Brussels, 25 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson says he will fly to Macedonia tomorrow to press for a return to the cease-fire and to political negotiations between ethnic Albanian militants and government forces. Robertson today called the situation "critical." He said he will be accompanied by the European Union's foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana and the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Mircea Geoana.
Robertson's announcement comes as hundreds of ethnic Macedonians fled Tetovo after the government told rebels to pull back from the city or face a new army offensive.
The Macedonian government challenged the West to blame ethnic Albanian militants for the latest breaches of a cease-fire -- or be exposed as their backers.
Government spokesman Antonio Milosovski made the ultimatum a day after fierce fighting in Tetovo and anti-Western rioting in Skopje, over what the protesters saw as Western support for the militant Albanians.
Western officials dispute the allegations that they back the insurgency. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana denied the West is supporting the rebels, while German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer condemned the militants for the fighting and called on them to pull back.