Macedonians warn of war

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A MACEDONIAN minister yesterday warned that failure to recognise his republic could lead to another Balkan war far greater than that in Bosnia, and said his government would give this message to Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, when he visits Skopje on Saturday, writes Annika Savill.

Martin Trenevski, the Macedonian Information Minister, said on a visit to London: 'The EC should bear in mind that social instability in Macedonia has already been the cause of two Balkan wars. It can very easily be the cause of a third one, and a much broader conflict.' He warned that Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania and Turkey could all be drawn in, and with that, the Muslim world.

'This is a very good chance for British diplomacy to do something to prevent other conflicts,' said the minister, here to meet journalists, MPs and officials ahead of Mr Hurd's visit.

The EC has refused to recognise the newly independent republic in deference to the Greeks, who say it has no right to call itself Macedonia and that the name reflects an intention to annex Greek Macedonia. Mr Trenevski said the unresolved status of his country had left it in a state of 'limbo' as foreign investment had come to a standstill. This was in addition to the effect of sanctions on a republic whose trade was largely with Serbia.

Athens' propaganda campaign includes a press release from the Greek embassy in London, which states under the heading 'Skopje's deliberate provocations towards Greece': 'The proposed official currency pictures the White Tower of Salonika - the historic symbol of Greek Macedonia.' Mr Trenevski yesterday gave The Independent specimens of all new currency denominations; none carries a symbol from Greece.

(Photograph omitted)