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Macedonia: Yugoslav Troops May Patrol Demilitarized Zone

Prague, 7 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson says the western alliance is considering allowing Yugoslav troops to help quell ethnic Albanian fighters who have launched attacks in Macedonia. Robertson said yesterday that a decision may be reached this week to allow Yugoslav troops patrol a demilitarized zone along the Yugoslav-Macedonian border. Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zizic -- visiting the UN in New York-- praised Robertson's proposal, saying that allowing Yugoslav forces back into the buffer zone would demonstrate a new spirit of cooperation between the Yugoslav army and NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo.

There has been much international condemnation of the ethnic Albanian rebels fighting along the border between Macedonia and Kosovo.

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski yesterday vowed "not an inch of Macedonian territory will be given to extremists." He also condemned KFOR troops for failing to protect Kosovo's side of the border with Macedonia.

Albanian President Rexhelp Meidani added his voice yesterday, saying stability of Macedonia is "one of the important pillars of stability in the region."

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov said the region could take heart from the way in which the rebel actions had been condemned by Albania and Kosovo Albanian leaders.