The Role of the International Community
The international community continued to place great emphasis on the territorial integrity and stability of Macedonia, especially with the outbreak of fighting in neighboring Kosovo. A United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), deployed inMacedonia since 1992, had been scheduled to end its operations on August 31, 1998, but the mandate was extended for another six months at the request of NATO and the Macedonian government, and the number of soldiers was increased from 750 to 1,050. While UNPREDEPs presence had a stabilizing effect on Macedonia, it failed to speak out against human rights violations by the government. In April 1998, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights ceded to a long-standing demand of the Macedonian government and dropped Macedonia from the mandate of the special rapporteur on the Former Yugoslavia.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Macedonia continued to monitor the internal and external threats to the countrys stability, as it has since 1992. Internal OSCE reporting on political affairs and human rights issues was very one-sided in favor of the government. Very little criticism was voiced against the Macedonian government, which was considered a stabilizing force in a volatile region.
OSCEs High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel undertook a number of visits to Macedonia in 1998 to promote inter-ethnic relations and, in particular, minority-language education. In meetings with government officials, the high commissioner discussed implementation of measures proposed in the report of the special parliamentary commission established to investigate the July 1997 violence in Gostivar. In his public statements, however, the high commissioner issued scant criticism of the government and focused more on reminding ethnic minorities of their obligations to respect the institutions of the state. In February, the two largest ethnic Albanian political parties called on the OSCE to replace van der Stoel because of his lack of objectivity. The OSCE planned to monitor the October parliamentary elections.
Council of Europe
Macedonia benefited from a number of training programs and seminars on human rights conducted by the Council of Europe under its cooperation and assistance program. Macedonia remained subject to monitoring by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assemblys Monitoring Committee, which sent a confidential report to the Macedonian authorities on March 15. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture paid an assessment visit to Macedonia in May to investigate the treatment of persons in detention, but its report remained internal.
The United States is the undisputed leader of the international communitys policy on Macedonia. Ambassador Chris Hill, as of September also the main U.S. envoy in the Kosovo crisis, played an important role in Macedonias political life. The U.S. government strongly supported the government of Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, to the extent that it was unwilling to express adequate criticism of the governments human rights violations. The U.S. also bore a certain responsibility for the behavior of the Macedonian police since it has trained at least 329 Macedonian policemen since 1995, some of whom were involved in the Gostivar incident on July 9, 1997.
NATO military maneuvers called Operation Determined Falcon were conducted over Macedonia and Albania in June as a threatening message to Yugoslavia because of its actions against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Large NATO exercises with the participation of twenty-six countries were conducted at the Krivolak military base in Macedonia in September.
In July, Turkey agreed to provide Macedonia with twenty F-5 war planes. In September, Germany donated sixty Soviet-made BTR-70 armoured personnel carriers to the Macedonian government.
Relevant Human Rights Watch reports:
Republic of Belarus
Bosnia and Hercegovina
The Russian Federation
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Asylum Policy in Western Europe
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Human RIghts Watch