Explosions mar start of NATO mission in Macedonia

A bomb explosion in Tetovo, which killed two
Macedonians, and another explosion in front of the Albanian
embassy in the capital Skopje marred the start of NATO’s
mission in Macedonia. NATO troops began pouring into the
war-torn Balkan country over the weekend for a month-long
mission during which they plan to collect 3,300 weapons from
ethnic Albanian rebel forces.

NATO’s plan to collect 3,300 weapons was disputed by the
Macedonian government. Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski
said that the figures are “laughable and humiliating for
Macedonia”. Mr Georgievski stressed that NATO should
collect at least 70,000 weapons.

The cabinet of the Macedonian President
Boris Trajkovski condemned the attacks, including the
recent destruction of a monastery in Lesok, as
“monstrosities”. It said that ethnic Albanians have
detailed plans for ethnic cleansing in certain regions
against Macedonians and other non-Albanian population. The
president’s cabinet announced that Macedonian authorities
intend to regain control of the Albanian-occupied
territories.

 

A 3,500-strong NATO force will start collecting weapons
from ethnic Albanian rebels on Monday, 27 August. A peace
deal was signed on 13 August by the Macedonian government
and ethnic Albanian guerrillas with the aim of ending the
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. Ethnic Albanian guerrillas agreed on 14 August
to hand over their arms to NATO forces in return for the
promise of amnesty from Macedonian President Boris
Trajkovski.

 

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