Meditation Focus #35
Urgent Need for Peace in Macedonia
Web posted on March 24, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, March 25, 2001
What follows is the 35th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, March 25, 2001.
URGENT NEED FOR PEACE IN MACEDONIA
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
Macedonia, a country that was formerly a part of Yugoslavia, has been recently experiencing the rise of an armed insurgency by ethnic Albanians who claim to want the Macedonian government to treat its Albanian minority as equals to the ethnic Slavs who form 77% of the population (according to official figures). News of border fights have been echoing around the world as many Western governments speculate about the risks of a new Balkan war that would involved ethnic Albanians from Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania, many of whom dream of unifying all Albanians under one country and, on the other hand, ethnic Slavs from Macedonia and Serbia supported by Russia. According to the British Sunday Times, two of the Kosovo-based commanders leading the current NLA (or UCK, the Albanian abbreviation of the NLA) rebel offensive in Tetovo were trained by former British SAS and Parachute Regiment officers in the secretive training camps that operated in northern Albania during 1998 and 1999. Through their earlier sponsorship of the KLA in Kosovo, the Western powers have created a political Frankenstein monster intent on provoking a war it hopes will result in an independent Kosovo and territorial acquisitions in what is now Macedonia. Faced with this mounting crisis, and according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, more than 22,000 civilians have fled their homes since fighting began more than a week ago. The rebels, who are still few in numbers, have passive sympathy among many Albanians that could turn to active support if ethnic polarization deepens.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditation, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to help create in the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters in Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania the shining desire to heal their relationship with each other, forgiving all that went wrong and forging ahead towards true peace, sincere love and complete harmony within themselves, with each other and with the rest of the world, for the Highest Good of All.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time(DST) at the moment.
3. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS WEEK'S FOCUS
This section is for those who wish to understand in more detail the situation of this week's Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognise that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.
West Urges Macedonia to Show Restraint (Friday March 23)
SKOPJE (Reuters) - Western leaders urged Macedonia on Friday to show restraint in its battle with ethnic Albanian rebels as the country took delivery of two helicopter gunships, signaling its determination to stamp out the insurgency.
The West urged Skopje to find a speedy political solution to the crisis in the ethnically-fragile Balkan republic, a call which coincided with Macedonia receiving the two Russian-made Mi-24 helicopter gunships, significantly increasing its military muscle.
The fearsome helicopters bought from Ukraine are by far the most serious military assistance which the former Yugoslav republic has received since the conflict began last month.
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said more than 22,000 civilians had fled their homes since fighting began more than a week ago, most of them going to stay with friends and relatives elsewhere in the country. CLIP
Macedonians Mortar Rebels But Insurgency Spreads (Friday March 23)
By Fredrik Dahl
TETOVO, Macedonia (Reuters) - Macedonian forces fired mortar rounds into rebel-held hills above Tetovo on Friday, but with little sign that they were stemming an insurgency by ethnic Albanian guerrillas. Tensions were high in this battlefront town as ethnic Albanians buried a father and son gunned down by Macedonian police on Thursday in a failed grenade attack on a machine-gun position.
Albanian political leaders in the restive Yugoslav province of Kosovo urged their Macedonian brethren to lay down their arms and return home. Their call followed strenuous diplomatic efforts by Western leaders to persuade Kosovo's leadership to publicly shun the extremists, who say they are fighting for greater rights for Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority.
But the insurgency appeared to have spread as security forces firing heavy weapons from a distance failed stop guerrillas moving at will along the mountain ridges bordering Kosovo.
Shelling And Condemnation Fail to Stop Rebels (Thursday March 22)
SKOPJE (Reuters) - The ethnic Albanian insurgency that threatens civil war in Macedonia was spreading on Friday as security forces failed to contain guerrillas who appear able to move at will along the mountain ridges bordering Kosovo.
European Union leaders were due to get a first-hand account of the crisis from Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski at their summit conference in Stockholm. But he was unlikely to bear much hopeful news.
Just as they had threatened, the insurgents took their fight to the streets of Tetovo on Thursday after the government decided to ignore their unilateral cease-fire. As they had warned, the gunmen also created a new flashpoint closer to the capital, Skopje, seizing the village of Gracani which was partly ablaze after battles with special police.
In Tetovo, police fired a hail of bullets at two ethnic Albanians who tried to throw a grenade into their machinegun post in Macedonia's battlefront town. The two died instantly. Flak-jacketed police cradling submachineguns set up roadblocks on main roads and were searching all vehicles entering and leaving Tetovo. But the point was made that artillery cannot stop such attacks.
The two men were likely to be buried on Friday, a ceremony that could increase tension in the predominantly Albanian city. Two hours after nightfall, heavy firing could be heard from the same direction and mortar rounds whacked into unseen targets in the hillside.
From Sympathy To Support
A government spokesman in the capital Skopje, indicating the political decision to proceed with an anti-insurgency offensive had been taken, said the army was now in charge of operations.
Artillery rounds struck rebel-held hills overlooking Tetovo during the day but there was no way to assess their effect on the guerrillas, who appear to be highly mobile.
A local Albanian official in Tetovo said he feared there could be more violence in the city as a result of Thursday's dramatic shooting, shown on television to the nation of two million, a third of whom are ethnic Albanians.
Amid all this, a top-level European Union delegation held talks in Macedonia, trying to fan a dim spark of hope that the slide to civil war could be arrested. The government appeared to have been given a green light for tough action earlier this week by Western powers, who have strongly condemned the rebels as a small group of extremists bent on fomenting conflict in pursuit of separatist aims.
But they have passive sympathy among many Albanians that could turn to active support if ethnic polarization deepens. British defense officials said estimates of rebels numbers vary from 200 to 800. There was ``nothing to give the impression that they are sophisticated and linked together.''
``It is deeply political...we could create the problem we are trying to avoid by sidelining the Albanians in Macedonia who are not a part of the extremist movement,'' one said.
NATO admitted it was having difficulty getting allies to deploy more troops to Kosovo to help the over-stretched KFOR peacekeeping mission clamp down harder on rebel infiltration and supply routes over the mountains into Macedonia.
European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten bluntly warned Kosovo Albanian leaders that they must publicly shun the guerrillas or prepare to say goodbye to the flow of European aid funds on which Kosovo depends.
But in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, thousands of students marched, chanting: ``Tetovo, Tetovo we are with you.'' They bore banners saying ``Stop Macedonian terror against Albanians'' and ''We will also join UCK (Albanian abbreviation of the NLA).''
'Macedonia Is Going the Way of Kosovo and Bosnia' (Mar. 14, 2001)
It's not the beginning of a new war not yet, but the warning signs are there. What we have here is a spillover from Kosovo, and it's not going to go away; it's going to get worse. The "new" guerrilla force calling itself the National Liberation Army and claiming to represent Macedonia's Albanian minority is not new at all. It's simply the KLA under a new name, whose Albanian acronym, UCK, is exactly the same as it was in Kosovo. Its commanders are all former KLA commanders, who have the backing of their friends in Kosovo. And it's being funded by the same "Homeland" fund based in Switzerland that funded the KLA. So it's the same people trying to do the same thing all over again their immediate objective is self-rule for Albanians in whichever country they may live. That's the first step. The second step is unification of those Albanian enclaves with Albania.
Western powers reject NATO intervention against Albanian insurgency in Macedonia (22 March 2001)
Through their earlier sponsorship of the KLA, moreover, the Western powers have created a political Frankenstein monster intent on provoking a war it hopes will result in an independent Kosovo and territorial acquisitions in what is now Macedonia.
On Saturday, 600 German troops were forced to leave Tetovo because they were too lightly armed to defend themselves against the NLA. After Germany promised to replace them with a Leopard tank squadron, the NLA said that such a move by the Bundeswehr would constitute "a declaration of war by the Federal Republic of Germany".
The NLA has issued a public appeal for all able-bodied Albanians to join its war against the Macedonian government, and for Albanian policemen to join the nearest units of the NLA." In response to the Macedonian government's 24-hour ultimatum to lay down their arms, an NLA commander said, "We will not leave our positions, we are going to advance and open new fronts. We are an organised army and we hold positions not only around Tetovo but in all the Albanian areas of Macedonia."
An article in Britain's Sunday Times points out that two of the Kosovo-based commanders leading the NLA offensive were trained by former British SAS and Parachute Regiment officers in the secretive training camps that operated above Bajram Curri in northern Albania during 1998 and 1999. According to the Times, one is organising the flow of arms and men into Macedonia and veteran KLA commander Adem Bajrami is helping to co-ordinate the assault on Tetovo.
A British soldier serving with K-For is quoted as saying "The final irony of this is that NATO will be facing not only its own weapons but also its own tactics. And NATO simply can't handle a guerrilla warthe Albanians will beat them."
Significantly, the former commander of US forces in the Kosovo campaign, General Wesley Clark, issued an op-ed piece in the Washington Post not only urging K-FOR and NATO interdict the flow of arms and fighters across the Macedonian border, but for the Western powers to recognize that the nub of the problem is the continuing delay in moving [Kosovo] toward democratic self-rule and the resolution of its final status.
General Clarke continued, Troubles across the region are unlikely to ebb until Kosovars are fully engaged in building up their own institutions. Stabilizing Kosovo means following through on our promises and holding elections for a legislative body with real powers; moving forward on the transition to self-government; and committing to a clear timetable for final status negotiations.
The KLA, through its close collaboration with the NATO powers over the past years, is well aware that significant sections of the US ruling elite are in favour of extending and consolidating the division of the Balkans into a series of ethnically-exclusive states. This will only fuel their determination to press on with their campaign to destabilise Macedonia, in the hope that they will be amongst the main beneficiaries from whatever settlement is imposed.
Macedonia's Albanian grievances
When prompted, Macedonian Albanians would tell you that what they want is to be equal to ethnic Macedonians. Official figures put the overall number of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia at about 23%. Albanians say they make up more than 40% of the population. Economically, Macedonia's Albanians are generally self-reliant, with many being self-employed. But analysts point out that whenever they have a grievance to address, they face an administration that is so disproportionately made up of Macedonians as to feel "alien".
In May 2000, the Macedonian Parliamentary Commission on International Relations released a report on the breakdown of ethnic workforces in the country. The figures showed that the country's workforce is 84.5% ethnic Macedonian and 9.4% ethnic Albanian - the potential ethnic Albanian work force is 18.5% of the total population.
In the police force and the military, for instance, ethnic Albanians contributed 3.1% of the employees while the ethnic Macedonians made up 93.9%. A similar situation exists in other sectors of public life, including the judiciary and the health system.
Ethnic Albanians are therefore frustrated that when they have to deal with the authorities, even in cities like Tetovo with an overwhelming Albanian majority, they have to face ethnic Macedonians and communicate in what they consider a foreign language.
The government argues that this is in part due to the fact that education levels among Macedonia's Albanians are generally lower than amongst ethnic Macedonians.
And this brings to the fore the Albanians' second major grievance - education in their mother tongue. For the past decade, Albanians in Macedonia have been unanimous in demanding the creation of a university with Albanian as the primary language.
Since 1994, they have consistently clashed with the authorities after establishing such an institution just outside Tetovo, which the government deemed "illegal" and took steps to close down.
A compromise brokered by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe - that a private university be set up in lieu of a publicly-funded institution - appears to have satisfied only that part of the ethnic Albanian elite that participates as a junior partner in the Macedonian Government. For many, the fight for a right to an Albanian language higher education continues.
The authorities fear that an Albanian language university would set the country on a path towards separatism. More generally, however, they argue the Albanians enjoy every single right a national minority is entitled to.
This infuriates the Albanians further for they do not accept being a national minority. They fiercely oppose Macedonia's fundamental law which defines the republic as a state of Macedonians, and other minorities. They want the constitution to state that Macedonia is a state of Macedonians, Albanians as well as of minorities like the Serbs, the Roma and others.
Macedonia argues that, given the legal right to secede, its Albanian inhabitants would tear the country apart. Ethnic Albanians allege that the constitution reduces them to second-class citizens and must be amended. They argue that the Albanian language should be a second official language in the country.
Albanians say the authorities consistently deny them the right to "feel Albanian" and to display national symbols. They want parliament to abandon majorities and votes and operate on the basis of mutual understanding and consensus.
Rebellion in Macedonia appears to have been born out of frustration. But it also exists because of an overall fragmentation of the Albanian political movement within Macedonia. Political analysts have consistently pointed out that, unified, Macedonia's Albanians would have been able to influence political change within Macedonia's institutions which they all say they support.
Their squabbles have meant that the Democratic Party of the Albanians - which participates in the government - can hardly have any real influence given that their Macedonian partners enjoy a comfortable parliamentary majority on their own.
However, there are fears that the ethnic Albanian rebels who took up arms have a wider agenda. Although the rebel movement styling itself as a "National Liberation Army" has come up with identical demands to the politicians, there are suspicions that what they really want is to carve up a slice of western and northern Macedonia and attach it to Kosovo.
Although its spokesmen insist this is a home-grown grouping, the rebels are said to be an offshoot of an old rebellious movement which is believed to have given birth to the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, as well as to the other guerrillas fighting against Serbian forces in southern Serbia.
This parent group - the Popular Movement for Kosovo (LPK) - is long known to favour an armed struggle to bring about Kosovo's independence and the unification of Albanians, particularly those of former Yugoslavia.
And although most of Macedonia's Albanians say they have reconciled themselves to life within a Macedonian state, increased support for the rebels may shift public opinion back towards an "Albanian togetherness" as existed in Communist Yugoslavia.
Fighting in Macedonia threatens wider Balkan conflict
Macedonia Tensions Boiled for Years (Friday March 23)
Maps of Macedonia at
In-Depth coverage of the conflict in Macedonia at:
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