EU mediation fails to prevent escalation in Macedonia

EU mediation fails to stabilise Macedonia where
ethnic Albanian guerrillas threaten to bomb the capital
Skopje

The ethnic Albanian guerrillas have given the Macedonian
government an ultimatum. They have threatened to attack the
capital unless the government forces end their campaign
against the rebel strongholds in the mountains on the
Macedonia-Kosovo border by 11 June.

The number of refugees increased due to
the intensified fighting over the weekend. According to the
spokeswoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, 7,000 people crossed from Macedonia to the
ethnic-Albanian majority Serbian province of Kosovo over
the weekend. The total number of refugees that have moved
from Macedonia to Serbia during the four month conflict now
exceeds 29,000.

 

European Union High Representative Javier Solana tried to
rally the support of Macedonian political leaders for a
peace plan this weekend to avert civil war. However, the
situation worsened with ethnic Albanian separatists taking
a suburb of the Macedonian capital Skopje and threatening
to bomb targets in the city, including government
installations, the airport, highways and an oil refinery.

 

Ethnic Albanian insurgents demand a change of constitution
that would turn Macedonia into a Bosnian-style federation
consisting of two ethnic entities, the Macedonian and the
Albanian.

Macedonian officials reject this demand,
saying that it would lead to the break-up of the state.
They believe that the ethnic Albanian National Liberation
Army (NLA) is using terrorist methods to grab part of
Macedonia's territory and annex it to Kosovo and Albania to
form a greater Albania, an all-Albanian ethnic state.

Clashes in Macedonia began in February
this year when armed Albanian guerrillas attacked the north
of Macedonia across the border from neighbouring
Kosovo.

Macedonia has joined NATO's Partnership
for Peace and signed a Stabilisation and Association
Agreement with the EU. However, both NATO and the EU do not
seem to be able to maintain peace in the explosive Balkan
region that has seen several ethnic wars in the past
decade.

 

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