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Bush Praises Macedonia's President - 2001-08-15

President Bush is praising the Macedonia peace deal reached on Monday. He called Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski Tuesday and offered congratulations.

President Bush says Mr. Trajkovski showed courage and leadership during the long negotiating process that led to the political agreement.

In a written statement released after their conversation, Mr. Bush had nothing but warm words for the Macedonian president. He called Boris Trajkovski "a friend," and offered his strong support for efforts to ensure the peace and put Macedonia on the road to recovery.

President Bush said the peace deal signed Monday by Macedonian and ethnic Albanian political leaders promises to strengthen democracy and avert civil war, while protecting Macedonia's territorial integrity and political unity. He said it is now up to Macedonia's Assembly to adopt the constitutional amendments and legislation necessary to implement the settlement.

The deal is designed to end a six-month insurgency that threatened regional stability. Mr. Bush talked about the danger of a wider conflict during a visit last month with American soldiers serving as peacekeepers in neighboring Kosovo. The president carried on that theme in his written comments on the Macedonian peace deal. He said the United States stands strongly against those armed extremists who have tried to take democracy hostage in Macedonia.

President Bush said it is time for these insurgents to turn over their weapons to NATO. That may have been a reference to a pledge issued just hours earlier by ethnic Albanian militants who said they are ready to lay down their arms.