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Dr Taus: M-Tel is Company with Promising Future. The deal for the mobile operator is a profitable investment, Dr Josef Taus, representative of the new Austrian owner said in an exclusive interview for "Standart"
Holiday Of Saint Nikolas. A young woman lights a candle inside the St. Nikolas church in Macedonias Skopje during a special mass celebrating the orthodox holiday of Saint Nikolas, December 19. c EPA
More than 100 new police officers, most of them ethnic Albanians, throw their hats in the air at the end of a graduation ceremony in Idrizovo, 10 kms (7 miles) southeast of Macedonia's capital Skopje, Wednesday, Dec.19, 2001 after finishing a 12-week course organized by U.S. authorities. (AP Photo)
PRESS CONFERENCE OF MEDIA ACTIVITY CENTER.
The plan for redeployment of the police in the crisis regions has been successfully realized in 20 villages, and preparations have been made for redeployment in other 10-15 villages, spokesman of the Coordinate Crisis Management Body Zoran Tanevski said at Wednesday's press conference.
The spokespersons of NATO, OSCE and EU missions to Macedonia also participated at the press conference. Tanevski pointed out that there were no problems in the redeployment of the police forces on Wednesday, and they entered in Cerovo village for the first time.
Asked when the police would patrol 24h per day in these villages, Tanevski reminded that according to the plan that should be realized in 55 days considering the security situation on the terrain. "We have progress and the situation is normalized in Lesok, Opae and Grusino villages," Tanevski said hoping that the deadline for redeployment of the police would be met.
He also informed that with the assistance of German contingent within NATO's "Amber Fox" mission the road to Cerovo village was cleared so humanitarian assistance was delivered to the residents from Cerovo and Merovo villages. According to Tanevski this activity was realized in cooperation with the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC).
NATO, OSCE and EU spokespersons Craig Ratcliff, Florin Pasnicu and Irena Gjuzelova assessed the police patrols as successful and according to them there is excellent cooperation between the representatives of the international community in Macedonia, the local authorities and the police in realizing the plan.
Tanevski underlined that the return of the displaced persons to their homes is in progress in those villages where conditions have been established. Along with the redeployment of the police, some of the villagers return to their homes and the activities for reconstruction of the houses are also in progress.
NATO spokesman Ratcliff said that it was too early to speak of the return of the displaced persons, but however he said that they have been encouraged by the return of some persons what indicates that the confidence has being slowly restored in the local residents. "The bad weather conditions are an obstacle for realization of some of these activities, but the people should make up their own minds whether they would return," Ratcliff said.
OSCE spokesman to Macedonia Florin Pasnicu underlined that the winter conditions and the condition of the houses and the properties were the main problems for the return of displaced persons.
Spokesperson of EU special envoy to Macedonia Alain Le Roy said that EU was satisfied with the amnesty but emphasized that the union would prefer to resolve that dispute by passing a Law.
According to Pasnicu, the Law on amnesty is the best solution on long run.
PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ANDOV BRIEFS ON HIS VISIT TO BRUSSELS.
Speaker of the Macedonian Parliament Stojan Andov held a press conference Wednesday, briefing journalists about his visit to Brussels and London last week.
Andov had meetings with EU High Representative of Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, NATO Secretary General George Robertson, Chairman of the Belgian Senate Armand De Decker, Chairman of Belgian Chamber of Deputies Herman De Croo, British Minister for Southeastern Europe Denis McShane and Chairman of the British Parliament Michael Martin.
At the meetings, as Andov said, it was underlined that "a turning point in relations between Macedonia - the European Union, and Macedonia - NATO will be necessary in the next year, so that the country may make up the lost eight months, when it was in critical situation, imposed by terrorist attacks."
"The relations were frozen this year, and did not develop according to agreed legal frames and signed documents, as all of the activities were carried out on surpassing of the crisis. We have agreed that Macedonian should eliminate violence and focus on its progress in the next year," Andov said.
Overall conclusion at the meetings was that the crisis in Macedonia could be surpassed by the programs, carried out in the country, and by the EU and NATO readiness to assist to Macedonia in strengthening of its international position and internal stability, he said.
Andov said he had asked for all of the parliaments of the EU member countries to accelerate a ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonian and the EU.
Andov also asked for support of Macedonia's membership into the World Trade Organization, which, as he put it, would contribute to the country's stabilization, and would alleviate the most painful problem of the Macedonian economy - the extreme trade deficit.
Andov said that a parliamentary session would take place on Friday, at which Macedonian President would deliver his annual speech.
ACTIVITIES OF REGIONAL CENTER FOR ELIMINATING TRANSBOUNDARY CRIMINAL PRESENTED.
The regional center for eliminating the transboundary criminal in Southeast Europe presented Wednesday in Skopje its activities for 2001.
Director of the Customs Bureau Dragan Daravelski expressed satisfaction from the activities of the Regional center focused on elimination of transboundary criminal, pointing out that the cooperation with the center would be important not only for the Macedonia's national interest but also for its engagement in the joint projects.
Director of the Regional Center for prevention of the transboundary criminal in SEE Gabriela Koneska - Trajkovska expressed satisfaction from the successful establishment of the administrative structure of the Center. She emphasized that 11 countries from the region are included in the Center, while the EU member-countries and USA are participating in the projects.
According to her, 1,821 information referring to illegal human and drugs trafficking, customs and economic offences and terrorism was exchanged through the center.
She announced that the Center would expand its operations for elimination of the illegal weaponry trafficking, customs frauds as well as financial and computer criminal. Macedonia will be coordinator of these activities.
Koneska - Trajkovska emphasized that the Center was unique multilateral body that realized the cooperation with the countries in the region in order to eliminate the organized crime, what is one of the basic preconditions for economic progress, getting closer to the EU standards and making step forward for overcoming the historical, national and cultural prejudices.
She announced that one of the priorities of the Center would be the adjustment of the regional legislatures to the European standards. A recommendation for ratification of the relevant international acts and model-Laws for certain areas from criminal laws would be developed within these activities.
Konevska - Trajkovska informed that communication officers from the Macedonian interior and Finance ministries as well as from the Customs Bureau would work in the center as they showed professionalism and readiness to cooperate in the international investigations.
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Turkey and Hungary are also members of this Regional center.
Representatives from the Interior and Foreign ministries, the Macedonian Customs and Tax Bureaus, Public Prosecutor's Office and the diplomatic corps attended the presentation.
Passy to Fly to Libya Today.
Foreign Minister Solomon Passy is leaving for Libya late at night today. Till late at night yesterday an official confirmation from Libya was expected for the Minister's visit, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Elena Poptodorova said for "Standart". Passy is to fly by the government's Falcon. Tomorrow the minister is expected to have official meetings in the capital of Libya, with Muammar Gaddafi's son - Seif al-Islam. It is not clear wether he is to stay in Libya till Saturday when the case against the six Bulgarian medics will be tried for hearing by the Libyan Court.
Snow Blocked Hundreds of Bulgarian TIR Trucks in Greece.
Hundreds of Bulgarian drivers were stopped by the Greek authorities for several days in a passage close to the border. 'For the heavy snow the Greeks don't let through any TIR trucks without snow chains to the 'Promahon' checkpoint,' said for 'Standart' a driver from Sofia.
NATO Doesn't Want BG Either.
In a letter the leading European politicians advise the US Senate that Bulgaria should not be admitted into the Alliance next year.
In an open letter to Tom Daschle, democratic majority leader in the US Senate, 20 European politicians advise NATO not to invite Bulgaria next year. The letter written by the deputy chief of NATO Parliamentary Assembly and member of the social democratic party, which is ruling in Germany, Marcus Mekel, is signed by the leading European politicians, among them Friedbert Pflueger, an MP from the CDP, former foreign minister of Poland, Bronislaw Geremek, former premier of Poland Jozef Oleksy. According to the authors of the letter, next year in Prague NATO is to invite Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which will have met the membership criteria by then. In the opinion of those politicians, Bulgaria and Romania haven't fulfilled the membership criteria as yet. The European politicians suggest that NATO should fix a deadline for another enlargement not earlier than 2005.
Now It's Time for Bulgaria to Boost Exports.
Prince Cyril for "Novoto Vreme" daily.
Currently, Bulgaria enjoys very strong interest on the part of foreign investors. This interest must be harnessed. Now it's time to do our best to boost the country's exports. The success of the Eurobonds shows that there is a very vivid foreign interest to Bulgaria. Ant the interest is justified. In recent years the country has made significant progress in the attempts to stabilize the national economy. This tendency must be preserved at all costs. At the moment it is important to accelerate the EU accession of the candidate members. This must mean all kinds of aids and assistance that will facilitate the process. But the people must realize that raising living standard is a time-consuming process. I don't have a habit to give advice to my father. I wish him success, both to him personally and to the government he is heading. It will be good for Bulgaria. Ministers Vassilev and Veltchev do have the capacity to cope with the difficult task of running the country. They are young and ambitious people who are eager to work for Bulgaria's prosperity. It is too early to expect the results from this government's policy. But what I see makes me think that the course they had chosen is the right one.
'Rotary' Will Help Poor Children.
With the premier we talked about our numerous projects to help hungry and poor children and refugees, saaid Richard King, President of 'Rotary International' yesterday after his meetings in Sofia. He told Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha that it was his first visit to Bulgaria and he liked the country. The 'Rotary' chairman met Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski who is also a rotarian. We had a nice conversation with him, the guest said. He discussed the Bulgarian legislation with parliamentary chief Ognyan Gerdzhikov. Mr King boasted that he would celebrate with all the 40 newly-established clubs on Tuesday evening.
Tolls the Bell of the Poorest Christmas.
Pre-holiday indifference reigns over shops a week before Christmas. Hits: French champagne for 260 levs, mink coat for 5,000 levs, LEGO - for 500 levs.
A week before Christmas only a real optimist could claim that there is a pre-holiday excitement in Sofia shops. There's only a slight movement of the prices - up, of course. But only a slight one, because in either cases shops are empty of clients. No matter if they are situated on 'Vitosha' street - the most expensive street in the country, or on 'Pirotska', which is considered to be the most 'popular' street. It is empty like never before several days before Christmas. Here and there along 'Vitosha' street beautiful young salesgirls, each of them a possible nominee for 'Miss Bulgaria', clean - for a hundredth consecutive time the floors of the shops. And the floors are so clean that they don't need cleaning at all. Who could soil them with his muddy shoes, when the clients are scanty enough, Hristina Gambosh, salesgirl in the cosmetics shop near the NPC, says. Otherwise there are all kinds of cosmetics - from A to Z - from the perfumes by 'Yves Roche' to the most trivial aftershaves. 'The presents in the shop would be enough for the next Christmas, too', the woman is worried. Her money depend on the clients." It's gloomy outside - along the boutique street, too. Some of the shops aren't even open. In 'Magic' shop for alcohol drinks prices would surprise anyone. A French champagne could be bought for 260 levs, and the Bulgarian surprise this year is the red wine from Assenovgrad - 67 levs per bottle. But the lady behind the counter- a quite successful replica of Claudia Schiffer, says a remarkable phrase on the occasion - 'our goods are for connoisseurs, who take care of their liver'. Doting husbands who would like to dress their wives in warm mink coats in the cold winter days will have to give 5,000 levs. Not that they didn't give that much of money, but the last case was at the end of 1999. For sure Christmas 2001 would be the most miserable in the recent decade. Let's not forget that after Father Christmas there are other holidays to meet, too...
Parvanov to Set up Council on Ethnic Issues.
Georgi Parvanov will set up a council on ethnic issues to the presidency. It transpired after the round-table discussion on the Bulgarian ethnic model. Among the chairman of the forum were Ahmed Dogan and Alain Casoff, chairman of the Ethnic Relationships project (USA). The Council will be organized on expert principle, but it will involve mainly intellectuals. Currently, the representatives of the minorities are very few in the army, police, diplomatic corps and special services, Parvanov said. This invites criticism of the human rights defendants in the USA, Dogan explained in his turn. He insisted on channeling the money provided by the European funds to the ethnically mixed regions of Bulgaria.
Simeon Invites 300 Guests to a Party in 'Hrankov'
Nikifor Nikolov is the master of the hit meal - shepherd's roll.
PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha gathers 300 guests at a Christmas cocktail on Friday. Ministers, diplomats and businessmen received invitations. The party will take place in the 'Hrankov' castle-hotel. The menu will include French cheese, hams, fillets and flat sausages. The elite will eat different salads, black and red caviare and smoked salmon. Chicken grills, stuffed vegetables, potato croquets and chocolate roll 'Fantasy' are temptations which will make even the ladies forget their diets. The main dish is the shepherd's roll. Alcohol wasn't ordered. If the guests are willing to drink, they will have to order the drinks by themselves.
Give Incentive to Small and Medium Firms.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Otto Graf Lambsdorff
You have set the right priorities, the result depends on how you implement them, says Otto Graf Lambsdorff, chairman of the Managers' Board of Fridrich Naumann foundation.
- Mr. Lambdsdorff, in Bulgaria you discussed with the Bulgarian government the problems of the economic development. As an expert, how do you estimate the chances of the Bulgarian economy?
- It is not the reports, but the actual budget that shows whether a certain economic policy is correct and is in line with the political will of a given government. Bulgarian Budget 2002 as it was adopted shows that the chosen course is the right one. How you are going to bridge the wide gap between the expectations of the people and the actual chances to meet them.
- In your estimation, what is the role of the foreign investments and can they contribute to the improvement of the economic situation of the citizens of this country?
- Naturally, heavy foreign investments and the presence of big foreign companies in Bulgaria are important factors, but it is more important to stimulate the development of the small and medium business. This is the driving force of the economy, firms that create new jobs.
- Do you think that the EU enlargement policy may impede the economic growth to a certain extent?
- If the government works and meets the criteria needed for the economic prosperity, it doesn't matter what is the opinion of Europe at this stage. I think that the government has set the right priorities, the problem is how it will manage to implement them.
Bulgaria and Romania Aren't Ready for Europe.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Petre Roman
In the negotiations we have to defend our national interests, former Romanian PM and Foreign Minister Petre Roman says.
- Mr. Roman, at the last summit of the EU Bulgaria and Romania were mentioned separately of all the other countries-candidates. What is your estimation of the declaration of Laeken which left us out of the list of the new members in 2004.
- This is a normal decision. Romania, as well as Bulgaria, in regard to the efficiency and functioning of their economies aren't able yet to cope with competition - opened and fully free at a future common market. If Bulgaria and Romania succeed to maintain rapid growth of 5, 6 or 7% percent per year, they will succeed to join the EU till January 2007.
- Why on that date exactly?
- This opinion of mine is based on deep knowledge of the rules and the economic situation in the EU. - Some French top representatives launched other ideas lately - as, for example, the one for the joint admission in the EU of all the 12 candidate countries. What are the motives for this in your opinion? - They are connected with what I just have said. As a matter of fact French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine had in mind the following: as we'll make political compromises in connection with the first 10 countries, it would be well if we do the same for the last two countries, as well.
Dr Taus: M-Tel is Company with Promising Future.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Dr Josef Taus
To us, the deal on the mobile operator is a profitable investment, said the representative of the new Austrian owner Dr Josef Taus.
Dr Josef Taus chairs the board of the Austrian Industrial Group. It is grouped around the Bank of Austria and comprises leading companies and banks from the Alpine Republic and Germany. He is also a member of the board of the Austrian Investments Fund and of an Austrian Publishing Group. He's been in politics for many years. He has been a banker, a state secretary and lectures in California. For almost 20 years he was deputy in the Austria's parliament. He started his career as a journalist dealing with economy problems.
- Mr. Taus, some time ago the news broke that you were negotiating on the deal of M-Tel? Can we say that this deal is closed?
- Economically and legally, the deal is closed. Though, you know, there are some formalities that have to be done with in a short time. The deal is expected to be closed till end-January.
- May we call it the biggest Austrian investment in Bulgaria?
- Yes, it is right. We are a big group of investors, united around the Bank of Austria, PS Kar Group and the Bavarian Kommerzbank. As for our scale, it can be judged by the fact that it manages assets for over 50 billion euros. So, we have enough funds we are willing to invest here.
- What will be your new role in MobilTel?
- After we close the deal, I will chair the Supervisory Board. We studied the markets in Bulgaria and the Balkans, for one thing. We looked the company over and it is in a good shape. This is why, from our point if view, the deal of MobilTel is a good investment. It is pivotal to us, that Bulgaria become an EU member in a short time. Austria is a small country and so is Bulgaria. The number of the population in both countries is almost the same and so is the territory. From our point of view, we are a highly industrialized country. Bulgaria should become a part of the European telecommunications network. So, from our point of view, it is worth to invest in Bulgaria.
- To you, when will Bulgaria meet the EU criteria and be accessed to the Union?
- A difficult question. You know, there are regulation to be worked out and most of all, the directives of the European Commission and the criteria of Copenhagen and Maastricht to be met. Your legislation should be harmonized with the European one. But we think that all this should take place in a short time.
- Can we say that the deal in question is a step in that direction and what will your personal commitment be?
- Yes, I think so. Austrian investors are known all over the world through their know-how, traditions and innovative approach. As for me personally, I'm willing to share my experience and skills. You remember that Austria joined the EU later and in this sense we may be very helpful to you.
- How do you view the future of MobilTel?
- I hope that we will be able to use our experience in the telecommunications markets, then to see what the situation in Bulgaria is and what the world trends in mobile communications are. For now, we are making only short-term forecasts. It is a common opinion, that the telecommunications in Bulgaria are developing successfully. We have enough time to additionally study the market to analyze the situation as profoundly as possible.
- Do you find that Bulgaria has a prospective telecommunications market?
- You have chances for development unused as yet. I already had talks with the managers of MobilTel and my impression was that this is an emerging market with good prospects and chances. This is why we came here - to work towards this.
- Will the team of managers be reshuffled?
- I think that the management is first-class. I rely on their skillfulness.
- Did you meet any representatives of the government?
- Yes, I already met Transport Minister Plamen Petrov and Financial Minister Milen Velchev. We discussed the business philosophy of the government and the economic policy now and in the future. Both in Austria and Bulgaria, we rely on an open and fair dialogue with the government.
Nikolay Svinarov will meet Defense Ministers from South Eastern Europe.
Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov left for a two-day visit to the Turkish resort of Antalia today, where he would take part in the sixth annual meeting of South Eastern Europe Defense Ministers. Defense Ministers from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, the USA, Slovenia, Turkey and Croatia would take part in the meeting, while Ukrainian representatives would come as observers. The forum would discuss challenges for South Eastern Europe security and issues about the future deployment of the South Eastern Europe international peacekeeping troops. The participants would review activities and initiatives concerning the process.
Bulgaria presses Libya on HIV case.
Gaddafi says foreign intelligence forces are to blame.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy is due in Libya on Wednesday to discuss the trial of six Bulgarians who have been accused of deliberately infecting nearly 400 children with the HIV virus.
Mr Passy is expected to meet his Libyan counterpart Abdel Rahmane Chalgham ahead of a court ruling due on Saturday.
The six Bulgarians - five nurses and a doctor - could face the death penalty if found guilty of injecting the children with HIV-contaminated blood.
The medics, who deny the charges, had been working at a children's hospital in the northern city of Benghazi and have been in prison for almost three years.
A Palestinian doctor and nine Libyans have also been charged in the case, in which Libya says more than 20 children have already died.
The accused are charged with "premeditated murder with the aim of undermining Libyan security". All have pleaded not guilty.
Mr Passy is also expected to hold a meeting with Serif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and chairman of the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, who has agreed to be an observer at the trial.
The trial has provoked strong feelings in Bulgaria after two of the defendants alleged they had been tortured and made confessions under duress.
It has also raised concern among human rights groups who have complained about reports that HIV-contaminated plasma was discovered at a defendant's apartment while she was in police custody, and the refusal of the court to allow expert opinion from Switzerland and France.
One Swiss expert has said the contamination was caused by "bad medical practices", such as re-using needles.
Muammar Gaddafi has said the CIA or Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, were behind the children's illnesses.
He has blamed other crises on the United States and Israel, both of which accuse Libya of supporting terrorism.
Besides the murder and conspiracy counts, the Bulgarians are charged with drinking in public - alcohol is banned in Libya - and engaging in extramarital sex.
Bulgaria scraps Soviet missiles.
Bulgaria's military has launched major reform programme.
The Bulgarian parliament has approved a government proposal to destroy the country's Soviet-made missiles to prepare for possible Nato membership next year.
Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov said the medium-range SS-23 missiles would be decommissioned by October 2002 and replaced with American ones. He also said the United States would provide financial and technical assistance.
"The SS-23 missiles are not linked directly to the country's national security and do not fit into the defence tasks of the army," he told the Associated Press news agency. The Bulgarian Army refused to disclose any information as to how many missiles it had.
Experts said the move could boost Bulgaria's chances of joining Nato when the alliance extends its membership at a summit in Prague next year. The parliament said the decision to destroy the missiles was in line with the country's position that joining the alliance was a strategic priority.
Bulgaria, which was one of the Soviet Union's closest allies during the Cold War, has also launched an ambitious military reform programme. It plans to cut its 93,000-strong armed forces by half and modernise equipment to match the Nato standards. Bulgaria is already a member of Nato's Partnership for Peace programme.
The Cabinet must introduce in the Parliament the strategy for joining European Union by February 7.
Premier Simeon Koburg-Gotha announced in the Parliament during debates concerning the European integration that the government would increase the valuable capital of political unanimity. The Parliament voted with 207 votes for, one against and three abstained, a decision to supporting the efforts of Bulgarian government to accelerating the negotiations for joining to the European Union, and entrusted the Cabinet to introduce the strategy for joining European Union by February 7. The same deadline would also be for the introduction in the Parliament of a project for national position concerning debates about the future of the European Union. The bill proposed by the Union of Democratic Forces was rejected. Premier Simeon Koburg-Gotha said the report of the European Commission for 2001 was a proof for continuity concerning the negotiations with the European Union, and added that the Cabinet expected that all the parliamentary groups would support the cause of Bulgarian integration in Europe.
Bulgarian and Russian Ministries of Foreign Affairs discussed a schedule for visits in 2002.
Delegations of the Bulgarian and Russian Ministries of Foreign Affairs carried out political consultations in Moscow and discussed a schedule for exchange of high-level visits in the first half of 2002. The delegations were led by Deputy Minister Ivan Petkov and by the first Deputy Minister Alexander Avdeev.
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization appealed against the destruction of the SS-23 rockets.
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization expressed disagreement with the position of the Parliament that Bulgarian National Security would increase by destroying the SS-23 rockets. According to Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization representatives, Bulgaria should try to sell the rockets to third countries having in mind the present economic situation.
Sofia, December 19 (BTA) - The State Energy and Energy Resources Agency (SEERA) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) signed Wednesday an agreement on the implementation of the project for technical assistance for the electricity system of Southeast Europe (SEETEC).
CIDA will provide 10 million dollars of grant aid for the project . The money will be spent to draft strategies for the development of the energy systems of 9 countries in the region, Canadian Ambassador here Raphael Girard said at the signing ceremony. The amount of money Bulgaria will be entitled to will reflect the needs and priorities of the country, he said.
SEETEC is part of the Stability Pact package of projects, SEERA chairman Milko Kovachev said, observing that Bulgaria is a regional energy hub. Serbia, Macedonia and Albania are currently experiencing energy shortages, he said.
So far in 2001, Bulgaria has exported 7,000 million KWh of electricity, SEERA deputy chairman and chairman of the SEETEC national managing board Angel Minev said.
SEETEC aims to streamline the management, supply and regional consumption of electricity in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.
Minev said the Bulgarian side has already prepared 8 projects. Their implementation started in May 2001 and will last for about 5 years.
Milosevic wants Clinton to testify at trial-report.
BELGRADE, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Slobodan Milosevic will call former U.S. President Bill Clinton to testify during his U.N. war crimes trial in The Hague, a senior official of his Socialist Party was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Party official Ivica Dacic said Milosevic, accused of war crimes during the Balkan wars of the last decade, would call people he had secretly or publicly talked to as president of both Yugoslavia and its dominant republic Serbia in the 1990s.
"Let's not forget that the Clinton administration had officially named Milosevic a factor of peace and stability in the Balkans," Dacic told Belgrade weekly Nedeljni Telegraf.
The Clinton administration sponsored and hosted negotiations which led to the Dayton peace accord ending the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Milosevic was Serbian president at the time and signed the agreement on behalf of Bosnia's Serbs.
Four years later the United States played a leading role in NATO's 1999 11-week bombing campaign to halt Serbian repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, allegedly orchestrated by Milosevic.
Milosevic was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2000 and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia last June. He remains president of the once-mighty Socialist Party.
Last week Milosevic dismissed charges at the U.N. tribunal of spearheading a Serb campaign of genocide in Bosnia.
He has also been indicted for crimes against humanity and other war crimes during "ethnic cleansing" by Serb forces in Croatia in 1991-92 and during the Kosovo conflict seven years later. His trial on the Kosovo charges is due in February.
Milosevic's Belgrade lawyer Dragoslav Ognjanovic said he did not know if Clinton would be called as a witness but that some people from the "political world" would be, as Milosevic considered the trial against him political.
"It is certain that some people will be called to testify but we will see who and what procedure will be used for this," he told Reuters.
Ognjanovic, who represents Milosevic in Yugoslavia, said the U.N. court had scheduled a pre-trial hearing on January 9 and that some names may be announced then.
Milosevic does not recognise the U.N. tribunal, which he has denounced as a mere tool of the NATO military alliance which bombed Yugoslavia, and has refused to appoint defence lawyers.
The Hague tribunal ruled earlier this month Milosevic would have two trials, first on the Kosovo charges and then on the Croatia and Bosnia charges, but the prosecutors pushed on Wednesday for the three indictments to be joined in one trial.
Euro court throws out NATO Serb bombing complaint.
STRASBOURG, France, Dec 19 (Reuters) - NATO's bombing of Serbian state television that killed 16 civilians during the 1999 Kosovo war did not breach a convention on European human rights, a court ruled on Wednesday.
The European Court of Human Rights rejected a case brought by six Yugoslav nationals, including the parents of one of the victims, who said the bombing violated laws aimed at protecting a right to life and freedom of expression.
The court cleared the 17 NATO countries accused, ruling that except in special circumstances the European Convention on Human Rights only applied to countries acting on their own territory. It said NATO could not be held responsible for actions abroad.
NATO said the station, hit in 1999 in the centre of Belgrade, was a legitimate target because it served as a propaganda machine for former Yugoslav ruler Slobodan Milosevic.
The former chief of the station was later accused by Belgrade authorities of knowing about the NATO attack but failing to evacuate. He was charged in August this year for alleged responsibility of the deaths of his staff.
Leading human rights group Amnesty International called the the strike a deliberate attack on a civilian target and therefore a war crime. The United Nations said there was no grounds for a probe.
More recently, Amnesty International and other groups had expressed concern about civilian casualties in the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
A U.N. report released on Tuesday said military intervention was justified to prevent mass killings or ethnic cleansing, but criticised international intervention efforts in the 1990s, including the Kosovo crisis.
The attack on RTS, which killed 16 and seriously injured 16, was part of NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia over its repression of Kosovo Albanians.
The Strasbourg case was brought against the 17 NATO countries covered by the European Convention on Human Rights: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Britain.