EU postpones donors’ conference for Macedonia

The European Union has decided to postpone an
international donors’ conference for Macedonia, saying the
Macedonian government has not granted ethnic Albanians enough
rights. The conference, scheduled for 15 October, will not go
ahead until the country’s government implements reforms agreed
under a peace agreement with ethnic Albanian
guerrillas.

The reforms can only be implemented after the ratification
of constitutional changes, required by the peace agreement.
The ratification demands a two-third majority in the
parliament, which is not guaranteed.

The Macedonian government has agreed to
the peace deal with ethnic Albanian guerrillas under strong
Western pressure. However, there is considerable resistance
to the proposed reforms within Macedonia.

In another concession to the EU, the
Macedonian government renounced its plan to re-deploy its
police forces to the territories, formerly occupied by the
ethnic Albanian insurgents. Western diplomats said the move
would have undermined the peace plan under which the ethnic
Albanian guerrillas are expected to receive amnesty. The
rebels, who have handed over some of their weapons to NATO
forces, can quickly regroup and re-arm, according to
international envoys.

NATO is starting a new protection
operation in Macedonia, named Amber Fox. Approximately
1,000 NATO soldiers will protect international observers on
the ground to guarantee the implementation of the peace
plan.

 

The peace agreement was signed on 13 August by the
Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian guerrillas with
the aim of ending a conflict that started in February. The
deal gives official recognition to the Albanian language
and outlines plans for the police to reflect more
accurately the ethnic balance in the country.

 

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