EU Official Rallies Macedonian Politicians Behind Peace Plan

From Reuters

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana rallied Macedonia's fractious political leaders behind a peace plan on Saturday as the army pounded ethnic Albanian rebels at four villages with artillery fire.

He spoke as rebels solidified control elsewhere, in a small town within sight of Skopje, the capital. The government vowed to retake Aracinovo, just six miles east of Skopje, the closest the 4-month-old conflict has come to the capital.

Aracinovo slipped into rebel control on Friday after thousands of residents fled. A guerrilla commander said his forces were now within striking distance of strategic targets such as the international airport and an oil refinery.

While under pressure northeast of Skopje, the rebels were digging in at Aracinovo. The rebel commander said his men would strike at the strategic targets only if attacked.

President Boris Trajkovski outlined a peace scheme on Friday that stresses incentives for rebels to disarm, an overhaul of the armed forces and an acceleration of political reforms to address the grievances of ethnic Albanians.

"All political leaders support the plan," Solana said after talks with leaders of a squabbling unity government formed in May that includes Macedonian Slavs and Albanians.

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