Berlin, 23 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The German cabinet today approved a plan to send troops to join the NATO force gathering in Macedonia to collect weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels. Parliament -- which has the final word -- will meet in a special session next week to debate the mission. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today he hoped for a large majority in favor of deployment, although he recognized that some parliamentarians oppose German involvement.
Schroeder said the government recognized that things could go wrong and said that a strong mandate was needed from parliament to protect the troops.
"Naturally, one has to say that no mission such as this is completely free of risk. It would be wrong to say that. So we require a mandate, a robust mandate, which allows the right to self-defense and the capacity to withdraw if the mission should fail, against all expectations."
Macedonia's foreign minister, Ilinka Mitreva, today renewed her doubts about the NATO mission. She said she did not believe NATO would collect all the weapons held by the guerrillas. Nor did she believe the violence would stop.