Melentie Pandilovski on Sun, 28 Mar 1999 04:05:23 +0200 (MET DST)

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Syndicate: Some more news about events in Macedonia

The president of the Democratic Party of the Serbs in Macedonia 
Dragisa Miletic had been arrested together with 60 demonstrators after the events in front of the 
American embassy and demonstrations that took place in other parts of the city 
including the final stage before the Macedonian parliament.
He was however released after the tensions in the city calmed down.
100 marines from the squad for anti-terrorist actions from the base in 
Virginia have by orders of Bill Clinton been moved to Skopje to protect
the American embassy. The embassy which was anyhow after the events well guarded 
has been now fully fortified with even one armored vehicle in the yard of the embassy. 
The members of the families of the personnel of the embassy will leave the country where 
as the personnel it self have been given a choice to stay or leave Macedonia.

The reported number of the NATO soldiers is about 12,000, but other 4,000 are to come
to Macedonia as we find out by our Greek neighbors.

Very peaceful demonstrations took place in Negotino, Bitola and Kocani.
The police prevented an Anti-Nato meeting in Ohrid because it had not been reported 
in advance.
The demonstrations in Kumanovo of the high school youth were potentially 
the most dangerous as 2 groups of demonstrators with clearly different views
(one was a Macedonian and the second Albanian) gathered on the same street 
in the same time, only a few meters one from another. Luckily the police prevented
major incidents that would additionally complicate the otherwise quite tense and 
complicated situation in Macedonia.

The fight for the public opinion in Macedonia has become very visible. 
The  local and state media outlets which were sending in information from 
Serbian TV during the first 2 days suddenly became quite silent . This was especially visible 
these few days after the demonstrations in front of the western embassies in Skopje and the speech of 
the prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski who attacked the media of holding an Anti-Nato 
campaign in the moments when Macedonia is trying to approach NATO.
This led to a paradoxical situation that most of the images of the events where
delivered by CNN, and other western media houses that were anyway getting the images
>from the Serbian Satellite TV. However, there are some signs that media coverage 
is coming back to normal again and there is some information coming from Serbia by means 
of one of the local TVs. 

There is somewhat of a mystery about the sounds heard above Skopje in the past days 
and nights (even as I write this letter the sound of airplanes is heard).
 Skopje's citizens are quite alarmed with the sounds heard in the past few
days which were obviously sounds by airplanes. 
The Vice-President of the Macedonian government Radmila Kiprijanova 
offered last morning her expert opinion to the Macedonian public that the sound
heard above Skopje in the past few days is not of airplanes but of helicopters.
However, on the press-conference last afternoon she said that some of the sounds were 
created by surveillance airplanes, flying with-in Macedonia.  
(One important statement towards the calming down of passions was that the Minister of Defense
Nikola Kljusev who denied that missiles from Macedonia where shot towards the territory of Yugoslavia.)
Radmila Kiprijanova also said that the number of refugees coming to Macedonia is in comparison to the
other days decreasing. According to the government there are 14,834 
refugees in Macedonia out of which more than 8,000 have the status of socially 
treated persons. Ivan Narasanov, the president of the Red Cross of Macedonia, was speaking 
of similar numbers according to their registration (around 12,000) of refugees in Macedonia.  
To the question of mobilization and the claiming of some parents that their children are being 
mobilized the Ministry of Defense stated that partial or full mobilization is not taking part in Macedonia.

Some TV stations give reports from the border and interviewed the people who are crossing it. They come 
>from Kosovo's largest city Pristina (80 km. from Skopje) and some smaller towns on the border it self like 
General Jankovic. Some of the independent media say that together with the refugees some UCK soldiers
have passed the border. The ministry of Interior has denied this. 

Perhaps some normalcy of the situation is indicated by the Skopje airport 
that  is open for the civilian air transport from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.