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Such Things Did Not Happen Even Under The Medieval Ottomans.
"I was watching the news when I heard shoots from Neproshteno. I went down to the lower floor and called my son. He said: "Daddy, hide, hurry up!". I did not obey him but went down to the backyard. An irredentist then came and said to me
The village of Leshok was conquered by Albanian gangs on Tuesday, July 24th, just as it was 57 years ago. They harassed, robbed and expelled the Macedonian population, just as they did back in 1944, when they ruled for only 61 days. The villagers of Leshok did not get any protection from the police or anyone in the state, although they had desperately asked for help during the ten-day siege of the village. The villagers speak how they fought "with bare hands" together with the twelve leftover policemen to protect their homes from the Albanian terrorists. The villagers were forcedly expelled when they ran out of ammunition. One villager from Leshok was killed and there were a lot of wounded in the fights. The others were harassed and humiliated.
The terrorists surrounded and attacked the village of Leshok, where practically no Albanian lives, from three sides. Nobody from the villagers was saved. With guns pointed towards their heads, the villagers were expelled by the Albanian terrorists and, as villagers say, have been told that "that piece of land has always been Albanian and will remain such from now on". With no exceptions, the elderly, ill, women and children were also victims of the terror, the ethnic cleansing, fighting and harassment.
Blaze Damjanovski, 95 years old, the oldest inhabitant of Leshok tells how "young Albanians in black uniforms have expelled him from his home, where he and his ancestors had been born with shooting ". He recalls in pain the events several days ago: ""I was watching the news when I heard shoots from Neproshteno. I went down to the lower floor and called my son. He said: "Daddy, hide, hurry up!". I did not obey him but went down to the backyard. An irredentist then came and said to me "Get away, old man". I asked him: "Are you one of our men?", and he said: "NO! And stop talking, go ahead". I got maid and started shouting at him: "Who gives you the right to chase me from here, I was born here. You stopped the water in the river, you dried our fields , you stole the bread out of our mouths. I have survived three wars. It wasn't like this even under the Turks", says Blaze. With tears in his eyes, he continues telling how the terrorists, when they saw that he had no intention to leave the village with the other villagers, forced him to move on the way. "They wouldn't let me take anything. I asked them to let me lock the door and they responded laughing ironically: "No worries, we'll lock it for you". Blaze recalls that there had been altogether 8 terrorists and a senior commander in the village and there had been more in the monastery. As he says, "all of them had been young, 18-20 years of age, with black uniforms, while the commander had been around 40". After that, the terrorists had gathered all villagers in a cowshed in Leshok and had told them to go to the village of Zhilche. He says that they had burnt several barns in order to frighten them. Although there had been people who couldn't walk, as had been a neighbor of his with crutches, the terrorists had forced them to leave, and had beaten some of them with butt-ends and rods. The villagers had slept in Zhilche and had come to the Macedonian Parliament the day after.
Blaze says he can't believe what he has been through this time. He recalls past times, when he had been a captive. He compares the attitude of the Albanian terrorists with that of the German and Italian soldiers from the past times. "I was a captive of the Italian army during World War II. I was captured somewhere around Debar. At the beginning our men fought with the Italians, who resigned at once because they did not want to kill people. After that, the Germans came. They handed us over to the Italians , together with the Serbian army. I think we were taken to Elbasan. They were very kind. They offered us to wash ourselves, they placed us in comfortable tents with straws, and I also remember how they offered us with three meals a day: we got half a kilo of bread with milk, beans with meat for lunch. They wouldn't forget to give us a can of red wine after each lunch. It was as if we were at some friends' house". He says that his captivity had lasted for 60 days and how the Bulgarians had come and had released them. "A lot of things were clearer then. England and France were the only ones whose voice was heard, and America wasn't allowed to get involved. Today it's all mixed-up, nobody knows anything", says this 95-year old man.
Blaze is staying with his son Krsto in Skopje. Although he is on a safe place now, he can't sit still. With sorrow he thinks about the beauties of Leshok each day and cares about his house, where he and many of his ancestors were born. He can't understand why all this is happening when all Macedonians and Albanians had lived well together. He tells how they had helped the Albanians from the neighboring villages, giving them food, linen, furniture, clothes
"Albanians will rob our houses, I'm sure about that, and I wonder if they will let them stay at all. I have to return to Leshok anyway and finish my life with my love Trpana, who is buried there. All of my life has left there. These irredentists are wrong if they think they can take Macedonia just like that. My father used to live for 110 and my uncle for 115 years. My relatives have told me that my uncle had new teeth growing. I will also live that much if I need to return. Nobody can stay somewhere where he does not belong".
His family, the Damjanovski family includes numerous well-known bakers: Blaze, his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather. Back in 1930 he and his four brothers had established a bakery in Skopje, close to the restaurant "Pobeda". They named it "Brothers' concord" as a symbol of their permanence, love and closeness. It had been closed after WWII and several decades after that his successors are continuing the tradition establishing the well-known bakery in Skopje "Zlaten Klas" ["Golden Spike"].
Blaze, this 95-year old vital man who doesn't even have his hands shaking, says he intends to live until he sees his two great-granddaughters Teodora and Nina get married, and until he sees them swinging in Leshok again, on the swing he has made for them in the backyard. He promises, with his soft voice, that this war will end soon and that everybody will live in peace again ."I do not hate Albanians. I hate those who want to break us. Macedonia will not be bent, I am sure, and we will finish this war stronger then ever before", says Blaze.
Rebels launch armed attacks near Tetovo.
By Misha Savic
04 August 2001
Peace negotiators tried this week to bridge the differences between the Macedonians and ethnic Albanians over power sharing in Macedonia's police force, as rebels clashed again with government forces.
The rebels reportedly carried out 14 armed attacks overnight against government troops near the north-western city of Tetovo, gaining almost complete control of a key road in the mostly ethnic Albanian-populated area.
The Albanian community a third of Macedonia's two million people is demanding better representation in the police, and the chance to elect the local police chiefs.
Macedonia Rebels Attack Police.
By Misha Savic
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, Aug. 4, 2001; 1:12 p.m. EDT
OHRID, Macedonia Ethnic Albanian rebels lobbed mortars at Macedonian police positions near the country's second largest city Saturday, straining a shaky truce that has coincided with peace talks, state radio reported.
News of the cease-fire violations came as a key European envoy announced plans to travel to Macedonia to bolster Western peace efforts for the troubled Balkan nation.
EU security chief Javier Solana will fly from Ukraine to Macedonia on Sunday to attend the talks at the lake resort of Ohrid, said his spokesman, Christina Gallach.
"He wants to support the negotiations at this particular moment," she said. "We hope for final progress as soon as possible."
The rebels launched several gun and mortar attacks against Macedonian police positions near the northwestern, mostly ethnic Albanian-populated city of Tetovo, Macedonia's state-run radio said Saturday. There were no reports of casualties.
The often-violated truce was signed last month in order to make it possible for talks to start between majority Macedonians and the ethnic Albanians.
The talks on a complex, Western-designed peace plan are focusing now on increasing the number of ethnic Albanians in the country's police force. Western mediators discussed deploying dozens of foreign police experts and officers to help carry out reforms if the rival sides agree on a peace plan, officials said while speaking on condition of anonymity.
The officers and experts would come on top of the estimated 3,000 NATO troops that the proposed peace plan envisages to help disarm the ethnic Albanian rebels.
Ethnic Albanians are demanding that their sizable community nearly a third of Macedonia's 2 million people be proportionately represented in police forces, especially in areas where they are the majority.
They also want to independently elect police chiefs who would answer to local leaders rather than the central government in the capital, Skopje. The ethnic Albanians also demand that the rebels become members of the police force once a peace deal is reached.
Macedonians see these demands as part of an ethnic Albanian strategy to ultimately carve off and break away northwestern regions where the restive minority lives and where the rebels already control chunks of territory.
Several Macedonian-populated villages in the area have been cut off for days by the rebels. Authorities dispatched a humanitarian convoy Saturday with 40 tons of food and medicine.
But a few hundred local ethnic Albanian civilians stopped the convoy around noon and refused to let the aid reach 2,400 Macedonians, said a relief worker with the convoy, Saso Klekovski. The convoy returned to the capital, Skopje.
The insurgency, which began in February, has left dozens dead and thousands displaced. The rebels say they are fighting for more rights.
Talks to end the crisis have dragged on for about a month.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Anatoliy Zlenko, is also scheduled to attend Sunday's session, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski's office said. The visit could not be independently confirmed.
President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, traveled to Ukraine last month to win assurances that Ukraine Macedonia's key arms supplier would stop the sales.
Ukraine has promised to "consider" stopping weapons supplies but pledged to continue military-technical cooperation with Macedonia, according to a Foreign Ministry statement last week.