Macedonia forced to stop fight against guerrillas

EU foreign ministers force Macedonian government
to stop its fight against ethnic Albanian insurgents besieging
northern Macedonia

The EU foreign ministers appointed former French defence
minister François Léotard as the EU’s permanent
representative to Macedonia. Mr Léotard is tasked with
brokering a peace deal between the Macedonian Slav majority
and the ethnic Albanian minority. The Albanian minority,
which represents nearly one third of the country’s
population, demands dividing the country into two nation

The EU’s intervention triggered a
spill-over of the conflict into the civilian population and
threatens a widespread civil war. Following the model of
the Albanian guerrillas, Macedonians have now set up their
own paramilitary group, called Macedonia Paramilitary 2000,
who threatens to fight back. A spokesman for the Human
Rights Watch said there could be widespread bloodshed.


Foreign ministers of the 15 EU Member States put pressure
on the Macedonian government to stop its attack on the
ethnic Albanian guerrillas besieging the north of the
country. Under the threat of losing EU financial support,
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva accepted the
plan to send a group of "international facilitators" to
Macedonia. The move triggered off mass demonstrations in
the capital Skopje where thousands of Macedonians,
including police and soldiers, stormed the parliament and
demanded the resignation of their leaders for allowing the
Albanian National Liberation Army to return with their
weapons to guerrilla-controlled territories under the deal
brokered by the EU and NATO.


The fighting between the Albanian National Liberation Army
(NLA) and the government forces started in February this
year when armed Albanian guerrillas attacked the north of
Macedonia across the border from neighbouring Kosovo and
Southern Serbia.

NATO has pledged to send 3,000 troops to
Macedonia to disarm the guerrillas, but only when a peace
agreement has been agreed.


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