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Police Director Gen. Vassil Vassilev and Chief Secretary of IM Col. Boyko Borissov (to the left) made happy the kids from the orphange in Sofia. They brought them Christmas presents. The children unpacked their dolls and toy-trucks and proudly showed them to their teachers. Colonel Borisov promised small Boyko (to the right) to take him for a ride in a police car with sirens on. The orphans liked the big cake best. Photo Marina Angelova (PY)
Jack Crouch, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs speaks to the media after attending a meeting of defense ministers of Southeastern Europe, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine and U.S. Defense Secretary officials in Antalya, Turkey on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001 to discuss the war on terrorism. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR CHILDREN OF KILLED FIGHTERS.
Skopje, December 20 (MIA) - President of Macedonian-Slovenian Association for Friendship and current Minister of Economy of Slovenia Janez Stanovnik gave bank books of Tutunska Banka in amount of DM 300 to 70 children of Macedonian fighters that lost their lives, while defending their country.
Means for children were gathered from the humanitarian concert, which was held by duet Vlatko Stefanovski and Zoran Pedl of band "Lacni Franc" in Cankarjev Dom in Ljubjana on November 25, as well as from donations of Slovenian companies that cooperate with Macedonia.
On this occasion, Macedonian Minister of Interior Ljube Boskovski gave New Year packages to the children.
MINISTER POPOVSKI ADDRESSES AT MINISTERIAL MEETING IN ANTALYA.
"The crisis in Macedonia and its factors are not local and cannot be localized. The crisis and the factors can escalate into regional clashes," Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Popovski said in his address on Thursday at the meeting of the defense ministers from Southeast Europe in Antalya.
As MIAs special correspondent reports, Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu opened the meeting where Popovski spoke about the "Regional security estimations and challenges."
"The crisis in Macedonia has not been overcome yet, and it has regional or even wider genesis. With its goals, motives and capacities, the crisis has spilt over in Macedonia," Popovski emphasized.
Popovski pointed out that Macedonias efforts at this moment were focused on full implementation of the Framework Agreement and the obligations arising from the adopted constitutional amendments, which included package of laws such as the Law on local self-government.
"Macedonia still faces crisis situations, provocations and incidents on extremist grounds, supplemented with motives and interests of the organized crime and terrorism," he said.
Welcoming the international struggle against terrorism represented in the Regional Declaration from Bucharest adopted in November 2001, Minister Popovski urged for increased cooperation in tackling this problem and has committed on NATOs Summit, which should be held in Prague in 2002 package of measures to be developed for enhancing the capacities and the cooperation with the partners for dealing with the terrorism.
"The enormous amount of illegal weaponry in the region, and in Macedonia despite the realization of Essential Harvest operation, presents great and complex risk for the peace and the integrity of the Balkans countries especially for Macedonia. Therefore in order to eliminate that basic factor of extensive crisis, general cooperation and international assistance is requested," Popovski said.
He pointed out that Macedonia has welcomed the initiative of the Stability Pact in fighting against weapons proliferation depicted in the Regional implementation plan focused on collection of small and light arms.
"The support of the peace in the region should be of greatest national and state interest to all nations on these territories," Popovski emphasized, expressing his assurance that this orientation was also supported by the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, the Stability Pact, USA, the Russian Federation and the other international entities.
In his address, Popovski explained that the crisis in Macedonia had deeper cause to establish composite of political as well as military interests and purposes. These interests were used as a ground for imposing pressure and blaming Macedonia for being the main reason for the rebellion of the Albanians, who are its citizens."
According to him, "the interests of the criminals, international terrorists, corrupted authorities from the Balkans as well as the illegitimate political aspirations were hidden under this clich."
Popovski believes that there was much more in the crisis, "than just the fight for human rights and enhancing the democracy in the institutions and in the practice in order to preserve the multiethnic life in the country."
The defense ministers from Southeast European countries adopted Thursday joint statement after the ministerial meeting in Antalya, in which they condemned the terrorism in all its shapes regardless whether the reasons are religious, racial or ethnic.
As MIAs special correspondent reports, the ministers emphasized their determination to participate and cooperate in the international campaign against terrorism.
The Macedonian, Turkish, Albanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian and Ukrainian defense ministers Vlado Popovski, Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, Pandeli Majko, Nikolai Svinarov, Yiannos Papantoniou, Mircea Pascu and Vladimir Shkidchenko as well as deputy defense ministers of Croatia and Italia discussed in Antalya about the peace promotion, the stability and security in Southeast Europe and its integration in the Euro Atlantic structures.
They welcomed the participation of Ukraine as monitor for the first time at the ministerial meeting.
They also supported the concept of the SEE defense ministers for border security and the struggle against weapons trafficking and terrorism. They supported the international efforts for discouraging the terrorism.
The Ministers of the seven member-countries of the SEE Multinational peace forces expressed their satisfaction from the progress made in promotion of the security, stability and peace in the region and agreed to reaffirm their efforts in that respect.
They emphasized the established good neighborly relations, the securing of the existing borders, the promotion of the democratic principles and the economic development.
They also expressed their satisfaction from the success of NATOs operation in Macedonia code-named "Essential Harvest," and supported the ongoing NATO operations in the region.
The seven defense ministers reaffirmed their determination to make maximum efforts in order to promote the SEE Brigade as interoperable and operational and to join the peace operations after it is fully equipped.
The ministers also approved the Budget for SEE Brigade for 2002.
The next meeting of the SEE defense ministers will be held in Italy in the first half of 2002.
Situation In Crisis Regions.
Kumanovo, December 20 (MIA) - It is calm Thursday morning in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region without armed provocations of the Albanian terrorists.
Army sources say 19 shootings from infantry weapons have been registered Wednesday night from the villages of Vaksince, Nikustak, Lojane, Grusino, Matejce, Ropajce and Rudnicka kolonija.
Shootings have not been directed at the positions of the Macedonian security forces.
The patrolling of the mixed police forces is continuing in five pilot villages in Kumanovo region. bb/sk/10:08
Tetovo, December 20 (MIA) - The situation in Tetovo region Thursday morning is calm unlike Wednesday night when Albanian terrorists frequently have violated the cease-fire with occasional shootings from automatic guns, MIA's correspondent reports.
Police sources say shootings from Drenovec 2, Tetovo and Stolevo Teke, Kupenik settlements, the reformatory, residential area 82 and from the areas of the Bratstvo Migeni and Cyril and Methodius elementary schools are registered. Shootings from the villages of Mala Recica, Zelino, Palatica, Strimnica, Celopek, Gorno and Dolno Orasje, Neraste, Poroj and Trebos have been registered Wednesday night.
The shootings have not been directed at the positions of the Macedonian security forces, whereat forces did not respond to the armed provocations.
The barricades set by the Albanian terrorists near the village of Prsovce are still not removed.
Macedonia rebel chief says now 'social democrat'
By Mark Heinrich
SIPKOVICA, Macedonia, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Macedonia's former ethnic Albanian guerrilla chief has re-emerged as a self-styled "social democrat" seeking to end what he calls a system of power for profit which hurt all citizens and sowed rebellion.
But, in an interview, Ali Ahmeti said it was still too early for him to come down from the hills and take up politics because Macedonian anger over the insurgency he led remained too raw.
Ahmeti also said a timetable for state police to re-enter territory home to demobilised rebels over the next six weeks under a Western-brokered peace plan was realistic if civil rights reforms proceeded apace and an amnesty was honoured.
Ahmeti remains largely confined to his erstwhile headquarters in the snowbound highland village of Sipkovica because he is uncertain whether he is included in an amnesty issued for his men by Skopje under Western pressure last month.
He said Macedonians were wrong to persist in thinking he was Public Enemy Number One seeking to carve out a breakaway state linked to overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian Kosovo.
He said Macedonia had come undone from a system in which ethnic nationalists, including Albanians in parties which had been part of coalitions in Skopje since 1991, had divvied up corrupt spoils of power while giving only lip service to the need for reform.
"So far politicians in this country have sought power for personal profit. I mean Albanian politicians too.
"We say Albanians deserve more than this alliance of VMRO-DPMNE and DPA," he said, citing the main, mono-ethnic and nationalist Macedonian and Albanian parties who have had a symbiotic power relationship while corruption and black marketeering have thrived.
"I am not a far-right nationalist. I am a social democrat who believes Macedonia needs a social democratic party not just for Macedonians or for Albanians but for all people as in Switzerland," said Ahmeti, who worked there for over a decade.
"People in Macedonia need to be released from this ethnic mindset, to have parties not based on ethnicity or nationalism but on the quality of their programmes and policy.
"That is part of how to stabilise this country, for all citizens to be genuinely equal before the law, for Macedonia to be integrated into the European Union and achieve modern standards."
Ahmeti is a folk hero to many ethnic Albanians for having won equal rights reforms denied to them over 10 years of fitful political talks. Informal soundings suggest he would beat any conventional Albanian political leader in an election now.
But he said that for the time being he had no plans to form a political party or to seek public office himself.
"We should work in that direction. I'd like to emerge on the political scene but I hesitate because I know it would cause an adverse reaction among Macedonians and complicate the situation.
"That's because the Macedonian public is very badly misinformed by its media about who we are. I'd like to establish good contacts with the Macedonian media first."
To that end, he had invited a prominent Macedonian journalist to the interview along with Reuters, and sparred with her in a tough but engaging debate that ended in handshakes.
Ahmeti's National Liberation Army spouted from the northern hills bordering Kosovo last February and swept down to the outskirts of major cities in an uprising over alleged discrimination against the large Albanian minority.
Under an August peace deal, the NLA turned over almost 4,000 weapons in a NATO-run disarmament scheme before disbanding, and parliament ratified civil rights amendments to the constitution but only after two months of nationalist foot-dragging.
The delays, coupled with the arrest of some rebel villagers in a brief spasm of fighting provoked by a security police foray over truce lines, stoked tensions anew but Ahmeti has restrained his men throughout to prevent a relapse into war, diplomats say.
Macedonia pardons last nine ethnic Albanian rebels.
SKOPJE, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Macedonia pardoned another nine jailed ethnic Albanian rebels on Thursday, completing an amnesty for detainees crucial to preserving an August peace deal.
The action raised the total number of pardons to 64 from a list of 88 submitted by the Justice Ministry. The other 24 were judged by a presidential pardoning panel not to have fulfilled conditions for the amnesty.
It indefinitely covers all former National Liberation Army (NLA) insurgents who are still free but voluntarily disarmed under NATO supervision by September 26, as well as those jailed for conflict related crimes before this date.
"This is the last pardoning decision from the list submitted to the president's office," a statement from President Boris Trajkovski's cabinet said.
Introduced last month under heavy diplomatic pressure, the amnesty is aimed at defusing ethnic mistrust, enabling the return of Macedonian security forces and displaced people to former rebel-held territory in the north and northwest.
A senior security official said the remaining 24 from the list of 88 "will most probably stay in jail" because they had not complied with all conditions of the amnesty.
He said the four main conditions to be pardoned were membership of the former NLA, disarmament by September 26 and linkage to alleged crimes related to the conflict.
"On the list we have men that have been arrested even before the NLA was formed," the security official said. They had been jailed for possession of weapons and other security offences.
The amnesty also excludes those indictable by the U.N. war crimes tribunal, which has said that it is investigating two cases of alleged war crimes on the Macedonian and ethnic Albanian side.
Parliament last month ratified civil rights reforms stipulated by the peace accord.
Yordan Yovchev Took The Major 'Sports Icarus'
The Top Bulgarian Gymnast was awarded for Fairplay too.
The best Bulgarian gymnast - Yordan Yovchev, took the superb prize 'Sports Icarus' of 'Bulgarian Sports' foundation for achievement of the year. The 2-fold World champion from Gent (Belgium) was distinguished also with the award of the 'Fairplay' foundation for his sportsmanship during the ceremony at the Diplomatic Club in Gorna Banya. Motorist Alyosha Markov was awarded the second fairplay prize. He rescued a fan during a rally crash. Four other World champions - wrestlers Nikolay Paslar and Seraphim Barzakov, weightlifter Galabin Boevski and athlete Tereza Marinova, were also awarded with 'Icarus' for their impressive presentation during the year. Hurdler Svetla Dimitova and football player Krassi Balakov - winners of 'Icarus' for sports longevity missed the ceremony.
Defense Minister - One-Day Father Christmas.
Delighted Dutch officers watch the BG Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff dancing a ring-dance with the soldiers from our platoon. Photo by the author.
Nikolay Svinarov brought Christmas gifts to BG soldiers in Bosna and Herzegovina.
Novi Travnik - Sofia
Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov turned his back to his ministerial duties and took up an unusual role - in the beginning of the week he became a Father Christmas. Together with General Miho Mihov he took a plane to Bosna to present Christmas gifts to the BG soldiers deployed in the belligerent republic. The airport in Banya Luka met the BG delegation with bitter cold. The command of the multinational division "Southeast", where the Bulgarian guys are serving, are deployed in the capital of the Republic of Serbia. Before setting off to the "Eagle Valley" Svinarov and Mihov dropped into the Headquarters to have a talk with the Commander - Dutch General Van Diepenbrug. After that they met the Bulgarian servicemen. First of all the guys asked what's new at home. Then came the happy moment - everyone got a gift: a trench knife, a ball-point pen, a calendar, a notebook and a make-up kit. For the senior officers they brought from Sofia two boxes of brand wine. Then, the songs of Rositsa Kirilova, Georgi Gotsev and the jokes of Nikola Anastasov adrenalized the Bulgarian soldiers. Later the foreign peacekeepers joined in the celebration. One of them even took part in a ring-dance. About a month ago the BG Defense Ministry sent a 38-strong mechanized subdivision for SFOR. The main task of our servicemen is patrolling the region. Some time ago the peacekeepers found a whole tank in a deserted barn. The owner has been keeping it in storage for years, told Col. Slavtcho Uzunov from the BG General Staff.
Kostov Establishing Shadow UDF As Well.
The UDF postponed its conference. By 3 weeks, for now. Later, maybe by some more. Why? Well, the Hall No 1 of the National Palace of Culture is an insidious one - it is large. And it is easy to notice if empty. And after Sofianski and Bakardzhiev splintered, after the UDF members left the party en mass, there is a serious danger some of the sectors to remain empty. But this is not the reason. The reason is the new statute. He who drafts the statute, dominates the party, the experienced apparatchiks teach. It is Kostov who is drafting the new UDF statute. There are some funny things in the draft: first, dividing the political and the administrative power within the UDF. Which means that one person is to represent the UDF before the UDF electorate, and another one - within the party, before the party machine. In fact, the mechanism is already working. Thanks to Kostov's crafty manipulations, the two Mihailova-women are in a constant competition. Even their secretaries are waging wars. The only thing to be done is this situation to be legalized. Which is the perfect option for Kostov. In this way he is to advise both of them. And they will depend on him. The UDF will have no particular leader, i.e. Kostov will keep his role of the Commander. Perfect, isn't it? The second blunder, envisaged in the statute, is the National Council to elect the National Executive Council, rather than the conference. On the face of it, it will be convenient, if it were not a little detail. The UDF National Council will comprise 200 people. The way it is in the BSP. In the BSP, the Congress elects only the leader and the Supreme Council (SC). And then the Bureau is appointed by the Supreme Council at a plenum. The BSP SC numbers about 100 members. Who is to profit from it? The Commander, of course. The UDF NC numbering 200 members is in fact a mini-conference. If comprising the right members, i.e. the Kostovists, it will be easy to exert control over them. The NC is sitting each month. Thus, it is to breathe down the NEC neck. If someone breathes a word, he is out. The Commander turned the "Democratzia" foundation into a Shadow NEC. Now he is on his way to do the same with the conference. From then on, the Shadow UDF is within a stone-throw. That's the delegates worry!
Germany's General Prosecutor Disproves Suspicions.
Michael Fink , News secretary and advisor of Martin Schlaff.
During the existence of the Eastern Bloc Mr Martin Schlaff ran an Austrian company, which traded with the former totalitarian states. These were the GDR, CSSR and the USSR as well as other states from the Warsaw Pact. We're talking about import-export of timber and paper. During the Cold War, all who either traded, or had any business with the GDR (German Democratic Republic), automatically was put under surveillance or had a file in the secret services. You know the way it happened ( ed.n. - he laughs). For that reason exactly, after the fall of the Berlin wall accusations surfaced that Martin Schlaff was an agent of Stasi. The claim was immediately spread by the German newspapers, etc.About two weeks ago, the General Prosecutor of Germany - Kay Nem, based in Karlsruhe, finally declared, and this is certified in writing, that the accusations against Mr Schlaff were wrongful. Moreover, it was said that there was no evidence or grounds for such accusations. In the Federal Republic of Germany the names of ex-agents of Stasi were made public after the fall of the wall. And if the Prosecutor General of the state declares that Schlaff is not an agent there must be serious proof that this is true.
Simeon Bords the Carriage of His Exile.
PM inaugurated the electrified sector of the railway Doupnitsa - Koulata. The royal train was set in motion for the first time in 3 years.
Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha got in the royal train's No 51 carriage yesterday, on board of which he left the country on September 14, 1946. This happened at the inauguration of the last electrified sector of the railway - Doupnitsa-Kulata. The carriage is part of the 'Crown' express deluxe, composed only of special carriages and parlour cars. Pullmans No 50, 51 and 52 were produced and specially equipped for King Boris III, Queen Joanna and Prince Cyril. 'Lots of memories rushed into my mind, I haven't seen the coach ever since then,' Simeon said. The carriage is used only for VIP guests and for 3 years it hasn't been in motion, said the train-master. It has a small lounge furnished with a corner couch and a TV set and several sleeping-compartments. The first sleeper has two rooms - the King slept in one of them when travelling, while the other belonged to the Queen. Simeon's bedroom was next door.
Banks Checked for Terrorists' Accounts.
A law against financing of criminal organizations is drafted.
Bulgarian banks are checked-out to see if they don't service the accounts of terrorist organizations. This was announced by Interior Minister Georgy Petkanov in Parliament yesterday. He read before the MPs a report on the government's measures against terrorism, which will be sent to the UN. Minister Petkanov refused to specify which banks were checked up or whether suspicious accounts were found there. The government is drafting a new law which will regulate freezing of money meant for financing terrorism. It envisages deprivation of property when it's obtained illegally or is used for criminal purposes, Petkanov said. Interior Minister said that terrorist groups weren't spotted in Bulgaria.
In 2005 Bulgaria Will Be a Leading Candidate for NATO.
Marcus Mekel is vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO and deputy from the SDP in Germany. He's the author of a letter to Tom Daschle, leader of the Democratic majority in the US Senate, who recommended not to admit Bulgaria and Romania into NATO next year. On Tuesday. Mekel commented his stand before radio 'Free Europe' yesterday. We should start debates in the commission for the NATO enlargement. Slovenia and Slovakia are the advanced candidates for membership. The Baltic states will for sure be the top of the agenda in Prague next year, too. The question with the membership of Bulgaria and Romania remains moot. The letter says that they could receive invitations after they meet all the requirements. The two countries have to build up new armies. The important thing is that the governments goes on with the reforms. In 2005 they will be not simply candidates, but leading candidates, too.
Missiles SS-23 to be Scrapped Till October.
The Bulgarian Army missiles SS-23 will be scrapped by October, 2002, the National Assembly recommended to the cabinet in a special declaration, signed by all Parliamentary Groups. The scrapping of the Russian missiles is to start in May. Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said that negotiations will be conducted with the USA government on financing the scrapping and compensations. Next year Bulgaria will be allotted financial support from NATO amounting to $10 million, and in 2003 - 12 million levs more. "I hope the government's calculations are well made and that the Treaty has provided guarantees of Bulgaria's security," President-Elect Georgi Parvanov commented on the decision.
Paasy Insists on Meeting Bulgarian Medics in Libya.
Foreign minister Solomon Passy asked the Libyan authorities to be allowed to meet the accused Bulgarian medics during his visit in Tripoli, Elena Poptodorova, spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry, said yesterday. Yesterday, Passy left for Libya at the invitation of his Libyan counterpart. "Cross your fingers and let everyone pray to one's God for my success," Passy appealed to the MPs from the Parliamentary rostrum. President-elect Georgi Parvanov will meet the ambassador of Libya to Bulgaria today or tomorrow, it transpired after his yesterday's lunch with the ambassadors of the Arab countries at the Morocco's ambassador's residence.
PM Says Yes to Christmas Salary.
Only companies with cash surplus will dispense Christmas salaries.
Budgetary establishments will pay the 13th salary to their employees only if there is a surplus in their wage fund. PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha issued a special order to approve it. However, not all employees in the budgetary sphere will receive the Christmas salaries. Extra payment is envisaged only if there are savings for bonuses. The final decision will be taken in the respective ministries. The sums will be calculated on the basis of the last nominal salary of an employee. Every year the government allows to the institutions to dispense the wage fund savings. These payments, though, are different from the 13th salary, which is paid from the state budget. This year there is no money for the extra salary, said Finance Minister Milen Veltchev the day before yesterday.
It's Expected BTK to Be Privatized Till July.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Pl. Petrov
Pl. Petrov: Downsizing in BDZ is inevitable.
The prices of the tickets remain the same, Transport Minister says.
- Minister Petrov, early next year the BDZ (Bulgarian State Railways) will be divided into two new companies - National Company 'Railways Infrastructure' and transport company - BDZ. What will be the changes as a result of this division?
- The division is in accordance with the law, adopted more than an year ago. To me it was adopted a little bit untimely. Because the demand of the EU is that this law and the corresponding division be realized at the moment the country joins the EU. We are already executing all the activities connected with the division. We have tried to avoid the problems of countries like England, for example, where this was a catastrophe and led to bankruptcy of the infrastructure.
- Will there be an increase of the tickets' prices?
- We haven't suggested such.
- The other current issue at the moment is the BTK privatization. Is there any variant it to be sold till the end of the next year?
- We hope that it will be sold till the middle of next year. The expectations of the EU, the World Bank and the IMF are the same, too.
- Isn't that a way pressure to be exerted?
- In a case like that exerting pressure is logical. For five years already everybody in BTK pretends to sell it and everybody outside it pretends to believe that. If things weren't like this, we could save several millions dollars from consulting services only. We have lost hundreds of millions of dollars from unrealized sales at another market conditions. And may be the future earnings amount to another several million dollars, because of incompetitiveness of the economy as a whole, which influences everything already.
Bulgarian State Railroads will increase its statutory capital.
Bulgarian State Railroads will increase its statutory capital by BGN 140 mn until March 30, 2002, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Lyubomir Ivanov announced after todays Cabinet meeting. He said this move would settle the debt of the company to the state that resulted from collecting VAT payments. The Cabinet decided to create the Bulgarian State Railroads Company Ltd. with a capital of BGN 10 mn. Deputy Ministers of Transport and Communications Zlatolina Mukova and Krasimira Martinova and the former Executive Director of Bulgarian State Railroads Vladimir Dunchev would enter the new companys Managers Board.
Bulgaria needs EURO 79.55 mn to improve navigation along Danube River.
Bulgaria needs EURO 79.55 mn to improve navigation along Danube River between Belene and Batin islands, according to a project of the Dutch consortium Frederick Haris and experts from Bulgaria and Romania about corretions of Danube River navigation. The project is proposing measures to make the river deeper and more suitable for ships. It reviews conditions for navigation along 600 km from Zhelezni vrati - 2 to Georgeni.
One-nation countries should not exist on the Balkans.
South Eastern Europe countries are decided to cooperate as for security and stability, the annual meeting of South Eastern Europe Defense Ministers that has been taking place in Antaliya, Turkey, decided. According to the Turkish Defense Minister Sabahatin Chakmak Oglu, Balkan countries have achieved considerable progress as for security. As Bulgarian Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov said, key problems were connected with ethnic conflicts unsolved in the past. He proposed that the idea for building one-nation countries on the Balkans to be abandoned categorically. Deputy Secretary of State for Defense of the USA Jack Crowch presented the American position on the forum. He raised the issue of building information system for the multi - national brigade located in Plovdiv. He reminded the position of the American President George Bush that all the new democracies from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea should have equal chances for membership of the NATO. Jack Crowch said that the USA has achieved an agreement with Russia, according to which Russia would not put obstacles to the enlargement of the NATO.
President-Elect Purvanov Receives Message from Muammar Qaddafi with Assurances for Just Trial.
Sofia, December 20 (BTA) - President-elect Georgi Purvanov received a letter from Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi with assurances for a just, transparent and objective trial against the six Bulgarian medics who are defendants in a Tripoli AIDS trial. The letter was delivered by Libyan Charge d'Affaires here Milad Moktar Karah.
The Libyan Charge d'Affaires assured Purvanov that it will not be a political trial. He thanked the Libyan side for doing whatever it took to provide access to the trial for Bulgarian journalists, a Bulgarian lawyer, representatives of international organizations and foreign ambassadors in Tripoli, as well as for the involvement of the son of Muammar Qaddafi, Seif al-Islam, as an observer at the trial against the Bulgarians, the press learnt after the meeting from Georgi Dimitrov, pointed to as a favourite for the position of foreign policy advisor to the future president. "We strongly hope that at the end of the trial the Bulgarian medics will be cleared of all charges," Dimitrov said.
In Milad Moktar Karah's words, he also discussed with the president-elect ways to restore the traditionally good relations between the two nations. There will be more talks on bilateral relations to the benefit of both countries, Dimitrov said.
After Purvanov's Wednesday meeting with the Arab ambassadors in Bulgaria, what is left on the schedule of the president-elect is also a meeting with Arab diplomats in keeping with the policy of the new government and the wish of the future president for a new policy and opening up of this country towards the Arab world, said Dimitrov.
Sofia, December 20 (BTA) - A Bulgarian military delegation headed by Gen. Miho Mihov, Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Army, visited Kosovo on Thursday. At a meeting with the Bulgarian contingent in KFOR, the delegation handed out gifts and awards on the occasion of Christmas and New Year, the press centre of the Defence Ministry said. Approaching the airport of Pristina, the crew of the An-26 flying the delegation and the commander of the aircraft, Captain Oleg Yankoulski received information that the weather conditions were extremely bad. Showing his resourcefulness and professionalism, Captain Yankoulski and his crew landed their aircraft safely, preserving the lives and health of the members of the delegation and the journalists and actors accompanying it, the press release of the Defence Ministry said. Gen. Mihov awarded the crew for their valeur.
ANTALYA - DEFENCE MINISTERS - MEETING.
Antalya (Turkey), December 20 (BTA special correspondent Asen Boyadjiev) - The position of US President George W. Bush that all new democracies from the Baltic to the Black Sea should have an equal opportunity for accession to NATO was confirmed in a letter by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld read at the 6th Southeast European Defence Ministerial, which opened in Antalya Thursday.
The United States is represented at the meeting by Jack Crouch, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.
Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov and ministers or deputy ministers of defence from Albania, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Italy are attending the forum. Ukraine is represented as observer by Defence Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko. Attending are also members of the command of the Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe, headquartered in Plovdiv, Southern Bulgaria.
The future decision on NATO's enlargement will not be solely motivated by political considerations; the contribution of the individual countries to regional security and stability is also important, Rumsfeld wrote in his letter.
The United States holds the view that the numeric strength of SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina must be reduced by one-third, and that the countries of the region should take over the peacekeeping functions. In this context, the Plovdiv multinational brigade should begin to conduct concrete peacekeeping activities, Rumsfeld wrote.
At a NATO Defence Ministers Meeting in Brussels Tuesday, Rumsfeld proposed downsizing the 18,000-strong SFOR by 6,000 servicemen by the end of 2002 at the latest, which caused concern in Balkan countries. Rumsfeld also proposed that the European allies take over the command of the multinational police force in Bosnia.
Diplomats noted that the US Secretary of Defense is obviously trying to redeploy military units for the current US-led campaign against terrorism.
In his opening address at the Antalya meeting, Turkish Defence Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu said that the Plovdiv brigade has been ready to conduct real peacekeeping operations since May 2001. Cakmakoglu underscored the importance of the Antalya forum for the joint initiatives of the participating countries.
Regional security, the fight against terrorism, and issues related to the Plovdiv multinational brigade feature on the agenda of the forum. A final document is expected to be approved.
A Trojan Horse in Belgrade.
Beware Imperial Bureaucrats Bearing Gifts
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (tr.).
Virgil, The Aeneid, 2:49
December 20, 2001
As 2001 draws to a close, so does a circle of destruction in the Balkans that began over a decade ago. From its role as an all-too-partisan observer in the beginnings of the Yugoslav crisis, the Empire has gradually asserted itself as the maker and breaker of kings and nations.
A decade after it set the rules for Yugoslavia's bloody destruction, Europe is back at the end of the beginning, trying to "mediate" the survival of Yugoslavia's last remnant. Its envoy is no other than Javier Solana, the Bomber of Belgrade and Murderer of Macedonia. If Macedonia's experience is anything to go by, where Solana goes, Ambassador James Pardew cannot be far behind. And though the United States currently seems preoccupied with events farther East, it can hardly miss an opportunity to crown its conquests in the Balkans by finally subjugating Serbia.
Vexing as it is that the leaders of Serbia "reformist" or not even contemplate, let alone enthusiastically welcome, the presence of NATO's erstwhile leader while the Alliance still occupies a large chunk of Serbian territory, the truly befuddling characteristic of recent talks in Belgrade is that they were absolutely unnecessary.
Namely, in late October, Montenegro's secession-minded chieftain met with his Belgrade counterparts and all agreed that the issue of Yugoslavia's survival should be put to a referendum (Reuters, Oct. 26). So persistent was Milo Djukanovic's refusal to talk anything but independence, that both Zoran Djindjic and Vojislav Kostunica agreed (a rare enough event) that further talks would be a waste of time. Perhaps they counted on data indicating that Djukanovic could not win the referendum unless he resorted to some heavy cheating.
God forbid, however, that anyone in the European Union's sphere of influence dares achieve a mutually agreeable settlement on any issue without the guidance of Brussels bureaucrats. Their subjects might even get the idea that existence without a mammoth transnational state apparatus might be possible! On cue, the EU and Solana got involved in a "new bid" to prevent the "breakup" of Yugoslavia.
CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER
It is possible that all three leaders completely forgot about Europe's "bid" of similar nature some ten years ago, or that they drew completely wrong conclusions about Solana's "mediation" services in Macedonia. Quite possibly, their vanities might have been flattered by the European Union's attention to their internal power squabble though none seems to have paused to wonder as to the motive behind this sudden curiosity. Yet none of this explains why all three leaders promptly forgot the agreement they had achieved and restarted the talks that quite predictably stalled the same way as before. These days, the oft-mentioned definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result seems to apply perfectly.
THE LOGIC OF LUNACY
Only when considering the pattern of Imperial interference developed over the past decade does this kind of behavior gain some inner pretense of logic. Left to their own devices, chieftains of Balkans principalities would likely have found some sort of modus vivendi to stave off the original Yugoslavia's collapse in 1991 for they knew better than anyone the balance of power in the region and the price of armed conflict. That logic, however, ceased to apply the moment a powerful outside force (whether the EU, the UN, NATO or the US) got involved. At that point, all diplomatic, propaganda and war effort went into enlisting that force on one's own side, thus altering the balance of power.
Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia are living testaments that this strategy has been effective, just as their dependent, corrupt societies bear witness to the high price of currying Imperial favor.
APPETITE FOR CORRUPTION
Apparently, Montenegro's Djukanovic initiated the latest round of this "sycophant diplomacy" by declaring that he would gladly renew the talks under Solana's guidance. Why he did so is still a mystery, however, since he had a better chance of seceding if the EU which officially opposes Montenegro's secession had been kept out of the deal.
Solana knew exactly which buttons to push in the case of Serbia's eagerly pro-Imperial Prime Minister. Desperately needing money to maintain a state apparatus, and through it control all aspects of life in Serbia, Djindjic was easily persuaded by the promise of new IMF funding and the threat that it could be withheld. Only Kostunica was reportedly reluctant to embrace the new talks probably wondering about their purpose. However, experience of the past year indicates he will cave in after a while.
Djindjic and Djukanovic are two of a kind in many ways. Both lack true popular support for governing, and rely instead on the repressive state apparatus. It, in turn, needs to be fed by money that in both cases comes from the outside the Empire, to be precise. Both are being blackmailed by threats that the trough will run dry unless they remain compliant, but both know that turning off the spigots completely would deprive the Empire of leverage and is thus extremely unlikely. As a result, they both endeavor to make the best of the bargain, while the Empire gives them just enough to remain in power.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
The real enigma in this tragic trinity is Kostunica. He may have been the poster-boy of the ragtag coalition that forced Milosevic to abdicate power in October 2000, but he quickly found himself playing second fiddle to the ruthless and much more ambitious Djindjic. Having used Kostunica's popularity to become Serbia's Prime Minister, Djindjic proceeded to seize the reins of power both in the Serbian and through allies the federal government.
Much has been written here about Djindjic's machinations, his disregard for the law, the courts, the Constitution, and even the rules of political conduct. Yet every time Kostunica could have confronted him, he chose not to. Now Djindjic controls all the levers of power in Serbia and Yugoslavia, leaving Kostunica only in control of the military, which is immobilized by the constant threat of war crimes indictments from the Hague Inquisition which in turn has made no secret of preferring Djindjic over Kostunica.
Keeping in mind Lord Acton's maxim that power corrupts, Kostunica forgot that he was for better or worse already in power, and had to use it to the best of his conscience or lose it entirely. Kostunica's fear of possible abuse of power immobilized him; he chose not to act when action was called for. This allowed someone with less moral fiber (but more determination) to usurp and abuse the power in a very real way, thus ironically vindicating Lord Acton's dictum.
OF A LARGE WOODEN HORSE
So far, the "negotiations" in Belgrade have exhibited a typical pattern of Imperial meddling into affairs the local leaders have been perfectly capable of settling peacefully on their own. They join the long history of such sinister interference, from the most recent "peace talks" in Macedonia to the ill-fated "Conference on Yugoslavia" of the early 1990s. No one has yet bothered to wonder why the EU is so enthusiastic about supposedly preserving Yugoslavia now, when for the past ten years it has been enthusiastic about its destruction.
It has long been said that the Balkans needed democracy to prosper. Yet democracy in its pure, unadulterated form (mob rule) not yet hidden by the elaborate faade of propriety developed in the Empire is largely responsible for the nations of former Yugoslavia and elsewhere being afflicted with leaders interested solely in amassing power and personal gain, all too willing to curry Empire's favor in order to triumph in avoidable conflicts.
Thus deluded, it is easy for them to ignore the prophetic warning of a war long ago, in a place not so far away: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." Though in this case the "Greek" is actually a Spaniard acting on behalf of the European part of the Empire, his superfluous "gift" is nonetheless a great wooden horse, in whose belly who knows what deadly perils lie.