The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has praised Skopje for its handling of the incursion by Albanian extremists, in an address to the British Parliament this afternoon. Robin Cook praised Skopje for its restraint and scaled response to aggression by Albanian extremists in northern Macedonia, while at the same time mentioning “the legitimate claims by the Albanians in Macedonia”(sic). Quite what Mr. Cook means by this is unclear. The Albanians in Macedonia have their own representatives in government and it would seem obvious that there is a democratic system in place to be used. After all, five of Macedonia’s ministers are Albanians. Meanwhile in Skopje, the situation is tense. Pravda.Ru has been informed that former friends have begun to speak in terms of “us” and “them” and that a new feeling of nationalism takes root on both sides. “Sides” is a new word in Macedonia. NATO is to blame for its interference in Kosovo, training, equipping and arming Albanian terrorists to use against Slavs, yesterday in Kosovo, today in Macedonia, tomorrow in Montenegro. While one accepts that the situation ran out of control, and nobody is accusing NATO of actively instigating the Albanians to attack Macedonia, it was the original action in Kosovo which gave origin to this crisis and the one caused by the UCPMB in the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia. Through every victim that falls on either side, NATO has blood on its hands. NATO affirms itself against a polarisation of Macedonia into two separate communities, but here again it shows its ignorance. The polarisation process is a consequence of NATO’s actions in the first place and secondly, there are not only Albanians and Slavs in Macedonia but many other ethnic groups as well, even ethnic Turks. NATO should never have involved itself in the Balkans, an area outside its natural geographical sphere of influence. Certain western governments, horrified by the violence in Bosnia and Croatia at the beginning of the 1990s, aided by tabloid newspaper headlines such as “ethnic cleansing on Europe’s doorstep” thought that more should have been done. However, it was forgotten that certain NATO countries had been selling weapons to buyers in this area. The great mistake was the political blindness and operational hot-headedness which made NATO’s leadership deaf to claims that Kosovo is not Bosnia.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now