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Macedonia Approves Rights Law

January 25, 2002|From Associated Press

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia's parliament Thursday voted 85 to 4 to approve a long-disputed law granting broader rights to the ethnic Albanian minority, a crucial move toward stabilizing this tense Balkan nation.

The law was an important part of a Western-mediated peace accord that ended an ethnic Albanian insurgency in August. The rebels surrendered about 4,000 weapons to North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops and agreed to disband in exchange for promises of greater constitutional rights.

Ethnic Albanians, who make up at least a quarter of Macedonia's 2 million population, hope that the law will bring autonomy to their areas.

Earlier Thursday, Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said passing the self-government law was a precondition for Macedonian police to reenter villages in northwestern Macedonia still controlled by ethnic Albanians.

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