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Macedonia: NATO To Decide On New Mission

Brussels, 26 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO's North Atlantic Council is scheduled to meet today in Brussels to vote on whether to approve Macedonia's request for a new mission there. The council, the alliance's top decision-making body, is expected to approve Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski's request.

He has asked NATO for a small presence to protect some 250 monitors from the European Union and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said yesterday in Skopje that the alliance has begun preparing a "small and capable" mission for Macedonia. But Robertson said the function of any NATO troops would be "solely to act as a backup to the international monitors."

He did not provide further details about the planned force, but confirmed reports that Germany has offered to be the leading country involved in the new mission.

Details for the mission yet to be resolved include the size of the force, the length of its stay, and the powers of soldiers in the field.

Also, Robertson said ethnic Albanian rebels had met and exceeded the planned quota of 3,300 weapons to be voluntarily surrendered as part of a peace plan. The NATO collection mission ends today.

The UN Security Council is expected later today to give its approval for a small NATO force for Macedonia.

A Security Council resolution endorses the efforts of international organizations helping to implement a fragile Macedonian peace accord.

The text falls short of a direct authorization or a UN mandate for the force that Germany had sought.

The council resolution calls for the "full and timely" implementation of a peace deal. It also restates the 15-member body's commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Macedonia and other states in the Balkan region.