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A Bulgarian firefighter tries to extinguish a blaze engulfing the roof of a major hospital in Sofia, August 1, 2001. No one was injured in the fire that destroyed part of the roof of the Oncology Centre. REUTERS/Krasimir Yuskeseliev



The participants in the political dialogue for overcoming the crisis, which is led in Ohrid, reached an agreement on the issue of use of minority languages Wednesday evening, MIA finds out from the Cabinet of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski. This decision will be final if the other questions at issue, such as the ones concerning the local police and the Constitutional declaration, are agreed.

The Wednesday negotiations in Ohrid are over, and the political dialogue, led under the auspices of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, will continue on Friday, due to the celebration of the Macedonian national holiday August 2.

Vlado Popovski, law expert at the Macedonian President's Cabinet, confirmed Wednesday evening that agreement was reached on the use of minority languages.

Accordingly, those languages will be used in areas where certain minorities make up over 20% of the population and at the parliamentary plenary sessions.

According to Popovski, the talks on Friday will focus on local police jurisdiction. This issue would be crucial for reaching of final settlement, he said.

"Today we reached an agreement with the four political parties on the issue of language use" Francois Leotard, special representative of the European Union, said after the end of the Wednesday talks.

He added, "this agreement is conditional", and that its finalisation would be preceded by "political negotiations on the issue of the local police".

Leotard confirmed the information that the dialogue would continue on Friday, and used the occasion to congratulate the Macedonian citizens on the national holiday August 2, Ilinden.

Asked about the atmosphere at the negotiations, Leotard said that it is constructive, and that all participants are very responsible. "I would like to express my satisfaction with the good will that all of the leaders have shown, as well as with the mutual respect they show" Leotard said.

None of the participants in the dialogue is a winner or looser, as such feelings are not good for entering a dialogue, US Special Envoy James Pardew said.

He also confirmed that agreement has been reached on the official use of Albanian language in areas where ethnic Albanians make over 20% of the population.

"Significant progress has been reached at the talks in Ohrid," OSCE representative Max van der Stoel said, expressing hope for a successful ending of the dialogue.

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