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Programme highlights Monday, 19 March, 2001, 13:06 GMT
Are the Balkans once more on the brink?
Macedonian woman
Ethnic Albanian cheers rebel forces' victories in Macedonia

The prospects of another bloody civil war in the Balkans are growing stronger by the hour. One senior source said this morning that Macedonia was on the brink of disaster.

Albanian rebel forces calling themselves the NLA - the National Liberation Army - are moving inexorably towards towns like Tetovo, where the under-resourced Macedonian Army is preparing for an all-out battle.

Macedonians demonstrate
Macedonian demonstrate for Govenrment to crush ethnic Albanian rebels

And so far there is no sign that international forces are ready to intervene, even though the NLA is being supplied largely from across the border in Kosovo which is still under the control of KFor.

The NLA's successes so far have brought a surge in recruitment amongst Macedonia's large Albanian minority - some 30% of the country's population.


"There is a myth of revolution - rather like the IRA. There are young people that are attracted by this"

Carl Bildt

Macedonian politicians have accused Germany and the United States, whose troops patrol the Kosovo border area, of not doing enough to stop the rebels.

Lord Robertson, the NATO Secretary-General met the Macedonian Foreign Minister in Brussels this morning, and emerged to insist that there would be no change in NATO policy.

Macedonian fire
People run for cover from fire exchange in Tetovo

Lord Robertson knows that KFor is under pressure to strengthen its presence in Kosovo: the force is 40,000 strong at present and the secretary-General has issued a direct appeal for more.

The UK currently has 3,300 troops in the region. Unconfirmed rumours are suggesting that Britain will be asked to suuply a rapid reaction force, similar to that deployed recently in Sierra Leone.

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Carl Bildt, UN special envoy for the Balkans: Bilateral help may be requested
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