SKOPJE, Macedonia — A day after ethnic Albanian rebels killed five Macedonian soldiers, the prime minister gave word Wednesday that he wants parliament to formally declare war, deepening a four-month crisis.
The European Union and the United States hurried to discourage Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski from making the formal request to parliament. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said declaring war against the rebels "would only be playing into the hands of extremists."
Tuesday’s fighting, which left another seven wounded, was the most serious escalation of violence in weeks. It underlined the government’s tenuous hold on areas near the border with the southern Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
Georgievski’s intention to demand parliament declare war came via his spokesman, Antonio Milososki. Milososki also urged the legislature to call for war, "because it is not possible to respond otherwise to the threats against Macedonia’s security and sovereignty."
Besides imposing a draft, calling a state of war would give President Boris Trajkovski the ability to rule by decree and appoint a government of his choosing. Borders could be sealed, a nationwide curfew imposed and demonstrations banned.
Beyond giving the government more authority, however, such extreme measures could also radicalize the country’s ethnic Albanian minority, which makes up as much as one-third of the population. European officials fear such a move could further destabilize this former Yugoslav republic by pushing more of its ethnic Albanians to support the rebel cause.
Such a measure would be difficult to pass. It would need more than two-thirds majority approval, or 81 of parliament’s 120 deputies. But 24 deputies in Macedonia’s parliament are ethnic Albanian, and they would likely vote against.
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