BBC News, October 15, 2002
Nato stays on in Macedonia
Nato says it is to extend its peacekeeping operation in Macedonia by seven weeks, because the European Union is not ready to take over.
A statement released in Brussels said the Netherlands had agreed to continue leading the force until 15 December.
Diplomats said final agreement on the request was delayed, because the Netherlands' parliament had to be informed of the plan to remain in command of the mission.
They say the Netherlands has tightened its procedure for participation in peacekeeping tasks, partly due to a damning report earlier this year on its ill-fated Srebrenica mission during the Bosnian war.
Operation Amber Fox, made up of about 700 lightly-armed soldiers, was set up a year ago to protect international monitors observing the return of Macedonian government forces and displaced people to areas formerly controlled by ethnic Albanian rebels.
Western involvement helped end an ethnic Albanian insurgency last year, but peace remains fragile.
The deadline for the Nato mission has already been revised several times, in the hope that the European Union would be ready to assume command.
The EU had been hoping that it would take over from Nato at the end of this month, marking its first military mission.
But the EU has been frustrated by a dispute between Greece and Turkey about EU access to Nato assets.
That means military planning, intelligence and logistics - things the EU cannot provide on its own.
There is a lot of quiet diplomacy behind the scenes, to try to resolve the Greek-Turkish dispute before next month's Nato summit in Prague.
Officials also say the international operation in Macedonia may change at the end of this year anyway - with an even greater emphasis on the civilian role.
But there would still be some military component, and the EU is keen to take charge.
Any further delay would be very awkward.
The EU has set itself the ambitious target of creating a rapid reaction force of 60,000 troops by the middle of next year, and it needs to send out some positive signals.