Straw 'saddened' at death of Macedonian president

The Foreign Secretary has spoken of his sorrow following the death of the president of Macedonia in a plane crash this morning.

Jack Straw said that he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the tragic death of Boris Trajkovski, who was one of nine people on the flight which was en route to Mostar from Skopje. Mr Trajkovski had been president of Macedonia since 1999.

Mr Straw paid tribute to Mr Trajkovski for playing a "key role" in resolving the civil unrest in 2001 which "threatened Macedonia's unity". At the time, Albanian rebels and Kosovan militia were involved in sporadic fighting which, due to Macedonia's sizeable ex-pat Albanian population, threatened to destabilise the region.

Mr Straw added: "Thanks to his efforts, Macedonia is firmly on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration. The UK remains committed to helping Macedonia along this path.

"My thoughts are with the President's family, the families of the other victims and the people of Macedonia."

The US-built type Super Kinger B200 aircraft lost contact with the air-traffic control at 08.01CET in the area of Stolac, 30kms south of Mostar.

The plane came down in difficult weather conditions in the mountainous region between Bosnia-Hercegovina and Montenegro.

On board the flight were two pilots and seven members of a Macedonian delegation who were heading to a two-day conference on investment in Mostar. It has been reported that four bodies have been recovered, and emergency teams are still searching the area.

A Macedonian delegation, headed by the country's Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, has broken off their visit to Dublin and cancelled their official application for Macedonia's membership in EU.

The Prime Minister will convene a special session of the government immediately after their arrival, the information ministry said.


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