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President George W. Bush talks to reporters during a golf outing at the Bosque Valley Golf Club near Meridian, Texas, August 13, 2001. Bush welcomed the signing of a Macedonia peace agreement, saying it was time for all sides to lay down their arms in order to implement the deal. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
A convoy of Belgium KFOR troops enters the Macedonian capital of Skopje August 14, 2001. Macedonian tanks and artillery blasted ethnic Albanian guerrillas along a northern front and rebels burned buildings in occupied villages after the signing of a peace accord on August 13, Western observers said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
Albanian group rejects peace accord for Macedonia.
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Aug 14 (AFP) -
The Albanian National Army (ANA), a rebel group that surfaced in southern Serbia earlier this month, said Tuesday that it did not recognize the peace accord signed in Macedonia.
"The military command of the ANA has unanimously decided during a meeting held in Skopje Tuesday afternoon to publicly reiterate that the ANA does not recognize the Ohrid accord, signed in Skopje by certain Albanian and Slav representatives in Macedonia," said a statement sent to the media.
"The military command is certain that this accord not only does not meet the Albanians' main demands but again confirms that the Albanians have nothing to do with Macedonia and should not be concerned with it," it said.
The peace accord was signed Monday by ethnic Albanian and Macedonian political leaders to bring an end to six months of rebel warfare.
Macedonian frontliners stay hunkered down, wary of peace pact.
UMIN DOL, Macedonia, Aug 14 (AFP) -
Macedonia's peace pact scarcely impacted on the northern goverment outpost of Umin Dol on Tuesday, where T-55 tanks and artillery glared across open ground at ethnic Albanian posts. Only shells impacted as dawn broke.
Macedonian frontliners -- professionals and reservists in the most forward position confronting ethnic Albanian NLA rebels -- were hunkered down and wry about the prospects of the international accord to stop six months of war, with the enemy two kilometres (just over a mile) - ahead of them.
Macedonian government forces are deployed on open ground with little cover.
The guerrilla lines, linking the scattered, deserted, shell-battered remains of ethnic Albanian villages, are neatly tucked away at the foot of a mountain with plenty of forest cover.
High up the mountainside an Orthodox monastery provides an excellent observation post for the rebels of the National Liberation Army (NLA), covering the entire area.
NATO advisers arrived in Macedonia on Tuesday to pave the way for the deployment of a force to disarm rebels under a peace accord already clouded by sporadic fighting and claims of a government massacre.
Army sources said rebel gunmen had attacked government positions in the hills north of the mainly ethnic Albanian city of Tetovo and grenades had been fired at troops based north of the capital Skopje.
Meanwhile relative calm reigned at Umin Dol after a night of grenades and mortar fire.
But against a background of distant fire, government troops here remained sceptical about peace prospects.
"These gangsters will never respect a peace accord," one growled, polishing his Kalashnikov automatic.
The thought of the NLA disarming under NATO supervision as foreseen by the pact leaves these warriors unimpressed.
"They'll hand over some worn-out old weapons to NATO for the sake of the TV cameras. Then they'll carry on with their war," said Vlado, a fit-looking 40 year-old busy checking over his T-55 tank, while fellow crew-member Goran up on the turret trained his binoculars on an NLA-held village.
Thirty-two-year-old reservist Srecko Kitanovski said: "The Albanians say they're the oppressed ones. But they're the ones doing the kidnapping and torturing."
Last week the NLA kidnapped 11 Macedonian civilians in two separate attacks. Only five have since been released, after having been subjected to physical ill-treatment.
Two are Srecko's cousins.
"They said they had been beaten non-stop with spade handles," he said. "One of them hasn't recovered from his injuries yet."
Albanian Divisions Threaten Accord.
Institute For War & Peace Reporting
Peace hopes are threatened by the launch of a splinter Albanian rebel group and continuing divisions within Albanian political parties
By Veton Latifi in Skopje (BCR No. 271, 14-Aug-01)
While commanders of the National Liberation Army, NLA, have confirmed that they will accept the peace agreement for Macedonia, a new military organisation has emerged rejecting any settlement.
In communiqué no. 9, distributed to various media outlets, the self styled Albanian National Army stated that it and "patriotic commanders of the NLA do not plan to stop the war at any moment or recognise any political agreement".
The group also claimed responsibility for the killing of ten Macedonian soldiers on the Skopje-Tetovo road on August 8.
Little is known about the new group. Its leaders have not appeared, and it has only communicated through a handful of statements sent to the media. One such statement prohibits all of its commanders from being interviewed by the media or being photographed or filmed.
Local media believe the Albanian National Army might be reassembling groups of former fighters who disagree with the peace deal. They may come from organisations now no longer in existence, such as the Kosovo Liberation Army or the National Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, which operated in southern Serbia until a settlement, including disarmament, was reached earlier this year.
In its statements, the breakaway faction has accused the NLA's Ali Ahmeti and leaders of Albanian political parties of making compromises that betray Albanians' national interests.
A recast Albanian rebel group in Macedonia could seek to continue the guerrilla war.
Of course, such a development would make NATO's Essential Harvest mission of disarming the rebels more difficult. According to the agreement, the Atlantic alliance will send some 3,500 troops for one month to assist the process.
With NLA commanders and Albanian politicians acknowledging that certain rebel elements are not under their control, delays and incidents are likely, creating pressure for NATO to extend its stay.
Western resistance aside, such a prolongation could increase ethnic Macedonian distrust in NATO and its mission. Ethnic Macedonians are already sceptical over what they fear could be the establishment of an international protectorate. Concerns over rebel demilitarisation could block the implementation of the peace agreement.
Of course, such a move would give a pretext to Albanian fighters, either from the NLA or other configuration, to delay disarmament. Such a turn of events could swell the ranks of the splinter Albanian National Army.
Meantime, the two main Albanian political parties have their own disagreements. Both have participated in the peace talks. But while Arben Xhaferi's Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, has expressed satisfaction with results, the Party for Democratic Prosperity, PDP, has said it does not go far enough to secure Albanians' rights.
The PDP has complained about the small number of Albanians included among police. It has also raised questions about the future status of Macedonian Albanians who fought with the rebels.
According to the Ohrid agreement, after disarmament, the Macedonian authorities are to declare an amnesty for all fighters, except those suspected of war crimes. But some former fighters might not accept a mere amnesty and might demand positions within state institutions.
Another contentious issue is Albanian-language education. According to participants in the negotiations, during the final days in Ohrid the two parties clashed openly over education policy. Xhaferi's DPA backs the South-European University for Albanians in Macedonia proposed by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel. The PDP wants public financing for the unrecognised Tetovo University, which was launched several years ago with private funds against great resistance from the government. The agreement backs the first option, pledging to finance it for four years.
Sentiment over the issue should not be underestimated. The Tetovo University Students' Union has already accused the Albanian representatives of "walking on the blood of martyrs and the ruined houses during the fighting".
Such frictions among the Albanian parties will flare during the general elections planned for January 20, 2002. Even holding elections at such an unstable time could be asking for trouble, with both Albanian and Macedonian political parties tempted to use less-than-fair means in their race for parliamentary seats. They may try to exploit dissatisfaction on both sides with the agreement. Militant groups such as the Albanian National Army could also seek to take advantage of an election to gather support.
Still, hopes remain that the divisions within the Albanian parties which could threaten the deal will be overcome by the momentum created by the negotiations and the signing of the accords before international representatives. With continuous monitoring by the international community, all parties will be under strong pressure to comply.
Ironically, the signing of the contentious Prizren agreement back in June may serve as a positive sign, suggesting that Albanians will respect the current agreement.
That agreement unified the demands of parliamentary parties and the NLA. It was harshly criticised at the time by the Macedonian authorities and foreign diplomats in Skopje. But, in the event, it did give an unofficial voice at the peace table to the rebels, who now accept the process.
Indeed, despite inevitable criticisms that too many compromises were made, sources at the Ohrid talks insist that Albanian political representatives made no compromises without first gaining the approval of NLA commanders.
Thus there are hopeful signals that, despite the challenges and potentially destabilising political and military splits, the Ohrid process will be accepted by the majority of Albanians, who will agree that the only solution in Macedonia is through political means.
Veton Latifi is a political analyst and IWPR editorial assistant in Macedonia.
The Sinister Transformation of the Status Quo
by Christopher Deliso
August 14, 2001
It was in December 1999, a week before the much-anticipated millennium, that a twenty-three year old Macedonian student named Ida made this gloomy prediction: "we will have a war," she told me. "I don't know when, but it will happen."
At that point, eight months after the NATO bombing of Serbia, Skopje was still a relatively quiet and peaceful city. Yet many Macedonians even then had strong suspicions that the Albanians would eventually try to unleash Kosovo-like chaos on their country. Even then, in 1999, the two populations were divided. Ida mentioned several stories that highlighted these divisions. She spoke of certain illegal, unregistered taxi companies (with names like "Union" and "Playa Vista") run by Albanians, which Macedonians avoided, because some Macedonian girls had been raped by the drivers. The Albanians in Skopje had a reputation for being lazy, or criminals, or both. The Macedonian National Library, said Ida, was full of Macedonians studying; the Albanians, on the other hand, went there to sleep. But a kind of political correctness was in effect, she alleged, whereby Macedonians could not say anything bad about the Albanians, even if it were true.
Macedonians had always been fearful of the inordinately high birth rate of Albanians. Ida told me that Albanian women from Kosovo or Albania proper would sometimes come across the border to have their babies, in order to claim Macedonian citizenship for the child. Or, she claimed, an Albanian family would just bring their newborn to Macedonia for the same purpose. The anecdotal nature of the charge notwithstanding, the problem was taken seriously enough by the authorities that midwives and gynaecologists (her mother was one), had to make official reports for every home birth they attended. Now, two years later, Macedonia is under siege because of both Albanian population shifts and tolerance of the KLA by NATO.
Recently I spoke with Ida again, in an email interview that re-addressed the issue of what has happened to Macedonia since 1999. Like many Macedonians, she does not believe that the NLA is fighting for "human rights." She reminded me of the rights that Albanians enjoyed before the violence began this March. "They (the Albanians) had their own primary and secondary schools, and as a minority they needed less points than Macedonians to enroll in University. They had TV and radio stations in Albanian language, taxi companies, and over time they took half of Skopje, as far as the Stone Bridge (on the River Vardar). So they had Bit Pazar (the old Turkish bazaar), Chair, Gazi Baba, Saraj, all those neighborhoods around Skopje; now was the perfect time to ask for their rights, since they were all around the city."
According to Ida, this phenomenon was repeated in other Macedonian towns: "The same is the case with Veles. They (the Albanians) colonized the villages between Skopje and Veles and in 1997 most of them got citizenship. That happened when (the politician) Branko Crvenkovski decreased the fifteen year period of living in Macedonia (to five years) he needed extra votes for the election. But none of this is a fact you could prove."
The Economic Angle
Without a doubt, changes in population played a large part in emboldening Macedonian Albanians to join forces with their cohorts in the KLA. The single most important event in population dynamics was the huge influx of Kosovars accepted by Macedonia during NATO's war against Serbia. The economic effects of this influx were compellingly presented to me in a recent interview with Dr. Sam Vaknin, until a month ago economic advisor to the Macedonian government. Dr. Vaknin, author of the critical study "After the Rain: How the West Lost the East," has an intimate knowledge of the Macedonian economy and its problems. The massive influx of Kosovars was, according to him, "a mixed blessing," but one that was more negative than positive. "The burden of accepting, harbouring, feeding, and accomodating 300,000 refugees (equal to 15% of the population) was crushing," Dr. Vaknin said. "Macedonia's infrastructure nearly collapsed under this onslaught and due to the heavy use by NATO/KFOR." The specific negative results of this "onslaught," according to Dr. Vaknin, were the cancellation of manufacturing orders for textiles by large German and American firms (and to a lesser extent, Greek). Agriculture also suffered badly, and the Macedonian wine and tobacco industries were "virtually demolished."
On the plus side, Dr. Vaknin claimed, the establishment of more than 60 NGO's in Macedonia after Spring 1999 meant the arrival of over 10,000 well-off foreigners who helped revitalize the service sector. Whether the establishment of such organizations has been good for Macedonia, however, is debatable. Some critics, such as Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa, contend that "human rights organizations" such as the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch are, despite their rhetoric, harmful to Macedonia. While they claim to be primarily concerned with promoting democratic values and inter-ethnic reconciliation, alleges Chossudovsky, "they work hand in glove with NATO. They are an integral part of the military-intelligence ploy. The role of these front organizations is to ensure that public resentment is directed against the Macedonian government and military rather than against Washington, NATO, or the IMF." (M. Chossudovsky, "Washington Behind Terrorist Attacks in Macedonia," Antiwar.com, 7/23/01).
The influence of Western organizations, from NATO all the way down to the smallest NGO, has had paradoxical effects on Macedonia. According to Dr. Vaknin, Macedonia's economy since 1999 had actually greatly improved, up until the NLA terrorism began in March. New legislation initiated by Nikola Guevski, Minister of Finance, gave Macedonia "an advanced legal infrastructure." The state also shut down most of its "loss-making industrial behemoths," and foreign investment had quintupled. At the beginning of this year, Macedonia was blessed with a budget surplus, due to new implementation of VAT. A 5% increase in the country's GDP was reported. "Things looked rosy," said Dr. Vaknin, "but the eruption of the insurgency by the NLA has changed all this painfully."
Most foreign deals were abrogated. "Trade collapsed by 20%. Industrial production plummeted by 9%, from an already delapidated base. Manufacturing orders and production contracts were called off." As violence spread this spring, airlines cancelled their flights to Skopje and fearful foreigners left the country. "The IMF did not renew the arrangement with Macedonia and the EU has suspended credit and aid facilities to exert pressure over Macedonian decision makers to show more transigence in the negotiations with the Albanians. The damage to the country's image as an investment destination is irreparable and irreversible."
But how did Macedonia get to this point? In the next part, I would like to show how the same foreign forces that were responsible for Macedonia's economic improvement also guided its descent into war. Simply put, Macedonia was the "fatted calf" being led to slaughter by the West; as we will see, the "mixed blessing" of Macedonia's aiding of NATO in 1999 has turned out to be a curse. Nowhere is the hypocrisy of Macedonia's "allies" in the West seen more clearly than in the curious and sinister transformation of the status quo between March 2001 and today.
HOW THE NLA BECAME FIGHTERS FOR 'EQUAL RIGHTS', AND THE MACEDONIANS BECAME 'ANGRY SLAVS'
The last 6 months: Does anyone remember what the status quo was, anyway?
The policy on the Macedonian crisis, as voiced by NATO, the U.S., and the mass media, has shifted significantly in three respects.
1. In the Western media, the NLA is condemned as "terrorists"; NATO's Lord Robinson calls them "murderous thugs." Albanian political parties in Skopje shun the NLA.
2. The West wholeheartedly gives its support to the Macedonian government, and also supports their refusal to negotiate with the NLA.
3. NATO states that Macedonia was "within its rights" to act militarily and purchase weapons in its own self-defense.
1. The NLA and Macedonian-Albanian parties are regarded as one and the same that is, legitimately struggling to win "equal rights" for their "oppressed" minority. The press refers to the NLA far more often as "ethnic rebels" or "freedom fighters" than as "terrorists." On the other hand, Macedonians are portrayed in pejorative terms, as "angry Slavs" or "hardline nationalists," who "rampage" for no reason.
2. The West repeatedly threatens the Macedonian government to force it to capitulate to Albanian demands. NATO plans a program of "voluntary disarmament" for the NLA, while demanding that these terrorists be exonerated and re-integrated into Macedonian society.
3. Macedonian use of force is condemned by NATO; Ukraine is strong-armed by America and the E.U. into suspending arms sales to Macedonia.
The best defense is a good offense
The disparity between March and August is startling. For someone who had been trapped on a deserted island for five months, it would not even seem like the same conflict. Two incidents in particular have changed the status quo completely. The first was Prizren; the second was Aracinovo.
In the first case, an American diplomat, Robert Frowick, aided the main Albanian parties in secretly joining forces with the NLA. The two sides met in Prizren, which was also the site of the first campaign for "Greater Albania" launched at the end of the nineteenth century. As such, the location had great symbolic value for the Albanians. Yet the secret dealings were revealed to the press on May 24. A firestorm of protest broke out from the Macedonian side. We must remember that up until this point the Albanian political leaders had pledged to support the legitimate government of Macedonia (of which they were a part), and deny the validity of the NLA. But with the revelation of a secret deal in Prizren, the cat was out of the bag: Xhaferi et. al were in collusion with the terrorists.
In the second case, a group of NLA rebels, holed up in the Skopje suburb of Aracinovo, were facing defeat by Macedonian security forces. Victory here would have been an enormous morale boost for the Macedonian people and a blow to the terrorists. Things took a spectacular turn when the NLA soldiers were evacuated, with their weapons, by American troops. When it was revealed that the U.S. had acted to protect seventeen American mercenaries (from the government-linked MPRI defense firm), it became obvious that the U.S. was playing an active role in training and fighting with the NLA, that is, with their professed enemy. Again, the cat was out of the bag: the U.S. was not Macedonia's ally.
The fascinating part of these two incidents is the similar reaction of the guilty parties. In both cases, they hit back with outright rejection and denunciation of the Macedonians. Obligingly, the Western mass media started emphasizing the angry reaction of the Macedonians over the blindingly obvious deceptions of the Albanians and the U.S., respectively. From late May, when the Prizren deal was revealed, to mid-June, when the Aracinovo farce occurred, the media has begun to "Serbify" the Macedonians that is, to apply to them all of the same baseless and inaccurate descriptors (such as"angry," "enraged," "riotous mobs") that were used so effectively in turning Western public opinion against the Serbs in 1999.
The Western media also began spouting outright lies, that subtly passed by without much notice. The most ludicrous was a piece by Juliet Terzieff, run in the San Francisco Chronicle ("Uproar over Pact with Macedonian rebels," 5/25/01). This article, which was actually concerned with reporting the Prizren deception, was a classic piece of anti-Macedonian rhetoric. In addition to the general pro-Albanian bias of the article, it was claimed that the "Slavs" and Albanians each comprise thirty percent of the population. The Macedonians, of course, comprise at least 67% of their own country. Despite several inquiries, the Chronicle neither explained nor retracted this clearly false statement.
The bottom line is this: when you're clearly in the wrong, a good offense is the best form of defense. The longer this conflict drags on, the more desperate the U.S. and NATO become. The more desperate they become, the louder they shout to drown out the clearly obvious truth: they have shifted the status quo, and Macedonia has been betrayed.
All's well that ends well for NATO and the NLA, at least
The concerted efforts of NATO, the media, and the NGOs has allowed there to exist now a treaty proposal which would have been laughed right off the table in March. In exchange for pardoning the NLA terrorists, and giving the Albanian language official status (both paving the way for the partition of the country and continued ethnic cleansing by the Albanians), the Macedonians get the assurance from NATO that the rebels will "voluntarily disarm." Actually, however, they don't really have to do so if they don't want; for NATO doesn't have the will to really enforce the disarmament agreement ("NATO says won't directly disarm the Macedonia rebels," Reuters, 8/8/01). A Macedonian demand that the rebels disarm when the treaty is signed was rebuked by NATO as being a "deal-breaker" ("Macedonia Peace Talks hit Roadblock," Reuters, 8/10/01). In other words, the Macedonians had better obey if they want to walk away with anything at all.
In short, it is endgame for Macedonia. While the reasons for Western interests in colonizing Macedonia including the AMBO oil pipeline, business expansion, and an Albanian-Turkish axis are too many to be discussed here, it is clear that NATO, to ensure a reason for its own existence, and the U.S., as usual, motivated by imperialistic greed, are in collusion with the NLA to rip Macedonia apart. The final goal is to chop the Balkans up even more into small, weak states that can easily be assimilated into the American economic empire. With their loyal helpers in the mass media, the U.S. will without a doubt find a way to eventually resolve the Macedonia crisis so that the NLA becomes the good guys, and the Macedonians just another bunch of "angry Slavs." The firmest ally of propaganda is repetition; if the media says for long enough that the world is flat, eventually we would have to believe them.
I asked Ida, the university student interviewed at the beginning of this article, how she felt now that her prediction about the war has come true. She now hopes to leave Macedonia, since it seems that the NLA will destroy her country. "Hopefully I won't be here to see that," she said. "I just hope my (unborn) children will have someone to speak to in Macedonian."
I asked if young Macedonian men were fired up with nationalistic patriotism to fight against the NLA, as the media has made it seem. I asked if they were all rushing to enlist in the army. Her answer was surprising.
"All the guys are in the bars or in (the resort town of ) Ochrid," Ida demurred. "They know, or most of them know, that the game is sold. They wouldn't risk their lives for nothing."
The eulogy for Macedonia has begun. And nothing, it seems, is what the Macedonians will be left with. The credit for this must go equally to NATO and the NLA.
The article originally appeared in Pravda.
Christopher Deliso is a San Francisco-based travel writer and journalist with special interest in the Balkans. He received his BA in Philosophy and Greek (Hampshire College, 1997) and an M.Phil with distinction in Byzantine Studies (Oxford University, 1999). From 1997-2000 Mr. Deliso lived and worked in Ireland, England, Turkey and Greece, and he spent one month in Macedonia in January, 2000. He is currently involved with investigating media and governmental policies regarding the Macedonian crisis, and he publishes regularly on European travel destinations."
"We must extinguish fires on the Balkans", Romanian Premier said.
Speaking for News.bg Agency after his meeting with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase expressed the Romanian position that the best way for achieving the strategic plans of Bulgaria and Romania- the membership in the European Union and the NATO - would be a common model and a tandem between the two countries. He also said that when a fire burst out, the important think is that the countries cooperate in order to put it out - as it happens on the Balkans, he explained later. President Petar Stoyanov has emphasized that building a good image here, on the Balkans, is a guarantee for the implementation of the strategic objectives that Bulgaria and Romania have set for themselves. Adrian Nastase also said that the two countries would like to send a common signal, which is the desire for a cooperation. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, who said that the common objectives, that Bulgaria and Romania are having, does not meen that these countries are competitors.
Simeon Received Nastase in Private.
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha received Romania's PM Adrian Nastase yesterday in his house in Borovets. The two talked for about hour and a half in the hunting chalet in Tsarska Bistritsa. This is one of the estates restituted to the King's family by the Constitutional Court. The guest ask Bulgaria and Rumania to aspire to EU and NATO together. Two hours later the UDF made a scandal on the matter of Nastase's visit.
Yesterday UDF raised a hell about the visit of the Romania's Premier Adrian Nastase. The reason was the declaration of the guest after his meeting with Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Tsarska Bistritsa. Nastase expressed once again the will of his country Bulgaria and Romania to join EU and NATO together. 'We would like to give a clear-cut sign before the public opinion, the media and the external factors, that we want to adopt a common formula, formula-tandem in our mutual path to the EU and NATO," Nastase said. 'We are to collaborate with Romania. Each of the countries, however, must draft a plan of her own to join NATO and to be assessed according to the performance, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy commented later. After the initial tete-a-tete meeting between Nastase and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha the two foreign ministers joined the conversation. They reached an agreement to set up a small group of experts to consider all unresolved bilateral issues.
Bulgaria and Romania will be together on the way to EU and NATO, Simeon and Nastase said.
Speaking for News.bg Agency after his meeting with Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase, Bulgarian Premier Simeon Koburg-Gotha said that they had carried out a constructive and interesting conversation, which revealed that the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Romania has always been very good. He also said they had agreed with his Romanian counterpart on that the most important as for foreign policy for the two countries would be the integration in the European Union and in the NATO. Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase said for News.bg Agency that finding a common formula for working together towards achieving the integration would be the most important task for the two countries. Problems about the building of the second bridge over the Danube River and about Bulgarian and Romanian nuclear power plants, as well as other issues, would be solved by expert groups formed by the two parts. The next meeting between the two Premiers is expected to take place at the NATO forum scheduled for the autumn in Sofia.
Union of Democratic Forces would not accept new formula for joining EU and NATO.
With regard to the statements made by Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase after his meeting with Simeon Koburg-Gotha, the Union of Democratic Forces expressed fears of adopting new formula for Bulgaria and Romania joining the European Union and the NATO together as a tandem, a report to the media distributed by the Union of Democratic Forces press-center reads. This formula contradicts the former one, according to which each country should be assessed individually. Because of firm and explicit defending this position by the Union of Democratic Forces government, in contrast with Romania, Bulgaria succeeded in being removed from the Shengen negative visa list. According to the Union of Democratic Forces, applying the new formula would mean delaying the adoption of Bulgaria in the European and NATO structures. In the same time, the position of Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi clearly says that every country should adhere to its own plan for joining the pact. This difference in position raises the question of whether the information, given to Bulgarian society, reflects real agreements and decision taken at the meeting between the Premiers of Bulgaria and Romania, the report also reads.
The fire in Ivaylovgrad region is spreading.
The fire in Ivaylovgrad region could not be restricted for the sixth consecutive day and has already destroyed 80,000 decares of forests and fields. Firefighters deployed on the southern side of the fire would not allow further spreading in this direction, although its spread in northern direction could not be stopped. Since yesterday, firemen from five regions neighboring Haskovo region have been going towards the northern side of the fire. According to latest information, the Greek helicopter MIG - 26 would not take part in fire fighting operations in Ivaylovgrad region. According to the management of the Haskovo firefighters service, the extinguishing efforts would continue for two more days. Vice President Todor Kavaljiev, Minister Nezhdet Mollov and the Director of National Fire and Breakdown Service Col. Kiril Voynov will hand over to the Haskovo service a new fire extinguishing truck for fighting fires in broken areas.
Dogan Dislodged from Power.
Dogan is mad that the people from the NMS II push out the representatives of the MRF to the fringe of power
A scandal about the distribution of real power levers has burst out between the NMS II and the MRF. Ahmed Dogan is mad that his people are not given the promised authorities, well-informed sources from his entourage told "Standart". After the latest appointments to the top positions Dogan is seriously considering the withdrawal of his party from the ruling coalition. The King's people took up the functions of the MRF representatives and step by step pushed them out to the fringe of power. I have information that our ministers are gradually being stripped of authority, confirmed Osman Oktai, member of the MRF leadership.
All key positions below the level of minister will be distributed by the King's men, who primarily will be vested in power, he explained further. The last scandal burst out at the end of the past week. It was about the jurisdiction of minister without portfolio, Nezhdet Mollov. It was regulated by the first amendment to the Structural Regulations of the Council of Ministers adopted during the sitting on Thursday. I don't know anything about the relationships between Dogan and the Premier, was the comment of minister Mollov before "Standart". He hasn't heard that his jurisdiction caused arguments within the coalition. My jurisdiction remains the same as it was under ex-minister Pramatarski, he added. My range of authorities has not been described in the coalition agreement, so I have nothing to be disappointed about. Mollov has not discussed his functions in the cabinet either with Dogan or the Premier.
Team of "Standart"