NATO willing to provide protection for observers in Macedonia

NATO Secretary General George Robertson
indicated on 20 September that the Alliance was prepared to
extend its mission in Macedonia to protect international
observers. NATO received a formal request from Macedonia’s
president Boris Trajkovski for “bodyguard”
forces.

NATO said in a statement that it was willing to keep its
troops in Macedonia to provide protection for European
observers monitoring the peace process. The number of
troops would be small, but it would symbolise NATO’s
commitment to maintaining peace in Macedonia.

However, Balkan countries fear that they
will lose Western backing as the world is gripped by a
coming recession and they see NATO troops leaving to
prepare for a long-term campaign against international
terrorism, in response to the 11 September terrorist
attacks on the US.

Serbia is bracing itself for a new wave
of terrorist attack after the emergence this week of a new
“national liberation army of East Kosovo”, set up by ethnic
Albanians in South Serbia, bordering Kosovo and
Macedonia.

 

A peace deal was signed on 13 August by the Macedonian
government and ethnic Albanian guerrillas with the aim of
ending the conflict that started in February. 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.

NATO's 3,500-strong force started
collecting weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels on Monday,
27 August. The mission, named "Essential Harvest", is
scheduled to last until 26 September.

 

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