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Macedonia: Relative Calm Reigns

Tetovo, Macedonia; 26 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Relative calm was reported today in northwestern Macedonia following yesterday's offensive against ethnic Albanian rebels in the hills around the town of Tetovo. The Macedonian army said its forces took six villages and a Turkish medieval fortress overlooking Tetovo, but "not all" positions had been taken. Abedin Imeri, president of the Tetovo branch of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) -- the ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia's governing coalition -- told our correspondent that his party will not leave the coalition because of the military offensive.

"After the offensive, we will not leave the government. We will try to calm the situation and to create the conditions for a normal co-existence. So we will stay in the government, because the success of the offensive is the success of the DPA."

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and the European Union's foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana are due in Skopje today to meet with top Macedonian officials. Robertson today said he would use his visit to encourage the Macedonian government to push for a political settlement. But he said NATO will continue to step up security on the country's border with Kosovo.

(For more details see: Macedonia: Forces Poised To Continue Offensive Near Tetovo; Macedonia: Ethnic Albanian Says Party Will Stay In Coalition; Macedonia: Government Forces Offensive Seemingly Successful