SKOPJE, Macedonia — A top Macedonian official lashed out at U.N. and European officials Wednesday, calling their handling of the Kosovo refugee crisis a danger to his nation's stability.
Macedonian Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov said the international community has failed to produce a long-term plan to deal with the Kosovo crisis, which so far has deposited nearly 200,000 ethnic Albanian refugees in this small Balkan nation.
"Our country didn't do anything to start the crisis in Yugoslavia, yet we are suffering very severe consequences--economic and political," Trajanov said through a translator. "We must share this burden caused by the refugees with other states."
Trajanov also accused lower-ranking U.N. officials of giving out false information and focusing more on publicity than humanitarian aid. He said high-level relations between the United Nations and Macedonia remained good.
"Instead of calling [us] to provide information, they call CNN," said Trajanov, whose office controls both border crossings and the refugee camps.
The remarks, a signal of the ongoing tension between Macedonia and those trying to provide a haven for refugees fleeing violence in Kosovo, came as another 4,000 people arrived Wednesday at already crowded U.N. camps.
Some of the new arrivals described food shortages in Kosovo, a province of Yugoslavia's dominant republic, Serbia. Others said Serbian store owners there were refusing to sell food to Kosovo Albanians, according to U.N. officials.
The influx of refugees has far outpaced the approximately 1,800 Kosovo Albanians who flew out of Macedonia on Wednesday for placement in other European countries. As a result, many newly arrived refugees were forced to sleep in the open. "It's one step forward, two steps back," said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Redmond said he sympathized with Trajanov's remarks, agreeing that other nations must accept more refugees. He said relations between the U.N. and Macedonia had improved significantly since the first days of the crisis.
Trajanov said he is concerned about the impact on delicate relations between Macedonia's ethnic groups if outside forces--such as the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army or North Atlantic Treaty Organization ground troops--use his nation as a staging area for an invasion of Yugoslavia.
He denied KLA activity in Macedonia but hinted at consequences if the rebel separatists decide to use Macedonia as a base to fight Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
"Any action, no matter what, of the KLA will jeopardize the security and safety of the refugees," Trajanov said.