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On 20 June, NATO Ambassadors agreed in principle to a request by President Boris Trajkovski of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) for NATO assistance to demilitarise ethnic Albanian extremists, on condition that the parties pursue political dialogue successfully and cease hostilities. Instructions were given for an Operational Plan to be drawn up on this basis.

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NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson visited Skopje, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) on 14 June to meet President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and other key political figures for talks about how to end the insurgency of ethnic Albanian extremists.

Bush visit

NATO heads of state and government met at NATO on 13 June for a special session of the North Atlantic Council during the first official visit of US President George W. Bush to Europe. Discussions covered all key issues on NATO's agenda, including missile defence. On the question of future enlargement, the Allies hope and expect to be able to invite more candidate countries to join NATO at the Prague Summit in 2002.

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The Military Committees of the European Union and NATO met formally for the first time at NATO on 12 June to exchange information on practical issues related to the development of EU-NATO security cooperation.

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The Committee on Women in the NATO Forces celebrated its 25th anniversary at a meeting from 10 to 15 June, which was exceptionally held in Rome, Italy, to mark the Italian Armed Forces' first intake of female recruits last year.

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Defence ministers from NATO member and Partner countries gathered in Brussels, Belgium, for their six-monthly meetings on 7 and 8 June. Key items of discussion were the development of EU-NATO relations, implementation of the Defence Capabilities Initiative, missile defence and the crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1).

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Armenian President Robert Kocharian came to NATO on 6 June to meet Lord Robertson. They discussed Armenia's continued partnership with NATO as well as the tension with Azerbaijan over Nagorno- Karabakh.

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Nearly 100 generals converged on Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) for the annual conference organised by Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Joseph W. Ralston on 5 and 6 June. Two key topics were NATO's 1999 Strategic Concept and its consequences for forces and capabilities, and an assessment of NATO's Balkans operations.

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Fourteen NATO member and Partner countries took part in Exercise Baltops 2001, a peace-support operation in the Baltic Sea from 1 to 18 June.

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On 1 and 2 June, Lord Robertson visited Rome, Italy, to attend Italy's annual military parade and to meet President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, outgoing Defence Minister Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister designate Silvio Berlusconi.

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Ministers in Budapest

Foreign ministers from NATO and Partner countries gathered for their regular spring meetings in Budapest, Hungary, on 29 and 30 May. Discussions focused on current tensions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1), developments in the Balkans, EU-NATO cooperation and new challenges facing the Alliance, as well as strengthening NATO's partnerships and the Alliance's relations with Russia and Ukraine.

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Lord Robertson visited Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 31 May to address a conference on Key steps for European integration: promoting peace and prosperity in South East Europe.

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The question of NATO enlargement dominated discussions at the five-day spring meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, held in Vilnius, Lithuania, between 27 and 31 May.

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In a statement on 24 May, Lord Robertson strongly condemned recent actions by extremist groups in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, (1) particularly their continued presence in several occupied villages and their attacks on government security forces.

NATO Press Release (2001)075.

Buffer zone opens

The phased return of Yugoslav and Serbian security forces to Sector B of the Ground Safety Zone, the buffer zone between Serbia and Kosovo, began on 24 May.

NATO Press Release (2001)074.

The Council of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) held its annual meeting at NATO on 21 May and was briefed by Lord Robertson on key issues on NATO's agenda. The Education Committee of the ATA met the following day to discuss how national organisations can explain security issues to younger audiences.

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SACLANT meets SACEUR

The Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, General William F. Kernan, paid his first visit to SHAPE on 16 and 17 May 2001 to meet SACEUR General Joseph W. Ralston and his staff.

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Lord Robertson met Albanian President Rexhep Meidani, Prime Minister Ilir Meta, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo and Defence Minister Ishmail Lleshi in Tirana, Albania, where they discussed developments in the region and defence reform.

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Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan met Lord Robertson at NATO and addressed NATO Ambassadors on 16 May. They discussed Croatia's contribution to regional stability as well as the year-old government's programme of political reform.

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Between 15 and 26 May, seven NATO nations provided forces for Damsel Fair 2001, an exercise in Kusadasi Bay, off the coast of Turkey, aimed at exercising all aspects of mine-warfare planning, execution and analysis.

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NATO Chiefs of Staff held a series of meetings at NATO among themselves and with Partner country counterparts on 15 and 16 May. Key topics included Balkan peacekeeping, the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, (1) developing EU-NATO relations, NATO's force structure review and discussions about the procurement of an air-ground surveillance system.

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Newly elected Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev met Lord Robertson at NATO on 15 May. He expressed his country's determination to broaden and extend cooperation with NATO, particularly in the field of peacekeeping.

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Five NATO members and seven Partner countries participated in Cooperative Tide 2001, an exercise in naval coastal warfare procedures, in Newport News, Virginia, USA, from 14 to 23 May.

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Between 14 and 16 May, six NATO members and six Partner countries took part in Cooperative Baltic Eye in the Baltic Sea, an exercise aimed at developing procedures for commanding, controlling and coordinating search-and-rescue resources.

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During the night of 11 and 12 May, KFOR troops seized a large cache of heavy weapons, which were destined for ethnic Albanian armed groups operating in the Presevo Valley.

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Lord Robertson visited Barcelona, Spain, on 10 and 11 May, where he addressed a security and defence conference, before travelling to Madrid for meetings with Prime Minister Jos Maria Aznar, Foreign Minister Josep Piqu and Defence Minister Federico Trillo-Figueroa.

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In The Hague, the Netherlands, on 9 May, Lord Robertson gave a speech at the Centre for European Security Studies and later met Dutch Defence Minister Frank de Grave.

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The first consultations on missile defence took place at NATO on 8 May, when a US delegation explained the new US administration's position to Lord Robertson and the North Atlantic Council (NAC).

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EU-NATO double act

In the wake of repeated acts of violence by ethnic Albanian extremists against forces of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, (1) Lord Robertson travelled to Skopje on 7 May for meetings with President Boris Trajkovski and other key figures, which he attended together with European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.

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The Conference of National Armaments Directors met in Brussels, Belgium, for their biannual meeting on 3 and 4 May to discuss NATO policy issues and projects, including the implementation of the Defence Capabilities Initiative and the Armaments Review.

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The 2001 NATO Economics Colloquium took place in Bucharest , Romania, between 2 and 4 May and focused on the interrelationship between regional economic cooperation, security and stability, particularly in southeastern Europe, the southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

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Lord Robertson condemned an attack by Albanian extremists on security forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) near the city of Tetovo, on 28 April.

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About 1,500 reservists from six NATO and Partner countries as well as Argentina trained in Bosnia and Kosovo from 27 April to 10 May during two combined peacekeeping exercises, Adventure Express and Dynamic Express 2001. Preliminary training took place in Albania with Albanian troops before the reserve forces moved on to SFOR and KFOR theatres.

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Kosovo parties

Following a visit by Serb government officials to NATO on 25 April, UN Special Representative to Kosovo Hans Haekkerup and a delegation of senior political leaders representing ethnic groups in Kosovo met Lord Robertson and NATO Ambassadors on 26 April.

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Israel signed a security agreement with NATO on 24 April, the first of the seven countries participating in NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue to do so.

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Generals and senior officers in command of Engineering Corps in NATO and Partner countries, discussed the future of military engineering at the their annual conference, held this year at the French Army Engineering School in Angers, France, from 24 to 26 April.

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Lord Robertson visited the Netherlands on 23 April, where, after meeting Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen, he opened the Business Week Convention organised by the Economic Faculty Association in Rotterdam, and received the Business Week Award 2001 for achievements in world communication.

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On 15 April, KFOR soldiers assisted in the hand-over of five Serb hostages, who had been held by ethnic Albanian extremists operating in southern Serbia since March.

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War crimes suspect detained

SFOR troops detained Dragan Obrenovic, one of three Bosnian Serbs indicted for the Srebrenica massacre, on 15 April and transferred him to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

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Following a North Atlantic Council decision on 10 April, Sector D of the Ground Safety Zone separating Serbia and Kosovo, was handed over to Yugoslav forces on 14 April.

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Lord Robertson condemned the deliberate targeting and killing of a Russian KFOR soldier in a shooting on 11 April in Kosovo.

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Two British airmen died on 9 April in a helicopter crash in poor weather in a mountainous region of Kosovo near the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. (1)

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Air force personnel from six NATO countries participated in a logistics exercise, Ample Train 2001, in Greece from 2 to 6 April, to practise servicing and handling fighter aircraft.

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KFOR command change

Norwegian General Thorstein Skiaker took command of KFOR on 6 April, succeeding Italian General Carlo Cabigiosu.

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On 6 April, Bulgaria's parliament ratified an agreement with NATO, authorising the transit of Greek and Turkish NATO forces across Bulgarian territory to reinforce the NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Kosovo.

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NAC goes south

Lord Robertson and the 19 NATO Ambassadors visited the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) and Kosovo on 3 and 4 April, stopping off on the way at the headquarters of Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy, which has command authority for SFOR and KFOR.

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SHAPE commemorated its 50th anniversary on 2 April in a ceremony presided by SACEUR General Ralston and Lord Robertson.

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Lord Robertson paid a two-day visit to Warsaw, Poland, on 29 and 30 March, where he met President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, the foreign and defence ministers, and members of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

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1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

For more information, see NATO Update at http://www.nato.int/docu/update/index.htm

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