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President Bush waits for his father, the 41st President, George Bush after playing a round at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Maine July 6, 2001. Bush said he planned to call Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Iraq and Macedonia and resume a dialogue begun in June with talks in Slovenia. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
A Russian girl enjoys a beer and a cool drenching from a fountain in central Moscow as temperatures in the Russian capital reach 30 degrees celsius and higher, July 6, 2001. REUTERS/Vladimir Suvorov
Macedonian policemen observe the hills around the town of Tetovo northwest of the capital Skopje, July 6, 2001. Macedonian forces and Albanian guerrillas signed up to an indefinite NATO-brokered cease-fire on Thursday in a surprise bid to foster progress in deadlocked peace talks and pave the way for rebel disarmament. REUTERS/ Dimitar Dilkoff
A Macedonian Army soldier and a villager walk in front of a tank near the front line in the village of Umin Dol north-east of the capital Skopje July 6, 2001. Macedonian forces and Albanian guerrillas signed up to an indefinite NATO-brokered cease-fire on Thursday in a surprise bid to foster progress in deadlocked peace talks and pave the way for rebel disarmament. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Professor Ognyan Gerdzhikov is the chairman of the new parliament. 230 out of the 240 MPs took part in the election of the chairman. 213 voted 'for', while 16 MPs from UtdDF and 1 from BSP abstained. There were no MPs who vote "against". On the photo: Emel Etem (MRF) greeted the new parliamentary chief on his way to the chairman's seat
Photo Marina Angelova
MINISTER BOSKOVSKI IN TETOVO.
Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski visited Friday morning the security forces stationed in Tetovo. He assessed the security situation in the crisis regions as very complex and said that the terrorist groups do not obey NATO's orders.
He expressed hope that the agenda of the Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski would be fully implemented and that the conflict would be resolved peacefully.
"It was very dangerous in Radusa area during the night, where the Macedonian security forces were attacked from several sides, and there was supply of weapons and forces from Kosovo," Minister Boskovski stated. According to him "that created unrest among the Macedonian leadership."
He informed that the Macedonian security forces succeeded to respond to the attacks and around 02.00 Friday morning the operations were ceased.
Minister Boskovski stressed that the security forces cleared Tetovo - Jazince road and the traffic on the road in not restricted any longer.
He expressed hope that by the end of the day with the presence of OSCE and other representatives of the international community they will have more realistic picture about the situation in the region.
According to the last available information, Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski said that the placement of terrorists in Dzepcista, Poroj and in the other regions where ethnic Albanian population lives spoke that these places are not under complete control yet.
He appealed to Tetovo citizens to feel safe.
MACEDONIAN FM MITREVA MEETS EU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva met Friday in Brussels with Javier Solana, the European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, discussing on the cease-fire agreement as a necessary step towards the process of terrorist disarming, contemplated in the Macedonian President's plan, as well as to continuation of the political dialogue.
Mitreva informed Solana about a violation of the cease-fire by terrorists, asking the international community to demand obeying of the agreement.
Solana said he was in contact with EU envoy to Macedonia Francois Leotard, and with other international facilitators. He gave credit to their efforts, saying he may visit Macedonia soon.
Today, Mitreva also addressed at a meeting of the EU Political and Security Committee, informing on the political situation in Macedonia, expectations from the cease-fire agreement and the progress of political dialogue.
The main message of European diplomats to Macedonia is that they expect fast, concrete results, and above all "moderation, good will and flexibility".
Today, Mitreva also met with NATO Secretary General George Robertson and deputy director of the European Commission external relations Directorate Catherine Day.
The cease-fire agreement is an essential step towards disarming of terrorists, continuation of the political dialogue and restoring of peace and prosperity in the region, Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva said Friday at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General George Robertson, MIA's special correspondent from Brussels reported.
"The Macedonian authorities will try to create conditions for safe returning of refugees to their homes," Mitreva said.
For Robertson, recent developments in Skopje are a significant step forward for citizens of Macedonia and the entire region.
"The cease-fire agreement is being respected, which is crucial," he said.
Robertson gave credit to the international facilitators for their assistance to the Macedonian Government in its efforts to finding peaceful solution to the crisis.
He also extended his respect to Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, who despite the criticism addressed to him, acts wisely, presenting extreme political courage and skill in leading the country through its most difficult moments.
Robertson said that the North Atlantic Council would hold a session this afternoon, focused on NATO mission to Macedonia - part of President Trajkovski's plan for solving of the crisis.
JAVIER SOLANA, PRESS CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS.
"Cease-fire has been obeyed so far and we hope that it will continue like that, and as you know in the last few hours before the Agreement came into force, it was very tense, especially in the Tetovo area", EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana at today's press conference in Brussels. The press conference was held after the meeting with Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva.
According to MIA special reporter from Brussels, Solana said that EU has a field team in Macedonia, which works with representatives of the leaders of the four biggest parties in the Macedonian Government coalition on a technical level.
"We have experts in all areas, who will enable the progress in all disputable points, like the Constitution and the Law for language use, which would create conditions for a transfer from technical to a political level. The meetings on a technical level have already started with the representatives of the four politic parties", Solana said and emphasised that a meeting with the representatives of DPA was held yesterday. He added that these meetings would continue today with the representatives of the other parties.
Solana stressed that the NATO forces will start the disarmament process of the Albanian terrorists, if the so-called NLA accepts the demilitarisation process, if the cease-fire is obeyed and progress in the politic process is reached. Solana emphasised that there is no "deadline for finalisation of the whole process".
"As I informed the Macedonian Foreign Minister and the President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski, the whole action needs a certain rhythm. We can not be engaged in the process for many days and weeks, so the cease-fire should be obeyed and the politic dialog should continue", EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy stated.
When asked whether he regarded that the cease-fire in Macedonia would be obeyed, Solana answered briefly: "I am always an optimist".
Regarding the fact whether the three thousand NATO soldiers would be enough for the disarmament of the Albanian terrorists in Macedonia, Solana said: "We will do everything that is needed. The conclusions are made on the grounds of estimations by NATO military and politic representatives. If anything else is needed, we will provide it".
Commenting on the request of the Albanian politic leaders in Macedonia for a consensual democracy and appointment of an international ombudsman, Solana stressed that consensual democracy is not the most reasonable way to build a country, but on the contrary, it causes its destruction.
"That is why I think there are other mechanisms for development of minority rights, which are present in many constitutions of the European countries and they should be looked up there. In this direction, I would like to salute the suggestions made by Robert Badinter", Solana said.
Concerning the issue of appointment of an international ombudsman, EU High representative for Common Foreign and Security policy stressed that it is very hard to insert regulations for the appointment of an international ombudsman in a national Constitution.
"The ombudsman is envisaged in a number of European Constitutions, but it is appointed by the country itself and there is no need for an appointment of an international one. I must say that the Constitution is a matter for the Macedonian authorities and not mine, I can only give advice and nothing else", Solana said.
"Macedonia signed an Association and Stabilisation Agreement with the EU. We are talking about a country which has institutionalised agreements with the EU and NATO, and not a country outside the rules. As a member of the Partnership for Peace program, Macedonia has certain obligations towards NATO", EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said, after his meeting with Macedonian Foreign Minister in Brussels today.
UN suspends five top members of Kosovo civil corps.
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, July 6 (AFP) -
The UN administration in Kosovo said Friday it had suspended five top members of the civil defence corps suspected by Washington of links to an ethnic Albanian uprising shaking neighbouring Macedonia.
The five are former high-ranking officers of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the now-disbanded guerrilla force that battled Belgrade before NATO peacekeepers moved in and turned it into a civil defence organisation.
The UN freeze hit Daut Haradinaj, chief of staff of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), Rexhep Selimi, head of the rapid reaction force and his deputy Ramiz Radovici, and regional commanders Sami Lustaku and Rustem Mustafa.
Daut Haradinaj is also the brother of Ramush Haradinaj, a former commander in western Kosovo who went on to form a political party which sits in the UN-sponsored joint administration of Kosovo.
The suspension of the five came after they were named in two decrees signed by US President George W. Bush on June 27, banning all financial and material support for the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force fighting in Macedonia.
One of the texts signed by Bush features a blacklist of 22 people, including the rebels' political representative Ali Ahmeti, his chief of staff Gezim Ostreni -- an ex-KPC officer -- former chiefs of an Albanian rebel force which fought in southern Serbia, certain Kosovo politicians and the five KPC members.
The United States believes these men "to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace in or diminishing the stability or security of any area or state in the Western Balkans region."
The suspension is another embarrassing blow to the KPC, set up largely out of the ranks of the KLA by NATO peacekeepers and officially designed to deal with civil disaster relief.
But it is seen by most Kosovo Albanians as the embryo of an army for the province, which the overwhemlingly ethnic Albanian population wants to see gain independence from Yugoslavia.
A high-ranking member of the KPC was arrested in May in connection with the murder of a popular former guerrilla leader.
The self-styled National Liberation Army (NLA) that has been fighting for five months in Macedonia has the same initials in Albanian -- UCK -- as the former KLA.
German NATO troops shot at despite Macedonia truce.
SKOPJE, July 6 (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen fired at a convoy of German NATO troops in Macedonia after the start of a ceasefire between government forces and Albanian guerrillas early on Friday, a spokesman for NATO peacekeepers said.
No soldiers were injured in the attack, which occurred on a main road just 12 km (eight miles) west of the capital Skopje, and there was minimal damage to the convoy of two jeeps and a bus carrying ammunition, the German defence ministry said.
"We're very concerned," said the spokesman for NATO's Kosovo peacekeeping force, which has a logistical unit of about 3,000 troops based in neighbouring Macedonia. "We're not really sure why it happened or who was behind it."
A NATO envoy brokered Thursday's surprise ceasefire deal, designed to foster progress in deadlocked peace talks and pave the way for rebel disarmament. NATO plans to send in 3,000 soldiers to collect guerrilla guns if a deal can be agreed.
"Everyone needs to understand that our troops will defend themselves, the spokesman said. "This ceasefire needs to be respected by all sides if there is to be any sort of progress."
A Western diplomat in Skopje said it was impossible to say who fired the shots but cautioned against reading too much into the impact of the attack on a future NATO deployment.
"I'm not convinced they were shot at with any degree of serious intent," the envoy said. "I think this was a one-off, it was an emotive night."
Previous NATO involvement in a deal to evacuate guerrillas from a village on Skopje's outskirts after government forces failed to dislodge them with a three-day blitz sparked rioting in the capital by Macedonians angry at the alliance's role.
A Macedonian police source said: "We are aware of the incident and we are still investigating."
The Albanian guerrilla National Liberation Army (NLA), which has been the most vocal advocate of a full-scale NATO deployment in Macedonia as part of any deal to end its revolt, denied its fighters were to blame.
"We didn't attack them," an NLA commander codenamed Shpati said by mobile telephone. "After midnight we respected the ceasefire and will only act in self-defence."
Guerrillas' Shadow Hovers Over Macedonia Peace Efforts.
Thursday, Jul. 05, 2001
The Macedonian government has agreed to a cease-fire with the ethnic-Albanian rebels of the National Liberation army, to begin at midnight local time tonight. Despite that welcome development, there's still a significant possibility of a broader conflict to come, because the guerrillas' insurgency appears to have triggered the beginnings of that by-now familiar Balkan ritual of "ethnic cleansing." The rebels reportedly expelled some 600 non-Albanians from the villages they captured on Sunday, while elsewhere in Macedonia ethnic-Albanian business owners have shut up shop and fled following threats by a shadowy Macedonian militia group. And if the chain of "ethnic cleansing" is allowed to gather momentum, Macedonia will effectively be in the grip of a civil war whose outcome will likely realize the rebels' original objective of partitioning the country and drawing NATO into yet another permanent peacekeeping operation.
Although NATO has vowed to send a force of 3,000 troops to Macedonia to help disarm the rebels, the alliance has said it will only go in once there's a political accord in terms of which the rebels agree to be disarmed. The Western alliance had initially denounced the guerrillas as "terrorists" and "murderers," and its insistence on dialogue was aimed at pressing the authorities in Skopje to address the grievances of Macedonia's ethnic-Albanians grievances the guerrillas had sought to exploit to build support for their insurgency. But NATO's position appears to be moving inexorably towards recognizing the guerrillas as a legitimate party to discussions over Macedonia's future. Last week, the alliance enraged Macedonians by ferrying armed NLA fighters from a village overlooking the capital to another territory held by the guerrillas, as part of a truce brokered by Western mediators. And on two different occasions, prominent European mediators have called for direct talks between the government and the rebels, only to be diplomatically corrected by their superiors.
NATO is all too aware of the palpable failure involved in legitimizing the rebels. Far from stabilizing the region's ethnic conflicts, it actually sends the message that nothing succeeds quite as well as resorting to arms and that creates an incentive for nationalist extremists to keep on fighting to redraw Balkan borders. The Macedonian insurgency began with small groups of men infiltrated from NATO-controlled Kosovo, who then launched attacks on security force personnel. And despite some verbal wrist-slapping from NATO, the reward for that strategy may turn out to be a place at the negotiating table to determine Macedonia's future. The failure of the alliance to act on its harsh criticisms of the rebels also signaled an ambivalence to the mainstream ethnic-Albanian parties in Skopje, who have ratcheted up their political demands for a bi-national state to the point that accord seems beyond reach.
The current talks being encouraged by the U.S. involve constitutional changes to accord the Albanian minority greater rights in Macedonia. But having so successfully determined the agenda through their insurgency, it takes a substantial leap of faith (and blindness to the region's recent history) to imagine that the hard men in the hills will simply turn in their Kalashnikovs when the lawyers in Skopje have finessed constitutional changes.
NATO's reluctance to put its foot down in Macedonia is understandable: Confronting Albanian extremism which the alliance itself appears has identified as the primary source of the current violence there potentially exposes alliance troops to risks of a backlash both in Macedonia and in Kosovo. And there is no doubt that the Macedonian military's tendency to rain down bombs and shells on villages occupied by the guerrillas will drive many Macedonian Albanians into the arms of the rebels. Yet the absence of any strong disincentive for the guerrillas to continue fighting may be the fatal flaw of NATO's strategy, which appears to be accelerating the slide to civil war, an outcome the alliance had desperately hoped to avoid and which would inevitably drag NATO in to clean up the mess, but only after yet another embarrassing conflagration has exploded right under the noses of the U.S. and European troops sent to the Balkans to keep the peace.
Fighting continues in hours up to Macedonian ceasefire deadline.
TETOVO, Macedonia, July 6 (AFP) -
A NATO-mediated ceasefire between ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian security forces came into effect at midnight (2200 GMT) as fighting here continued beyond the deadline.
An AFP reporter here said that the deadline passed as the sound of explosions continued in the surrounding hills.
Seven people were injured here in the northwest of the country, after mortar rounds were earlier fired at the town.
Ongoing artillery fire and exchanges of automatic weapons were reported at round 7.30 pm from the centre of Tetovo, while attack helicopters were reported to have launched rockets at rebel positions in the hills just below the town here.
The fighting occurred after ethnic Albanian rebels earlier launched attacks on police checkpoints in the area, Colonel Blagoja Markovski from the Macedonian army said.
The clashes continued seemingly regardless of the ceasefire aimed at ending more than five months of conflict in the country came into place.
Fighting was also reported around the northern village of Radusa, Markovski said, while further clashes were reported in other northern villages around Kumanovo.
If the ceasefire does hold, it would pave the way for a deployment of NATO troops in Macedonia, which would supervise disarmament of the guerrillas, Macedonian Defence Minister Vlado Buckovski earlier said.
An operation codenamed Essential Harvest would see NATO deploying 3,000 troops from 15 countries on a one-month mission to disarm rebels.
The military alliance hailed the ceasefire agreement reached late on Wednesday between NATO representative Pieter Feith and Ali Ahmeti, political representative of the ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation army (NLA).
"We very much welcome this positive development," a NATO official told AFP. But the alliance's Secretary General George Robertson said in Kiev that NATO would deploy troops in Macedonia only "when there is a durable ceasefire."
Meanwhile in Skopje, the European Union and US envoys for Macedonia, Francois Leotard and James Pardew, also welcomed the ceasefire accord, describing it as an "important step towards a political solution."
"The dialogue should continue over the next few days and clarify certain parts of the constitutional reform project," a joint statement by the two envoys said.
Defence minister Buckovski added that the accord "is an important step towards pursuing political dialogue over military pressure."
Buckovski said he hoped political negotiations would be completed before July 15, when NATO troops could begin deployment.
The ceasefire announcement Thursday came a day after President Boris Trajkovski announced that leaders of the two sides had reached a breakthrough agreement to discuss constitutional changes in a bid to stem an escalating Albanian uprising.
A previous ceasefire was announced on June 24 by the EU top foreign policy official Javier Solana, but has been broken almost daily, with both sides trading accusations of violations.
The constitutional project was proposed by Robert Badinter, one of France's most respected elder statesmen who has been in Macedonia for more than a week at the request of Trajkovski to advise on constitutional changes demanded by both ethnic Albanian politicians and rebels.
"This accord preserves the unitary character of the state," said Trajkovski, who had earlier broken off talks, accusing the rebels of trying to split Macedonia into two federal units based on ethnicity.
The rebels have also demanded an end to alleged discrimination by the Macedonian Slav majority, a struggle that has brought the country to the brink of civil war and displaced more than 100,000 people.
Athens fears FYROM could shake Balkans.
Greece yesterday welcomed the cease-fire mediated by NATO in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but expressed fear that the situation in its neighboring state "is exceptionally critical" and could destabilize the entire region.
Athens has been trying to help defuse the situation in FYROM, concerned about instability on its northern border and the fate of sizable Greek investments in the country. It has proposed an international conference to solve the differences between the Slav majority and ethnic Albanian minority and has also offered about 300 troops for a NATO force that would be deployed to safeguard a cease-fire.
Yesterday the Inner Cabinet discussed the situation in the Balkans and Greece's investments in FYROM. "The situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is exceptionally critical. The future of FYROM, the protection of its integrity and independence have a direct bearing on peace and stability in the broader region," Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in a statement afterwards. He said the cease-fire was a "positive fact."
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also welcomed the agreement. "I would like to express our satisfaction at today's very positive development," he said. "This could be the beginning of the end of the crisis." Athens is afraid that the crisis in FYROM could provide an arena for conflicting powers to compete with each other. "(Greece) considers it essential that there be close cooperation between Europe and the United States, as well as with Russia, so that the international community can act in a unified and effective way throughout the entire region. Sending out conflicting measures would contribute to a continuation of the crisis," Papandreou said.
"The solution will have to be found by the legal political forces that are represented in Skopje's Parliament," Papandreou said. "Extremists who turn their guns on democratic institutions have no place at the negotiating table," he said.
At the Inner Cabinet meeting, fears were expressed that the dismemberment of FYROM would lead to the dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina and further changes of borders in the region. "We are categorically opposed to proposals for ethnically 'clean' states which are aimed at redrawing borders and population exchanges," Papandreou said.
Turn the Reform into a Personal Success of Everyone.
Address of President Peter Stoyanov before the 39th National Assembly
First of all, I'd like to congratulate all deputies on the oath they have just taken in service of the Republic of Bulgaria.
I would like to address the new majority. The successes or failures of this National Assembly will greatly depend on your political conduct. You shouldn't forget that you set foot on an exceptionally solid basis - the consensus between all parliamentary represented political forces on the most important home and foreign political issues of Bulgaria. You inherit a good macroeconomic and financial stability. You inherit sound macro-economic and financial stability. You have all the grounds to go ahead with these achievements of Bulgaria in the name of your electorate and the entire people.
I address the deputies of UtdDF. In the first place I'd like to thank you that through your majority and the government singled out by it, you didn't only start but to a major extent you carried through the reforms which are so imperative for Bulgaria. Regardless of the election results I'm convinced about one thing - by your rule during the past 4 years you convinced the Bulgarian people that it was the road along which it should stride after the recent elections too.
What passed unnoticed for part of the observers is that it was this confidence of the Bulgarian people that prevented the electorate from giving their vote for revenge-seeking parties, guided by a post-communist nostalgia, or God forbid, for parties which profess nationalist ideologies. Dear ladies and gentlemen from the BSP and MRF, you were a constructive opposition in the previous parliament, for which I'm grateful to you. Concerning the country's home policy, you were a genuine corrective of the majority and the government. The elections have shown that the greatest expectations of the Bulgarian people are connected with its way of life, with the living standards. I wish you to go ahead with the reform in the market economy sphere and do not forget at the same time that the success of this reform will be a real one if it turns into a personal success of every citizen.
If he feels the success of the reform according to his pocket and his and his own family standards of living. Only then shall the citizens be able to more freely share all those priorities, we, the politicians, have put forth in recent years and which are connected with foreign political accents, or this country's place in the globalizing world. Four years ago I called on the MPs to form the so-called reform-oriented majority. Today, it seems to me that the most important task Bulgaria faces in the immediate future is to provide this country a place in the North Atlantic Treaty during its possible enlargement in 2002. Therefore, today I call on you to provide a 2002 majority. It won't be this difficult, since all the parties represented in this parliament already share this priority. I call on this majority not to be only declarative. Let it be active, a majority pursuing this Bulgarian aim not only by means of declarations but of particular steps. Even when they are not popular and don't always bring high prestige.
Petar Stoyanov started consultations with National Movement Simeon II for the new Cabinet.
President Petar Stoyanov started consultations with representatives of all the parties and coalitions represented in the new Parliament about forming the Cabinet. Representatives of the National Movement Simeon II, led by their leader Simeon Koburg-Gotha, were the first to come to the presidential office. The new Chairman of the Parliament Ognyan Gerjikov and the Chairman of the National Movement Simeon II parliamentary group also attended the meeting.
Rights and Freedoms Movement did not approve the NMS II bill for religions.
Rights and Freedoms Movement could not agree with some clauses in the bill about religions introduced by National Movement Simeon II, the Rights and Freedoms Movement Member of Parliament Lyutfy Mestan said for News.bg Agency. He elaborated that the new law would give bigger authorities to the Department of Ecclesiastical Matters. According to non-confirmed information, the new law would restrict the possibilities for creating a new Ministry of Religions to be led by a Rights and Freedoms Movement representative.
Regions in Rila Mountain were sprayed against Moroccan locusts.
The Regional Plant Protection Service of Rila and Musachevo treated about 5,000 decares by spraying them with chemicals against Moroccan locusts.
New Bulgarian parliament meets, no word on PM yet.
Bulgaria's new parliament met for the first time on Thursday, still with no assurance when - or whether - former King Simeon II would accept the post of prime minister. Simeon, who did not run for a parliamentary seat but led his movement to a resounding victory in a June 17 poll, remained vague. "This is a very important day for Bulgaria," he said. Most observers agree it is just a matter of time before the 64-year-old ex-king gives in to the pressure from his National Movement for Simeon II and accepts the most powerful post in the Balkan state which borders troubled Macedonia and Yugoslavia. Insiders say the reason is simple -- there is no one around of similar political clout to keep the new government stable. "In Simeon people saw an alternative...a symbol who can act as a bridge between the past, the present and the future," Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), told the chamber.
Dogan reiterated that MRF, which has 21 seats in parliament, was ready for a coalition with Simeon's movement which has 120, one short of an outright majority in the 240-member legislature. The opening speech of Nadezhda Mihailova, foreign minister in the government of the Union of Democratic Forces which stepped down on Thursday, appeared to confirm that the UDF would not accept a coalition offer made by Simeon's camp. Mihailova, who became the head of the UDF parliamentary group of 51 deputies, said it would support any move to speed up Bulgaria's efforts to join the European Union and NATO. But in a reference to her party's concerns that Simeon may have a hidden agenda of restoring the monarchy, which he strongly denies, Mihailova said: "We will play the role of a guarantor that Bulgaria does not leave the road it has embarked upon. We expect that in four years Bulgaria will still be a parliamentary republic." President Petar Stoyanov said he would start consultations on the new government with the election winner on Friday.
Plamen Panayotov, leader of the ex-king's parliamentary group, said its priorities, apart from the drive towards NATO and the EU, included a balanced budget, lower tax burden and transparent privatisation. Also on the list were attracting considerable foreign investment, developing infrastructure, telecommunications, energy, tourism and agriculture as well as zero-tolerance of corruption and crime. "Today we declare our desire to form a strong coalition government in order to make Bulgaria a better home for its people," Panayotov said.
NSS Overprotects Simeon II.
The National Security Service went to extremes with the king's guards in the parliament yesterday. Seven guards and parliamentary tellers of the National Assembly punched and pushed the journalists and did not allow them to get closer to Simeon II. Lady reporters hit by elbows were crying, one of the cameramen got a blow on the camera and his eye was slightly injured. Another one was thrown onto the armchairs. The king failed to explain the reasons for the such heavy security. I don't know who these people are, I haven't called them, was his comment. An awful chaos created His Majesty's appearance in the parliamentary refreshment bar. There, the MPs had a glass of champagne to celebrate the first working day. In the bustle one of the waitresses dropped the tray with the glasses of champagne. The women tried to collect the broken glass but her colleagues moved her aside to rescue her from the crowd. On seeing all that Simeon II didn't endure a single minute and left.(SB)
We Shall Work Towards Bulgaria's Joining EU and NATO.
The laws will be passed at a slower pace but with more precision.
Chairman of NMS II PG
The 39th National Assembly (NA) is charged with expectations which go beyond the ordinary ones. In his address of April 6 last, the leader of NMS II outlined some goals of the future political formation: a qualitative change in the living standards in this country; breaking off with the political partisanship and rallying of the nation around our inmost ideals and values; introduction of rules and institutions for effectively combatting corruption. NMS II will work towards unity, stability and predictability of the legal system. This is a feasible goal if we follow several basic priorities concerning the activity of the NA. In the first place - a careful legislative process. Less speed, more qualitative ideas and precise juridical technique. Secondly - professional and public debates on the major bills. Thirdly - renunciation of the use of legislation for party aims or meeting the interests of narrow social groups. In the fourth place - complying the legislation with the economic and social development of society.
Today we again clearly voice our desire to lay the foundations of a powerful coalition rule, to jointly turn Bulgaria into a better home for its citizens. To us this means:
1. Stable national currency and balanced budget.
2. Taxation reform to reduce the tax burden.
3. Completion of the privatization in the conditions of clear-cut rules and transparency in the activity of the privatizing bodies.
4. Prerequisites for attracting substantial foreign investments in major branches of the economy.
5. Substantial improvement of the national and regional infrastructure.
6. Development of the telecommunications, energetics, tourism and agriculture as priority branches.
7. The opening of fresh opportunities for education and professional self-fulfillment before young people in Bulgaria.
8. Decisive resistance to crime in all its forms, with particular significance attached to the measures to combat corruption.
9. Creation of legal conditions for optimizing the activity of the judicial power bodies with the aim of guaranteeing an effective defence of the citizens' rights.
10. Active cooperation in developing the structures of the civil society.
We believe, that regardless of either the participation or non-participation of the political forces in the country's rule, we shall jointly work towards the implementation of the basic foreign political priorities of Bulgaria - membership of the EU and NATO
Our Task Is To Make Bulgaria Regional Leader.
chairman of the MRF PG
The ruling majority must continue the policy of integration to Europe, to work for including our country into the orbit of the collective security of NATO. Bulgaria must continue to strengthen its position as a generator of stability on the Balkans. This is directly connected with the nature of the Bulgarian ethnic model. The program for the Euro integration, creation of conditions for getting an invitation to NATO in 2002 and the economic program for accelerated economic development of this country are the basic interconnected priorities which determine the agenda of Bulgaria for the next 5-10 years. This agenda is the main challenge to the Parliament and the ingoing government. That is why the key words which characterize our parliamentary and political behavior are continuity and change. For the first time in the last 12 years Bulgaria has got a chance to turn into the regional political and economic leader. The task of the 39th NA is to make this possibility real.
Bulgarian ex-King tipped for PM.
The former King would have preferred to be president.
The new Bulgarian parliament has met for the first time, almost three weeks after ex-King Simeon II, and the movement named after him, won a remarkable election victory.
Speculation in Bulgaria has centred on what post the former King will take, with most observers tipping him from the premiership.
The former monarch, who did not run as a candidate for parliament, was among the honorary guests at the session.
President Petar Stoyanov said he would start consultations on the new government with the ex-King's movement on Friday.
The National Movement for Simeon II won 120 out of 240 seats in parliament, just one short of an absolute majority.
Simeon, or whoever becomes the new prime minister, will then have a week to introduce his cabinet to parliament for approval.
Late on Wednesday, representatives of his movement said they would form a coalition government with the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which has 21 parliamentary seats.
MRF leader Ahmed Dogan said he would be "very happy" if Simeon would accept the post of prime minister.
"In Simeon people saw an alternative... a symbol who can act as a bridge between the past, the present and the future," he told parliament.
Stoyanov: Joining Nato is historic goal
President Stoyanov told parliament that the most important tasks facing the new assembly were preparing for entry to the European Union, and in particular securing an invitation to join Nato next year.
"If you achieve this, you will have a place in history," he said.
The former King has made it clear on several occasions that he would personally have preferred to run for president as a less party-political, mostly symbolic role, but a constitutional court ruling in the spring and the continuing popularity of the current president appear to have persuaded him to abandon that path.
His other option, to try to restore the monarchy, which most historians accept was abolished illegally in 1946, is not among his immediate plans.
The former monarch, who is 63, left Bulgaria at the age of nine after the country was occupied by the Soviet Red Army, and has lived most of his life in Spain.
Now a Madrid-based businessman, Simeon was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of supporters when he made his first return to the country for 50 years in 1996.
He is the first eastern European monarch to enter politics.
Hague Tribunal Obsessed With Yugoslavia.
The International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) at The Hague appears to have an obsession with the former Yugoslavia and in particular the Slavic Republics of Croatia, Serbia and the Srpska Republika in Bosnia.
ICT Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte made an unnecessary and gloating appearance to hear Slobodan Milosevic call the Tribunal illegal (in English and without headphones for translation) before making another trip to the Balkans. The presiding judge was the British Brian May, who cut the microphone connection many times when Slobodan Milosevic was speaking, demonstrating what freedom of speech means for this illegal and intrusive organism.
This time it is to apply pressure on the Bosnian Serb Republic (BSR - Srpska Republika), where she is to meet Prime Minister Mladen Ivanovic. It is believed Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, formerly President and Chief of the Armed Forces of the BSR, respectively, live in the BSR. A spokesperson for the Chief Prosecutor of the ICT said ėWe will remind (the BSR authorities) of their obligation to cooperate with the tribunal and the importance of starting immediatelyî.
Maybe here we have the first evidence which points to the fact that Carla del Ponte is becoming desperate as she realises that, in her vindictive obsession to humiliate Slavs, she has shot her bolt too early. Fearing that the case against Slobodan Milosevic for alleged war crimes committed in Kosovo will not stand up, the Chief Prosecutor frantically tries to find evidence of other atrocities in other battlefields, namely Bosnia-Herzegovina. It may be thought that Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic could provide information linking Slobodan Milosevic to personal orders to commit atrocities.
Here is another clear indication that Carla del Ponte, as well as the ICT, which she represents, and the spite behind it, has a warped and biased vision of the events which took place in the Balkans in the past decade. The fact that Slobodan Milosevic sits in court without headphones and Carla del Ponte sits clutching hers to her ears says all ņ it means she does not understand.
She and her Court or Tribunal, or whatever other name one cares to give it, never understood and never intended to understand. She and her backers have one mission only ņ to apportion blame somehow, using whatever means possible, to indict Balkans Slavs for war crimes, sweep the matter into a nice, neat little pile, and brush it under the carpet as if nothing happened so as not to see NATO leaders in a war crimes trial, where they belong.
If there was a war in the Balkans, it was because there was political interference from outside, namely from the western countries, who raced to recognise the ėnew statesî, arm them, equip them and train them...for war. It was unfortunately the people of the Balkans who paid the high human price for this war, not the countries which instigated it, whether directly or indirectly. It was to Mr. Milosevic, after all, that these countries turned to broker peace in Bosnia, a role which he performed promptly and effectively.
Now to bring only Slavs to this summary court which has as much credence as a medieval ėtrial by ordealî, is so evidently one-sided that it is scandalous. Where are the Moslems who murdered Croats? Where are the Albanians who murdered Serbs? Where are the representatives of the criminal NATO organisation which murdered Serbs and Albanians alike with their illegal attacks?
That NATO deliberately attacked civilian targets is beyond doubt. Such attacks are by definition war crimes. But NATO is not staffed by Slavs. Where are those responsible for the deaths of the 200,000 ethnically cleansed Krajina Serbs?
Carla del Ponte cannot deny that her tribunal is biased and anti-Slavic. Furthermore, to even imagine that Slobodan Milosevic was personally responsible for atrocities is to call the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia a Banana Republic. Unlike those countries baying for its blood, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a state of law.
There is a chain of command which is respected, the political authorities have their responsibilities and the military authorities have theirs. That the Albanians were being equipped, trained and armed by western countries, led by the USA, is a fact. They were being encouraged to create a situation of instability and insecurity in Kosovo, an integral part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That the Albanian extremists are no more than a bunch of unruly bandits is also a fact, however romantic the idea of an innocent and oppressed people might have seemed in the western press to court the well-groomed readership, spoon-fed with lies for decades.
Yugoslavia reacted to this situation as a state of law imposing law and order in its territory. Whoever was killed in the process is a tragedy because the loss of any human life is tragic. War is violent and there are deaths on both sides. To accuse only the Slavic peoples of being guilty for the Balkans conflicts is to be biased, one-sided and as judicious as a Medieval witch-trial.
Carla del Ponte is a shame to herself and an insult to her profession. A judge should be impartial and sit in a legally constituted organism. Carla del Ponte and her Tribunal are neither of these. She may as well dress Mr. Milosevic as a witch, tie him to a chair, and put him under water for five minutes to see if he drowns, and if he does, declare him guilty.