By Jan Oberg, TFF
Macedonia in NATO -
NATO in Macedonia
Successive Macedonian governments officially argue
that the country must become a member of NATO. Macedonia
is heading for NATO membership. However, since Macedonia
is not yet "mature" enough to be in NATO, NATO will be in
Macedonia has not had, or been allowed to have, an
independent national security commission that could
investigate various future options for the country. NATO
membership is the only idea in Skopje. If there are
sceptical security experts and defence intellectuals,
they do not seem to speak out. The local NGOs vary in
their enthusiasm; however, peace groups, women's groups,
etc who are not only sceptical but downright opposed to
it have little influence. What NATO membership will cost,
in money terms, in the next, say, twenty years is not
analysed and there is no talk of a referendum &endash;
but, of course, a lot of talk about democracy.
As they say nowadays in the emerging "democracies" in
Eastern Europe: What is there to discuss? It is already
in the air, we have no choice! We are told that if we
don't come along, other doors will be closed too!
So NATO membership for Macedonia is a Godfather's
offer you can't refuse. The same goes, of course, for the
deployment these days of NATO's arms collectors. It's a
great spectacle but NATO will not disarm KLA/UCK/ONA/ANA
or whatever acronym we use for the militarist,
nationalist Albanians fighting allegedly and mistakenly
with weapons to get some more rights.
failure as a disarmer in Kosovo
When I was in Macedonia a few weeks ago, I obtained a
copy of something called the President's Plan -
officially "Plan and Program for Overcoming the Crisis in
the Republic of Macedonia." The first goal mentioned on
page 1 is "to fully disarm and disband the
terrorists"(the word used about the Albanians in
So this was "disarmament" and not, as it is now
stated, "collection" of weapons. There is a world of
We just have to wait a little while for the NATO/KFOR
"disarmament" show to be repeated in Macedonia. The 30
days are already serialised by international media, press
conferences held, "NATO is pleased and optimistic" with
the Albanian deliveries. It's pure public propaganda!
In autumn 1999 Michael Jackson, not the pop star, but
the NATO general who rolled into Kosovo, declared that
the mighty KFOR/NATO had not only driven all Yugoslav
forces out of Kosovo, it had also disarmed KLA which was
comprised of at least 20,000 man under arms. This was
only natural since UN Security Council Resolution 1244
states: "15. Demands that the KLA and other armed Kosovo
Albanian groups end immediately all offensive actions and
comply with the requirements for demilitarization as laid
down by the head of the international security presence
in consultation with the Special Representative of the
International leaders in Kosovo including the highest
authority and then head of the UN mission Dr. Kouchner
declared that KLA was disarmed and its insignia and
uniforms prohibited; the organisation was considered
illegal. He had also managed to persuade KLA leaders to
benignly change uniforms and be transformed into the
purely civilian KPC, the Kosovo Protection Corps.
KPC would operate under the leadership of Agim Ceku,
presumably on UN payroll. He told me in an interview last
year that he was a leading officer in the Croatian Army
but left in 1995 after it had driven out 250,000 Croatian
citizens of Serb nationality. He had "helped", as he
expressed it, UCK/KLA since it was formed in 1992 or
So, there are three possibilities. A) KLA was never
disarmed and the statements to that effect were crystal
clear deception of the international public who thought
its tax money went to peace, disarmament and co-existence
on Kosovo. B) NATO/KFOR's 46,000 heavily armed soldiers
did their best to control and disarm KLA/UCK of which
5,000 changed uniform and joined KPC, but failed
miserably. C) KLA/UCK was actually disarmed at the time
but then re-armed with or without the consent of
NATO/KFOR and the UN.
If it was a deception, a free press should investigate
why we were all deceived. If NATO was simply unable, its
failure in Kosovo is larger than the failure of any UN
mission in the Balkans. If so, there should be a public
outcry and we ought to hear the same about NATO as we
were told about the UN: that it is expensive,
incompetent, corrupt and not able to fulfil its mandate.
But while the media and commentators gladly denounce the
United Nations, few dare voice criticism of NATO. It is
as if NATO can make no mistake.
We know now that UCK/KLA went into Southern Serbia and
began warfare from bases in the demilitarised zone
between Serbia and Kosovo. That is, they passed through
the United States sector. We know that it is UCK/KLA that
has unilaterally started the war in Macedonia under the
name of UCK or NLA, the National Liberation Army. No one
who has been disarmed and disbanded can conduct two
aggressions; no one who does not have the support of
Western governments and acts in their national and
geo-strategic interest would get away with that!
(In the streets of Pristina you can buy UCK symbols
and badges and buy publications with UCK on the front and
lists with the Serbs it killed.)
So it strongly as if UCK/KLA has been allowed, if not
assisted, to open two new theatres of war. It is
inconceivable that NATO, the world's strongest alliance,
and the UN which is the top authority in Kosovo should
not have been able to control a force like UCK if they
had wanted to.
In summary, NATO and some of its member states have no
credibility as a disarmer. Their record in that field is
The strongest "peace"-keeping mission ever, with
46,000 much more heavily armed soldiers than the UN, has
not been able to disarm some 10,000-15,000 KLA soldiers.
Only a very naive person would believe that 3.500 or
5.000 NATO troops in Macedonia could do a better job. So
why are they there? Because they are not meant to do a
NATO this time does not even pretend to disarm
KLA/NLA; it will only collect weapons voluntarily handed
in by KLA/NLA fighters who will then be granted amnesty!
Just ask yourself where such a deal has been concluded
before with "armed thugs" (NATO's words for KLA/NLA) who
already control sizeable chunks of territories of a
sovereign, recognised UN member state.
Furthermore, politicians from countries who run
"Essential Harvest" have sought to prevent the Macedonian
government from importing weapons and the Macedonian Army
is required to withdraw from its positions.
To put it crudely: this means good-bye to the right to
self-defence, to respect for the territorial integrity of
a sovereign, recognised European state and good-bye to
impartial mediation between conflicting parties. I
believe it also means good-by to a stable and reasonably
The arms number
game and a possible Danish connection
The Macedonian government's official estimate of the
number of KLA/NLA weapons is 60,000-80,000. KLA/NLA says
it has 2,500. After two days in the country, NATO makes a
new, non-negotiable, deal with KLA/NLA and announces that
the number of arms to be collected will be 3,500 and that
it is a credible figure that will help put Macedonia on
the road to peace.
Jane's Defence Weekly of August 29, Nr 9 refer to
2,500 NLA soldiers in Macedonia plus at least as many
non-fighting supporters for logistics etc all of whom are
assumed to possess arms. It adds that there are "also
weapons hidden in arms caches. Some of these were
procured in the aftermath of the crisis in Albania in
1997 when an estimated 575,000 small arms were
" And then there is likely to be 1-2 weapons
per family in what it calls the gun culture of the
Balkans "which is particularly strong among ethnic
Given that NATO's generals are competent, it's hard to
believe that they themselves believe any of what they say
on this issue. But the figure is yet another Western slap
in the face of the government.
CNN reports on August 25, 2001: "Danish General Gunnar
Lange, the NATO commander in Skopje, did not release the
weapons figure but said Operation Essential Harvest hoped
to have about a third of the insurgents' arms in hand by
the end of next week."
Ah, the NATO commander is Danish! But Denmark has
contributed no troops to Essential Harvest? Well, my
nasty mind tells me that there could be a pretty simple
The man who succeeded Kouchner as the highest
authority in Kosovo is former Danish minister of defence,
Hans Haekkerup. Under his guidance Denmark did not only
support NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia politically and
morally, it also dropped bombs. He spearheaded a
remarkably activist security policy and developed very
friendly relations with the Clinton administration.
Haekkerup had held no international positions before.
Sitting now in Pristina he could not possibly be without
knowledge of military matters or the history of his
mission and its entry ticket to the Kosovo province.
The KLA/NLA problem in Macedonia stems predominantly
from Kosovo, from when NATO for all practical purposes
became the Airforce of KLA. It is a spill-over of the
failed UN/NATO missions there, or a deliberate ploy.
So, what could be more convenient for the UN Head of
Mission than a friendly Danish general who can make it
look as if KLA/NLA and its spill-over are minor problems?
A Danish general who can fix the job in 30 days and cover
up the ongoing UN/NATO deception which aims to support
Albanian extremists - which his former boss (Haekkeup)
has done nothing to change because, if he did, he would
most likely lose his job?
Imagine that 3,300 weapons is all KLA/NLA has in
Macedonia. Why on earth should they accept to make
themselves defenceless at the day NATO is supposed to
It is well-known that the Ministry of Interior has
handed out thousands of weapons (some say 12.000) to
Macedonians, among them former policemen. There are also
local paramilitaries consisting of nationalist, hard-line
Macedonians who have acquired weapons and prepare for
future fights in their villages.
Is it likely, in the face of that that Albanians who
have already risked their lives for their cause, should
lay down all their weapons and voluntarily leave the
places they have occupied?
On the other hand, can the Western diplomats and media
find a single leading Macedonian politician or editor who
personally believes that 3,300 is all the NLA has and
that they will leave the occupied territories?
If the answer to these questions were "yes", NATO's
mission might be a force for peace. However, this would
mean a peace-making effort of a completely different
sort, something like the UN's UNPREDEP coupled with a
much more competent OSCE and a series of non-governmental
, conflict-mitigating and educational organisations. This
would be an Essential Spring operation!
It would mean not only a harvest of the weapons but a
sowing of the seeds of peace. This is obviously not what
the US, NATO and the EU are really up to.
All the above does not make sense in the perspective
of peace, reconciliation, co-existence and democracy. But
it does make non-sense.
© TFF 2001
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