Macedonia's Prime Minister arrives in Croatia

Macedonia's Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski arrived in Zagreb Tuesday to discuss free trade in southeastern Europe and a war crimes inquiry against a top Macedonian soldier.Buckovski was to meet with his Croatian counterpart Ivo Sanader and President Stipe Mesic as well as representatives from Romania and Bulgaria. Buckovski was also expected to discuss a war crimes investigation launched by Croatian authorities against his country's army chief-of-staff, Gen. Maj. Miroslav Stojanovski.

District prosecutors in Croatia's eastern city of Vukovar, the scene of some of the worst fighting during Croatia's war for independence against minority Serbs in 1991, suspect that Stojanovski may have been involved in atrocities while at the head of an intelligence unit of the Yugoslav army.

Serb paramilitaries and the Yugoslav army bombarded Vukovar into submission during a three-month siege.

Stojanovski, who was on an official visit to Croatia last week, has denied the claims. The Macedonian government has also defended its military chief. If Stojanovski is indicted, it could strain relations between the two former Yugoslav countries, which have so far had no disputes _ a rarity in the Balkans.

Vukovar and the surrounding area was returned to Zagreb's rule in 1995, but for Croats, it remains a symbol of Serb wartime cruelty. The once elegant 14th century town was virtually flattened in a three-month onslaught that killed about 1,700 Croats, reports the AP. I.L.

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