Sunday, July 16, 2006

Macedonia Sends Helicopters, Officers Bosnia

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP)--Macedonia sent two helicopters and 17 officers to Bosnia Friday, to join a European Union force there.

"This is the first time Macedonia is providing a direct contribution to ... part of the European common defense and security policy," Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski said, after attending a ceremony at Skopje's Petrovec airport.

Macedonia has also sent small troop contingents to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Macedonia's MI-8 and MI-17 helicopters will serve as part of a Belgian force in Bosnia, in the southern town of Mostar.

"Our contribution along with other participants ... will help further stabilize the region," Crvenkovski said.

NATO handed control of an international force in Bosnia to the E.U. in December 2004, nine years after the Balkan nation's three-year civil war.

About 6,000 personnel from 33 countries serve in the E.U.-led force.

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