Statement by Minister Cowen T.D., on the deaths of three members of the EU Monitoring Mission in the FYR of Macedonia

I would like to express my deep regret today at the news of the tragic deaths of three members of the European Union Monitoring Mission in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I have asked the Head of the EUMM, Ambassador Antóin MacUnfraidh, to convey my deepest sympathy to the families of those killed .

Since the beginning of the violence in FYROM earlier this year, the EUMM have been playing a vital role in the international response to this crisis as with others in the region in the past. The Mission is currently tasked with overseeing the cease-fire between the ethnic Albanian extremists and the Macedonian Government. A full investigation is necessary to determine the circumstances of this tragedy, and if appropriate bring those responsible to justice.

These are three more tragic deaths to mourn with too many others in this conflict. I call upon all parties in FYROM to redouble their efforts to reach a stable political settlement so that peace and normality can be restored to the lives of the people of Macedonia.

Note for Editors:

The main tasks of the EUMM are to monitor political and security developments as well as border monitoring, inter-ethnic issues and refugee returns. EUMM also contributes by its activities to early warning and confidence building measures.

EUMM has approximately 120 international Monitors and 75 locally employed personnel. The Mission headquarters is in Sarajevo and it operates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (including Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo), Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Two of the monitors killed to-day are from Norway and Slovakia and the third was an ethnic Albanian interpreter. Norway and Slovakia, although not members of the EU, have participated in the monitoring mission since its inception.

On 1 May 2001, by decision of the Council of the EU, Antóin Mac Unfraidh took office as Head of the EUMM. Before his appointment, he was a diplomat with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, most recently serving as Ambassador in Ankara.Top

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