Macedonia: Country Background and Recent Conflict
CRS Report for Congress
Macedonia: Country Background and
Updated March 28, 2002
Specialist in International Relations
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Macedonia: Country Background and Recent Conflict
Sharing borders with Kosovo and Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia (FYROM) managed to avoid becoming directly involved in the drawn-out
wars in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. Inter-ethnic relations between the Slav
majority and ethnic Albanian minority in Macedonia, while often tense, never reached
the crisis state of Albanian-Serb relations in the province of Kosovo. Since
Macedonia’s independence in 1991, ethnic Albanian political parties in Macedonia
have been represented in government and in parliament.
However, in early 2001, ethnic Albanian rebels calling themselves the National
Liberation Army (NLA) stepped up attacks on Macedonian security forces first in
several villages near the city of Tetovo and by the western border with Kosovo, and
later near the capital, Skopje. The NLA was thought to have ties to the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) and rebel Albanian forces operating in southern Serbia. In
March, the Macedonian government began a counter-insurgency campaign. It opened
talks on political reforms with elected ethnic Albanian representatives, but refused to
negotiate with the rebels themselves. Clashes between the rebels and government
forces continued through the summer of 2001, notwithstanding intermittent cease-fire
agreements and ongoing political talks. With U.S. and European diplomatic
intervention, the parties signed a framework agreement on August 13, amidst the
deadliest violence of the conflict. Implementation of the agreement has progressed
slowly and with difficulty. Substantial recent progress enabled the holding of a long-
delayed international donors’ conference on March 12, 2002. In spite of recent
achievements, some observers continue to fear the prospect of a new uprising by
ethnic Albanian extremists or armed provocations by forces supporting Macedonian
In June 2001, NATO formulated and approved plans to launch a limited
operation in Macedonia to oversee the disarmament of the ethnic Albanian rebel
forces. On August 22, NATO gave final approval for the deployment of Operation
Essential Harvest comprising about 4,500 troops in total. The operation completed
collection of a targeted amount of rebel weapons (nearly 4,000) on September 26,
2001. NATO then deployed a smaller follow-on force (Task Force Fox) to provide
security for international civilian monitors. NATO’s peacekeeping force in Kosovo
(KFOR) has also been involved in patrolling and reinforcing the Kosovo border in
order to try to cut off Albanian rebel supply routes. The United States maintains
some KFOR support forces in Macedonia, but did not contribute forces to either the
Task Force Harvest or Task Force Fox missions in Macedonia. In early 2002, the
European Union agreed to consider taking over the military mission in Macedonia
Introduction ................................................... 1
Macedonian-Albanian Ethnic Tensions............................4
Peace Agreement - Status of Implementation..........................10
NATO ................................................... 13
Operation Essential Harvest...............................13
Operation Amber Fox....................................14
KFOR ............................................... 15
Macedonia: Country Background and
For nearly a decade, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia managed to
escape the kind of brutal ethnic conflict in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo that
accompanied the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The international
community gave high priority to preventing the spread of ethnic conflict to
Macedonia, since it was feared that war in Macedonia could quickly involve some or
all of Macedonia’s neighboring countries and lead to a broader Balkan war.
Macedonia was held up as a model, albeit an imperfect one, of inter-ethnic
coexistence and democratic rule, with active participation of the Albanian community
in political institutions, despite persistent discord in inter-ethnic relations. The swift
emergence in early 2001 of a militant ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement in western
Macedonia therefore caught many observers by surprise.
By March 2001, violent conflict between the rebels and Macedonian security
forces had spread to several areas around the city of Tetovo, prompting the
Macedonian government to embark on a major military campaign to quell the
insurgency in western Macedonia. With strong international backing, the government
opened all-party talks on inter-ethnic issues in April. A national unity government
comprised of all major political parties was created in May. Clashes between rebel
and government forces continued in some areas of the country, as marathon talks
among all coalition parties on political reforms remained deadlocked. Negotiations
finally reached agreement on key reform issues in early August. The political parties
signed a framework agreement on August 13, paving the way for the deployment of
a small NATO force to begin disarming the rebel forces. Operation Essential Harvest,
comprising 4,500 European forces, began collecting rebel weapons on August 27 and
completed its mission within a month. A much smaller task force has remained in
Macedonia to provide security for international civilian monitors overseeing the
process of implementing inter-ethnic reforms. Implementation of the framework
agreement has progressed slowly, but has moved forward in recent months.
Several factors may have accounted for the emergence in early 2001 of the rebel
insurgency in Macedonia. One may have been the increasing radicalism of disparate
ethnic Albanian militant groups operating in Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia, and
1This state entered the United Nations in May 1992 under the provisional name “The Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.” Its name is subject to negotiations under U.N. auspices
between the republic and Greece, which has opposed its northern neighbor’s use of the name
“Macedonia.” For the sake of simplicity, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
(FYROM) shall herein be referred to as Macedonia.
linked to organized crime and regional smuggling rings. The unresolved status of
Kosovo and limited progress in realizing Kosovar self-government since the end of
the Kosovar war in mid-1999 may have fueled ethnic Albanian radicalism.2 In
addition, the international embrace of the post-Milosevic Yugoslav and Serbian
leadership after the fall of Milosevic in late 2000 may have discouraged some ethnic
Albanians’ hopes for Kosovar independence, to which the international community
has not agreed. Some ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia (as well as in Serbia) may
have sought to provoke a heavy-handed response by the Serb or Macedonian forces,
in order to elicit Western sympathy and support. Another contributing factor to the
Macedonian conflict was the continued activism of members of the Kosovo Liberation
Army (KLA), who were supposed to have disbanded and given up their weapons to
the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) after the end of the 1999 conflict in Kosovo.
Instead, many former KLA members regrouped in the demilitarized buffer zone
around Kosovo and transferred arms and personnel to Macedonia. A border
agreement between Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in
February 2001, intended to tighten border controls, may have also triggered clashes
between Macedonian border police and ethnic Albanian smugglers. Finally,
underlying inter-ethnic tensions and poor economic conditions (especially among
ethnic Albanians) in Macedonia provided fertile ground for a drawn-out conflict.
Macedonia is one of six former republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia.3 Under Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito, Macedonians were granted the
status of constituent nation, language, and culture equal to that of the other Yugoslav
republics. Following the example of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Macedonia declared its independence in late 1991 after holding a national referendum
on the issue. Under the provisional name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia,” Macedonia became a member of the United Nations in May 1992. It
subsequently joined several other international organizations under this provisional
Macedonia has a unicameral parliament, the 120-seat National Assembly
(Sobranje), and a popularly elected President. From 1991 to 1999, socialist leader
Kiro Gligorov served as President. Gligorov took credit for Macedonia’s success in
achieving international recognition and for preventing the country from being drawn
into other Yugoslav conflicts.
2U.N. Resolution 1244, which provides for an interim international protectorate for Kosovo,
calls for the province to achieve autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For
additional information see CRS Report RL31053, Kosovo and U.S. Policy, updated regularly.
3Prior to this century, Macedonia had comprised a much larger geographic area. After the
Balkan wars of 1912-1913, Macedonia was partitioned among Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia.
The Serbian part became the Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
In the last parliamentary
Macedonia (FYROM) at a Glanceelections held in October and
November 1998, the Macedonian
Area:25,333 sq. km.; slightly largerelectorate voted out the long-
than Vermontstanding former communist
Population:1.95 million (1994 census)leadership in favor of a coalition
Ethnic Groups:Macedonian: 66.5%
Albanian: 22.9% headed by the nationalist Internal
Turk: 4% Serb: 2%Macedonian Revolutionary
Roma (gypsies): 2.3%Organization-Democratic Party for
other: 0.4% (1994 census)Macedonian National Unity
Religious Groups: Eastern Orthodox: 67%
Muslim: 30%(VMRO-DPMNE), led by Ljubco
Other: 3%Georgievski. The coalition included
GDP:$9 billion (purchasing powerthe Democratic Alternative (DA)
parity, 2000 estimate)party led by Vasil Tupurkovski, and
Leadershipthe Democratic Party of Albanians
President:Boris Trajkovski (since 12/99)4
Prime Minister:Ljubco Georgievski (since 11/98)(DPA) led by Arben Xhaferi.
Coalition tensions, especially
Sources: Europa World Yearbook 2001; CIA World Factbook 2001.between the DA and VMRO-
DPMNE, persisted (though the
tensions were unrelated to inter-
ethnic issues). The government underwent several cabinet reshuffles and steadily lost
popularity. In the 1999 presidential elections, Boris Trajkovski of the governing
VRMO-DPMNE party narrowly defeated Tito Petkovski of Gligorov’s Social
Democratic Party (SDSM), primarily on the strength of the ethnic Albanian vote.
Some voting irregularities were reported in the presidential vote as well as in late
In November 2000, the Democratic Alternative party withdrew from the
coalition in an apparent effort to bring down the government and join ranks with the
opposition. However, the Georgievski government quickly replaced the DA with the
small Liberal Party and managed to remain in power, despite low popularity ratings
and numerous political scandals. The opposition, meanwhile, was not able to unify
as a governing alternative to the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition. In May 2001, at the
urging of the international community, an all-party coalition replaced the previous
government on a temporary basis until early elections could be organized. The next
elections will likely be held in September 2002.
Formerly the poorest republic in the Yugoslav federation, Macedonia continues
to face economic difficulties stemming from internal reforms, external challenges, and
more recently, internal ethnic conflict. Macedonia’s economy was hit hard by U.N.
sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) from 1992 to 1996, by
a unilateral Greek trade embargo from 1994 to 1995, and by the Kosovo conflict in
1999. GDP growth, extremely modest in the second half of the last decade, reached
nearly 5% in 2000. The 2001 insurgency, however, drove up military spending,
expanded the budget deficit, and contracted economic activity, trade, and investment.
As a result, GDP declined nearly 4.6% in 2001. Unemployment estimates range from
4The other main ethnic Albanian party, the Party for Democratic Prosperity, served in the
previous leftist government.
one-third to one-half of the work force. Corruption is considered endemic.5 In April
2001, Macedonia became the first southeast European country to conclude a
Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. However, the EU
repeatedly postponed a planned donors’ conference for Macedonia because of
Macedonia’s lack of progress in implementing political reforms. The conference was
finally held in March 2002, during which donor countries pledged over $500 million
in financial and developmental assistance.
Macedonia’s military, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM), has been
undergoing a major restructuring and reform process. Macedonia participates in
NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PFP) program and is among the “Vilnius" group of
ten countries seeking to join NATO. The Army of the Republic of Macedonia
comprises about 16,000 active duty soldiers, 60,000 reserves, and 10,000 paramilitary
police. It is organized into two infantry brigades and one border guard brigade. The
ARM includes a small marine wing and an army air force with a limited number of6
aircraft and helicopters. Since early 2001, Ukraine and Bulgaria have served as
Macedonia’s primary arms suppliers. In addition to the state security structures, other
armed groups gained prominence during the 2001 conflict, including the ethnic
Albanian National Liberation Army and Albanian National Army. Several
Macedonian paramilitary groups also emerged, with some reportedly in close contact
with the regular army and police.7
Macedonian-Albanian Ethnic Tensions
Prior to the conflict in 2001, relations between the Slav Macedonian majority and
ethnic Albanian minority in Macedonia were considered tense, if not explosive.
Though not to be compared with the situation in Kosovo under Milosevic’s rule,
Macedonia nonetheless remained a largely segregated country. Albanians in
Macedonia as a whole demanded greater cultural and educational rights, such as
recognizing Albanian as an official language and providing state support for their8
underground Albanian-language university in Tetovo. Albanians long sought greater
representation in the government, armed forces and police. They objected to the
preamble of the constitution that made reference to the Macedonian nation, claiming
that it thereby relegated Albanians to the status of second-class citizens. They
claimed to represent as much as 40% of the country’s population, not the 22.9%
recorded in the June 1994 census. A new census was scheduled to be held in June
In contrast, many Macedonians asserted that the Albanian minority enjoyed
sufficient rights, comparable to or better than other minority communities in Europe.
They remained suspicious of Albanian demands for autonomy, which they feared
5“Clean up Macedonia,” Gareth Evans, Wall Street Journal Europe, March 12, 2002.
6The Military Balance, 2001-2002, International Institute for Strategic Studies.
7Jane’s Intelligence Review, August 2001.
8The Macedonian government agreed, under OSCE mediation, to the establishment of a
private university featuring Albanian-language instruction. The South East European
University in Tetovo opened in November 2001.
could lead to eventual secession or partition and unification with Albania or Kosovo.
Ethnic tensions led to open clashes on several occasions during the 1990s, especially
in the western cities of Tetovo and Gostivar. The conduct of the 1999 presidential
elections, with charges of violence and ballot-stuffing in ethnic Albanian districts,
heightened inter-ethnic tensions, although neither presidential candidate was ethnic
Albanian. In spite of these problems, one of the two major ethnic Albanian parties has
been in the government since Macedonia’s independence, with ethnic Albanian cabinet
The conflict in neighboring Kosovo in 1999 exacerbated inter-ethnic tensions in
Macedonia. About 250,000 Kosovar Albanian refugees flooded into Macedonia
during the height of the crisis. Macedonian authorities were at times reluctant to
accept Kosovar Albanian refugees and pressed for many thousands of them to be
evacuated to third countries. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) maintained a
presence in Macedonia during the conflict. Macedonian authorities frequently
intercepted and seized weapons deliveries en route to Kosovo.
Attacks by ethnic Albanian guerrilla forces on Macedonian police and security
forces in late 2000 and early 2001 appeared to catch the Macedonian government and
international community by surprise. The attacks began in small villages such as
Tanusevci in western Macedonia, close to or on the Kosovo border, where the
Albanian minority is concentrated. In March 2001, clashes spread to the city of
Tetovo (located about 30 km west of the capital, Skopje). After a brief lull, fighting
resumed in several areas, reaching a new level in early June, as rebel forces captured
towns just outside of Skopje and to the north around Kumanovo.
In January, a group calling itself the National Liberation Army (NLA, or UCK
in Albanian) claimed responsibility for the attacks on police forces. Initial reports
gave conflicting information on the NLA. Macedonian President Trajkovski and
Prime Minister Georgievski claimed that the rebels were primarily Kosovo Liberation
Army members who had infiltrated the country from Kosovo. The government
estimated that the rebels numbered only in the hundreds and charged them with trying
to divide the country and create a pan-Albanian state. Macedonian officials blamed
NATO for not doing enough to disarm the Kosovo rebel forces, discourage their
encampment in the buffer zone (Ground Safety Zone) area between Kosovo and
Serbia, or prevent their entry into Macedonia.
Members of the National Liberation Army claimed that the rebel force comprised
a few to several thousand men, mainly from Macedonia. Its leaders included Ali
Ahmeti and his uncle, Fazli Veliu, from western Macedonia.9 Ahmeti claimed that the
9Many ethnic Albanians from Macedonia volunteered to serve with the KLA during the
Kosovo conflict. See “The Macedonian Question: Reform or Rebellion,” International Crisis
rebels’ only objective was to improve the rights of the Albanian community in
Macedonia. On March 19, western news agencies reported a list of political demands
by the NLA rebels that included: international mediation to resolve their differences
with the Slavic majority and determine the exact size of the ethnic Albanian
community; changes in the Macedonian constitution recognizing Albanians as a
constituent people; and, the release of all political prisoners. Rebels said that they
sought the federalization of the country, but not its dismemberment. They called on
all ethnic Albanians in Macedonia to join their ranks, and on ethnic Albanians world-
wide to support their movement with volunteers and funds.10 By August, the NLA
claimed a strength of 16,000, although other estimates suggested they numbered
about 2,000-2,500 full-time NLA combatants.11
Neither of the two main ethnic Albanian political parties initially claimed
association with the NLA. On March 20, the two mainstream ethnic Albanian parties
signed a declaration condemning the use of force in pursuit of political objectives.
However, they expressed sympathy with the rebels’ demands for Albanian equity and
eventually established contacts with NLA leaders, aware that would lose support
among ethnic Albanians if appearing to side with the Macedonian authorities. On
March 11, a group of nationalist Albanian politicians (including two members of
parliament) launched a new nationalist Albanian political party called the National
Democratic Party. Although it claimed no direct link to the National Liberation
Army, its political manifesto included demands for the federalization of the country
and greater autonomy for the Albanian population.12 In August, a splinter ethnic
Albanian rebel group calling itself the Albanian National Army (ANA) claimed
responsibility for an ambush attack against a Macedonian army convoy that killed 10
soldiers. The self-styled ANA rejected the framework agreement signed by
Macedonia’s political leaders on August 13 and pledged to continue to fight for a13
“greater Albania.” Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on
September 11, NLA leaders asserted that they had no association with Osama bin
Laden or any other radical Islamic movements.
In response to the initial rebel attacks in early 2001, the government made
preparations to launch a military offensive to drive out the rebels out of Macedonian
towns and villages and into Kosovo. President Trajkovski said that the government
had first to “neutralize the terrorist threat,” but offered the prospect of entering into
political dialogue with legitimate political parties on inter-ethnic relations. The
government steadfastly refused to negotiate any terms with the rebels, whom they
called “terrorists.” In late March, the Macedonian armed forces began a series of
offensives to regain control of rebel-held villages, mainly around Tetovo. At first, the
Group Report 109, April 5, 2001.
10“Albanian War Cry Rises Half a World Away, in Staten Island,” The New York Times,
March 19, 2001.
11Jane’s Defense Weekly, August 29, 2001.
12“Formation of new political party in Macedonia concerns NATO leaders,” Knight
Ridder/Tribune Business News, March 12, 2001.
13Reuters, August 16, 2001.
army encountered little organized resistance and managed to regain control over some
After a lull of several weeks, during which time the Macedonian and Albanian
political parties launched roundtable discussions, violence resumed in some areas and
began a new stage of the conflict. On April 28, ethnic Albanian guerrillas ambushed
a Macedonian army and police convoy in the village of Vejce near Tetovo, killing
eight and wounding three others. The attack sparked riots by Slav Macedonians
against ethnic Albanian businesses in the southern city of Bitola, near Greece. On
May 3, Albanian rebels launched another ambush on security forces in Vaksince, near
Skopje, killing two Macedonian soldiers and kidnaping a third. In response, the
government deployed helicopters gunships and began counter-attacks against rebel
forces in several villages in the Kumanovo region. During a brief truce in mid-May,
the government declared victory amid reports of widespread desertions among rebel
forces. Sporadic clashes persisted in some villages in the hills above Tetovo.
At the end of May, government forces launched another offensive in the north
of the country, using long-range attacks on rebel-held villages, but proved unable to
deal a defeating blow to the rebels, who countered the attacks and advanced toward
Tetovo and Skopje. Five Army soldiers were killed in a rebel attack in Tetovo on
June 6. On June 10, rebel forces captured Aracinovo, on the outskirts of the capital,
threatening the start of an urban warfare-style conflict. On June 11, both sides
announced a cease-fire, which was later extended until June 27. Government forces
ended the truce on June 22 and bombarded rebel territory near Aracinovo. Another
local cease-fire arranged by EU envoy Javier Solana included terms for the evacuation
of Albanian guerrilla forces from Aracinovo under international supervision. NATO
assisted in implementing the evacuation; however, clashes resumed in Tetovo and
angry demonstrators in Skopje protested the NATO-assisted escort of armed Albanian
rebels from Aracinovo. On July 1, rebel forces advanced into four more villages
outside of Tetovo, prompting fierce counter-attacks by government forces. NATO
and EU envoys brokered separate open-ended cease-fire agreements on July 5,
granting another chance for the political dialogue to produce results.
Both sides reportedly used the cease-fire period to resupply and regroup their
forces. Numerous truce violations were reported. A severe break-down took place
in late July when Albanian rebels advanced into territory around Tetovo. Thousands
of Slav Macedonians fled their homes and dozens were wounded in the offensive. On
July 25, NATO secured an agreement with the rebels to reinstate the cease-fire, have
the rebel forces pull back from their advanced positions, and allow displaced persons
to return to their homes. Meanwhile, hundreds of Slav Macedonian protesters in
Skopje, angered by what they perceived to be Western support for the Albanian
minority, attacked the U.S. embassy and other Western missions on July 24.
The deadliest fighting in the conflict occurred in early August, just as political
talks were drawing to a successful close (see section on Peace Talks, below). On
August 7, Macedonian police launched a raid on rebel forces in Skopje, killing five.14
The police seized a cache of weapons from the rebels and accused them of planning
14BBC news online, August 7, 2001.
an attack on the capital. The next day, 10 Macedonian soldiers were killed in a rebel
ambush between Skopje and Tetovo. Angry demonstrators staged violent protests
in Skopje, and battles continued between the rebel and government forces in Tetovo
over the next few days. The Macedonian army deployed fighter jets and reportedly
dropped bombs on rebel-held villages near Tetovo. On August 10, 8 more security
forces were killed after their vehicle struck two land mines outside of Skopje. In a
retaliatory anti-terrorist raid on the village of Ljuboten (near Skopje) on August 12,
government forces killed at least five ethnic Albanians. The government claimed the
ones killed were NLA terrorists engaged in combat, but others claimed they were
civilians executed in cold blood. Another truce was announced on August 12, but
fresh clashes were reported over the next few days, even as political leaders signed
a peace agreement on August 13. On August 19, NLA leader Ali Ahmeti announced
that the rebel group would honor the peace accord and agreed to surrender weapons
During the half-year conflict, an estimated 250 persons were killed.15 Many of
this number were killed during the final week of peace talks. More than 170,000
persons fled their homes, of which 70,000 fled to Kosovo. Since the start of the
implementation phase of the peace agreement, sporadic clashes have broken out, but
have not led to resurgence of sustained conflict. By March 2002, about 140,000
refugees and displaced persons had returned to their homes.16
From the start of the conflict, Western leaders and envoys emphasized that the
conflict in Macedonia required a political solution over a military one. They
promoted the strategy of fostering a meaningful dialogue among all political parties
that could lead quickly to tangible results on minority issues and prevent a longer-term
conflict. They feared that prolonged violent conflict would only further polarize the
ethnic communities, as well as incur greater civilian casualties and humanitarian
On April 2, President Trajkovski convened the first meeting of representatives
of all of Macedonia’s political parties to address inter-ethnic issues. The NLA
demanded that it participate in the negotiations, but the Macedonian leadership
steadfastly refused, saying it would only meet with elected representatives. On April
23, at the fifth round of all-party talks, President Trajkovski announced agreement on
several minor issues. The parties agreed to postpone the census, take measures to
encourage displaced persons to return to their homes, and assist in the reconstruction
of homes destroyed during the fighting.
In addition to these talks, the parties discussed the creation of a more inclusive
coalition government. Western leaders had strongly pressed for building a broad
coalition as a first step toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Under strong
international pressure, the group of parties agreed to form a national unity
government on May 11, even while a brief cease-fire was unraveling. Parliament
15“The Other Macedonian Conflict,” European Stability Initiative, February 20, 2002,
16United Nations Humanitarian Update, March 2002.
overwhelmingly approved the new government on May 13, by a vote of 104 to 1. The
previous governmental parties (VMRO-DPMNE, DPA, and LP) were joined by the
Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) and the Party for Democratic
Prosperity (PDP). Ljubco Georgievski remained Prime Minister. The parties agreed
to hold early elections in 2002.
Some observers contend that the creation of the all-party government, rather
than promoting unity or compromise, instead fostered greater divisions, as the parties
looked ahead to the next elections and sought to consolidate their bases of support.
Indeed, the Social Democratic Party withdrew from the coalition later in 2001 and
political tensions within the government have remained high. Although the NLA
never formally joined the governing coalition, former NLA leaders formed a
coordinating council with the established ethnic Albanian parties in February 2002.17
Marking this move toward the political mainstream, former NLA leaders pledged to
“maintain the process of consolidation, peace, democratic development, and economic18
On June 8, President Trajkovski presented to parliament a security strategy that
included the offer of a partial amnesty for the NLA. The strategy called first for a
consolidated governmental effort to quell the rebel forces. It then outlined plans to
facilitate the disarmament of the rebel forces and the reconstruction of homes. The
government adopted the plan on June 12. On June 14, President Trajkovski requested
NATO’s assistance in disarming the rebel forces if a political agreement was reached.
Trajkovski opened marathon talks with the political parties on June 15. The focus of
discussions was on changes to the Macedonian constitution that would elevate the
status of the Albanian community. By June 20, however, President Trajkovski
announced that the talks had become “totally deadlocked.” He lay most of the blame
on the Albanian side, claiming that they sought veto powers and intended to turn the
state into a federation of the Slav and Albanian communities. Talks briefly resumed
on June 25, after another cease-fire was reached, but broke up the next day in the
midst of the angry public demonstrations outside of the parliament building in Skopje.
In July, the discussions were revived with the arrival in Macedonia of EU envoy
Francois Léotard and U.S. envoy Ambassador James Pardew. On July 4, the
government agreed to study constitutional reform proposals prepared by outside
French counsel. President Trajkovski announced on July 5 that the political dialogue
on reforms had resumed, corresponding to the latest announced cease-fire. On July
7, peace envoys Léotard and Pardew presented to the negotiating parties a single
framework document that was to be the basis for further negotiation. The parties
agreed to work from the comprehensive framework document, reportedly based on
an earlier proposal by French constitutional law expert Robert Badinter. Talks
resumed on July 9, but quickly stalled as clashes intensified near Tetovo.
17During the 2001 conflict, however, efforts to bring the NLA into the negotiating process
were denounced by the international community. Nevertheless, the ethnic Albanian political
parties reportedly remained in close contact with the NLA during the course of the conflict.
18Reuters, March 5, 2002.
Ohrid Framework Agreement - SummaryPolitical talks,relocated to the southern
The Ohrid framework agreement was signed bylakeside retreat of Ohrid,resumed on July 28. On
Macedonia’s four main political parties on August 13, 2001.
The document includes some basic principles of the MacedonianAugust 1, negotiators
state and provisions on: the cessation of hostilities and theannounced the first major
voluntary disarmament of ethnic Albanian armed groups;breakthrough in the talks
devolving centralized power to local administration; and- a provisional agreement
reforming minority political and cultural rights. Among otheron use of the Albanian
things, the provisions create a “double majority” requirement in
parliament (including a majority of representatives fromlanguage. The parties
minority populations) for certain constitutional amendments andagreed to allow Albanian
laws affecting minority rights. Local governments are grantedto be considered an
enhanced competencies, including the right to select local headsofficial language at the
of police, but with some centralized controls. The agreementlocal level in areas where
names Macedonian to be the official language of the country, but
says that any language spoken by 20% of the population is alsoAlbanians comprise 20%
an official language. State funding for university-levelor more of the
education in minority languages is to be provided where thatpopulation. The
language is spoken by 20% of the population.language agreement was
Annexes to the agreement outline fifteen detailedto remain subject toagreement on a final
amendments to be made to the constitution and several
legislative modifications to be adopted by the national assembly,package of reforms. The
some within designated deadlines (most of which were not met).next equally contentious
Another annex invites the international community to assist initem for discussion was
the implementation of the framework agreement, help to trainthe issue of police
and restructure the police, organize a new census, observereform. On August 5,
parliamentary elections, and convene a donors’ conference. EU foreign policy chief
Javier Solana, during a
brief visit to Macedonia,
announced that the parties had come to agreement on increasing Albanian
representation in the police, while keeping the force under central government
control. New demands coupled with renewed violence threatened to derail the talks
once more. Nevertheless, negotiators pressed on and the parties initialed a final
political agreement on August 8.
The parties signed the Ohrid agreement in Skopje in a private ceremony on
August 13. The following day, the NLA agreed to surrender its weapons under
NATO supervision. In exchange, the President pledged to grant amnesty to the NLA,
excluding those suspected of war crimes. On August 15, the Macedonian government
formally approved the deployment of a NATO force to collect weapons.
Peace Agreement - Status of Implementation
Notwithstanding the achievement of reaching agreement on the framework peace
document, its swift implementation was considered key to preventing a resumption
of violent conflict. Resistance by both sides in the conflict delayed implementation of
various aspects of the accords. Western leaders and mediators feared that extremist
elements on both sides might encourage a military solution over political reforms. EU
envoy Alain le Roy has encouraged Macedonia’s political leaders to move beyond the
2001 conflict and focus on the country’s substantial economic and development
On the Macedonian side,
Implementation - Key Datesthe more nationalist political
08/13/01 -Representatives of Macedonia’s politicalleaders initially accused theWest of supporting the Albanian
parties signed a framework agreement in the lakeside
town of Ohrid for the peaceful resolution of the conflictrebel cause and resisted pressure
in Macedonia.by the international community
to move forward in
09/06/01 -Parliament gave its initial endorsement ofimplementing the framework
the framework agreement, with 91 of 112 membersagreement. Prime Minister
present voting in favor.
Georgievski, considered to be
11/16/01 - Parliament ratified the constitutionalamong the most hardline and
amendments outlined in the framework agreement.nationalist Slav Macedonian
Members voted separately for each of the 15politicians, referred to the peace
amendments, then followed with a vote on the wholeagreement as “shameful”
because it came while the rebels
- President Trajkovski declared an amnestystill occupied Macedonian
for all former ethnic Albanian guerrillas, except thoseterritory. Georgievski also
that could be indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal.criticized the number of
Over the course of the following weeks, 64 of 88weapons that NATO agreed to
detained ethnic Albanians were pardoned and released.
collect, calling the disarmament19
01/24/02 -Parliament approved a law on local self-terms “humiliating.” On the
government by a vote of 85 in favor, 4 against, and 4Albanian side, the NLA’s
abstaining, devolving many powers to local authorities.exclusion from the political talks
parliament adopted an amnesty law for former ethnic
Albanian rebels. The amnesty covered crimes for highNevertheless, NLA leaders
treason, armed rebellion, mutiny, and conspiracyswiftly agreed to the terms of
against the state. It excluded crimes that could comethe agreement, although most
under UN indictment.observers believe that the rebels
Bank co-sponsored an international donors conferenceThe emergence of another, more
for Macedonia. Donors pledged around $515 millionhardline, Albanian rebel group,
for financial assistance, reconstruction, and peacethe self-styled Albanian National
implementation efforts. Army, pointed to growing
divisions among the Albanian
forces. Recurring incidents of
periodically threatened to derail further progress in implementing peace.
Given this environment, the timetable for parliamentary action was considered
ambitious. The Macedonian parliament opened debate on the Ohrid framework
agreement on August 31, but Speaker Stojan Andov blocked further discussion over
the following weekend in protest of unsuccessful attempts by Macedonian refugees
to return to their homes. On September 4, Prime Minister Georgievski harshly
criticized the agreement, but nevertheless urged the parliament to pass it in order to
19The Washington Post, August 27, 2001.
gain international support. After lengthy debates, parliament gave initial endorsement
to the framework plan on September 6 by a vote of 91 out of 112 members present.
The landmark vote launched the next phase of implementation - parliamentary
consideration of individual amendments to the constitution and other laws enhancing
minority rights. However, numerous contentious issues contributed to substantial
delays in the parliamentary process.
First, some members of parliament pressed for the consideration of a public
referendum, in order to put the framework agreement’s reforms before public opinion.
Western leaders criticized the referendum initiative, fearing that it would sink the
peace process and encourage the Albanian rebels to revert to violence. NATO
Secretary-General Lord Robertson, visiting Skopje on September 14, called the
referendum proposal a “peace wrecking amendment,” and said that it was time for the
Macedonian parliament to fulfill their part of the peace deal. In the course of several
missions to Macedonia, EU foreign policy chief Solana and NATO Secretary General
Robertson pressed Macedonia’s political leaders to revive the stalled parliamentary
process of considering the peace agreement’s amendments. In late October, the
Macedonian side insisted on re-opening the wording of the constitution to include
mention of the “Macedonian people” instead of just Macedonia’s citizens, as called
for in the framework agreement. Finally on November 16, the Macedonian parliament
adopted the constitutional changes outlined in the framework agreement, voting on
each one individually and then the amended constitution as a whole.
Another stumbling block in the peace process was the issue of granting amnesty
to former ethnic Albanian rebels. In August, President Trajkovski pledged to grant
an amnesty to the insurgents, although this aspect was not formally included in the
framework agreement. On October 9, the government issued a proclamation
endorsing the President’s pledge on amnesty, but the measure was considered to be
unclear as to who would be covered by the amnesty. Many politicians, including
Prime Minister Georgievski, opposed any moves to pardon those they considered to
In early 2002, international mediators reportedly leaned hard on the Macedonian
leadership, warning hardliners against provoking a new crisis and conditioning the
offer of international financial assistance on further progress in implementing the20
framework agreement. Macedonia’s four main parties agreed to move forward on
the adoption of priority laws in order to facilitate the holding of an international
donors’ conference and to prepare for early elections.
After extensive debate and international mediation, parliament passed (with the
necessary two-thirds majority) a law on local self-government on January 24, 2002.
The law provides for the devolution of power from the central government to local
authorities in the areas of budgeting, planning, education, public services, culture and
welfare. Ethnic Albanians dropped their demand to include the right of municipalities
to merge with one another, which the Macedonian parties feared could lead to the
country’s partition. On March 7, 2002, on the eve of an international donors’
conference for Macedonia, parliament passed an amnesty law that would pardon
persons detained or under investigation for crimes for high treason, armed rebellion,
20Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Balkans Crisis Report No. 313, January 30, 2002.
mutiny, and conspiracy against the state. The law is expected to eliminate charges
against several thousand ethnic Albanians. The amnesty does not apply to war crimes
that could come under UN indictment. Former NLA leaders welcomed the law for
removing a major barrier to the peace process.
Outside of the parliamentary process, international monitors have organized and
overseen the phased reintroduction of ethnically-mixed police patrols into former
rebel strongholds in an approximately 150-km region. The first phase of the
confidence-building plan was launched in December 2001. By March 2002, police
units had re-entered 63 of 120 villages.
Operation Essential Harvest. On June 14, President Trajkovski formally
requested that NATO assist in implementing plans to demilitarize the rebel forces. On
June 20, NATO members agreed to a “concept of operations” for a NATO mission
in Macedonia to supervise the disarmament of the rebel groups, once agreement on
a peace plan was reached. In a letter to President Trajkovski, NATO Secretary-
General Robertson reportedly assured the Macedonian leader that the proposed
operation would be confined in scope to the collection of weapons and would be21
deployed for a limited duration of time.
On June 29, NATO members gave final approval to the “Essential Harvest”
operational plan. The plan conditioned deployment of troops on a political agreement
signed by the main political parties, a status of forces agreement, an agreement by the
rebels to voluntarily disarm, and a stable cease-fire. Weeks of continued fighting
precluded the possibility of deployment. Following the signing ceremony for the
peace agreement on August 13, the alliance deployed a vanguard team of about 400
troops to Macedonia. On August 20, NATO SACEUR Gen. Ralston visited
Macedonia to assess the state of the truce, the primary pre-condition yet fully to be
The North Atlantic Council approved the full deployment of Operation Essential
Harvest on August 22. 11 NATO member states contributed forces to the operation,
which totaled approximately 4,500 troops. Britain led contributions with 1,400 armed
forces. Next was Italy, with 800; France, with 550; Germany, with 400; Greece, with
the Czech Republic, with 125; Belgium, with 100; Hungary, with 50; Norway, with
12; Poland, with 6; and Denmark, with 1. Major General Gunnar Lange of Norway
was the overall force commander. NATO forces established 15 collection centers to
gather and destroy weapons surrendered voluntarily by the NLA. Estimates varied
widely on the number of rebel arms to be turned in. The NLA claimed to have about
2,300 weapons; the government’s estimates range from 8,000 to 85,000. Reliable
figures on NLA arms holdings may not even exist, given the group’s lack of an
21Reuters, June 21, 2001.
integrated structure.22 On August 24, NATO and the NLA reached agreement on a
target of 3,300 weapons to be collected. NATO said that the force in Macedonia
would only exercise military force in self-defense and will not seek to impose
disarmament by force.
NATO troops in the Task Force Harvest mission began collecting weapons on
August 27 and gathered over 400 weapons that day. One day earlier, the operation
suffered its first casualty, when a British soldier was killed after being struck by a
thrown rock or piece of concrete. Within days, the mission completed the 1st stage
of weapons collection, drawing in 1,210 weapons, or more than one-third of the total
goal. The 2nd stage began on September 7, after parliament voted to approve therd
agreement, and the 3 stage finished on September 26. Task Force Harvest
commanders reported that, in total, the mission collected 3,875 weapons in the 30-day
period, exceeded targeted amounts. The collection included: 4 tanks/APCs, 17 air
defense weapon systems, 161 mortar/anti-tank weapons, 483 machine guns, and
NLA leaders claimed they had ordered the full disbandment of its forces on
September 27. Upon the completion of Operation Essential Harvest, Lord Robertson
noted that the Macedonian parliament, unlike NATO, had not kept to its schedule for
implementing political reforms.
Operation Amber Fox. From the start of the Essential Harvest operation,
many observers expressed concerns about a potential security vacuum that would
result after the planned departure of NATO forces. They feared the resumption of
violent conflict between the rebel and governmental forces, and pointed to the need
for security for international monitors on the ground. In spite of these concerns, the
alliance made clear that the Essential Harvest operation would adhere to a strict
timetable. Moreover, alliance officials said that NATO had no plans to deploy an
extended peacekeeping operation in Macedonia (“MFOR”) similar to the SFOR or
KFOR operations in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Many in the Macedonian government opposed an extended deployment of
NATO troops in Macedonia which they feared might solidify a territorial division of
the country or prevent Macedonian security forces from reclaiming rebel-held ground.
Macedonian President Trajkovski said he would favor the reintroduction of the U.N.
Preventive Deployment mission to provide security along Macedonia’s borders.
Other options were also considered, such as the creation of an EU force or ad hoc
“coalition of the willing.”
In the end, a NATO or NATO-led follow-on option gained the most
international support. On September 19, 2001, the Macedonian government formally
requested that NATO provide a “light presence” to protect international monitors in
Macedonia after the completion of Operation Essential Harvest. The North Atlantic
Council approved the Operational Plan for the new operation, dubbed “Amber Fox,”
on September 26. The mandate for “Task Force Fox” is to provide a monitoring
22Jane’s Defense Weekly, August 29, 2001.
presence and security for international civilian personnel overseeing implementation
of the peace plan. The NAC issued an Activation Order for Operation Amber Fox on
Task Force Fox is commanded by German Brig. Gen. Heinz-Georg Keerl and
comprises some 700 troops from NATO member nations, together with 300 troops
already in country (1,000 total). Of these, about 600 troops come from Germany,
with the rest from France, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Poland. The operation’s
initial mandate ran for three months and was later extended until the end of March
2002. In February 2002, at the request of the Macedonian government, NATO
further extended the mandate for Task Force Fox until June 26, 2002. Some NATO
officials have expressed concerns about the prospect of transferring command of the
Macedonia operation over to the European Union (see section on the European
Union, below), unless NATO and the fledgling EU rapid reaction force first reach
agreement on institutional and operational links.24
NATO’s presence through Operation Amber Fox provides security for the
civilian monitoring mission in Macedonia under the auspices of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). OSCE agreed in September 2001 to
increase its longstanding monitoring mission in Macedonia to 210 observers. The
OSCE mission in Macedonia comprises confidence-building monitors, police advisors,
and police trainers. Its current mandate runs until the end of June 2002.
KFOR. Until August 2001, NATO’s presence in Macedonia served a
supporting role for the NATO mission in neighboring Kosovo, KFOR, authorized
under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). KFOR currently comprises a
total of 37,000 troops from NATO members and partner countries and is commanded
by French Lt. Gen. Marcel Valentin. About 2,200 additional forces serve in the
KFOR Headquarters Rear in Skopje, Macedonia, responsible for KFOR
communications and logistics in the area surrounding Kosovo.25 Several KFOR
participating nations in Kosovo also have National Support Elements in Macedonia.
Kosovo’s border with Macedonia runs about 220 km, or 130 miles. The United
States and Germany command KFOR sectors (Multinational Brigades East and
South) that share the Kosovo-Macedonian border.
In response to the conflict in Macedonia in early 2001, NATO initially took
limited steps to try to quell the violence. The alliance sent military advisors to assist
the Macedonian government respond to the rebel attacks. In March, KFOR began to
increase force levels along the border and intensify border patrolling to detain
suspected rebels and their weapons. KFOR forces have detained several hundred
suspected rebels since mid-2001. KFOR reinforced its forces at the border area with
a peacekeeping reserve of about 300 British and Norwegian infantry troops (dubbed
Task Force Viking). NATO increased its liaison presence in Skopje and appointed
German Ambassador Hans-Joerg Eiff to be NATO’s senior representative in
Macedonia. Through its cooperation and coordination cell in Skopje, NATO
coordinates alliance and direct bilateral military assistance to Macedonia. NATO
24Disagreement between NATO members Greece and Turkey is currently holding up plans to
allow the EU access to NATO’s military and planning assets.
25Reuters, March 5, 2002.
political envoy Pieter Feith played a critical role in negotiating cease-fire agreements
Until plans got underway for Operation Essential Harvest, NATO resisted calls
for military intervention in the conflict. In March 2001, NATO SACEUR Gen.
Ralston testified before Congress that any additional troops being considered for the
region should go toward the KFOR mission, not a new Macedonia mission. Gen.
Ralston advised against an expansion of the KFOR mission into Macedonia. He
pointed out that the Kosovo-Macedonia border, by virtue of its mountainous terrain,
could not be sealed off completely. He also noted alliance concerns about the security
of KFOR’s main supply route through Macedonia. The Macedonian government’s
position on NATO involvement focused on NATO’s role in stopping the infiltration
of rebels and arms from Kosovo, rather than deployment in Macedonia. Later, both
the Macedonian government and the rebel forces agreed to have NATO assist in
implementing plans to demilitarize the rebel forces.
In early October 2001, NATO members agreed to consider offering additional
armed forces to the Balkans missions to allow the United States to divert some of its
troops, if necessary, to the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan.
The European Union has taken a leading role in diplomatic and economic
responses to the Macedonian conflict, and may step into a military role as well.
On March 19, 2001, after meeting with Macedonian Foreign Minister Kerim, EU
foreign ministers agreed on a package of measures intended to support the
Macedonian government. The measures included assistance for border control and
for the promotion of inter-ethnic relations. On April 9, 2001, Macedonia became the
first southeast European country to conclude a Stabilization and Association
Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. The EU established the Stabilization and
Association Agreement during the 1999 Kosovo crisis in order to promote stronger
regional ties with the EU and to increase assistance to five countries in southeastern
Europe, including Macedonia. The EU designated about $36 million in assistance for
Macedonia for 2001. In September, EU commissioner Chris Patten signed a financial
aid agreement with Macedonian totaling about $39 million. The EU has frequently
used the promise of foreign assistance as leverage on the Macedonian parties. At the
June 25, 2001, ministerial meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers warned that
future EU economic assistance to Macedonia would be contingent upon a political
settlement to the conflict. The ministers also stated that prospects for Macedonia’s
integration into the EU would depend on positive results from the political dialogue
between the ethnic groups in Macedonia.
On August 13, the EU welcomed the peace agreement signed by the rival
Macedonian parties and pledged to organize a donors’ conference for Macedonia. The
EU set a tentative date of mid-October 2001 for the conference, but conditioned it on
parliamentary approval and implementation of the constitutional reforms outlined in
the framework agreement. The conference was postponed several times and used by
EU officials as an inducement to the Macedonian parties to reach agreement on
implementing the Ohrid agreement. In response to recent progress, the EU agreed
to convene the donors conference on March 12, 2002. Donor countries and
international financial institutions pledged over $500 million in donor assistance in
2002, exceeding pledging targets. Donor pledges went toward balance of payments
assistance, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, assistance for the
implementation of the framework agreement, and development assistance projects.
During the conflict and following the Ohrid agreement, EU foreign policy high
representative Javier Solana conducted numerous diplomatic missions to Skopje,
alone or with other EU and NATO officials. The achievement at Ohrid has been seen
as an important diplomatic success for Solana’s office and the EU’s common foreign
and security policy.26 In addition to Solana, the EU named Francois Léotard, a former
French Defense Minister, to be Special Permanent Envoy for Macedonia. Leotard
was later succeeded by French diplomat Alain le Roy.
EU leaders have supported extensions of NATO’s mandate in Macedonia, but
have recently considered the possibility of eventually taking over the Macedonia
military mission from the alliance, in the context of the EU’s nascent European
Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). In February 2002, EU foreign ministers
expressed support in principle for such a move. In a March meeting of the European
Council, EU leaders said they would be prepared to take responsibility for the NATO
operation in Macedonia following elections in Macedonia and at the request of the
Macedonian government. The Council called for EU planners to develop options in
consultation with NATO, and for permanent arrangements between NATO and the
EU on military operations to be in place before final decisions on an EU force for
Macedonia are made. France and Spain, which holds the EU presidency until June
2002, are thought to be the strongest supporters of the EU taking over the peace
mission in Macedonia. The timing of such a transfer has yet to be determined.
From 1993 to 1999, the United Nations maintained a small military peacekeeping
presence in Macedonia under a conflict prevention mandate, the first case of a
preventive deployment of U.N. forces prior to an actual conflict. The United States
contributed hundreds of U.S. armed forces to the U.N. preventive deployment force
for several consecutive years. In early 1999, China vetoed a further extension of the
U.N. mandate in Macedonia, in apparent retaliation for Macedonia’s recognition of
Taiwan, bringing an end to the U.N. operation in Macedonia.
In March 2001, the Macedonian government appealed to the U.N. Security
Council to address Macedonia’s internal conflict. On March 16, the Security Council
issued a state that condemned the “continuing extremist violence” and called it a
“threat to the stability and security of the entire region.” Without making an explicit
reference to Kosovo, the Council said that the violence was “supported from outside
the country.” The U.N. Special Envoy to the Balkans Carl Bildt (of Sweden)
expressed extreme alarm at the situation in Macedonia and urged NATO to take
action to seal Kosovo’s border with Macedonia.
26Solana has also had a leading role in negotiating a new political arrangement between Serbia
On March 21, the Security Council passed a resolution (Resolution 1345)
condemning the violence and terrorist activities in Macedonia and in southern Serbia.
The resolution noted that the violence has been supported externally by ethnic
Albanian extremists, but did not name Kosovo as the source of the violence. It also
called on KFOR to further strengthen its efforts to prevent the transfer of arms and
personnel across borders and to confiscate weapons within Kosovo.
The Security Council was not expected to consider authorization for the Task
Force Harvest mission in Macedonia, since the Macedonian government had
requested the deployment and worked out a mutually-acceptable status of forces
agreement. The Security Council welcomed the signing of the peace agreement on
August 13 and called for its “full and immediate implementation.” It condemned the
ongoing violence by extremists.
As debate turned to the possibility of a longer-term NATO military presence in
Macedonia, many countries, including some of the European NATO allies,
recommended U.N. Security Council authorization for such a force.27 Others,
however, considered Macedonia’s official request to NATO to deploy a small, follow-
on force to Macedonia sufficient authorization. Moreover, few countries supported
Macedonian President Trajkovski’s proposal to reinstate the earlier U.N. preventive
deployment mission to take the place of NATO troops in Macedonia. In addition to
requiring new Security Council authorization, such a U.N. force would likely need a
lengthy period of time to organize and deploy. On September 26, the same day that
NATO approved plans to deploy Operation Amber Fox, the Security Council passed
Resolution 1371 on Macedonia. The resolution expressed support for the full and
timely implementation of the framework agreement and endorsed the establishment
of a multi-national security presence in Macedonia.
The United States has long maintained that stability in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia is important for Balkan stability and U.S. interests. The
United States recognized the FYROM in early 1994 and established full diplomatic
relations following the September 1995 bilateral agreement that established
normalized relations between Greece and Macedonia. The Clinton Administration
appointed a special envoy to help resolve the Greek-Macedonian dispute. A U.S.
military contingent served in the small U.N. preventive deployment mission in
Macedonia from 1993 until early 1999, when the U.N. mission’s mandate expired.
Through bilateral economic and military aid programs and support for
multilateral development programs, the United States has supported Macedonia’s
efforts to restructure and stabilize its economy, strengthen democratic institutions,
and integrate into European structures. During a visit to Macedonia in June 1999,
President Clinton expressed thanks to the Macedonian government for its response
to the Kosovo conflict and support of the NATO mission on its territory. In FY
2001, the United States provided over $180 million in Support for East European
Democracy (SEED) Act funds, and several millions more in humanitarian aid and
27Both SFOR in Bosnia and KFOR in Kosovo operate under U.N. mandates.
security assistance. In FY 2002, the United States is providing approximately $50
million in bilateral SEED Act assistance and $11 million in military aid. For FY 2003,
the Administration has requested $50 million in SEED Act assistance and $11 million
in military aid.
On March 23, 2001, President Bush issued a statement strongly condemning the
violence by the Albanian extremists and supporting the actions of the Macedonian
government. Bush encouraged the government to act with restraint and to work with
elected Albanian representatives to address legitimate concerns of the ethnic Albanian
community. The Administration agreed to supply a unit of U.S. Predator unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Skopje to assist NATO in aerial reconnaissance, and to
increase intelligence-sharing with the Macedonian government. In May, President
Trajkovski met with President Bush, Secretary Powell, and Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld in Washington. Among other things, President Trajkovski reportedly
requested that the United States designate the NLA a terrorist organization. President
Bush announced a $10 million aid commitment over four years to support the new
multilingual university in Tetovo. On May 11, the Bush Administration welcomed the
formation of the wider government coalition in Macedonia and urged it to accelerate
progress in advancing inter-ethnic reforms. During President Bush’s trip to Europe
in June 2001, the President consulted on Macedonia with the NATO allies, the
European Union, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush expressed strong
support for the intensified political process underway to achieve greater minority
rights in Macedonia. President Bush welcomed the August 13 signing of the peace
agreement and called on the parties to lay down their weapons in order to implement
the deal. A White House statement said that “the cease-fire must be respected, the
insurgents must disarm and disband, and Macedonia’s Assembly must adopt the
necessary constitutional amendments and legislation.” President Trajkovski made
another visit to Washington in February 2002.
About half of the border between Kosovo and Macedonia lies in the U.S.-led
sector of KFOR. Currently about 5,500 U.S. forces (about 14% of the total) serve
in KFOR. In addition, the United States maintains Camp Able Sentry, a logistics unit
in Macedonia (with about 500 U.S. armed forces) supporting U.S. forces in KFOR.
During the 2001 conflict, the United States augmented security at the U.S. embassy
in Skopje. In June, the Administration reportedly told its allies in NATO that it did not
want to contribute U.S. armed forces to a proposed NATO disarmament mission in
Macedonia, although it would not object to the creation of such a mission by other
countries.28 On June 27, President Bush said that he would not rule out the possibility
that U.S. armed forces might be sent to Macedonia, and that no option was “off the
table.” Administration officials said that the United States would participate in the
force in ways involving logistics, command and control, communications, and
intelligence, largely utilizing U.S. military assets already on the ground in the
Balkans.29 In August, the Pentagon specified that U.S. military personnel and
facilities in Kosovo and Macedonia would provide medical, intelligence, and logistical
28“U.S. doesn’t want to join any NATO mission into Macedonia,” The New York Times, June
29Defense Secretary Rumsfeld media availability, July 9, 2001; Department of State daily
press briefing, August 2, 2001.
support to the Essential Harvest mission, in addition to their duties as part of KFOR.30
No U.S. troops took part in the weapons collection process, nor were additional U.S.
armed forces sent to the region to assist the Essential Harvest operation or reinforce
the existing U.S. presence in the Balkans.
In 2001, President Bush designated several ethnic Albanian groups and their
leaders “extremist” for their violent actions that threatened peace and stability in the
former Yugoslavia. The Administration approved measures to isolate and sanction
extremist forces in the Balkans, including members of the NLA. These included
blocking the assets and property of the named extremist groups and individuals,
prohibiting U.S. payments to these groups and individuals, and barring their entry into31
the United States.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, former U.S.
Balkans envoy James Pardew said that the United States would remain firmly32
committed to and focused on the peace process in Macedonia. He said that neither
changes in U.S. policy toward Macedonia nor delays in the timetable for the peace
process should result from the terrorist assault on the United States. Some analysts
assert that the United States has a greater stake in stabilizing Macedonia, given that33
a prolonged conflict could attract foreign Islamic extremists to the region. At the
same time, U.S. and other NATO representatives have generally dismissed
Macedonian claims of links between the ethnic Albanian rebels and Osama bin Laden
or other Islamic extremist groups. In March 2002, Macedonian police killed seven
reportedly Afghan and Middle Eastern men who they claimed were planning to attack
the U.S. and other western embassies in Skopje. Also in March, a Macedonian official
claimed that Skopje had transferred four terrorism suspects to U.S. custody.
However, the government retracted the statement after the United States denied the
claim of any handover.
In Congress, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on
Macedonia on June 13, 2001. Ambassador James Pardew, Senior Advisor at the
State Department, outlined the Administration’s strategy with regard to Macedonia.
He said that the United States supported President Trajkovski’s strategy for peace
and the inter-ethnic dialogue on political reforms. The United States would also
continue U.S. bilateral assistance to Macedonia to promote inter-ethnic relations and
to enhance the capabilities of the Macedonian security forces. Committee Chairman
Sen. Biden expressed concern about the United States not taking on a leadership role
in the Macedonian conflict. He cited the inability of past European efforts to resolve
earlier conflicts in the Balkans.
At a March 2002 hearing before the House International Relations Subcommittee
on Europe, Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones said that the United States
remained committed to an “in together, out together” policy with the European allies.
30Department of Defense news briefing, August 16, 2001.
31Executive Order 13219 (June 26, 2001; December 3, 2001) and Proclamation 7452 (June
32Associated Press, September 19, 2001.
33The Washington Post, March 5, 2002.
In the long term, she said that the U.S. strategy for the Balkans was to deal with the
region “normally,” through trade and investment and without troops on the ground.34
34Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones, March 13, 2002, available at
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