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[ALBSA-Info] Balkan defence ministers blast Macedonian violence

Gazhebo at Gazhebo at
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 

The ministers had earlier released a statement stressing "the need to 
intensify the dialogue on inter-ethnic relations within the 
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 

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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