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Boris Trajkovski ( , ) (June 25, 1956 – February 26, 2004) was the president of the Republic of Macedoniamarker from 1999 to 2004.

Boris was born in the village of Monospitovo, in the municipality of Murtino, near the Macedonian town of Strumicamarker, into a Methodist family. His father, Kiro, who died in September, 2008, was a landworker who had served in the Bulgarian army and had been imprisoned for two years for feeding P.o.Ws. Trajkovski graduated in 1980 with a degree in law from the St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopjemarker. He subsequently specialized in commercial and employment law and made several visits to the United Statesmarker, where he studied theology to become a Methodist lay minister.

After he finished his studies, the Communist government confined him for a time to a remote village owing to his religious activities. There he took care of an impoverished Roma parish of the Methodist Church. Following political liberalisation in the 1980s, he went on to head the legal department of the Sloboda construction company in Skopje. He served as secretary of youth work in the Methodist Church in the former Yugoslavia for over 12 years. Later he was President of the Church Council of the Macedonian Evangelical Methodist Church. In 1988 he took part in a Youth Exchange programme between the Methodist Church of Macedonia and the Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead Methodist Circuit in England. In 1991 he studied English at a Christian Language College in Bournemouth, England.

Career in Politics

Trajkovski became active in politics following the Republic of Macedoniamarker's declaration of independence from Yugoslaviamarker in November, 1991, when he joined the VMRO-DPMNE party. He played an important role in developing the party's relations with other European political parties and was appointed Chairman of the party's Foreign Relations Commission. In 1997, he became the Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Kisela Voda, a municipality in Skopje. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on December 21, 1998 but served in this post for less than a year.

Largely because of his reputation as a moderate reformist, Trajkovski was selected as VMRO-DPMNE's candidate for president in the November 1999 election held to replace the outgoing president, Kiro Gligorov. In the presidential election of November 14, 1999, Trajkovski defeated Tito Petkovski by 52% to 45%. He was scheduled to take office just five days later, on November 19, but because the results were disputed, parliamentary chairman Savo Klimovski became acting president until Petkovski's supporters lost their last appeal a month later.

Trajkovski's term was marked by tensions between ethnic Macedonians and the republic's large ethnic Albanian minority. The aftermath of the Kosovo War led to months of violent armed clashes between Macedonian security forces and Albanian rebels seeking improvements on their status as a legitimate minority and generally better economical, administrative and legal conditions. Although his powers were limited and his role largely ceremonial, he presided over a NATOmarker-brokered peace deal in 2001 that ended the violence and prevented a full-blown civil war in Macedonia. He was seen as a moderate in the ethnic dialogue, arguing for greater inclusion of ethnic Albanians, and has been credited with being a key figure in resolving the conflict. Boris Trajkovski's closest friend and advisor was his chief of staff Zoran Jolevski, who is now the Macedonian Ambassador in the United States od America and the negotiator of the Macedonia name dispute.

In 2002 he was awarded the World Methodist Peace Award by the World Methodist Council for his role in promoting peace and political stability.

Death

Trajkovski died on February 26, 2004 in a plane crash en route to an economic conference in Mostarmarker, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. The aircraft crashed in very poor weather (thick fog and heavy rain) on a mountainside in southeastern Herzegovina, near the villages of Huskovici and Rotimlja some eight miles (15 km) south-south-east of Mostar. Eight other people were also aboard but none survived the impact, which broke the aircraft into three pieces. It came down in an area that had been heavily mined during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, which significantly hampered the rescue and recovery efforts.

In the months that followed, significant controversy emerged surrounding the accident. Some residents of Rotmilja village, near where the plane crashed, have disputed the government's assertion that the field had been heavily mined, asserting that they were regularly using it themselves. One witness claimed that he saw people emerging from the aircraft after the accident. SFOR soldiers were on the scene within 30 minutes after the aircraft went down, yet emergency personnel and journalists were not allowed until later. Official records state that the aircraft was located 24 hours after the time of the crash, yet his successor, Branko Crvenkovski officially declared Trajkovski dead within hours. Lastly, new evidence suggests that the fire was not caused by kerosene, but a different substance. Amidst growing concern that it may have been an assassination, the case has been re-opened by the present government of Macedonia.

Although the cause of the crash is not known, it seems likely that it was the result of a controlled flight into terrain, possibly exacerbated by alleged mistakes made by the SFOR air traffic controllers at Mostar Ortijes International Airport. The approach to the airport's Runway 34 has been criticized by pilots for being difficult to handle, and as the runway is not equipped with precision landing systems, it is especially challenging in bad weather. The crash is not the first major air accident to kill a politician in southern Herzegovina: on April 3, 1996, the United States Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown was killed while en route from Bosnia to Croatia.

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