Skopje pins its hopes on Solana’s frequent trips

The three stages Athens proposes for the settlement of the crisis

(“Ependytis”, June 9-10, 2001)

Peace in FYROM, which was once again put at risk in recent days, hangs on the crucial word “disarmament”. Following the renewed acts of violence launched by the Albanian rebels and retaliatory acts by the Macedonian Slavs, both sides are now calling for a truce. The cease-fire is certainly a step towards peace, but it may also prove to be a step towards escalation of the conflict if acceptance of disarmament is not part of it. [...]

At this fragile juncture the Greek Foreign Ministry has put forward a political proposal for defusing the crisis, stressing that Athens’ intervention is designed to “complement”, not oppose Mr Solana’s endeavours. The Greek proposal envisages three stages. The first stage would be of 48 hours duration, during which time (under EU and US pressure) a truce would be called and there would be a supervised withdrawal of the Albanian rebels from the area they have taken to Kosovo. During the second stage representatives of the four parliamentary parties would discuss the directions to be taken in inter-ethnic talks. Finally, in the third stage a five-day dialogue would take place with B. Traikovski presiding. The dialogue would end with the signing of an agreement during a celebratory ceremony during which international figures would participate.

Besides, despite the new flare up of violence in FYROM, the situation is now politically clearer as during this phase the possibility of a population exchange has been expressed and rejected without more ado. A plan for this, drawn up by some Macedonian Slav intellectuals in FYROM, seems to have met with unequivocal opposition from the whole international community, and this development, combined with international refusal to legalize UCK, is without doubt pushing the Albanian rebels into the fringes.

The Greek Foreign Ministry therefore deems that the present situation has progressed politically, and holds out encouraging signs of a defusing of tension. It realizes, however, that the current state of affairs is vulnerable because, on one hand, it is not yet certain whether the UCK has understood the implications, and on the other, because there is now friction within the folds of the country’s Macedonian Slav community. The Georgievski proposal that a state of emergency should be declared in FYROM met with opposition from the Socialdemocratic Union which also described the Prime Minister’s proposal for the immediate announcement of an early election as “irresponsible”. However, the foundations on which peace can take hold have already been planned. The ground is gradually becoming more stable and it is expected that J. Solana’s frequent trips to Skopje will contribute to the restoration of peace in the country.

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