As Macedonia’s army forces the Albanian extremists from their mountain strongholds in the north of the country, the government declares that it is open to dialogue but only in a legal framework. The latest offensive by the Macedonian Army is in two areas north of Skopje, in the Gracani and Tanusevci areas and in Blace, ten kilometres from the capital, terrorist positions were pounded with heavy artillery. A Macedonian Army spokesman stated : “The army is to occupy the entire border to enforce a stronger control. ....a new action ...has been under way in order to break terrorists along the northern border where there have been provocations”.So far there have been no army casualties in confrontations with the Albanians. Meanwhile, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister, Srdjan Kerim, stated that Albanians had legally elected representatives in the government of the country to whom they can address their concerns. He said Skopje is prepared to listen to any position taken by the Albanians, provided it is made within the legal framework.He conceded that “We should have had many more Albanians in national structures. If Albanians are not part of national structures, they cannot identify with the country”. Srdjan Kerim said that any future violence would receive the same proportional response from Skopje.Macedonia has shown a political maturity which surprised many countries in this conflict. The firm but just response to unacceptable, gratuitous violence, has earned Skopje friends from all sides. For once, the world stood together as one. All those who took part in this common stance against evil will savour the moment for many years to come. Macedonia proved that the world can stand together when the will is there.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON
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