Macedonia on brink as clashes follow protest

SKOPJE, Reuters

Macedonia strayed perilously close to wider conflict on Tuesday, as fresh fighting followed fierce protests by nationalists enraged at a Western-led evacuation of ethnic Albanian rebels.

Despite continued EU and NATO pressure, neither security forces nor guerrillas showed a sincere desire for peace in the latest former Yugoslav republic to be scarred by bloodshed.

Clashes resumed a day after police reservists fired off their guns in parliament to protest at the rebel evacuation and at a policeman’s death in fighting.

Macedonian troops fired at three rebel villages but the guerrillas, who say they are fighting for Albanian minority rights in the southern Balkan country, vowed to stay put.

The European Union gave its full support to President Boris Trajkovski and said he remained in control and would address Macedonia later in the day.

In a statement the EU said civil war could still be avoided.