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Macedonia: NATO, EU Officials Arrive In Skopje For Peace Talks


Skopje, 14 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana arrived in Skopje today to discuss the prospects for ending the conflict in Macedonia with government leaders. They also reiterated their support for a peace plan proposed by Trajkovski that includes a cease-fire and a partial amnesty for ethnic Albanian rebels.

Robertson said on arrival that he and Solana had come to "encourage" dialogue between the two sides and the introduction of reforms into the political system.

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski has recently formulated a plan that calls for a limited amnesty for the rebels and a larger role for ethnic Albanians in state bodies and institutions. It also calls for negotiations aimed at a lasting settlement.

Trajkovski's spokesman said the president stated his view in talks today with Robertson and Solana that he was against a NATO military intervention or a peacekeeping mission in Macedonia but would welcome NATO involvement in the demilitarization of ethnic Albanian rebels fighting government forces.

The rebels also put forward their own peace proposals. Ali Ahmeti, political leader of the rebels, said in a statement that his men would disarm if NATO troops were deployed in Macedonia, if the rebels were given a general amnesty, and were included in talks on political and social reforms. The rebels say they are fighting for more political rights and recognition for the ethnic Albanian minority in Macedonia.

The Macedonian government has rejected any talks with the rebels, branding them "terrorists."

Secretary-General Robertson also announced today that Macedonia has agreed to extend the cease-fire in its fight against the ethnic Albanian rebels.

Robertson said that the Macedonian government was ready to prolong the cease-fire to give the political parties time to search for ways to resolve the crisis. Robertson called on the rebels to follow the government's move.

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