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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Macedonia: Is Nato doing enough?
Nato leaders are deciding whether to give the go-ahead for a full-scale mission to disarm ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia.

Once Nato is confident a ceasefire is holding, the plan is for rebels to collect their own weapons and deposit them at pre-arranged collection sites. Nato troops would then move in, seal the area, pick up the guns and leave.

The mission, of up to 3,500 soldiers, would be fully operational within two weeks, and would be required to finish the task in 30 days.

But the operation will not undo months of bitterness between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians, and a wider political agreement will be hard to implement.

Can Nato do more, and if so what further measures should the alliance take to help end the violence?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I think NATO is doing nothing to help the government and the Macedonians

Roy, UK
I think NATO is doing nothing to help the government and the Macedonians in Macedonia. Can you call it help, this "Harvest" of three thousand weapons when the Albanian extremists most certainly have many more? Help from NATO is what the Albanians got in Kosovo because of the Serbian oppression against them. And now when they are doing the same thing to others, to the Macedonians, then we should react in the same way as we did two years ago. If not, we should pull our soldiers back and let those legitimate government forces handle the situation.
Roy, UK

Macedonia reminds me of Serbia before the fall of Milosovic - same pattern, same logic, same hate against the Albanians;Nato might have stopped a vicious circle. Anybody who believes this is over in 3 weeks might be completely out of touch, but they can give a sense of security to both sides until political wisdom installs itself on a daily routine.
Harald Schmitt, Belgium

Of course not. NATO is in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. It will come under severe criticism regardless of what it does. And one may be sure it will receive little or no gratitude from the very people whom its intervention is supposed to benefit. NATO should pull out of the Balkans altogether, and leave the inhabitants of that region to solve their own problems through their own efforts.
Sebastian, Canada

Nato needs to know that the ruse played out during the Kosovo campaign will not wash in Macedonia

N. Spiro Nicoloff, Canada
It is truly gratifying to read the comments of so many individuals who have no doubt about the destructive and destabilising role that Nato has played in undermining the democratic nation of Macedonia. Nato's unequivocal support for the Albanian terrorists at the expense of this small and struggling nation is lamentable and appalling. Nato needs to know that the ruse that was played out during the Kosovo campaign will not wash in Macedonia. It is heartening to me that Nato's successful public deception achieved during the Kosovo campaign will not be repeated in Macedonia.
N. Spiro Nicoloff, Canada

Until Albanians are not called terrorists by Macedonians I don't think there will be peace, because this is a serious issue. Macedonians have to change their view towards Albanians; all men are created equal - it's just too bad they don't see it that way. Peace, everyone, and thank God for Nato.
Meti S., USA

All minorities within any state should enjoy freedom and equality

Ian Howarth, United Kingdom
What is Nato up to, has the Atlantic Council gone mad? Do the top politicians of Europe and America really believe that after they have collected these weapons from the KLA, that Nato will be able to just leave? Now that the rebels have seen what fighting can bring for them, namely changes to the Macedonian constitution, they will be eager for more. How many times will Nato insist that Macedonia must adapt its constitution to fit the requirements of terrorists, which is what the KLA are?

I agree that all minorities within any state should enjoy freedom and equality, however now that the KLA has seen what the West will do for them, I fear that they will not stop there - after all the objective is a greater Albania, not a free, secure and prosperous Macedonia. If I were a Nato commander I would be preparing for an indefinitely extended tour of Macedonia.
Ian Howarth, United Kingdom

The question is not if NATO is doing enough - it should be, are they doing too much, by sticking their noses into what really may not concern them? Look what happened to Kosovo!
Arkady, UK/Japan

How much more money must the British taxpayer fork out over this region?

Leon, UK
How much more money must the British taxpayer fork out over this region? These people are not our responsibility and they are certainly not worth our sending precious British troops to the region. The killing of a British soldier there this week has proved to us all that the feuding people do not want our help and that NATO cannot solve the crisis. It's time we started saving lives - the lives of our soldiers - and left these people to fight it out amongst themselves on their own time and territory.
Leon, U.K.

May I add a note of cynicism here? People ask why Britain is in Macedonia when the war there seems to have nothing to do with Britain. The same could be said of the rest of Yugoslavia. However, anyone who has studied the Balkans is surely aware of the undignified scramble to make money out of (and influence the political allegiances of) the region when each of the various wars ended. And the scramble was headed by large western corporations. The "winner" in each of these wars also turned to the west for huge loans (from that nebulous loan-shark, The World Bank), and as luck would have it, spent much of the money buying mountains of new weaponry from (among others) Britain. Anyone who says the Balkans is nothing to do with Britain is being naive.
Jake, UK

After the collapse of Good Friday Agreement, what gives Britain military, political or moral mandate to take active and aggressive part in disarming a terrorist organisation? If Great Britain is so successful in "conflict prevention" why aren't those talents applied in Northern Ireland successfully? Or maybe, the British government needs help in doing so, and why don't they ask for the assistance of Macedonian Army in disarming the IRA?
Vuk, United Kingdom

It may not be perfect but surely it's better than civil war

Ahmed, London, England
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't what is happening in Macedonia a GOOD thing? A ceasefire has taken hold the rebels have agreed to surrender their weapons, the government to promote the rights and end discrimination of ethnic Albanians - it may not be perfect but surely it's better than civil war!
Ahmed, London, England

The Balkans have historically been a flashpoint that have destabilised the whole of Europe. While it would be wrong to suggest that current events could cause conflict on the scale of World War I, it is entirely right that Nato troops are being used to help bring some stability to the region. It is true that in those areas where Nato is present, there is an unhappy compromise, but at least it has given a chance to ordinary people to experience peace. In Bosnia, there are Serbs, Croats and Moslems brought together in one country, where many would like to be part of an enlarged Serbia or Croatia, but the fact that 20,000 Nato troops are in the country means that the tension it might create would be unlikely to escalate to war.

It is in the interests of the countries of the EU to prevent conflict so close to its boundaries and so it is laudable that Britain is taking the lead of a predominantly European force in Macedonia to prevent war before it happens. The good will of the NLA demonstrated in handing over weapons, meanwhile, should be nurtured and allowed to become an example to terrorists closer to home on how to settle grievances.

I am astounded at the West's blind acceptance that the Albanian's actions are based on their supposed fight for rights. They have them. They have always been able to study in their own language, have their own political parties, and are represented in parliament.

If Nato thinks that this pathetic gesture of relinquishing 3,300 weapons will have any effect on their territorial ambitions, they they're sadly mistaken. Even after the peace deal has been passed through parliament, they'll find another excuse to start their ethnic cleansing again. But when they do, please stay out of it, and let the Macedonians deal with it on their own.
Michael, London, UK

It's really a shame the European Union and Nato failed to intervene before the tensions escalated into armed conflicts. Macedonia was a breeding ground for war: astronomically high unemployment, a weak state administration, rampant corruption, ethnic grievances, and communal mistrust. The West's eyes should have opened ten years ago. They should have implemented economic aid programmes, confidence building measures, and fostered democratic growth. Granted, much of the weaponry was based both in Kosovo and Albania, the West should have never allowed another conflict to explode on the European continent - and further on the road to Asia. Geopolitics should have played a more important role. Nonetheless, Nato's action is better late than never.
Boris Angelov, Canada

At first NATO supply the weapons to rebels and now they're collecting the same weapons back. Where is the sense?
Mile, Namibia

NATO should stay out of the Balkans full stop!

Tom, London, UK
NATO should stay out of the Balkans full stop! They are the ones who caused all this trouble in the first place by arming Albanian nationalists and encouraging them to oppose Yugoslavia and Yugoslav rule, rather than Milosevic. NATO let the genie out of the bottle and now does not want to own up, so they place the blame on the poor Macedonians, calling them nationalists and hard-liners and forcing them to accept an agreement which can only be divisive. The real nationalists and hard-liners are the Albanians, the ones who are pointing the guns that they shouldn't have in the first place - and wouldn't have had if NATO didn't supply them.
Tom, London, UK

NATO are doing a great job. Looks like the only ones against it are Slav-Macedonians. They are acting as if they would have won the war! - maybe the war of words So this way everyone wins ..NATO ROCKS
Shqipja, New York, USA

NATO not only had no right to the actions they undertook in Macedonia, but their actions are in fact utterly disgraceful. American and other analysts in the west believe the NLA will not turn over all its weapons, and even NATO itself acknowledges that the NLA can easily acquire more. There is also the question of splinter groups forming from the NLA who will not be covered by the disarmament/ decommissioning, such as the ANA. Nato's actions will not deter the Albanians, yet they are deterring Macedonia from protecting its statehood and its territorial integrity. As early as 1991, despite the precarious ethnic mix in the country, Macedonia was judged to have sufficient protection for ethnic minorities in its laws by an independent EU fact-finding commission headed by M. Badinter, while four other ex-Yugoslav states (Croatia, Bosnia Serbia and Montenegro) were not.

By forcing the Macedonians to negotiate with the NLA at gunpoint, NATO has essentially negated every single effort that Macedonia has made to become a democratic multi-ethnic state, and validated the methods of the Albanians to use violence against a nation which has struggled to achieve democracy and tolerance despite being in a highly unstable region of the world.
Jovan Ivosevic, Serbia

The Albanians have much more than they are willing to give up

Milenko, U.S.A
Let's be serious. The Albanians have much more than they are willing to give up. Even if they gave up every gun they had, they could realistically re-arm in a few days - there are plenty of guns in Albania proper and Kosovo to go around. If the NATO forces want to really know how many guns the NLA has they should ask the CIA for an inventory list. That is where they got it all anyway.
Milenko, U.S.A.

This token gesture does nothing to deal with the upsurge in Albanian nationalism that has been nurtured and allowed to flourish by NATO by their ill-conceived intervention in Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing by these Albanian rebels has been going on for a long time in this region and has been massively fuelled by the perceived NATO support already. NATO used Macedonia as an access route to Kosovo and was welcomed. We now should be doing much more to support this country that welcomed us with open arms. Whose side are we on here?
Andrew, UK

To NATO soldiers in the Balkans: keep up the good work

Gjon Buzuku, UK
It is very disappointing to read some responses. This is the 21st century, not the 15th (remember the crusaders), and NATO has not intervened in the Balkans to protect, as some say "Muslims" and ignore "Christians". People in the Balkans probably don't know that in most of today's Europe it does not matter whether you are "Muslim" or "Christian". This is not the age of the crusaders. And to those who don't agree with that I would say that Albanians are 27% Orthodox, 15% Catholic (approximate figures) and the rest are Muslim (who converted from Christianity to Islam under the Ottoman empire). There are absolutely no religious problems amongst Albanians, therefore Albanians do not have problems with their Slav neighbours because of the religion.

South Slavs such as Serbs and Macedonians should stop saying that they are fighting to "protect" Europe from "Nazis" (Croats and Germans) and "Muslims" (Albanians); that is a myth that the leaders they voted for used to brainwash them. Finally, the NLA has emerged because of the discrimination Albanian people were facing in every aspect of life, an issue never addressed by the government. For example, Tetova/Tetovo is around 90% Albanian town and you never find any Albanian inscriptions. Albanian has simply not been allowed to be publicly used. The NLA emerged because Albanians in Macedonia wanted a better future for their children. To NATO soldiers in the Balkans: keep up the good work.
Gjon Buzuku, UK

NATO should leave Macedonia, because unfortunately it is favouring the Albanian terrorists over the Macedonian authorities. Why does NATO turn a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing currently going on against ethnic Macedonians by the Albanian terrorist groups?? Ethnic Albanians have more ethnic rights in Macedonia than in Albania proper. It's a far cry from the ZERO rights that Macedonians have in Greece, Bulgaria, or Albania.
Petar Yankov, Canada

Pete wrote: "Things in the Balkans are going just as the US wants them to go. Albanians are carving out safe territory for the oil pipeline." And he is absolutely right. Nato has become a military arm of the international corporations and they continue their "March on the East" to eliminate the influence of Russia in Central and Western Asia, to get access to oil of Caspian See and to control entire world population.

They will not care about Albanians as soon as they (US/Nato) fulfil their objectives. Then it will be the Albanians' turn. All KLA, NLA, ANA commanders will be arrested and sent to the Hague. And I'm sorry about majority of Albanians who had a chance to live in Yugoslavia because they lost this chance. If they compare their lives in Yugoslavia with the lives of their brothers in Albania they will cry.
Zbigniew, Poland

This is the kind of solution that humanity would be better off without

Jordan, Australia
Rest assured, Nato is doing everything in its power to solve the Macedonian problem. What some people seem to be confused about is what it is that Nato is actually working towards. Erasing any notion of an ethnic Macedonian people, effectively occupying further land in the Balkans and establishing protectorates that will facilitate western economic "reforms", such that each fledgling state in this region will become a subsidiary of the economic giants protected by the Alliance. This is the kind of solution that humanity would be better off without. On Macedonian soil the presence of Nato and the presence of peace and a civilised democracy will forever remain mutually exclusive.
Jordan, Australia

I am an Albanian from Kosovo, Serbia - Yugoslavia. I have a simple message for those who have destroyed peaceful lives in Kosovo between the Albanian and non-Albanian population: Nato must leave immediately, and criminal gangs that are operating under the watchful eye of Nato need to be dealt with accordingly. The only way to achieve this is to restore law and order by the return of the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian Police. We have a Columbia already, surely we don't need another one in the heart of Europe?
Iljaz Hasani, Australia

The arms Nato are collecting are only there in the first place because we helped the KLA acquire them and then did absolutely nothing to stop them filtering across the border into Macedonia. Moreover, the flood of Kosovar Albanian refugees that NATO pressured Macedonia into accepting (because we didn't want them!) seriously destabilised the ethnic balance in the area.

For Nato to be asking the Macedonian people to accept the decommissioning of just 3,000 - 4,000 weapons is like asking the Protestant community of Belfast to be happy with the IRA handing in just a couple of rusty old shotguns as their contribution to the "peace process". The cowardice and incompetence of Nato leaders is directly responsible for the current problems in Macedonia - it would be naive to suppose that Nato is now going to make up for those past mistakes.
Stuart Whatling, London, UK

And so Nato has agreed to collect just 3,300 assorted weapons from an arsenal believed to be many, many more? And your question is could Nato do more? Of course they could. They could take the next plane out of Skopje and leave the Macedonian people to eliminate their own problems.
Aleks, Macedonia

Nato is finally present in all the unstable countries of South Eastern Europe, namely Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia). In my view, Nato will assure the stability of the region for many years to come.
Jeste Cigani, Montreal,Canada

Putting out spot fires is not going to work

Mike, USA
Once again, Nato has carefully assessed a situation and painstakingly arrived at the wrong conclusion. The Balkans have an Albanian problem that has not been addressed. Albanian revanchism is in full bloom, evidenced by the fact that KLA fighters are present in Macedonia. Nato will accomplish nothing until the European community comes to grips with Albanian territorial desires. Putting out spot fires is not going to work.
Mike, USA

Instead of Nato disarming only the rebels maybe they should also go about disarming the Macedonian army who are persecuting ethnic Albanians. Nato should do something about it unless they want another Bosnia to happen. My view is don't disarm the rebels if you are not ready to protect them.
Sumeya Mahmoud, Australia

I think that Nato's collection of weapons is a farce. Collecting 3000 weapons off the Albanian rebels will not create peace. Ethnic Macedonians will in the end become ethnically cleansed - it is obvious that no one will come to their defence. As the peace efforts are taking place the rebels are erasing monuments of ethnic Macedonian culture such as the Monastery of Sveti Anastasi in Lesok. I am surprised and shocked that the US does not condemn and these actions strongly and help to suppress these armed guerrillas instead of giving them a pat on the back. It is sad that those who helped Nato and tried to worked with the democratic process in their fledging republic are being let down by the world. It seems quite immoral.
Donna, USA

I don't think Nato is doing enough to help the Macedonian's. How do they allow the Albanian terrorists to keep shooting Macedonians and bombing destroying houses, churches etc? In a democratic country problems should be solved in parliament not by murdering people and making them refugees in their own country. What would happen if the KLA did all this in Britain? Would Nato recommend the British government change their constitution? I know for a fact that this would not be accepted here.
Vesna, Australia

I am an Albanian born in Kumanove raised in Australia. One thing that makes me really sick is the constant referral to the NLA as being "invaders" from Kosovo. This is not true I admit we have got fighters from Kosova in the NLA but its only natural because we are the same people...just like the Macedonians have fighters from Ukraine, Bulgaria etc.

I am so happy that Nato stepped in when they did as all Albanians are because the NLA achieved what it set out to initially do (to get Albanian their rights) and now they are willing to disarm. God Bless Nato and thank God for their intervention it spared a whole lot of lives, tears and pain!
Lindita, Australia

Nato is making a mistake by getting trapped in another meaningless peacekeeping mission. As problems get worse instead of solving them, the Nato countries fall into the trap of doing something, no matter how ineffective it may be. It is time to say the Emperor is naked and admit the KLA and the ethnic Albanians are the cause of the problems in Kosovo and in Macedonia. Until Nato is willing to intervene against the ethnic Albanian rebels nothing will be accomplished.
Sean, USA

Nato should first and foremost examine whether what it's doing, whatever it be, is in time. The slow and bureaucratic manner in which Nato conducts business is not beneficial for anyone. It took thousands of dead Albanians before Nato got involved in Kosovo (and even then it was the US, not Europe, that had the courage to act), and now it is playing its meagre role in Macedonia only after many months of fighting. Perhaps Nato should work on hastening, not enlarging, itself. After all, a quick and agile snake is sometimes more powerful than even the biggest and slowest bear.
Damir Dzhafarov, Prague, Czech Republic

Nato's stance towards the conflict has only made things worse

Nick, Bulgaria
Nato's stance towards the conflict has only made things worse. The Macedonian government is being blackmailed into accepting the demands of an armed group such as the KLA, invading the territory of a sovereign country. Before intervening in Macedonia NATO should concentrate on stopping the flow of arms from Kosovo and effective control over the Kosovo border with Macedonia.
Nick, Bulgaria

The last 10 years in the Balkans have shown that peace will not be achieved even if NATO forces remain there for the next 100 years. It made more economical and moral sense to keep and support the old Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in one rather than go through all this. And finally, those who blame Milosevic for wars in the region, remember, it takes two to tango and if the West really wanted him out of the picture, James Baker would not have advised him to send the Yugoslav People's Army into Slovenia. Maybe one day we will have peace, but only if the foreign soldier leaves our land forever and allows our Slavic people to handle our problems internally.
Demir Sabanadzovic, Australia

How can we believe 3,500 unarmed men can do something 40,000 well-armed Nato soldiers couldn't?

Aleksey, Macedonia
If Nato is really interested in solving the problems in Macedonia, than it should deal with those who are making them. However, this is not a naive mission and I believe, as many other Macedonians do, that there is something else behind this theatre. How can we believe that 3,500 unarmed men can do something that 40,000 well-armed Nato soldiers in Kosovo couldn't (or wouldn't) do?
Aleksey, Macedonia

Although the NLA is the main problem in Macedonia, you cannot disarm a people. We all saw what happened in Bosnia when people were unarmed, now many of these unarmed people are in an unmarked grave somewhere. Secondly, what does NATO expect from the rebels? The rebels know that there will be future conflict and they are undoubtably going to save the vast majority of their weapons, only handing in those that are old and unsafe to the soldier.

Although I stand behind the Slav Macedonians in the war, as I did in Kosovo, it would be stupid for the Albanians to disarm and put themselves at the mercy of a people which they have inflicted terror on. In the United States we have the right to bear arms so that the government does not have the power to enslave its citizens.
Dimitri, United States

I believe we Slavs and Albanians must learn to live with each other

Eddie, Albanian in UK
I am an Albanian from Kosovo. I understand all too well the problems faced by the Albanian minority in Macedonia. I fear, however, that the Macedonian Albanian rebels are not so much concerned for Albanian rights as much as they are to grab territory for a unified Albania. I am troubled by this because I believe we Slavs and Albanians must learn to live with each other, and not go to war over a piece of land.
Eddie , Albanian living in UK

Why is Britain making up the majority of the troops? The armed forces are too overstretched already without taking on yet another country's problems.
Mark Brooker, GB

NATO has done enough for Macedonia. Please do not protect us any more

Kiril Pejkinovic, R. Macedonia
NATO has done enough for Macedonia. Please do not protect us anymore. NATO created the KLA (known also as NLA, LAPMB, ALA etc.), gave them the most sophisticated weapons and equipment, trained them and supported their twisted ideas of Independent Kosovo and Great Albania. They have done nothing to control the Macedonia-Kosovo (Yugoslavia) border. NATO threatened Macedonia not to use military force to protect its territorial integrity. But NATO was there to help when the KLA asked for trouble in Aracinovo. They have not prevented the ethnic cleansing done by the KLA (known as Albanian Rebels). NATO has done nothing to preserve the great historical monuments from destruction. They have done nothing to help Macedonian refugees.

NATO has a clear mission. It will last for 30 days and not a second more. After NATO leaves, the Macedonian parliament will positively vote for the new constitution. In that moment Macedonia will have full credibility to defend itself from everyone who wants to question its territorial integrity. There will be no more credit for " Albanian human rights" wars.
Kiril Pejkinovic, Tetovo, R. Macedonia

I would like to try to answer Roman's comment that 35 policemen could do the job. I had a friend who went into Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) as a member of the Parachute Regiment to disarm the rebels. At first the dis-arming went fine. One night, though, they came to get the weapons back and a major fire fight ensued. This is why it is necessary to have a highly trained, viable force on the ground. 35 police men would not deter rebel units.
Alan, UK in NL

Nato, and the Western World in general, set itself a dangerous precedence when it decided to back Albanian terrorists in Kosovo. That gave the KLA the green light to invade neighbouring states under the smokescreen that they were fighting for the rights of 'ethnic' Albanians when the real motive is to create a Greater Albania - a new Ottoman Empire if you like. What many people fail to realise is that Macedonia is a democracy where everyone, including 'Ethnic' Albanians, has equal rights.
Dave, Dublin

The UK is doing well over its fair share

Andy, UK
And again we end up sending the most troops which drains the rest of the army. This is one of many reasons I can think of for expanding - not 'disbanding' - the British army. Is NATO doing enough? Well, no, but the UK is doing well over its fair share.
Andy, UK

My advice to the NLA would be to reject all NATO intervention as a disgusting gesture from a hypocritical and oppressive power. These troops aren't being sent to Macedonia to provide assistance and keep the peace, they are there to reinforce NATO's dominance over the area which it so unnecessarily and brutally bombed in 1999. The Albanian people suffered as a result of that outrageous act of aggression as well as the Serbian and other peoples, and this latest invasion force should be rejected as an empty gesture of oppression and domination. NATO certainly shouldn't have troops in the Balkans, the UN should be there if anyone, but troops should withdraw from the Balkans immediately.
Benj'min Mossop, UK

This whole situation is simply an exercise in NATO's credibility. NATO has to appease the Albanians because without Albanian cooperation NATO could be hounded out of Kosovo in a few days and NATO's reputation would be in tatters. So keeping the Albanians happy is NATO's major remit. NATO is a giant with a glass jaw, but at least they realise this, hence the sycophantic attitude towards those whom the rest of the civilised world regards as terrorists.
N.M., UK

The rebels' true objective is an Albania that will carve territory from neighbouring countries

Frankie Mekilosevech, Bosnian in Wales
I was watching a newscast last night and they showed an Albanian fighter with a tattoo of a greater Albania on his arm. While this may not seem significant a first glance, it did prove important once the rebel pointed out that the tattoo displayed an Albania that comprised geographical areas of Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. To me, this is further proof that the Albanian rebels' true objective is not for more rights for minority Albanians in Macedonia, but for an Albania that will carve territory from neighbouring countries - which will probably be done under the protective eye of NATO.
Frankie Mekilosevech, Bosnian, living in Wales

Why does NATO have to be Europe's handmaiden whenever something goes wrong outside the borders of the NATO Alliance? Does no one on the European continent have the inspiration, willpower or courage to act in a old fashioned, non-collective, bi-lateral manner any more? I'd say Europe as a group, and European nations independently, are using NATO "action" or "inaction" (depending on one's moody view on the issue) as an excuse for Europe's own systematic and ongoing incompetence in dealing with local, low-intensity security matters.
Stephen, USA/Ireland

The only realistic way to stop the violence in Macedonia is to disarm Albanian guerrillas in Kosovo. If Albanian guerrillas were disarmed by KFOR there would be no need to send NATO troops to Macedonia. Given NATO's reluctance to deal resolutely with the nominally disbanded KLA and its offsprings, I am afraid that the Operation Essential Harvest is going to be as ineffective and timid as the KFOR mission in Kosovo.
Alam, USA

Let the Macedonian government forces handle the situation

Nikola, Macedonia
NATO must not go to Macedonia and help the Albanian terrorists. Let the Macedonian government forces handle the situation. This is Macedonian territory and there are terrorists there and they must be eliminated.
Nikola, Macedonia

Most people commenting are ignorant - if you're not familiar with our situation or history DON'T comment on it! And to those who blame/claim that NATO created NLA/KLA - too ridiculous; why can't you admit that Albanians were strong enough and well organised enough to create an army? Also, will you please STOP calling them murderers when they haven't killed anyone apart from a few soldiers who were accidentally shot. What about Albanians? Does anyone talk about them? They are only asking for equal human rights which any democratic country wanting to join UN should give to its citizens.
Nora, Prishtina

The Albanians have not given up their struggle to carve a Muslim enclave in the middle of the Balkans. This is their chief aim. I think the struggle will go on for quite some time. Only time will tell whether or not a Muslim nation inside the Balkans will contain itself to its borders.
Joe Stearne, USA

The problem was and is internally created

Gjergji Bojaxhi, Albania-USA
There seem to be little doubt that the Slavs in Macedonia would prefer to have a country without Albanians, and the same thing can be said for Albanians. Since this is too costly to be achieved, the next option is equal rights (at least in the books). The sad part is that Macedonians are accepting this because of pressure and not because they believe in the principle. This attitude may cause bigger problems down the road.

In regard to the blame that Macedonian Slavs give to NATO, I would say it is sad that they continue to deceive themselves. The problem was and is internally created. This means that whether NATO helps or not, the rebels were going to spring up like mushrooms, whether today or in 20 years. Therefore stop lying to yourself, because it is in your own interest to do so. Let's not forget that we are not talking here about whether Albanians are good or bad, but whether they have the right or not. Make sure you keep these two lines parallel.
Gjergji Bojaxhi, Albania-USA

How about this: if a random sample of registered voters in NATO countries can find Macedonia on a world map, send the troops. (I figure this policy would keep us safe here in Dominica for a while as well....)
Steve Foerster, Dominica, West Indies

Where is the manpower from other NATO countries?

Steve Johnson, UK
Yet again another manpower-consuming operation made up primarily of British forces. Where is the manpower from other NATO countries? Our forces are yet again having their lives put on the line for a problem that does not involve the UK. We are going to end up bogged down in yet another Balkan country, as we have in Bosnia. The only reason the government has committed troops is so it can pocket the money that is paid by NATO for each individual soldier deployed on NATO operations, while our troops muddle around with substandard, out of date equipment. As per usual it is mainly up to the British and French forces to diffuse the problem on the ground and the rest of NATO to pile in and take the credit when the threat has disappeared.
Steve Johnson, UK

It was not enough in Yugoslavia and it is not enough now. My father and many more like him will be turning in their graves, with the thought of what they fought for in the Second World War was for nothing. How many lives would have been saved had Nato intervened at the outset. There is many a ghost in these countries who would say, if only we were an OIL producer, we might still be alive today.
Derek,ex-pat, Brazil

Ethnic Albanians should have the right to be armed living in Macedonia. The only thing the region has ever known is violence. Not just violence, but violence through genocide. By stripping ethnic Albanians of their weapons, Nato is opening the gates to what the region has come to be known for. There has to be some other way. Ethnic Albanians are only trying to fight so they don't live and die the same fate as their brothers. While they had their weapons they were somewhat of a deterrent, without them they are once again strapped to a time bomb of hate that is just waiting to explode.
Beenish Ahmed, USA

Things in the Balkans are going just as the US wants them to go

Pete, USA
Things in the Balkans are going just as the US wants them to go. Albanians are carving out safe territory for the oil pipeline. Albanians have never been a friend of the US. Once they have served their purpose the US will take out the KLA and have a government installed to carry out our new peacetime needs. Although I am an American I do not agree with this but just the same it will come to pass. Albanians are already here in the States opening up pizza parlours with mafia money. We will corrupt them and their kids and they will forget about Greater Albania. Macedonians should draft the entire male population into the army and crush the Albanian rebels if they can.
Pete, USA

Don't use soldiers where you want police. If you decide to use an army then you had better want a war. This isn't fair on the troops, they may be excellent people and able to adapt to the role, however it's like putting in screws with a hammer.
Chris Hann, USA (Brit)

NATO are using the KLA terrorists as a means to establish a foothold in the region and exclude Russia. Just as the Afghan "freedom fighters" mutated into the Taleban, so will the KLA become a thorn in the West's flesh. These destroyers of churches and ethnic cleansers of Christians in western Macedonia are creating an Islamic Greater Albania right in Europe's backyard. They are the Taleban of Europe, but the false instincts of "liberal" governments in the Balkans always lead to support for the wrong side. One day in the future, Europe will have cause to rue this treachery.
Ian Sykes, UK

It breaks my heart to see what is going on in my parents' birth place. You don't have to be Einstein to figure out what's going on - first the KLA invades Macedonia from the "Democratic Republic Of Kosova?" that is supported by the west, then NATO prevents Macedonia from defending herself warning her with sanctions - at the same time they warn Ukraine not to support Macedonia and now we have NATO entering Macedonia, 1+1 = 2. This is surely the end of Democaratic Macedonia look at Kosovo!
Steve, Australia

Both in Kosovo and now in Macedonia, NATO has shown itself to be a facilitator of terrorism not a preventer of terrorism. The alliance has outlived its usefulness and needs to close its doors. In an effort to find a new mission for itself now that the "Cold War" has ended, NATO is destroying Central Europe under the guise of "rescuing it".
Judy Weller, USA

NATO's function was to defend its members against a common enemy. It has no business in the Balkans, and can never resolve the never-ending squabbles and violence. NATO's intervention was a stupid idea hatched out by Messrs. Clinton and Blair. NATO needs to pull out and leave the locals to sort themselves out.
Jim Hubbell, USA

This is a simple matter unnecessarily made complex. The Macedonian government itself ransacked the country and its people. The Macedonian people remained pathetic and lost in all these events. Of course psychological warfare and propaganda had quite a bit to do with all this. The Macedonians of Albanian origin, yes that's right Macedonian Albanians, saw an opportunity to enter the vacuum of lawlessness and corruption and reach the top echelons. In the meantime Europe and NATO used Macedonia for everything and anything. Where were the Macedonians and what did they do all this time? Sorry Macedonia and Macedonians but only you can solve "your" problem, don't expect others to look after you. That's how it's done in the west. Quite simple isn't it?
Aleks, Australia

Now that NATO has given the go ahead for soldiers to patrol a peace in Macedonia will they pull out if it goes wrong? What if the war escalates and families are slaughtered like in Bosnia? Will they sit by and watch like the UN did there or will they prevent factions from fighting? Presently NATO say they are there only to receive arms from the NLA. But in reality if we see a situation like Bosnia the public at large is likely to see to ask for protection for minorities affected. It's no wonder to me that the Americans, like in wartime Bosnia, are so unwilling to take a central role.
Iain, Scotland

If Nato wanted to establish an empire or protectorates, don't you think they'd try and go for an area a) more stable and b) more prosperous/wealthy than the Balkans? As for the actual question, what more can NATO do? Public opinion has, to a large extent, created the problem of the West. If they do nothing, than the television news is bombarded with pictures of people dying by the thousand in battles, massacres, and concentration camps. The people then demand something be done. When something is done (i.e intervention) the people then say it's the wrong thing. I ask you, if Nato did withdraw from the Balkans as some advocate, would these same people then be comfortable with the pictures of dead and dying on the television?
John M, New Zealand

If they are not going to forcefully disarm the Albania rebels(NLA) then they will not get what they want out of their mission - the only thing that they will get is some dead Nato troops. For their mission that they are planning they do not need 3,500 they only need about 1,000 because the NLA are not going to give in their big and powerful guns they will only give there small arms and machine guns.
Alex, Australia

As an Albanian American, I find many of the comments here highly disturbing. There is quite a bit of blame being placed on the NLA, but let's not forget the facts - the reason the NLA rose up was because the Albanians were tired of living under a Macedonian brand of apartheid, and they were fed up will false promises from the West to resolve this problem. As for the comment that the "Macedonians opened their hearts and homes to the Albanians" during the Kosova crisis, let's again examine the facts.

The Macedonians did not open their hearts and homes to the Albanians, the only ones who did this were fellow Albanians living in Macedonia. The Macedonian government did allow other Albanians to enter Macedonia, but only after they extorted money from Western governments for this service. And those Albanians were kept under guard like animals in a cage in refugee camps. I know, I visited those camps. And the country that provided the greatest level of assistance to the Kosovars was Albania. But then Albanians have a history of helping those in need - just ask the Jews who fled Nazi persecution during WWII and found safe harbour in Albania. I would also like to remind everyone that one of the most admired people of the 20th century was an Albanian from Macedonia known as Mother Teresa.
Gary Kokalari, U.S.A.

NATO is sending 3.500 soldiers to "collect" weapons of Albanian terrorists without using force. Why don't they send 35 policemen to do the same thing and with the same result (collect a couple of worn out AK-47s). Soon I hope to see NATO troops fleeing from Macedonia. Why? Because it is unsafe there...
Roman, Russia

One should not look on this conflict as a Macedonian internal affair

Nikola Mizo, Macedonia
One should not look on this conflict as a Macedonian internal affair, but as an open attack from Kosovo. Since Kosovo is under UN jurisdiction, and is supposed to be controlled by UNMIK and NATO forces, this is an open attack on a fragile democracy in the heart of Europe. 3,500 NATO soldiers are incapable of doing anything in 30 days. One more thing, since when does the international community support a constitutional change under a military pressure. The picture is all too simple, NATO wants Macedonia to be a yet another protectorate in the Balkans.
Nikola Mizo, Macedonia

NATO failed to disarm the KLA in Kosovo, so why should Macedonia prove to be any different? What I really don't understand about all this is why NATO allow themselves to be used and duped by a bunch of 'murderous terrorists' (Lord Robertson's words, not mine).

NATO have done more then enough to achieve the goals of the Albanian separatist guerrillas - they have provided them with military information, training, weapons, even escorted them out of danger at one point (perhaps to safeguard the 16 US military advisers who were with the NLA at the time) whilst threatening the Macedonian government with everything short of bombing to make them refrain from launching an all-out campaign against the guerrillas. Instead the Macedonian government has been forced to sit back and watch as large parts of their country are occupied by the NLA, non-Albanians are expelled and a separate state in all but name established.
Tara McCormack, London, UK

Nato cannot be posted there forever

Henry Khiat, Singapore
Obviously, it is a problem between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. I wonder how effective Nato's actions will be resolving this conflict. My opinion is that internal conflicts still need the sincerity and commitment of the concerned parties to resolve. Nato cannot be posted there forever to see to that.
Henry Khiat, Singapore

30 days will pass with Nato collecting weapons but the problem will not be resolved. The KLA was shielded when Belgrade was bombarded. These are the same extremists that have attacked Macedonia. Both the UK and the US need an ally in this region, Albania is not the right choice. They'll have their own Sadam one day too.
Kire, Sydney, Australia

Unlike John Ellis, I don't mind sounding callous; this is not our problem. We should never have intervened in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia - and this is a good example of why. Nato, the EU, the US and UK and other nations have attempted to help the Balkans over the last ten years, and it has all been thrown back at us. These people no longer deserve our assistance, whether military or financial - let us turn our minds to more pressing matters at home.
Simon Ashall, UK

Nato is not doing enough to solve a crisis they undoubtedly caused

Rob Howgate, London, England
Having just returned from Skopje I can fully understand why Nato has been labelled the New Albanian Terrorist Organisation and why the Americans are despised so. You see foolish Nato empowered the murderous NLA in the first place during the Kosovo crisis. They gave, what amounts to a Central European IRA, the time and resources to mount an illegal attack on innocent people. So no Nato is not doing enough to solve a crisis they undoubtedly caused. They just seem content to sit back and let murderous cowards massacre innocent Macedonians when in reality they should be on the front line, imprisoning the criminals and putting their own lives at risk.
Rob Howgate, London, England

Solving the problem is an unrealistic aim. The problem is two sets of people who hate each other. Unfortunately, Nato moving in will not change that.
Ed Manning, UK

It seems to me that Nato is a taxpayers' nightmare, sticking its nose into other people's business. Why does the UK have a vested interest in Macedonia? Should not the surrounding countries pay for the afforts of Nato?
Nick, UK

Haven't we been down this road before?
James Richardson, France

See also:

21 Aug 01 | Europe
Nato weighs up Macedonia mission
17 Aug 01 | Europe
Macedonia mission 'too short'
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