by Hristo IVANOVSKI
Because of the situation, units of the Macedonian Army (ARM) have daily been increasing activities on the north border. Well-informed circles in Macedonia are warning that the crisis, which is especially pronounced in the triangle Bujanovac-Presevo-Medveda, can activate the logistic support channels for the Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medveda (smuggling of weapons) in Macedonia.
Western diplomats in Skopje are warning that such development of events can pull Macedonia in the crisis so that we can become a country in crisis next spring. That period is believed to be critical because of the change of administration in the US, forthcoming population census in Macedonia, as well as a possible government and parliamentary crisis [early elections].
Because of that, suggest the diplomats, the Macedonian state must seriously follow the situation, which is also causing concern in the international community. They emphasize that at the moment the Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medveda, whose members are Kosovo Albanians and are active in the buffer zone between the administrative border between Kosovo and the south of Serbia, is outside the logic of the whole process of regional cooperation, adding that these actions are dangerous for the whole region. It is assumed that these forces are a part of the former Thaci's army (KLA), which has at least 400 fighters with heavy artillery in the problem region. The analysts are assessing that the goal of that operation is to redirect the world attention to Kosovo. At the same time that is an attempt to discredit the new leadership in Belgrade, which is now enjoying the support of the international community, and portray Kostunica as "new Milosevic".
The reactions from different parts of the world to the most recent incidents in the south of Serbia are indicative. The U.N. Security Council adopted a declaration that condemned the incidents in southern Serbia. "Unreserved" condemnations of the incidents were sent by the NATO secretary general in his letter to the Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica.
The official Belgrade yesterday sent a demand to KFOR to start controlling the situation better and let it know that the Yugoslav Army will not sit with crossed arms. Belgrade even issued a deadline, Monday, by which KFOR was supposed to take control of the situation. In that Belgrade called on the Military-technical agreement from Kumanovo and the UN Security Council Resolution 1244.