Macedonia For Extending Mandate Of NATO Servicemen On Its Territory

A session of Macedonia's Security Council has backed the government's initiative to appeal to NATO leadership to extend the Alliance servicemen's mandate on Macedonian territory for another three months. Some 1,000 NATO servicemen are currently stationed in Macedonia within the Amber Fox operation designed to ensure security to the OSCE and EU observers. Their mandate will expire in late 2001. The Macedonian security forces were scheduled to return to the areas occupied by ethnic Albanian rebels who are controlling one third of the country. However, these plans are far from being implemented--by now, the police failed to return to 80 settlements on the territory at issue for security conditions had not been created there. The Macedonian Security Council believes that this can be done if the NATO mission's mandate is extended. Meanwhile, ethnic Albanian extremists persevere with armed provocations in the crisis regions.