United Nations officials are welcoming Monday's peace agreement in Macedonia but warn that those who continue to incite violence have no international support.
In a statement read by U.N. Security Council President Alfonso Valdiviezo of Colombia, members welcomed the agreement between leaders of the majority Macedonian population and the minority ethnic Albanians in that Balkan nation. The deal, which provides for greater representation for ethnic Albanians, is aimed at ending six months of fighting between rebels and Macedonian government troops.
Speaking through an English interpreter, Mr. Valdiviezo said the Council is calling on all parties to live up to the agreement. "The Council calls again on all those concerned, including on leaders of ethnic Albanian communities in the region, publicly to condemn violence and ethnic intolerance and to use their influence to secure peace," Mr. Valdiviezo said. "It reiterates its call to all who have contact with extremist groups to make clear to them that they have no support from any quarter in the international community."
In a separate statement, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he is very gratified that the European Union and NATO played an important role in helping reach the peace agreement in Macedonia. On Wednesday, NATO ambassadors are expected to discuss the deployment of 3,500 troops to collect arms from rebels in Macedonia.
The peace agreement has apparently already had a positive effect on the refugee situation. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees says the number of people fleeing into neighboring Kosovo has fallen sharply since Sunday evening. The refugee agency expressed hope that the peace agreement will allow for the return of about 125,000 people displaced during the six months of fighting in Macedonia.