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A Macedonian policeman checks the documents of Albanian refugees, as they return back to their homes in the village of Arachinovo, some 8kms east from Skopje, July 30, 2001. Participants in peace talks reported signs of progress on Monday as Macedonian and ethnic Albanian politicians went into a third day of Western-mediated talks to end an Albanian guerrilla revolt in this Balkan country. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
A Macedonian policeman (C) walks between two lines of cars containing Albanian refugees returning to their homes (L) and Slavs, (R) leaving their houses in the village of Arachinovo, some 8kms east from Skopje, July 30, 2001. Participants in peace talks reported signs of progress on Monday as Macedonian and ethnic Albanian politicians went into a third day of Western-mediated talks to end an Albanian guerrilla revolt in this Balkan country. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
The sister of Goko Lazarevski, a 30-year old Macedonian policeman from the reserve and killed in the village of Leshok by Albanian guerrillas, cries over his coffin in a cemetery in Skopje, July 30, 2001. Participants reported signs of progress on Monday as Macedonian and ethnic Albanian politicians went into a third day of Western-mediated talks to end an Albanian guerrilla revolt in this Balkan country. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
The relatives of Goko Lazarevski, a 30-year-old Macedonian policeman from the reserve, killed by Albanian guerrillas in a village of Leshok, take part in a mass at the main East-Orthodox church in Skopje, July 30, 2001. Participants in peace talks reported signs of progress on Monday as Macedonian and ethnic Albanian politicians went into a third day of Western-mediated talks to end an Albanian guerrilla revolt in this Balkan country. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
Ukraine considers ban on arms exports to Macedonia.
KIEV, July 30 (Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh said on Monday the government is considering putting a halt on arms exports to Macedonia in a bid to help peace talks in the country.
Kinakh's statement came only a week after U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice urged Ukraine to stop weapons shipments to help push along a political solution to the conflict in the Balkan republic. "Ukraine is considering a temporary ban on supplying heavy ordnance to Macedonia while peace talks are going on in order not to deepen the conflict," Kinakh told a joint news conference with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who was on the first day of a six-day trip to Ukraine. Kinakh did not say when a final decision might be made.
Macedonian and ethnic Albanian leaders were locked in the third day of talks on Monday over a draft plan aimed at ending five months of clashes between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and government forces. Ukraine, which signed a bilateral treaty with Macedonia in 1999, has exported eight Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters and four Su-25 fighters to the Balkan country in the past few months.
Ukrainian state television reported at the weekend that Macedonia's ambassador to Ukraine, Vlado Vlazevski, had urged the government not to block the arms shipments. Solana praised Ukraine's efforts in reforming its economy but said the ex-Soviet state still had a long way to go. He was due to fly later on Monday to Crimea where he will meet President Leonid Kuchma on Tuesday.
The Houses Of The Banished Macedonians From Tearce Are Burned.
Where can this man from Tearce go, after his house was burned?
By Igor K. Ilievski
Last Saturday, around 350 banished Macedonians visited their homes in the villages of Leshok, Neproshteno and Tearce near Tetovo, occupied by the Albanian terrorists last week. In Tearce the terrorists burned down 3 houses, a bakery, 3 stables and 1 restaurant, this all was property of Macedonians. They also burned one house in Leshok. The rest of the houses that belong to Macedonians in these villages are robbed. Thirty of the people that arrived whit the convoy last Saturday decided to stay in their homes in the villages of Tearce, Neproshteno and Leshok.
According to the Coordinative body for handling the crisis, a convoy with humanitarian help is expected next Thursday in the villages near Tetovo. The return of the banished people will continue but without the presence of the representatives of the Coordinative body for handling the crisis in the convoys, because they think that the level of safety is relatively good and that the conditions for safe returning of the banished people are provided.
The Albanian terrorist burned down 3 houses of Macedonians, 3 stables, a restaurant and a bakery in the village of Tearce near Tetovo. Because of this the atmosphere in the village, inhabited both by Macedonian and Albanians, is very tense, say the people from the Coordinative body for handling the crisis.
The natives say that the violence divided the people. Majority of the people are against violence, dividing people and especially against ethnical cleaning. They want to continue to live together. Step by step it will have to work - says Tihomir Ilievski, the manager of the Center for media activity of the Coordinative body for handling the crisis.
The Macedonians who stayed in Tearce say that the terrorists searched their houses looking for guns, but they did not physically molest them. Some of them said that their Albanian neighbors helped them buy food during the occupation of the village.
A convoy of eight busses with 350 refugees from Neproshteno, Leshok and Tearce, visited those villages on Saturday. Its organizers included the Government's Coordinative Body and the Ministry of Defense, and the observers of EU, NATO, OSCE, UNHCR and the Red Cross accompanied the busses.
Representatives of the inhabitants of nine villages from Tetovo region, including Tearce, Neproshteno, Dobroshte, Leshok, Odri, and Glogji, both Macedonians and Albanians, met in the Town Hall of Tearce municipality. The meeting was attended by the special representative of the general secretary of NATO, Mike Letji, representatives of the Ministry of Defense, Economy and Transport, the mayor of Tearce, Lokman Lezi, the region's representative in the Parliament, Bilal Lutvii, and municipal counselors.
The Government put 350 displaced persons from Tetovo region in the student dormitory "Stiv Naumov" in Skopje, and about 600 in the "Pelagonija" hotel. The inhabitants can visit their homes after NATO pressured Albanian terrorists to move 500 meters from the villages.
The refugee convoy returned to Skopje at about 7 p.m.
Most of the refugees returned to Skopje with the convoy, similarly to the first convoy excursion to Leshok on Thursday. 13 inhabitants remained in Neproshteno, 5 in Leshok, and 10 in Tearce.
Macedonia Seeks to Arrest Ethnic Albanian Leaders.
By Philippa Fletcher
OHRID, Macedonia (Reuters) - Macedonian prosecutors asked local courts on Monday to issue arrest warrants for 11 ethnic Albanian guerrilla leaders, overshadowing last-ditch peace talks that Western envoys are trying to mediate.
The guerrillas are not involved in the negotiations, which participants said had edged forward, but a draft peace plan under discussion is designed to persuade them to end their five-month-old rebellion and disarm.
This would also require an amnesty.
President Boris Trajkovski is chairing the closed-door talks, at a villa in the lake resort of Ohrid, between the leaders of four mainstream parties -- two Macedonian and two Albanian -- in a fragile emergency government coalition.
The move against the guerrilla leaders was initiated last week by the Interior Ministry headed by hardline Macedonian nationalist Ljube Boskovski.
Police said the minister and his convoy came under fire from the guerrilla National Liberation Army (NLA) on Sunday on a road outside Skopje, although no one was injured.
``The aim of the so-called NLA is to unite all territories populated by Albanians by organizing armed rebellion, committing acts of terrorism...forceful eviction of the population followed by military crimes against civilians,'' said a document from the prosecutors carried by state news agency MIA.
The talks, begun in May, have frequently been interrupted by bouts of fighting between security troops and the rebels, who now hold swathes of northern and western Macedonia along the border with ethnic Albanian dominated Kosovo.
There are widespread fears that if they fail, Macedonia -- the only republic to break away from the old Yugoslavia in 1991 without a shot fired -- will collapse into civil war.
ALBANIAN OPTIMISM ON TALKS
There was no immediate reaction from Albanian officials or the guerrillas to the call for arrest warrants.
After two days of negotiations, which one source said had come close to breakdown, sources on the Albanian side expressed optimism that the main issue as they see it -- the use of the Albanian language -- was close to resolution.
The use of Albanian and ethnic make-up of police are the main remaining sticking points in a draft peace plan prepared by European Union envoy Francois Leotard and his U.S. counterpart, James Pardew.
A Western source said the Albanian side had made ''significant concessions'' on Sunday over their two objections to the draft -- which he did not specify.
But the Macedonian majority has balked at endorsing reforms it fears could lead to the division of the country and the source said Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, in particular, was being ``extremely inflexible.''
Georgievski's ally Boskovski called on Sunday for ''determined action'' to prevent the guerrillas seizing more territory, implying he felt force was a better tactic.
A source close to the Macedonian negotiators said Pardew was pressuring them to accept the latest version by warning that Western financial support could be at stake.
But the source expressed fear that if they did sign up, the agreement would not get the required parliamentary approval.
``An agreement might be signed but that still leaves open the question of parliament,'' the source said. A source on the Albanian side said later that the Macedonians had come up with a counter-proposal that was ``totally unacceptable.''
Leotard, speaking to France Inter radio, was cautious.
``We're trying to push things forward but I acknowledge it is very difficult. I'm not certain of success and it has to be said frankly. But we do not have the right to abandon this and leave things in a logic of war,'' he said.
Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting, mostly ethnic Albanians but also some Macedonians.
The European Commission said it would send emergency humanitarian aid to the more than 60,000 refugees who have fled from Macedonia to Kosovo and support for some 10,000 Kosovo families who are hosting them.
A government spokesman said a government session scheduled for Tuesday had been postponed, indicating that the negotiations might go into a fourth day at least.
(Additional reporting by Shaban Buza in Kosovo)
US Criticizes Ethnic Albanian Rebels.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department accused armed groups of ethnic Albanian rebels of deliberately violating cease-fire agreements in Macedonia.
In a stern statement, the department also said there were reports that armed groups were intimidating civilians and burning their homes in the Tetovo area.
``These are blatant violations of the cease-fire agreement, and they are unacceptable,'' Charles F. Hunter, a State Department spokesman, said Monday. ``They are endangering the lives of civilians and preventing residents from returning to their homes. And such violations undermine the efforts of elected representatives to achieve a political solution, which all sides have said they support.''
In Macedonia, negotiators expressed hope that peace talks would soon be productive, despite an attack Sunday on a convoy carrying Macedonia's interior minister.
Fortunately, no one was injured in that episode, Hunter said. ``But the extremists have also planted land mines in civilian areas and on public roads'' and killed two Macedonian civilians Sunday, be said.
FYROM's ethnic Albanians keep their fingers tight on the trigger.
Rebels say they want peace but are ready for war if demands are not met
By Alexandre Peyrille
NIKUSTAK, FYROM (AFP) - Ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) say they want peace talks between the Skopje government and Albanian politicians to succeed so they can end their five-month insurgency which has brought the Balkan country to the brink of civil war.
But they say they are ready to resume fighting if their demands are not met at the negotiating table.
"I really hope that the political process will succeed and in this case we will be ready to lay down our arms immediately. But if they want war, they will have it," a rebel, Commander Hoxha, told AFP yesterday.
"Nobody wants war here," said another, Commander Sokoli, from the "113 Ismet Jashari-Kumanova" brigade's base in Lipkovo. "We have our political representatives and if there is a political solution, we will obey orders," said Sokoli, who has been involved in the insurgency since the first shots were fired in February.
All six brigades, the self-styled National Liberation Army (NLA) claims it has operating in FYROM, say they want to leave space for the peace process to work.
Internationally-brokered peace talks between Skopje and ethnic Albanian political leaders resumed on Saturday, after the rebels withdrew from key positions in the northwest of the country under an accord with the NATO transatlantic military alliance on Thursday.
The rebels say they are fighting for greater rights for the Albanian minority.
The talks, in the southern town of Ohrid, far from the fighting, are focusing on demands that Albanian be made into an official language, alongside Slav-Macedonian, as well as the establishment of an independent ethnic Albanian police force in certain areas.
Sokoli said that rebels would be vigilant to ensure that any deal would be respected, saying a previous agreement, which had prompted rebels to pull out of Aracinovo near Skopje, had not been respected by the government side.
On Friday another commander, Gjini, told AFP the ethnic Albanian rebels had so far used only 50 to 60 percent of their military potential.
The ongoing peace talks had been postponed for a day to relocate them to the south of the country because of security fears and concerns that the rebel withdrawal from key positions had not been completed.
However, the rebels also claim that they are ready to attack the capital Skopje and are present in the towns southwest of Ohrid, where the peace talks are being held, Bitola, Struga and Debar.
Macedonian interior ministry convoy shot at.
A convoy transporting Macedonia's Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski was shot at by ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the region of the northwestern flashpoint town of Tetovo, Macedonia's TV A1 television said.
No-one was injured, it said.
TV AI said Macedonian police responded with machine gun fire. It said the incident happened along the road leading from the capital Skopje to Tetovo.
Boskovski was returning from a visit to people from the village of Lesok who fled their homes last week and took refuge in a neighbouring village to escape fierce fighting between ethnic Albanian rebels and government forces, it said.
The incident took place as the Macedonian government met for a second day with ethnic Albanian political leaders in Ohrid, southern Macedonia, for peace talks aimed at heading off civil war in the Balkan country.
The peace talks, which followed a rebel withdrawal from key positions around Tetovo on Thursday, had been originally planned for Tetovo itself, but had been moved to the south amid security concerns.
Several hundred people fled their homes last week around Tetovo after a July 5 ceasefire disintegrated into fierce fighting between Macedonian forces and Albanian rebels.
The Macedonian government is now trying to encourage the displaced to return, by arranging visits which will allow them to evaluate whether it is safe enough to return home.