European leaders have been paying tribute to Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, who is feared dead in a plane crash in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Boris Trajkovski had been Macedonian president since 1999
"This is a very sad day," said European Commission President Romano Prodi.
He praised Mr Trajkovski as a wise leader who was "the architect and the guarantor of the European vocation of his country".
Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer described Mr Trajkovski as a courageous statesman.
"In difficult circumstances, and in the face of
opposition from many, he guided the peace process in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," he said.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana hailed Mr Trajkovski as a great man, and said his death would leave a gap in Macedonian politics.
"I was with him in very difficult moments, long days and long nights, and I could always see his passion, his capacity to continue working, his tenacity," Mr Solana added.
Some tributes marked the fact that Macedonia had been due to submit its application for EU membership in Ireland on Thursday.
"Today should have been one of celebration for (Mr Trajkovski)," Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose country holds the current EU presidency, told AP news agency, and who had been due to formally receive the application.
Mr Ahern described Mr Trajkovski as having "contributed hugely to reconciliation in Macedonia".
"I have conveyed my deep sympathy to Prime Minister (Branko) Crvenkovski on behalf of the European Union and the government and people of Ireland," he added.
"President Trajkovski made a major contribution to bolstering domestic peace and democratic institutions in your country," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said, according to AFP.
"He was an advocate of an open and multi-ethnic society. His actions were exemplary not only for the citizens of your country but also for the entire region," he added.
In the European Parliament, MEPs observed a minute's silence.
Croatian president Stipe Mesic, who had been due to meet Mr Trajkovski on Thursday in Mostar, warned the president's death would have political repercussions.
"I regard him as having been a guarantee of the stability of this part of our region," he told Croatia's Hina state news agency.