Macedonia on the brink of war

Intensified terrorist actions by Albanian
National Liberation Army push Macedonia to the verge of
war

Macedonian government spokesman Antonio Milososki urged the
parliament to declare the state of war “because it is not
possible to respond otherwise to the threats against
Macedonia’s security and sovereignty”. However, the
declaration of war on Albanian guerrillas requires a
two-thirds majority in parliament whose ethnic Albanian
members are likely to vote against it.

EU diplomats fear that such extreme
measures would antagonise the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia
who make up nearly one third of the population. Diplomats
think that in case of war more ethnic Albanians would
support the armed insurgents.

However, Macedonian officials 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 the
Greater Albania, an all-Albanian ethnic state. Macedonians
claim that Albanian terrorists were trained in military
camps in Albania by American and British specialists before
the fall of Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic. The
training camps are said to have been dismantled since then,
but the National Liberation Army is still financed by the
Albanian immigrant communities in several European
countries.

 

EU High Representative for foreign and security policy
Javier Solana, who brokered a fragile peace deal between
Macedonians and ethnic Albanians a week ago, condemned the
latest Albanian guerrilla attacks but urged the Macedonian
government to refrain from declaring a state of war.

Dr Solana urged the Macedonian
government "to ensure that any response to the military
challenge is measured and proportional and to avoid
civilian casualties". He warned that a declaration of the
state-of-war "would only be playing into the hands of the
extremists and would not help in resolving the present
crisis".

Anna Lindh, Foreign Minister of Sweden,
the current EU Presidency, condemned the attack by ethnic
Albanian extremists. She also urged the government in
Skopje to refrain from declaring a state of war.

 

Intensified ethnic violence has pushed Macedonia to the
verge of full-out war. A day after the killing of five
Macedonian army reservists by Albanian guerrillas,
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski announced on 6
June that he wants the parliament to formally declare war.

 

Clashes in Macedonia began in February this year when armed
Albanian guerrillas attacked the north of Macedonia across
the border from neighbouring Kosovo. The fragile peace
between Slavic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians has been
maintained for over 50 years in the framework of a
south-Slavic federation of Yugoslavia. However, the break
out of conflicts between the Serbs, Croats and Muslims
which resulted from the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s
destroyed the delicate ethnic balance and triggered off the
process of redrawing the ethnic boundaries in the Balkans.

Macedonia was the only former
south-Slavic republic to leave Yugoslavia on peaceful terms
and has since joined NATO's Partnership for Peace and
signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the
EU. However, the prospect of both NATO and EU membership
does not seem to be enough to keep the country from
exploding along ethnic lines.

 

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