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[ALBSA-Info] "Kosovo scenario" repeated in Macedonia-Putin

Gazhebo at Gazhebo at
Sun Jun 17 21:48:36 EDT 2001

"Kosovo scenario" repeated in Macedonia-Putin

By Shaban Buza

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, June 17 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin 
said on Sunday the "Kosovo scenario" was being repeated in Macedonia and 
criticised the West for pressuring its Slav majority to agree to the demands 
of Albanian "extremists." 

Putin, the first Kremlin leader to visit Belgrade since the bloody breakup of 
the old Socialist Yugoslav federation, also criticised Western policy in 
Kosovo and called for an agreement to reaffirm borders in the volatile 

"The situation in Macedonia is developing into a very difficult scenario," 
Putin told commanders of the Russian contingent in the NATO-led peacekeeping 
force in Kosovo during a surprise visit to the Yugoslav province, a news 
agency said. 

"The leadership of the country is under serious pressure to force it to meet 
the demands of extremists. In fact the Kosovo scenario is being 
repeated...and we know where that could take us," Russia's Interfax news 
agency quoted Putin as saying. 

Ethnic Albanian guerrillas with backing from Kosovo began operating in 
Macedonia earlier this year, bringing the majority Orthodox Slav country to 
the brink of civil war. 

NATO has tightened its control of the Kosovo-Macedonia border to try to stop 
weapons and men crossing, and Western leaders are pressing its Slav and 
ethnic Albanian leaders to agree to constitutional changes to address the 
minority's concerns. 


Putin said Macedonia's borders with Albania and the Kosovo part of Yugoslavia 
should be blocked. 

"It is necessary to undertake urgent measures to close channels of financing 
to the militants," he said. 

"And finally, on the political level it is very important that nobody in the 
region has illusions that the international community will accept changes of 
internationally recognised borders and attempts to solve political problems 
by force." 

Putin said his borders initiative aimed at promoting a comprehensive 
settlement to ethnic strife in the region through "mutual recognition of 
sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

Putin said earlier in Belgrade that Yugoslavia needed help from the entire 
international community and that Russians, who share Orthodox Slav roots with 
the Serbs, were ready to play a part. 

"Stability in the region is seriously threatened, above all from national 
religious extremism and intolerance, the main source of which today is in 
Kosovo," he said. 

Both leaders urged the international community to work to disarm Albanian 
"terrorists," referring to attacks on Kosovo's dwindling Serb population and 
gunmen in neighbouring Macedonia. 

The borders initiative is likely to infuriate Kosovo's independence-minded 
Albanians, who hope that the international community, which made the province 
a U.N. protectorate in 1999 after 11 weeks of NATO air strikes, will 
eventually agree. 

Putin also criticised a plan for self-government in Kosovo, saying it was 
approved "in circumvention" of the U.N. Security Council and that it had a 
number of significant drawbacks. 

"Too many concessions have been made to radicals," Putin said about the 
blueprint unveiled by the U.N.'s Kosovo governor Hans Haekkerup last month 
which paves the way for province-wide elections on November 17. 

"The legal framework of future self-government is raised almost to the 
standard of constitution," he said. 

Putin later held talks with the Haekkerup and a visiting delegation of 
ambassadors of the 15-member U.N. Security Council as well as the head of the 
peacekeepers, Norwegian General Thorstein Skiaker. 

Russia has some 3,000 troops in a force of about 40,000 peacekeepers who 
replaced Yugoslav forces in Kosovo after the NATO air strikes to stop 
Belgrade's repression of the province's ethnic Albanians. 

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