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DECISIVE BLOW AGAINST TERRORISM.
Today's action is a long expected operation for driving the terrorists out of our mountains. According to information I have, the offensive is going as planned and the key strongholds have been already conquered. I must point out that neither the army nor the police have reported any casualties so far, with an exemption of two or three injured, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski said Sunday in Tetovo.Now, we would have to decide on a operation in the villages, despite the fact that the population had run away from some of them, Georgievski said, adding that hard banditry was committed there in the last two days. He said the army and police were expected to resolve those problems.
"The operation is underway and the army and police have
shown that the Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty will be protected. When this action is completed, we will begin on the long road to finding a political solution," Georgievski said.An additional operation would follow at the junction of the villages Malino-Brest-Gosince, to drive away the terrorists, located there.Asked whether the operation in Tetovo, and the surrounding villages, would end until tomorrow morning, Georgievski said that those strongholds, which launched attacks in the last few days, would be eliminated, and the operation could be completed today.
Referring to the term "banditry", the Prime Minister said, "We are not dealing with a classic example of criminal banditry, but with a well-organized banditry, i.e. logistic support by some paramilitary structures, which, until today, do not wish to declare themselves as legal power. However, they are not accepted by the international community, or by the political parties in Kosovo and Macedonia. I have used the word banditry because the Albanian population in the villages Selce, Lavce and Sipkovica are now exposed to mistreatment, particularly those who are willing to leave their homes and to run away from the villages."Asked whether some exemptions regarding the demands of the Albanian political parties, even extremists, could be expected, Georgievski said that the talks with the Albanian parties and their leaders had never stopped.
"We shall continue to talk. I have said recently that before these unpleasant developments, the Government has adopted a draft law on local self-government. This law will give more power to the municipalities, mostly populated with ethnic Albanians," georgievski said, adding that the construction of the SEE University in Tetovo was also underway, as well as the opening of the new TV third channel, aimed to broadcast multi ethnic program. "We shall talk on many other issues, but no one wishes to talk in such conditions, " he added.Asked about a possibility for talks on changes of the Constitution, of its basic provisions, usage of two languages, considered as most difficult issues, Georgievski said that it was hard to talk about bilinguality in Macedonia, although someone could raise such an issue.
"The issue on the Constitution's preamble has been over discussed in the last few days. Some say it may also be a subject of talks. I can neither say yes or no at the moment. We may talk about it, overview the situation, the procedure, and see if something like the preamble should be changed. " he said.Referring to a possibility for infiltration of the terrorists in the urban areas, as there was information that terrorists took off their uniforms and weapons and returned to the cities, Georgievski said it was clear that after those big operations, classic example of terrorism could appear."The Macedonian state will also resist to these kind of actions. We will not allow any kind of revenge," Georgievski said, adding that the Macedonian Government would be also very decisive if terrorism appeared at the streets and cities of Macedonia.
Lord Robertson calls for intensified political dialogue in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1)
NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, travelled to the capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1), Skopje, on 26 March for talks with President Boris Trajkovski and some of the country's party leaders. He met with Arben Xhaferi, the head of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), which is in government, and with two leaders whose parties are in Opposition, Imer Imeri, at the head of the PDP which represents ethnic Albanians and Branko Crvenkovski, the leader of the SDSM which is the largest Macedonian party in opposition.
In a double-tracked approach to the situation, Lord Robertson reaffirmed his support for the government in its actions against ethnic Albanian extremists in the north-west of the country. However, together with the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Javier Solana, who was also present at the talks, he urged the government to moderate its military action and appealed to the insurgents to put down their arms, stressing that violence was not an acceptable way of pressing their claims.
NATO has reinforced its patrols along Kosovo's border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) in order to help stop the smuggling of arms and equipment. It is also strongly encouraging the Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian parties to intensify talks so as to address the demands for better treatment put forward by ethnic Albanian inhabitants.
1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
Rebels fight off Macedonians' offensive.
By Askold Krushelnycky in Sipkovica
ETHNIC Albanian rebels in Macedonia last night halted a long-awaited government offensive against them in the hills above Tetovo, the country's second city, only hours after it was launched.
The assault began early in the morning with an intensive three-hour artillery barrage of rebel positions and with a missile assault by four attack helicopters. Convoys of armoured personnel carriers moved up the roads from Tetovo to the nearest rebel positions at the villages of Lavce and Gajre. There was fierce fighting, much of it at close quarters, throughout the day in both places. The rebels of the National Liberation Army, vastly outnumbered and outgunned, fought back with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
Eight armoured personnel carriers and two tanks led the way into Gajre with government infantry following. They raked the buildings along the main street, with fire from heavy machine-guns setting many houses alight. By early afternoon, Gajre seemed to have been abandoned by the rebels, and frightened villagers came out of cellars and tried to rescue farm animals and possessions from the burning buildings.
But rebels put up stiffer resistance at Lavce, a mile from the NLA headquarters at the village of Selce. Rebels and government troops occupied different parts of Lavce. Terrified residents in another front-line village, Sipkovica, watched as government armour mustered on the road below them. The village was shelled early in the day and several people were injured.
One man from the village, Nayo Kadjra, who lives in London but returned last week to visit his family, said: "We think that if the government troops come here they will destroy the village, which is 100 per cent ethnic Albanian and has a reputation for political activism." He said most of the NLA fighters had gone to defend rebel positions in Lavce and Selce across the valley, leaving his village defenceless with women and children crowded into basements and fearful of what awaited them.
Government armour and troops mustered on the road about two miles below the village and were poised to move in, probably today. Mr Kadjra said: "People thought about escaping over the mountains to Kosovo, but there are too many elderly, sick and young. We have all decided to let God decide our fate, and if we must die, we will die together."
In Tetovo, heavily armed special police units occupied positions in the old Turkish quarter, which faces the hillside rebel positions. It is also one of the areas the authorities fear NLA fighters and their sympathisers could try to take over. One unit, wearing flak jackets and carrying Kalashnikov automatic rifles, took over the Arabat Hotel.
The police shot up into the hills and unleashed a hail of artillery and multiple rocket launcher fire from positions near the hotel. The rebels returned fire with machine-guns and pinned down a police unit in a Muslim cemetery in front of the hotel. No police were injured, but it was clear that they were unused to fighting, with many panicking and firing their guns wildly in all directions.
Some of the police at the hotel fired on a taxi, riddling it with machine-gun bullets. Three men and a woman inside, all Albanian civilians trying to flee the fighting, were injured. As darkness fell, the fighting died down, and Ljubco Georgievski, Macedonia's Prime Minister, claimed that his forces had captured all their key targets. "All the information shows that the operation is going as planned and we have taken all key points," he said.
On the ground the army used buses to shuttle reinforcements into Gajre, and around Lavce both sides dug in for the night. The government did not release casualty figures, but the main hospital in Skopje received five ambulances carrying wounded.
De anklagar världen för att ha svikit.
Av Knut-Göran Källberg
senast uppdaterad 010326 klockan 03:23
publicerad 010326 klockan 05:59
Bergen är deras enda vänner. Gerillan som grävt ner sig i de oändligt vackra grönskande bergen med snöklädda toppar anklagar världen för att ha svikit. Det är krig nu. Albanerna ska ta sin rätt med vapen i hand.
Skriv att Anna Lindh är en fähund, säger professor Jusuf Mustafi som jag möter på det albanska universitetet i Tetovo, den makedoniska staden där upproret på nytt håller på att sätta Balkan i brand.
De förtryckta har blivit förtryckarna. Den albanska UCK-gerillans krig mot makedonisk militär är terrorism.
Det budskapet hade den svenske utrikesministern då hon i spetsen för en toppdelegation från EU var här för några dagar sen.
Jag har alltid trott att Sverige stod upp för de fattiga och förtrycka, säger universitetsprofessorn.
Så var det på Olof Palmes tid. Nu verkar det det som om EU-ordförandelandet står på fascismens och förtryckets sida.
Bitterheten är stor bland albanerna här i Tetovo över att EU vänt dem ryggen.
Lika stor är bitterheten mot dem UCK-gerillan trodde var deras bästa vänner: albanerna som styr i Kosovo.
Hashim Thaci, ledaren för Kosvos UCK som nu lagts ner och blivit politiskt parti, fick västvärldens stöd och Natos bomber stoppade terrorn i den serbiska provinsen.
Den andre toppolitikern, Ibrahim Rugova, hade sympatier för nya UCK:s kamp i Makedonien.
Men det var innan EU:s utrikesmister Chris Patten och Anna Lindh kom och sa att hela EU-stödet för återuppbyggnad av Kosovo är i fara om ledarna stöder de makedoniska albanernas UCK-gerilla.
Gerillan gömmer sig i bergen, och där kan den uselt utrustade, och därtill dåligt motiverade, fienden inte komma åt dem.
Makedoniens etniska albaner utgör enlig statens siffror 23 procent av befolkningen på två miljoner. Albanerna säger att den riktiga siffran är betydligt högre, cirka 40 procent.
Det är sant att förhållandena för etniska albaner förbättrats sen den nationalistiske premiärministern Ljubco Georgievski bildade regering 1998 och tog med sex albaner ur DPA i regeringen. De har egna borgmästare och albanska är det officiella språket i områden med albansk majoritet.
Men albanernas missnöje växer ändå. De anser sig diskriminerade på en hel rad områden de har svårare att få statliga jobb, och högre utbildning på albanska är inte tillåten.
Arbetslösheten bland albaner är 60 procent (mot 30 procent bland slaviska makedonier). Fattigdomen i de albanska delarna är betydligt mer påtaglig.
Gerillan i bergen är våra pojkar, det är för oss de slåss, säger Shani Rexnedi som står i en port vid torget i Tetovo med ögonen tårade av krutröken från artilleriet.
En del av gerillakrigarna är ärrade veteraner från Kosovos UCK. Andra kommer från Presevo-dalen i södra Serbien, där en albansk gerilla upprättat baser inne i zonen som avgränsar provinserna. De mest militanta vill förena de albanska regionerna som tidigare tillhörde Jugoslavien.
Bland stora delar av befolkningen lever drömmen om ett Stor-Albanien.
Sådana drastiska förändringar av den europeiska kartan kan omvärlden aldrig tolerera. Därför får nya UCK kämpa ensamma.