BELGRADE -- The Military Security Agency (VBA) chief says Serbian security services had warned their Macedonian colleagues in April about a possible "attack" there.
Speaking in the wake of a two-day clash that claimed the lives of eight Macedonian police officers and 14 terrorists, Cvetkovic told the Belgrade-based Pink TV that members of the terrorist group came mostly from Kosovo, but that some of them were also from Macedonia, "and even in the south of central Serbia" - and that their common goal was to create "a Greater Albania."
"Greater Albania" is a nationalist project that would expand the borders of Albania to include parts of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Greece.
The head of the VBA said that the idea of creating Greater Albania enjoys "a certain amount of support from the West," and claimed this was evident by the fact that "some political statements in that regard have not been condemned," but also because of the manner in which the Western media have reported about the terrorist attack in Kumanovo.
According to him, the aim of the terrorists was to use the attack to mark May 12, the day when five years ago one of their leaders was killed.
Speaking about the decision to raise the level of combat readiness of the Serbian Army, Cvetkovic said that this primarily refers to the soldiers deployed in the Ground Safety Zone, along the administrative live between Kosovo and central Serbia, and that the move was necessary in order to increase vigilance - "because there is a risk that some of the terrorists escaped from Kumanovo, given the discrepancy between the estimated strength of the group and the number of the killed or captured terrorists."
Police Director Milorad Veljovic said there was no danger to the citizens of Serbia and that the border with Macedonia was secured, adding however that the forces deployed there will remain vigilant and "raise the level of readiness and coordination between the police, the army, and the security services."
Veljovic told the broadcaster said that Serbia "has enough people who can adequately respond to all challenges" and that there was "excellent cooperation with political representatives of (ethnic) Albanians in Presevo and Bujanovac."
He added that about 450 people crossed into Serbia escaping the violence in Macedonia, and that they are "mostly those who have relatives in Presevo," noting that the state was "ready to help them in every way."