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Macedonian soldier leans against sandbags at his observation post near the village of Ljubodrag June 20, 2001. Although Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas called a ceasefire last week, the shaky truce is punctured almost daily by exchanges of light fire. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski MACEDONIA OUT
Macedonian policeman patrol past burnt-out houses in the village of Opae June 20, 2001. Although Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas called a ceasefire last week, the shaky truce is punctured almost daily by exchanges of light fire. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski MACEDONIA OUT
Bulgaria's former King Simeon II (L) kisses the hand of the head of Bulgarian East-Orthodox Church Patriarch Maxim (R) in Sofia June 20, 2001. Final parliamentary election results confirmed on Wednesday that the movement led by former Bulgarian King Simeon II received 43 percent of the vote and fell just one seat short of an absolute majoritiy in the 240-member single-chamber legislature. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
Macedonian peace talks collapse as NATO warns of civil war.
SKOPJE, June 20 (AFP) -
Macedonian peace talks collapsed on Wednesday amid mutual recriminations by Slav and ethnic Albanian leaders, as NATO chief George Robertson warned the multi-ethnic Balkan state was on the brink of civil war.
The failure of five days of lacklustre peace talks to thrash out a package of reforms giving the large Albanian minority greater rights also blocked a NATO decision to deploy troops to help disarm ethnic Albanian guerrillas, who have been waging a tenacious campaign in the north for four months.
NATO said its member states were willing to send in around 3,000 soldiers to set up collection points for rebel weapons under a partial amnesty proposal, but only if the precarious multi-ethnic government coalition first cut a political deal on reforms.
Those plans appeared to have been dashed after President Boris Trajkovski accused ethnic Albanian leaders of trying to install a "bi-national" federal state, which the Macedonian Slav majority fear would pave the way to a carve-up of the country along ethnic lines.
Trajkovski said the Albanian parties had "dramatically" changed their position, rejecting his concept of Macedonian as a civic society made up of individual citizens and insisting on a state of two constituent nations, Macedonian Slav and ethnic Albanian.
But the head of the Democratic Party of Albanians, Arben Xhaferi, immediately hit back, saying Trajkovski was trying to demonise ethnic Albanians and "create a climate of paranoia."
He said the Albanians wanted to drop completely a controversial preamble to the constitution which at present declares the former Yugoslav republic to be a "state of Macedonians."
The dominant Slav parties want the document to say the multi-ethnic state is a "state of citizens," but Xhaferi said the Macedonian leader was "proposing a civic state to override Albanian demands, that a citizen of Macedonia is a Macedonian."
"Macedonia is a multi-ethnic society, and the state must reflect the character of society," said Xhaferi.
The drawn-out wrangling over the document had been accompanied by a ceasefire by both the self-styled National Liberation Army (NLA), who occupy several northern villages and a town on the edge of Skopje, and the Macedonian security forces, although daily shooting has punctured the truce.
Trajkovski has offered an amnesty to Macedonian-born NLA gunmen if they hand over their weapons to a potential NATO force, but not to their leaders, most of whom he says are trouble-makers from the breakaway Yugoslav province of Kosovo, under UN administration since NATO bombed Serb troops out in 1999.
In a sign that tempers were becoming frayed in the fractious coalition, Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski on Wednesday stormed out of a civil coordinating committee overseeing military aspects of the peace plan.
He said the committee was too soft on the rebels and too much in the thrall of the international community.
Instead he stressed the need for "energetic decisions and for the restoration of peace by our own forces, without the help of the international community."
Macedonia's under-equipped forces received a major boost Thursday with the delivery of four Ukrainian Mi-24 attack helicopters and four SU-25 warplanes capable of low-level operations against a ground target.
As tensions mounted after a week of relative calm, NATO Secretary General George Robertson urged all parties to return to the negotiating table, saying they all "know how close to civil war the country is at the moment."
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was to head for Skopje Friday to give a push to talks, while Xhaferi said Trajkovski had invited him to the parliament later Thursday, although he said he did not know why.
Western diplomats said leaders from the various parties could meet later under the aegis of ambassadors from NATO countries to try and breathe life back into the dialogue.
The NLA has so far been excluded from the talks.
Belgium: Political decision on NATO engagement in Macedonia.
Brussels, - Macedonian state radio said the North Atlantic Council had approved NATOs military engagement in Macedonia. Referring to diplomatic sources in Brussels, Macedonian state radio said the decision was made, the military-operational plan is yet to be worked out.
The same sources say the military-operational plan will be presented upon completion of ongoing political dialogue of major political leaders in Macedonia. NATO stands ready to deploy several thousands of soldiers to Macedonia to underpin the demilitarization of ethnic Albanian rebels provided that political agreement was reached beforehand.
Macedonian President urged NATO to assist the demilitarization of ethnic Albanian rebels. NATO insists the political consensus between Macedonian and ethnic Albanian leaders to be reached beforehand.
FRY/Kosovo: NLA will not allow to be disarmed by NATO.
Pristina, - The so-called National Liberation Army (NLA) operating in Macedonia, will not allow to be disarmed by NATO, German news agency DPA quotes a representative of ethnic Albanian rebels as saying late on Tuesday in Pristina.
The situation in Macedonia could not be compared with the events in southern Serbia, where KFOR had disarmed all members of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvegja and Bujanovac (UCPMB), NLAs representative said, adding that ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia had failed to accomplish their political goals, therefore, any similar solution to crisis in Macedonia is out of question.
Slovenian news agency STA quotes the threats of ethnic Albanian extremists saying that they will renew the fighting if the ongoing political dialogue ends in failure.
We will resume the attacks unless our demands are met by June 27th, said Nazim Beqiri, a member of the so-called National Liberation Army.
Brief intermediary results from CEC
(100 % processed PEC protocols in percents)
Holy Synod blessed Czar Simeon II
On invitation by the Patriarch Maxim, Czar Simeon II visited the Holly Synod of Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Patriarch and all the members of the Synod welcomed Czar Simeon II in the big hall of the Synod building. The 45-minute meeting between the clerics and Czar Simeon II revealed that Czar Simeon II has received the blessings of the clerics and a Bible as a gift.
The Gothenburg summit assessed the progress of Bulgaria, Sten Ask said.
The last summit in Gothenburg assessed positively the progress Bulgaria has made and raised the question of Balkan unity concerning the alarming situation in Macedonia, Swedish ambassador Sten Ask said on his meeting with media marking the conclusion of the Swedish Chairmanship of European Union. According to him, that which would be the most important for Bulgaria after the elections is that the country should continue in the direction of the efforts it has already made to join the European Union.
Albanians Attacked the Selected Buyer of Hemus Air.
The rejected candidate insists PA to voice the offers of the three firms.
The Albanian Airlines having dropped out of the bidding on 51% of Hemus Air will attack the selection of 'Pirin Tourist' as an exclusive buyer of the airlines, sources from the consultant 'KPMG - Bulgaria' company said for the 'Standart'. In a letter of June 14 the Albanians required a meeting with the management of the Privatization Agency (PA) in order to get acquainted with the reasons to be cast out of the negotiations. The PA management to prove what the state interests are in this procedure and to voice publicly the price offered and the investment commitments of the three companies, demanded the outcast investors. Few days ago the 'Leasing Venture' which ranked second, announced that will appeal the decision of the Privatization Agency.