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Monuments of Culture - Renewal of the Lesok Monastery will cost 1.5 million DM.



Lesok Monastery

- The reconstruction of the Lesok Monastery will cost 1.5 million DM, estimated the team of The Republic Institute for Preservation of Monuments. The European Commission will grant Macedonia 12 million EURO for renewal of the objects demolished in the war conflicts, and part of these funds has been planned for renovation of the religious objects. Jovan Kondijanov, director of the Republic Institute, said that they are responsible only for the monumental objects and they are not going to participate in renovation of objects which do not have that kind of values. The church in Lesok was mined and destroyed by the Albanian terrorists.



Kumanovo, December 26 (MIA) - Macedonian Defence Minister Vlado Popovski accompanied by Macedonian Army's Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Metodi Stamboliski and the commander of the special unit of the Macedonian Army paid a visit to the Command of the Kumanovo's Corps and several other positions of the Army in this crisis region.

"We came to see the everyday life of the Macedonian Army's members," Minister Popovski said, pointing out that the Macedonian Army has a system of posts "that stabilize the peace and increase the sense of security, what is one of the elements in the confidence building measures."

Popovski was mostly interested about the accommodation of the soldiers in the winter conditions, their life and the tasks.

"According to the reports from the command, all systems and subsystems of the Army related to these posts, the logistics, the training, the discipline and the performance of tasks are satisfactory," Minister Popovski said.

He expressed hope that the process of normalization of the situation would be successful and that "the process would be completed in 2002, when the soldiers could return to the military barracks and the other posts in order to perform their duties."

Minister Popovski assessed the security situation in the country as calm and stable.

"We think that all posts should remain at this moment," Popovski was decisive.

He said that not a single information indicated that "something important was going on the terrain in terms of security." He explained that the security situation was fragile, there was a mass psychology of insufficient trust and security present among the citizens and therefore the Army's posts were very important and necessary in the near future. Popovski emphasized that the situation is being followed and if there were no problems, the situation about the posts on the terrain would have been reviewed.

Minister Popvski used the opportunity and congratulated the New Year's Day and Christmas holidays to the members of the Macedonian Army.

Macedonian daily says murders of rebel commanders ordered by Albanian emigres.

Nova Makedonija

The military activities of Albanian terrorists in the Republic of Macedonia which, after the end of their ruthless offensive, have been transformed into urban guerrilla warfare or sporadic provocations, have not subsided in the least. The reasons are absolutely clear. They begin with the appearance of the so-called "ANA" [Albanian National Army - AKSh in Albanian] and the announcement that it will continue its military activities in the country, regardless of the ratified constitutional amendments, and end with the final disbanding of the so-called "ONA" [National Liberation Army - UCK in Albanian]. A significant number of "fighters" of that organization have already joined the new terrorist formation whose duty is to pick up where Ali Ahmeti [leader of the ONA] left off. It was precisely this transformation in the ranks of the Albanian terrorists that created a serious conflict which was also the result of achieving (or the lack of it) the goals of their warfare in the Republic of Macedonia. The transformation also triggered arguments between the members of these two terrorist organizations whose final results are already visible...

The interpersonal showdown - triggered by financial affairs - in which the leaders of the ONA are involved, has become much clearer after the murder of one of the prominent commanders of the so-called ONA, Xhezair Shaqiri, alias Commander Hoxha. Our sources say that his murder, perpetrated by a fellow fighter from Aracinovo, is only the first in a series that has been announced for the future. The main reason for the announcement of these assassinations are the financial affairs surrounding Shaqiri. He had to part with his life because of the unpaid debt to the fighters of his 113th Brigade. According to intelligence information, his history as a prominent member of the so-called ONA goes back to his active participation in the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] fighting in Kosovo. This is where he became a close associate and friend of Ramush Haradinaj and his brother Daut with whom he later formed the 113th Brigade, whose membership consisted mainly of mujahedins...

These activities of Commander Hoxha made it possible for him to be one of those responsible for [the ONA's] financial management and the payment of fees to the fighters in his unit and beyond. But it was precisely these responsibilities that made Shaqiri take better care of his own pocket than the Albanian terrorists and their involvement in the military activities in nearly all crisis regions in the country. As a result of the significant financial misconduct, Commander Hoxha tried to hide from the people to whom he owed money and left for Kosovo, leaving behind indignant "fighters" who, insisting on getting their wages, managed to find and kill him.

Our sources say that, in the past few days, this incident has driven Shaqiri's close associates into a frenzy. Knowing that they are on the assassination list, they have rushed to look for safe places where they would not be found. But our sources say that they decided to pay the [fighters'] "earnings" with all available means.

This problem has become clearer now that the terrorists' coffers are nearly empty after ending their military activities. This is precisely because the main treasurers of the [Albanian] emigres [in western Europe] are now refusing to contribute funds as, in their view, they are not used for fighting but end up in somebody's pocket.

The cleanup of the financial misconduct of the so-called ONA Albanian commanders has been reaching ever greater proportions since the Albanian emigres started a campaign for an end to the fund-raising for those two terrorist groups. This is precisely a result of their commanders' financial misappropriations. According to unofficial information obtained by Nova Makedonija, the Albanian emigres, who until recently had the obligation to contribute at least 5 per cent of their earnings to the needs of the ONA, are indignant at the behaviour of the influential [Albanian] personalities in Macedonia. They have asked for clear information on the way the money has been spent. And - we have learned this off the record - since they have not been given an answer, they have asked that all commanders who have taken part in the embezzlement are murdered as a lesson to demonstrate what will happen to all those who have been involved in the embezzlement. Our sources say that their signal is very clear and definitely suggests a conflict within the ranks of those two terrorist organizations in our country.

Latvia surprised by Putin's comparison of Baltics with Macedonia.

BNS news agency, Tallinn

Riga, 26 December: The Latvian Foreign Ministry is surprised by the inadequate comparison of the Baltic states with Macedonia made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised interview on Monday [24 December], a spokesman for the ministry has said. Answering questions in an ORT [Russian Public TV] and RTR [Russia TV] telecast on Monday, Putin compared the situation in the Baltic states, Latvia included, with that in Macedonia.

Latvian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vilmars Henins told BNS that the Latvian government's position on human rights and ethnic minorities is clear-cut and based on building democratic society in the country. "International organizations, including the OSCE, have also given positive vision for development of the situation in Latvia," said Henins, adding that this vision is different from Russia's opinion on the matter. "The said organizations believe that Latvia has chosen the right path and is dealing with human rights and ethnic minority issues successfully as evidenced by closure of the OSCE mission," said the Latvian Foreign Ministry representative. He said he would like "to wish Russia to start the New Year in a more favourable mood based on mutual respect and understanding and may relations between the two countries be built along the same lines."

Answering questions from population during a live broadcast on the Russian television channels, ORT and RTR, on Monday, Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested that the practice of protecting the rights of ethnic minorities in Macedonia must be extended to the Russian-speaking population of the Baltic countries. "The international community and the OSCE have pressured Macedonia into making a decision under which the Albanian community of that country, which accounts for 20 per cent of the population, have a right to be represented in the same proportion in governmental bodies, in particular the armed forces and police," he said. "If this rule is fair, there is every reason to extend it to Russians, in particular Russians in the Baltic countries" where they amount to about 40 per cent of the population, Putin said.

Partition: Macedonia's Best Lost Hope?


by Christopher Deliso
December 26, 2001


Trapped indoors by the snowiest winter in a century, Macedonians now have ample time to speculate over what was and what might have been in 2001. While pundits can hypothesize, the citizens of Macedonia themselves have to live with the reality of the decisions that have been made for them, and the actions undertaken, mostly by large international bodies such as NATO and the OSCE, ineluctably present and accountable to no one. The fallout of almost a year of war has been especially harsh on the many displaced persons and refugees in Macedonia, a country that even without violence can count on annual wintertime hardships, due to a combination of poverty and geography. This Christmas, that lamentable reality has been worsened still by the effects of war.


Among the many solutions that have been forwarded regarding the future status of Macedonia, few have been so controversial as last June's proposal (by the Macedonian Academy of Sciences) for a swap of territory and population between Albanians and Macedonians. Back then, the idea that Macedonia could "lose one inch of territory" was extremely unpalatable to many Macedonians who believed, not unreasonably, that there might be a more amenable solution to the crisis. Yet despite Macedonian optimism, it was apparent even then that they would eventually be forced into some painful compromises ones which would in the process eliminate room for bargaining.

And so it has come to pass. Macedonia has preserved its territorial integrity, though large areas remain off-limits to all non-Albanians. Macedonia has preserved its integrity as a state, though its constitution has been forcibly altered, against the will of the majority of citizens. And Macedonia has narrowly survived economic failure, though the reliance on Western-dominated lending institutions like the World Bank and IMF means that politically Macedonia does not really call the shots on its own turf.

Given this increasingly unfavorable situation for Macedonia, the once-scorned idea of partition is coming back to haunt those who originally deplored it out of pride. For now it seems that time is on the side of the Albanian "ethnic rebels" who are allegedly seeking to unite Western Macedonia with Albania. Even without military pressure, the high Albanian birthrate seems to guarantee that the Albanian population of Macedonia in general will eventually catch up with the Macedonian population and so in addition to having the western part of the country (as partition would have allowed), they will be able to annex the whole lot. The inevitability of this result is probably what has kept the NLA from prosecuting an outright war to the finish. They are no doubt aware that, given time, their remaining demands will be met without too much effort.


Had ethnic partition been accomplished, it would not have been for the first time in this part of the world. The Balkan wars and Greek-Turkish war bookended World War I, and remain a textbook study of how the winners divide the spoils. As is the case now, the "Great Powers" of Western Europe all had a hand in the machinations behind each antagonist's campaign. The modern-day boundaries of the South Balkans were all carved out between 1912-1922; Bulgaria, the big loser of the Balkan Wars, conceded to Greece lands in the regions of Macedonia and Thrace. And Greece, after a disastrous attack on the dying Ottoman Empire in 1922, lost its rights to the Anatolian city of Smyrna (Izmir) and, more importantly, to Constantinople (Istanbul) itself.

This particular Greek tragedy is most instructive to the current situation in Macedonia. Greece's military ambitions were at the time legitimized by the presence of a very large Greek community in Asia Minor, going back thousands of years and a last vestige of Byzantium. Gripped by the kind of grandiose, sweeping nationalism so popular at the time, the Greeks jumped at the chance to reclaim their "lost" territories in Anatolia a military operation known as the megali idea, or "the big idea." They were mimicked by the Western powers, all of whom hovered over the wounded Ottoman beast like so many hungry buzzards, though unlike Greece, they had no historic or popular claim to Turkish soil.


In the end, Greek hubris led to a total disaster that finalized their Turkish ambitions once and for all, because it destroyed the population base that had legitimized the movement in the first place. After taking Smyrna, the Greeks marched on Ankara, only to be repulsed by the Turks and driven back across the sea. In the process, thousands of Anatolian Greeks were slaughtered or expelled, and the physical traces of Greek civilization were destroyed. In the ensuing population exchanges, all of the Greeks in Turkey (with the exception of those in Istanbul) were forced to return to Greece, thus eliminating two very large minority groups (one on the Aegean coast, the other on the Pontic Black Sea coast near Trabzon). With no Greek civilians left to "liberate" in Turkey, no new invasion would ever be sustainable, even in theory.

Turkey, of course, was forced to repatriate its own civilians living in Greece (except for those in Thrace); yet these were proportionally much fewer than the number of Greeks who had been living in Turkey. The population exchanges of 1922, therefore, were of much greater benefit to Turkey, and facilitated Attaturk's homogenization of the country. By the 1950s, most of the Greeks left in Istanbul had been intimidated out of the country, while the Turkish minority in Thrace grew unhindered. The reality today, given Turkey's military superiority and great population advantage, is that the Turkish minority in Greece wins increasing concessions, while the few hundred old Greeks left in Istanbul exert negligible influence in a city founded by Greeks over 2,500 years ago.


Applying this historical model to the Macedonian crisis, one gets a tentative picture of what might have been in 2001. Like the Ottoman Empire 80 years ago, Macedonia is a disorganized, weak state under attack from an expansionistic young power (the pan-Albanian movement) fighting for a dubiously nationalistic agenda. And, as in 1921, the Western powers (some things never change) are also hungrily eyeing the weaker state, because of its value as an economic crossroads and future site of the AMBO pipeline.

The only difference is that the Western governments proved more powerful this time around, in preventing the Macedonian army from achieving the kind of punishing victory that would have allowed Macedonia to negotiate on its own terms. But the Macedonians did not know things would turn out that way in the beginning; and so they rejected partition, which was thought to offer too many concessions to the Albanians.

Under the partition scheme, Macedonia would have lost the territories around Tetovo, but would also have gained other lands near Ochrid. The proposal also would have meant a 1922-style population exchange, requiring all Albanians in Macedonia to leave for these new territories even those living in Skopje or elsewhere. For their part, Macedonians in the west of the country and in Albanian proper would also have been forced to repatriate. Yet since relatively few of the latter exist, the great advantage would have been on the Macedonian side.

Had this scheme been implemented, Macedonia might have been temporarily humiliated, but the rationale for any future Albanian claims would also have been eliminated. With Albanians no longer living on Macedonian soil, the NLA would hardly be able to claim to be defending the rights of a persecuted minority. Rather, the unprecedented and indisputable victory of winning territory for the "Greater Albania" would have immediately silenced any future Albanian demands. Yet whether out of pride or optimism, Macedonia decided to forfeit the war to win the battle a most quixotic victory, in any case, because the only ones who had been vanquished were the assuredly nationalistic (but pragmatic) Macedonian advocates of partition.


The bitter irony of all this is that partition may indeed eventually occur but not on Macedonia's terms. If the NLA and its successor, the ANA follows up last year's military successes next spring, it will be only a matter of time before some sort of Kosovo-style autonomy sets in for Albanian-dominated western Macedonia. Given that the West is too timid to face down the rebels, and continues to strong-arm Macedonia economically whenever that country tries to defend itself, the fulfillment of further Albanian demands is likely. But this time there will be no population exchange, no matching concession from the Albanians; rather, the loss of Tetovo and the west will be but a prelude to an increasingly aggressive nationalistic agenda that will capitalize on "saving" the Albanians in other regions of the country as well.

Of course, whether or not Macedonia could have achieved a favorable partition last Spring is completely speculative. Yet while the snow continues to fall into 2002, and while the rebels polish their guns in Kosovo, Albania and Switzerland, ordinary Macedonians will indeed have a lot to think about. It remains to be seen whether the skies, which have been so generous with snow, will be as abundant with new big ideas.

Interview With Irena Guzelova EU Spokesperson For Macedonia.

INTERVIEW Reality Macedonia: Irena Guzelova

Interviewed by Irina Gelevska
Photos by Marko Georgiev

RM: You are Irena Guzelova and for somebody that doesn't know will automatically say that you are Macedonian. Can you explain your Macedonian origin?


Irena: My father is Macedonian and I was born here. And my mother is English. I came back here as a journalist when Tetovo started back in March of this year and I was working for the Financial Times, based in Belgrade, but covering the region.

RM: You speak Macedonian very well as I can tell. As EU spokesman why don't you speak Macedonian at the press conferences.

Irena: That is a very good question. I speak Macedonian well enough to have a conversation between friends and people who you meet on the streets, but I don't think that I have in command the subtleties of the language that is needed to express more accurately certain political developments. And I would think aside from that even if I did I think having this joint press conferences in English with NATO and OSCE spokesperson wouldn't work. Quite frankly they wouldn't understand what I was saying… personally I would not feel comfortable enough explaining certain concepts to some Macedonian journalist. I don't have that kind of command of the language that is needed to express yourself very clearly and precisely.

RM: What are your current tasks here?


Irena: Well, not just spokesperson, being a spokesperson takes just a certain amount of your time, quite a small amount of that time. And I think that that percentage will grow smaller as I get to know more. I've been here only for less than a week now and I've spent a lot of my time just having to learn and having to absorb what office is doing what and what is or has been done. The idea is that I work more closely with the local media and because certainly over the summer there was a perception, which I also agree with, that not all of the media, but a lot of the media here is very politicized. And obviously there is an increased inattentions and misunderstandings and also a sense of panic among the people.

RM: You are assuming that most of the Macedonian media were not objective. Don't you think that it is normal when a country is tangling with war, the media is the only source of information for the public, even when politicians are hiding information from the people.

Irena: Probably yes. Undoubtedly there is an element of that. But I am also coming from, having spent two years in Serbia and there was always a core in Serbia there were always certain outlets that did not become partisan. Of course they were not perfect and then of course they were helped because they got a lot of outside financial help. Especially in the year between the NATO bombing and the fall of Milosevic that I think a lot of donors realize the importance of media, they started giving, aiding this outlets. And of course the west had very clear political interests. They never hid the fact that Milosevic was a sort of the boogie man of the west a little bit like Sadam Hussein is at the moment...In Serbia there was always a small but very strong core of journalists and also of editors who were very courageous and tried to maintain not a distance because no one can be distant. But tried to maintain a certain degree of journalist ethics. And I think that there are those in Macedonia. There is certainly certain outlets a couple of TV channels which have been really professional.

RM: During the crisis in August and July, 40% of the people had trust in EU mostly and NATO was the last on the list and now this role has been changed according to the last survey done by the government agency that is much appreciated here. Maybe this is one of the reasons that you are here.

Irena: I think so definitely… very indicative in the fact that NATO has a very visible presence. Per say NATO is always going to have far more visible presence than somebody like the European Commission. Simply because, you can not miss the tank rolling down the street or APC or armed personal courier. But money for budgetary support, money for help with families who are hosting, we don’t call them refugees we call them internally displaced people, these are not very visible. But certainly this profile needs to be raised. And I think the EU is very concerned about that, because there has been quite a negative opinion of the international community here. I am not saying that the international community has not made mistakes certainly EU is bureaucracy with all faults of bureaucracy, however the intentions are positive. And the intentions are good. There are people in Brussels that are still very much concerned about the region, obviously because it is in the heart of Europe. There are signs of the US disengaging from the region and interest that is slowly disengaging. And the EU needs to fill the gap. The US has other national interests at the moment. The Middle East is also now taking over a lot of time and resources and also within the EU, a lot of people who were solely concentrated on the Balkans have now turned their attention to Afghanistan and to the Middle East. There is an extra strain on resources there is no doubt about that. However the EU knows that ultimately it's strategic interest lay more here than say Afghanistan or that it also must play a role in Afghanistan because it is a major player on the world scene.

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