UN sends troops to prevent war in Macedonia

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The Independent Online
THE United Nations Security Council last night authorised a battalion of UN peace-keepers for Macedonia to prevent fighting in the former Yugoslavia from igniting a wider Balkan war.

The resolution endorsed proposals by the Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for 700 troops plus 35 military observers and 26 civilian police to 'stand between forces that might otherwise clash'.

The resolution calls for immediate deployment of the force after Macedonian leaders give their formal consent. Diplomats said initially one or two companies would be sent from the UN Protection Force in Croatia, where about 14,000 soldiers and support staff are stationed.

The vote came as divisions persisted at the European Community's Edinburgh summit over recognition of Macedonia. Many Balkan experts think war could break out in the southern Balkans, dragging in Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Turkey as well as the former Yugoslav republic itself.

A spokesman for the British EC presidency said that a proposal by the republic's President, Kiro Gligorov, to seek recognition under the name 'The Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)' was insufficient. 'We are prepared to recognise Macedonia under any name of its choosing, provided it does not contain the word Macedonia,' he said.

But the Dutch Minister for European Affairs, Piet Dankert, said later that the EC summit would not reconfirm a pledge made in Lisbon last June that the Twelve would not recognise the republic under the name Macedonia. If so, that would be a setback for Greece. Athens has blocked recognition for a year on the grounds that the name belongs to Greece alone and its use by a neighbouring state implies a claim on the Greek province of Macedonia.

Several EC states suspect that Greece has joined Serbia this year in imposing an economic blockade on the former Yugoslav republic in order to force it to change its name.

Although Mr Gligorov's proposal was too small a concession for the EC, it went too far for nationalist political parties in the Macedonian parliament. They accused him of violating the constitution by trying to change the republic's name.

Manfred Worner, the Secretary-General of Nato, said yesterday that the time had come for military intervention in Bosnia to be considered seriously, writes Colin Brown.