Skopje, 29 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today welcomed an amnesty on the possession of illegal weapons in Macedonia, due to start on 1 November. Macedonian officials hope the "no-questions-asked amnesty" will encourage the surrender of illegal weapons and will lead to greater security in the ethnically divided country.
Western intelligence sources estimate that 150,000 weapons are still in the hands of civilians after years of ethnic struggle. But the amnesty -- supported by the UN Development Program -- has set a modest target of collecting 25,000 pieces of illegal weaponry.
The EU and OSCE said in a joint statement that the program's success "lies in the hands of people who have such weapons."