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A Macedonian slav woman walks behind Macedonian Army soldiers in the village of Umin Dol, north-east of the capital Skopje, on July 5, 2001. The Macedonian government announced a nationwide ceasefire Thursday with ethnic Albanian rebels whose four-month insurgency has threatened political stability in this Balkan country. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
European Union peace envoy Francois Leotard (L) and U.S. special envoy James Pardew (R) joke with journalists in front of the Alexander Palace hotel in Skopje July 5, 2001. The Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian guerrillas said on Thursday they had signed separate ceasefire agreements brokered by NATO. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff
MACEDONIA WILL FULLY OBEY CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT.
"Thursday's unilateral agreement for cease-fire from the Macedonian side was the first necessary step for realization of the final stages of President Trajkovski's agenda for surpassing the crisis and disarmament of the extremist armed groups," adviser in President's Cabinet Stevo Pendarovski stated at press-conference held in the Information Center in the Macedonian Government.
Pendarovski decisively said that Macedonia will obey the contents of the signed agreement and reminded about NATO's positive reactions that the cease-fire agreement was signed at the right time.
Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski is satisfied with the cease-fire agreement, which will take an effect one minute after midnight and assessed that the realization of the Macedonian President's agenda would be intensified.
According to him after the signing of the agreement by Chief of Staff of the Macedonian Army Pande Petrovski and Police General Risto Galevski, meeting was held in Army's Headquarters where readiness for respecting the cease-fire was expressed.
According to Buckosvki the Army units that secure the border will operate if terrorist groups illegally cross our border.
Macedonian defense Minister pointed out that Macedonia request strictly defined mandate of NATO forces regarding their participation in disarmament. "NATO's mandate would be limited to 30 days," Buckovski said.
He does not believe that the Albanian terrorists would be disarmed completely and their number, according to Buckovski is 6,000 at most.
Buckovski stressed that after cease-fire was established media campaign for presenting the plan would begin. "After the disarmament of the terrorists, the Macedonian security forces will enter all those villages, which are not under Macedonian control at the moment," he said. In the fourth stage of President Trajkovski's agenda would enable the displaced persons to return to their homes.
As the adviser of national security in the President's Cabinet, Nikola Dimitrov clarified the cease-fire would enable realization of NATO's decision for passive disarmament of the terrorists. The second precondition set by the Alliance, which is not included in this agreement, but is about the political dialogue with participation of EU and US special envoys Francois Leotard and James Pardew.
"In the same time we are coming to the third stage of President's agenda what means cease-fire. This is only one step and does not mean ending of the crisis, but the first precondition for disarmament is met and Macedonia can have its sovereignty back," Dimitrov said.
The second step according to him is reducing the pressure imposed on the leaders that participate in the political dialogue. According to Dimitrov NATO should assess whether there would be progress in the dialogue.
"We think that the expert talks based on the principles of the legal expert Robert Badenter in some way prove that certain progress have been accomplished. We hope that all leaders on the grounds of their historical responsibility will succeed to coordinate their differences without compromising the dignity of the citizens and the stability of Republic of Macedonia," Dimitrov said.
NATO troops should collect the weapons from the Albanian terrorist groups in 30 days and will transfer it to a third country where it would be destroyed.
OSCE and EU monitors would observe the cease-fire.
ROBERTSON, SOLANA JOINT STATEMENT ON THE CEASE-FIRE IN MACEDONIA.
NATO Secretary General George Robertson and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana saluted the cease-fire in the Republic of Macedonia in a joint statement today.
"We strongly welcome the open-ended cease-fires declared by the military and police authorities of the Republic of Macedonia and by the armed ethnic Albanian extremists operating in the north of the country", the statement says.
In addition, they remind that "there can be no military solution to the present conflict, only a political solution can provide lasting peace and stability in the country and in the wider region".
"We urge all political parties to use the opportunity afforded by these cease-fires to make significant progress in the ongoing political dialog", joint statement says, emphasising that "now is the time for leadership and vision to build the future of the Republic of Macedonia".
"We call upon all parties to respect fully these cease-fire declarations, and to act with discipline and restraint in avoiding incidents that could lead to a return of violence", Robertson and Solana continue.
They also emphasise that the European Union and NATO firmly remain on their position to help the Government in Skopje in the implementation of the settlement through financial aid from the EU and NATO forces deployment, to assist in the disarmament of ethnic Albanian extremists.
"The maintenance of a durable cease-fire, in which today's statements are a vital step, as well as the progress toward a political settlement, are important conditions that must be met to pave the way for such EU and NATO assistance", the joint statement of NATO Secretary General George Robertson and the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana says.
MEETINGS OF MINISTER MITREVA IN LUXEMBOURG.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva met Thursday Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Lidi Polfer, MIA special correspondent reports.
After the meeting Polfer announced that following the US model EU Ministerial Council will reach an agreement July 16 for introduction of restrictive measures towards the Albanian terrorists, extremists and terrorist organizations such as prohibition of entrance and cutting the financial support received from the EU member countries.
At the meeting Mitreva informed on the current political - security situation in our country and the efforts made by the Macedonian authorities for surpassing the problem.
The Macedonian Foreign Minister also informed on the political dialogue among the leaders of the relevant political parties in the Parliament.
"In that respect, as particularly significant I stressed the participation of EU special envoy to Macedonia Francois Leotard and US envoy to Macedonia James Pardew as well as other international experts," Mitreva stressed.
The good and friendly relations between Macedonia and Luxembourg were confirmed in the talks and readiness for their further enhancement was expressed.
Minister Mitreva thanked for the Luxembourg's support for the stabilization of the situation in Macedonia, the reforms toward Macedonian integration in the Euro Atlantic structures as well as for the economic and financial support.
Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Polfer, condemning the Albanian terrorists welcomed the cease-fire and expressed hope that it would be respected.
Polfer welcomed the Stabilization and Association Agreement signed between Macedonia and EU and announced that Luxembourg's Parliament would initial this agreement.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva met Thursday in Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, MIA's special correspondent reports.
At the meeting Mitreva informed on the political - security situation in Macedonia, and commented the announcement of cease-fire as necessary precondition in the disarmament of the Albanian terrorists.
In order to surpass the crisis in Macedonia, the both statesmen agreed that speed and efficient financial support by the European Union is necessary.
Juncker stressed the need and agreed that EU should accept the initiative of US President George Bush to introduce restrictive measures for the Albanian terrorists in order to end the financial support from the diaspora in the European countries and to prohibit their entrance in EU member-countries.
Luxembourg's Prime Minister stressed that EU should not allow violation of the border and that international conference for Macedonia is not necessary as the problems should be resolved within the institutions of the system with assistance of the international facilitators.
They also discussed the Stabilization and Association Agreement between EU and Macedonia, and stressed the need for sooner ratification by Luxembourg's Assembly.
The Macedonian Foreign Minister will meet Belgium vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Louise Michel in the residence of the Belgium Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mitreva will leave to Brussels afterwards.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva met Thursday in Luxembourg President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Philippe Maystadt.
As MIA's special correspondent reports, Minister Mitreva informed on the current political - security situation in Macedonia what is of great importance for the financial arrangements of EIB in the region.
Maystadt assessed the cooperation with Macedonia as very successful and added that the European Investment Bank had most fruitful cooperation with our country comparing with the other countries in the region.
"Macedonia is truly successful example among the countries in transition," Maystadt stressed.
The cooperation between Macedonia and EIB started in 1998 when the Agreement for cooperation between Macedonia and the European Union came into force and when the financial protocol in amount of Euro 150 million was signed with grant of Euro 20 million for benefaction of the interest rate. With the first loan of Euro 70 million in 1998 the highways Skopje - Tetovo and Skopje - Gradsko were financed. The second loan of Euro 60 million was used for financing the highway Demir Kapija - Gevgelija and the ring road around Skopje whose construction would start after the summer. The third part of the means in amount of Euro 20 million is a global loan for small and medium enterprises and was committed June 26, 2001.
The cooperation between Macedonia and the European Investment Bank will continue within the agreement signed 2000 for financing projects from the transport, energy and telecommunication infrastructure as well as the environment.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva met Thursday night in Luxembourg Belgian vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Louise Michel.
Welcoming the taking over of the European Union's Presidency in the next six months, Minister Mitreva expressed her expectation for speed ratification and implementation of Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and EU. She also expressed hope that Belgium will continue to support our country in accomplishing its strategic determination for sooner integration in the Euro Atlantic structures.
In the talks the ministers discussed the current political-security situation in Macedonia and reviewed the efforts made by Macedonia and the international community for surpassing the crisis through the political dialogue within President Trajkovski's agenda.
They both pointed out that the declared cease-fire as first stage for complete disarmament creates conditions for more intensive and efficient political dialogue. Belgian vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Louise Michel assessed the demands for consensual democracy and principle of veto as unacceptable and underlined that the Macedonian Constitution is a sufficient frame for promoting the rights of the national minorities. He ruled out the idea for holding international conference for Republic of Macedonia.
Understanding the current problems that Macedonia faces, Michel expressed his readiness for more intensive direct contacts for overcoming the crisis.
The bilateral relations between Macedonia and Belgium were assessed as good, with joint interest for their enhancement.
After the meeting, minister Mitreva went to Brussels. Mitreva in Luxembourg had meetings with President of the European Investment Bank Philippe Maystadt, Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Lidi Polfer, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the Assembly Commission for foreign affairs, European matters and defense of Luxembourg Paul Helminger.
According to MIA's special correspondent Mitreva will address Friday the EU Political and Security Committee. She will focus on the progress in the political dialogue in Republic of Macedonia and the demilitarization process of the Albanian terrorists.
Mitreva in Brussels will have separate meetings with NATO Secretary General George Robertson and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.
She will also meet Deputy director general for External Relations - European Commission, Catherine Day, and the Belgian deputy Foreign Minister and State Secretary for European matters and trade Annemie Neyts.
Rebel chief worked for UN funded force in Kosovo.
The Irish Times
The leader of the Macedonian rebels was originally paid by the UN, writes Chris Stephen, in Pristina.
MACEDONIA: The co-ordination of the international community in the Balkans has been thrown into confusion by revelations that the leader of Macedonia's rebel army was a leading figure in Kosovo's UN- funded civil defence force.
Before launching war in Macedonia, Commander Gezim Ostremi was paid by the UN to help set up the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), being appointed its chief-of-staff.
Now President Bush has banned Commander Ostremi from entry to the US, and accused five key members of the KPC of aiding the rebels.
Yet the United Nations says it will take no action against these five men, all still serving officers, because Washington has yet to pass on details of what the men are supposed to have done.
This row comes just as the US and the EU are groping for a joint response to the escalating violence in Macedonia, which yesterday saw rebels fighting government forces in several places in the northern mountains.
Yet while one part of NATO tries to stop the guerrillas crossing the border from neighbouring Kosovo, in Kosovo itself other parts of NATO and the UN are busy paying and training them.
The KPC, formed at the end of the Kosovo war as part of a deal between the former guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army and the UN. In return for the guerrillas disbanding, they would be allowed to reform, a new force, funded and trained by the UN but organised for civil defence.
In fact, the KPC's role is a polite fiction. Because Kosovo is still officially part of Yugoslavia, it can have no army. Yet Kosovo's Albanian majority are keen to have an embryonic army to protect them should NATO ever withdraw. The result is an awkward compromise.
The KPC is an army without weapons which trains for war, but pledges publicly that its job is limited to fight forest fires and natural disasters.
Now this delicate balance has been thrown out of gear by evidence that it is feeding men into battle in Macedonia.
The lack of close supervision meant it was weeks before the UN realised Commander Ostremi had left to command the rebels in Macedonia - with some assuming he had gone on holiday.
NATO provides the 5,000strong KPC with training in a wide range of military skills, including transport, communications, map-reading and medicine, though there is a ban on firearms training. The UN pays its $7 million per year wage bill.
Inside Kosovo, the KPC has been a success: Its units, who wear military uniforms, have military ranks and carry out military drills, are well disciplined. Fears that they would carry out revenge attacks against their former Serb enemies have proved groundless.
Washington's blacklist includes not just Commander Ostremi, but his replacement as chief-of-staff at the KPC, Commander Daut Haradinaj.
Also on the list are the commander and deputy commander of the KPC's elite force, the Rapid Reaction Corps, plus the leaders of two of its six regional divisions, Commandrer Sami Lushtaku and Commander Mustafa Rrustem.
In a statement last Friday President Bush said the US would restrict entry of these men for seeking to "undermine peace and stability in the region" as well as those "responsible for wartime atrocities". He did not specify who is blamed for which offence, but said the move aimed to cut fund-raising in the US for such groups.
Commander Rrustem yesterday said he was mystified by the American decision to ban him. "I have no information about this. We read about it in the newspapers, we are not accused of anything."
He denied having involvement in the war in Macedonia. "Maybe some people want to go and help them [the Macedonians]. There are links from ancient time. But for us what is important is the KPC."
Commander Rrustem, known as "Remi" earned fame during the Kosovo war as one of the most successful guerrilla commanders. He has since become a favourite with NATO commanders, whose glowing commendations line the walls of his office.
Certainly if the Americans have reservations about him they have yet to show it: on Tuesday two separate US army teams came to his base to train his men.
But the fact remains that there is little the UN can do to stop KPC members dashing off to fight in Macedonia, with NATO units unable to adequately police the mountainous border between the two countries.
A KPC spokesman, Mr Shemsi Syla, said Commander Ostremi is no longer a member, but denied he had been sacked. "Our regulations say that you are no longer a member of the KPC if you fail to report for work. Ostremi has not reported for work for some time."
THE GREEK DELEGATION IN NATO DISAGREES WITH THE ALLIANCE'S ASSESSMENTS ON FYROM.
Brussels, 5 July 2001 (15:00 UTC+2)
Serious disagreements on the assessment of the situation in FYROM included in a NATO military committee report are expressed in a text drawn up by the Greek delegation in the alliance's military committee addressed to the political leadership.
The Greek delegation in NATO's military committee expresses strong reservations concerning the expediency of the NATO assessments and the omissions in the report.
The root of the crisis is not the claims for equal rights for the Albanian-speaking population in the specific country but the idea of the so-called Greater Albania. In the document with the comments of the Greek delegation on the NATO report, it is stressed that this is the real and objective goal hidden behind the demands for more rights.
In another part of the text concerning the financing of the Albanians, it is pointed out that only general references are being made on the issue without a systematic approach namely, there is no specific mentioning of the countries where the money is being collected and the ways in which it reaches the rebels (a reference is made to Swiss bank accounts). Also, no reference is made on the general fund resources, while no assessment has been made on the size of the contributions and the necessary credits.
INTERVIEW-Germany say NATO ready for fast Macedonia move.
By Adam Tanner
BERLIN, July 5 (Reuters) - NATO peacekeeping troops could enter Macedonia in as little as two weeks on a mission to collect weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels if a peace deal is cemented, Germany's defence minister said on Thursday.
"There is a realistic perspective," Rudolf Scharping said in an interview, referring to a deployment of NATO troops soon after July 15, when the Macedonian government hopes to parley a ceasefire into a full-blown political peace deal.
"But we must make it absolutely clear, we will not act on any kind of hope or on the basis of any kind of expectation (of a peace deal)," Scharping told Reuters in a joint interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"We will act on a clear and reasonable and reliable political basis. And that must be done by the Macedonians."
Macedonian forces and Albanian guerrillas signed up to an indefinite NATO-brokered ceasefire on Thursday in a surprise bid to foster progress in deadlocked peace talks and pave the way for rebel disarmament.Under the deal NATO troops could enter Macedonia on a weapons collecting mission if the rebel National Liberation Army (NLA) agrees to disarm.
"In case of fulfilled, guaranteed conditions, as mentioned in the NATO decisions, the NATO members will be able to be in Macedonia in a very, very short time. And that's necessary if we want to succeed," Scharping said.
German Foreign Ministry officials have referred to a military "Plan B" if Macedonia ceasefire efforts fail, but Scharping declined to detail such options.
"Unfortunately, we are not talking about a police action in Chicago against some gangs or individuals. We are talking about a much more complex situation and that needs much more complex answers," he said.
"In the last few hours, 24, 30 hours there were some steps in the right direction and some hope," said Scharping, in English. "The developments within the next days will show us if that expection is right or wrong."
Tensions remained high on Thursday in Macedonia, where seven civilians were hurt in heavy fighting between Macedonian forces and Albanian guerrillas on the edge of the country's main Albanian city, hours before a truce was due to take effect.
Scharping, who was defence minister when Germany sent troops into combat for the first time since World War Two in March 1999 in Kosovo, said Berlin was ready to participate in the NATO Macedonia effort despite strains on its military resources.
Germany played an important role ahead of NATO's 1999 air war against Yugoslavia by announcing it had obtained a copy of plans for "Operation Horseshoe," an alleged Serbian masterplan for ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
Such evidence may play a role in the coming war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague although the indictment does not mention Horseshoe by name.
Two years later, Scharping remains sketchy on the plan's details. He said Germany had handed over all its evidence to war crimes prosecutors in The Hague.
"That combination from different sources clearly indicated that there was a plan for action from early January 1999," he said in the interview.
Scharping, who once led the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) now headed by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said the logistics of ethnic cleansing required a plan.
"Have you ever seen in human history that more than one million people were driven out from their homes and villages without any kind of organisation, without any kind of planning and so on?" he said in his office at the Defence Ministry.
Once the headquarters of Germany's high command in World War Two, the ministry's courtyard features a memorial to Count von Stauffenberg and other senior officers executed there after the failure of their attempted coup against Hitler in July 1944.
Asked about the lack of a written master plan for the Holocaust approved by Hitler, Scharping replied:
"That's a very bad example. Don't forget the Wannsee Conference," he said, referring to a 1942 meeting at which SS leaders, without Hitler present, discussed the Final Solution -- and of which records were kept.
"We have to be careful with comparisons and examples in history," he said. "In my view there was a clear planning, a clear political intention of ethnic cleansing, a clear plan of systematically killing people," he added of Kosovo.