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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 23:15 GMT
Nato raises Macedonian profile
German K-For troops arrive in Tetovo
German troops will protect K-For's Tetovo base
By defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus

The deployment of a contingent of German K-For troops and British plans to send military advisors to Macedonia have raised questions as to whether Nato is being slowly drawn into the fighting.

Nato's line is that it is up to the Macedonian Government forces to do their own fighting. But urgent efforts are being made to try to make them more effective.

German K-For tank in Tetovo
Despite the armour, Nato will remain on the sidelines
About 400 German K-For troops equipped with tanks and armoured personnel vehicles have moved across the Kosovo border into the Macedonian town of Tetovo to secure a German logistical base there.

K-For says the German deployment is simply a protective measure - a Nato logistical base in the town has come under sporadic fire.

Deterrant force

The task of the German troops is not to become engaged in the fighting between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents, although it is clear that their mere presence may have some deterrent effect.

Macedonian police unit
Macedonian security forces are struggling to cope with the situation
In a separate move, Britain has announced that it is sending two additional military advisers to Skopje to assist the Macedonian Ministry of Defence.

A 10-strong team of officers is also to be despatched later in the week to investigate what further assistance Britain might give the embattled Macedonian Government.

A British brigadier is currently helping the Macedonian military reorganise themselves and adapt to civilian control.

Counter-insurgency advice

However the idea now is for the British officers to provide much more wide-ranging advice, drawing upon their Northern Ireland experience to help with counter-insurgency operations if required.

British defence sources have once again stressed that their work will be restricted to the ministry in Skopje.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman in London repeated that at this stage, Britain is not planning to become involved in a fully-fledged military training programme.

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