25, July-2001.


1, July-2001.
2, July-2001.
3, July-2001.
4, July-2001.
5, July-2001.
6, July-2001.
7, July-2001.
8, July-2001.
9, July-2001.
10, July-2001.
11, July-2001.
12, July-2001.
13, July-2001.
14, July-2001.
15, July-2001.
16, July-2001.
17, July-2001.
18, July-2001.
19, July-2001.
20, July-2001.
21, July-2001.
22, July-2001.
23, July-2001.
24, July-2001.
25, July-2001.
26, July-2001.
27, July-2001.
28, July-2001.
29, July-2001.
30, July-2001.
31, July-2001.


Enter content here

Macedonia Threatens New Offensive.


By Aleksandar Vasovic
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, July 25, 2001; 7:15 a.m. EDT

SKOPJE, Macedonia Macedonian officials threatened to ignore Western mediation efforts Wednesday and launch a new military offensive if ethnic Albanian rebels don't pull back from positions gained in fierce fighting around the city of Tetovo.

"Unless the rebels pull out to their previous positions ... we will no longer listen to suggestions from any Western mediator, and an offensive is not excluded as an option," Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski and Interior Minister Ljuben Boskoski said in a statement.

Tetovo, the country's second-largest city, was tense on Wednesday. Hundreds of cars and at least a dozen buses packed with people and their belongings were leaving town.

"It makes no sense to continue the talks as long as the rebels are violating the cease-fire," government spokesman Antonio Milososki told The Associated Press. "If they don't return to their previous positions, we will force them to do so."

The threat followed a night of attacks on foreign embassies in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, by mobs accusing NATO of supporting the guerrillas, who have clashed with government forces in the north of the country.

The rampage started late Tuesday with Macedonians throwing stones at the U.S. Embassy, smashing entrances of the British and German embassies, and burning several cars belonging to the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Britain's Foreign Office said Wednesday it was considering advising against all travel to Macedonia.

The militants launched their insurgency in February, saying they were fighting for greater rights for minority ethnic Albanians, who account for up to a third of Macedonia's 2 million people. The government alleges the rebels are linked to militants in neighboring Kosovo and accuses them of trying to carve out territory from Macedonia.

Amid the growing hostilities, Macedonian authorities closed the border with Kosovo.

A senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. envoy James Pardew and his European Union counterpart, Francois Leotard, were working "to avert the country from plunging into civil war."

The EU's security affairs chief, Javier Solana, said Wednesday that "conversations" were under way in an attempt to salvage faltering peace talks in this troubled Balkan nation. The resumption of heavy fighting breaks a NATO-backed cease-fire that lasted more than two weeks.

On Tuesday, Milososki accused Western mediators of coordinating their efforts with the rebels and called NATO "a big friend of our enemies."

NATO officials flatly denied providing assistance to the rebels. The United States and other countries in the Western alliance repeatedly have pledged their support to the Macedonian government and have backed its refusal to negotiate directly with the insurgents.

Defense Ministry spokesman Marjan Gjurovski said army barracks and positions near Tetovo's soccer stadium came under fire until 2 a.m. Tetovo's hospital said five wounded were brought in overnight, and that they included civilians and military personnel.

Lightly armed Macedonian police abandoned several checkpoints and were replaced by rebels, Macedonian media reported.

The new fighting follows last week's collapse of high-level talks between majority Macedonian and ethnic Albanian political leaders aimed at averting full-scale civil war.

Ethnic Albanian political leaders halted negotiations after Macedonian representatives rejected a Western-backed plan for boosting ethnic Albanian rights, including giving official status to the Albanian language.

"We will not abandon our positions," Abdylhadi Vejseli, deputy chairman of the Party for Democratic Prosperity, the second-largest ethnic Albanian party, said Wednesday.

"The dialogue can resume but it's up to the Macedonians, who should make a move now," he told the AP. "We have done our part with the international community. It's the Macedonians who didn't accept the proposal."

Bush toes new line on Balkans.

National Post


Hazir Reka, Reuters

George W. Bush, visiting soldiers at Camp Bondsteel, has engaged in a complete policy retreat, critics say.

U.S. President offers no timetable for removing troops from Kosovo and Bosnia: 'Still a lot of work to do'

Jan Cienski
National Post

WASHINGTON - When he was running for president, George W. Bush was adamant about the need to bring the boys home and get U.S. troops out of messy foreign entanglements.

But yesterday, during a four-hour visit to the massive U.S. base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, the President offered no firm date for a withdrawal of the 6,000 troops stationed there.

"We will not draw down our forces in Bosnia or Kosovo precipitously or unilaterally," Mr. Bush said. Instead he set the troops tasks he had recently denounced as "nation building."

"There's still a lot of work to do," he said at the base outside the Kosovo capital, Pristina. "Civil institutions must be put in place and made stronger. Organized crime must be brought under control. War criminals must face justice. Kosovo must not be a safe haven for insurgencies elsewhere."

Mr. Bush then repeated what has become his administration's mantra on troop deployments in the Balkans.

"America and allied forces came into Bosnia and Kosovo; they came in together, and we will leave together," said the President, adding he hoped to "hasten the day" when NATO troops could leave. The United States supplies about 15% of the 42,000 NATO and allied troops in Kosovo.

Despite the cheers and applause the speech garnered from an audience of soldiers, domestic critics were scathing about Mr. Bush's failure to set out any scenarios for pulling U.S. forces out of the region.

"The policy retreat is complete at this point," said Ted Galen Carpenter, a foreign policy analyst with the Cato Institute, a libertarian Washington think-tank. "That is a speech that could have been penned by [former president] Bill Clinton or [former secretary of state] Madeleine Albright -- and that is not meant as a compliment."

When Mr. Bush became President, U.S. allies in Europe panicked, fearing U.S. troops would soon climb aboard transport planes and head home, leaving other NATO allies holding the bag in the Balkans.

Colin Powell, Mr. Bush's Secretary of State, hurried to Europe to reassure the allies and craft the "we went in together, we leave together" doctrine.

The result can easily be seen in Camp Bondsteel, one of the largest American military bases in the world, which has become ever more elaborate as the U.S. presence shows no sign of being reduced any time soon. The sprawling camp includes a huge exercise facility, a cappuccino bar, a movie theatre, and a computer lab for soldiers to check their e-mail.

A U.S. official said there is no intention of turning Kosovo into the "51st U.S. state," but admitted the Pentagon is not planning on a force reduction in "the next few years."

There are several possible motives for the Bush administration's change of policy.

As President, Mr. Bush no longer needs to contrast himself with Al Gore, the defeated Democratic candidate for president and an enthusiastic internationalist.

As well, the Bush administration needs European co-operation if it wants to build a missile defence shield -- something unlikely to be forthcoming if the United States pursues a unilateralist approach to its Balkan deployment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush faces the unpleasant prospect of yet another NATO deployment in the region -- this time to neighbouring Macedonia.

Yesterday, the President tried to quell the growing conflict in Macedonia, where the government is trying to put down a rebellion by Albanian nationalist insurgents. He said U.S. forces in Kosovo are working to halt the flow of arms to Macedonia and the United States and its allies have imposed sanctions on any group backing the rebels.

"Let me be clear: The United States stands against all who use or support violence against democracy and the rule of law," Mr. Bush said.

So far, the United States has steered clear of offering troops for any eventual Macedonian force, but analysts said long-standing U.S. commitment to the Macedonian government could force it to change policy.

Albania's population down three pct since 1989.


TIRANA, July 25 (Reuters) - Emigration has driven Albania's population down by about three percent in the past 12 years, the country's statisticians said on Wednesday.

The Albanian Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, said the population counted in the 2001 census was 3.087 million, down from 3.18 million people registered in the last census conducted in 1989.

"The three percent (population) decrease is a result of the big flux of emigration in these years," INSTAT Director Milva Ekonomi told a news conference.

Ekonomi said the census did not include Albanians who had lived outside the country for more than a year. More than half a million Albanians live and work abroad, mainly in neighbouring Greece and Italy.

Provisional results from the census, conducted in April, showed the female population was slightly bigger than the number of men at 50.2 percent of the total.

Albania had 728,641 households with an average of 4.2 people per house, while up to 58 percent of the people lived in rural areas, INSTAT said.

More than 11 percent of the population or 523,150 people lived in the capital, Tirana.

INSTAT said Albania was experiencing a boom in the construction sector and that the number of new buildings in urban areas in 2001 was double that of 1989.

Final results of the census, which was first conducted in Albania in 1923, are due in April 2002.

Macedonia says West must blame rebels for fighting.


SKOPJE, July 25 (Reuters) - The Macedonian government issued Western powers with a clear ultimatum on Wednesday, declaring they would be exposed as backers of ethnic Albanian guerrillas unless they denied Macedonian forces had started new fighting. Three consecutive days of heavy firefights in Macedonia's main Albanian town, Tetovo, have consigned a NATO-brokered truce to history and a government tirade against Western peace mediators on Tuesday sparked a night of rioting in Skopje.

"The government urgently appeals to representatives of NATO, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to give a short, clear answer to the only important question. Who is guilty of breaking the ceasefire?" government spokesman Antonio Milosovski told Reuters.

"If they do not respond, then it will be clear that they are protecting those who attacked democratic Macedonia," he said, adding that foreign media in Macedonia were guilty of double standards in reporting Balkan conflicts.

"We appeal to all foreign independent media to make every effort to notice the ethnic cleansing of the non-Albanian population in the areas held by the terrorists," he said. "It will be really odd if those free media, who noticed this happening in Kosovo, close their eyes to the facts when it happens in Macedonia."

Macedonia slides toward civil war.

USA Today

USA Today

TETOVO, Macedonia (AP) The government gave ethnic Albanian rebels an ultimatum to pull back from around the country's second-largest city or face a new army offensive, as thousands of Macedonians streamed out of the city in packed cars and buses.

NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the situation "critical" and said he and the European Union's foreign policy chief would fly to Macedonia on Thursday for urgent mediation to prevent a descent into full-scale civil war.

More than 8,000 people fled the area of the northern city of Tetovo in the past 24 hours, the government said, most heading for the capital Skopje after fierce fighting Sunday and Monday shattered a fragile cease-fire.

The exodus widened after Macedonia's defense minister and interior minister on Wednesday warned that military action was possible if the insurgents didn't retreat.

"Unless the rebels pull out to their previous positions ... we will no longer listen to suggestions from any Western mediator, and an offensive is not excluded as an option," the ministers said in a statement.

In Brussels, Belgium, Robertson urged restraint. "Any efforts to resolve the situation militarily can only result in the wreckage of the country and the inflicting of grave civilian casualties," he said.

Overnight, mobs of Macedonians rampaged against foreign embassies in Skopje, accusing NATO of supporting the guerrillas. Protesters threw stones at the U.S. Embassy late Tuesday, smashed entrances of the British and German embassies and burned several U.N. and other cars.

The clashes around Tetovo were the worst in months and dimmed hopes that peace talks that collapsed last month could be revived. Those fleeing the city largely were ethnic Macedonians who form a majority in the country but a minority in Tetovo.

One lifelong resident, Milina Stavreva, packed to leave Wednesday, vowing never to return. "Enough is enough," said Stavreva, 60. "We can no longer live here."

The militants launched their insurgency in February, saying they were fighting for greater rights for minority ethnic Albanians, who account for up to a third of Macedonia's 2 million people. The government alleges the rebels are linked to militants in neighboring Kosovo and accuses them of trying to carve out territory from Macedonia.

"It makes no sense to continue the talks as long as the rebels are violating the cease-fire," government spokesman Antonio Milososki told The Associated Press. "If they don't return to their previous positions, we will force them to do so."

Britain's Foreign Office advised against all travel to Macedonia, and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer strongly criticized the Macedonian government for stirring up anti-Western sentiment.

Fischer said government statements helped create "a violent domestic climate" and led to the embassy attacks.

On Tuesday, Milososki accused Western mediators of coordinating their efforts with the rebels and called NATO "a big friend of our enemies."

On Wednesday, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo said it had detained more than 60 suspected rebels from Macedonia, seizing weapons and ammunition after intercepting three separate mule trains along the rugged border.

Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski and Interior Minister Ljube Boskoski gave the rebels until noon Wednesday to pull back to their previous positions in Tetovo. That deadline passed with no sign of an offensive.

Ministry spokesman Marjan Gjurovski said army barracks and positions near Tetovo's soccer stadium came under fire until 2 a.m. Wednesday. Tetovo's hospital said five wounded were brought in overnight, and that they included civilians and military personnel.

Several police checkpoints around the city were taken by rebels, media reported.

U.S. national security adviser calls on Ukraine to stop providing weapons to Macedonia.


AP KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice called on Ukraine on Wednesday to stop weapons supplies to Macedonia, saying arms transfers could jeopardize peace efforts in the troubled Balkan nation.

Ukraine is one of the main weapons suppliers to the Macedonian government, which has been battling ethnic Albanian rebels since February. In recent months, Macedonia has bought eight Ukrainian Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters along with four Su-25 aircraft, nearly doubling its air force, and there have been talks on Ukrainian construction of a technical support base to repair the aircraft.

We believe it is important to keep the focus on those political negotiations that are being facilitated by the European Union and the United States, Rice told a group of Ukrainian and foreign reporters. In that context, anything that adds to the belief that this conflict can be solved militarily is not helpful at this time.

It is not that the Macedonian government should not have adequate means for its defense, she said. But to rush arms into Macedonia at a time when they are in a political set of discussions, we think is not helpful. The Macedonian government has expressed outrage over a peace plan offered by European Union and American mediators, claiming it would lead to the breakup of the country.

Late Tuesday, Macedonian crowds attacked foreign embassies in the Macedonian capital Skopje, the mobs accusing NATO of supporting the guerrillas. They threw stones at the U.S. Embassy, smashed the entrances of the British and German embassies, and burned several cars belonging to the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The attacks followed a statement Tuesday by government spokesman Antonio Milososki, who accused Western mediators of coordinating their efforts with the rebels and called NATO a big friend of our enemies.

Macedonian officials have threatened to ignore Western mediation efforts and launch a new military offensive if ethnic Albanian rebels don't pull back from positions gained in fierce fighting around the city of Tetovo.

NATO Seals New Macedonia Truce; Compliance Unclear.


By Daniel Simpson

SKOPJE (Reuters) - NATO persuaded Macedonia's warring rivals to restore a ragged cease-fire Wednesday, brightening prospects for Western mediators heading to the ethnically riven country on a last-ditch peace mission.

But an ethnic Albanian commander cast immediate doubt on the plan by saying his forces could not retreat from the flashpoint town of Tetovo, as the revived truce deal envisaged.

Diplomatic sources said the Albanian gunmen had agreed to retreat from territory they seized near Tetovo in three days of fierce battles which have dragged the country toward anarchy.

If they abandon their positions around the predominantly Albanian town by 6 a.m. (midnight EDT) Thursday, government forces have pledged to exercise restraint under the deal.

A few hours after that, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana are due to fly in to try and restart peace talks in the capital Skopje, the scene of anti-Western riots Tuesday.

Protesters attacked Western embassies after nationalist Macedonian politicians accused the West's envoys of supporting a separatist rebel agenda.

The peace plan Robertson and Solana hope to see salvaged was as much a focus of their rage as is Western failure to stop Macedonians being forced from their homes at gunpoint, most recently around Tetovo.

The chance of serious progress in the talks, after five months of fighting and broken truces, appears to remain slim.

Western diplomats working around the clock to wrest the former Yugoslav republic from the verge of full-blown ethnic war acknowledged the task ahead remains daunting.

``These guys walked right up to brink in the past couple of days,'' U.S. special envoy James Pardew told Reuters.

``Maybe they've made a decision that peace was better than war because that's exactly where they were heading.''

Pardew said the main sticking point in any peace deal was whether Albanian should become an official language in some parts of Macedonia.

But Western analysts have questioned whether either side is serious about the peace process, suggesting their main aim is to shift the blame for any eventual failure onto their foes.


Just hours after the announcement of the deal, which the diplomats said was brokered by NATO envoy Pieter Feith and backed by Macedonian generals, one Albanian rebel commander who will have to enforce it deemed it unworkable.

Commandant Leka, a 35-year-old veteran of rebel campaigns in neighboring Kosovo, said his National Liberation Army (NLA) men moved into villages on a road out of Tetovo because Macedonian residents had been given guns.

The reinstatement of the truce, which should allow displaced civilians to return home, was signed by the NLA's political leader on the condition the area became a demilitarized


``It is impossible to pull back because Macedonian paramilitaries are too close. They are waiting for us to move to attack us,'' Leka, who controls much of the area, told Reuters by mobile telephone. ``This is what I see in the field.''

Even if civilians were to return, the area is awash with guns, which Macedonian refugees say they are eager to use to crack down on the NLA after security forces failed to do so.

``If they can't do it, we will take care of the terrorists,'' said one man who joined protests outside parliament in Skopje on Tuesday, which degenerated into a riot.

The Tetovo region, 25 miles west of Skopje, was quiet on Wednesday evening, with only sporadic gunfire audible. But the forces Leka commands were digging in earlier in the day.

And by nightfall, there was no sign that armed Albanian civilians in the western Tetovo suburb of Tece were dismantling the sandbagged barricades from which they fought a vicious night battle on Tuesday.


In Skopje, a crowd of about 4,000 people gathered outside parliament, but appeared subdued after hearing that those among them who fled villages above Tetovo would be bussed home on Thursday afternoon, provided the cease-fire took hold.

Massed ranks of riot police, conspicuous by their absence in Tuesdays anti-Western rampage on embassies and the missions of international peace monitors, guarded the assembly's entrance.

The crowd later set off in the direction of the president's residence, near the U.S. ambassador's home, but was turned back.

Nationalist FERVOUR whipped up by Macedonian leaders in the past few days will be tough to contain, despite a new truce.

In its latest tirade, the government demanded that Western powers blame the NLA for ripping apart the old one or be exposed as their backers, a charge Robertson and Solana fiercely denied.

``The only side NATO is on is that of democracy, peace,'' Robertson said in Brussels. ``The critical.''

Although the NLA has seized swathes of northern and western Macedonia, where most of the tiny Balkan state's large Albanian minority lives, it denies that its five-month revolt in the name of Albanian civil rights has a territorial agenda.

US Scorns Macedonia Embassy Attack.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Condemning attacks on the embassies in Macedonia, the Bush administration urged dissenters to refocus their efforts on restoring the region's fragile cease-fire.

The attacks against the embassies came hours after President Bush visited troops in Kosovo, where he urged ethnic Albanians to stop sneaking weapons to rebels in Macedonia.

Mobs of Macedonians threw stones at the U.S. Embassy, smashed the entrances to the British and German embassies, and burned cars belonging to international organizations. The protesters had accused Western mediators of siding with Albanian rebels, a claim the State Department rejected.

A Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday that Marine units are on a heightened state of alert in Italy should the U.S. ambassador in Macedonia decide to have them called in to protect the embassy.

``This is not the time for Balkan conspiracy theories,'' agency spokesman Philip Reeker said Wednesday. ``This is the time for all of the leaders in Macedonia, for all ethnicities to work together on the political solution.''

No injuries were reported during the protests, but the U.S. embassy remained closed Wednesday.

The State Department also updated its travel warning, advising Americans against traveling to Macedonia and U.S. citizens already in that nation to ``review their personal security situations, exercise caution and, if appropriate, depart the country.''

Reeker said U.S. envoy James Pardew met Wednesday with Macedonia President Boris Trajkovski to help NATO officials restore peace between ethnic Albanians and the Slav-dominated government.

``All parties need to continue negotiations and reach an agreement that addresses the concerns of all sides and respects the rights of all people of Macedonia and preserves Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty,'' Reeker said. ``Leaders need to think about compromises. They need to follow a path toward peace and not toward war.''

NATO confirms rebel pledge to pull back.


SKOPJE, July 25 (AFP) -

A NATO spokesman in Skopje confirmed that an accord has been signed Wednesday with ethnic Albanian rebels under which they would pull back from positions in northwest Macedonia they had taken this month.

Earlier, private Macedonian television channel A1 reported that the rebel political representative, Ali Ahmeti, and NATO envoy Pieter Feith signed a deal under which the rebels would withdraw from around the town of Tetovo, the focus of recent clashes, and from parts of the road leading to the town of Jazince.

The pull-out is to take place at 6:00 am (0400 GMT) Thursday, it said, quoting sources from the Macedonian presidency.

Arms, fighters flow to Macedonia across Kosovo's porous border.


PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, July 25 (AFP) -

Kosovo, the Serbian province under international administration since June 1999, is the main logistical and supply base for ethnic Albanian guerrillas fighting government forces in neighbouring Macedonia.

Although around 40,000 NATO-led peacekeeping troops and more than 4,000 police officers from the United Nations are in Kosovo, ethnic Albanians say they have little trouble sneaking across the border to supply rebels in Macedonia with arms and food.

"For us to pass the frontier is not a big problem," said one trafficker, who regularly slips past KFOR troops by negotiating a mountainous region between Kosovo and Macedonia.

NATO-led troops said on Wednesday they had arrested 15 suspected ethnic Albanian guerrillas entering southern Kosovo from Macedonia.

The guerrillas had illegally crossed the border from Macedonia with around 50 donkeys and were carrying 12 assault rifles, a rocket launcher and ammunition, KFOR commander Roy Brown said, adding that they were bound for Albania.

Another KFOR source said the group was on the return leg of a trip to supply arms to Macedonia.

But the arrests will have done little to stem the flow of arms to Macedonian fighters.

Although the troops regularly intercept donkey convoys and carry out arrests, they do little to stem the flow of arms, guerrilla sources said.

They cross the mountainous border south of Vitina in southern Kosovo and reach Kumanovo in Macedonia, while sometimes from the area around Prizren at altitudes of 2,700 metres by donkey, in lorries and by car to zones controlled by ethnic Albanian guerrillas holed up in northern, northwestern and western Macedonia.

A top official at the United Nations mission said Kosovo was also a refuge for ethnic Albanian rebels, hosting training camps for would-be fighters.

On Tuesday when visiting US troops in the KFOR force, US President George W. Bush said "Kosovo must not be a safe haven for people causing insurgency elsewhere."

Most of the arms used by rebels of the Macedonian National Liberation Army arrive from Kosovo.

Some come from the arms piles of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), officially demilitarised in September 1999 after the international community moved in after the end of NATO's 11-week bombing campaign of Serbia.

Although KFOR's official line is that they are giving priority to stopping help flowing across the Kosovo border, privately, a KFOR officer, who requested anomymity, told AFP recently the border was laxly controlled as the soldiers were often "more concerned about their safety than their mission."

As well as as logistics, a large number of guerrillas fighting in Macedonia are actually guerrillas who were war hardened during the 1998-99 conflict between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Serbian forces in Kosovo during the bloody clampdown by former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Skopje says agreement only between rebels and NATO.


SKOPJE, July 25 (AFP) -

Sources close to the Macedonian government denied Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with ethnic Albanian rebels under which the guerrillas would withdraw from key positions.

They said the accord, aimed at salvaging a tattered ceasefire begun July 5, had been agreed only between a NATO mediator and the rebels, who it termed "terrorists".

The statements contradicted comments by a NATO spokesman that the rebels and the government had agreed an accord under which the rebels would pull out from around the town of Tetovo, the focus of recent fighting, and from along a strategic road in northern Macedonia.

The spokesman, Major Barry Johnson, said the deal had been brokered by NATO special envoy Pieter Feith and had been signed by representatives of the Macedonian government and the rebels' self-styled National Liberation Army.

Skopje has consistently refused to open dialogue with the rebels, claiming that as "terrorists" they had no legitimacy.

Any talks have gone through ethnic Albanian parties that make up a fragile ruling coaltion formed to tackle the five-month crisis.

Under Wednesday's accord, the guerillas are to retreat from positions and villages they have taken since the beginning of the ceasefire.

The pull-out is to start at 6:00 am (0400 GMT) Thursday and complete by by 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), according to Johnson.

US troops placed on alert after violence in Macedonia.



An unspecified number of US troops in Europe were on alert Wednesday after attacks by irate protesters threatened the US and other Western embassies in Macedonia, a US defense official said.

"We do have units which have been alerted," the official said on condition of anonymity, refusing to elaborate.

Any decision whether to seek extra protection rests with US ambassador to Macedonia, Michael Einik, the official said, though the State Department was unaware of any such request late Wednesday, an official with that agency told

The troop alert follows attacks late Tuesday by violent protesters on embassies in the Macedonian capital of Skopje. A mob of angry Slavs, incited by allegations NATO tacitly supports ethnic Albanian rebels, damaged the US and other embassies with hurled projectiles, State Department officials said.

Despite the attacks, the United States remained determined in its efforts to help bring peace to Macedonia, though US officials and Balkan experts privately voiced concern the escalating strife and emergence of anti-NATO sentiment could complicate facilitating any settlement.

"We continue to reach out to all the political parties in the multi-ethnic Macedonian government to continue promoting their working together to find a peaceful solution to this," State Department spokesman Philip Reeker told reporters.

Reeker added that US special envoy for the Balkans, James Pardew, met earlier Wednesday with Macedonian President Boris Trajkowski to discuss the situation.

The mob violence came as clashes between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels flared anew, while refugees streamed out of the contested northwestern town of Tetovo as rebels advanced across northern Macedonia.

The Slav-dominated Macedonian government neither condemned the violence nor appealed for restraint Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, an opponent of Trajkovski's, has accused NATO of siding with the rebels and of seeking to turn Macedonia into an international protectorate under the control of the Western alliance.

The State Department refuted the charge.

"These kind of irresponsible press reports... irresponsible, immature statements from certain political leaders, are not helpful to the situation," Reeker said, denying that the United States or other NATO countries backed Albanian rebels.

The administration of President George W. Bush supported Macedonia "in its territorial integrity, in its sovereignty and in a future as a multi-ethnic state," Reeker insisted.

Washington has become all too-aware that the feud between Georgievski and Trajkovski is increasingly compromising the search for peace, with a top administration official warning that "political agendas aren't going to have anything to do when they are in the midst of a civil war and fighting for their lives."

Former National Security Council Balkans analyst Ivo Daalder directly accused Georgievski of trying to extract political mileage from the conflict.

"He has no interest in negotiating because he thinks he can win through the use of force," Daalder told AFP.

"He doesn't want a compromise," making a settlement in Macedonia "more difficult but not impossible."


Greek press office

Skopje, 25 July 2001 (13:51 UTC+2)

Greek Foreign Ministry sposkesman, Panos Beglitis, condemned strongly the attack of the extremists whi stormed the press office of Greece in Scopje and called the country's authorities to take all necessary precautions for the protection of the facilities used by the Greek diplomatic mission, while further statements from the Foreign Ministry underlined that Greece is intent on resolving the problem peacefully. Mr. Beglitis also stressed that the incident will not affect the good relationships between Greece and FYROM.

The attack was made by a group of about 500 nationalist from Tetovo. Their attempt to enter the Press Office was prevented by the strong reactions of the head of the mission, Giorgos Koutsoumis. They were part of a 1.000 protesters that had gathered earlier outside the parliament in Skopje, in protest of the situation in the area of Tetovo, asking for "the liberation of their villages (which are in the area of Tetovo), from Albanian extremists".

As Mr. Koutsoumis stated to the Macedonian Press Agency, one of the protesters climbed to the floor on which the Greek Press Office is housed and tried to burn the Greek flag, something he didn't do, but he managed to throw the flag to the mob.

Apart from the stoning of the Press Office, the protesters also shouted slogans against Greece, which they deem responsible for the situation in their country. The protesters finally departed after the arrival of the police called by Mr. Koutsoumis. It is noteworthy that the Greek Press Office is not guarded, even though local authorities have been asked to.

Following the incident, the Greek Ambassador in Skopje, Mr. Kaklikis, asked the FYROM Foreign Ministry to take all measures for the protection of the Greek Press Office.

The main opposition party of Nea Dimokratia stated that the situation in Skopje is being observed with uneasiness but questioned the effectiveness of the Greek government action.

Enter supporting content here