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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 15:39 GMT
Macedonia buries 'hero' leader
Public mourning in Macedonia
Macedonians wept on the streets as they said farewell to their president
The man credited with bringing stability to Macedonia has been laid to rest amid emotional scenes in the capital, Skopje.

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets as President Boris Trajkovski's coffin was driven to its final resting place in a cemetery for national heros.

The 47-year-old president died last week in a plane crash in Bosnia.

Delegations from around 60 countries joined the ceremony, to hear tributes to his personality and legacy.

At the time of madness, you brought reason. You fought hatred with tales of love, forgiveness, mutual understanding
Branko Crvenkovski

"It was you more than anybody else who stopped the war and brought back peace," said Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski in his funeral address.

"At the time of madness, you brought reason. You fought hatred with tales of love, forgiveness, mutual understanding.

European Commission President Romano Prodi, who was also at the funeral, praised Mr Trajkovski's vision and broadmindedness.

"This country, this region, all Europe has lost an enlightened, far-sighted leader, a statesman who saw beyond the narrow horizon of everyday politics, a man who put the individual at the centre," he said.

Thirty heads of state and prime ministers, mainly from the Balkans and eastern Europe, attended the ceremony, while around 60 countries including the United States and China sent delegations.

Mr Trajkovski's body had been lying in state since the badly burned remains were flown home on Wednesday.

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski
Trajkovski's plane crashed into a hillside in fog
Thousands of ordinary Macedonians from all over the country filed past the coffin draped in the country's red and gold flag at the parliament building to pay their respects and lay flowers.

Mr Trajkovski was en route to an international conference in Bosnia-Hercegovina last Thursday when his plane crashed in bad weather 80km (50 miles) south of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

He was killed along with six aides and the plane's two pilots.

The cause of the accident is still unknown, although it happened in poor weather.

The Macedonian government has asked Nato for help in the investigation.


Nato forces control the airspace at Mostar airport, where Mr Trajkovski's plane was due to land.

Mr Trajkovski was Macedonia's second president since the Balkan country gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

He was considered instrumental to Macedonia's fragile peace process after an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001.

Preparations have begun for a vote to elect the next president, but no date has been set.

The BBC's Nick Thorpe
"Much praised abroad the late president had a more controversial reputation at home"

Funeral tribute to 'great man'
05 Mar 04  |  Europe
Macedonia recovers leader's body
03 Mar 04  |  Europe
Obituary: Boris Trajkovski
28 Feb 04  |  Europe
In pictures: Macedonia mourns
27 Feb 04  |  Photo Gallery
Timeline: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
26 Feb 04  |  Country profiles

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