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Macedonia: NATO To Play No Long-Term Role

Skopje, 30 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson says NATO's month-long mission in Macedonia could be extended by a "few" days, but that he does not expect the alliance to play a long-term peacekeeping role in the Balkan country. In an article in today's "Financial Times," Robertson writes that NATO cannot provide a long-term military solution to the problems in Macedonia. He says these problems are political and require a political solution.

Robertson said NATO's 30-day operation to collect some 3,300 weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels, which began this week, is not intended to provide the ultimate solution to Macedonia's crisis. He said the mission is only one part of the peace plan agreed by Macedonian politicians.

The article was published after Robertson yesterday visited Macedonia to inspect the arms collection process and meet with politicians.

Robertson urged the Macedonian parliament to start ratifying political changes designed to give the ethnic Albanian minority improved rights. Parliament is due to start debating the reforms, which were agreed in the peace deal, tomorrow.