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Bad Weather May Have Played Role in Crash that Killed Macedonian President - 2004-02-26


Macedonian officials say President Boris Trajkovski has died in a plane crash in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mr. Trajkovski was on his way to an international investment conference in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, when the plane crashed in the mountains.

Bosnian police say they have found wreckage of the government plane near the village of Bitonja, about 80 kilometers south of Sarajevo.

Investigators say that everyone on board, including Macedonian President Trajkovski, his delegation, and the two pilots, have died.

The Bosnian Interior Ministry said bad weather may have played a role in the crash.

Eight years ago, President Clinton's commerce secretary, Ron Brown, and 34 others died in a plane crash in the same region.

The 47-year-old Macedonian president was on his way to the town of Mostar to talk about the economic reconstruction of the Balkans, after a decade of ethnic conflicts, in which at least a quarter-of-a-million people died. In his own country, the former Methodist preacher and moderate politician has been credited with helping to unite a country torn by ethnic tensions.

Inaugurated in 1999 as Macedonia's second president, Mr. Trajkovski was a tireless advocate for including ethnic Albanians in Macedonia's government. Although his powers were largely ceremonial, he presided over a 2001 NATO-mediated peace agreement that ended ethnic clashes in Macedonia.

The European Union, following Mr. Trajkovski's death, canceled ceremonies to accept Macedonia's application to join the Union.

Expressions of sympathy to the Macedonian people have came from around the world.

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