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Tax Inspectors Close Shops. Tax authorities have launched massive raids in the shops and retail warehouses. Over 100 shops were closed down because the personnel haven't been issuing cashier checks and offered cigarettes and alcoholic beverages without excise labels. On the photo: Tax inspectors putting a sticker on the door of a fast-food kiosk in "Stochna Gara" district. It says, "Tax administration closed the site for breach of tax regulations" Photo by Nikolai Donchev.
Armed Provocations Continued By Albanian Terrorists In Crisis Region.
Tetovo, December 21 (MIA) - Albanian terrorists during Thursday night frequently opened fire from infantry weapons, MIA's correspondent reports.
Shootings have been registered from Tetovo Teke, the reformatory, Vonvardarska, Sipad, Drenovec 2 and Ciglana settlements, Bratstvo Migeni and Cyril and Methodius elementary schools as well as from Neraste, Gorno and Dolno Orasje, Mala Recica, Zelino, Odri, Palatica, Celopek and Strimnica.
Shootings have not been directed to the positions of the Macedonian security forces.
Kumanovo, December 21 (MIA) - Armed provocations of the Albanian terrorists continued Thursday night in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region.
Army sources say during the period from 17:00 until 19:00h. twenty shootings from infantry weapons form the villages of Matejce, Slupcane, Vaksince, Lojane and Nikustak have been registered.
The patrolling in five-pilot villages in Kumanovo region continues without any problems.
Macedonia: Tetovo Riven by Ethnic Hatred.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
The Macedonian war may be over but old prejudices continue to simmer.
By Ellie Pritchard in Tetovo (BCR No. 306, 21-Dec-01)
Four months after the end of fierce ethnic conflict, the northwestern town of Tetovo now looks like a peaceful, flourishing place. But beneath the surface, there are sinister goings-on, with Macedonian residents living in fear of threatening telephone calls and attempts to evict them from their homes.
Most of Tetovo's inhabitants are ethnic Albanians who live awkwardly beside Macedonian and Roma minorities. It was around here that the National Liberation Army, NLA, descended from the nearby Sara mountain on March 14 to wage a war aimed at breaking Macedonian domination over the country as a whole.
Heavy fighting between the NLA and state security forces raged all over the Tetovo region, mainly in surrounding villages but sometimes in the town itself. Residents fled the area in their tens of thousands, most of them Macedonian. The Red Cross estimated that across the country, 76,000 people had left their homes.
Fighting ended with the signing on August 13 of the Ohrid Framework Agreement which pledged constitutional reforms to improve the plight of ethnic Albanians. Since then, Macedonian inhabitants of Tetovo reported they have been under constant Albanian pressure to move out of their houses, often with threats of violence.
At first sight, the town betrays little sign of this. Contrary to widespread belief elsewhere in the country, Macedonians still live here and their language can be heard on the streets. Shops are open, well-stocked and seem to be staffed by the same people as they were before the trouble.
But hostility simmers under surface. Each side blames the other for everyday problems which have existed for years. As elsewhere in Macedonia, the water supply has long been a troublesome issue - but is now worse than ever. Macedonians say Albanian terrorists are to blame. Albanians claim the culprits are the state security forces.
The communal divide was particularly clear during the Albanian festival Dita e flamurit (Flag Day) on November 28. It has long been customary on this occasion for guns to be fired in the air and the Albanian flag to be raised.
"We don't do this to say we want to be part of Albania," said Luljeta, a student at the new University of South Eastern Europe. "It's to celebrate who we are, wherever we are living."
But this year the shooting attracted return fire from the security forces. Albanians, fearful of a flare-up, cut short the celebrations and went home early. Macedonians also became nervous. A newspaper vendor blamed "Albanian terrorists" for the gunfire. " As you see, they didn't give up their weapons," he said. Nasim, an ethnic Albanian waiter, insisted, however, that it was "kids teasing the police - it's ridiculous how they [the police] reacted".
Macedonians make up around 10 to 16 per cent of the local population. But many of them are now leaving. "We can walk around town in the day," said Mira, a Macedonian woman. "At night, I don't go out really - maybe just to friends' houses but I definitely don't walk around. I just don't feel safe."
The media reflect and often reinforce ethnic divisions. Macedonian newspapers focus on Macedonians kidnapped by the NLA during the conflict, giving prominence to the excavation of a suspected mass grave at the village of Trebos, near Tetovo, where it is believed some of these missing might have been buried. The Albanian press, meanwhile, continues to report cases of police brutality in and around the town.
Some speculate that things will get worse next year, others that tensions will gradually ease. Given the uncertainly, it's not at all surprising that the population is so nervous and edgy.
Forever Candidate Europeans.
Leading European banks are abused and we are being lied that Europe is our objective.
We are told lots of lies. For four years we were lied to concerning Europe. They did it for their personal benefit. The message was - we'll be admitted the way we are, because they are no different. But they are not like us and this is the reason why Europe cut us short. The same will happen next year in Prague concerning NATO too. Actually, European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen already warned us of this. Recently he said: 'Certain countries will experience a double disappointment'. In Laeken it became clear that certain countries meant Bulgaria and Romania. The 15 EU leaders clearly told us why Bulgaria would not be admitted as an EU member by 2004 and why our membership was pending even following the new deadline - 2007. Because in the first place, honesty has to be restored in Bulgaria. Without it we are dead as a nation and state alike. Our politicians have to stop deluding the people that Europe is the thing they treasure the most and that we are waiting for investments from the old continent. Because this also seemed to have proved the successive lie. Recently, a consortium of the biggest European banks - the German Bayerische Landesbank, the Austrian Postal Bank and the colossus of the Alpine Republic economy - Bank of Austria arrived in Bulgaria for MobilTel. A waterfall of dirt was poured on them too. Who cares that the Bavarian bank is the engine of Europe's industrial heart - Bavaria, and that it turns over the capital of BMW?! The banks from the consortium are always present in the rating of the influential European 'Banker' magazine. Polls and their clients qualify them as the most through and through European and most transparent banks in the struggle against laundry money. However, in this country this is presented in another way - they are referred to as agents of Stasi, KGB and of grafters. Germany's prosecutor general Kay Nehm refuted the lies. However, they in Sofia don't care about it. If these investors are bad for Bulgaria, who are the good ones? There exist no good ones outside of the circle of Ivan Kostov's cousins. Naturally, the former premier is the cleanest person - he has nothing to do with any special services, or any laundry money. And he had absolutely accidentally studied at a flight school in Kemerovo, where the biggest training base of CID (Chief Intelligence Department of the former USSR) is. With some of the biggest European financial institutions attacked in the media it becomes clear as to who inspires the attacks against MobilTel and personally against Michael Chernoy and who the perpetrators of these dirty acts are. They are attacked by the biggest thieves who have been inseparable from the authorities for a long time. And the attack is a result of a very simple reason - to have the company plundered. However, the elite's major problem is that MobilTel and Cherney don't plunder and they can't be plundered. Our even bigger problem is that many decades ago poet Kiril Hristov said about us, Bulgarians the following:' Forever candidate Europeans!' and he is still right.
Milko Kovachev to be Energy Minister.
The administration will acquire independence.
The Energy Agency will be transformed into ministry, envisages a decision on changes in the Council of Ministers, submitted to the parliament yesterday. Milko Dimitrov is the Cabinet's nominee for the post. The new administration will be called Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources, being established due to the amendment and rider to the Energy and Energy Efficiency Act. The law envisages the state agency functions to be undertaken by the new ministry, while the president's authorities - by a minister. The decision was promulgated in the State Gazette on December 14, 2001. Most likely, the proposal won't be considered before the Christmas holidays of the MPs.
Ambassador Titov: Meeting of Vice-PMs Underway.
"In January a meeting of the co-chairmen of the Intergovernmental Economic Commission will be held," Russia's Ambassador Vladimir Titov said yesterday. It will be the first official meeting of Alexei Kudrin and Nikolay Vassilev, to prepare the sitting of the Economic Commission to be held in Sofia in February. To Ambassador Titov, the relations between the two countries are moving from the standstill. On Wednesday Deputy Foreign Ministers Alexander Avdeev and Ivan Petkov met in Moscow. They signed a paper for consultations. Early in 2002, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy is also to visit Moscow. Then, the visits of PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin to Sofia will be prepared. Soon, Chairman of Russian Duma Genadii Seleznev and ex-premier Academician Evgenii Primakov are to pay visits to Bulgaria.
Catholics and Muslims to Have 4 Holidays.
Citizens confessing Catholicism will have 4 holidays - on April 1, June 29, November 1 and August 15. Yesterday, the cabinet specified the dates in 2002 that are religious holidays for confessions different from the Orthodox one. One may go on a full-pay leave or holiday without pay. For the Muslims the dates are February 21 and 22, and December 5 and 6, and for the Jewish community - February 26, March 28 and 29, September 16 and October 30.
Tokuda Builds 1000-Bed Hospital in Sofia.
Dr. Torao Tokuda, Japanese politician and businessman will build a hospital with 1000 beds in Sofia within 26 months. This became known during his meeting with the Bulgarian MPs yesterday. The investor will be Japanese corporation "Hasama", which built the towers in Kuala Lumpur, Said Dr. Tokuda. The construction is to start in two months and will be completed three months before the Olympic Games in Athens, the businessman said further. The hospital will be staffed with 1300 Bulgarian medics who will receive mandatory in-service training in Japan, Germany or Harvard.
Velchev: I Made a Million before My Return.
'I made my first million before my return to Bulgaria and I haven't taken even one stotinka from the emission of the Eurobonds.' Thus Financial Minister Milen Velchev commented the accusation that he has become a millionaire thanks to the issue. Asen Agov addressed it to him before Darik radio on Wednesday. The UDF MP learnt this information from the City in London. There everybody discussed that the Eurobonds were kept in secret till the last possible moment.
Grisha Ganchev Endows Generously the Wrestlers Anew.
Seraphim Barzakov tops the federation standing in 2001.
Grisha Ganchev - president of 'Slavia-Litex' wrestling club, piled with money his sportsmen for their attainments during the season with the national jersey. The generous patron of the Bulgarian sport allocated bonuses totalling 350,000 levs at the ceremony in 'Atlantic' hotel yesterday. Seraphim Barzakov took the fattest cheque of 90,000 levs. The bonus for his second title in Sofia was 60,000 levs and 30,000 levs for the gold medal from the European championship Another Bulgaria's World champion - Nikolay Paslar, received 50,000 levs, while of them BGL 20,000 are for his bronze medal at Euro'2001. World Vice-Champion Krassimir Kochev, however, took 50,000 levs (BGL 40,000 for the silver medal and 10,000 for the 4th place at the European championship in Budapest'2001.
Before We Counted on Marshall Plan Now It Is Stability Pact.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Stoyan Denchev
Bulgaria needs a "Revival" plan.
It's high time that the government and businessmen start talking without go-betweens, says chief coordinator of the BG business club "Vazrazhdane" (Revival), Stoyan Denchev.
- Mr. Denchev, what unites the members of the "Vazazhdane" club?
- All members of our club have established themselves in the last decade - rather a long period. Among them there are no short-lived businessmen or fresh-blown owners, neither we admit those who were launched into orbit by some political force, although such examples in Bulgaria are numerous. We saw many businessmen who prospered thanks to political backing, but very soon they sank into oblivion. All members of the Bulgarian business club "Vazrazhdane" have seen many ups and downs and had to "wrestle" with all kinds of authorities.
- How can one become a member of your club?
- You have to be invited. Ours is a conservative club.
- G-13 has fallen apart because of the collision of business interests. How is the new club going to evade this touchy problem?
- I was a witness to both the nascent period of G-13 and its disintegration. The main reason for its death was the discord between the members. However, some of these people, whom we do not see now on the political or social scene, were splintered because they were not real businessmen, real owners in Bulgaria.
- What will Stoyan Denchev do from now on?
- I will continue to consult foreign companies working in corporate communications. Besides, I have not given up my credo of a politician who wants to develop the Bulgarian business in Bulgaria. It is common practice in our region to expect that some external factors will work for us. Once it was the Marshall Plan, now it is the Stability Pact. I think that Bulgaria doesn't need the Marshall Plan, but rather a "Revival" plan. I'm ready to endeavor to the creation of such a plan and to harness the whole society to get out of the mess we are in. I haven't talked with the club members as yet, but I'm going to propose that this plan becomes a basis for the consolidation of the Bulgarian society.
- Is there any sense in institutionalizing the relationships in business policy and what does the business rely on in its communication with the state?
- Certainly, there is a sense in such institutionalization. Each member of our club can resolve his problems himself, as they did so far. But none of them want to stick to this practice any longer. It is necessary to regulate these relationships, they must be based on strictly observed laws and lay the foundation for normal cooperation.
- In your estimation, what will be the future role of the new Council for Economic Growth?
- Very important. There are similar councils in the USA, Western Europe and in almost all normal states. It is high time that business and government start talking without go-betweens.