Berserkistan Navigator UN Extends Macedonian Mission
Despite Russia’s Objections

By Evelyn Leopold

MacedoniaUNITED NATIONS, May 30 (Reuters) - Despite objections from Russia, the Security Council on Thursday extended for six months its mission in Macedonia where U.N. troops, mainly Americans, are patrolling borders of the ex-Yugoslav republic. The vote was 14-0 with Russia abstaining and saying the operation was too large and too expensive and should have been extended only for four months at its current strength.

Diplomats said Moscow, which wants a larger U.N. presence in turbulent Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, was waed to prevent the spread of the Balkan war, is to stay in place until Nov. 30. It has 1,050 troops, 35 military observers and 168 civilian police. The United States has the largest contingent of troops, with 550 soldiers, followed by Finland with 362.

Macedonia has been spared the bloodshed that engulfed many other parts of the former Yugoslavia and troops were stationed there to deter any spread of violence. They first went to the republic of 2.5 million people in 1993 to monitor its borders with Albania and Serbia's Kosovo province, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians challenging Belgrade's authority.

Council members believed the U.N. Preventive Deployment Force, known as UNPREDEP, should remain unchanged and be reconfigured in tandem with the NATO-led force in Bosnia, which is due to withdraw at the end of the year. Boutros-Ghali, in a report this month, said it might be possible in the future to cut one battalion, which was added to the mission at the height of the Bosnian war.

Macedonian Ambassador Denko Maleski said the mission, the first successful peacekeeping operation for preventive purposes, should not be restructured or terminated. He said the ``threats to the Republic of Macedonia by the potential explosion of the crisis have not been overcome yet, bearing in mind the issue of Kosovo in our immediate neighbourhood.'' He said his country had few defensive capabilities after the departure of the Yugoslav army, which took with it arms and military equipment.

To learn more...
Macedonia The Comprensive Site for Macedonia
Macedonian Government An Overview by Dimitri Laskoski
Republic of Macedonia by Plamen Bliznakov

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