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26 Feb 2004 12:20
Macedonia’s President Boris Trajkovski was killed on Thursday when his plane crashed in a mountainous part of southern Bosnia en route to an international investment conference, an official in his party said.
Vlatko Djordjev, a spokesperson for Trajkovski’s party, VMRO-DPMNE, said he was told by party headquarters in Skopje that the 47-year-old president was killed in the crash.
The Macedonian government aircraft, carrying Trajkovski and several other officials to the conference in the western Bosnian city of Mostar, crashed near the Bosnian village of Bitonja shortly after 8am. [0700 GMT], the official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Bosnian police said they found wreckage near the village about 80km south of Sarajevo.
There was no immediate word on survivors.
The weather in the area was said to be poor, and it prompted Albania’s prime minister, Fatos Nano, to cancel his own flight to the conference, Nano’s spokesperson Aldrin Dalipi said.
Macedonia was to formally submit its application for eventual membership in the European Union on Thursday in Ireland, but cancelled the presentation and called its delegation back from Dublin, officials said.
Trajkovski studied theology in the United States, where he gave up communism and converted from Orthodox Christianity.
He was widely respected in Macedonia for his neutral stance in the former Yugoslav republic, where tensions persist between Macedonians and the country’s ethnic Albanian minority following a 2002 war. He had called for a great inclusion of ethnic Albanians in state bodies and institutions.
Trajkovski is survived by his wife and their son and daughter.
Before assuming the presidency, he served as a deputy foreign minister in the centre-right government of former Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski. - Sapa-AP
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