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Macedonian Parties May Sign Peace Accord Monday

BY Admin  August 8, 2001 at 12:35 PM EST

Francois Leotard, a mediator from the European Union, told reporters an accord was in the works and would be signed in Macedonia’s capital Skopje.

Leotard spoke during a a break in talks at the resort city of Ohrid.

His announcement came after Macedonia’s leading political party returned to the table following a suspension of negotiations due to escalating violence.

The party, known as the VMRO, temporarily pulled out of talks earlier today after 10 soldiers were killed and three injured during an ambush outside Tetovo, Macedonia’s second-largest city.

The attack carried the highest death toll of any single battle since the ethnic Albanian rebellion began in February.

Meanwhile, reports from Tetovo say fighting there has continued throughout the day. Eyewitnesses say rebel forces took the southern part of the city, but officials did not immediately comment on those reports.

Last month, rebels agreed to pull back from territory they had captured as part of a NATO-brokered deal. Ethnic Albanians, who make up about a third of Macedonia’s two million people, say they are fighting for constitutional reforms and greater political rights. Some Macedonians, however, have argued the rebels are linked to Kosovo’s militants and have a territorial agenda.