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Извор | Source:RFE/RL Balkan Report Vol. 8, No. 8, 27 February 2004
MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT KILLED IN PLANE CRASH. The death of Macedonian
President Boris Trajkovski removes from the scene a leader widely
regarded as a factor for stability. It is not immediately clear who
would succeed him, or what the impact of his passing would be on
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who as head of the
rotating EU Presidency was hosting an important Macedonian
delegation, announced in Dublin on 26 February that Trajkovski was
killed that morning in a plane crash in Herzegovina while en route to
attend an economic development conference in Mostar, Reuters
In Herzegovina, a Bosnian Serb Interior Ministry spokesman
said: "At about 9:00 this morning, [our] radar lost control of an
aircraft. Local police said a blast was heard in the mountainous
region between the southwestern town of Stolac and the village of
Ljubinje. The weather conditions were very bad with heavy fog and
rain." Bosnian Interior Ministry officials later confirmed that the
plane crashed on Mount Hrgut, killing all on board.
The others who died with the 47-year-old Trajkovski were his
staffers Dimka Ilkova Boskovic, Risto Blazevski, Anita Krista
Lozanska, and Mile Krstevski, as well as two bodyguards and two crew
members, dpa reported.
At the time of Trajkovski's death, Macedonian Prime
Minister Branko Crvenkovski and other members of an official
delegation were in Dublin to present the Irish EU Presidency with
Macedonia's application for EU membership (see "RFE/RL Balkan
Report," 13 February 2004). Upon receiving news of Trajkovski's
death, the Macedonian delegation prepared to return home immediately,
without presenting the application.
Elected president in 1999, Trajkovski was widely regarded as
a strong advocate of Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic integration and of
the 2001 Ohrid agreement. That deal was brokered by the United States
and the EU, ending a conflict between the security forces of the
ethnic Macedonian majority and the insurgents of the ethnic Albanian
minority, which makes up about one-fourth of the population.
Although his political roots were in the conservative and
nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
(VMRO-DPMNE), he was considered a moderate and was often at odds with
the hard-line party leadership. An additional factor that set him
apart from many ethnic Macedonian politicians was the fact that he
was a member of the United Methodist Church and not Orthodox.
One of his recurrent messages following the signing of the
Ohrid agreement was that Macedonia and the Balkans continue to have
serious problems even though they have dropped out of the headlines.
He told a meeting at RFE/RL Prague headquarters on 21 November 2002
during the NATO summit that "the Balkan region today still is not
safe, it is not yet a place of decent life. We are surrounded by a
large arsenal of weapons, and a large number of people who are
getting rich through smuggling, corruption, and murder" (see "RFE/RL
Balkan Report," 22 November 2002).
In Strasbourg on 8 April 2003, he warned against continuing
threats to peace and stability: "We need to continue our efforts to
strengthen the rule of law and fight against organized crime and
corruption. We need to refocus our attention to deal more effectively
with issues of economic and social cohesion. And we need to work on
the realization of the vision of a Europe, not just for states, but
also for its citizens, enabling free movement of the citizens of the
western Balkans across the borders of the European Union."
At RFE/RL headquarters during the NATO summit, he also
stressed the importance of regional cooperation, specifically with
Albania and Croatia: "The participation in today's meeting with
my friends, Albanian President Alfred Moisiu and Croatian President
Stipe Mesic, creates the opportunity for our three countries to work
more closely and more intensively than in the past towards getting
into NATO by discussing basic elements which could be included in our
joint efforts to be admitted into NATO." Indeed, the three presidents
and other officials of their respective continued to meet regularly
to discuss these and other issues.
Whoever succeeds Trajkovski will have a full agenda in
promoting Macedonia's social, economic, and inter-ethnic
stability; working to counter the polarization that characterizes
much of the political life of the region; and promoting the
Euro-Atlantic integration of what was one of the former
Yugoslavia's poorest republics. (Patrick Moore)