NATO Claims That UN Dissaproves Of Macedonia's Northern Border

Representative of the Alliance in Brussels backed up the statement of American General Huber, the American Embassy in Skopje claimed its incompetent to comment, the Macedonian Government remains shocked.

NATO considers that the UN does not recognize the Macedonian-Yugoslav border agreement, aledgedly due to restrictions from the UN's Security Council Resolution 1244. Dnevnik's source in the Alliance offered this explanation regarding the statement of the American General Keith Huber, adding the statement got wrong interpretation in Macedonia.

One year ago, the North Atlantic Alliance "took notice" of the border agreement signed between Macedonia and Yugoslavia and uses that agreement in its operating procedures on the ground. But, the source claims that the UN does not acknowledge the agreement, adding:

Brig. Gen. Keith Huber, (left) presents a KPC ("former" KLA/UЗK) detachment commander with a "certificate of achievement for his unit's recruitment and acceptance of minorities"[sic!]. Source: KFOR's web site.

"The General wasn't talking about what is legal and what is illegal, but what is NATO's stance and what is UN's stance. The statement is correct. The UN's position is such, while NATO practically uses the border agreement. KFOR has its own operative procedures based on the agreement about the border between Macedonia and Yugoslavia based on the agreement. But it doesn't include ratification or not of the agreement. Thus, I don't see a practical problem because NATO has found a solution to supervise the border.

"It has to be repeated that NATO accepts and supports the territorial integrity of Macedonia, but we are not an organization that resolves border questions. Those are questions in authorization of the Government and the UN."

Dnevnik's source in Brussels says that the practical goals and the fact that NATO operates within the framework of the agreement between Skopje and Belgrade are of key importance. "The Alliance," he adds, "does not want to polemize, and recons the issue as irrelevant." The Diplomat, who talked to Dnevnik, claims that the Macedonian authorities and the Alliance have come to a reasonable and amicable agreement in order to work without obstacles. Asked NATO agrees with the UNMIK's attitude, the Diplomat answers:

"NATO does not intend to agree or disagree on the issues which are of no concern to it. NATO does not have authorization to solve sovereignty problems. The Alliance came upon difficult situation in the region and found a reasonable solution."

The acting Ambassador of the USA in Skopje, Mr. Lorenz Battler, states that the American Embassy in Macedonia is not competent to access the validity of the bilateral agreement between Skopje and Belgrade. He stated that the Belgrade, the Yugoslavian Government, Skopje or the UN in New York are proper sources to be asked regarding the issue, adding that he's not a lawyer or a jurist, so he cannot judge the legality of the agreement.

Battler said that USA accepts the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Republic of Macedonia, and very carefully and tightly cooperates with the Macedonian Government, the defense forces and the Macedonian police.

Regarding the border agreement he said that USA's Embassy's staff is not competent to solve complex problems such as this case. Battler emphasized that he himself should work on the case consulting Washington's jurists, but the USA is not entitled to proclaim the agreement for valid. According to Battler, there should be a public announcement issued by KFOR or UMNIK from Prishtina, (in order) to make the statement of the American general Huber official.

He said that US cooperates with both sides of the border so that the security forces can do their job, the farmers can get back to their fields and have "spring tractor's offensive," no violence. Battler praised KFOR for performing an excellent task controlling the part from the other side of the border, and added that the security forces control the Macedonian part of the border. He alleged that this year the border is much safer then last year, meaning that the chances for a new spring offensive are very slim. Because of that, he expects more investments in Macedonia.

Eleanor Nagy from the American Embassy recons that the border question is very complex and that USA consults the UN about the questions that surfaced about this problem. But, according to Nagy, the USA has a long-term policy supporting the territorial integrity of the states in the region, including Macedonia.

The spokesman of the KFOR in Prishtina, Daz Sleiven, confirmed yesterday that General Huber's comment is a bit out of contexts. He said that General Huber talked about UN's legal interpretation and that the operative part of the border remains the same.

Sleiven added that KFOR reached an agreement with border's authorities of both Macedonia and Yugoslavia last May, which refers to the temporary operative procedures. That agreement deals with safety questions only. He said that the legal definition of the border is where it actually is, and that is UN's and sovereign state's job, not KFOR's.

The EU in Brussels did not comment the American general Huber's and UNMIK's statements. EU's sources only refer to the declaration of the Union made in February last year. Then, after the incident on Tanushevci, EU expressed concern and called all sides to respect the border agreement signed on 23 of February in Skopje, and confirmed its firm support of the principle of inviolability of the borders, alongside the territorial integrity of Macedonia.

By Zh. P. Bozhinovska & Svetlana Jovanovska Translated by VM


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