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[ALBSA-Info] Athens suggests military intervention in FYROM

Gazhebo at Gazhebo at
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


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 

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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