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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Urges Resolution to Stem Balkan Conflict

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SKOPJE, Macedonia — Russia's foreign minister, warning of the risk of a wider Balkan conflict, on Wednesday urged the international community to act faster and take tougher measures against ethnic Albanian rebels fighting Macedonian government troops.

"The vicious circle of violence cannot be stopped by planes dropping bombs or through massive military presence," Igor Ivanov told reporters in Macedonia's capital, Skopje. "We have to find a new approach that combines a political will of the region's states and active support of the whole international community."

Arriving late Tuesday from Yugoslavia, Ivanov met his Macedonian counterpart, Srdjan Kerim. He was to meet with President Boris Trajkovski later Wednesday before heading to neighboring Albania.

Macedonia is a "model multiethnic society," Ivanov said, under "attack by terrorist forces. These terrorists wish to blast the ethnic balance to bits and drag the country into a full-out ethnic war."

He criticized the international community for what he called "passivity" in dealing with the crisis so far, and for "being late with preventive measures against extremists."

"The extremists have to know that the Kosovo adventure cannot succeed here. The actions of the terrorists have nothing in common with the ordinary people living in the region," he said.

The UN Security Council was debating a new resolution that would condemn extremist violence in Macedonia. The draft, proposed by France, calls on all engaged in armed action against authorities to lay down their arms and stresses the need to solve differences through dialogue.

Ivanov said such wording does not go far enough. "Russia wants this resolution to clearly state that what is happening today in Macedonia is the result of terrorist actions," he said.

Most of the rebel commanders and many of the ethnic Albanian insurgents were members of the former separatist Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought in the neighboring Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

"These terrorists come from abroad," Ivanov added. "The resolution must spell this out, condemn them and take measures against those who support them."

He would not say whether Russia planned concrete military assistance to Macedonia, but said he believed "political and diplomatic measures can bring about the best results."