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Macedonia: Unity Government, Interethnic Dialogue Revitalized

Budapest, 30 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union and NATO today urged the Macedonian government to take advantage of a renewed multiethnic unity coalition deal and quickly resolve the crisis over ethnic Albanian militants. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who yesterday brokered an accord to prevent the disintegration of the coalition, warned NATO and EU foreign ministers meeting in Budapest that valuable time has been lost due to political bickering in Skopje over the last week.

"What is very, very important is that the coalition government continues to work, and is continuing to work in a rapid manner. The process of interethnic dialogue yesterday was resumed, and is going to resume at a rhythm and a pace which is going to be faster than before."

Relations between Macedonian Slav and ethnic Albanian politicians had broken down after ethnic Albanian leaders last week unilaterally signed an accord with extremist fighters.

But President Boris Trajkovski said both Slav and ethnic Albanian party leaders now agree that Macedonia's future can be decided only by democratically elected leaders. He said last week's deal between ethnic Albanian politicians and extremists is "no longer relevant."

In the north of the country, government forces remain locked in confrontation with the extremists. The army today announced a cease-fire to allow civilians who are trapped in the battle zone to escape.

For more on the Macedonian government, please see Macedonia: Unity Government Appears Back On Track.