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Macedonia: Civil War 'Very Close' Says NATO Chief

Skopje/Washington, 21 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson has warned that Macedonia is "very close to civil war" after five days of peace talks in Skopje, aimed to thrash out reforms to give Macedonia's large Albanian minority greater rights, collapsed yesterday. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski accused ethnic Albanian leaders, saying they are trying to install a "bi-national" federal state and are dramatically changing the Albanian position.

Democratic Party of Albanians leader Arben Xhaferi replied, saying Trajkovski is trying to demonize ethnic Albanians and "create a climate of paranoia."

Robertson said Macedonia's government "knows what the stakes are," as he urged all parties to come to an agreement.

Earlier yesterday, NATO said it is ready to send a mission to Macedonia if a peace plan could be agreed. About 3,000 troops are supposed to work for 30 days to collect arms from rebels.