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Fire Reduced to Ashes Railways Administration. A fierce fire raged at night in the building office of the Railways Administration - Sofia. Sixty firemen extinguished the blazes 3 hours. "It was very difficult because of the merciless wind and the temperatures below zero," Col. Kiril Voinov, head of the National Fire and Emergency Service said. Trains are on normal regime because the dispatchers were moved to another place, employees from the Railways said.
MACEDONIAN SECURITY FORCES CONTINUE THE REDEPLOYMENT PROCESS.
Ethnically mixed police patrols have carried out their duties Friday in most of the villages in the crisis regions.
Their activities were realized according to the plan in the villages of Ljuboten and Orlance near Skopje; of Ropljce, Vistica and Nikustak near Kumanovo, in Cajle Balin Dol and Raven near Gostivar and in Glogi and Otusiste near Tetovo.
Macedonian authorities in cooperation with the international organization are making efforts top create condition for implementing of the Plan on re-deployment of the police patrols in the villages of Dobroste, Odri and Neraste, while the snow weather prevents entering in the villages of Nerovo i Cerovo. The activities will continue tomorrow in compliance with the Plan.
Coordinate Crisis Management Body Zoran Tanevski stated for MIA, that setting of barricades in the village of Dobroste, aimed at preventing the entrance of the police, would be considered as an obstruction of the officials to perform their duties, which is against the Law.
The Macedonian police started Thursday with a realization of the Plan for redeployment of the security forces in 15 villages in four regions of Macedonia.
Ethnically mixed police patrols carried out their duties without problems in the villages of Ljuboten and Orlanci near Skopje; the villages of Ropajce, Vistica and Nikustak near Kumanovo; the villages of Cajle, Balin Dol and Raven near Gostivar and the villages of Glogi and Otususte near Tetovo.
Due to snow blanket, entering in the villages of Merovo and Cerovo is postponed, while the local population of Dobroste set a blockade, preventing entrance of police units in the village.
Expectations are that the problems will be resolved in cooperation with the OSCE and EU monitoring missions, and NATO mission "Amber Fox", as well as with the local population, enabling further realization of the Plan for re-deployment of the police.
Estimations are that solid preparations of the Governmental Coordinate Body in cooperation with OSCE, EU and NATO missions nave contributed to successful realization of today's activities, despite the expected obstacles. This is a step forward in realizing of the peace plan of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, aimed at establishing control in the whole country, restoring of peace and security, and creating conditions for safe return of the displaced persons to their homes.
Upholding of the re-deployment process by individuals will be considered as an attempt for blocking of the peace process.
Ethnic mixed police teams have entered Thursday into the villages of Cajle, Balin Dol and Raven near Gostivar and Ljuboten and Orlance villages, near Skopje. The police wearing their usual uniforms and carrying only their personal armament will patrol until 13.00h.
The local residents from Dobroste village did not allow to the Macedonian police to enter explaining that they are celebrating the Ramadan holidays. Dobroste is on the road leading to Odri and Neraste villages, so the police cannot enter these two villages as well.
Macedonian security forces around 13.00h on Thursday have entered into Nikustak, Vistica and Ropaljce villages in Lipkovo region.
The mixed police patrols accompanied by the monitors from OSCE have started the three-hour patrol in Nikustak, and in Vistica and Ropalce villages.
The entrance of the police forces in Nikustak was welcomed by head of Kumanovo police department Dragi Nestorovski, Mayor of Lipkovo Husamedin Halili and the representatives from OSCE mission.
According to them the entrance of the police has been significant success not only for realization of the plan for redeployment of the Macedonian security forces in the crisis regions, but also for improving the safety and normalizing the life in Lipkovo villages.
Prior to the entrance of the first police patrols in three Lipkovo villages, talks were held among the representatives of the Interior Ministry, OSCE, NATO and the representatives of the three local communities. They agreed the technique and the other details for safe and unrestricted redeployment of the Macedonian security forces according to the plan and the dynamic of the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body.
After entering of Macedonian police forces in the villages of Glogi and Otusiste, NATO spokesman Craig Ratcliff expressed hope that despite the difficulties in some villages, the plan for re-deployment of the police forces would be completed successfully.
Spokesperson of the European Union Claris Pasztory was slightly disappointed, as the police could not enter in some villages in the region of Tetovo.
"I would have been happy if the Macedonian police could only pass through the villages of Dobroste, Neraste and Odri, but I know that local citizens do not allow it. The EU will have to find the reasons for that, and I hope that gradual returning of the police forces in villages, including those that were inaccessible today, will continue tomorrow," Pasztory said.
However, she considers that entering of police in two villages was a promising start.
According to last information by Zoran Tanevski, spokesman of the Governmental Coordinate Body, police patrols could not enter in the village of Dobroste because of blockades, set by the local population. Entering in the villages of Cerevo and Nerevo was canceled due to snow blanket.
Patrolling in the villages of Ljuboten, Orlanci, Cajle, Balin Dol, Raven Ropajce and Vistice has been carried out without any problems.
PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ANDOV IN BRUSSELS.
Macedonian Parliament's speaker Stojan Andov met Friday with NATO Secretary General George Robertson and with speaker of Belgian Senate Arman de Deiker and Herman De Croo, President of the Belgian House of Representatives.
As MIA reports, at the meeting with Robertson they expressed their mutual satisfaction that Macedonia succeeded to make positive changes in short time. Andov informed Robertson on the implementation of the new mechanism on decision making in the Macedonian Parliament.
It was noted that the Macedonia should enhance its international position and to promote the relations of partnership and cooperation with NATO and EU.
Andov stressed that Robertson's statement "that several countries including Macedonia have equal options for joining NATO" was positively welcomed. According to Robertson Macedonia has all chances on its side for joining NATO.
The talks with De Deiker and De Croo focused on the current situation in Macedonia, the implementation of Framework Agreement and enhancing the bilateral relations between Macedonian and Belgian parliaments.
Andov pointed out that with the constitutional amendments a complex mechanism was established, which is probed and implemented in practice. He stressed that the existing institutional political dialogue and the stability in Macedonia depend on the position of the international community.
It was also pointed out that the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and EU in the Belgian Parliament will be a true confirmation of the cooperation and support granted from Belgium. It is expected that Belgium as host-country of the European Union will initiate the ratification of the Agreement.
Mutual readiness was expressed for further enhancement of the inter-parliamentary relations, which as it was assessed are extremely for better understanding and cooperation.
As MIA finds out, Stojan Andov will visit Great Britain at the beginning of next week, prior to the beginning of the EU Summit on the future and enlargement of the European Union. The visit aims to speed up the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and EU.
Speaker of the Macedonian Parliament Stojan Andov met Thursday in Brussels with the European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security policy, Javier Solana.
The meeting was focused on implementing of the Macedonia-EU Cooperation Agreement of 1998; the Interim Agreement for Economic Cooperation and the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).
The officials agreed that faster ratification of SAA would accelerate the surpassing of the crisis in Macedonia.
In that respect, Andov asked for EU support in accelerating of the SAA ratification by the parliaments of the EU member countries.
The officials also estimated that firs information on restoring of order by re-deployment of the Macedonian security forces in the crisis regions were encouraging. They expressed hope that the process would be carried out successfully and would create conditions for restoring peace and security in Macedonia, as well as for returning of the displaced persons to their homes.
PRESS CONFERENCE WITH MACEDONIAN AND CROATIAN MINISTERS OF ENVIRONMENT.
Macedonian and Croatian ministers of environment and planning Vladimir Dzabirski and Bozo Kovacevic confirmed the good cooperation at Friday's press conference announcing that it would be soon officialized with signing a Memorandum on cooperation.
The ministers discussed their experiences in protecting the environment as well as the international projects that Macedonia and Croatia as member-countries of the Stability Pact and the Regional Program on Reconstruction of the Environment are obliged to realize.
As Minister Dzabirski stressed the Thursday's talks were also focused on managing the solid waste i.e. the implementation of Basel convention for transboundary management of the waste.
They also reviwed several issues from the area of sustainable development, and area where Croatia has achieved significant results in comparison with Macedonia, the adherence of the legislature with EU standards, protection of great lakes, protection and managing the bio-diversity.
As Minister Kovacevic informed the scheduled meeting among the companies and the enterprises for using the solid waste and establishing consortium for joint presentation in front of the different funds did not take place as the Croatian representatives could not arrive due to the bad weather.
Confirming the good cooperation between the two countries Kovacevic said that the obligations arising from Stabilization and Association Agreement signed with EU, Macedonia and Croatia should be realized soon.
"In some areas Macedonia is more advanced than Croatia such as the establishment of the Fund on environment, but on the other hand Croatia has already developed strategy for protection of the bio-diversity and several action plans that are already implemented," Kovacevski said, adding that Croatian knowledge in managing the solid waste could be of great use for Macedonia.
Parvanov Wins a Battle, Let Him Get Ready for War.
The battle which began as early as the night of November 18 for the leadership within the BSP left the deep waters of the discreet overtures, preliminary compromises and gentlemanly agreements. The battle came to the fore. Without any surprises. Georgi Parvanov pointed to Sergey Stanishev as his favorite for the post of chairman. Parvanov's preferences were expected and symbolic. The young man who is a specialist in international affairs enjoys prestige and connections both among the European and most of all among the German social democrats and among the heirs to the CPSU in Moscow. His very age and education make him acceptable for NATO's headquarters in Brussels too. And they in Brussels have been closely following every move of the socialist president-elect. So that in all likelihood though maybe after stormy debates, Stanishev will be the new BSP leader as early as tomorrow. However, his mandate will expire next spring when the regular congress of the century-old party will be held. Parvanov will win the first battle in establishing his line within the BSP. However, winning the war is still ahead. As for Parvanov, he has already proved that he is indeed capable of neutralizing his opponents and rivals.
Kresna Gorge Takes 6 More Lives.
Woman died, five other people were severely injured after an accident on a dangerous road.
Vladimir Simeonov The dangerous road around Kresna gorge was again stained with blood after an awful head-on car crush. A 47-year-old woman died on the spot in a fatal car accident. Five other passengers in both cars are badly injured. One of them, a man, is in a coma. One kilometer away from Kresna a BMW driven by Milen Vassilev from Sevlievo (28) hit head-on a Vilvo. The driver of the Volvo was Vassil Panayotov Todorov (47). Both cars drove at a high speed when they crushed into each other. The woman in the Volvo, in the passenger seat, died on the spot. She was Stoyanka Yordanova Vitanova (47) from the town of Razlog. The BMW passenger, Peter Todorov Dimitrov (37) is in coma in the hospital of Sandanski, his life is in danger. Four other injured passengers from both cars are hospitalized. The accident took place because of low visibility, slippery road and high speed. The road is bad, regardless of the repair underway for a long time. During the winter the Kresna gorge is especially dangerous because of sharp turns and falling stones, warned the road police.
Simeon: 800 Days Will Not Suffice.
"I cherish no illusions that we are able to work wonders in the economy for 800 days," Premier Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said for the regional German newspaper "Thuringer Nachtrichten". It is titled "I Do Not Expect Miracles". The premier pointed out that the ex-government left a legacy of DM 559 million budget deficit. To him, for the next year a reasonable socially oriented budget was drafted. The cabinet aims to mobilize the whole potential of the nation for more ethics of politics, raising the living standards and combatting corruption, he said further.
Tram Runs off the Rails after Fierce Clash with Fiat.
A brand new 'Brava' Fiat cut into a tram streetcar on the crossing near the 'Interpred' Trade Center. This happened at 2.10 p.m. yesterday. The car was smashed beyond recognition after the incident. However, there were no victims in the grave accident. The tram pushed the car, dragged it for around 10 meters and hit it against an electricity post. A fire-brigade truck arrived on the spot of the accident. The firefighters cut the front door of the Fiat to take the driver out of the cabin. However Emil Krastev, the driver went out of the car by himself and without a scratch. There are no victims among the passengers in the tram, either. After the car cut into the tram streetcar, its front ran off the rails.
150 Bulgarian Soldiers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For the first time Bulgaria will send a military unit in Bosnia and Herzegovina which will join the operations of KFOR. That was what the cabinet decided yesterday. The sending of mechanized group will be voted in the parliament. Our soldiers will secure the guard, defence and the admission regime at the KFOR staff in the 'Beztmir' base near Saraevo. The company will be composed of 150 military men, chosen on a voluntary principle. They leave for the troubled republic on January 2 next year.
Strike Blocks Sofia-Gyueshevo Road.
200 workers from the 'Konnis' works for condensers and micro-processing items in Kyustendil blocked the Sofia-Gyueshevo road yesterday. The strike was staged in connection with the planned closure of the enterprise. 'Konnis' has been declared insolvent because of a $105 000 debt to UBB (United Bulgarian Bank). The German investor 'Berndt Kelpe' which purchased the majority share is interested in leading the firm to bankruptcy, the protesters claim.
Stoyan Ganev: We Expect Berlin's Support to Join EU by 2004.
Berlin 'Bulgaria is highly hopeful that Germany will back up our state in it's ambitions to be admitted together with the other countries aspiring for EU, and especially for our accession in 2004,' Stoyan Ganev, director of the PM's cabinet, said for 'Standart'. Bulgaria's Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha arrived yesterday on a 2-day official visit in Germany. 'Your country is facing big challenges. Great expectations for reforms and progress are anchored on your reputation and your personality.' With these words the ruling mayor of Berlin - Klaus Wowereit, welcomed Bulgaria's Premier at the Coat of Arms Hall in the Berlin municipality. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Mayor Wowereit held talks about mutual infrastructure projects, cooperation in the chemistry and pharmaceutical field, as well as about intensified exchange between the Universities.
Bulgaria to Collect Debts from Islamic States.
Negotiations for a $72 million debt held with Algeria and Nigeria.
The government managed to collect partially the liabilities of Algeria and Nigeria, deputy-minister of finance Krassimir Katev, said during a debate in the Economy Committee with the Parliament. 'We don't want to air such issues due to the specific political situation in some of these states,' Katev elaborated. 'Algeria's liabilities to Bulgaria worth $40 million, while Nigeria owes $32 million under intergovernmental agreements. The receivables we are to take from abroad exceed $2.250 billion. Iraq is the biggest debtor with some $2 billion duty to Bulgaria. The major part of these debts are to Bulgarian foreign trade companies. 'Bulgargeomin' and 'Agrocommerce' are among them. Some 15 foreign trade ventures are state-owned.
Agency Provided the Fisc with 15 Mln Levs More Than in 2000.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Emil Dimitrov
36 customs officers made much more ado than the pitmen.
"Those who can't cope will be fired. I'm not afraid of being dismissed," Emil Dimitrov, director of the Customs Agency says Pavlina Zhivkova.
- Mr Dimitrov, what is the amount of drugs found by the customs officers and what is the assessment of Europe?
- We rank first in Europe as far as captured drugs are concerned. This year only, we seized 2 tons, of them 1.5 heroin.
- Is it true that the revenues from the customs to the fisc are reduced? And how much?
- There is a report on the cash performance submitted to the Bulgarian National Bank. From the report, it transpires whether there are revenues or not. By December 1, according to this report, the Bulgarian Customs Administration has collected by 15 million levs more as compared with the previous year.
- Have you been threatened with a murder? Are you afraid?
- No comments.
- Are you not embarrassed over the fact that all the fired employees have initiated legal proceedings?
- Let's see. The administration numbered 4,000 employees. I've signed permanent labour contracts with 611 of them. I've terminated the contracts only of 36, whose probations have expired. These 36 are making such an ado, that the workers from many economic sectors that were closed down - these of coal and ore outputs - were not able to. Many of the state-run enterprises were downsized by 10 percent. It is not the case with the Customs. Those who can't cope will be fired.
(Questions posed by colleagues from other mediae have been used)
Kid's Smile Is The Best Award.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Carla Roillo-Villanova
"I want to encourage future parents that hardships are always settled," Carla Roillo-Villanova.
Spaniard Carla Roillo-Villanova is married to Kubrat of Panagurishte, the third son of Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The young lady graduated in law but is more known in her homeland as a designer and decorator. She owns a studio for equipping fair pavilions and exhibitions "Studio C+C". She was trained in modern art at the London auction house "Christie's". She contributes to three Spanish magazines. Princess Carla combines her profession with the role of a mother to two boys: Mirco (6) and Luca (4). She has been married to Prince Kubrat since 1993. The first book by Simeon's daughter-in-law has gone through several editions and is a best-seller in Spain. Two years ago it was published in Bulgaria as well under the title "Good Manners in Society". Her new book is dedicated to upbringing of children.
- Mrs Villanova, tell us something more about the book...
- My book does not offer theorized advices. Each chapter begins with the novelized story of a mother who has one kid and is expecting a second one. The main character encounters the usual difficulties and doubts of a woman giving life. It is neither my memories of my childhood, nor a self-portrait of mine as a mother to two. The book comprises my knowledge accumulated from books, from my experience in motherhood, from the stories of my parents. By this book, I want to encourage future daddies and mummies that hardships always can be settled.
- What about the role of the father?
- The book outlines the figure of the father. This is the figure that makes the things easier, while settling the everyday problems. Regretfully, his help is not particularly great at times but is always especially valuable. I recommend this book to men for they are to learn more about the covert worries of their wives. I ensure them that they will have fun with the stories of main character Candela.
There is Terrorism in BG Army.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Orlin Ivanov
Over 1000 crimes in the army have been reported in 2001, the military counterintelligence has a crying need for commandos, says Col. Orlin Ivanov, chief of counterintelligence.
Military counterintelligence and military police are so loaded with responsibilities, their staff is really overworked, says their chief, Col. Orlin Ivanov. In the army these services perform the functions and have the authorities of the Interior Ministry. The continuity has been broken for ever, thinks Col. Ivanov. In 1999 almost all officers with long record of service left, including experts with 20-year practice. According to him, the reason is the irrational restructuring of both services. Out of 1600 people only 420 are left. Which is really insane, says the Colonel.
- Mr. Colonel, currently what is the major task of the counterintelligence in the army - fighting corruption, economic crimes or banditry?
- All three are important and I wouldn't like to range them. Now we are planning to set up a special department to combat terrorism. Something like "red berets" but for the purposes of the army. This department will combine the functions of the military police and counterintelligence. The people there will be carefully selected and will receive special training. I will very much welcome such commandos. We had to cope with extremely risky situations, so we are sure these people are needed.
- Do you mean that there is terrorism in the BG army already?
- I'm sorry to say it, but the first case of terrorism has been reported already. In one of the divisions of the engineering brigade deployed in Belene, a cistern was blasted to cover up the missing fuel. The cistern of a 40-60-ton capacity was dug into the ground and it was sheer luck that no one was injured in this terrific blast. Seven hours later the perpetrators were found - they were two sergeants.
- Is there corruption in the army?
- From the beginning of the year we have registered 1000 crimes - 322 were committed by servicemen, while evasion from service account for two-thirds of crimes in the army. In Sofia we managed to suspend a deal that could inflict half a million loss to the ministry. I am enumerating just several cases of corruption which we have already submitted to the prosecution.
- Supposedly you disclose a corrupt deputy minister or some member of the political cabinet. Will you conceal it from the minister?
- I would have never concealed it. It happened to me to do what you are talking about and I will do it again if need be. The management of the Defense Ministry has always supported me in this respect. We have a carte blanche from the minister to take action no matter who is implicated in corruption. We will not cover up anything. I'm very happy that Minister Svinarov trusts me and never doubts that the information we provide is objective.
- Have foreign intelligent services been working against our army?
- The interest to the Bulgarian army has been traditionally high. We have many examples to prove it. You understand what I mean.
Andreas Tsirikos, Trade Director, International Trade and Logistics Center PROCOM.
INTERVIEW Econ.Bg: Andreas Tsirikos
Bulgaria Is Going Very Well In Its Efforts For Economical Development.
Which were the reasons for your decision to build an International Trade Center on the territory between the Greek and Bulgarian border? Why did you choose this region to make your investment?
As a main reason for this our decision are the traditional business relations between Bulgaria and Greece. Another reason is that Promahon, as the second trade gate in Europe and a place with very intensive traffic, has determined our initiative for building of that International Trade Center in that region.
Which are the main objectives for your investment?
First of all, the objective of this investment is to cover the business needs in the region - actually it is a business-to-business investment. But most of our entire objective is to cover the retail needs. I would like to undertake that it is not only wholesale trade center, but also a center for retail trade, so everybody could visit it.
Regarding the business-to-business environment, I would like to strike your attention on the level of prices – they will be very competitive. The wholesale prices could be from 20 to 50% lower and for the retail prices the calculation will be equivalent.
How will this International Trade Center affect the economic relations between Greece and Bulgaria?
I think the business activities in the International Trade Center will affect strongly the economic relations between our countries. Discussions on very high level are planned, so I believe it will be interesting for the Bulgarian part.
For sure we plan further extension of our business activities.
Something more, the effect will not only the economic relations will be influenced but also the cultural and political relations.
Which are the next stages of the project for the International Trade Center?
We shall continue with its expansion. We plan to develop the logistic part of the project. The other part we are developing is the industrial park, which means that a lot of European industrial representatives are going to be invited to include their stocks in the Trade Center.
What is the exact amount of the investment you have made till now?
Till the moment the amount of the investment we have made is about DEM 200 million.
In the century we live the technologies play very significant role in all branches. What kind of technologies you have used in the International Trade Center? Do you intend to implement new types of commerce systems?
The investment we have made is very huge and all the technologies we have implemented are very modern. Of course, they will be developed and we shall take the necessary actions for improving the technological systems. We intend to implement the system "E-commerce", which is the biggest database of this kind.
Do you plan to make investments on the territory of Bulgaria also?
Nowadays we all are part of the European union, so it does not matters if we shall make the investment on our or on your territory. Of course, if there is a need of making of additional investment, it is possible Bulgaria to be included in these plans.
How do you estimate the investment climate in Bulgaria as a whole?
I use to visit Bulgaria since 1992, so your country is very familiar for me. I can see now that there are a lot of positive changes in your country and also according to the figures and information about your economy - an increase of 5 % in the GNP, I could say that there is a significant development. So, my opinion is that your country is going very well in its efforts for economical development.
Trans-border commercial center to open next month.
The commercial, transit and logistics supercenter at Promachon, on the Greek-Bulgarian border, will open in January 2002. The center's 30,000 sq.m. of floor space have been leased by 30 companies, including electronics retailer Kotsovolos, fashion retailer Prince Oliver, Intersport, Unitech and others. Promachon SA, the company managing the center is jointly owned by Namako SA - an Intracom Group company - construction companies European Technical and Proodeftiki, St Konstantinides as well as including a small public sector participation, with the Serres prefecture, the municipality of Promachon, the Central Macedonia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Export Promotion Organization taking part. The official presentation of the commercial center will take place in Sofia today.