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Macedonia: Parties Discuss Reforms As Cease-Fire Holds

Skopje, 9 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The main parties in Macedonia's coalition government are meeting in the capital Skopje to discuss an EU- and U.S.-backed framework agreement for ending five months of fighting between government forces and ethnic Albanians. Reports say the progress of constitutional reforms, a central demand of the ethnic Albanians, is seen as key to the success of a cease-fire -- now in its fourth day. Diplomats hope to secure a deal that would allow for NATO troops to enter Macedonia in order to collect guns from the ethnic Albanian rebels.

Over the weekend, leaders of the four political parties -- which include two ethnic-Albanian parties -- studied the draft reforms submitted by EU and U.S. envoys Francois Leotard and James Pardew, aimed at bolstering democracy at the local level as a means of protecting minority rights.