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Macedonia: Ethnic Albanian Militants Demand Changes To Constitution

Skopje, 10 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ethnic Albanian militants are calling for constitutional changes in Macedonia to end what they call discrimination against ethnic Albanians in political institutions. The rebel National Liberation Army sent a statement to the media today, calling for neutral international mediation between Macedonia's Albanian minority and Slavic majority.

The statement demanded a census be conducted in Macedonia to determine the percentage of ethnic Albanians living the country. It also said the constitution should clearly identify Macedonia as "a state of two constituent peoples -- Macedonian and Albanian."

More clashes involving ethnic Albanian militants were reported today in northern Macedonia and southern Serbia. In Serbia, officials said an 11-year-old Serbian boy was wounded in fighting in and around the village of Lucane. Clashes in the village yesterday left one Serb policeman dead and wounded three others.

Macedonian officials said troops clashed late yesterday with about 20 ethnic Albanians who they said were trying to smuggle weapons across the border from Kosovo. No casualties were reported.

Reports said a NATO special envoy, Pieter Feith, would today visit the buffer zone between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia in hopes of getting the ethnic Albanian and Serbian sides to sign a cease-fire agreement.

NATO agreed this week to allow Yugoslav troops to return to part of the buffer zone, near the Macedonian border, to help curb the activity of the ethnic Albanian militants.