17 - 23 September 2001

Skopje, September 24th , 2001

Security situation

Critical situation in the Tetovo region.
According to police and Army sources, a group of several hundred extremists blocked the road near the village of Semsevo and mined the bridge connecting Semsevo and Siricino. The two villages, Ratae and Zilce, where police and Army units are present, are cut off and food aid cannot be distributed to these two villages. According to NATO, the armed incidents in the villages of Ratae and Zilce were provoked by the Macedonian security forces. The Albanian language newspaper "Fakti" reported that two inhabitants were wounded during the shelling of the village of Semsevo, on September 16.

Police reserve units withdrawn from Ratae and Zilce.
According to the decision of the Security Council of the Republic of Macedonia from September 20, the police reserve units were withdrawn from Ratae and Zilce and were substituted by Army and active police units. Previously, on September 18, the villagers, ethnic Macedonians, blocked the exit of the village preventing the police reserve units to withdraw. The blockades in Ratae and Zilce were removed after the blockade near Semsevo had been removed.

NLA controls the traffic on the Tetovo - Gostivar highway.
Macedonian language media report that over night NLA members carry out controls on the Tetovo - Gostivar highway. Extremists control vehicles, search the passengers and pay up fines.

Petrol station destroyed with explosive.
On September 20, the "7 brothers" petrol station, which is located on the Tetovo - Skopje highway, was destroyed with explosive. The damages are assessed to 2 mil. German Marks. A police check point was located at the petrol station, but it was withdrawn on September 17.

New bomb attacks in Skopje.
On September 21, in an ethnically mixed settlement in Skopje, an explosive device set next to the fence of the Pensioners' Home broke the windows of nine cars. On September 23, in the Old Skopje Bazaar, a bomb "kasikara" exploded in front of an exchange office and caused great material damage. Six shops and two cars were damaged.

New Chief-of-Staff of ARM.
The President of the country, Boris Trajkovski, as supreme commander of the armed forces, appointed general Metodi Stamboliski new Chief-of-Staff. General Stamboliski was Deputy Chief-of-Staff before the appointment.

Displaced persons convoy in Matejce.
On September 21, convoy of about 80 inhabitants from Matejce and the surrounding villages from the Lipkovo area, representatives of the local self-government, of the Coordination Body for Crises Management and numerous journalists, visited the monastery "Holy Mother of God" in Matejce on the occasion of the traditional Christian holiday. The security was guaranteed by one of the commanders of the NLA.

Eight persons detained in connection with the death of the British soldier.
The Internal Affairs Secretariat in Skopje discovered and detained eight persons, including four minors, suspected for being in connection with the death of the British soldier near Skopje on the 26th of August, when his vehicle was stoned.

Police patrol attacked.
Ministry of Interior informed that NLA members had attacked a police patrol of the Internal Affairs Secretariat - Gostivar on the Tetovo - Gostivar highway on September 22. There were no casualties. Inspection on site was carried out by representatives of OSCE and NATO, as well.

Political situation

Session of the Constitutional Commission.
Members of the Constitutional Commission discussed the text of the draft amendments, prepared by expert teams of the Commission and the President Trajkovski. The Constitutional Commission concluded that the text of the draft amendments was in accordance with the Decision of the Parliament to start the procedure for changes to the Constitution.

Session of the Parliament of RM.
Session of the Parliament of RM was held on September 17. Members of Parliament discussed the proposal for a referendum to be held, on which the citizens could decide whether they accept the proposed constitutional changes, anticipated within the Framework Agreement. This discussion was the second item on the agenda, the first being reserved for the discussion on the draft-Declaration condemning the acts of terrorism in the United States. Members of Parliament of the Albanian parties stated they would vote for the Declaration only if Macedonia was not mentioned in it. On September 18, the Parliament started the discussion on the issue of referendum, but the session was suspended. On September 19, the session of the Parliament on the draft amendments was postponed due to lack of required number of MPs. The session was not attended by most of the MPs of VMRO-DPMNE, the Democratic Alternative, VMRO-VMRO and Nova demokratija. The 83rd session continued on September 20, but it was suspended.

Several amendments determined.
The Parliament determined several amendments at its 85th session: amendment 4 on the change of the Constitutional Preamble, amendment 5 on the use of the languages. Amendment 7 on the religious communities did not win the necessary 61 votes. The President of the Parliament announced at a press conference on September 22 that there might be another voting on amendment 7.

Request for new NATO mission in Macedonia.
The Macedonian Government has submitted a request to NATO for a new mission of the Alliance in Macedonia, with an objective to provide for the safety of the monitors of OSCE and EU. The mission would have limited mandate and tasks.

First shipment of destroyed weapons on the way to Greece.
On September 17, the first two trucks loaded with destroyed weapons handed over by the members of NLA to the Task Force "Harvest". The loads contained pieces of 1.210 weapons, which will be melted in a steel factory near Athens.

The third phase of operation "Essential Harvest" started.
On September 20, a weapons collection point was re-established in the village of Radusa, which signed the beginning of the third phase of the operation "Essential Harvest". NATO's spokesman in Macedonia, Berry Johnson, did not specify the number of collected weapons. The third phase continued in the village of Otlja, Kumanovo, where a larger amount of weapons was collected, but, again, there were no official information on the numbers. The third weapons collection point will be established in the region of Tetovo on September 24.

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