EU and US trying to save Macedonian peace deal

EU and US mediators are trying to prevent the
collapse of peace talks between the Macedonian Slav majority
and Albanian minority in order to avoid a civil war. Macedonian
leaders have turned down the proposals from the EU mediator
François Léotard and US mediator James Pardew, while
Albanians have abandoned the talks.

Albanian representatives say that they accepted the EU-US
peace deal and have withdrawn from the talks until the
Macedonian side agrees to the proposed peace plan. However,
none of the Macedonian leader agree with the proposal.
Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski accused the EU and US of
trying to break up the country. He accused Mr Léotard
and Mr Pardew of “brutal” and “cowboy” style in their
efforts to destroy the state institutions of Macedonia.

EU foreign policy high representative
Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General George Robertson
have rejected the idea that the international community is
taking sides. Mr Solana and Mr Robertson have postponed
their planned visit to Skopje after Mr Georgievski’s
comments.

Macedonian leaders find several points
of the EU-US deal unacceptable, in particular the proposal
that Albanian should become a second official language.
Another contentious issue is the proposal that police
officers be appointed locally on ethnic basis. Macedonians
believe that both proposals would lead to more Albanian
self-rule and separatism, potentially dissolving the
country.

 

The break down of negotiations threatens the fragile
ceasefire that the Macedonian government and Albanian
guerrilla leaders who invaded Macedonia from Kosovo signed
with NATO on 5 July. A durable ceasefire and a viable peace
deal are the conditions for NATO to send 3,000 troops to
Macedonia to disarm the Albanian rebels. However, the
guerrillas have not yet agreed to put down their weapons
and are occupying several villages along the
Macedonia-Kosovo border. The armed insurgency by Albanian
guerrillas who call themselves the "national liberation
army" started in February.

 

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