Macedonia Ceasefire Disrupted; Peace Corps Continues to Monitor

Washington, D.C., June 22, 2001—While talks between the ethnic Albanians and Slav politicians continue, government forces disrupted the ceasefire today by firing upon the Albanian towns of Aracinovo and Nikustak, a few miles outside Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. The proximity of their position to the capital city and the nature of their threats are of concern to Peace Corps.

The current insurgency by ethnic Albanians in northern Macedonia relates to the war in Kosovo in 1999 and 2000. In that war, ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians fought over the rights of ethnic Albanians in the area. Recent fighting was limited to the border areas which Macedonia shares with Albania.

Peace Corps continues to remain in touch with all Volunteers and all are safe. All are in a “standfast”—the first stage of alert during a potential crisis. Standfast is a recognition that Peace Corps may shortly take additional measures to protect the safety and security of Volunteers, trainees and staff.

The Peace Corps has Volunteers assigned throughout a large portion of the country, predominately in the South and East. No Volunteers are assigned in Western parts of Macedonia which are near the Albanian and Kosovo borders. We are watching the situation carefully and are in continuous contact with United States Ambassador Michael Einik and the security functions of the U. S. Embassy in Skopje.

This announcement will be updated as new information warrants. In the meantime, please know that all Peace Corps Volunteers, and staff in the Republic of Macedonia are safe and sound. Peace Corps will make decisions about the program in Macedonia with the safety and security of our Volunteers and Trainees foremost in priority.

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