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Voice of America, 01-08-16

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>

SLUG: 2-279399 Macedonia ( L Only) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:





    INTRO: A guerilla sniper has shot and killed a Macedonian policeman, casting a cloud over the imminent arrival of NATO troops to collect rebel weapons. Jeff Bieley reports the incident is the most serious since the signing of an accord Monday aimed at bringing peace to the Balkan country.

    TEXT: The police officer was killed in Tetovo along the line between government and ethnic Albanian rebel forces. It was the first fatal incident since political leaders signed a deal Monday aimed at ending an insurgency by rebels known as the National Liberation Army. The first group of NATO troops is still set to arrive in Macedonia on Friday as part of mission to collect the N-L-A's weapons. Four hundred British special forces troops will make up the vanguard of the 35-hundred member international force. Their task is to lay the ground for further deployments and to establish a headquarters and communications links for the NATO-led mission. However, alliance leaders have postponed a final decision on the full force until NATO advisors can verify that a ceasefire is being observed. France has agreed to contribute more than 500 troops to the force if the mission goes forward. A German offer to send soldiers to the mission is still pending parliamentary approval. Meanwhile, the speaker of Macedonia's parliament, Stojan Andov, said that approval of constitutional changes demanded by ethnic Albanians will depend on how quickly the rebels lay down their arms. He outlined a three-stage process, in which the parliament will begin to consider the reforms only when one-third of the guerrillas' weapons have been surrendered to NATO. He said final passage of the amendments will not come until the insurgents have completely disarmed and disbanded. However, the deputy speaker of parliament, an ethnic Albanian, accused Mr. Andov of breaking pledges given to the international community and attempting to violate parliamentary procedure. Macedonian's defense minister, Vlado Buckovski, said public opinion is skeptical about the NATO mission. He said, "It will be hard, as no one believes that the operation for disarming the terrorists will be 100 percent successful." (Signed)
    NEB/JB/JWH/RH SLUG: 6-12431 Macedonia Pact DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: Under intense western pressure, the Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian leaders in that tiny Balkan nation signed a peace pact this week. The global press reaction is one of extreme skepticism, with several papers suggesting the fighting will continue because of the ethnic hatreds involved. Some dailies are even suggesting a full-scale civil war in the country cannot be ruled out, despite the latest development. And as to the plan for NATO troops to enter Macedonia and disarm the ethnic Albanian forces, then leave within a month, few newspapers see that as a workable scenario. We're joined by V-O-A's ______________ now with a sampling from the Four Corners of the globe in this week's World Opinion Roundup.

    TEXT: To get an idea of just how skeptical some of the foreign press is, take this from London's The Guardian that "the formal signing of Macedonia's peace deal...was a triumph of hope over reality." A majority of papers, mostly in Europe feel that NATO troops will have to stay around much longer than a month as is now planned. And some papers feel the peace pact is essentially a complete fraud. We begin our sampling at ground zero of this week's action, where in Skopje, Dnevnik's editorial offers this dismal assessment of the agreement.

    VOICE: What do Macedonians lose and what do [ethnic] Albanians get with this agreement? Or the other way round. Nothing. We have lost each other for a few decades ahead. ... On joint peace conferences, seminars and workshops, our children and grandchildren will have to try to restore what we already had and which as spoiled by crime, narco-Mafia and dirty games of international mediators in white gloves.

    TEXT: A similar outlook as regards the international community comes in this editorial from Utrinski vesnik, also in Skopje.

    VOICE: ... it was the problematic assessment of the international community, based on its experience in Kosovo, that brought Macedonia back to the middle ages...

    TEXT: The paper predicts either modest improvement if all sides agree to disarm, or an all-out attack by Macedonian forces if the Albanian rebels fail to stop fighting. For an ethnic Albanian view, we check in with Zeri over the border in Yugoslavia's mostly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo provincial capitol of Pristina.

    VOICE: How will security be guaranteed in Macedonia; when and how will the obligations from the ... agreement be observed; is the Macedonian parliament (dominated by Macedonian Slavs) going to approve the agreement and fulfill [its]... obligations...These questions ... should be given an answer.

    TEXT: And in Koha Ditore, also from Pristina, in a long editorial by its publishers, we read this sad assessment.

    VOICE: ... the war appears as an unfortunate replacement for the lack of talent, work and willingness for a political solution. On the other side the war brought destruction to many families and villages ...

    TEXT: While in Albania p r o p e r, Tirana's Koha Jone suggests in a front page, op Ed piece:

    VOICE: Albania has a role in not spreading the [Macedonian] clash, which is so near.

    TEXT: Farther from the scene, you get the skeptical tone right away in this analysis by a security affairs editor in Britain's Guardian newspaper published in London.

    VOICE: NATO troops under British leadership are poised to enter Macedonia on the back of a huge assumption: that the ethnic Albanian guerillas will voluntarily give up their weapons, having achieved all the political and constitutional reforms they wanted... ... Even if the N-L-A [National Liberation Army] does hand over all its weapons- - and it is a big if - - more will be easily available.

    TEXT: As far as London's Daily Telegraph is concerned, Western strategy in the Balkans is incoherent, adding that ethnic Albanian rebels should learn from this Agreement:

    VOICE: ...that violence pays and that the [Western] Alliance, in its failure to seal the border with Kosovo, has no stomach for taking them on. Are those the messages ... the West wants to convey to the component parts of the old Titoist federation? ... NATO is on the brink of a new, indefinite commitment in former Yugoslavia without an overall strategic vision...

    TEXT: In France, there is this wry comment from Le Figaro in Paris.

    VOICE: ... The West has imposed a peace treaty. Will it be able to impose peace?

    TEXT: And in Germany's financial capitol, The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung worries:

    VOICE: ... What will [NATO] ... do when the Albanian rebels surrender only muskets or if fighting breaks out again or if the process of political reform ... falters? ...

    TEXT: In Italy, La Stampa in Turin relays this pessimistic impression from the area:

    VOICE: The peace [accord] was signed... However, there is not one Macedonian ... who is willing to bet on the accord signed ... in Skopje being respected. Rarely has an accord been presented in such a cautious fashion by its own promoters.

    TEXT: As far as one influential Russian daily sees, it, in Moscow, Izvestiya comments:

    VOICE: While 'Euroenvoys' are in raptures, true experts refer to the accord as a useless scrap of paper. ... They may sign whatever they want, diplomats say, but the conflict will not fade away...

    TEXT: And in Denmark, Copenhagen's big Berlingske Tidende purports:

    VOICE: The problem with the plan is that it requires a large amount of trust ... something that ... European mediators have not been able to establish.

    TEXT: In neighboring Greece, which carefully uses Macedonia's official name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Athens daily Kathimerini suggests the threat of ethnic partition hangs over the agreement.

    VOICE: [Macedonia's] course toward partition is now irreversible. The international community will soon realize that fact ... and refocus its efforts on dealing with the geopolitical consequences of the [potential breakup]...

    TEXT: For an Asian view, we check in with Japan's huge Yomiuri in Tokyo, which observes:

    VOICE: The pact can be called a new political framework to resolve the Macedonian fighting, but there is skepticism that [the] parties concerned will actually respect and implement [it]...

    TEXT: A somewhat more anti-Western tone creeps into this editorial in Vietnam's Communist Party daily Sai Gon Giai Phone, from Ho Chi Minh City [Saigon] which suggests:

    VOICE: ...the peace accord is a predictable result if Macedonia itself doesn't want to be destroyed by NATO bombs and missiles when a Kosovo script is being repeated ... Peace hasn't really existed in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina since NATO troops were present [there]...

    TEXT: And in the New World, Chile's respected El Mercurio from Santiago, suggests:

    VOICE: Macedonia... unlike Yugoslavia...gave the Albanians an acceptable degree of participation in government...but this does not seem enough. ... However, there is hope that the ... agreement will mark the beginning of something with a future...

    TEXT: On that weakly hopeful note from Chile, we conclude this global assessment of the Macedonian peace agreement signed this week.
    NEB/ANG/RH SLUG: 6-12429 Editorial Digest (08-16) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: There is a growing apprehension in the United States press about the breakdown of the peace process in Northern Ireland, reflected in many of the day's editorials. Other commentaries concern other peace processes and their prospects in Macedonia, and between Israelis and Palestinians. Editorials are also to the fore on the Bush reaction to global treaties; the U-S-China spy plane incident aftermath; dealing with Russia; and the Berlin Wall. Now, here with a closer look and some quotes is V-O-A's _____________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The situation in Northern Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army has withdrawn a disarmament plan after Protestant rejection, draws a number of gloomy comments. Here is one from today's Augusta [Georgia' Chronicle which says the situation "plunged into deeper turmoil" with the I-R-A about face.

    VOICE: Although most people in Northern Ireland probably do not want to return to war, their leaders are dangerously close to resuming the nearly century-old conflict.

    TEXT: In Cleveland, Ohio, the Plain Dealer has been keeping especially close watch on the situation:

    VOICE: Peace in Northern Ireland can survive only so many setbacks. Yet the leaders involved in negotiations behave as though the fragile calm that now exists can withstand countless assaults and unceasing ill will. ... Thanks to the I-R-A's petulance, the newest negotiations will start... nearly from scratch.

    TEXT: In Rhode Island's capital, The Providence Journal scoffs:

    VOICE: ... the I-R-A's move was not really surprising. Many saw it as yet another attempt by the group, illegal in the south of Ireland as well as in the north, and its above-ground mouthpiece, the Sinn Fein party, to push its opponents to the brink to gain even more concessions.

    TEXT: Today's San Francisco Chronicle exhorts the people of Northern Ireland who voted for peace to:

    VOICE: ...seize the process from the handful of politicians and street thugs who would prolong the troubles of past decades. And as the United States helped to broker the 1998 agreement, the Bush administration should pitch in now to help save it.

    TEXT: Moving on to another peace process, this one in Macedonia, between the government and ethnic-Albanian rebels, today's Fresno [California] Bee says of the next step:

    VOICE: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has agreed to send a 35-hundred-member military force - led by Britain, but including some U-S troops - into Macedonia to collect weapons from the rebels...but not to act as a peacekeeping force. But while NATO officials insist that disarmament be carried out quickly, they also say they will not deploy troops until all fighting has stopped and rebel groups agree on a procedure for turning in their weapons. ... That scenario makes sense, but it may not unfold as planned...

    TEXT: In Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says of NATO's one-month proposed exit strategy in Macedonia, it has:

    VOICE: ... hauntingly familiar ring to it. The U-S troops in Bosnia[-Herzegovina], and then Kosovo, were only supposed to be there for a limited time. The irony that the troops being shipped to Macedonia are part of the American contingent still in Kosovo can not be overlooked.

    TEXT: Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we hear from The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee, that:

    VOICE: The Bush administration has no good options in the Mideast. The worst one is to let Israelis and Palestinians terrorize each other into exhaustion. Absent a forceful U-S mediating presence, that course seems to be the direction in which events are heading. The White House appears unaware of the clout it has in the region ...

    TEXT: In Michigan, The Detroit News worries that:

    VOICE: Terrorist violence in Israel has pushed the Middle East to the brink of all-out war. The international community must respond while there is still time to avert such a tragedy. ... The loss of life on both sides already numbers in the hundreds. But 10-times that many will die if this spiral of violence continues and that is intolerable.

    TEXT: In addition to criticism of the Bush administration for appearing to ignore both Northern Ireland and the Middle East, the weekly Ellsworth American in Maine is upset at what it feels are other treaty mistakes.

    VOICE: The United States again is revealing its apparent unwillingness to give ground on the use of some of the world's most inhumane and obscene weapons of war. ... the Bush administration has signaled its refusal to join in global bans against land mines and germ warfare. ... the ... government shows no inclination to take the lead [abolishing] ...either type of weapon... embraced by a few of the world's most cruel and repressive regimes.

    TEXT: Commenting on Chinese complaints about the size of the 34-thousand dollar payment from this country for the U-S Navy spy plane incident, the Atlanta [Georgia] Journal sneers:

    VOICE: The truth, which everybody including the Chinese knows, is that any expenses beyond that figure were the result of China's decision to hold the crew hostage and its refusal to allow the Navy to fly the plane out after minor repairs. ... A country that spends so much time demanding respect ought to recognize the other side of that coin; when you behave like a jerk, you get the insult you deserve.

    TEXT: Turning to recent relations with Russia, specifically Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's trip to Moscow to talk about nuclear weapons treaties, The Plain Dealer [in Cleveland, Ohio] is not impressed.

    VOICE: ... Secretary of Defense ... Rumsfeld's studied indifference to Russia's clearly stated concerns seem an entirely [inappropriate]... approach to such a momentous change as President George W. Bush wishes to effect ... [walking] away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty...

    TEXT: The Berlin Wall, what is left of it celebrates its 40th birthday this week, drawing this comment from today's Boston Globe.

    VOICE: Ceremonies commemorating the ... start of the ...Wall ...Monday descended into a spate of fractious encounters between people who feel the wall's dark history needs to remain clearly in the public eye and those who are happy to see all trace of it disappear.

    TEXT: Domestically, fumbling by F-B-I and other investigators in the case of ethnic Chinese U-S scientist Wen Ho Lee suspected of spying on U-S nuclear bomb secrets for China, draws this opprobrium from the Honolulu Advertiser.

    VOICE: This comedy of errors means that Americans may never know how - or even whether - the Chinese government stole technology on the design of U-S nuclear warheads. ... Either the investigators were [ethnically] biased or incredibly dumb. Take your pick.

    TEXT: And lastly, about the tale of a group of young Sudanese boys who walked hundreds of kilometers to escape fighting, and find a new, more peaceful home in this country, today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram says their "remarkable story" is one of: "...courage, endurance and triumph of the human spirit... [that shows] ... an indomitable will to survive and to succeed in a new land. We leave you on that note, concluding this editorial sampling from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE SLUG: 2-279380 British Troops Macedonia (L-O) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: With a fragile cease-fire holding in Macedonia, 400 British rapid-reaction troops are packing their bags. As Tom Rivers in London reports they are to begin leaving Friday to spearhead a NATO peace mission to the troubled Balkan country.

    TEXT: The initial mission of the British contingent will be to establish a command-and-control center from where they can monitor the cease-fire between Macedonian forces and ethnic-Albanian separatists. If the truce holds, then NATO will send in a larger force of 35-hundred troops whose primary job will be to collect rebel arms at predetermined sites. Under the plan, NATO soldiers will seal an area, pick up weapons and then move on. The operation - dubbed Essential Harvest is expected to last for just 30 days. Many defense analysts, like Francis Tusa, believe that is very optimistic.

    /// TUSA ACT ///

    Balkan cynics would say it is almost inevitable that mission creep - going into a country for one reason and staying there for another - is almost certain in Macedonia. Look at the number of times mission creep occurred in Bosnia, leading to the present situation and the number of times various European and American populous' were told, 'do not worry, we are there for only six-months and then we are leaving.'

    /// END ACT ///

    The program which has the backing of all NATO alliance members has very narrowly defined goals. In addition to the relatively short duration of the mission, the troops will only be lightly armed. They will not be equipped for any wider peacekeeping role in the region.

    /// OPT ///

    Ethnic-Albanian gunmen have battled Macedonian government forces for six-months. The insurgents agreed to disarm earlier this week after political leaders signed an accord giving greater rights to Macedonia's ethnic-Albanian minority. /// END OPT /// The Macedonian government has agreed that ethnic-Albanian separatists who keep their promise to disarm will receive an amnesty a key precondition NATO required before agreeing in principle to send in the weapons collection force. (SIGNED)
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