SLUG: 2-287451 E-U Macedonia (L-O)
TITLE=E-U / MACEDONIA (L-O)
/ //// ED'S: WILL UPDATE AFTER FINAL NEWSER AT 1800 UTC / 1 pm EST /////
INTRO: International donors meeting in Brussels are set to pledge more than 220-million dollars to Macedonia. Correspondent Roger Wilkison reports the funds will underpin an agreement that ended last year's fighting between government forces and ethnic-Albanian insurgents in the Balkan country.
TEXT: The meeting is described by Macedonian Prime Minister Lyubco Georgievski as leading his country away from political instability and toward economic prosperity. The conference is sponsored by the European Union and the World Bank.
The pledges of aid for Macedonia are seen by many observers as being a reward for its implementation of a peace deal mediated by the European Union and NATO last year. The agreement ended seven-months of fighting between the Macedonian government and ethnic-Albanian guerrillas.
The Macedonian parliament last week finally put the last key component of the peace agreement into effect by passing a law granting amnesty to the insurgents.
Most of the money is aimed at rebuilding infrastructure damaged by the fighting and funding improved delivery of government services.
But donors are insisting that Macedonia must pursue sound budget policies, push ahead with economic reforms to create jobs in the private sector, and make state institutions more efficient if it expects to get more aid.
And some are also insisting that the multi-ethnic coalition government must do more to fight corruption.
A report published by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based research institute, says widespread graft in Macedonia threatens the viability of the state.
The report says ethnic-Albanian participation in the Macedonian coalition government depends on ethnic-Albanian politicians getting one-third of the spoils enjoyed by the Macedonian leadership.
It accuses politicians on both sides of cynically flirting with extremism while siphoning off national assets, thus corroding the rule of law and public trust in government institutions. (SIGNED)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|