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The BBC's Paul Welsh
"Negotiations are the answer"
 real 56k

James Pardew, US Envoy to Macedonia
"The responsibility for solving this conflict rest with the Macedonian leaders"
 real 56k

Monday, 2 July, 2001, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Nato urges Macedonia talks
Nikostak
Macedonia's president says military force is not the only solution
Nato Secretary-General George Robertson has urged the Macedonian Government to take the initiative and resume political dialogue to end the four-month conflict with rebel ethnic Albanians.


I think the political and diplomatic efforts are creating a more lasting solution

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski
"The ball is very clearly in the court of the authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," he said, speaking at a European economic summit in the Austrian city of Salzburg.

The US special envoy to Macedonia, James Pardew, held talks with the country's president and prime minister on Monday in an attempt to strike a truce.

"I am hopeful that this week talks in Skopje can and should produce results that take Macedonia away from the edge of civil war," Lord Robertson said.

Fears of an escalation in the conflict rose when the army launched artillery and helicopter gunship attacks on Sunday, but the situation was calm on Monday.

However the arrest of the rector of an illegal Albanian university in the northern town of Tetovo has caused new concern.

Nato criticised

Lord Robertson called on Macedonia to make headway with Nato's preconditions for deployment.

Nato demands a political agreement, a stable security environment and a comprehensive ceasefire before it will send in 3,000 troops to oversee rebel disarmament.


"[The Macedonian authorities] should have been better prepared by Nato so they can act better by themselves instead of pounding an entire village to dust when you have five guerrillas shooting at you

Serbian Prime Minister
Zoran Djindjic
"They need to urgently address the remaining issues, get a political agreement and then move forward to the point where Nato can help them," he said.

In a BBC interview, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski also stressed his commitment to talks.

"No-one thinks that a military solution is the only solution - it is part of several solutions. I think the political and diplomatic efforts are creating a more lasting solution," he said.

But Nato's stance in Macedonia was criticised by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, also attending the Salzburg conference.

He said the alliance should have intervened to support the government earlier.

"[The Macedonian authorities] should have been better prepared by Nato so they can act better by themselves instead of pounding an entire village to dust when you have five guerrillas shooting at you," he said

University rector arrested

In the northern town of Tetovo on Monday, the rector of an illegal Albanian language university, Fadil Slulejmani was arrested by Macedonian police.

A police source said he was being questioned over alleged connections with ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

A western diplomat told Reuters news agency the arrest could complicate the peace process.

James Pardew
US envoy James Pardew: Pushing for a truce
"The process is complicated enough already and it will be a factor. It's not going to make it any easier," he said.

A weekend lull in fighting broke on Sunday with the rebels taking control of four villages - Otunje, Varvara, Setole and Brezno.

Eyewitnesses said that about 600 residents of the villages were moved out by armed men with balaclavas and blackened faces.

The rebels say they will only surrender their weapons if a political settlement is reached which grants substantial concessions to the Albanian community.

Both the rebels and ethnic Albanian politicians are demanding greater rights for the Albanian population including increased representation in the administration and greater use of the Albanian language.

The guerrillas began their insurgency in February and maintain control of several villages in the north of the country.

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See also:

30 Jun 01 | Europe
Macedonia brings in war tax
29 Jun 01 | Europe
Nato approves Macedonia force
27 Jun 01 | Media reports
Macedonian president 'guilty of success'
26 Jun 01 | UK Politics
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