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Tuesday.

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The battle for greater Albania.

The Times UK

TUESDAY MARCH 13 2001

Nato's military intervention to protect ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999 gave militants the opportunity to take their struggle into Albanian communities in southern Serbia and Macedonia. Protected by the presence of Nato troops in Kosovo, insurgents infiltrated across the two borders into towns and villages with the goal of one day building a Greater Albania, at the expense of the existing boundaries.

TROOP STRENGTHS:

Albanian insurgents in the Presevo Valley: 1,000 - 2,000 Albanian insurgents in Macedonia: 200
Kfor troops, Brigade (East): 8,800 US-led forces under Nato umbrella

THE ALBANIANS STRUGGLE

The insurgency in southern Serbia and Macedonia is linked by common demands for more rights for ethnic Albanians who form the majority in the bordering regions. In Presevo, the Albanian population totals 70,000. In Macedonia, there are 500,000 Albanians. The ultimate aim appears to be linking the two regions to an independent Kosovo run by the ethnic Albanian majority, despite international opposition to sovereignty for the Serbian province.

THE BUFFER ZONE

Ethnic Albanian insurgents have established control over a strip of land adjoining Kosovo in southern Serbia. This is because the 1999 Kosovo peace agreement permits only lightly armed Serbian police into the three-mile-wide zone.

FEAR OF WIDER CONFLICT

The Presevo Valley is not part of Kosovo and was not covered by the UN and Nato peacekeeping mission. Nato stepped up efforts to resolve the crisis in the Presevo Valley after a flare-up in ethnic fighting last week in Macedonia raised fears that ethnic Albanian militancy might engulf the whole region in conflict. Yugoslavia and Macedonia have blamed the renewed Albanian insurgency on Nato's failure to disarm militant groups in Kosovo.

MACEDONIA

(Former Yugoslav Republic)

Albanian insurgents have established footholds along the Macedonian border

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