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Macedonia: KFOR Prepares Concerted Action Against Border Rebels

Skopje, 5 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim says Macedonia and NATO-led peacekeepers in neighboring Kosovo are preparing coordinated action against ethnic Albanian rebels in a border village. Kerim said there was no need to launch a military intervention against the village of Tanusevci. He was speaking late yesterday, after a day of meetings with NATO officials.

Western officials had earlier said they would "understand" a limited armed response by Macedonia against the rebels. But they said such a response should be coordinated with NATO.

Macedonia yesterday closed its border with Kosovo. Late into the day, low-key armed exchanges were reportedly continuing in Tanusevci and the neighboring village of Malinovo. But Kerim said the situation should not be dramatized and that Macedonia is "far from a state of war".

Albanian politicians in Macedonia condemned the rebels' actions as a "provocation" threatening Albanian interests. About one-third of Macedonia's population is ethnic Albanian.