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Macedonia: Violence Spurs Call For State Of War

Skopje, 6 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonia's Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski today called on parliament to declare a state of war to help combat a rebellion by ethnic Albanians. Spokesman Antonio Milososki said that declaring a state of war would allow the military to mobilize all able-bodied men to fight.

He added that a strong military response to the rebellion is "the only way" to achieve peace in the country.

Milososki described the ethnic Albanians' campaign as an "aggression" against Macedonia. His comments came hours after five soldiers died and seven were wounded in rebel attacks, during the most serious escalation of violence in weeks.

"It's clear that the attacks by Albanian terrorists constitute aggression against the Republic of Macedonia. It is clear that the fighting is continuing. But the question is whether the Republic of Macedonia expects to defend itself from these attacks which threaten the lives of our soldiers."

Ethnic Albanians launched a rebellion four months ago (February) to win greater rights for their minority population. The Macedonian government says the rebels are trying to destroy the state.

A two-thirds majority vote -- or 81 votes -- in the 120-seat parliament is needed to declare a state of war. It was not immediately clear when parliament could convene to vote on the initiative.

Macedonia's leaders had first suggested such a declaration in May, but EU and NATO officials persuaded Macedonian leaders to expand their negotiations to solve the country's problems.

For more on the situation in Macedonia, please see Macedonia: Five Soldiers Killed As Violence Escalates.