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[LiriaKombtare-Info] [AMCC-News] (1) Macedonia peace talks continue amid fragile truce; (2) Macedonia seeks to arrest ethnic Albanian leaders; (3) Macedonian rebels say they want peace but are ready to fight

Mentor Cana mentor at
Mon Jul 30 14:55:18 EDT 2001

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                Human Rights Violations in Macedonia

1. Macedonia peace talks continue amid fragile truce
2. Macedonia seeks to arrest ethnic Albanian leaders
3. Macedonian rebels say they want peace but are ready to fight

### /// (1) \\\
Sunday July 29, 9:35 PM

Macedonia peace talks continue amid fragile truce
By Philippa Fletcher

OHRID, Macedonia (Reuters) - Macedonian and ethnic Albanian politicians
held a second day of talks on Sunday to end an Albanian guerrilla revolt
while diplomats and monitors worked to maintain a shaky truce.

Two Western envoys are mediating in the closed-door talks, chaired by
President Boris Trajkovski at the lake resort of Ohrid, on a draft plan to
end five months of clashes between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and the
security forces.

A breakthrough in the negotiations, deadlocked over the use of the Albanian
language in Macedonia, where one third of the two million population is
ethnic Albanian, is seen as crucial if a ragged ceasefire is to hold.

A source on the Albanian side said an agreement could be reached later on
Sunday between the four mainstream parties -- two Macedonian and two
Albanian -- that make up a fragile emergency government coalition.

But another source, close to the Macedonian side, suggested it may take
longer. U.S. envoy James Pardew and his European Union counterpart Francois
Leotard have made clear the talks are difficult but have given no further

Around two thousand Albanians returned to the shattered village of
Aracinovo near Skopje in the latest of a series of confidence-building
measures diplomats hope will hold off a resumption of fighting that has so
far killed dozens of people.

The return of the Albanians, allowed by Macedonian police who took over the
village last month after a rebel withdrawal, followed a visit on Saturday
by displaced Macedonians to homes they had fled near Tetovo to the west.


In each case some people found their homes destroyed.

"Fifteen years of work gone in two minutes. It doesn't make a person feel
nice inside," said a member of the Asani family returning to their home in
Aracinovo badly damaged by fierce fighting between the rebels and the army.

In a village near Tetovo from where Macedonians say they were driven out by
the guerrillas, burned out houses greeted some of the Macedonians returning
on Saturday. Few stayed, fearing attacks from rebels still in the area.

A diplomatic source said that even if temporary and painful, the two
returns were crucial to allow the talks to take place in a constructive
atmosphere rather than one of mutual recrimination.

So far dozens of people have been killed since the guerrillas first
appeared in February, but much larger casualties are feared if the clashes
spark a civil war.

The basis of a peace deal is all but agreed, but the issue of language is a
major sticking point. The Macedonian majority sees proposals to make
Albanian an official language in some areas as the thin end of a wedge
leading to the division of the country.

"They have not made any progress yet," said a source from the second
biggest ethnic Albanian party, the PDP. "They are still working on the
latest version of the draft, but it is not clear whether it will be

The negotiations have frequently been interrupted by bouts of heavy
fighting between government troops and fighters of the ethnic Albanian
National Liberation Army who now hold large swathes of northern and western
Macedonia along the border with ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo.

Macedonian officials have accused the West of siding with the rebels and
pressure for a military crackdown is growing.

Thousands of angry Macedonians protested in the capital Skopje on Saturday,
calling the peace plan a betrayal of national interests.

A crowd of about 3,000 gathered in front of parliament carrying placards
saying "NATO out!" and "NATO wants to completely Albanise the country!" and
comparing the peace talks with the appeasement of Nazi Germany before World
War Two.

(Additional reporting by Leon Malherbe in Aracinovo and Shaban Buza in

### /// (2) \\\
Tuesday July 31, 12:02 AM

Macedonia seeks to arrest ethnic Albanian leaders
By Philippa Fletcher

OHRID, Macedonia (Reuters) - Macedonian prosecutors asked local courts on
Monday to issue arrest warrants for 11 ethnic Albanian guerrilla leaders,
overshadowing last-ditch peace talks that Western envoys are trying to

The guerrillas are not involved in the negotiations, which participants
said had edged forward, but a draft peace plan under discussion is designed
to persuade them to end their five-month-old rebellion and disarm.

This would also require an amnesty.

President Boris Trajkovski is chairing the closed-door talks, at a villa in
the lake resort of Ohrid, between the leaders of four mainstream parties --
two Macedonian and two Albanian -- in a fragile emergency government

The move against the guerrilla leaders was initiated last week by the
Interior Ministry headed by hardline Macedonian nationalist Ljube

Police said the minister and his convoy came under fire from the guerrilla
National Liberation Army (NLA) on Sunday on a road outside Skopje, although
no one was injured.

"The aim of the so-called NLA is to unite all territories populated by
Albanians by organising armed rebellion, committing acts of
terrorism...forceful eviction of the population followed by military crimes
against civilians," said a document from the prosecutors carried by state
news agency MIA.

The talks, begun in May, have frequently been interrupted by bouts of
fighting between security troops and the rebels, who now hold swathes of
northern and western Macedonia along the border with ethnic Albanian
dominated Kosovo.

There are widespread fears that if they fail, Macedonia -- the only
republic to break away from the old Yugoslavia in 1991 without a shot fired
-- will collapse into civil war.


There was no immediate reaction from Albanian officials or the guerrillas
to the call for arrest warrants.

After two days of negotiations, which one source said had come close to
breakdown, sources on the Albanian side expressed optimism that the main
issue as they see it -- the use of the Albanian language -- was close to

The use of Albanian and ethnic make-up of police are the main remaining
sticking points in a draft peace plan prepared by European Union envoy
Francois Leotard and his U.S. counterpart, James Pardew.

A Western source said the Albanian side had made "significant concessions"
on Sunday over their two objections to the draft -- which he did not

But the Macedonian majority has balked at endorsing reforms it fears could
lead to the division of the country and the source said Prime Minister
Ljubco Georgievski, in particular, was being "extremely inflexible".

Georgievski's ally Boskovski called on Sunday for "determined action" to
prevent the guerrillas seizing more territory, implying he felt force was a
better tactic.

A source close to the Macedonian negotiators said Pardew was pressuring
them to accept the latest version by warning that Western financial support
could be at stake.

But the source expressed fear that if they did sign up, the agreement would
not get the required parliamentary approval.

"An agreement might be signed but that still leaves open the question of
parliament," the source said. A source on the Albanian side said later that
the Macedonians had come up with a counter-proposal that was "totally

Leotard, speaking to France Inter radio, was cautious.

"We're trying to push things forward but I acknowledge it is very
difficult. I'm not certain of success and it has to be said frankly. But we
do not have the right to abandon this and leave things in a logic of war,"
he said.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting, mostly ethnic Albanians
but also some Macedonians.

The European Commission said it would send emergency humanitarian aid to
the more than 60,000 refugees who have fled from Macedonia to Kosovo and
support for some 10,000 Kosovo families who are hosting them.

A government spokesman said a government session scheduled for Tuesday had
been postponed, indicating that the negotiations might go into a fourth day
at least.

(Additional reporting by Shaban Buza in Kosovo)

### /// (3) \\\
Sunday July 29, 11:30 PM

Macedonian rebels say they want peace but are ready to fight.
NIKUSTAK, Macedonia, July 29 (AFP) -

Ethnic Albanian guerrillas in Macedonia say they want peace talks between
the Skopje government and Albanian politicians to succeed so they can end
their five-month insurgency which has brought the Balkan country to the
brink of civil war.

But they say they are ready to resume fighting if their demands are not met
at the negotiating table.

"I really hope that the political process will succeed and in this case we
will be ready to lay down our arms immediately. But if they (the
Macedonians) want war, they will have it," a rebel, Commander Hoxha, told
AFP on Sunday.

"Nobody wants war here," said another, Commander Sokoli, from the "113
Ismet Jashari-Kumanova" brigade's base in Lipkovo.

"We have our political representatives and if there is a political
solution, we will obey orders," said Sokoli, who has been involved in the
insurgency since the first shots were fired in February.

All six brigades the self-styled National Liberation Army (NLA) claims it
has operating in Macedonia, say they want to leave space for the peace
process to work.

Internationally-brokered peace talks between Skopje and ethnic Albanian
political leaders in the former Yugoslav republic resumed on Saturday,
after the rebels withdrew from key positions in the northwest of the
country under an accord with the NATO transatlantic military alliance on

The rebels say they are fighting for greater rights for Macedonia's
Albanian minority.

The talks, in the southern Macedonian town of Ohrid, far from the fighting,
are focusing on demands that Albanian be made into an official language,
alongside Macedonian, and also the establishment of an independent ethnic
Albanian police force in certain areas.

Sokoli said that rebels would be vigilant to ensure that any deal would be
respected, saying a previous agreement, which had prompted rebels to pull
out of Aracinovo near Skopje, had not been respected by the Macedonian side.

On Friday another commander, Gjini, told AFP the ethnic Albanian rebels had
so far used only 50 to 60 percent of their military potential.

The ongoing peace talks had been postponed for a day to relocate them to
the south of the country because of security fears and concerns that the
rebel withdrawal from key positions had not been completed.

However, the rebels also claim that they are ready to attack the capital
Skopje and are present in the southwest towns of Ohrid, where the peace
talks are being held, Bitola, Struga and Debar.

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