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Lyulin Stamenov/Sofia Echo. Slavi Trifonov, a host of a talk show on bTV, was pronounced Man of the Year 2001 by Club M mens magazine. At a special ceremony at the Military Club on Saturday he received the Honorary Sword which is given to the winner every year. Trifonov was competing for the prize with Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg and Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofianski.
PRESENTATION OF MACEDONIAN BUSINESS CENTRE'S INVESTMENTS.
The Macedonian Business Centre, established by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1995, has invested more than $ 60 million in trade transactions in the country, Georgi Trenkovski, the manager for development of the centre said.
He added that until 2000 the Center has developed and implemented projects with more than 300 Macedonian enterprises in the field of financial management, marketing, manufacturing, organization and human resources. According to him the continuos presence of foreign experts allowed the foreign practice in the field of management to be implemented in the country in order to assist to the companies in the restructuring process.
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Eleanor Nagy said that the U.S. Government approved $ 100 million from October 2000 - October 2001 for Macedonia. Nagy assessed that the signing of the Framework Agreement and the adoption of the constitutional amendments are important steps for Macedonia's development, adding that with the adoption of Law on local self-government all obstacles for holding the donor's conference will be removed.
"The efficient assistance gives results and the U.S. government will continue to assist Macedonia in order to overcome the crisis," Nagy said, adding that "the basis of the development was in the sound private sector, which can offer new job positions, could reduce the trade deficit, could increase the state revenues and could provide better life."
According to her, the Macedonian Business Center was the best example for efficient use of the USAID's funds. She believes that the resolution of the crisis is in the small businesses, pointing out that the small businesses make up 50% of the U.S. GDP.
FM CASULE'S ADDRESS AT OSCE MINISTERIAL METING IN BUCHAREST.
The tragic events of September 11 united the world and reaffirmed the resolve of all to fight the battle against terrorism, gathered around our common values and interests, Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said Monday in his address at the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Bucharest.
"The fatal message of terrorism should not distract us from the path, we commit ourselves to build: democracy, respect of human rights, the rule of law. Undoubtedly, we will have to strengthen our cooperation in all fields, but primarily in the field of security. It is also crucial to have strong international legal instruments and full implementation by the states of their obligations," Casule said.
Macedonia immediately joined the call for establishing a global international anti-terrorist coalition and expressed its strong condemnation of the attacks, and solidarity with the American people and Government, Casule said. In this respect, Macedonia undertook concrete measures as its contribution to the global efforts and cooperation to curb terrorist actions, he added.
"I warmly welcome the imminent adoption of the OSCE Decision and the Plan of Action for Combating Terrorism. It creates an excellent basis for our common efforts in this regard. This gives an additional value to the global efforts based on the specifics of the OSCE and its comparative advantages," Casule said.
He also underlined that different approaches towards terrorism could not be allowed.
"We cannot allow double standards. That kind of approach will undermine our efforts to eradicate this evil. No one can be allowed to practice terrorism for whatsoever reason; the consequences of any terrorist act are equally devastating, " Casule said, adding that democracy, human rights and rule of law would have to be defended more vigorously than ever.
"Over the past eight months, Macedonia and all its achievements as a democratic society have been exposed to violent terrorist attacks. We have done much in respect of the implementation of the Framework Agreement of August 13. One of the main parts of the Agreement contained in Annex A, the constitutional amendments, have recently been adopted by the Macedonian Assembly. A law on local self-government is in parliamentary procedure and its adoption is due this week. At the same time, all relevant ministries are working hard on other legislative changes foreseen by Annex B of the Agreement. The amnesty issue has also been resolved, " Casule said.
The OSCE, together with other international organizations, EU, NATO and UN agencies, is largely involved in the implementation of President Trajkovski's Plan for Overcoming of the Crisis and Annex C of the Framework Agreement - Confidence-building measures.
"The Framework Agreement was a result of our strong commitment to finding a political solution to the crisis and the best way to defend our country, and to undermine the goals of the terrorists. But, let me reiterate that we will also defend our countrty by all means, as provided by the Framework Agreement, which, I remind you, considers any use of arms, after the 26 September amnesty, as banditism. In this context, I am sorry to note that terrorist groups are still active in some parts of the sensitive areas and that they have be treated as such, as terrorists, since their activities undermine the whole plan and process, " Casule said.
The cost of terrorism for Macedonia was high: loss of lives, destroyed homes, thousand of refugees and internally displaced persons, Casule stressed.
"The situation is still fragile, particularly from the humanitarian point of view. We still have about 40,000 internally displaced persons and refugees, whose homes are either destroyed, or they feel insecure to return there. The Government, along with the international organizations, is working hard to alleviate the plight of these people, and we are grateful for the help. In this context, the unconditional international assistance is necessary for normalization of life in the affected areas, the primary aim of which is to reconstruct houses and infrastructure," Casule said.
The crisis also caused economic downfall and a large budget deficit, he added. It has had a negative impact on the country's development, increasing unemployment and poverty rates.
"Therefore, I urge the international community, financial institutions, and in particular the EU to address our needs at the upcoming Donors' Conference," Casule said.
He underlined that the crisis did not destruct Macedonia from its main goals of building a strong democracy and integrating into Euro-Atlantic structures. Moreover, despite the country's hardships, it has never neglected its strategic aims - EU and NATO membership.
"The integration into the EU and NATO is a common goal of the SEE countries and we are all aware that membership is a solution to the lasting stability and prosperity of the region. We are working hard on the fulfilment of our obligations under the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the priority in the coming year will be given to that issue," Casule said.
The recent events shown more than ever the importance of cooperation and solidarity among the countries of the region, Casule stressed, adding that many long-standing issues have been resolved, but much remains to be done.
"Evidently, the SEE region has again been among the top issues on the OSCE agenda this year. There is one point I would like to make: every crisis in the region is a story of its own, although they may seem to have the same or similar roots. Therefore, each OSCE mission in the region has specific tasks and mandate. While we very much support and actively contribute to regional cooperation, we do not see the benefit of having a regional approach to different issues. Regional cooperation and regional approach by the international community should not be considered identical," Casule said.
Macedonia welcomed the decisions to foster the role of OSCE as a forum for political dialogue and to improve the management of the Organization, Casule said. However, that should not be the end to the reform process.
"Let there be no doubt that OSCE reform and strengthening of its effectiveness will be a long-term and as comprehensive process as the Organization's concept of security," Casule said.
Today, Casule met with Romanian President Ion Iliescu.
"The meeting was a chance for enhancing of the bilateral relations and reaffirming of the joint commitment to unite forces of the SEE countries in combat against terrorism," Casule said.
The officials also agreed that Macedonia and Romania should cooperate in combating against the new security challenges, creating conditions for their faster integration into the EU and NATO.
Referring to the current development in Macedonia, Casule informed the Romanian President about the course of the implementation of the Plan for Overcoming of the Crisis, pointing out the necessity for urgent financial assistance as a crucial element for the Plan's successful realization.
Today, Casule also had meetings with his counterparts from Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, FR Yugoslavia, Liechtenstein, Ukraine, Kirgistan, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and Portugal, as well as with the Chief of NATO delegation, Ambassador Daniel Spechard and members of the US and UN delegations.
The NLA: Human Rights Fighters or Terrorists?
Given the status of the ethnic Albanian minority in the Republic of Macedonia, most Macedonians believe that the KLA/NLA is a group of thugs with the sole intent of further destabilizing the Balkans, not human rights fighters. After all, following the withdrawal of the Yugoslav security forces from Kosovo, virtually all non-Albanians were forced to flee their homes, and Christian monuments were destroyed. Moreover, if the respect for the human rights of ethnic minorities exhibited by the Macedonian authorities is too grave so as to drive a group of people in an armed insurgency for more rights, why then have we not witnessed other ethnic groups in Macedonia following a similar path to that of the so-called NLA, or why have other ethnic minorities in the Balkans - like the Macedonians and Greeks in Albania for instance, who have none of the aforementioned human rights to enjoy and are economically and socially worse off than the Macedonian Albanians - not taken such steps? The KLA/NLA has shady relations with criminal gangs involved in prostitution, drug-traffic and people and weapons smuggling, as well as bin Laden's organization al-Qaeda, links that shed light on what may be the true reason for the armed conflicts initiated by the KLA/NLA, a reason good enough to explain the aforementioned discrepancy between the claims of the ethnic Albanian terrorists and their deeds.
The origins ofthe KLA/NLA are quite interesting. The New York Times reported that the KLA "began on the radical fringe of Kosovar Albanian politics, originally made up of diehard Marxist-Leninists (who were bankrolled in the old days by the Stalinist dictatorship next door in Albania) as well as by descendants of the fascist militias raised by the Italians in World War II." Congressman Ron Paul of Texas stated that "the United States Government has in the past referred to the Kosovo Liberation Army leaders as thugs, terrorists, Marxists, and drug dealers." The Times called the KLA "Marxist-led force funded by dubious sources, including drug money." The US State Department does not even consider the KLA/NLA as freedom fighters, for it states the following regarding their terrorist activities in the 2000 Report on Patterns of Global Terrorism:
In Southeastern Europe, groups of ethnic Albanians have conducted armed attacks against government forces in southern Serbia and in Macedonia since 1999. One group in southern Serbia calls itself the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (PMBLA). One group in Macedonia calls itself the National Liberation Army (NLA). Both groups include members who fought with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1998-99 and have used their wartime connections to obtain funding and weapons from Kosovo and elsewhere. The PMBLA has, on occasion, harassed and detained civilians traveling through areas it controls. Both the PMBLA and the NLA have fired indiscriminately upon civilian centers. (In the same region, ethnic Albanian assailants carried out a terrorist attack against a bus in Kosovo on 16 February 2001, killing at least seven civilians and wounding 43 others.)
In its latest report on international drug trafficking, the U.S. State Department identifies Macedonia as part of the "Balkans Route," the notorious link along which organized crime gangs transport heroin and other drugs from Turkey to Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to Italy. Macedonia is also part of a newer, shorter route on which drugs travel through Kosovo to Western Europe, the report says. The State Department praises the Macedonian government for cooperating with efforts to control drug smuggling. Could it be that the interests of the Albanian Mafia clashed with the Macedonian security forces? The Irish Times reported that according to a leading criminologist "the rebels fighting in the hills of Macedonia and southern Serbia were the paramilitary wing of an Albanian mafia exporting drugs and trafficking in humans to Europe and beyond [...] 'Every mafia needs two things - a safe home territory, and a diaspora. The Albanians now have the diaspora through the refugees from the Kosovo war." The same article quotes Mr. Xavier Raufer, a researcher at the Paris Institute of Criminology and author of The Albanian Mafia, "the latest guerrilla offensives on the margins of the province were a fight to control two key points on a smuggling route known as the 'Balkans Golden Triangle'." Mr. Raufer went on to say in his interview for Radio Netherlands that the "ethnic Albanian rebels fighting in the hills of Macedonia are the paramilitary wing of an Albanian Mafia exporting drugs and trafficking humans to Europe and even further." Similarly, the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag reported that "large amounts of money are flowing from organized drug- and people-smuggling in both Kosovo and Macedonia [...]." The same article reports that one of the heads of the Albanian Mafia, who controlled the Central European drug market, financed the terrorists' activities in Tetovo and Kosovo with money from drug sales. After all, The Guardian reported that "Kosovo has become a "smugglers' paradise" supplying up to 40% of the heroin sold in Europe and North America;" the same was confirmed by both Die Berliner Zeitung and Der Hamburger Abendblatt. Jane's reported that "some 70 per cent of the heroin reaching Germany and Switzerland is now reckoned to have been transported through Albania and/or by Albanian groups, and the figure for Greece may be closer to 85 per cent." Frank J. Cilluffo, Deputy Director of Global Organized Crime and Program director to Counterterrorism Task Force testified before U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary that "the KLA raise part of their funds from the sale of narcotics. Albania and Kosovo lie at the heart of the 'Balkan Route' that links the 'Golden Crescent' of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the drug markets of Europe. This route is worth an estimated $400 billion a year and handles 80 percent of heroin destined for Europe." The Times reported that "the State Department has evidence that the KLA has been involved in drug-smuggling to Europe" and that "the sums collected through the worldwide network of charities cannot compare to the profit made from so-called 'narco-dollars'." The Economist reported that "when police in Oslo made Norway's largest-ever heroin seizure, they discovered that former fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army controlled the drug-distribution chain. Heroin-dealing in Switzerland is dominated by Albanians." The same article showed the drug routes used by the Taliban to smuggle their heroin into Western Europe; interestingly, one of the routes goes throught the areas of recent violence provoked by the Albanian terrorists. Jane's reported also of another type of "business" done by the Albanian mafia: "people smuggling. Kurdish refugees from Turkey and Iraq pay as much as $1,000 to be brought by Albanian gangs across the Macedonian or Greek borders."
ABC News reported that the Albanian Mafia, having "a reputation as a ruthless smuggler of weapons, drugs and women," even smuggled underage girls and sold them like slaves in Western Europe, after which it forced them into prostitution. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that "Albanian clans are funnelling the profits [from sex trade] into the coffers of former Kosovo Liberation Army strongmen who are fighting Serbs in the Presevo Valley and attacking their Slavic neighbours in Macedonia." Similarly, The Sunday Times reporting on the slave traffic practices by the Albanian Mafia, stated: "'Albanian mafia gangs are very vicious,' a recent Home Office report emphasised. 'They make the Italian mafia look like crowd-control officers at a local whist drive.'" The Economist also reported on the fact that Albanian organised crime dominates prostitution in Soho, a fact later confirmed by the Sunday Times too; the Austrian Association of Detectives concludes the same for Hamburg's Reeperbahn, the largest red lights district in Germany, and links between the Albanian Mafia and prostitution rings in Italy were confirmed by the Austrian State Television. The Financial Times reported that "diplomats said the [Albanian] diaspora, which has a significant presence in drugs and prostitution rackets, particularly in Switzerland, Belgium and Germany, is providing financing and weapons to the rebels." The Executive Intelligence Review quotes Michael Levine, former U.S. counter-narcotic agent and one of the most decorated agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), saying in May 1999 the KLA "is tied in with every known Middle and Far Eastern drug cartel. Interpol, Europol, and nearly every European intelligence and counter-narcotics agency has files open on drug syndicates that lead right to the KLA, and right to Albanian gangs ..." Business AM reported that "there was ample evidence available two summers ago about the ties of the so-called Albanian national liberation struggle to organised crime, and how intertwined the Albanian mafia was - and still is - with the political militants."
So, the obvious question is: what is the connection between the Albanian Mafia and the Albanian terrorists in Macedonia? Newsweek offered an explanation on what is the link between people involved in illegal activities and those initiating violent conflicts: "to the kingpins, peace is bad for business. 'Once you establish the rule of law and start collecting taxes, or import duties, it threatens the smugglers,' says a top police official in Kosovo's capital, Pristina. [...] Drug trafficking has become so prevalent that German and Scandinavian police now say Kosovo Albanians are their countries' leading suppliers of heroin and other drugs. And in Italy, police there say, Albanian gangsters from both Albania and Kosovo are now the leading importers of prostitutes from Eastern Europe and Russia." Similarly, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, based on confidential sources, reported that the unrest in the area is an absolute advantage for the criminal activities (dirty smuggling deals with illegal drugs, weapons, and women) of the organized crime in the region, headed by UCK fighters. The Economist stated that "this year, much of the money made [from drug sales] went to buy arms for the rebels fighting in Macedonia and a strip of southern Serbia." The Washington Times reported that "National Liberation Army (NLA), a splinter of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), also has another motive: It is fighting to keep control over the region's drug trafficking, which has grown into a large, lucrative enterprise since the Kosovo war." Business AM went on to conclude that "chaos allows the criminals to flourish and, arguably, the militants have no wish for an accord or peace - it would be bad for business." Similarly, the Financial Times reported that the European Union must "crack down on Albanian groups operating in Europe where they increasingly dominate drugs, prostitution and smuggling rings. 'This is where the money is coming from for the weapons. If we cannot tackle the source, how can we ever get out of Kosovo?' said a Nato official."
However, besides shady links to criminal organizations, the KLA/NLA has had strong links with Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime. Congressman Cunningham of California stated that "the KLA is supported by the mujahedin, Hamas, and even bin Laden." A report by the Republican Policy Committee linked the Albanian terrorists fighting in Macedonia and Kosovo with an extensive Albanian crime network in Europe and terrorist organizations motivated by the ideology of radical Islam, including assets of Osama bin Laden. ABC News reported that "money bin Laden raised for fighters in Chechnya, Kosovo, and Bosnia alone is believed to run into the tens of millions of dollars." The Daily Telegraph reported that "fundraising for the KLA [in Great Britain] is believed to centre on the International Islamic Front, founded by Osama bin Laden, the Afghani terrorist leader." The Times reported that "bin Laden's associates are using [a] charity in the US that claims to be supporting Albanian refugees from the war in Kosovo" and that "money raised is filtered back to fighters from the KLA. Some of these fighters have spent time at training camps run by bin Laden." Similarly, BBC reported that charity organizations in Kosovo are suspected to have links to Osama bin Laden. Jane's reported that "the tangled web represented by fundamentalist interests in Afghanistan [...] export drugs to Western Europe using predominantly Albanian and Kosovar networks and assets, including those of the KLA." The Executive Intelligence Review reported that "presently the main axis controlling more than 80% of the heroin market in Europe (plus a growing slice of the heroin market in other areas, including the United States) is the Afghanistan-Kosovo axis. Or better, a Taliban-Kosovo Liberation Army axis." USA Today reported that bin Laden sent units to fight in the Serbian province of Kosovo after having established an Albanian operation in 1994. After all, The Sunday Times reported that bin Laden himself had visited Albania in 1998; the Albanian Telegraphic Agency confirmed the same thing at the time, and the Wall Stree Journal Europe recently did the same thing. Furthermore, The Sunday Times went on to say that a member of bin Laden's Albanian network "visited Albania to recruit and arm fighters for Kosovo." Similarly, The Times reported that "American intelligence has raised the possibility of a link between Osama bin Laden, the Saudi expatriate blamed for the bombing in August of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and the KLA." The Jerusalem Post reported that the ethnic Albanian fighters "are being bolstered by hundreds of Iranian fighters, or Mujahadeen, who infiltrate from nearby Albania and call themselves the Kosovo Liberation Army." The same article went on to say that "US defense officials say the support includes that of Osama bin Laden." The Washington Times claims that "reports said bin Laden's organization, known as al-Qaeda, has both trained and financially supported the KLA." The Sunday Times also reported that "Iranian Revolutionary Guards, supported by the Saudi millionaire, supported the Albanian underground movement in Kosovo, and that members of the al-Gamaa al-Islamiya movement, which killed 58 tourists in Luxor in November of 1998, were in Kosovo." The same article went on to say that "they [Islamic fundamentalists] hope to turn the region into their main base for Islamic armed activity in Europe." Ralf Mutschke of Interpol's Criminal Intelligence Division testified before the House Judicial Committee on December 13 2000 that "In 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, indicating that it was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals, among them allegedly Usama bin Laden. Another link to bin Laden is the fact that the brother of a leader in an Egyptian Djihad organization and also a military commander of Usama bin Laden, was leading an elite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict." Congressman Brad Sherman acknowledged that the KLA is an "organization that may have alliances with Iran, with Osama Bin Laden, and even with drug dealers." The Washington Times reported that "Islamic radicals, including supporters of bin Laden, have been supporting Albanian rebels fighting in the region, including members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Intelligence officials have said there are reports that KLA members have been trained at bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan." The newspaper concluded the same thing in a recent follow-up. The Scotsman wrote that the KLA received weapons from bin Laden. Forbes reported that Osama bin Laden "provided training and financial support to Islamic militants among the Bosnian Muslims and the Albanian separatists in Kosovo and Macedonia." The British paper Independent reported that "Interpol believes that Osama bin Laden is linked to Albanian gangs who have taken over a growing web of crime across Europe." BBC reported that according to the US State Department bin Laden might choose to hide in the inaccessible parts of Albania, "using criminal networks which 20 years of "War on Drugs" have been unable to crack" BBC continued: "bin Laden may see the massive export of heroin to the US and Europe as a form of warfare as deadly - in its way - as the attack on the World Trade Center."
In conclusion, the respect of the Macedonian state for the rights of all its ethnic minorities, the actions of the Albanian terrorists against Macedonian civilian targets, and the links between the KLA/NLA and confirmed terrorist organizations, cast a shadow of doubt on the claims by the KLA/NLA that they are solely fighting for greater respect for their human rights.
The NLA: Human Rights Fighters or Terrorists?
Inhabitants of Kumanovo, a town of over 100.000 people, filling water containers after the ethnic Albanian terrorists cut off the water supply to the town for ten days in the middle of the summer. The event was largely ignored by the international media. (Photo courtesy RealityMacedonia)
A Macedonian woman weeps after seeing her decimated house destroyed by Albanian terrorists outside Tetovo. Homes of ethnic Macedonians were singled out for plundering and destruction by the Albanian terrorist gangs.
The St. Atanasie monastery near Tetovo was blown up by ethnic Albanian terrorists in order to provoke a response by the Macedonian security forces. Albanian SS units, backed by their Nazi and Fascist allies, attacked the monastery during WWII, as part of a series of attacks against local ethnic Macedonians. The New York Times reported of similar attacks over a hundred years ago (large view). Photos courtesy Reality Macedonia.
Frescoes over 600 years old in the village of Matejce, near Kumanovo, destroyed by Albanian terrorists.
Like the Albanian SS units during WWII, supported by the fascist Benito Mussolini, Hitler's Italian ally, the NLA members wear black uniforms when not in combat.
The cover page of Bota Sot (large view), an Albanian newspaper with the largest circulation in the Albanian diaspora. The hand grenade was removed from the hand of the Albanian terrorists on the photo (killed by Macedonian policemen in self-defense as the terrorists were trying to throw the grenade at the policemen) in order to make the terrorists look as innocent civilian victims. The newspaper published in Switzerland is considered as a highly racist publication by the authorities.
An exploded car bomb in downtown Skopje on October 4th 2001. The car bomb was set by a member of the NLA, who got killed by the blast.
Youth NMS to Collect 1 lev from January on.
There is an influx of willing to become members of the new NMS party, which is pending to be established, coordinators from Sofia said. In the 23 constituency the aspirants are already being registered. People of diverse ages and professions apply for membership. Among them there are a lot of businessmen. Young people under 35 also expressed willingness en mass to become members of the youth structures of the NMS. From January 1 on, they are to collect monthly membership dues worth of 1 lev. The funds are to be spent on developing social projects rather than on politics.
No more go-betweens in the arms trade.
Armories Licences' Validity Extended to 5 Years. Reduction of VAT on weaponry required.
Bulgaria's armories will be entitled to export directly their production without mediation of trade companies, Dimitar Peichev, NMS MP from Plovdiv, said. Most likely, validity term of the arms export licence will be extended to 2 and 5 years, he added. The proposal was drawn up at the meeting between the representatives of the military plants and experts of the parliamentary committees on economy and foreign policy and defence. So far, the arms trade licences were issued for 6 and 12 months. This limitation proves to be highly unadvantageous for the manufacturers, since it doesn't allow them to seal long-term contracts with their foreign partners, Peichev elaborated. All companies, which meet the requirements fixed in the law, will be given trade licences.
Gen. Miho Mihov opened a private Air Museum.
Former Pilot Collecting Exponents of Aviation History for 30 Years. 75-year-old Karamfil Stamenkov and his brothers have together 256 years of flying.
Gen. Miho Mihov, General Staff's chief, opened a private museum of aviation in the village of Kovachevtsi, Pernik region. The exposition is situated in the house of former pilot Karamfil Stamenkov, who was 75 yesterday. The veteran pilot opened also an exhibition dedicated to the 40 anniversary of the first space flight of a man in the house of Georgi Didmitrov. Stamenkov (75) has three brothers and a son-in-law who were pilots too. The family as a whole has 256 years of flying. The hours the family spent in air amount to 56,449 and their flights total 156,213. Air Force Commander Gen. Stephan Popov also visited the museum. Karamfil Stamenkov has been collecting the exponents for 30 years. Gen. Mihov inaugurated the museum.
Slavi Trifonov: We Need a Woman of the Year.
Slavi became the Man of the Year in the first year of the new century.
Trackman Nikola Dimitrov ranking fourth in the placing of "Club M" magazine was loudly applauded.
Bulgaria's No 1 showman Slavi Trifonov was presented with a "Caesar" sword, 60-year-old whisky "Johnny Walker" and an "Otello" watch on Saturday night in the Army Club. He was declared the Man of the Year by the "Club M" magazine, motivating their choice with the opinion of the journalists' guild. "During the recent decade Bulgarian men had to endure stress, misery and the heaviest burden - that of themselves. This is why I've been looking for 10 years already for a woman to endure me. We, men, do everything, hoping that the woman we are fond of is going to take notice of us. It was proved that even the deer who are harnnessed to Father Christmas's sledge are female. So, it will be probably better to select a Woman of the Year," Slavi said. In this way, he made his public declaration of love to his girl-friend Magi. The silent brunette expected him to step down from the stage together with Lyben Dilov Jr and his wife. Sofia's Mayor Stephan Sofianski, Man of the Year several years ago, was the first to congratulate Slavi Trifonov. The beau-monde applauded for 5 minutes trackman Nikola Dimitrov from the town of Kurilo, who found the thousands levs along the railway and brought the money to the police. "It took me 5 or 6 minutes to decide what to do," this Knight without Fear and Reproach admitted. The polled journalists qualified him fourth. bTV newswoman Ani Salich was unanimously voted Miss TV-Charm.
Underwater Weddings Offered in Varna.
Unconventional wedding ceremonies are offered by the marriage centre in Varna. The organizers will propose scenarios of the wedding ceremonies to the young couples, including underwater ones. A first order has already been made for an under-water wedding. Among the other services, the centre is also offering consultations with psychologists and lawyers on the matter of drafting marriage contracts.
Solomon Pasi met Archbishop Jean-Louis Toran.
As a unique event in the relations between Bulgaria and the Vativan, the forthcoming visit of Pope John - Paul the 2nd in Bulgaria was the central theme of the talks of Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi with the Vaticans Foreign Relations Secretary Archbishop Jean-Louis Toran. Minister Solomon Pasi informed the Archbishop about the situation in Bulgaria and in the region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press-center reported. Solomon Pasi discussed with the Foreign Minister of Norway Jan Petersen the prospectives of Bulgaria for membership in the NATO. Petersen emphasized that Norway would cooperate with the Bulgarian efforts for membership in the NATO, and evaluated highly the consensus in the Bulgarian Parliament about the military agreement with the USA signed on November 12. Solomon Pasi accepted the invitation of his Latvian counterpart Indulis Berzins to visit Latvia. Bulgarian Foreign Minister spoke third at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe forum in Bucharest instead of nineteenth, which was according to the preliminary schedule. Bulgaria was honoured in such a way for the first time since the beginning of its membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
West haunted by Balkans blunder.
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As the war in Afghanistan goes on, the ghost of interventions past sits in a courtroom in The Hague.
America can drop tons of explosives and send in the Marines to fight Taliban terrorism. But when the Serbs confronted a similar menace, they were demonized and bombed for 78 days, and had a province wrested from them and presented to Osama bin Laden's Balkan brigade.
Slobodan Milosevic has been charged with complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. Before the travesty is over, he will doubtless be convicted of running the rail line to Auschwitz.
The former Yugoslav president is a thug whose brutality played into the terrorists' hands. Even so, the trial of Milosevic before a U.N. tribunal is intended to justify our Balkans blunder and discourage serious consideration of its consequences.
If what happened to Kosovo Albanians and Bosnian Moslems was genocide, what of the treatment of Orthodox Serbs? After NATO's air war, 200,000 were driven from Kosovo. Most who remain cower behind barbed-wire barricades in Mitrovica.
Altogether, 2 million Serbs were expelled from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, and 240 of their churches were destroyed. When this happens to anyone else, it's called ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide.
The tragedy has its roots in the early 1990s, when the West decided Bosnians and Croatians were entitled to their own states. Fine, said Belgrade, but why should 2 million Serbs living there be forcibly expatriated? Who would protect their rights the Bosnian Muslims who committed genocide against Serbs in World War II?
When local Serbs tried to secede from the secessionist states, they were reviled as racists who hated all non-Serbs and lived to rape and plunder.
After Bosnia and Croatia came Kosovo. Albanian Muslims became a majority in Serbia's ancient heartland through illegal immigration. They started when the Kosovo Liberation Army (on the State Department's terrorist list as late as 1998) began murdering Serb policemen.
Milosevic overreacted. At Rambouillet, then-President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave him an ultimatum (surrender of sovereignty over all of Yugoslavia) no self-respecting nation could accept. After the Gulf War, Washington was determined to prove its human-rights commitment by coming to the aid of persecuted Muslims. The result was the creation of a second de facto Islamic republic in Europe.
In October, NATO's secretary general, Lord Robertson, warned that the Balkans must not become another "black hole" of terrorism, like Afghanistan. He was referring to the operations of our erstwhile allies.
On Oct. 3, the Los Angeles Times reported, "Hundreds of foreign Islamic extremists who became Bosnian citizens after battling Serbian and Croatian forces present a potential security threat to Europe and the United States."
Bin Laden, who's been heavily involved in the region since 1992, was reportedly presented with a Bosnian passport for services rendered. The same international legion that's fighting with the Taliban earlier served the Islamic cause in Bosnia and Kosovo.
In his Islamic Declaration, former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (celebrated in the West as a multiculturalist) proclaimed, "There can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions."
The Kosovo "freedom fighters" (as Sen. Joe Lieberman once called them) are equally grateful for Western support. In one of the al-Qaida camps overrun in Afghanistan, Americans found an entry application from a Kosovo Albanian that read, "I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb forces. ... I recommend suicide operations against parks like Disney."
After the subjugation of Kosovo, Muslims moved on Macedonia. Despite a NATO-brokered cease-fire, on Nov. 11 terrorists killed three Macedonian policemen who were trying to guard a mass grave said to hold the remains of civilians killed by the guerrillas.
Is the Albanian area of Macedonia destined to become Europe's third Islamic republic?
The circus surrounding Milosevic's trial is meant to distract us from the reality of our Balkans misadventure when we went to war not against terrorism, but in its behalf.