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Patriarch Maxim Asked PM for Help. Patriarch Maxim and Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha met yesterday at the request of Bulgaria's spiritual head and the Holy Synod. His Holiness asked the government once again to step up the restitution of the patrimonies and the properties, buildings and candle-works misappropriated by the schismatics. The prime-minister pledged to make familiar with the problem. Photo Stoyan Nenov (ML)
MACEDONIAN POLICE TO PATROL IN 15 VILLAGES STARTING FROM THURSDAY.
The Plan on redeployment of the police in the crisis regions that are not under their control will begin on Thursday and will be realized in the next 55 days," spokesperson of the Coordinate Crisis Management Body Zoran Tanevski informed at Wednesday's press conference.
The Plan will be realized in cooperation with NATO, OSCE and EU missions.
Head of the Crisis Management Center within the governmental Coordinate Body General Aleksadar Doncev informed that the police will enter Orlance and Ljuboten villages in Skopje region, Nerovo, Cerovo, Otusiste, Odri, Neraste, Dobroste and Glogji villages in Tetovo region, Ropajce, Nikustak and Vistica villages in Kumanovo region and Cajle, Balin Dol and Raven villages in Gostivar region.
The police officers will wear their usual uniforms and will have only personal arming. Their activities will focus on the realization and implementation of the amnesty, declared with Statement by President Boris Trajkovski.
Mixed police teams comprised of 4-6 police officers will patrol from 10.00-13.00 on the first day, and the time will be prolonged according to the security situation.
General Doncev informed that several preparations have been made in coordination with the Macedonian security forces and NATO forces as well as the humanitarian organizations. There are around 1,600 domestic and 35 foreign humanitarian organizations in the country.
"Several leaflets have been developed within the preparations such as the leaflet on the meaning of amnesty, benefits of the displaced persons as well as instructions for the police teams that will start to enter the villages on Thursday," General Doncev said.
Asked on what grounds the decision for withdrawing the security post between Slupcane and Vaksince villages was made, General Doncev said that it was due to the strategic reasons and was made in consultation with the security forces.
"According to the opinion of the experts involved in the strategic operations of the security forces, in the police, army and NATO we believe that it is not safe some of the posts to remain on the same locations, so probably we will remove some posts in the other regions as well," he said.
Answering the question why it was necessary the soldiers from Task Forces Fox to arrive on the post between Slupcane and Vaksince, Doncev said that the aim was not to create buffer zone, but only to carry out the controlling activities. The Army used to control the persons, vehicles and the luggage, but now these activities will be carried out by the police and the Army will withdraw.
He explained that there was no information that the mandate of Task Forces Fox has been changed, adding that they will only patrol in the region.
"They will patrol in the region near the state border, meaning that they will collect the illegally possessed weapons. The security problems present in that region could spill over in Macedonia unless they are appropriately handled. Therefore we requested from NATO Task Forces to participate in the securing of the state border," General Doncev stressed.
PROGRAM ON TRANSBOUNDARY COOPERATION BETWEEN MACEDONIA AND GREECE.
Under the motto "A Bridge to Europe" a conference was held Wednesday in Skopje in order to finalize the realization of the program on transboundary cooperation between Macedonia and Greece, financed through FARE program.
The conference was held in organization of the Delegation of the European Commission to Skopje and the Macedonian Government.
Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications Ljupco Balkovski addressing to the attendants said that the program in amount of 37 million enabled realization of several projects in the sectors of joint interest to the both countries.
He stressed that the program on transboundary cooperation 1996-1999 offered solid financial framework for developing range of projects for cooperation between the two countries. With this program projects in the field of transport infrastructure, protection of environment and social-economic development are being realized.
"The positive results from the realization of this program are another proof that Macedonia has a potential to absorb the funds of the European Union that would be available to the country," Minister Balkovski said.
Stressing that the successful realization of the program would be a contribution to building a bridge between Macedonia and Greece, Balkovski stressed that further investments should be made on bilateral grounds.
"I believe that the European Union through its funds and the instruments of the European Commission would continue to support the cooperation between the two countries," Balkovski said.
Head of the European Commission delegation to Macedonia Hose Manual Pinto Teixeira also addressed at the conference saying that the program on transboundary cooperation was aimed to enhance the cooperation between the two countries i.e. to surpass the problems and to promote the development in the transboundary region.
Expressing hope that the other donors would support these projects, Teixeira said that EU would continue to grant assistance to Macedonia.
He stressed that with the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and EU, other types of assistance are offered through CARDS program.
According to him, all projects within this program on transboundary cooperation were completed successfully and expressed hope that they will have positive impact on the development in the region.
Head of the Greek Liaisons Office to Macedonia George Kaklikis assessing the results from the program as successful, said that with the realization of the programs on local level, the connections between the partners from both countries were established and global economic and political network would be established between Macedonia and Greek.
He announced that Athens has an intention to support the program, adding that Greece was one of the greatest investors in the country with around $400 million.
The program on transboundary cooperation was established in 1994 by the European Parliament, as a basic initiative within FARE program on transboundary cooperation between EU regions and the neighboring regions of Central and Eastern Europe.
The implementation of the Program on transboundary cooperation between Greece and Macedonia started in 1996, when Macedonia became a member of FARE program. The realization of the projects is carried out through a special department within the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
The projects for upgrading of E-75 road in Bogorodica Gevgelija and Demir Kapija Udovo Gevgelija regions as well as the reconstruction of the border crossings Bogorodica and Medzitlija have been carried out within the program.
Priorities of this program, financed by the PHARE program, were projects on transport infrastructure, protection of environment and social-economic development, Balkoski said later on at a press conference, expressing satisfaction with the successful realization of the program.
Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Macedonia, said that the European Union would continue to support such projects by the CARDS program, adding that an amount of Euro 47 million was approved for this year, aimed for projects that are to be realized in the next few years.
According to Teixeira, additional Euro 30 million will be granted for healing of the wounds from the crisis in Macedonia, as well as another 25 million for reconstruction of the residential buildings. Negotiations on granting additional 10 million for reconstruction of the electric-power supply system in the crisis region were underway, Teixeira said.
Macedonians Pay Price for Peace with Rebels.
By Kole Casule
SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonians never imagined they would need earphones to understand debate in parliament or use a foreign language to buy food, but a new era distasteful to many looms as the price of peace with rebel minority Albanians.
A veritable constitutional revolution has been imposed by a Western-brokered peace accord with minority Albanian guerrillas, whose February-August uprising for better civil rights brought the tiny Balkan republic to its knees.
If the constitutional amendments recently ratified by parliament are carried out, Macedonian's majority community must get used to things they thought would never happen.
Aside from ethnic Albanians speaking their own language in parliament and exercising a right to speak only Albanian to shop customers, Macedonian could face the possibility of being stopped for spot checks by an ethnic Albanian policeman.
Or even being tried by an ethnic Albanian judge.
``Those are a few changes more than ordinary Macedonians are willing to accept overnight,'' a senior government aide said.
Since Macedonia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, minority Albanian parties have taken part in government. But the use their language at state level was not allowed and their presence in public services was minimal.
But things should change now and there may well be a backlash from aggrieved Macedonians across the board for whom the peace accord was a ``sell-out to terrorists'' imposed by Western diplomatic and financial pressure.
Minority Albanians comprise about a third of the population and that share is growing, given a birthrate outstripping that of the former Yugoslav republic's majority.
TREAT THEM AS EQUALS
Their new rights include the use of Albanian in state and legislative business, jobs in state institutions, including police, commensurate with their share of the population, and devolution to majority Albanian municipalities.
What this means for Macedonians is that that they must work side by side with Albanians, adapt to using their language in some public offices, give them space to display their symbols and culture -- in essence, to treat them as equals.
Although the national assembly has ratified the peace plan and introduced the changes into the constitution, it will be difficult to convince people to accept them in practice.
``People thought that when they passed the constitutional reforms, the hardest part was over. They didn't understand or actually realize (the underlying meaning) of some of these steps,'' said Edward Joseph, senior analyst in Macedonia for the International Crisis Group think-tank.
Parliament may prove the most obvious example of how unprepared Macedonians are for their brave new post-war world.
``You will never speak Albanian in this parliament, at least not while I'm here,'' a Macedonian MP said dismissively to an ethnic Albanian colleague after the ratification vote.
There are already signs of trouble in implementing the reforms. Parliament last week failed to elect new municipal court judges because the candidates were all Albanians. Ethnic Albanian MPs walked out in protest, shutting down the session.
The new constitution calls for proportional representation of all ethnicities in public office. But Macedonian legislators seemed loath to enable ethnic Albanian judges to try anyone.
Efforts to pass a bill that would undo rigid centralization of power have bogged down in ethnic confrontation that World Bank and other international experts are now trying to resolve.
Macedonian MPs fear that ceding serious powers to municipal governments will spawn ``federalization,'' effectively splitting the brittle little country of two million people.
Ethnic Albanians are insisting on considerable self-rule -- as the text of the peace deal stipulated, but without delving into the wrenching practical detail.
LAWLESS REBEL NORTH
Another serious stumbling block to lasting peace could be the restoration of state security in the lawless rebel north, due to start later this week but prone to pitfalls.
The interior ministry, headed by nationalist hawk Ljube Boskovski, is seen by many Macedonians as the pillar of a continuing battle against ``Albanian terrorists.'' The guerrillas disbanded but retained weapons and gunfire remains common.
Under the peace accord, the ministry must employ 1,000 ethnic Albanian policemen over the next 18 months to be assigned to the very areas where guerrilla compatriots rose up.
``We will have to persuade the former enemies to work side by side,'' a Western diplomat in Skopje said.
Despite all the barriers, the international community is optimistic that peace still has a chance, emphasizing that all reforms need time to take root, like anywhere else.
``There are no immediate solutions to a crisis like this. This type of reform just takes time and people will get used to them,'' the diplomat told Reuters.
Bulgarian Captured Dangerous Sniper in Kossovo.
Captain Simeon Simeonov arrested an Albanian, who killed peaceful civilians in Kossovska Mitrovitza.
Risking his life Bulgarian policeman Captain Simeon Simeonov captured a dangerous Albanian sniper, killing peaceful civilians in Kossovska Mitrovitza. '200 people cried in hysteria that somebody was shooting at them', Captain Simeonov from the UN mission in Kossovo said before 'Standart'. At this moment the shooting started again and bullets whizzed at almost no distance from him. Simeonov and his American colleague Joe Napolitano didn't obey the order to return to their unit and started alone towards the place of firing. 'We saw a 19-year old man and understood that he isn't a Serb. Despite his furious resistance, we succeeded to detain him', Captain Simeonov said. For the risk, which exceeds the normal duties of policemen, leader of the mission of UN in Kossovo Christophen Albiston sent a letter of gratitude to General Vassil Vassilev, Chief of the Bulgarian Police. Captain Simeonov learnt from 'Standart' that Interior Minister Petkanov will award him for his professionalism.
Albanian I Detained Killed Many Peaceful People.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Simeon Simeonov
It is high time for me to dedicate myself to the Bulgarian IM too, said captain Simeon Simeonov for 'Standart'
- Captain Simeonov, how did you detain the dangerous sniper?
- I was at the police station in Mitrovitsa. We heard several shots. There came an announcement on the radio station of shooting at peaceful civilians near the industrial combine near Mitrovitsa. My American colleague Joe Nappolitano and I immediately headed for the scene. We found some 200 people who were shouting hysterically saying that they were being shot at. We had just established that no one had been injured, when we heard shots again. We could hear the whizz of bullets. In the chaos I managed to detect which direction the bullets came from. Then everything calmed down. On the radio station our command ordered us to go back to the headquarters. They explained us that a special unit had to be set up. However, gathering the people takes at least two hours and we didn't have this time. My American colleague and I decided to act by ourselves. We managed to reach the scene of the shooting without being noticed by the attackers. Then we saw a 19-year-old youth clad in sports outfit. From his speech I could understand that he was not a Serb. Despite his fierce resistance we managed to detain him.
- Was he armed?
- No. Later on we found the sniper gun. Then experts said it had produced the shots.
- Could you establish the identity of the assassin?
- He is an Albanian who lives in the northern section of Mitrovitsa. There are some 100 or so houses of ethnic Albanians. He is charged with the assassination of many peaceful civilians in Kosovska Mitrovitsa.
- Interior minister Petkanov will award you for your high professionalism. Where did you start your career from?
- I didn't know that the minister would award me. Thank you for the good news. But what counts more is that during the two years spent in Mitrovitsa, I saved many human lives. I started as an ordinary policeman, then I was promoted to the rank of chief of department. I've been in the special unit since March. The unit deals with the threats and kidnappings of employees of the mission. Before joining that department, there used to be threats against the UN every day, they used to kidnap and beat them. I'm proud of the fact that while being in the unit there had been not a single such case.
- Will you go back to Kosovska Mitrovitsa?
- I'd like to go back but I think that it is high time for me to dedicate myself to the Bulgarian IM too. I'm a Bulgarian policeman and would like to help our police. Besides, I have a wife and an 8-year-old son. They were worried for me during these two years.
Hooded Thugs Kill Old Man for 500 levs.
Three masked thugs yesterday broke into the house of an old couple in the village of Kragoulevo near Dobritch. Teodor Dimitrov (59) the owner of the house died from his wounds after the bandits battered him severely. The intruders broke into the house while the owners were sleeping and started to beat them with blunt objects. Then they took their savings, the tucked-away 500 levs and fled. Half-dead, Ginka Dimitrova gave testimony. The family was poor and looked after 3 cows in their yard. Twenty days ago their only son left for Cyprus as a Gastarbeiter.
Stoyanov Doesn't Want Russian Missiles.
The missiles SS-23 should be categorically destroyed as quickly as possible in order to become clear that this is not a temporary flirt with the Euroatlantic Treaty, President Peter Stoyanov said yesterday. To him each delay will be directed against the Bulgarian national interests. Beating about bush will decrease our chance for NATO membership, he warned. Parvanov wants their destruction to be delayed.
"Missile for Missile" Is Not Acceptable Principle.
Director of the Atlantic Club, exclusively for "Standart"
The question about SS-20 missiles has been under discussion for several years, and it makes me happy that finally the government will find a positive solution to it. Thus, our chances to become NATO members will increase considerably. The Bulgarian army doesn't need weaponry of this class any more, we have to think of arms' modernization and optimization. Why none of the opponents to the idea of missiles' destruction calculate how much will their maintenance cost to the Bulgarian taxpayer? The money we could economize may be spent on modernization or purchase of new arms. It's good news that president-elect, Parvanov realized that the destruction of SS-23 missiles is an important factor for the future Euroatlantic orientation of Bulgaria. To put the solution on ice is highly unreasonable. Because it's more than evident that the issue has a direct bearing on our invitation to NATO expected in 2002 during the Prague summit. I do understand the emotional attitude of the would-be vice-president Gen. Angel Marin towards the weapons that became a benchmark in his military carrier. But all decisions pertaining to the national security must be rational, not emotional. Mr. Parvanov and Mr. Marin set forward the principle "missile for missile", which is unacceptable and involves unnecessary expenditures. After all it is the terrorists, not neighbors who are a new hazard to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria - 6 Min. Early in Anti-Terrorism Action.
Bulgaria was 6 min. early to express its condolences to the victims of the terrorist attack of September 11 in the USA It was considered the action to be held simultaneously all over the world with the performance of the National anthem. A few citizens came in front of 'Saint Sofia' church, while all the statesmen were present with the exception of the Prime minister. Stoyan Ganev represented him. Parliamentary chairman Ognyan Gerdzhikov said in his address that terrorism is one of the greatest dangers of the century and it must be rooted out.
NATO Chief Praises us Before the US Senate.
The Commander-in-chief of the NATO forces in Europe Gen. Joseph Ralston will make a possitive report about Bulgaria. This became clear after his meeting with Foreign Minister Solomon Passy in Mons, Belgium. Passy is on a working visit in Belgium. This report will be based on our efforts in the Western Balkans, on the successful functioning of the staff of the multinational forces in Plovdiv and on the base in Bourgas granted not long ago, Minister Passy said.
IMF Allots for Bulgaria up to $300 Million.
The Fund insists on transparent price policy in power and central heating supplies, as well as on the fund reduction for loss-making companies.
The agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be for 2-year term and will provide funds worth up to $300 million, said yesterday deputy-minister of finance Atanas Katsarchev after 5-hour negotiations with the IMF. 'We agreed on lots of issues and the negotiations are successful,' Jerald Schiff, head of IMF mission, added. 'I'm optimistic that they will result in an agreement,' he elaborated. The major issues on the agenda are related to energy sector, transport, healthcare and taxes. The IMF requires a long-term and clear policy on the prices of electricity and central heating. The Fund insists also on a step-by-step subsidies suspension and liberalization of the market.
Bulgaria to Lose 30 Mln Euro from EU.
Bulgaria does not put to use the funds allotted under the preadmission PHARE and ISPA programs. So, we are on the brink of losing 30 million euro, Vice-PM Kostadin Paskalev said at the general meeting of the National Association of Municipalities yesterday. We are lagging behind by some 2 or 3 years in terms of fulfilling the projects. The sluggish administration is to blame for it, Paskalev elaborated. Next year we are to establish five new departments within the Ministry of Regional Development. Thus, we will facilitate putting to use the currency allotted for the programs' implementation, the Vice-PM pledged.
Bulgarian Kid Abandoned At Seoul Airport for Two Days.
A Bulgarian kid had to sleep two nights at the airport in Seoul, Darik radio broadcast yesterday. Bulgaria's national cyber games team returned yesterday from the world championship in South Korea without their youngest player. Georgi Simeonov lost his air ticket 20 minutes before the flight. He asked Bulgaria's embassy in Seoul for help. The Consul, however, refused to take the child for the reason that the embassy could not house up anyone. Georgi was forced to sleep two days at the airport waiting for the next flight to Paris.
It Is Nice That Sofianski Is Willing to Partner with Us.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Stoyan Ganev
The White Paper is a process, people are asking how did it come that nobody assumed the responsibility, Director of the PM's Cabinet Stoyan Ganev says.
- Mr Ganev, what is Bulgaria to benefit from the UN Development Program seminar on stabilizing the state administration?
- Bulgaria has the opportunity to gain financial support to build up a strategic think-tank. It is necessary that the future think-tankers have at least the average for the country financial bases. Financial incentives in the state government machine are reduced to a minimum. We have to search for new forms to settle this matter. But not by raising wages, as it is extremely difficult at this stage. But in Serbia, for example, the UN has established in recent months, let's call them "grants", allotted by international research institutes, providing Serbs at key posts in world institutions - banks, etc., with the opportunity to take part in the functioning of the state.
- Will the White Paper be continued?
- It is a process. People are right to wonder how did it come that no one of the politicians assumed any symbolic legal responsibility at the least, for what happened. The industry was plundered before their eyes. But no guilty were found. This is why the White Paper is both an ethical and political issue rather than a legal one. The legal part of it is within the competence of the prosecution and the court.
- What are the expectations form PM's Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotah's visit to Germany?
- It is for a first time that such a visit is focused on how, economically, Bulgaria anа Germany should make a genuine leap in their cooperation through particular projects, rather than on general political and economic debates. The Premier will have the honour to speak at a great meeting of German business circles. On December 13, early in the afternoon, he is to deliver a speech. He is to answer to their questions. Then there will be a dinner with quite a large circle of representatives of German business. On the next day many meetings with German business spheres are envisaged.
- Can the NMS and Sofianski's party partner in the right-wing political space?
- The party which was set up two days ago is an interesting phenomenon which will, undoubtedly, search for a road of its own. But I would rather call it - in the space of expectations. Undoubtedly, it is a nice fact, that Sofianski points out the need for cooperation with our movement and the government.
Lord Hanningfield Predicts EU Accession for Bulgaria, Romania in 2007.
Sofia, December 12 (BTA) - Bulgaria and Romania will most likely be acceded to the EU in 2007 since these two countries will not be able to meet all membership requirements and sign an agreement by late 2002, said Lord Hannigfield, member of the EU Committee for the Regions (CR). He attended Wednesday a conference on the role of Bulgarian municipalities in Euro-integration.
Most likely, membership agreements will be signed with the EU in 2002 by only 10 countries since they have longstanding membership preparations and have already met the EU criteria, Hanningfield said. In his view, Bulgaria made a huge step forward in Euro-integration in the past 12 months but that will not be enough to catch up to those countries by late 2002. He said a lot of work remains to be done to improve the operation of the Bulgarian judicial system and public administration.
If Bulgaria close out the negotiations on all acquis communautaire chapters and completes the reforms, it could be acceded with the first wave of countries, Hanningfield said, playing down the likelihood of this happening over the next 12 months.
Coalition for Bulgaria parliamentary group secretary Irina Bokova described as a political mistake on the part of the EU the possibility that Bulgaria may not be included in the first enlargement wave. "We are aware of the backlog of work that still needs to be done but if Bulgaria is not acceded en bloc with the other applicants, the reforms will stall further," she warned.
Later on Wednesday, Hanningfield will co-sign a declaration with Venelin Uzunov, chairman of the managing board of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), expressing CR's readiness to cooperate with the association on the formation of a joint committee. Eight representatives of CR and NAMRB will sit on the committee which will facilitate cooperation between Bulgarian and EU municipalities. The committee is expected to be formed in the next couple of months.
The latest deadline for adopting the candidate countries in the European Union is 2006.
Speaking with Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi during the current round of negotiations for joining the European Union, the European partners of Bulgaria had expressed for the first time the opinion that the latest deadline for adopting the candidate countries in the European Union should be 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Elena Poptodorova said for News.bg Agency. She said that the discussion was very useful and intensive, and announced that the partners noticed both the formal and the actual progress of Bulgaria in the negotiations for membership. The remaining three chapters are expected to be open during the Spanish Chairmanship of the European Union, and the negotiations to be finished more quickly, she said, and announced that Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi had started talks about the forthcoming visit of Georghy Parvanov in Brussels. According to her, after the warm welcoming of Solomon Pasi in Washington earlier this month, the chances of Bulgaria to receive an invitation for membership of NATO next year became bigger. Solomon Pasi had announced the decision of the government to destroy the SS-23 rockets as soon as possible, eventually by November 2002, she said.
Simeon Koburg-Gotha expressed hopes that Bulgaria would be invited by NATO in 2002.
"It would not be fair to say that some countries would enter the European Union even in the first round, while other countries should have to wait longer", Bulgarian Premier Simeon Koburg-Gotha said in an interview for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung apropos his forthcoming visit in Germany. He expressed his hopes that Bulgaria would be adopted as early in 2004. In his interview, he emphasized that the rule that each country should be evaluated according to its own achievements should also be applied to Bulgaria and Romania, and added that the government was working very energetically to an early Bulgarian membership of the European Union, because this aim was having an absolute priority. He assessed the statement of the French Foreign Minister Vedrine as very interesting and important for Bulgaria. He also said that Bulgarian - German relations were very good, although no special relations between Sofia and Berlin existed. He expressed confidence that Bulgaria would receive an official invitation to become a member of NATO at the end of the next year, reminding the actions of Bulgaria after the events of September 11. He also reminded that the reform of Bulgarian army to prepare it for the membership of NATO was continuing.
VIOLENCE TARGETING THE ETHNIC GREEK MINORITY IN ALBANIA.
Brussels, 12 December 2001 (17:08 UTC+2)
Greek Euro-deputy Christos Zacharakis, elected with the right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy, accused the Albanian authorities of violent behavior targeting the ethnic Greek minority in Himara referring to the demolition of "unlicensed" houses that belonged to members of the minority.
Mr. Zacharakis stressed that the actions against the ethnic Greek minority were ordered by the Albanian mayor of Himara, adding that his election was not recognized as legal by the observers of the Council of Europe. He called on the Euro-Parliament to take under consideration these events in view of the preparations for the negotiations aimed at the signing of a Stability and Cooperation Pact between the EU and Albania.