Disarmament pledge clears way for NATO deployment

Ethnic Albanian guerillas in Macedonia agreed on
14 August to disarm following promises of an amnesty from
President Boris Trajkovski thereby removing the last formal
obstacle to the deployment of NATO troops. The North Atlantic
Council will meet today in Brussels to decide whether the
deployment of NATO troops in the disarmament mission, codename
Operation Essential Harvest, should commence.

If NATO leaders are satisfied that the ceasefire is stable
then they will decide to launch Operation Essential
Harvest. This calls for the deployment of 3,500 troops from
several countries under the leadership of the UK, who will
also provide the bulk of the force. Operation Essential
Harvest’s main aim is the peaceful disarmament of ethnic
Albanian guerillas in a 30 day operation. NATO does not
want to get involved in a peace-keeping mission of the
types it currently runs in Bosnia and Kosovo.


The Albanian insurgency in Macedonia began more than six
months ago. Whilst the failure of a series of ceasefires
led to an escalation in violence, the current one appears
to be holding with only a few violations. It must continue
to do so in order for NATO to begin its disarmament
mission. This is part of the 13 August agreement that gives
official recognition to the Albanian language and
reorganises the police to reflect more accurately the
ethnic balance in the country.


NATO's main decision making body, the North Atlantic
Council, meets in Brussels on 15 August. Commentators are
divided over whether it will take the decision to deploy
NATO troops immediately or not.


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