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UN Special Envoy for the Balkans, Carl Bildt
"There is a myth of revolution"
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The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"This once bustling now a ghost town"
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The BBC's Peter Biles
"The Macedonian army is very small and not terribly well equppied to deal with this rebel offensive"
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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 12:29 GMT
Nato pledges Balkan reinforcements
Burning rebel position
Macedonian forces pound rebel positions around Tetovo
Nato Secretary-General Lord Robertson has said that more troops are to be sent to the Kosovo side of the border with Macedonia.

He said after a meeting with Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim in Brussels that troops would help cut off arms and supplies to ethnic Albanian guerrillas fighting Macedonian forces.

We are determined that we will starve this limited number of localised extremists from being able to carry out their mischief

Lord Robertson
Fighting continued for the sixth day in the north of the country, with the government sending tanks to the mainly ethnic Albanian city of Tetovo to engage the rebels.

Mr Kerim said that once Nato had achieved its task of cutting off rebel supply lines, Macedonia would be able to fend for itself.

He said: "The Macedonian security forces are able and will be able to take care of the security of our country."

Despite calling up the country's reservists, the security forces have not yet been able to end the violence.

Border control

As Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov prepared for talks with Yugoslav leaders in Belgrade, President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying that he would back international military action in Macedonia.

Srdjan Kerim
Srdjan Kerim: Macedonia will fend for itself
But Lord Robertson repeated that Nato had no mandate to operate inside Macedonia, nor had Macedonia asked it to do so.

He said that Nato would ask its individual members to add to the troops they have in Kosovo to provide more flexibility.

"Nato is committed to tightening control of the border and troops will be put in place to do that," he said.

"The number of troops in the border region will be adequate to the task that is set out and the objective will be pursued with considerable vigour."

But he declined to say how many troops could be redeployed into mountainous and forested border areas where the rebels are operating.

'Taleban in Europe'

Skopje had earlier blamed Western peacekeepers in Kosovo for the escalation of the conflict.

Albanian rebel
Rebels are occupying several villages above Tetovo
Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said the West was permitting the creation of "a new Taleban in Europe", and accused the US and Germany of refusing to act against ethnic Albanian rebels attacking targets in his country.

''You can't persuade anyone in Macedonia today that the government of the US and Germany do not know who the terrorist leaders are and what they want,'' he said. ''They could stop them acting.''

US and German forces head the K-For peacekeeping forces in the eastern and southern sectors of Kosovo which border on northern Macedonia.

On Sunday, Tetovo fell under a government-imposed curfew.

A BBC correspondent in Tetovo says that from now on, only emergency services will be allowed to operate at night.

But despite the fighting, residents appear to be getting used to the situation, with some shops and cafes reopening for business.

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See also:

17 Mar 01 | Europe
Macedonia battle rages on
17 Mar 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Tension in Tetovo
18 Mar 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Fear in Macedonia
15 Mar 01 | Europe
New Macedonia fighting erupts
15 Mar 01 | Europe
In pictures: Macedonia rebellion
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