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Solana Boosts Macedonia Peace Talks - 2001-08-05


Macedonia's peace talks have gotten a boost by the arrival of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. A final diplomatic push is under way to conclude eight days of intensive negotiations.

As the top EU diplomat, Javier Solana, arrived in Ohrid, he said it was a very important day in the talks to try to end five months of ethnic fighting.

Mr. Solana's spokeswoman said the message of his visit "is that the European Union would like to have a final deal as soon as possible."

One Albanian leader in the talks said he expected "a take it or leave it proposal" from Mr. Solana to wrap up negotiations on the key issue of police restructuring.

Radmila Sekerinska, of the Macedonian Social Democratic Union, praised a plan released Saturday by international mediators, calling it "closer than previous proposals" to the Macedonians' timetable for police reform.

All sides have agreed in principle that the police should be restructured to greatly expand the number of ethnic-Albanian law enforcement officers and grant some control over policing to local authorities.

But Macedonian leaders warn that transforming the police too quickly, and granting too much local control could divide the country along ethnic lines.

Ukraine's foreign minister, Anatoly Zlenko, arrived with Mr. Solana to deliver a message to Macedonia's leaders.

He said his country is looking for new ways to cooperate with Macedonia, after Ukraine agreed with the European Union and the United States to stop selling sophisticated arms to Macedonia.

The former Soviet republic had previously sent a fleet of attack aircraft, some piloted by Ukrainian officers, to help Macedonia fight ethnic-Albanian insurgents.