23 - 29 July 2001

Skopje, 30th of July 2001

Security situation

Severe conflicts in the area of Tetovo and end of the cease-fire. On 23rd and 24th of July 2001, severe conflicts started in Tetovo. The Macedonian Security Forces' positions were attacked by NLA from several locations, the Tetovo suburb of Drenovec 2, the villages of Poroj, Gajre, Gepciste, Sipkovica, Germo and the mountain near Tetovo. The positions of the Macedonian Security Forces are in the city of Tetovo and the Tetovo Fortress. The terrorists shot more than 200 grenades and mines on the army base in the city of Tetovo. There were also street fights, including civilians who shot at the Macedonian Security Forces. This was the end of the cease-fire.

According to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, during the two-day fights in the area of Tetovo, two civilians (ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian girl) were dead and 33 wounded (26 civilians and 7 members of the security forces). According to the Albanian language media, during the shellfire on the area of the village of Poroj by the Macedonian Security Forces, civil facilities have been shot, where eight civilians (ethnic Albanians) were killed, two children among them.

Ethnic cleansing of the Macedonian villages. During the two-day fights in Tetovo area, the extremists forced out from their homes several thousand inhabitants, ethnic Macedonians, from the villages of Neprosteno, Lesok, Tearce, Glogi, Ratae and Dobroste. These people gathered in the village of Zilce and came in Skopje, where they protested in front of the Parliament.

Kidnapping of civilians. On 23rd of July, near the village of Semsovo, Tetovo, three ethnic Macedonians were kidnapped and later released. On the same day, 20 inhabitants of the Tetovo villages, ethnic Macedonians, were kidnapped while travelling by bus on the road Tetovo - Jazince. They were also released later. Four Macedonian villages in Vratnica blockaded. The villages of Vratnica, Beloviste, Rogacevo and Staro Selo in the Municipality of Vratnica, Tetovo area, near the border cross with Kosovo, Jazince, have been surrounded by NLA without any supply for eight days.

Anti-west protests in Skopje. The protests of the discontented displaced inhabitants of the Tetovo villages, joined by many citizens of Skopje, turned into anti-west protests. This was mostly because of the cease-fire signed by NATO, who should have been a guarantee of the cease-fire. Protests became violent, during which the American, British and German Embassy, the Greek Relations Office and OSCE offices were stoned, as well as 20 shops (property of ethnic Macedonian Muslims and ethnic Albanians) were partially or completely demolished and 15 OSCE vehicles destroyed. The displaced persons from Tetovo distanced from the violence the next day and continued their peaceful protest in front of the Parliament, demanding prompt and safe return to their homes and reconstruction of their houses destroyed during the conflicts.

Border crosses to Kosovo closed. On 24th of July 2001, the Macedonian authorities closed all border crosses to Kosovo for the international representatives of the Mission on Kosovo and international humanitarian missions. Few days later, this information was denied. According to the latest information, the border has been closed for foreign citizens going from Kosovo to Macedonia.

New cease-fire. On 25th of July 2001, new cease-fire has been established by NATO's intermediation. NLA should return to the positions from the 5th of July 2001 and remove the mines. The Macedonian Security Forces will not enter in the villages that NLA will retreat from, but will stay half kilometre away. Convoy of two buses with IDPs. On 16th of July 2001, two buses with IDPs from Lesok, escorted by the Macedonian Minister of Defence, NATO ambassador in Macedonia Hans Jorg Ajf and NATO's special envoy Peter Fate entered in the village of Lesok. Only few inhabitants stayed in the village, while the other returned to Skopje, because they did not feel safe. Second convoy. On 28th of July 2001, 350 IDPs, ethnic Macedonians with eight buses visited their homes in Tetovo villages of Lesok, Neprosteno and Tearce. In Tearce, the extremists burned down eight houses. Three-member crew of MCIC visited these villages as well.

New conflicts. On 29th of July 2001, according to the Macedonian Army, the extremists attacked the army point at the village of Lavce, where four soldiers (ethnic Macedonians) were wounded. The same day, on the road Tetovo - Skopje, a police convoy escorting the Minister of Interior Affairs was also attacked. Two civilians killed by a land mine. On 29th of July 2001, on the road Zilce - Lesok two civilians (ethnic Macedonians) lost their lives. According to OSCE, only NLA uses land mines.

Media war. Macedonian and Albanian language media are in a media war by publicising opposite versions of the same events or by not publicizing events at all. For example, the Albanian language media claimed that the Macedonian Security Forces disrupted the cease-fire in Tetovo, while the Macedonian language media claimed the opposite. The land mine incident is another example. Although it is well known that only NLA uses land mines (most of the killed members of the Macedonian Security Forces were victims of land mines, snipers and ambushes), the Albanian language media claimed that the mine has been placed by the Macedonian Police. On the other side, the Macedonian language media did not publicized any information on the number of civil casualties in the village of Poroj.

Political situation

Robertson, Solana and Joana visited Skopje. After the escalation of the situation in Tetovo area, NATO's secretary general George Robertson, EU Foreign and Security Policy High Representative Javier Solana and OSCE presiding Mircea Joana arrived in Skopje to talk to the political party leaders and US and EU special envoys, James Pardew and Francois Leotard. Robertson and Solana said that the violence should stop and the political dialogue must continue.

Constitution's changes talks continue. Because of the disturbed security situation in the country, the political party representatives stopped the Constitution's changes talks for almost a week. The dialogue continued in Ohrid on Saturday, 28th of July 2001. The ethnic Albanian parties disagree to retreat from their demands, the Albanian language as official, while the Macedonian political parties oppose to this. International US and EU representatives, James Pardew and Francois Leotard, said that talks are concentrated on one issue - the use of Albanian language as official in certain areas and under certain circumstances.

Social situation

According to the latest information of the Social Affairs Centre, approximately 20.000 families in Skopje depend upon the social aid provided by the Government. According to the latest census in 1994, in Skopje there are 444.760 inhabitants, and if one family, in average, consist of four members, this means that 20% or 80.000 persons depend upon social aid.

Interethnic relations

First confidence building measures. In the Council of Municipality of Tearce, a meeting was held between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, inhabitants of nine villages in Tetovo area including the villages of Tearce, Neprosteno, Dobroste, Lesok, Odri and Glogi. NATO's special envoy Mike Letji and municipalities' counsellors were also present on the meeting.

South-East Europe University commencement announcement. Accreditation Board started the procedure for granting accreditation for the South-East Europe University in Tetovo, which is the first private university in the country. The University has five faculties - law; public and business administration; communications; and training of tutors. The teaching will be on Albanian, Macedonian and English language. The first semester should start on the 1st of October 2001.

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