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Extending Nato's Mandate in Macedonia

Author: David L. Phillips, Executive Director, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity
February 6, 2002
Financial Times


Sir, Shifting military responsibilities in Macedonia from Nato to the European Union Security and Defence Policy (ESDF) is a bad move at the wrong time ("Spain urges EU to take over Nato military operations in Macedonia", February 2). Implementation of the peace agreement is at a precarious point. Macedonian police have re-entered fewer than half the villages beset by ethnic conflict. The national parliament is delaying passage of a pledged amnesty for ethnic Albanian fighters. And Slav paramilitaries, sponsored by the country's hard-line interior minister, are threatening to renew hostilities with a spring offensive.

Though there are no American troops in the Nato force, the US exercises vital leadership through the North Atlantic Council. In the early 1990s, US forces participated in the UN Preventive Deployment force, which successfully kept conflict from spreading to Macedonia. US diplomacy was essential to securing last year's peace agreement. Moreover, Nato maintains vital interests in the region. Key transport routes supplying Nato forces in Kosovo traverse Macedonia.

Macedonian authorities should extend Nato's mandate for another six months. More transatlantic co-operation, not less, is needed to implement the framework agreement and promote stability in Macedonia.

David L. Phillips, Centre for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, NY, US