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Yugoslavia: U.S. Condemns Violence In Macedonia

The United States has condemned renewed violence in Macedonia. RFE/RL correspondent Jolyon Naegele reports from Kosovo's capital Pristina that the U.S. presidential adviser for the Balkans, James Pardew, met with Kosovar Albanian leaders yesterday in a bid to convince them of the need for an end to the violence in Macedonia and southern Serbia.

Pristina, 15 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The special adviser for the Balkans to the U.S. president and secretary of state, Ambassador James Pardew, last night expressed U.S. condemnation of the violence that occurred yesterday in and near Tetovo in northwestern Macedonia.

Albanian extremists exchanged fire with police near Tetovo castle, and demonstrators in the center of Tetovo attacked a TV crew from a private Macedonian station (A1).

Pardew, speaking on a visit to Kosovo's capital Pristina, said the desire by some Albanian extremists to destabilize the political situation in Macedonia is unacceptable. He said it is interference in a peaceful political process and is no way to correct what he says are legitimate grievances.

"We call on the Albanian people in Kosovo and in Macedonia to do everything that they can to stop this violence and to condemn those and take action against those who are causing this. We believe this is a small group of extremists who are simply trying to use intimidation and violence to promote their own political (agenda)."

Pardew said the extremists are seriously damaging relationships between the international community, regional neighbors, and the people of Kosovo, particularly the Albanian population in Kosovo.

Pardew said the U.S. rejects the insurgents in Macedonia of the so-called National Liberation Army.

"We reject the National -- whatever it is -- Army under any terms. The United States neither supports nor recognizes this organization. We consider it not to be legitimate and we want nothing to do with it."

Pardew noted there is a political process in Macedonia for resolving differences. And he noted there are legitimate rights issues in Macedonia. But he said the Albanian community has outlets for resolving those differences legitimately.

Pardew expressed the view that Albanians in Macedonia have far more rights than the remaining Serbs in Kosovo, who are unable to travel freely in the province. In Pardew's words, Kosovars ought to be focusing on the dramatic and significant problems that exist in Kosovo. They should solve those problems first and let the Macedonians deal with their own problems.

The U.S. presidential envoy met with officials in Macedonia on Monday and with officials in Kosovo on Tuesday and Wednesday. He travels to Belgrade today for talks with Yugoslav and Serbian officials.

Among those he met in Pristina was a politician alleged to be closely linked to the insurgents in Macedonia and southern Serbia -- Emrush Xhemajli, head of the People's Movement of Kosovo. The movement won about 8 percent in recent local elections.

Pardew said he told Xhemajli that the spread of extremist violence into Macedonia, along with a recent confrontation with U.S. troops near Kosovo's border with Macedonia, are affecting attitudes in the U.S. toward the Balkans. Xhemajli responded that the problems of Albanians in Macedonia are a legitimate issue for his movement.