Macedonian peace deal signed

A peace agreement was signed on 13 August by the
Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian leaders in a bid to
put a stop to escalating violence in the country. The NATO
secretary-general, George Robertson, and the EU’s high
representative, Javier Solana, both attended the signing
ceremony that their respective organisations had been
influential in bringing about. They recognised that the
agreement represents merely the first step towards a peaceful
resolution of the conflict and called for all parties to back
the deal.

The agreement addresses the concerns of the ethnic Albanian
minority in Macedonia. In particular, it gives official
recognition to their language and outlines plans for the
police to reflect more accurately the ethnic balance in the


The Albanian insurgency began in February when the Albanian
National Liberation Army (NLA) invaded the north of
Macedonia from Kosovo. A string of ceasefires have been
broken leading to further escalation of violence. The
negotiations that led to yesterday's signing ceremony in
Skopje were carried out against the background of serious
fighting which claimed more than 30 lives in the last week.


The Macedonian Parliament must approve changes to the
constitution in order for the agreement to be implemented.
The Albanian guerillas have indicated that they will not
disarm until the agreement has been implemented and until
an amnesty deal has been worked out. It is only at this
point that the proposed deployment of 3,500 NATO troops who
will disarm the Albanian guerrillas can take place. The
timeframe for all this to take place is 45 days.


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