured tank.
And the prime minster's tone turned even more hardline after he was persuaded by Western governments in May to include all major parties, including his main rivals, the Social Democrats, in a government of national unity.
Since then the Social Democrats have once again been burdened with the responsibilities of power, and they have not been able to criticise Mr Georgievski for betraying Macedonia's national interests to the ethnic Albanians.
By contrast, Mr Georgievski has, at times, been behaving more like an opposition leader. He has, on occasion, denounced not only the ethnic Albanian parties that are in his government but also the Western mediators who have been trying to move on the peace talks.
One reason Mr Georgievski has become a born-again nationalist is to do with the election timetable.
Under the deal that produced the government of national unity, the elections have been brought forward - to be held by the end of January 2002.
An unofficial election campaign is already under way - and the prime minister does not want to be accused of being soft on the ethnic Albanians. In a sense, he is returning to his core support among Macedonian nationalists.
Mr Georgievski's renewed espousal of nationalism would not be eliciting so much support if it wasn't being spurred on by the violence that the NLA guerrillas have inflicted on Macedonians.
Indeed, it is not clear to what extent the NLA is fully committed to the peace deal - let alone what some of its hardline splinter groups might do in the future.
At least some of the recent incidents suggest that there are ethnic Albanian militants who want to derail the peace process.
How 'Operation Storm' Destabilized the Balkans.
by Mirko Dakovic and Boro Miseljic
Independent Center for Geopolitical Studies
August 27, 2001
America's military and diplomatic relationship with Croatia in the 1990s evolved with little or no public or media attention. This study will focus on illustrating how this relationship developed and will demonstrate that Washington's move to consolidate a new security architecture in the Balkans was premised on furthering and strengthening America's strategic presence in Eurasia. Through established predispositions regarding who America viewed as an adversary in this part of Europe, the Clinton Administration facilitated the emergence of a new security architecture by deliberately choosing to view the Serbians as the primary obstacle to Washington's strategic objectives in the Balkan region. At the end of the Cold War, the establishment in Washington did not initiate a serious strategic review in order to create new forms of cooperation and bilateral security arrangements in this part of the world. Rather, with the end of the Cold War, it looked to the Balkans as a means to consolidate its strategic presence in Eurasia, to give NATO a renewed sense of political and military purpose, and to further the drive towards a unipolar new world order. The implications for European security, NATO, great power relations, and regional stability are enormous, and as Robert Kaplan once argued correctly, "the future of Europe will not be decided by what happened in Maastricht, but rather, by what happens in Macedonia."
Constructing the new security architecture in the Balkans did not happen over night nor was it improvised along the way. In fact, it is the product of serious long term planning by the establishment in Washington; planning which actually predated the implementation that the Clinton Administration undertook once it came into the Oval office. What is surprising, however, is that the United States began its defense cooperation with a regime in Croatia that was intrinsically committed to rehabilitating its fascist past. The Clinton Administration was well aware of the ideological inclinations of the Tudman government, yet this did not preclude it from looking to Croatia as a strategic ally or proxy in this part of Europe. Simplified, the goal of the establishment in Washington with regards to Croatia had several lines of strategic reasoning and continuity. These goals in order of strategic priority were as follows; consolidate America's political and military presence in Europe, strengthen Croatia's military while bolstering it's strategic position in the Balkan region, and lastly, bind them into Washington's web of existing security arrangements.
Obstacles to Defense Cooperation & The Role of Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI)
The first American military attache was sent to Croatia soon after formal diplomatic relations were established between the two states in August of 1992. However, an impediment to evolving relations between Croatia and Washington was the Tudman government's involvement in attempting to carve out a Croatian statelet in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is not to say that Washington was opposed to this eventuality down the road, but for strategic purposes at the time, the immediate concern of the Clinton Administration was to pacify this Croatian goal from becoming a geopolitical reality. This impasse was overcome by Washington's ability to convince Croatia into supporting the formation of a fragile federation in Bosnia between the Moslems and Croats in March of 1994. Having achieved this objective, one of the necessary conditions was in place for substantive defense cooperation to begin between the United States and Croatia. The Clinton Administration needed Croatian acquiescence on the Bosnian federation in order to further Washington's strategic objectives and long term interests in the Balkans. These immediate objectives were focussed on safeguarding the survival and sustainability of an independent and unitary Bosnian state. A terminally fragile Bosnian state was a key strategic imperative for Washington because it would continue to provide the raison d'Ítre for America's and NATO's presence in the region for generations to come.
Having secured Croatian cooperation, the other immediate obstacle that was overcome was getting Croatia to sign on to a defense cooperation agreement with the newly formed federation between the Bosnian Moslems and Bosnian Croats. This agreement mandated Croatia to support several top-secret American airdrops of military supplies to the Bosnian Moslem Army in order to assist it in combat operations against the Bosnian Serbs. As well, Croatia also had to agree to the establishment of a CIA base on the island of Krk in Croatia, which was used by the United States to deploy the GNAT-750 and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance operations against the Serbs in Serbian Krajina and Republika Srpska. Armed and readied with stealth technology, the Predator possessed enough aerial capability to cover the entire geographical territory of the former Yugoslavia. Specifically, it enabled the United States to simultaneously utilize the territory of Croatia and Albania in order to deploy these unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and intelligence purposes against the Serbians.
Although the United States attempted to create the conditions for legally sanctioned defense cooperation with Croatia, Security Council Resolution 713, better know as the UN Arms Embargo, prevented wide ranging cooperation between the two parties. The UN Arms Embargo on the former Yugoslavia theoretically banned the United States and any other state from providing any military assistance to any of the ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia. It also applied to private entities, which meant that no organization outside of government control could provide advice on military planning, intelligence services, advice, strategy, or tactics to any entity in the former Yugoslavia, including Croatia. However, these limitations did not stop Croatian Defense Minister, Gojko Susak, from forwarding a request for military assistance to the then Deputy Defense Secretary, John Deutch, who later went on to become the Director of the CIA. When Susak finally visited Washington seeking military assistance in March of 1994, the limitations of the arms embargo forced Pentagon officials to refer the Croatian Defense Minister to Military Professional Resources Incorporated.
MPRI spokesman and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ed Soyster, once referred to this organization as the "greatest corporate assemblage of military expertise in the world." MPRI has a core full time staff of 350 individuals and a database of approximately 2000 retired generals, admirals, and other officers from which to draw potential services. One could argue however, that MPRI is nothing more than an extended arm of the Pentagon, conveniently formed to circumvent international law when the American government is limited in seeking to achieve its perceived strategic objectives in various parts of the world. Nevertheless, before MPRI began working with the Croatian government, it first took on a contract in 1994 code named the Drina River Mission to send 45 border monitors to Serbia in order to enforce the economic blockade against the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs. MPRI's involvement in monitoring Serbia's border in 1994 became critical to American strategic planning in the Balkans because this organization enabled Washington to indirectly introduce an American military presence into the region.
By referring Defense Minister Susak to MPRI, the Clinton Administration, through one degree of separation, enabled itself to theoretically stay within the provisions of the UN Arms Embargo. Specifically, it enabled the United States to deny that it was providing direct military assistance to Croatia even though American intelligence officers were already directly involved in the Balkan theatre of operations. MPRI's involvement with Croatia officially started in September of 1994 when Croatian Defense Minister Susak and retired General and Vice President of MPRI, Carl Vuono, signed an agreement at the Croatian Embassy in Washington which came to be known as the Democracy Transition Assistance Program. MPRI personnel arrived in Croatia in November of 1994 and the first Croatian officers to complete the DTAP training program graduated in April of 1995. The success of this program set a precedent, which eventually led to the expansion of MPRI's involvement into other regions in the Balkans. However, before MPRI could begin working with the Croatian government or any other ethnic group in the region, it was mandated to seek authorization from the US State Department's Office of Defense Trade Controls. Before this government agency could issue such a license to MPRI, one of the provisions was that MPRI could only provide instruction on leadership skills and on the role of a military in an emerging democracy.
Contrary to the provisions of the licensing agreement, MPRI was instrumental in violating the UN Arms Embargo by assisting Croatia in carrying out Operation Storm in August of 1995. After the Vietnam War, the United States was determined to review and revise the way it would conduct combat operations in the future. Retired General and Vice President of MPRI, Carl Vuono, participated in and commanded a special training center that was responsible for devising a new American military doctrine which came to be known as AirLand Battle 2000. This military doctrine, which was first applied in Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1990, was also applied by the Croatian Army at the tactical level in Operation Storm in 1995 against the Krajina Serbs. In fact, two weeks before the Croatian attack, Vuono held top secret meetings on the island of Brioni with Croatian General Varimar Cervenko, who was one of the architects of the Croatian campaign against the Serbian Krajina. However, Cervenko's plan was never actually realized because the Tudman government decided on implementing General Ante Gotovina's military plans regarding the Serbian Krajina. More importantly, however, five days before the actual attack was undertaken by Croatia, Vuono held approximately ten meetings with Croatian officers who were to be directly involved in the ethnic cleansing of the Krajina region.
This raises the sensitive issue of MPRIs and the Clinton Administration's culpability in facilitating the war crimes that were committed by Croatian forces against the civilian population of the Serbian Krajina in Operation Storm. According to the former head of Croatian counterintelligence, Markica Redic, "the Pentagon undertook complete supervision during the Storm action." Moreover, Miro Tudman, son of the late Croatian President and head of Croatia's equivalent of the CIA, has argued that during Operation Storm "all our (electronic) intelligence in Croatia went online in real time to the National Security Agency in Washington" and "we had a de facto partnership." At the very least, American involvement in Operation Storm raises the issue of war crime indictments against members of MPRI, the Pentagon, CIA, and the NSA, who directly assisted the Croatian attack in August of 1995, which expelled over 200,000 civilians and devastated over 13,000 homes and other structures in the region. Nevertheless, Croatia's ability to occupy the Serbian Krajina was due more to Belgrade's decision not to introduce the Yugoslav Army into the conflict, than to Croatia's military prowess. In retrospect, the fact that Croatia encountered stiff resistance in Petrova Gora from the Krajina Serbs illustrates that if Belgrade had made the conscious decision to defend the Serbian Krajina, the Croatian Army would have been hard pressed to achieve the desired results it had sought in Operation Storm.
Consequently, since 1994, Croatia has continued to pursue an aggressive and unrelenting intelligence operation dedicated towards infiltrating the highest levels of the Yugoslav military and government. The intent of these operations has been targeted at discerning the operational capabilities of the Yugoslav Army and the intentions of the Yugoslav government. Specifically, through intimidation, coercion, and blackmail, Croatia has sought to influence Yugoslav officials by threatening reprisals against any relatives some of them might have still living in Croatia. Croatian intelligence activities against Yugoslavia have been based on the requirements of both the Croatian government and of some western governments who have requested that Croatia's foreign intelligence service fulfill some of their unmet needs in Yugoslavia. It should be noted that the operational capabilities of Croatia's intelligence services have been modeled after Germany's BND intelligence service and that Germany has been instrumental in assisting and guiding the formation of Croatia's intelligence services both in Croatia and Germany.
Military Professional Resources Incorporated & The Bosnian Connection
MPRI's involvement with Croatia resulted in pressure from the leadership of the Bosnian Moslems on Washington to initiate a reciprocal form of military assistance to the Bosnian Moslem Army. With the approval of the Clinton Administration and sanctioned by Congress, MPRI began training the Bosnian Moslem Army after the Dayton Accords were established in October of 1995. The Pentagon spent $400,000 on a report in order to establish what type of military aid the Bosnian Moslem Army required. This report created the conditions for the United States to allocate and donate $100 million dollars worth of military equipment to the Bosnian Moslems. The American vessel known as the American Condor delivered the first shipment of American military equipment to the Bosnian Moslems in November of 1996. Specifically, between November 21st and 24th, 1996, the American ship delivered "46, 100 M16A1 assault rifles, 1000 M60 machine guns, 6592 pieces of communication equipment, 732 AN/PRC-126 handheld and 1600 AN/PRC-77 manpack radios, 45 M60A3 battle tanks, 80 M113 APCs, 840 AT-4 light anti-tank weapons and 15 UH-1H light utility helicopters." The United States also financed the local production of ammunition at the Igman factory in Konjic and the production of D-30J howitzers at the Bratstvo factory in Novi Travnik.
In addition to this, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Brunei and the United Arab Emirates also donated $149 million dollars worth of military equipment and financial assistance to the Bosnian Moslem Army. The military equipment shipped from these sponsoring states consisted of "36 M56 105mm light howitzers, 51 Panhard Armored Personnel Carriers, 40 AMX-30 Main Battle Tanks, 12 D-30 120mm howitzers, 12 130mm howitzers, and 18 ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons." In July of 1996, as part of an independent bilateral defense cooperation agreement with Turkey, the Bosnian Moslems also received a shipment of 5.56mm small arms ammunition and light anti-tank rockets from Turkey. The Turkish government also delivered 659 tons of weaponry to the Bosnian Moslems through the Croatian port of Ploce. This cargo of weaponry was delivered to the Bosnian Moslems by the Turkish chartered Ukrainian ship, the Valerian Zorin. Turkey has also participated in training Bosnian officers in Turkey and, with the other sponsoring Islamic states, has also financed MPRIs $140 million training role with the Bosnian Moslems.
MPRI entered the Balkans before the United States military because under international law, neither the American government nor military had a legal mandate at the time to introduce an official American presence into the Balkan theatre of operations. This is not say that the Clinton Administration was not actively planning for such an introduction, because in retrospect, the evidence and indictment is overwhelming in this regard. Moreover, domestic constraints have always weighed heavily on Washington's decisions to introduce American servicemen into a theatre of operations. The introduction of American forces into a region is often untenable due to the low threshold for casualties among the American people. The domestic political landscape in the United States often dictates that risking the lives of American servicemen is unacceptable even when key strategic concerns are at issue. However, to augment this domestic political constraint, throughout the Cold War, the United States relied heavily on non-government proxies as a means to achieve strategic ends in various parts of the world. Examples of such proxies would be the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, the Contras in Nicaragua, and more recently, the extremist ethnocentric drug running KLA in Kosovo and Macedonia.
Institutionalized Defense Cooperation: America takes the Lead
On November 29th, 1994, Croatia and the United States formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation, through which a broad range of military cooperation agreements were outlined as the cornerstone for future relations between the two countries. The signing of the agreement was preceded by a visit to Croatia on November 10th, 1994, by then Deputy Secretary of Defense, Joseph Kruzel, who traveled to Zagreb to iron out last minute details surrounding the agreement. The United States facilitated the establishment of the International Military Education and Training Program, the Joint Contact Team Programs through the US European Command, and defense cooperation agreements with Turkey and Israel. The US also turned a blind eye to Iran's initiatives to ship armaments to the Bosnian Moslems long before the US Senate passed the Dole-Lieberman Bill to lift the arms embargo against Bosnia on July 6th, 1995. According to the deal, Croatia as a point of transit for the arms shipments, received a percentage of the arms deliveries from Iran. More importantly, however, the agreement on defense cooperation would eventually result in frequent meetings of military delegations at the highest coordinating levels between the United States and Croatia.
This level of bilateral engagement is illustrated by the fact that the late Croatian Defense Minister, Gojko Susak, would meet with former Defense Secretary, William Perry, four times in 1996. Moreover, when Gojko Susak fell terminally ill, the US Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, personally sent his own plane to bring the Croatian Defense Minister to the United States for medical treatment. At his funeral in Croatia at the Mirogoj cemetery, former Defense Secretary, William Perry, declared that Gojko Susak "was a visionary in military matters and his legacy will be that one day the Croatian Armed Forces will be valued participants in western security organizations." It is evident that Washington placed a significant amount of emphasis on it's relationship with Croatia because Croatian government officials like Susak had unlimited access to America's national security apparatus and decision making circles in Washington. Washington's investment in Croatia was not minimal and institutionalized forms of defense cooperation have reaffirmed a growing commitment and willingness on both sides to align their national interests towards one another.
It was only after Croatia ethnically cleansed the Serbs of Krajina with the tacit approval of the Clinton Administration in August of 1995 that the United States, as part of its defense cooperation agreement with Croatia, became the first NATO country to formally organize military cooperation programs for Croatia. The United States has not only organized these programs but has led the way in financing Croatia's military in what officials in Washington refer to as "engagement activities." One of these programs is the congressionally authorized International Military Education and Training Program. In 1996 alone, Croatia received $200,000 in congressionally authorized funds to help further the military education and training of it's armed forces. Direct American military training assistance to Croatia grew from $65,000 in 1995 to $500,000 in 2000, adding up to about $2 million in this five year period. During this period, the United States has trained over 200 Croatian military and civilian personnel in the United States and several hundred more at scheduled seminars held in Croatia. Funds from this program have also helped facilitate the creation of three English language speaking schools, which has allowed the Croatian Military School of Foreign Languages to produce 150 fluent English speaking individuals annually.
In addition to this, in 1996, the United States European Command opened a liaison office at the Croatian Ministry of Defense. This office was given the responsibility of coordinating the Joint Contact Team Program, which is focussed on furthering bilateral relations between the United States and Croatia. The Joint Contact Team Program differs from the IMET Program because personnel from the US European Command are prohibited from conducting training and must restrict their activities to familiarization and orientation type activities in Croatia. Since 1997, the US European Command has funded two full time personnel to assist the Croatian military with scheduling and executing the congressionally authorized International Military Education and Training Program. To date, the US European Command has conducted over 300 events in Croatia aimed at presenting the US Armed Forces as a 'role model' for Croatian military officials.
The Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany has also been an institution frequented by Croatian military officials due to the support of the United States and Germany. This center is designed to support higher security and defense learning for foreign and security policy officials. Croatia has sent more than 40 members of it's defense ministry and general staff to the Marshall Center for training since 1995. This training endeavor has cost the United States $350,000 in 1999 and 2000 alone. As well, German support to Croatia in this regard has been significant since it began offering Croatian officers training in its military schools in 1999. To date, 23 Croatian officers have been educated in German Military Schools and 30 more have completed familiarization and orientation activities at these schools. The focus of their studies at German Military Schools has been primarily on professional military education, specifically, battalion and company level courses, as well as time spent in the German Command and General Staff College. Staff talks between German and Croatian officers have occurred annually at all levels and Germany has conducted exercises with Croatia in the field of arms control in line with the Dayton Military Annexes. The total amount of aid allocated to Croatia out of the German defense budget to date has been approximately $2 million.
In an attempt not to be left out, France has also provided significant military training to Croatia's armed forces. In 1998, after an agreement on bilateral defense cooperation was consummated between France and Croatia, the French established various military programs to assist the Croatian Military. Croatia has seen 31 of it's officers graduate from schools such as the French War School, with 14 graduating in 1998 and another 17 in 1999. The French have also assisted in providing language training to Croat officers as part of their defense cooperation agreement with Croatia. It should be noted that Croatia has also received assistance from Great Britain in the areas of English language instruction and on arms control in line with the Dayton Military Annexes. However, French and British military cooperation with Croatia is largely symbolic because they are not perceived as active players in the Balkans who can influence policy decisions in Washington or Brussels where the Balkans are concerned.
By the end of 1999, every major command of the Croatian Armed Forces, every sector of the general staff, and every directorate in the defense ministry had someone who had attended military training programs abroad. The move to rapidly accelerate Croatia's military readiness is linked to Washington's desire to integrate Croatia into western security institutions and at the same time improve the operational capabilities of the Croatian Army at the tactical and command level. The need to accelerate Croatia's military readiness has also been complemented by the need to assist Croatia's ability to upgrade and modernize its existing military hardware. Much of that hardware was acquired from the Germans, consisting mostly of Soviet era East German military equipment. It should be noted that Croatia's procurement of military hardware was also assisted by Ernst Werner Glatt, who was once the CIA's point man for military shipments to the Contras in Nicaragua and the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. However, rather than having Washington supply these upgrades and modernization, the Clinton Administration initially relied on integrating Croatia into it's existing web of security arrangements.
The Role of Turkey & Israel
On the insistence of the Clinton Administration, Croatia was mandated to undertake a defense cooperation agreement with Turkey. On June 19th, 1996, Franjo Tudman, along with his defense minister Gojko Susak and his foreign Minister Mate Granic, visited Ankara, Turkey, at the invitation of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel. The two states agreed in principle on a broad framework for a defense cooperation agreement, which enabled the Turkish International Cooperation Agency to immediately open a bureau in Croatia's capital of Zagreb. On August 22nd , 1996, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, General Cevik Bir, formally signed the agreement with Croatia on military training exercises. This agreement focussed on an exchange of staffs between the two states and on the training of officers at Turkish and Croatian military institutions. Since 1999, Croatia has seen 12 of it's officers attend Turkish military training schools. This training has involved a one year Turkish language regimentation for Croatian officers before formal professional military education training, such as the armed forces military academy and courses focussed on commanding companies and battalions could begin.
General Bir's visit to Croatia to sign the agreement on military training was followed by a visit to Ankara on December 3rd, 1996, by the Croatian Air Force commander Major General Josip Vuletic. The Major General had meetings with the Turkish Defense Minister, Turhan Tayan, with the Chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Ismail Hakki Karadayi, and with the commander of the Turkish Air Force, General Ahmet Corekci. Upon receiving the Croatian Air Force commander, General Corekci commented on the Croat commander's visit to Turkey by stating that "both countries efforts continued to play a key role for peace and stability in the Balkans." In fact, there is an element of truth to this statement because Washington has positioned both of these states to play an important role in the new security architecture as geopolitical pivots in the region. However, Washington has looked to Ankara and Zagreb as important allies in maintaining and consolidating America's Cold War victory based on the old bipolar security architecture that used to be in place in this part of the world. Consequently, this outlook has impeded Washington's ability to create a new security regime in this part of the world and it has reinforced the belief that the Serbians are the main obstacle to America's strategic objectives in the region.
While the agreement with Turkey on defense cooperation focussed on military exchanges and training, it also paved the way for other agreements in the defense industry field. According to Turkey's defense cooperation agreement with Israel that was established in 1995, Israel is mandated by the agreement to upgrade and standardize any technical requirements that a state such as Croatia would require in the defense industry field. Therefore, through a binding defense cooperation agreement with Turkey, Israel was required to undertake a defense cooperation agreement with Croatia. The scope of this agreement has covered areas such as upgrading and modernizing Croatia's MIG 21s, T55 tanks, and the joint production of the 'Tabor' assault rifle. The MIGs were intended to be refitted in Israel and later modernized at the Aircraft Technology Department in Velika Gorica, Croatia, where Croatian technicians would be trained by their Israeli counterparts. These upgrades typically include multirole air to air and air to ground radios, radars, passive and electronic warfare suites, new head up and head down displays, helmet sights, and the integration of western weaponry. As part of the upgrade program, the Israeli Aerospace Company, Elbit, located in Haifa, Israel, was specifically offering the El/M/2032 lookdown/shootdown pulse doppler radar, manufactured by Israeli Aircraft Industries.
When Croatian Defense Minister, Pavao Miljavac, was asked by an Israeli reporter to comment on the statement of an Israeli opposition deputy in the Knesset that a military agreement with Croatia was "like selling our souls for a hundred million dollars," the defense minister replied that "Israel is a country in which everyone has the right to say what they think, but that for Croatia it is important what the decisionmakers and those who guide policy think." With Israel receiving billions of dollars of aid on a yearly basis from Washington, it is only natural that the Jewish State would be obligated under existing defense cooperation agreements to closely align itself under the American security umbrella. Through its special relationship with Washington and its defense cooperation agreement with Turkey, Israel has been an active participant in assisting Washington to consolidate a new security architecture in the Balkans. Israel's defense cooperation with Croatia is one of the many obligations that the Jewish State has had to undertake as part of it's special relationship with Washington. In this regard, Washington has had the unnerving support of Jewish political action committees in Washington and American Jewry in general, as it has tried to construct a new security architecture in the Balkans.
After the fall of the Tudman government in Croatia, the deal to upgrade 20 Croatian MIGs in Israel at $30 million was put on hold because Lockheed Martin, with the permission of the Clinton Administration, offered Croatia American F16 fighter aircraft. The American F16s in question are older versions of the plane that require modernization, but according to the offer, the job of upgrading the aircraft would be done by Lockheed Martin and paid for by the Croatian government. The upgrade of F16 aircraft and the offer to receive them as a form of military assistance from the United States was an ultimatum that Croatia had to accept if it wanted to be admitted into the Partnership for Peace Program. Since paying for the upgrade of the aircraft is a fiscal liability for the current government in Croatia, the United States has responded by allowing payment for the aircraft to be settled through long term defense cooperation. As part of the payment process however, Croatia has had to allow the United States military to use existing airfields in Croatia. This development has essentially reaffirmed America's firm intention to maintain a long term presence in Croatia, the Balkans, and in Europe, long after the last American military presence is scaled back or pulled out altogether from the European Union and specifically, Germany.
To this end, the United States and Croatia conducted their first joint military exercises on September 25th, 2000, near the Croatian port city of Split and on some islands off the coast of the country. The four day exercise referred to as operation 'Croatian Phiblex', consisted of 400 sailors and 200 Marines from the US 6th Fleet, USS Austin and elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. This unit was the first American peacekeeping force to move into Serbia's province of Kosovo after the war with Serbia and Montenegro in 1999. It also became the first American military unit to complete the first ever American and Croatian bilateral amphibious landing exercise on September 29th, 2000. The Chief for the Office of Defense Cooperation for the American Embassy in Croatia, Army Major Richard Liebl, stressed the importance of this exercise by stating that "the only way to be effective in the future of warfare is to build that bilateral exchange among willing nations" because "knowing your allies enhances any country's ability to operate." Major Kenneth Lassure, a participant in the exercises, qualified the importance of the maneuvers by claiming that "the Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Austin have been a part of history here. It excites me. It gets my juices going to know that we are helping a country move in a democratic direction."
In addition to this exercise, Croatia also hosted two more training exercises with the United States in late 2000 and early 2001. These exercises were referred to as Slunj 2000 and Slunj 2001 and it was only by chance that these exercises were held in Croatia. These military exercises were initially scheduled to take place in Israel, but because of the current unrest in the region and for ecological reasons associated with the nature of the live fire exercises, the United States moved the exercise to Croatia at the last moment. The US Sixth fleet and approximately 1500 soldiers from the 26th Marine Expedition Unit participated in the Slunj 2000 exercises. For this particular exercise, the Americans also used the airfield at Udbina in Serbian Krajina, and according to Croatian General Josip Culetic, the Americans raised the issue of stationing a military base in this ethnically cleansed Serbian city. The actual exercises entailed the live firing of heavy ordinance by American forces, which caused outrage among Croatia's environmental activists. While the exercises were not received favorably by various segments of the Croatian public, the Croatian government and military used these exercises to begin selling the prospect and benefit of permanent American bases in Croatia to the Croatian public.
Bringing It All Together: Strategic Continuity
Limited by the UN Arms embargo, the United States circumvented this obstacle by turning to MPRI in order to lay the groundwork for long term military cooperation with Croatia and eventually with other proxies in the region. MPRI has been invaluable as a mechanism to further strategic priorities for Washington in the Balkans. Specifically, it has enabled the United States to utilize a private organization such as MPRI to further American security policy, while at the same time, limiting the chances for casualties among American military personnel stationed in the region. In addition to this, it has also enabled Washington to utilize MPRI in a cost-effective way to reduce costs associated with training foreign military personnel in the region. In fact, it was Croatia that financed it's relationship with MPRI, with Washington taking over the majority of fiscal responsibilities once institutionalized forms of defense cooperation took over in late 1995 and early 1996. Thus, outsourcing war became the modus operandi for Washington in the Balkans in the 1990s. In fact, at a closed Defense Intelligence Agency symposium held on June 24th, 1997, on the 'Privatization of National Security Functions,' the overwhelming consensus of the participants was that this form of military engagement would only increase in the years to come.
The strategic posture of America and the Clinton Administration towards Croatia has been premised on consolidating America's political and military presence in Europe, strengthening Croatia's military, and bolstering its strategic position in the Balkan region. By organizing substantial training and education for Croatia's armed forces, Washington made the conscious decision to look to Croatia as a pivotal military ally in the western Balkans. Hence, Washington's moves to hastily integrate Croatia into it's web of security arrangements with states such as Turkey and Israel and it's simultaneous moves to accelerate Croatia's military readiness by offering F16 fighter aircraft as a gift. However, this relationship for Croatia comes at a price, a price where the concept of limited sovereignty will continue to define Croatia's relationship with America for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the national security apparatus in Croatia believes that this is an arrangement that is in the country's long term interests, because in the event of another Balkan conflict, Croatia believes that the full weight of American diplomatic support will be forthcoming in any eventual renewal of hostilities with Serbia.
There is no reason to believe that in the event of another Balkan conflict Croatia would not enjoy this support. As ambassador Richard Gelbard told a Croatian American delegation visiting Capital Hill in March of 1999, "the US needs a pillar of stability in the region and we look to Croatia as that pillar." Ambassador Gelbard also indicated at the time that the Clinton Administration was fully supportive of Croatia's rights to the Prevlaka region, and he termed it a security issue for the administration and not a territorial one. Ironically, while the Clinton Administration was reassuring one of its new clients in the Balkans, the Croats, at the same time it was preparing for a brutal war of aggression against Serbia in Kosovo. As one analyst has outlined, however, the new security architecture in the Balkans is based on convictions held in Washington that "it looks to Tirana as the capital of the Pentagon in the Balkans and towards Croatia as a bulwark of military strength against Serbia in the north."
The strategic implications of America's approach to the Balkans in the last decade will continue to raise questions about whether or not the new security architecture in the Balkans can promote long term regional security, stability, and sustainability in this part of Europe. However, the new security architecture is not based on promoting sustainable regional security or on developing a regional consensus among the Balkan states. Rather, it is focussed on consolidating America's permanent presence in the region whose primary goal is to make the United States the sole arbiter of intrastate relations in this part of Europe at the beginning of the 21st century. America is not lacking compliant states in this part of Europe in its pursuit of this end game in the Balkans. In fact, on more than one occasion, the Clinton administration pursued the law of power as opposed to the power of the law to redraw the political, military, and territorial geography of this part of Europe. It remains to be seen whether the Bush administration will provide strategic continuity in this part of Europe or if it's policies will differ appreciably from those of their predecessors in the Clinton administration. However, in light of recent developments in Macedonia, one should not be hopeful that the policies of the Bush Administration will deviate substantially from those of their predecessors in the Clinton Administration.
Mirko Dakovic and Boro Miseljic are Senior Fellows for National Security Studies at the Independent Center for Geopolitical Studies JUGOISTOK in Belgrade, Serbia. This article is an excerpt from their forthcoming book The New Security Architecture in the Balkans to be published by the end of this year.
Macedonia's Slavs feel sense of betrayal by allies in Nato.
By Stefan Wagstyl in Skopje
Published: August 27 2001 19:26GMT | Last Updated: August 27 2001 19:31GMT
A bored-looking Macedonian Slav soldier, keeping watch in the hot sun on the road outside Skopje, straightens up at the sight of an approaching foreigner.
He puts his thumbs inside his belt, sticks out his sweaty chest and says to a reporter's Macedonian Slav interpreter: "Why are you showing that foreigner around? Why don't you put a bullet in his head?"
Whether it was a joke or not, the remark speaks volumes of the depth of the hatred many ethnic Macedonian Slavs now feel for anybody with any apparent connection with Nato or Nato countries.
Macedonian and British military police are now investigating the death of Sapper Ian Collins, the 20-year-old British soldier who was killed by a lump of concrete thrown into his vehicle on Sunday night.
Perhaps the attacker did not intend to kill his victim. But there was little doubt about the malevolence of the crowd of youths who surrounded the vehicle immediately after the incident. The surviving soldier felt so frightened that he interrupted the first-aid he was administering to Sapper Collins to drive the vehicle away to a safer spot.
Nato officials declined to identify the crowd. But they left little doubt that these were Macedonian Slavs angry at what they see as a betrayal of their country. Major Barry Johnson, a Nato spokesman, said the conflict between the Macedonian Slavs and ethnic Albanians, which broke out earlier this year, was generating strong emotions on all sides.
"The youths took action prompted by the rhetoric that they have heard." The attack did not come as any great surprise to Nato officials, though its tragic consequences clearly shocked members of the force deployed in Macedonia in the last week to gather weapons from ethnic Albanian guerrillas who have been fighting government security forces since March.
Earlier this month, Macedonian Slav and ethnic Albanian political leaders agreed to a peace settlement brokered by the US and the EU under which the guerrillas will abandon their fight in return for political concessions. Ethnic Albanians see the settlement as a victory, not least because it leaves the National Liberation Army guerrillas in de facto control of many Albanian-inhabited areas in western and northern Macedonia. But Macedonian Slavs see the agreement as a sell-out - and resent the deployment of over 4,500 Nato soldiers in their country.
Gjorgji Trendafilov, spokesman for VMRO, the largest Macedonian Slav party, said Macedonia felt betrayed. The country, with its partnership-for-peace agreement with Nato and its record of supporting Nato during the Kosovo war, had considered itself a Nato ally.
"If this is how they treat their friends, what do they do to their enemies?" He condemned the killing of the British soldier but said it was too early to say how it had occurred. Like most Macedonian Slavs, Mr Trendafilov has little faith in the weapons collection, saying that it was "naive" to think that the fighters would surrender more than a few guns.
He said that in the meantime terrorism had continued with the blowing up of a hotel near Tetovo at the weekend in an incident in which two employees were killed.
Macedonian Slav politicians are caught between international pressure supporting the agreement and their own angry public. Among the most resentful are the 67,000 Macedonian Slavs who the Skopje government estimates have fled their homes to escape the guerrillas. They include Dragan Gerasimovski, a 42-year-old shoemaker, who has led a blockade of the main road from Macedonia into neighbouring United Nations-administered Kosovo. By blocking the UN's supply line, he wants to draw international attention to his plight just as he says the ethnic Albanians have done.
His is a peaceful protest. But he says he could see how young Macedonian Slav might become angry enough to attack Nato soldiers.
Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and his wife - Margarita in person showed the Old Town of Plovdiv to Jordan's King Abdullah II (the third from left to the right) and Queen Rania (behind Margarita)
Photo Vasko Hadjiivanov
Abdullah II Flew over Plovdiv in a Helicopter.
Jordan students asked the King to open an embassy in Bulgaria.
Jordan King Abdullah II arrived in Plovdiv with his whole family yesterday. He was accompanied by the PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and his wife Margarita. Before that PM showed to Abdullah and his six-year-old son Husayn the air base in Graf Ignatievo. The guests watched aerobatics of fighter MiG-29, piloted by the heads of the General Staff, generals Miho Mihov and Evgeni Manev. Later King Abdullah, Simeon and the small prince flew over Plovdiv in a BEL-204 helicopter. The ladies, together with the small princesses, arrived at the Krumovo airport by the Jordan King's plane. Abdullah II was impressed by the millenarian history of Plovdiv and promised to visit the city again, mayor Dr. Chomakov said. Accompanied by many citizens of Plovdiv and guests, the delegation walked along the 'Saborna' street and stayed for lunch in the 'Puldin' restaurant. In the historical building, which once was a Turkish mayoralty, the guests tasted salad, pancakes with spinach and cheese, stuffed chicken rolls and fruits. Jordan students who study in Bulgarian universities asked King Abdullah to open an embassy in Bulgaria. The subscription is on the initiative of students from Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv. At 2.20 p.m. the King and his family took off from the Krumovo airport to Moscow.
The struggle against corruption is a priority, Simeon Koburg-Gotha said to Regional Governors.
The integration of Bulgaria in the European structures requires a change in the system of local self-rule in accordance with the European criteria and democratic practice, Premier Simeon Koburg-Gotha said in his speech to newly elect Regional Governors. After the speech, he congratulated every one of them and added: "You will be the connection between central government and local people and you should apply your skills in finding synchrony between national and local interests. I expect from you a clear strategy for developing the regions in view of the potential every region is having". He also emphasized that the struggle against corruption would be a priority for the Regional Governors.
Simeon Has Displayed Political Craftiness.
Many of the reforms that the NMS II wants to introduce will be implemented by the state institutions, which in the last four years were staffed with the UDF adherents.
The latest report on Bulgaria prepared by the research division of the Economist is a political and economic survey of the country covering the last three months. It gives a prognosis of the developments in Bulgaria for the period of one year after its publication. The research division of The Economist holds the opinion that in the long run conflicts about the government's policy might occur, because the cabinet is constituted of left- and right-wing members. The stability of the coalition will depend on the political expertise of the new premier and former king, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. So far he has displayed adroitness, but it will be difficult to the cabinet to meet the high expectations of the electorate. In the long-term period The Economist assumes that even early elections are possible. As regards the economic forecasts, the report says that the GDP in Bulgaria may slump from 4.8 to 4 percent. In the first three months of the current year it has marked growth of 4.5 percent, but most probably by the end of the year there will be a slowdown because of the dive in exports. The inflationary pressure in 2001-2002 will not be as strong as it was predicted. On the average, the yearly inflation will be about 7.5 percent in 2001 and 4.3 percent in 2002. The current deficit for 2001-2002 will increase - 5 percent of the GDP for the two years.
Prices Downed From Today at the Seaside.
New reduction expected after September 1.
Sofia-based tourist companies en mass announced lower prices at the Black Sea resorts from today. 'So far, the prices usually became lower from September 5-10. The tour-operators in Sofia said the earlier price drop is due to the willingness of most resorts to outstrip their rivals and thus to attract more tourists in September and October. The preliminary data for the big complexes, such as "Zlatni Pyasatsi" (Golden Sands), 'Albena' and 'Slanchev Bryag' (Sunny Beach), show that their revenues upped by some 30 percent as compared with the same period of the previous year. The resort complexes with their full-year working cycle, with functioning medical and balneal centers, also wish to reduce their prices. This is the case with the 'Palace' hotel in the 'Slanchev Den (Sunny Day) resort complex, where the double room price is reduced by 20 levs. The resorts count on the conference tourism as well. Usually, in September and October lots of international congresses and symposia are held along the Black Sea coast. Special packages are prepared for them. The price depends on the number of participants. It's likely that certain four and five-star hotels will not offer discounts as they rely on a non-stop flow of tourists from abroad.