NATO troops to Macedonia

NATO leaders decided at a meeting in Brussels on
15 August to deploy 400 troops to Macedonia as part of the
peace deal agreed earlier this week. The British troops will
travel to Skopje at the weekend where they will lay the
groundwork for the full force of 3,500 NATO troops to be
deployed. The NATO force’s purpose is to complete the
disarmament of ethnic Albanian guerillas in a 30 day mission
codenamed Operation Essential Harvest.

The largest contingent in the NATO force will be British
troops with France, Germany and Italy also making
significant contributions. For the full force to be
deployed, the current ceasefire must hold. However, the
leader of the NATO delegation in Skopje, Major General
Gunnar Lange, has said that at the present time this is not
the case.


A peace deal was signed on 13 August by the Macedonian
government and ethnic Albanian guerillas with the aim of
ending the conflict that has raged for six months. 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
guerillas agreed on 14 August to hand over their arms to
NATO forces in return for the promise of amnesty from
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski.


The advance party of 400 British troops will arrive in
Skopje during the course of the weekend.


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