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A Tale Of Two Countries: Turkey And Macedonia.
by Rick Rozoff [1 September 2001]
Despite the heavily biased tone of the 'Reuters' dispatch, reprinted below, which has the U.S. State Department's fingerprints all over it, enough of the truth gets through to make an interesting contrast between how NATO deals with issues of ethnic rights in Turkey, a key NATO member, and in Macedonia, a designated colony.
The large ethnic and linguistic Kurdish community in Turkey is denied even a modicum of civil and cultural rights, even the right to print and broadcast in their own language - even the right to publicly declare themselves to be what they are, Kurds.
Contrary to the disinformation contained below, the main Kurdish political party, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), has for years now disavowed the goal of independence and has instead struggled solely for what the rest of the world would consider the most basic of rights. Nothing more.
Also, the 'Reuters' piece intentionally misleads readers by repeating the Turkish government's claim that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is guilty of "leading a campaign...that cost over 30,000 lives."
In fact, the vast bulk of those deaths are those of Kurds, massacred and hunted down like animals both in Turkey and Northern Iraq by Ankara's military, trained and armed as it is by NATO, the United States, Germany and their allies.
However, when Western intelligence-trained, underworld-funded, racist separatist, insurrectionists go on a rampage in Macedonia - as in Kosovo before that - the West, NATO in the first place, insists that the government under siege negotiate with the assailants, share power with them, and even incorporate them into the state security apparatus; yet NATO's Lord Robertson is conspicuously missing when it comes to the Kurdish tragedy in Turkey, where his NATO spearhead into the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea is left to sort things out on its own: Through repression, murder and ethnocide.
NATO of late appears to have discarded the cynical misuse of terms like 'humanitarian intervention;' with good reason, as there's nothing humanitarian, humane or even human about their intents and their actions. Ask the Turkish Kurds if there is in any doubt.
Friday August 31 12:17 PM ET
Turkish Police Disperse Pro-Ocalan Demonstrators
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish police in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir fired into the air to disperse up to 3,000 people chanting slogans on Friday in support of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Protesters hurled stones at police, who advanced with batons or took cover behind riot shields. Diyarbakir police said in a statement 25 people were detained in the protest while 11 policemen and eight protesters were injured.
The crowd had gathered in the city center, preparing to board buses to travel to the capital Ankara for a demonstration planned for Saturday by the country's only legal Kurdish party, the Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HADEP).
The demonstration by HADEP, facing a possible ban over charges that it serves separatist Ocalan's guerrillas, aimed to bring 100,000 people together from all around the country.
The Interior Ministry has refused permission for the rally, but activists still plan protests.
World Peace Day on September 1 has become a traditional protest day for Kurdish activists who seek cultural rights, or independence, for Turkey's 12 million Kurds. Immediate demands include use of Kurdish language in education and broadcasting. They also want the death penalty to be scrapped. Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Ocalan was sentenced to death for leading a campaign for Kurdish self-rule that cost over 30,000 lives.
He is now jailed on a Turkish island and awaiting the result of his appeal to a European Court.
Turkish authorities see "Apo's" call after a 1999 death sentence for a switch to peaceful political campaigning as a ruse to escape the noose and refuse to negotiate with the PKK.
"Police intervened when the crowd began shouting 'Long live Apo, long live peace, long live the PKK'," an eyewitness said.
Police later fired into the air and the protesters withdrew to nearby narrow streets.
Violence has declined markedly in the region over the last two years, but there is little sign of political progress in defusing remaining tensions. Several major cities in the area have elected HADEP mayors.
NATO issues warning to Macedonia.
Peacekeeping mission in jeapordy if parliament doesn't consider Albanian demands.
SKOPJE (AP) A NATO envoy warned today the alliance's role in Macedonia's peace efforts could be in jeopardy after the Balkan country's legislature suspended debate on measures to grant greater rights to the Albanian minority.
NATO's ambassador to Macedonia, Hansjorg Eiff, told Macedonian officials the legislature cannot put up new conditions that would stall a deal to end a six-month Albanian insurgency.
He spoke after Speaker Stojan Andov adjourned debate in the legislature and said discussions of proposed constitutional changes could not be held while barricades remained on roads and protesters put pressure on the legislature. There was no indication when the debate would resume.
Under a western-backed peace plan, the legislature must back the package before NATO resumes collecting weapons from Albanian rebels.
"The conditioning of this process would certainly be risky," Eiff said after speaking with Macedonia's president and others.
"We are concerned about the continuation of our action."
Outside the legislature, about 15 angry Macedonians shouted: ``NATO terrorists, go home!" and denounced the planned constitutional changes.
The first day of debate ended on a jarring note late Friday with several radical deputies from VMRO, the top Macedonian government party, rejecting the proposed changes.
"Macedonia is under the gun to pass constitutional changes and those who oppose them are falsely accused of promoting war," Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, a top VMRO member, was quoted saying in the Vecer newspaper.
Georgievski urged a national referendum on the constitutional changes, suggesting that would relieve legislators of the burden of responsibility.
But Macedonia's top Albanian leader, Arben Xhaferi, said he would not support a referendum.
"The Macedonians are now playing a game of always blaming others for their responsibilities so they will always appear as victims," Xhaferi said.
The changes would make Albanian an official language in areas where Albanians make up more than 20 per cent of the population and provide a degree of self-rule for them. It would also ensure Albanians proportional representation in the government, police and Constitutional Court.
Angry Macedonians kept up the blockades. One, on the border with the neighbouring NATO-occupied Yugoslav province Kosovo, was to protest against the arrival of NATO troops. Elsewhere, Macedonians from the village Dzepciste set up another barricade, demanding rebels release five of their countrymen allegedly held as hostages.
Albanian villagers from the northwestern village Poroj prevented a refugee convoy of Macedonians from nearby Vratnice from returning to the capital Skopje. The convoy was let through late Saturday.
Andov said that blockade was organized by the rebel National Liberation Army.
"The parliament showed readiness to debate the peace accord but this cannot take place as long as there is mass harassing of civilians by the NLA," he said.
Before NATO can begin the second phase of weapons-collection next week, 80 deputies in the 120-seat assembly must vote in favour of amending the constitution.
As planned, the alliance stopped collecting arms Thursday after culling about one-third of the 3,300 weapons offered by the rebels. The 1,210 arms included 69 anti-tank pieces, three surface-to-air missiles, 194 machine-guns and 944 assault rifles.
MarcusTanner: What do we think we are doing in Macedonia?
'Rarely has any mission to the Balkans been blessed so universally and with so little reason'
01 September 2001
The angry crowds outside the Macedonian parliament yesterday, not to mention the bomb in the Albanian quarter of Skopje, form an ominous backdrop to the latest phase of the Macedonian "peace process", which is supposed to involve parliament there passing a package of laws to appease the Albanian minority's grievances.
But don't expect that to dent the relentless optimism of Jack Straw about our latest Balkan sortie. With the propaganda machinery running at full tilt, the Foreign Secretary has cheerfully announced that everything is now in the hands of the parliamentary deputies, and that we will be out in 30 days.
Rarely has any mission to the Balkans been blessed so universally by the great and the good and with so little reason. In fact, the perkily named Operation Essential Harvest is a misnomer. It is not essential and the only thing we are harvesting is the fury of Macedonian nationalists, all of whom cherish the pathetic belief that if foreigners had not intervened, they could have crushed the Albanian revolt single-handedly.
Many people reading these words may be surprised. As correspondent for this newspaper in the early 1990s, along with practically every reporter in the Balkans, I passionately urged foreign involvement in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia. We the interventionists were outraged by the impunity with which one side only the Serbs were able to blast and starve towns, such as Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and Vukovar, in their campaign to extend Serbia's borders.
We were disappointed by the UN mission to Bosnia that started in 1992, which was hobbled from the start by a most confusing mandate. There followed the monstrous betrayal of the UN "protected enclave" of Srebrenica in 1995. But the UN did feed hundreds of thousands of people in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bihac and in central Bosnia. None of the arguments applied in favour of intervention in Bosnia are relevant to Macedonia. There are no besieged "pockets" and neither side enjoys an overwhelming military advantage. Does anyone really know who is the aggressor?
One argument is that if we do not rush into Macedonia, others will. This is twaddle. In the early 1990s there was a lot of loose talk in Belgrade about a carve-up of Macedonia between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. But that was when Slobodan Milosevic was stirring the cauldron and a re-run of the Balkan wars of 1912-13 over Macedonia seemed possible.
The mood in Sofia, Belgrade and Athens is different now. The idea that Serbia under Zoran Djindjic would intervene militarily outside Serbia's borders is ridiculous. Greece's furious row with Macedonia over the name of the new state has fizzled out. As for Bulgaria, that country is now ruled by the grandson of King Ferdinand who lost his throne over his Macedonian intrigues.
With no one to feed, no enclaves to protect, no clear aggressor to repel and no foreign power threatening to intervene, what is the West doing in Macedonia? To put it bluntly, what did a young British soldier, 22-year-old Ian Collins, die for?
Apparently, we are collecting arms and preventing a wider conflict. But it is a mistake to believe that the success of this operation depends on the speed with which the Albanians hand in a few easily replaceable guns. The theatrical handover means nothing unless the Macedonians reciprocate by immediately passing laws fundamentally restructuring their state to accommodate Albanian demands to control local government, education and police in areas where they are the majority. The Skopje parliament is being asked to pass almost overnight the same kind of reforms it took 30 years of IRA bombing in Northern Ireland to induce the Unionists to even contemplate swallowing. I wonder what the odds are on the deputies delivering this? I think they are small. Experience in Ulster should have taught us that when power is in the hands of a frightened and shrinking majority, the knowledge that they are faced with an unfavourable demographic trend makes them less not more willing to concede ground.
The Macedonians are right to feel confused. Months back, Nato's secretary general, Lord Robertson, was calling the Albanian fighters "terrorists". Suddenly shades of Ulster again they are being asked ordered, more like to swallow practically every one of those fighters' demands.
Whatever the politicians say about this mission "going well", it is hard to see how it can deliver anything except a brief lull. The best scenario is that we collect these trophy guns, pull out after 30 days without any more casualties, and the whole thing rolls back to square one.
The more likely alternative is that "mission creep" sets in and we hunker down for a longer haul, feeding no one, protecting no one, supporting no side in particular, but "being there" all the same.
And why not? All the West is doing in Macedonia is assuaging its guilt over its delayed intervention in Bosnia. This is our collective wail our kaddish over the scattered and unmarked graves of the 200,000 Bosnians, murdered while the British and French diplomats courted the condescending smile of Mr Milosevic. The Macedonians Slav and Albanian should take note, and beware.
Macedonian peace accord is without conditions: EU envoy.
SKOPJE, Sept 1 (AFP) -
Macedonia's peace agreement "contains no written conditions and adding a new condition each day is a way to delay peace", the EU's Balkans envoy said Saturday in reaction to demands made by the speaker of parliament.
"We can not have constant threats hanging over the NATO operation and a return to peace," Francois Leotard told AFP shortly after a meeting with the Macedonian authorities.
During the meeting, parliament speaker Stojan Andov demanded that guarantees be given that displaced Macedonians will be able to return to their homes before a session on debating the peace accord resumes.
"The only condition on this accord is a verbal one, and that concerns the weapons," Leotard said, underlining that NATO had accepted the principle of linking debate on the accord and collecting rebel arms in three phases.
"In the document signed on August 13, there is no other condition," he said.
French support Bulgaria.
By Rozalia Hristova
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the International Organization of the Francophone Secretary General and former UN Secretary General, was one of the distinguished guests who visited Bulgaria this week at the invitation of President Petar Stoyanov.
He arrived on Monday and during his three-day visit Boutros-Ghali met with Stoyanov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg and Foreign Minister Solomon Passi.
Boutros-Ghali expressed the support of the international Francophone organization for Bulgarias bid to become a non-permanent UN Security Council member. He said that he was very optimistic about the forthcoming vote on Bulgarias bid and invited Stoyanov to the Francophone summit, which will be held in September during the 56th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Stoyanov said that he supported Boutros-Ghalis bid to be elected for a second term. Passi also supported Boutros-Ghali on behalf of the Bulgarian government. I expressed hope that Bulgaria can rely on Francophone solidarity to realize its foreign policy priorities, said Passi after the meeting on Monday.
In a lecture to Bulgarias Atlantic Club on Monday, Boutros-Ghali outlined the prospects of developing the Francophone movement and drew attention to its three dimensions cultural, political and economic. Asked whether his organization will step into the Macedonian conflict, Boutros-Ghali stated that it would only interfere with a conflict if a country requested it to and if there were no other intermediaries in that conflict. He condemned NATOs bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. I think that the strikes of NATO against Yugoslavia were illegal because they did not have the approval of the UN Security Council, he said.
During his lecture Boutros-Ghali denied any competition between French and other languages. I do not think that the role of this organization is to wage a war on the English language. We are for the diversity of languages and cultures.
He pointed out that every new member of his organization gave a new dimension to the community and offered new opportunities for co-operation. Bulgaria has been a full member of the Francophone organization since 1993.
Refugees attracted to Bulgaria.
By Ivan Vatahov
Bulgaria is sheltering an increasing amount of Macedonian refugees. There are 500 to 600 refugees from Macedonia with temporary residence permits in Bulgaria, the UNHCR co-ordinator in Bulgaria Louise Druke announced on Tuesday.
Druke met regional governor Yani Yanev in Varna with Dr. Zdravko Markov, director of the Health Care and Social Activities directorate, and discussed the regions capacity to accept refugees.
According to Druke, the introduction of three-month visa-free regulations for residents of Bulgarias neighbouring countries is having a positive effect. It allowed around 9,500 Macedonians to reside in Bulgaria and Turkey in February. They returned to their homes after three months. The measure envisages that in times of extreme military situations people can be rescued without being labelled by the receiving country as refugees, said Druke.
She said $17 million has been put aside in case of a refugee wave in the Balkans. If the need arises, the funds will be directed to Bulgaria, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Greece and Albania.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice announced that more Macedonians want to become Bulgarian citizens. Since April the number of applications has increased by three times, said Ministry officials.
Anonymous Macedonian sources claimed that anyone could get a Bulgarian passport for 1,000-2,000 leva. Lawyers who handle the illegal trade can also provide the registration of a trading company for an additional fee.
Macedonians also employ more traditional ways of becoming Bulgarian citizens. They come to Bulgaria to study or marry.
Senator brings NATO hope.
By Annie Rusinova
Bulgaria's chances of joining NATO are very good even though a lot more has to be done, said U.S. Senator John McCain on Monday. Senator McCain arrived for a two-day official visit to Bulgaria on Sunday, at the invitation of President Petar Stoyanov.
The president awarded him with the Stara Planina Order First Class for his contribution to the promotion and development of Bulgarian-U.S. relations and for his consistent support of Bulgaria's bid for NATO membership. He is the first U.S. senator to be awarded with the highest Bulgarian order.
McCain has received almost all the U.S. awards for his public service and political career, said Stoyanov at the presentation ceremony. During his 22-year service as a pilot in the U.S. Navy he fought in the Vietnam War and was a prisoner of war for several years after his plane was shot down. Tom Cruise's character in the movie Born on the 4th of July was modelled on McCain. The U.S. senator said he enjoyed the movie and added jokingly that he wished he looked more like Tom Cruise. In 1997, Time magazine declared Senator John McCain one of the 25 most influential people in the U.S.
"Without any doubt, I place Senator John McCain among Bulgaria's most loyal friends for his understanding of the difficulties Bulgaria faced after the collapse of communism and throughout all crises in the former Yugoslavia; for understanding that Bulgaria must be a member of the Euro-Atlantic family; and finally for his faith that Bulgaria will ultimately fulfill this mission," said Stoyanov.
McCain said tha democratic Bulgaria has shown itself to be a true friend of the U.S. and a partner of NATO in its efforts to establish lasting peace in the Balkans. He assed that the majority of the U.S. Congress was supportive of Bulgaria's entry into NATO.
McCain also said he was convinced that much closer relations would be established between Bulgaria and the U.S. after Bulgaria joined NATO. He recommended that the Bulgarian Army should reduce its size with the aim of becoming a smaller but more efficient professional army.
McCain held talks on Monday with Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg, Foreign Minister Solomon Passi and Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov. He established that Bulgaria's commitment to NATO membership remained a top priority and the government would speed up necessary reforms.
"My colleagues in the Senate are willing to support Bulgaria for a membership in the NATO", senator Lugar assured.
Richard Green Lugar is the second American senator to visit Bulgaria in the last week and to meet President Petar Stoyanov. After their todays meeting, Bulgarian head of state said for News.bg Agency that he would rely on three main points to defend the cause of Bulgaria for a membership in the NATO, but after he read the speech of senator Lugar in the American Senate, he could not add anything to it. In the above-mentioned speech, senator Lugar had enthusiastically supported Bulgaria for a future membership in the NATO. At the briefing after the meeting, the President repeated again that a membership in the NATO would not only mean military security, but also investments and a better life. Senator Lugar said he was extremely inspired by what he had heard from President Petar Stoyanov and believed that Bulgarian government would play an extremely important role for achieving the cause of a future membership in the NATO.
Senator Lugar expressed his deep conviction that his colleagues in the Senate would be willing to support the candidature of Bulgaria for a membership in the NATO, but said that two third of the votes would be needed to achieve this. At the end, he repeated again that he was enthusiastic about the candidature of Bulgaria for the NATO, in case the country would continue with the reforms. President Petar Stoyanov gave a lunch in honor of senator Lugar that was attended by Vice President Todor Kavaljiev, Asen Agov, Nadezhda Mihailova, Solomon Pasi and other officials.
Sen. Lugar Says Bulgaria's NATO Drive on Track.
By Branimir Kondov
SOFIA (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Richard Lugar said on Saturday Bulgaria was doing well on the road toward membership in NATO and he hoped the Balkan country would be invited to join at the alliance's summit next year in Prague.
``My hope is that the NATO enlargement next year will be comprehensive and complete...from the Baltics to the Black Sea,'' Lugar told reporters after meeting Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov.
The influential Republican from Indiana, who helped shape policy in the first round of NATO expansion, also said Bulgaria was making substantial defense reforms to meet NATO membership targets but should press ahead to maintain momentum.
``I've been impressed with the unity of views among the Bulgarian politicians I met today regarding NATO accession,'' Lugar said in a lecture to the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, an independent think tank advocating membership in NATO.
NATO membership criteria include a democratic government, free-market economy, civilian controlled army and military compatibility with the alliance.
Lugar visited the three ex-Soviet Baltic states, Romania and Bulgaria, all seeking to join NATO, during the past two weeks. Apart from President Stoyanov he met Bulgaria's Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov and Foreign Minister Solomon Passy on Saturday.
He said last week NATO should consider Bulgaria and Romania at the Prague summit, even if they were to fall short of some NATO requirements, and invite Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to join.
``Bulgaria has proceeded with reform with a military establishment that was large, the only relevant comparison is with Romania that also has a large army but has not proceeded that quickly so far,'' Lugar said.
Lugar also said Bulgaria would have to solve problems with regard to arms exports as it tries to win an invitation to join NATO. The Balkan country has often come under fire in the past for alleged violations of arms embargoes.
``Great care must be given to where the shipments of arms go and clearly assurances by Bulgarian statesmen that there is careful control on those shipments will be a paramount consideration,'' said Lugar.
Bulgaria's new coalition cabinet led by Simeon Saxe-Coburg, the country's former king and the only ex-monarch to regain power in post-communist eastern Europe, has pledged to maintain momentum on Sofia's drive toward NATO membership.
Saxe-Coburg has said he hoped Bulgaria would win an invitation to join NATO at the Prague summit, leading to actual membership in 2004. He is expected to discuss Bulgaria's NATO bid during a two-day visit to Brussels starting on September 12.