The Macedonian parliament has given initial
approval to constitutional changes that would improve the
position of the Albanian minority. The reforms, which are part
of the EU and NATO-backed peace plan, will be first subjected
to a ten-day public consultation and then passed to the
parliament for final approval.
NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson is visiting
Macedonia Tuesday amidst concerns that Macedonian
nationalist could derail the peace process by holding a
referendum on the constitutional amendments. An EU
delegation will visit Macedonia later in the week.
15 constitutional amendments were
- Dropping the description of Macedonia as a “national
state of the Macedonian people” in the constitution’s
- Making Albanian the official language in state and
- Giving ethnic Albanians a bigger proportion of jobs
in public service and the police.
- Legislation concerning culture, language and
education will be passed with the support of at least
half the Albanian minority members of parliament.
NATO commanders said that they were
close to the target of collection 3,300 weapons from the
ethnic Albanian guerrillas. The NATO forces, due to leave
Macedonia on Wednesday, will be replaced by a reduced
follow-up protection mission. The new NATO mission would
protect international observers, overseeing the
implementation of the peace plan and the return of tens of
thousands of refugees to their villages that were
previously occupied by the guerrillas.
NATO decided on Monday, 24 September,
that Germany will lead its new force to guard international
monitors in Macedonia. The creation of a force of 600-1,000
men will be endorsed by the NATO defence ministers on
Wednesday, 26 September.