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[ALBSA-Info] Athens suggests military intervention in FYROMGazhebo at aol.com Gazhebo at aol.com
Sun Jun 17 22:21:23 EDT 2001
Athens suggests military intervention in FYROM Greek proposal foresees key EU and US role in an all-party 'conclave'designed to reach compromise on constitutional questions, but Albanian rebelsdemand place in talks BY GEORGE GILSON THE DETERIORATING security situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) led Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou to speak for the first time of the possibility of international military intervention to preserve the territorial integrity of Greece's northern neighbour. The June 12 statement came just a few days after Albanian guerrillas captured the village of Aracinovo, 10km from the capital of Skopje - which they threatened to bomb - and within striking distance of the city's airport. Acting Greek government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said on June 13 that Greece is prepared to send troops to join a multinational force in FYROM, where Greek businesses have hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, including Hellenic Petroleum's $150 million investment in the OKTA oil refinery. The prospect of sending an international force to save the embattled republic was discussed two days before Papandreou's public remarks at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg. There, Papandreou presented a Greek initiative to defuse the crisis. The proposal calls for a "conclave" - overseen by the European Union and United States - that FYROM's ethnic Albanian and Slavo-Macedonian parties would enter and leave only when a viable agreement is reached regarding the rebels' demands for enhanced rights for the Albanian minority, by a specific deadline. Those demands entail constitutional recognition of the Albanian population, establishing Albanian as one of two official languages to be used by the state, and proportional representation of the Albanian population throughout the civil service. Yet the plan is predicated on the Western assumption that an agreement between FYROM's Albanian and Slavo-Macedonian parties would be respected by the extremist rebels, who are demanding their own place at the negotiating table. The FYROM government has in the past strongly opposed the idea of an international conference with foreign mediation to put an end to the country's violent unrest. In the first stage of the proposed process - which PM Costas Simitis presented at a June 13 Nato meeting in Brussels - the EU and US would pressure "at a very high level" FYROM's four parties to achieve within two days: an immediate, absolute and lasting ceasefire; safe withdrawal of the armed groups; safe and unhindered movement of the civilian population; international assistance in the form of both personnel and material in the battle zone around Tetovo and Kumanovo; and international (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and EU Monitoring Mission) monitoring of these areas. FYROM President Boris Trajkovski himself tabled a plan to defuse the crisis, which the FYROM government accepted on June 12. It includes placing special units of the army and police under a unified command to make FYROM's defences more effective. It offers a unilateral FYROM ceasefire and partial amnesty to Albanian rebels who lay down their arms, but it threatens harsh action against those who do not disarm. Crucially, it refuses to recognise the Albanian rebels politically. (A meeting between FYROM Albanian parties and the guerrillas arranged by OSCE Ambassador Robert Frowick a few weeks ago outraged FYROM as a move unacceptably legitimising the Albanian rebels). The Greek proposal would include in the conclave "a limited number of high-ranking officials from both the European Union and the US, joined after the fourth day by [EU foreign policy chief] Mr Solana himself". The FYROM parties would set out positions and proposals on the first day, which would be reviewed by a 10-member secretariat and a team of a dozen legal experts in order to hammer out a compromise that would include their own mediation proposals, with priority given to "general questions of a constitutional nature and national overall ethnic balance", presumably suggesting amendments that the government has so far resisted. The parties would mull over the proposals for 24 hours before discussing them on the fourth day. On the fifth and final day a final document drafted under the auspices of Solana would be accepted unanimously by the party leaders. A "common solemn declaration on the future of inter-ethnic relations in the country" would then be adopted.
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