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[ALBSA-Info] U.S. opposes Macedonia declaring "state of war"

Gazhebo at aol.com Gazhebo at aol.com
Wed Jun 6 22:31:07 EDT 2001


U.S. opposes Macedonia declaring "state of war"

By Jonathan Wright

  
WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) - The United States oppose on Wednesday the idea 
of a declaration of a state of war in Macedonia, while condemning the latest 
attack on Macedonian forces by ethnic Albanian rebels. 

Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski suggested declaring a state of 
war to help the country fight the rebels, who killed five soldiers late on 
Tuesday. 

The United States and the European Union have broadly supported the approach 
of the Macedonian government, which is based on isolating the rebels while 
negotiating political reforms with mainstream ethnic Albanian politicians. 

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the government in Skopje 
should press on with inter-ethnic dialogue and maintain a "measured response" 
to the violence. 

He added: "We don't see that a declaration of a state of war would serve to 
advance this kind of political reconciliation, political solution. 

"We reiterate the importance of the measured response that the government has 
taken, showing maximum concern for the safety of civilians and pressing forth 
with this dialogue." 

Boucher called the attack on the soldiers -- the deadliest in five weeks -- 
"a reprehensible act of violence." 

"These actions by armed extremists must stop now. Ethnic Albanian extremism 
is harming greatly the interests of Macedonia and all people of Macedonia," 
he added. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. diplomat who led a monitoring force in Kosovo 
in 1999 said the Macedonian government and its Western allies were mistaken 
to exclude the ethnic Albanian guerrillas from peace talks. 

William Walker, who worked in Kosovo when Kosovo Albanian guerrillas there 
were fighting Serbian forces, said that by trying to isolate the National 
Liberation Army, or NLA, the Macedonians risked driving recruits into 
guerrilla ranks. 

"NO PLACE FOR EXTREMISTS" 

"They should definitely communicate with them to find out what their 
grievances are and what their solution to the problem might be," he told 
Reuters in an interview. 

The State Department spokesman rejected the recommendation to include the 
rebels in the political process. 

"We do not see a place in that process for armed extremists, people holding 
civilian hostages, people attacking ambulances, people seeking to disrupt the 
peaceful, normal life of the Albanian community in Macedonia," he said. 

"They seem to prove every day that they are not interested in addressing the 
real concerns and needs of the Albanian community," Boucher added. 

Walker likened the Macedonian conflict to the insurgency in El Salvador, 
where he was U.S. ambassador from 1988 to 1992. "We, the United States and 
the Salvadorean government, wouldn't talk to the guerrillas, and as we 
refused to talk, they grew in strength and they grew in capabilities," he 
said. 

He said he did not accept the Western governments' argument that Macedonia is 
a model multiethnic democracy, unlike the Serbian state which oppressed 
ethnic Albanians in Kosovo under former Yugoslav President Slobodan 
Milosevic. 

"If you talk to members of that ethnic Albanian community in Macedonia, the 
general perception is that they are not treated as full-fledged citizens," he 
said. 

"Their language is not an official language. They are a very large group and 
they see themselves as second-class citizens. If Macedonia were truly a fully 
functioning multiethnic society, you wouldn't have that feeling among a third 
of the population. The complaints are there." 

Boucher rejected any comparison between ethnic Albanian guerrillas in 
Macedonia and those in southern Serbia. 

"In Macedonia, you had an inclusive government that already included Albanian 
leadership, that already had avenues for Albanians to express their political 
needs," he said. 



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