|Updated: 20-Jun-2001||Week of 18-24 June 2001|
Skopje requests NATO assistance
The North Atlantic Council issued a statement on 20 June responding to the request of President Trajkovski of the former Yugloslav Republic of Macedonia (1), that NATO assist his government in demilitarising the National Liberation Army (NLA) and disarming the ethnic Albanian extremists operating on the territory of this country.
The Alliance is prepared to provide assistance, on condition that the political dialogue between the different parties has "a successful outcome" and a cease-fire is implemented. At this moment, and this moment only, will NATO send troops with "strong and precise rules of engagement", to collect weapons from the ethnic Albanian extremists.
The request comes at a time when NATO, together with the European Union, are trying to encourage political dialogue between government authorities and the ethnic Albanian community and their agreement to a peace plan providing for the introduction of confidence-building measures such as an agreed multi-ethnic policing regime and guarantees that the political reform process will be implemented; the withdrawal of NLA fighters from the area, starting with Aracinovo; and the cessation of hostilities. Lord Robertson travelled to Skopje on 14 June to meet with President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ilinka Mitreva and the Minister of Defence, Vlado Buckovski. He also met with leaders of the country's political parties. The High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, Javier Solana, also held talks with government officials and will be returning to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) this week.
The Councils of the European Union and NATO will meet next week to further discuss the situation and review developments.