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[ALBSA-Info] Balkan defence ministers blast Macedonian violenceGazhebo at aol.com Gazhebo at aol.com
Wed Jun 6 22:28:30 EDT 2001
Balkan defence ministers blast Macedonian violence THESSALONIKI, Greece, June 6 (Reuters) - Balkan Defence Ministers condemned on Wednesday the continuing violence between ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian troops and urged political talks among Macedonia's ethnic groups. "We strongly condemn the continuing terrorist actions by extremists, who are urged to cease their activities," Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told a news conference after a South-Eastern European Defence Ministerial meeting. The ministers had earlier released a statement stressing "the need to intensify the dialogue on inter-ethnic relations within the parliament...in view of achieving urgently needed reforms." The informal ministerial meeting began with Macedonian Defence Minister Vlado Buckovski calling for a one-minute silence to honour five Macedonian soldiers killed overnight on Wednesday in the deadliest rebel attack in almost six weeks. U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on a week-long European tour, also attended the meeting. Ministers attending the two-day talks agreed to use the joint Balkan military force, known as South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) after the summer. "The Ministers have been informed of the operational readiness of SEEBRIG," Tsohatzopoulos said. "In the autumn we will take a decision on the deployment of this force." The South-Eastern Europe Brigade was set up in 1999 and has not yet been used. Its members are Greece, Turkey, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
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