week ending 10 June 2001, Skopje
Background to the emergency
The crisis in Macedonia started in March 2001.
Since then, the political and security situation
in the country has been changing, it is sometimes improving, sometimes
worsening. The main regions affected by the crisis are Kumanovo, the Lipkovo
region, Tetovo and some areas in the Skopje area, like Aracinovo.
The number of Albanian militant extremists cannot
be established for sure. Even the state
authorities and security forces use various numbers. According to the
Ministry of the Interior, in Aracinovo there are from 800 to 1,000 militant
extremists, and according to other state and security sources, the overall
number of the militant extremists that operate in Macedonia is hardly
In order to join the forces together to overcome
the crisis, the political parties in Macedonia have formed a grand coalition.
The political isolation of the militant extremists
was one of the most powerful weapons against them. This situation was
changed by the signing of the so-called Prizren Declaration among the
leaders of the NLA (National Liberation Army), an organisation in which
the militant extremists take part, and the two leaders of the biggest
Albanian parties in Macedonia, Arben Dzaferi from Democratic Party of
Albanians, and Imer Imeri from the Party for Democratic Prosperity.
Under pressure from the International Community that
condemned this act of two political leaders flirting with the militant
extremists, Dzaferi and Imeri quietly withdrew and agreed to continue
the dialogue through the structures of the State.
At the moment there is an apparent unity in the governmental coalition. In the area of military actions, the Macedonian security forces took intensive action in the Kumanovo region. Because of that, the militant extremists sent an ultimatum to the Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski to stop the operation, or otherwise they would fire on targets in Skopje, from the new positions in Aracinovo. Yesterday, at 9.00 a.m., military forces stopped the operation. The official justification was that they had to leave space for humanitarian organisations to deliver food to the crisis region to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.
Since the beginning of the crises, more than 40,000
people have been so far displaced. According
to the UNHCR, up to now, there are 30,000 registered refugees from Macedonia
in Kosovo. The number of refugees has still been increasing in the past
few days, which is the result of the occupation of the village of Aracinovo
by the militant extremists. Therefore, on Saturday 9th June there were
4,466 registered refugees who crossed the border into Kosovo, and on Sunday,
up to midday, this number went up to 1,000. According to the UNHCR, the
number of people who are leaving Macedonia for Kosovo is not decreasing.
Around 50 inhabitants of the village of Aracinovo,
ethnic Macedonians, demanded a meeting with the President Boris Trajkovski
on Sunday. According to them, the President had promised that they would
be settled with their families, during the crisis. From the region of
Aracinovo there are both Macedonian and Albanian refugees.
The displacement continues from the area around Aracinovo, too. The Macedonian Red Cross so far has registered 20,399 displaced people, 14,859 of them from the villages around Kumanovo, 2,450 from Skopska Crna Gora, and 2,261 from the villages around Tetovo.
The water problem
For almost five days the population of Kumanovo
had no water. The reasons are the closed
valves on the Lake Lipkovo, the only water source for the town.
Security forces cannot enter and open the valves, because the militant extremists control them. The city is supplied with water by cisterns. Most of the sick people from Kumanovo hospital hav been transferred to Skopje, and restaurants have been ordered to close.
Some quarters of Tetovo and high buildings are without drinking water. The reason for this is the reduced electrical power in the Popova Shapka area, that prevents the running of four hydroelectric power plants and pipelines. To fix the defect in transmission lines, that were supplying these hydroelectric power plants will need more than 15 days. At the moment, water pressure in Tetovo is 200 litres per sec.,which is enaugh for the minimal needs of the town.
The approach of the crisis to the capital had
caused a panic among the citizens. This
was shown in the increased expenditure on basic food products, flour,
sugar, fat, as well as mineral water. After the ultimatum was published,
there were long queues at petrol stations.
The exchange rate of the German Mark (DEM) has increased unbelievably to 36 MKD for one Mark (the exchange rate of the National Bank of Macedonia is 31.25 MKD for one Mark), but even despite this fact, private exchange offices and the banks do not sell DEM, they just are buying them.