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Serbian police stand next to weapons captured from ethnic Albanian guerillas in the village of Oraovica, near the Serbian town of Presevo, some 380 km (236 miles) south of Belgrade May 16, 2001. Serbian security forces drove ethnic Albanian guerrillas from a southern village on Tuesday while neighboring Macedonia gave Albanian insurgents 48 hours to vacate its northern hills or face an army onslaught. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic



Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski analysed the situation in the conflict zone near Kumanovo and believes that the cease of fire has certain results. Significant number of residents left their houses. The state institutions along with the international organisations do everything within their power to take care of them and to return to their homes when the situation will allow that.

The Macedonian President reminded that the restrain policy reflects the wish for peaceful solution, and it will continue until the final solution is being reached. President Trajkovski repeated that the Macedonian security forces would respond appropriately to every terrorist provocation, alerting that the terrorist want to divide the population and to cause civil war. In that respect, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski has clear position: The main goal of the terrorists is division. What we aim is unity.

"It should be clear, that we shall not allow to the terrorists to occupy part of the Macedonian territory. They should lay the arms, as they will not win. They can be defeated in day or two, but we have assessed that this is not just a military problem and the undertaken measures should lead toward long term solution. Our goal is to avoid the unnecessary bloodshed. We shall act to minimize the risk of civilian casualties but we shall do everything to preserve the security and to protect the lives and property of the Macedonian citizens," reads the statement from the Cabinet of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski.



Skopje, May 16 (MIA) - "I address you in this time of crisis and challenge, but also a time of hope and new possibilities. The choice we will make now will determine our, and the future of the generations to come. If we manage to be up to the challenge now, and I believe that we will, it will result in a stronger and more united Macedonia, an example for the whole region" Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski said in his address to the public on Wednesday.

"You may ask why I am so sure that we all together will win, despite all the troubles we are facing? I am so sure because in the time when violent people have tried to divide us, we united in a coalition in order to overcome problems together.

The main goal of the terrorists is division. What we aim to is unity.

The creation of the wide coalition Government itself presents a strong signal of our joint determination. And this is only the beginning. This Government is yet to turn the unified political views into efficient decisions.

None of us fosters false illusions that this will be easy to do. The Republic of Macedonia has achieved significant results from the day it got its independence to the present day, but there still remain many problems and differences.

The search for a political decision that will be acceptable for all democratic groups in Macedonia takes a lot of patience, courage, decisiveness, and readiness to reach a compromise. It all implies a great deal of responsibilities of all of the political parties participating in the coalition. They should put the petty political interests aside and make space for the most important thing - to work for the wellbeing of Macedonia.

Respected fellow citizens of Macedonia, this is also a great responsibility of all of you. You are all a part of this process of changes. Only if you accept that we are all together in this thing, we will succeed.

The alternative is too horrible to imagine. The alternative is a divided society entangled in war. I rest assured that all of you are aware that war is the only consequence if we fail to work together. And war is what the terrorist want.

They claim to represent the citizens, and at the same time put people in dangerous situation. Why? Because they abuse the suffering of common people, and use it as propaganda weapon. For the terrorists each civilian casualty is a victory, a chance to enkindle passions, divide the people and lead the country in further conflicts.

We will not allow the terrorists to win. The Macedonian security forces received orders to act in such way that it will minimize the risk of civilian casualties, but also to act with great determination. We will not allow the terrorists to occupy and hold Macedonian territory.

We are completely aware of the fact that it is very difficult to efficiently use force and make efforts to avoid civilian casualties at the same time. Nevertheless, those who chose to use civilians as human shields, and who use people's suffering to achieve their insane goals are those who are really responsible.

We now appeal to those civilians to leave the conflict area. I know that it must be very hard for you to leave your homes, but I assure you that it will be only temporarily. Your safety is our primary concern. When you leave your homes, you will be intercepted by international observers, suitably accommodated, and you will be able to immediately return to your homes once the conditions are created.

Out of this reason we proclaimed the cease-fire, as yet another sign that the Macedonian Government wants peace and stability. There is no need of violence, and it is high time the terrorist laid down their weapons. Each citizen can present its aspirations and hopes within the framework of the democratic society. All citizens should use the power of their vote, not weapons.

Respected citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, we have the full support of our friends throughout the world - the European Union, NATO, USA, and many other states and nations support Macedonia, because they recognised Macedonia's determination to be a role model of democracy and stability in the region.

We intensified the political dialogue on all crucial issues. The main issue will be the equality. All citizens should have equal treatment, as well as equal responsibility and loyalty to the state. The creation of the new wide coalition Government leaves space for fresh ideas and better development.

Some of the changes may not happen as fast as they should, but what is most important is that they happen. I would like to send a message to those who are not satisfied to take a look around and see what has happened when the people in the region abandoned democracy and went on the wrong path. While war was raging throughout the Balkans, Macedonia prospered and lived in peace.

We have achieved much, but now, when we are faced with new challenges, it is time to make additional efforts to unite and find together a way out of this crisis. As long as we are united, we will succeed" Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski pointed out at the end of his address to the public.




"We have come here in behalf of the European Union to express clear support to the new Government," Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh said at todays press conference. Mrs. Lindh is leading the European Troika in a visit to Macedonia.

The European Troika, which besides Lindh also includes Euro-Commissioner of Foreign Affairs Chris Patten and State Secretary in Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Annemie Neyts Uyttebroeck, met today with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and with the leaders of SDSM Branko Crvenkovski, DPA Arben Xhaferi and PDP party Imer Imeri.

"We think that establishment of the new Government is clear message to the terrorists that they are isolated and that they need to withdraw," Lindh said, adding that all Macedonian citizens should support the new governmental cabinet.

She stressed that the European Troika recommended to the Government that it should to respond proportionally to the attacks of the terrorists, and stressed that the international organizations, such as NATO and KFOR, should take responsibility in securing of the Kosovo section of the Macedonian-Yugoslav border.

Lindh reported that the EU has appointed the British Ambassador Mark Dickinson for special envoy to Macedonia.

Euro-Commissioner Patten said that establishment of the new Government is important democratic moment for Macedonia, offering perspective for better living in the country. The extremists, he said, offer misery and bloodshed.

"All Macedonian citizens and the international community send a clear message to the extremists that they should leave, because the offer only problems and they have only criminal and not political goals," he said.




Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski and Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva met Wednesday the Swedish Foreign Minister and President of the European Union, Anna Lindh and Euro-Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten.

The EU officials reiterated their strong support to Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, welcoming the formation of a wide coalition, as the most proper way for efficient dealing with the current problems.

They also supported the Macedonian President's agenda for the ongoing political dialogue.

In that respect, Trajkovski stressed that the political unity in the country was a clear sign "that conflict has not been imposed from the inside, but by terrorist groups form Kosovo, which is still a source of instability in the region."

Macedonia's clear and strong intention to deal with the terrorists was also underlined. Therefore, besides political, Macedonia would also need a financial assistance.

Pointing out the significance of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the EU, Lindh and Patten said the country could count on full EU support.

In that respect, the officials agreed on fast preparation of projects within the Stability Pact.




The annual Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of countries participating in the South East European Cooperation Process, where Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva participated was held Wednesday in Tirana.

Main topics at the session on Wednesday were the situation in the region with special emphasis on the situation in Macedonia. Among other, the future mutual steps in the combat against the illegal migration and organized crime, as well as the Stability Pact project realization and neighborly relations were discussed at the meeting.

Regarding the situation in Macedonia, the violence and extremism were condemned and Macedonian sovereignty and territorial integrity were supported. SEECP member countries welcomed the establishment of the new Government of political unity in Macedonia and affirmed that the political and democratic dialogue was the only way to resolve the crisis.

Other topics were also discussed at the SEECP Summit such as the activities for further development of the Cooperation Process and the commitment to continue the implementation of the Action Plan on economic cooperation adopted at Skopje's Summit.

The Macedonian part initiated the idea for gathering the arms from the civilians in the region countries. Also the idea by Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou for changing the History textbooks and was also supported.

The Diplomacy Chiefs Goran Svilanovic and Georgios Papandreou represented Yugoslavia and Greece respectively, while the delegations from Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania were led by the Deputy Foreign Ministers. Bodo Hombach, Stability Pact Coordinator for Southeast Europe and Hans Haekerup, Head of the United Nations Civil Administration Mission in Kosovo, also participated at the SEECP Summit.



Tirana, May 16 (MIA) - "In the past decade the South East European countries made significant steps toward more efficient integration in the European and Euro Atlantic structures and toward intensifying the regional cooperation," Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva stated in her address at the ministerial meeting within the South East European Cooperation Process.

According to MIAs special correspondent from Tirana, Mitreva stated that despite the intensified cooperation, the South East European region is still pressured by the negative historical heritage, which slows down the necessary and long awaited development.

Macedonian Foreign Minister stressed that it was significant to abandon the unreal activities and ambitions in certain areas for violation of the borders and establishment of new countries.

Regarding the situation in Macedonia she said that in the past two months the country faced the aggression of the armed Albanian terrorist groups infiltrated and supported from Kosovo.

"They demonstrate extreme unscrupulousness in their actions using the cruelest methods of terrorists arsenal such as using the Albanian citizens as human shield. They undertake coordinated attacks on the Macedonian security forces, whose aim is to destabilize Macedonia and to destroy one of its greatest gains - the interethnic relations, which symbolize the democratic and the multi ethnic society," Mitreva stated.

She underlined that the relevant international factors pointed out Macedonia as positive example and model of the inter ethnic relations in South East Europe. In that respect Mitreva emphasized the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, which was recognition of the Macedonian key role for stability and security in the region.

Regarding the organized crime, the corruption as well as the arms, drug and human trafficking, Macedonian Foreign Minister stressed "it is a cancer undermining the pillars of our countries and societies."

"It is a vicious circle. The war and the instability promote the criminal and the illegal activities, and the criminal maintains the instability and the conflict. Our region is an example of such circle. The terrorists and paramilitary forces are fed by the organized crime and the illegal trade what threats to endanger the human rights and the democracy and impede the development of multiethnic coexistence," Ilinka Mitreva said.

Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva had separate meetings with Albanian and Yugoslav foreign ministers Paskal Milo and Goran Svilanovic, which focused on the bilateral relations.

Skopje under pressure to maintain truce in battle with ethnic rebels.


SKOPJE, May 16 (AFP) -
The international community on Wednesday urged Macedonia's new government of national unity to back down from a threat to launch an all out assault on ethnic Albanian rebels if they refuse to surrender.

On Tuesday the multi-ethnic coalition, set up to deal with the rebellion, demanded the rebels lay down their arms by midday (1000 GMT) Thursday or face attack.

But senior EU officials, fearing that civilian casualties in Albanian-populated villages held by the rebels would drive ethnic Albanian parties out of the new coalition, jetted into Skopje Wednesday to urge caution.

"We are willing to support the new coalition government ... But the new government has to show restraint concerning the violence, the proportion of violence, used for the Albanian extremist groups," said Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

"We will not accept disproportionate violence," said Lindh, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, before she left Brussels for Skopje with EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten.

A western diplomat based in Skopje told AFP that foreign representatives were urging the government to forget the deadline, which has increased fears about the fate of more than 1,000 civilians trapped in frontline villages.

Aside from the risks to the civilians, who have been sheltering in cellars since Macedonian army tanks, helicopters and artillery started battering rebel positions on May 3, any renewed assault would have political fall-out.

Arben Xhaferi, leader of Macedonia's largest ethnic Albanian party, told AFP Wednesday: "I'm against this deadline. Flexing your muscles will do no good."

"If they are casualties among the civilians, it will be very difficult to continue this coalition," he warned, "We must be conscious that the civilians are not guilty, they are victims."

But Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski said Skopje "will not allow the terorrists to win."

He insisted that the government forces have been "ordered" to avoid any "risk" to the civilians, but warned that the troops would "deal decisively" with its rivals.

"We will not allow violent and undemocratic forces to act freely, to occupy territories and to govern them," Trajkovski said in a statement issued by his cabinet.

Trajkovski said the ceasefire by the government was "another signal" that it "wants peace and stability."

"There is no need of violence and is time the extremists to lay down the weapons. All citizens can be represented through the new coalition," he said.

The unity coalition was formed at the weekend by the two main parties representing Macedonians and the two main ethnic Albanian groups, in a bid to present a united front to the rebels and prevent extremists exploiting ethnic tensions.

Were it to collapse so soon, or lose its ethnic Albanian component, it would be seen as a disaster for the fragile ex-Yugoslav republic, which both local and international leaders have said is on the brink of civil war.

Radmila Severinska, vice-president of the mainly-Slav Social Democratic Union, said last minute talks were underway to find a solution to the crisis.

"That is being talked about both in the cabinet and the presidency. Their attempts will be to solve this by other means. They are trying to get the majority of the local population out of the area," she said.

Severinska's party is in favour of military action against the rebels, but she said the civilians must be protected.

She warned, however, that if the government let the deadline pass without some kind of action, it would appear weak.

The most fundamental disagreements between the two government partners are over whether to open talks with the rebels.

Xhaferi told AFP: "We must have some kind of communication with them, because they are actors in this crisis."

But Severinska said her party remained firmly opposed to this: "Then we would have lost everything, because then there is no politics, it will be seen that violence works."

Sporadic shelling and shooting erupted again Wednesday, with both sides blaming each other for provoking the fighting.

The rebels, led by former commanders from the Kosovo Liberation Army, claim to be fighting for the rights of Macedonia's Albanian minority.

The government has branded them "terrorists" bent on destabilising the state, and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski angered Albanian leaders even as they agreed to join his coalition by calling the rebels "a cruel enemy who must be crushed."

Two weeks ago a strong guerrilla force took control of a 400-square-kilometre (150 square mile) swathe of territory, including a dozen villages, in hills just north of Skopje.

More than 1,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in the five villages closest to the fighting, and Red Cross officials say conditions in the overcrowded cellars in which they are sheltering are deteriorating.

Trajkovski appealed on the civilians "to leave the zone of conflicts," promising the move would be "only temporary."

"Your security is our primary concern," Trajkovski said, adding that it was time for "the terrorists to lay down the weapons."

Leaflets warn civilians of Macedonia army attack.


SKOPJE, May 16 (Reuters) - Macedonia printed thousands of leaflets on Wednesday in a final appeal urging civilians to flee guerrilla territory before an army assault on 10 rebel-held villages.

The government has set a Thursday noon deadline for ethnic Albanian rebels to withdraw from northern hill villages, whose inhabitants have been urged to head down to the city of Kumanovo.

"Your lives are endangered by the violent men who have entered your village," say the leaflets, printed in Albanian and Macedonian. Members of the Red Cross will be present at police and army checkpoints on the main roads in the area, they say.

"Your security is our concern and we want to protect you."

The aim was to drop the leaflets from the air, but officials feared any aircraft flying low over the territory could be attacked and they were considering alternative means of delivery.

The cluster of Albanian-majority villages just west of the main Athens-to-Belgrade highway has been the target of heavy army shelling since May 3, but the rebels have not budged.

During the past week, guerrillas have fired on combat helicopters which could be used for the leaflet drop.

"We understand that the decision to leave your homes will be very difficult for you. But it is necessary at this time because of the immediate danger that exists," the text says.

Contrary to normal official usage, it does not refer to the guerrillas as "terrorists." Although widely condemned, they enjoy support among Macedonia's one-third Albanian minority.

"Because of the presence of these violent men you immediately need to leave your homes temporarily and head towards Kumanovo, moving on the asphalt road," the flyers say.

"If the men of violence do not leave your villages and put down their weapons before the deadline, Macedonian security forces will have to continue their military operations."

The Macedonian government says civilians are being intimidated and used as human shields to deter an army assault. The rebels deny that charge, saying they are free to leave at any time but distrust the security forces.

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