Latest humanitarian figures
Evacuation from the Kumanovo villages has been sporadic this week. The International Rescue Committee (ICRC) and local officials identified 66 vulnerable people from the 10,000 to 15,000 believed to still be in the villages. 253 further people have presented themselves to the Kumanovo Red Cross, raising the total of displaced persons in the Kumanovo region to 7500.
It has been a strong week for regional relations this week, with major bilateral statements being issued between Macedonia and Bulgaria, and Macedonia and Yugoslavia respectively.
In a joint statement issued in Sofia on 5 June, President Boris Trajkovski and his Bulgarian counterpart Petar Stoyanov said re-endorsed political dialogue was the only means of achieving lasting peace in the region. This illustrates the growing rift between Trajkovski's rigid adherence to the dialogue approach and the increasingly frequent calls of his prime minister for a state of emergency in which Trajkovski would effectively rule by decree.
They also called for Albanian President Rexhep Meidani to join them for new regional talks to discuss the improvement of east-west infrastructure (notoriously poor in the region), as a means of communicating solidarity and a pro-Europe direction to citizens of the three countries, and also to the international community.
Macedonian Defence Minister Vlado Buckovski received his Yugoslav counterpart Slobodan Krapović this week and they signed an agreement for technical support between the two countries. The agreement will supply Skopje with weapons and intelligence. Krapović expressed conviction that the rebels were fighting for territory rather than rights and stressed that the attention of the international community should be drawn to this fact.
When is a war not a war?
When you need a two-thirds majority to introduce a full-blown state of emergency. Various groups have been adding their two-pence worth on the subject this week after the increasingly volatile Prime Minister Lubčo Georgievski issued a statement through an official spokesman threatening the certain introduction of a state of "war and mobilisation."
This was quickly criticised by US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who said that the Bush administration does not see how introducing a state of war would facilitate a political solution to the crisis.
EU's Javier Solana condemned the idea, reiterating his previously voiced concern that it "would be playing into the hands of extremists." (AP)
UÇKombetare spokesman Musa Xhaferi (unrelated to PDPSh Chief Arbën Xhaferi) countered in a statement which said that a 'de facto' state of war already exists.
Attack on Trajkovski's office
On the evening of Wednesday 6 June, two shots were fired from a passing car at the windows of the President's office. Trajkovski is reported to have been inside at the time of the attack but to be unhurt as the bullets failed to penetrate the bullet-proof glass. No one has yet taken responsibility for the action that brings the violence prevalent elsewhere in the country into the capital again.
Further riots in Bitola
A second wave of riots struck Bitola this week as a second group of soldiers from the town, killed in action, were returned to their home town for burial. The wave of destruction is reported to have damaged over 100 houses, the mosque and many shops owned by Albanians and Macedonian Muslims and has left the town daubed with racist slogans such as "Death to Siptars."
The house of Deputy Health Minister Muharem Nexhipi (an ethnic Albanian) was among the burned properties. Local Albanians report seeing police on the streets taking no action to subdue the violence or destruction. The police have responded to this accusation by saying that there were just too many attacks for them to deal with.
And in other news...
- An earthquake registering 5 on the Mercalli scale shook Northern Macedonia on 3 June, according to the daily Utrinski vesnik. The epicentre of the quake was near Kumanovo.
- The Macedonian cabinet has suspended making a decision on severing relations with Taipei and re-establishing ties with Beijing. The change of direction is being pushed by SDSM (Social-Democratic Alliance) Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva and resisted by Prime Minister Georgievski.
Eleanor Pritchard, 8 June 2001
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