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Milivoj Kostevski, father of Igor Kostevski, one of eight Macedonian soldiers killed in an ambush by ethnic Albanian rebels on April 28, 2001, talks during a news conference in Skopje, MAcedonia Friday, Sept. 28, 2001. Kostevski demanded punishment for those responsible for his son's death, while the government has been debating an amnesty for the rebels as part of a wider peace deal with the ethnic Albanian insurgents. (AP Photo)
WE STOOD FOR "LIGHT" NATO MISSION TO MACEDONIA.
NATO mission "Amber Fox" aiming to secure the EU and OSCE civil monitors will last three months, with participation of 700 soldiers deployed in Tetovo, Skopje, Gostivar and Kumanovo regions.
"The mission was finally agreed Wednesday night. We insisted NATO mission to be light and not robust as "Essential Harvest" mission and our proposal was accepted so 700 soldiers would be deployed. If it is necessary, if the lives of the soldiers or monitors are endangered they could ask for assistance from the existing NATO mission to Macedonia. The assistance could not exceed the number of 300 soldiers," Stevo Pendarosvki, the advisor of the Macedonian President stated for MIA.
The duration of the mission will be reassessed December 26 i.e. three months starting from today. "The mandate of the mission is three months with an option to reassess whether it is necessary to be prolonged. The mission comprised of 700 soldiers will last three months," he stressed.
The soldiers from "Amber Fox" mission can use force only if someone attacks them directly or EU and OSCE monitors or if they assess that their mission is endangered.
"Not intending to create an impression that someone won or lost within the exhausting negotiations, the Macedonian part succeeded to bring to Macedonia the smallest NATO mission with restrictive mandate," Pendarovski said.
"NATO soldiers are used to come into a country and to be mediators of the settlement process. We believed that the situation in Macedonia is not that bad, and the Macedonian security forces and legitimate institutions can be primarily responsible for restoring the peace and security on the entire territory," Pendarovski stated.
The Macedonian security forces are not obliged to behave restrictively regarding the eventual attacks by the Albanian terrorists.
"Our position is clear and there are no remarks neither from NATO nor from EU representatives. The provocations, shootings or the attacks on the security forces or on the citizens will be considered as legitimate threat on the Macedonian system, and those persons will be legitimate targets. So, the restrictive behavior of the Macedonian security forces ends September 26," Pendarovski said.
He pointed out that within the last 30 days, 4,800 soldiers from NATO mission were on the terrain and no military interventions could be undertaken by the Macedonian part. "But now when the so-called NLA signed before NATO Ambassador Peter Feith that will disarm and disband, we consider NLA as non-existing group. According to Ohrid agreement, the other extreme Albanian armed groups will be put in the same box as NLA and will be considered as legitimate threat to the Macedonian system. We will not respond to the attacks appropriately as we did so far, but definitely," Stevo Pendarovski, advisor of the Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski stressed.
MINISTER BUCKOVSKI MEETS WITH DEFENSE MINISTERS OF BELARUS AND YUGOSLAVIA.
Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski attended today the opening of the International defense fair, also attended by delegations from 47 countries.
Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu declared the fair for open, where 32 countries have exhibited the latest defense technology.
As MIA finds out, the Macedonian delegation was promised Turkish military assistance in the first quarter of the next year. More exactly, Macedonia will receive communication means from the Turkish military industry.
During the day, Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski met with his Belarus counterpart Leonid Malcev. At this first official meeting, both Buckovski and Malcev expressed readiness to establish a military-technical cooperation between the two countries. It was agreed an experts' teams to meet in the near future to determine the military-technical cooperation between Macedonia and Belarus.
As MIA finds out from sources in the Ministry of Defense, the Belarus Minister offered to Buckovski Macedonia to modernize its tanks in Belarus under favorable conditions.
Minister Buckovski also met with Slobodan Krapovic, Yugoslav Defense Minister, who invited him to pay a visit to Belgrade.
This afternoon, Minister Buckovski will meet with his host, Turkish Defense Minister Cakmakoglu. The meeting will be focused on the military-technical cooperation between the two countries.
Tomorrow, Minister Buckovski is due to meet with his Ukrainian and Bosnian couterparts.
NATO urges Macedonia to move fast on rebel amnesty.
SKOPJE, Sept 28 (AFP) -
NATO urged the authorities in Skopje on Friday to grant former ethnic Albanian rebels a promised amnesty before trying to send the Macedonian police and army back into the country's conflict zones.
"We need the amnesty issue sorted out quickly. People who fear being arrested because there is no amnesty will not be so welcoming of Macedonian security forces returning," NATO spokesman Mark Laity said.
The rebel National Liberation Army (NLA) announced it had disbanded on Thursday, some seven months after taking up weapons to fight for what it said was greater ethnic Albanian rights.
Over the last month, the NLA fighters gave up almost 4,000 weapons to NATO's Task Force Harvest and handed in the last lot of arms unilaterally when political progress on adopting the peace agreement slowed.
Under President Boris Trajkovski's peace plan, the rebels were to be given an amnesty in exchange for disarmament, while parliament would enshrine a political framework peace agreement in constitutional law.
Preliminary talks have been held on the amnesty, but the issue is not on the agenda in parliament and it remains unclear when it will be introduced.
However, Skopje hopes to send security personnel back into the former rebel-held villages in the north and northwest of the country, possibly as soon as Monday.
"At this time there are people in conflict areas who are worried, uncertain and distrustful," Laity said.
"The pace of returns, the pace of progress must be based on mutual confidence so we cannot move very fast in some areas and slowly in others without taking some chances. We need to move quickly in every area," he warned.
The head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, also urged the deputies to implement the accord, which makes Albanian an official language in some areas, devolves wider powers to local government and provides more minority jobs in the police force and administration.
"It's critical to keep the calendar as agreed -- very precise," Lubbers told journalists in parliament after meeting Trajkovski and other political leaders.
"I... hope that remaining debate in parliament will be done successfully, which will be the basis also for a successful donors conference on October 15," he said, referring to a meeting of nations willing to help finance the reforms.
Last week, the UNHCR said it was important that NATO deploy a robust new force after its arms mission to ensure that the estimated 70,000 internally displaced people could return to their villages.
The Alliance operation "Amber Fox" was activated on Thursday with a mission to provide protection for international monitors when the Macedonian security forces are unable.
While only around 1,000 troops are taking part in the German-led force, less than 700 of them on the ground, Lubbers said Task Force Fox should be capable of doing the job.
"This follow-up NATO force has to function really to give the confidence to go back to the villages, also to the difficult villages," he said, adding that the more people return, the greater security and confidence will be.
The commander of Task Force Fox, General Heinz-Georg Keerl, said around 100 liaison personnel had already begun making contact with villages to try to help restore confidence.
Introducing the three-month mission to journalists at a press conference here, Keerl also said two "manouevre elements" of around 250 troops had been prepared to evacuate monitors in emergencies.
The European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are deploying around 200 unarmed civilian monitors to ensure that the peace accord is being respected and to help train 1,000 ethnic Albanians who are to join the police force over the next two years.
Macedonia Struggles With Peace Deal.
September 28, 2001
With Operation Essential Harvest coming to a close, pressure is intensifying for the Macedonian government to grant ethnic Albanians greater constitutional rights. The new global security equation gives Skopje little choice, but the result will be a very fragile peace and a more radical government in 2002.
Operation Essential Harvest, NATO's 30-day mission to collect arms from ethnic Albanian militants in Macedonia, concluded Sept. 26 with 3,875 weapons collected, exceeding the goal. But the Sept. 28 deadline for improving ethnic minority rights under the Macedonian constitution passed without the required amendments.
Ethnic Albanians have outmaneuvered the Macedonian government politically since the peace agreement was signed. Although NATO has praised the rebel National Liberation Army (NLA) for its "genuine commitment to disarmament," the alliance has warned Skopje repeatedly against foot-dragging on the constitutional changes and politicization of the peace process. The alliance also has cautioned Skopje against capitalizing on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States to wriggle out of its commitments. Skopje has little choice but to approve the amendments, but the move will do little to secure a lasting peace in Macedonia.
Making such changes under European and American duress will stir public discontent and further polarize the Macedonian population, which is about two-thirds Slavic and one-quarter ethnic Albanian. Macedonian Slavs could vent their frustration with both guns and votes. Wayward police and paramilitary groups may seek to exact revenge on ethnic Albanians, potentially driving the NLA to rearm. Also, the general electorate will punish moderate, pro-European leaders by voting for more radical parties in January's national elections.
Two Million Tourists Visited Bulgaria.
from the beginning of the year, the Economy Ministry reported yesterday, which figures by 18.5 percent more than the same period of the previous year. August is the boom of the season, when more 440,000 people took their holidays throughout the Bulgarian resorts. The ministry already has also data about the revenues of the branch from January till July 2001. $684.3 million had come from the tourism. The net revenues equal to $389.5 million, which is by 24.32% more as compared to the same period of the past year.
Alleviated Visa Regime with Russia.
This January at the Earliest.
Alleviated visa regime for Bulgarians staying in Russia can be effected this January at the earliest, Lyubomir Todorov, chief of the consular department of the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. 30 000 Bulgarians employed in Russia will have to be issued new visas for their stay from October 1.
However, it isn't clear as yet whether Moscow will insist that the Bulgarians go back to their country to get new residence permits, Todorov admitted.
However, Ukraine has informed the Bulgarian foreign ministry that after October 1 the Bulgarians who enter their territory will retain their statute from the time prior to the introduction of the visa regime.
The Russian and Ukranian businessmen will get visas for Bulgaria under alleviated regime from October 1, the cabinet decided.
Tirana Presses Us About the Oil Trace.
Albanian newspaper suspects secret agreement between Bulgaria and Greece.
'Greece and Bulgaria blocked the program on which Albania
pins hopes about its economic development. Athens and Sofia want to divert the oil pipe-line Bourgas - Vlore and had reportedly agreed to supply the petroleum via other paths,' reads Albanian 'Gazette Shkiptare' newspaper. Bulgaria does not oppose the Bourgas - Alexandroupolis oil-conduct project to other international projects. This is the official stand of Vice-Premier Kostadin Paskalev. According to the article, 40 million tons oil per annum coming out of the Caspian region won't pass through the Bourgas port to Vlore, but via the Greek port in Alexandroupolis. The newspaper maintains that the decision was taken in Sofia during the visit of Nikos Hristodoulakis, development minister of Greece. In return the Greek minister pledged to Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha that Athens will provide an access of Bulgarian commodities to two Greek ports.