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Speaker of the Macedonian Parliament Stojan Andov, reads during a session of the parliament, in Skopje, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2001. Macedonia's Parliament continued the session Thursday to change the Constitution and broaden the rights of ethnic Albanians as envisioned under a Western-engineered peace accord. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Former Bulgarian King Simeon II, addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2001. (AP Photo/HO, The United Nations)
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (L) meets with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan during the United Nations General Assembly session in New York November 15, 2001. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine
The Sofia City court chaired by Georgi Georgiev proceeded yesterday with the murder case of ex-premier Andrey Loukanov. After 5 years of investigation, Ukrainian national Alexander Russov was brought to court as the physical executor. On the photo: Russov escorted to the court room Photo Kiril Konstantinov (ML)
Macedonian Group Warns of Violence.
By ALEKSANDAR VASOVIC, Associated Press Writer
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - A new group of militants declared a ``highest alert'' in ethnic Albanian areas of Macedonia on Thursday and warned government forces to keep out.
``All such forces will be attacked without warning if they try to enter (ethnic) Albanian areas,'' the self-styled Albanian National Army said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
Declaring that ``no international pressure would convince us to drop our weapons,'' the group urged former ethnic Albanian guerillas to join its ranks.
The strength of the militants was unclear. Earlier this week it claimed responsibility for the killings of three police officers in the tense northwestern region of Tetovo.
Insurgents began fighting Macedonian government forces in February, then agreed to a cease-fire in August in exchange for more rights for their ethnic Albanian minority.
The new group said it sees ``war as the only response'' to underscore ethnic Albanian demands for equality with Macedonians, the most populous ethnic group in the former Yugoslav republic.
In another development, Interior Minister Ljube Boskoski, who is in charge of Macedonia's police, said Thursday he was resigning from the government's Crisis Management Committee.
The committee was formed to coordinate moves designed to re-establish government control over areas where ethnic Albanian rebels operated.
Boskoski has been a hard-line advocate of more robust action against Albanian militants, and his move could be designed to allow him a freer hand to react.
Deputy Prime Minister Ilija Filipovski said that ``all further police actions will be undertaken according to the situation in the field.''
One sign of optimism for a resolution came from a parliamentary meeting to discuss amendments to the constitution meant to give ethnic Albanians more rights.
Parliament speaker Stojan Andov said proposed changes to the constitution - part of a peace plan meant to reconcile the ethnic Albanian minority with majority Macedonians - ``might be adopted by Saturday.''
The situation remained tense near the northern villages of Semsovo, Trebos and Palatica, just outside Tetovo, after a brief firefight between police and presumed ethnic Albanian militants Wednesday.
Three police officers were killed in the region Sunday after dozens moved in to secure an area believed to contain burial sites.
Police detained seven ethnic Albanian men carrying weapons. When their comrades retaliated by abducting dozens of Macedonian civilians, the three were killed in an unsuccessful rescue operation.
The hostages were freed Monday after Western envoys helped to mediate a deal.
NATO spokesman Craig Ratcliff announced an investigation of a suspected burial site near Tetovo believed to contain bodies of Macedonians abducted by ethnic Albanian militants earlier this year.
Macedonian authorities, NATO representatives and investigators of the Netherlands-based U.N. war crimes tribunal are to participate in the exhumations starting early next week, Ratcliff said.
Nightly Shootings in Tetovo Region.
Tetovo, November 15 (MIA) - Albanian terrorists sporadically fired from several areas of the town and from some villages Wednesday night, MIA's corespondent reports.
Interior Ministry Sector from Tetovo says the police post in Jegunovce has been severely attacked two times from terrorist nests in north west part of the Polog valley Wednesday night between 21:00 and 23:00, at which Macedonian security forces fired back.
Albanian terrorists also opened fire from the area of Shipad settlement, Ilinden boulevard and building block 82. Shootings that came from the villages of Gorno Orasje, Prsovce and Neraste have been also registered.
Houses Of Non-Albanian Families Robbed In Opae.
Kumanovo, November 15 (MIA) - Several houses of civilians of non-Albanian nationality have been robbed Wednesday night in the village of Opae, Lipkovo region.
Using the absence of the police in the night unknown persons have broke into two houses where the families of the brothers Dimitrievic live.
The burglars have messed everything up, broken the home furnishings and stolen valuable things.
The owners have reported the robbery to the police, which investigates the circumstances and search for the doers. The representatives of the international monitoring missions are informed for the robbery that are present in the village during the day.
So far, almost all Albanian civilians have returned in their homes in the village of Opae, and out of 70 Macedonian and Serbian families only three have returned in the village while the rest of the civilians are in temporary homes in Kumanovo.
Dnevnik: Pan-Albanian offensive in Macedonia, Kosovo and southern Serbia?
DNEVNIK (INDEPENDENT DAILY) -
Pan-Albanian offensive in Macedonia, Kosovo and southern Serbia? - referring to foreign intelligence reports, Dnevnik daily says a large-scale offensive will be launched by the ethnic Albanian sin Macedonia, Kosovo and southern Serbia, following the elections in Kosovo, November 17th. Roughly 200 ethnic-Albanian gunmen, NLA members and members of Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) had stationed near Skopjes village of Radusa. The terrorists are to deliver a severe and swift blow on Macedonian security forces at Radusa-Blace region in Macedonia and Strbce-Brezovica region in Kosovo.
Lets be moderate in saving money - this daily comments the latest decision of the Ministry of Education and Science, related to cut down of employees in primary and secondary schools. The parents objected the indispensable personnel reshuffle in the middle of the school year.
STATISTICAL DATA FOR MACEDONIA'S FOREIGN EXCHANGE, PRICES' MOVEMENT AND LIVING COSTS.
According to the State Statistics Bureau, the size of Macedonia's foreign stock exchange has amounted to $2,7 billion in the period January-September 2001. The export represents 42,2% and the import 57,8%. Export coverage of the import in this period represented 73,1%, and the deficit amounted to $320,931,000 US.
In the period January-September 2001, various ready products had the largest share in the export reaching 33,1%, followed by products classified by the material with 32,6% and beverages and tobacco with 9,8%. Various transactions of unidentified goods take the largest share in the import with 25,9%, followed by machinery and transportation vehicles 15,7%, mineral fuels 14,7% and products classified by the material 12,3%.
In this six-month period, most of the export was realized to the EU member countries 48,5% and former Yugoslav countries 31,5%. Most of the import was also realized from the EU 41,8% and countries from Central and East Europe and countries of the former USSR 24,5%.
RETAIL PRICES AND LIVING COSTS LOWERED.
The Statistics Bureau announced that the retail prices in October were lower for 0,5% compared to September, and the costs of life have dropped for 0,2%.
Largest drop in the index rates was registered at the non-food, industrial products 1,6%, which came as result of the lowered prices of the petrol products for 6,3%. The beverages have maintained the same index as in September.
The industrial and food products have marked minimum growth of 0,1% compared to the previous month. Agricultural products also marked growth of 0,2% compared to the previous month, due to the higher rates of the vegetables for 2,8% and eggs for 0,5%. Prices of the fruit products have decreased for 3,4% and fish for 1%.
Compared to September, the health services in October cost for 0,6% more, the children social protection increased for 1,9% and the education services for 2,4%. The crafts and personal services have also marked growth on the price index for 0,2%.
Compared to October 2000, the overall index of the retail prices have increased for 3,9% and for 1% compared to December 2000.
The cumulative index of the retail prices in the period of January-October 2001 is higher for 5,1% compared to the same period in 2000.
The following groups have marked growth in the prices: culture and entertainment 0,9%, tobacco, beverages, clothing and footwear 0,1%. The groups: food and housing have maintained the same index as in the previous month.
The overall index of the living costs in October is higher for 4,7% compared to October 2000, and for 2,7% compared to December 2000.
The cumulative index of the living costs in the period January-October is higher for 5,3% compared to the same period in 2000.
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION IN SEPTEMBER HIGHER FOR 3% COMPARED TO AUGUST.
According to the data from the Statistics Bureau, the industrial production in September 2001 have increased for 3% compared to the month of August, which comes as result of increased production of raw materials for 4,1% and goods for mass consumption for 3,8%.
Especially positive results have been realized in the electricity production, black metallurgy, chemical industry, construction materials and food products.
The industrial production in September of this year compared to the average production in 2000 have decreased for 14,5%, and in the period of January-September the production dropped for 10,6%.
Prices of the industrial products in September 2001 have decreased for 0,4% compared to August, while according to the average in 2000 the prices are higher for 2,2%.
In September, compared to August, growth of the prices according to branches of activity was registered in the beverages' production 1% and production of food products 0,1%. Mine and mine products have become cheaper for 10,1%, black metallurgy for 4,4%, oil products for 2,7%, animal feed 2%, construction materials 0,5% and processing of non-metal products 0,3%.
STATEMENT BY GOVERNMENTAL SPOKESMAN GJORGJI TRENDAFILOV.
"Great dissatisfaction from the Coordination Body for Crisis Management is being accumulated, especially after yesterday's press conference of the Body and several events that happened today," spokesman of the Government Gjorgji Trendafilov said on Thursday.
Yesterday's press conference of the Coordination Body, Trendafilov said, has left an impression that the Body deals with everything else except for implementation of the decisions and measures that need to create sufficient security conditions for returning of the refugees.
"The Coordination Body should not be engaged in giving daily political statements, but should serve as an instrument that ought to deal with concrete problems though cooperation with authorized ministries and other state institutions," Trendafilov said, adding that the Body was not carrying out its duties satisfactory.
Trendafilov reported that on Thursday there was a pressure from the international community and the Coordination Body for releasing of the person that is a suspect for participating in murder of three Macedonian policemen near the village of Trebos, and who is currently accommodated in the Tetovo Medical Center. Trendafilov said that there was a warrant for detaining of this person.
"According to the last threats sent to the security forces, if that person was not released, Tetovo would burn in two hours, and the latest threat was that the police must leave from Tetovo," Trendafilov said, adding that "the Macedonian security forces were ready to deal with these threats."
Asked to comment the announcements that after exiting from the Coordination Body the Ministry of Interior would undertake operations on its own, Trendafilov said that all operations of the Ministry of Interior would be in the framework of the legal authorizations. "The members of the Ministry carry out their tasks, regardless if the Ministry participates in the Coordination Body or not," Trendafilov pointed out.
MIA finds out from governmental sources that officers from the Army and the police would contact in order to improve their cooperation on the ground.
The withdrawal of the Ministry of Interior from the Coordination Body is expected to be at the agenda of the next Government session.
METODIJ STAMBOLISKI ATTENDS EXERCISE OF ANTITERRORIST UNITS.
Chief of Staff of the Macedonian Army General Lieutenant Metodij Stamboliski visited in Demir Kapija's area some of the candidates that attend the selective course for becoming members of the antiterrorist units.
He also attended the training activities of the candidates, which according to the commander of the training team were developed following the standards of the western and eastern military experts.
This course, which is unique on the Balkan, aims to select quality and trained staff that would be ready and capable to face all challenges of the Macedonian Army's special units.
The course is conducted in two phases including tests for psychophysical strength. At the end of the training, the candidates should perform 100-km long march with all their equipment on. Their loyalty and readiness to defend the country will also be challenged and tested. The best candidates would be entitled to become members of the special units.
At the beginning 100 candidates enrolled for the course. After ten days training only 52 remained and it is expected the best 20 to be selected. The rest would be deployed in other units of the Macedonian Army that do not require maximal psychophysical strength.
Macedonian MPs Ratify Reforms, Sealing Peace Accord.
By Mark Heinrich
SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonia's parliament ratified a milestone peace accord with minority Albanians in a surprise early morning vote on Friday after almost two months of foot-dragging threatened to rekindle a guerrilla conflict.
The MPs proclaimed the 15 constitutional amendments as law with unexpectedly dizzying speed just 20 minutes after adopting them one-by-one by comfortable two-thirds majorities.
Hardline nationalists had almost wrecked the peace accord days before when the hawkish police minister sent special forces into the rebel Albanian heartland, leading to fighting, arrests and retaliatory kidnappings.
The reforms would decentralize power and grant ethnic Albanians jobs in public service, above all the police, reflecting their one-third share of the two million population in the impoverished, landlocked ex-Yugoslav republic.
They would allow limited official use of Albanian language, require two-thirds support from Albanian MPs for legislation affecting civil rights, and remove references in the constitution's preamble that imply minorities are second-class citizens.
Engineered by European Union and U.S. diplomats, the August 13 Framework Agreement signed at Lake Ohrid aimed to end the fifth ethnic war on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991 and foster fragile young democracies across the Balkans.
The extraordinary hour chosen for the vote -- just after midnight -- was intended to avoid any repeat of violent nationalist protests outside parliament and reduce publicity for an accord widely unpopular among majority Macedonians.
The rebel National Liberation Army (NLA), who burst out of northern Macedonia's border mountains in February, surrendered almost 4,000 weapons under a NATO disarmament scheme and disbanded in September to fulfil their end of the peace pact.
``TERRORISTS'' ACCUSED OF LINKS TO BIN LADEN
Parliament's obligation to reciprocate with reforms was blocked for weeks by a nationalist outcry over a ``capitulation to terrorists,'' which portrayed Albanian guerrillas as the European face of Osama bin Laden.
Most ethnic Albanians are Muslim but secular and Western powers said the allegations of links to bin Laden were propaganda aimed at crippling the peace agreement.
Foes in parliament, the security services and the media also accused the major powers of appeasing ethnic Albanian ''expansionism'' after failing to prevent the infiltration of rebels and weapons from separatist Albanian-dominated Kosovo.
Opposition finally gave way to Western threats that Macedonia would win no reconstruction aid or links with NATO or the European Union unless the reforms were ratified, rather than to arguments that the peace accord was the only way to stave off Macedonia's violent dismemberment along ethnic lines.
The delays had raised suspicions of treachery among demobilized guerrillas. Simmering tensions erupted on Sunday when police stormed into the insurgent heartland to secure a ''mass grave'' and arrested seven former Albanian fighters.
They were seized despite Skopje's pledge of an amnesty for demobilized rebels, the last loose end of the peace accord.
EU and NATO troubleshooters are trying to negotiate a broad and clearly defined pardon past obstructions by hardline nationalists in the security services and judiciary.
Sunday's foray by elite police commandos under rightist Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, who had opposed peace compromises from the start, triggered a night of fighting that killed three policemen.
Ethnic Albanians retaliated by abducting 39 Macedonians, releasing them hours later after emergency mediation. But they retrieved automatic weapons and re-erected roadblocks in villages against a threatened police sweep for the killers.
The standoff with special forces under Boskovski at entrances to the heavily ethnic Albanian Tetovo Valley was continuing when parliament voted.
But diplomats hoped the approval of the reforms, even if weeks late and introduced grudgingly, would help neutralize extremists on both sides bent on ethnic revenge and division.
``If the intention of (Boskovski's) redeployment of troops on Sunday was to derail the parliamentary process, it has failed terribly. It gave a final push to the process,'' a European diplomat told Reuters after the vote.
He said Boskovski's days in government could be numbered with the reforms sewn up and a donors' conference in the offing as a result. Early general elections written into the peace accord are scheduled for January 27.
In UN over 100 Politicians Shook Hands with Simeon.
Bulgaria gave its first working lunch for the member countries of the Security Council and ten non-permanent members.
Spokeswoman to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Exclusively for "Standart"
The meeting between PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Cotha and Kofi Annan sparked off warm-hearted feelings between them, noted Deputy Secretary General Danilo Tjurk of Slovenia. Along with the other members of the Kofi Annan's team he attended the meeting. According to Mr. Tjurk, it will be to the benefit of Bulgaria when the country starts to fulfill its obligations as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The lunch that the Prime Minister of Bulgaria gave to the representatives of the member countries of the Security Council deserves a special note. For the first time, at the invitation of Bulgaria, all these countries gather around the Bulgarian table. The first places are taken by the five permanent members that have the decisive say on the most important issues of war and peace on our planet. This working lunch renders new quality to Bulgaria.
The lunch was attended by the representatives of the USA, Great Britain, Russia, France, China and the ten non-permanent members. In his speech before the General Meeting of the UN, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha presented the new government of Bulgaria and the foreign policy it is pursuing. Outside the hall a large number of representatives of different delegations lined up to welcome the Prime Minister. Over 100 people waited to extend greetings to Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
Bulgarian, Yugoslav defence ministers discuss army reform, cooperation.
Text of report in English by Bulgarian news agency BTA web site.
Sofia, 15 November: Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov met with his Yugoslav counterpart Slobodan Krapovic on 14 November in Niska Banja (Yugoslavia), said the Defence Ministry press centre [on] Thursday [15 November].
Svinarov briefed the Yugoslav defence minister on the progress of the army reform in Bulgaria. Yugoslav Gen Lazarovic, chief of the Third Army, presented data about the military-political and military-technical situation along the borders with Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia.
The two ministers discussed ways to step up military-technical cooperation as after the embargo against Yugoslavia was lifted conditions appeared for cooperation and for expanding contacts between the two countries' military-industrial complexes, reads the Defence Ministry press release.
The Bulgarian side pledged to support Yugoslavia's integration in the processes of NATO enlargement, including the country's membership in the Partnership for Peace programme.
To NSOCC Bulgarian Mafiosi Number 484.
The National Service for Organized Crime Combat (NSOCC) counted the number of Bulgarian mafiosi and submitted the report to Boyko Borissov, Chief Secretary of Interior. There are 110 organized criminal groups in this country with 484 members, reads the report of the Service Director Col. Roumen Milanov. Almost all the bosses of the organized criminal groups are Bulgarian citizens. Of them, 11 are running criminal networks on the territories of more than 2 regions and 5 are working on the territory of the country as a whole. They meet the criteria for nationwide leaders. One third of the groups deals with taxation and financial frauds and illegal gambling. To Col. Milanov, the criminal activities of forging money and documents is gaining momentum. "I do agree that the organized crime is much more organized than the Ministry of Interior," Col Milanov concluded.
Ministers Stand for Parvanov, Too.
Acting Premier Kostadin Paskalev and Dimitar Kaltchev supported Parvanov at the meeting with mayors.
Vice-PM Kostadin Paskalev and Minister of State Administration Dimitar Kaltchev yesterday supported Georgi Parvanov in public. This happened at the meeting with the BSP mayors in the "Rodina" Hotel in Sofia. I would like to wish Georgi Parvanov to become the president, who will integrate Bulgaria to the EU, Paskalev said. Currently Paskalev is the acting PM performing the functions of Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha who is now in the USA. In return the mayors wished to Paskalev to become the next Premier. Kaltchev expressed his hope that the chaos with the municipal budgets will be over and done with if Parvanov wins the election. In his opinion this victory will open favorable perspectives for Bulgaria.
Stoyanov Asks NMS for Backup.
We cannot oblige the deputies to work for the independent candidate, the majority admitted.
Today Petar Stoyanov will meet the deputies from the National Movement for Simeon II and try to motivate them to give him support. The meeting was requested by Stoyanov himself, said partner in the King's coalition Tosho Peikov. The meeting was agreed upon on Tuesday night between MPs Emil Koshlukov and Miroslav Sevlievski of the NMS and the election staff of President Stoyanov. During the 45-minute meeting the two MPs required that Stoyanov should acknowledge the values preached by the NMS and to approve the management program of the ruling majority. The speech that Stoyanov is going to present before the deputies will be focused mainly on the risk of the restoration of communism, the well-informed sources said. Many new an unexpected things will be made public, Sevlievski promised. We already have a detailed plan aimed at stimulating the activity of the electorate and giving people incentive to support Petar Stoyanov, however we cannot oblige the deputies who do not want to back him up, to do so, said deputy chief of the NMS parliamentary group, Vesselin Bliznakov.
Bulgaria Lets US Troops Through.
The National Assembly approved unanimously on Wednesday a Bulgaria-US agreement giving clearance for overflight, transit passage and sojourn on Bulgarian territory of US forces and personnel in connection with Operation Enduring Freedom. Concluding the agreement is in line with Bulgaria's commitments under its agreement with NATO of March 21, 2001, since the US is its member and a leading Ally. The Bulgaria-US agreement rules out the application of its provisions to other NATO Member States or non-members providing men and equipment for Operation Enduring Freedom. The framework of the document could be used for possible agreements with Great Britain, Germany and other participants in the anti-terror campaign.
Bulgaria Welcomes EU Report, But Not Its Details.
By Phelim McAleer
Published: November 13 2001 23:53 |
Last Updated: November 14 2001 00:10
The EU's report on accession has been welcomed with relief in Bulgaria but also with annoyance that the country has been put in the same low category as Romania.
Bulgarian politicians and media had thought reforms initiated by the previous government and accelerated by the current administration were enough to separate them from their under-performing neighbour. A recent offer by Adrian Nastase, the Romanian prime minister, for the two countries to become part of a "tandem" on the path to EU accession was dismissed in Sofia.
There is now a belief in Bulgaria that their pairing with Romania as one of those who would not be included in the first wave was a political move. "They probably had to leave Romania out of the bracket but for political reasons did not want them to be alone so they added Bulgaria," said one political commentator who did not want to be named.
Bulgaria's politicians are officially withholding comment until the report is presented to parliament on Wednesday but privately they are pleased with its conclusions. The report found that Bulgaria is close to achieving a functioning market economy. According to Georgy Ganev, an economic director at the centre for Liberal Studies - an independent think-tank, the report is significantly more positive than previous years. He said the description of Bulgaria being "close" to a functioning market economy was a technical matter.
"The European Commission representative has said Bulgaria will open all negotiating chapters next year. One of the requirements of opening all the chapters is to have a functioning market economy," he said.
Mr Ganev added the finding that Bulgaria would be able to withstand the pressures of competition and market forces in the EU was very significant. "Last year's report said Bulgaria would not be able to cope," he said.
Nellie Kutskova sent an open letter to Georghy Parvanov.
The candidate for Vice President Nellie Kutskova sent an open letter to the nominated by Pro Bulgaria Coalition candidate for President Georghy Parvanov. The letter read as follows: "I address you as a candidate for President that accepted political support from Tsvetelin Kanchev, who was sentenced by the court. This happened after Gen. Marin refused the invitation to discuss with me the subject of Crime in Bulgaria.
I learned some things about politics in these 30 days of campaigning, although I wrote you not as a candidate for Vice President but as a human being and as a judge. The court sentenced Tsvetelin Kanchev for racketeering and beating citizens of Zlatitsa and Pirdop. There are thousands of Romany people serving their penalty terms in Bulgarian prisons, the greater part of them having perpetrated crimes in order to feed their families. However, you accepted to be supported by the Euro-Roma leader, who bullied both Bulgarians and Romany people - and not because of hunger and poverty. You did this in the name of several thousand votes more. Did justice cost so little?
Mr. Parvanov, I am telling you this as a judge: Tsvetelin Kanchev is a criminal. He has violated the laws of this country. Moreover, he did this in his capacity of Member of Parliament. You did something shameful. If today you could stand by Tsvetelin Kanchev and make him a dignified person because of several thousand votes, how could we trust you that you would fight crime if you were elected a President?
In the end, I could not avoid asking you a question: would you pardon Tsvetelin Kanchev, if you were elected a President?"
At the end of her letter, Nellie Kutskova reminded that she was the Chairman of the Sofia Regional Court judge body that sentenced Tsvetelin Kanchev.
Election headquarters of Petar Stoyanov decided to publish the declaration of National Movement Simeon II.
After meeting the National Movement Simeon II leadership earlier this week, the Petar Stoyanov election headquarters decided that he should send a more clear message to the National Movement Simeon II voters in the days before the second round and that National Movement Simeon II representatives should strengthen their identification for supporting the candidatures of Petar Stoyanov and Nellie Kutskova, a press release from the Petar Stoyanov election headquarters reads.
I Won't Vote for Stoyanov.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Bogomil Bonev.
He follows in Kostov's footsteps and uses the special services against his opponents, Nikolai Dobrev paid the February 4th compromise by his life, but was the sacrifice worth it, says the leader of Civic Party for Bulgaria Bogomil Bonev.
- Mr Bonev, why were such immoral means used in the campaign before the first round of the presidential election?
- The aim was a low election turnout. It was pursued only by one candidate - the incumbent president. Because he counted on the fact that he had actually been campaigning for 5 years and believed that the momentum of that campaign would help him preserve the result by the elections. In the event of a low election turnout his headquarters had calculated he would lose many votes, but the loss for the rest of the candidates would help him win. And therefore he did his utmost to turn the ballot into an unprestigious election. Not that his behavior to date has brought any prestige to the presidential institution. Just the opposite, one of the things which I, for one, can't forgive him is that such an important institution for the state had been depersonalized.
- The two candidates - Parvanov and Stoyanov resemble in one thing - both of them didn't make an assessment of their governments. Parvanov still hasn't said what his assessment of Videnov's government is, Stoyanov didn't say anything about his evaluation of Kostov's government. One might suppose that they liked those governments. Isn't it alarming?
- I'm not the person to be an advocate of anyone of the two. And I can't but go back to the immediate past and recall who and what role he had played and what stand he had taken. I go back to the February 4 events and the developments that followed. Parvanov took upon himself a big burden. He made the major compromise and yield power. Nikolai Dobrev, may he rest in peace, paid for that compromise by his life. At the same time 4 years later we could ask ourselves whether it had been worthwhile. Was the sacrifice worth it? If the firm answer is yes, the normal question to Parvanov is not about why he yielded the power, but why he yielded it to unworthy people. In this is the problem. Why did he give the power to the thieves? Parvanov had hardly known then he had made a compromise, in order for people to come to power and try by all possible means to plunder the state. Peter Stoyanov had hardly known then that he would gather with such people, either. Yet, he supports them today too.
- You speak as if the choice now isn't between left and right?
- The truth is that the choice is not between left and right. Now the choice is between morality and hypocrisy. This is the choice we have to make. And naturally, the major question is why did things come to such a choice? Things were brought to this state because the king didn't have the courage to nominate his own candidate. And believe it or not but this is already a political crisis.
- All are worried that the president hasn't enough powers, but the president is commander in chief of the armed forces and is in charge of the country's foreign policy and national security. Why didn't anyone say what had been done and what hadn't been done concerning these direct responsibilities of the president for the past 5 years?
- I go back to the delusion that the president is a shop-window figure who can only deal out orders and medals and on whom nothing depends. He is the man to appoint and dismiss the heads of the judicial system. This is the man who has his own quota in the Constitutional Court, this is the man who puts his signature on the edicts for the dismissal and appointment of the heads of the special services, he is the last guarantor of the quality of the laws. He has the right to veto a law, he can attack it in the Constitutional Court too. For 5 years Peter Stoyanov didn't attack a single law in the Constitutional Court. What about the national security? Things are crystal-clear there. The armed forces have been rendered powerless. What does it mean to join the soldiers and have white beans for lunch with them? It means a 'look at me, I'm with you too' demonstration. And to forget about the fate of the thousands of Bulgarian officers. Can the stepped up admission to NATO be paid by the fate of the officers, of their families? Not to mention the national security. The services which are responsible for the national security are subordinate to him. These are services which turned into a source of discrediting materials, of executors of political assignments against the opponents of Kostov and now of Stoyanov. Services in which corrupt generals keep their nice jobs and keep their posts because at the moment they are of use to Peter Stoyanov. Here, these are questions which it is normal to set forth now. Foreign policy is the other issue. Why doesn't the president call back many ambassadors after the mandate of those party pawns has expired? This is one of the circumstances which contribute to the country's low prestige. It is impossible for a Bulgarian ambassador to the EU to say that Simeon the Second is something shameful for Bulgaria! Can a Bulgarian ambassador say of a Bulgarian national that he is shame for the country? With Peter Stoyanov keeping silence and not reacting to this. It is to his detriment. This is the hypocrisy and demagogy I'm talking about. This is the reason why I can't vote for him.
A False Choice for Kosovo.
November 15, 2001
And the Real Choice for the Balkans.
Two days from now, denizens of Kosovo will have the opportunity to vote for a "legislative assembly" of that occupied province, likely believing that they are exercising their right to choose a government. Not "citizens," mind you, for to be a citizen one must first have a country, and even the UN/NATO occupiers are not ready to declare Kosovo an independent state yet. Furthermore, since little or no serious proof is required that a voter resided in Kosovo before the war (and even if they did, that does not mean they were Yugoslav citizens), most "citizens" among the voters will owe their allegiance to the neighboring Albania.
Established under the "constitutional framework" imposed by the UN administration, this Assembly will have little real power, but great symbolic significance. By holding a vote, the UN and its NATO occupying force (KFOR) aim to show that their occupation is just and benevolent. Who ever heard of elections in an occupied territory, after all? By giving the Albanians a semblance of government, they temper the fires of separatism while ensuring they continue to burn. And by having the Kosovo Serbs vote, they gain both the recognition of the occupation's legitimacy, as well as leverage for when Kosovo Albanians do declare independence.
Thus the UN and NATO win all the way; the Albanians get at least something; and the remaining Serbs lose what little they had.
Even though the "constitution" does not give them outright independence, it does provide for the major attributes of sovereignty a president, an assembly, a judiciary. Kosovo already has a separate currency (the German Mark, and soon the Euro), a separate curriculum (mostly imported right out of Albania), and a separate banking system (mostly owned by Germans). It even has a paramilitary the Kosovo Protection Corps, formed out of the "disbanded" KLA and paid for by the UN.
Despite this de facto separation from Serbia, Kosovo Albanians or "Kosovars," as pathetic excuses for journalists persist in calling them remain committed to full independence. This is a recurring theme on all sides of the political spectrum, from Ibrahim Rugova's ostensibly pacifist LDK, to parties led by KLA thugs Hashim Taqi and Ramush Haradinaj.
PLATITUDES A LA CARTE
Rugova is, of course, a shoo-in for "president." He was even publicly endorsed by Daan Everts, head of OSCE mission in Kosovo charged with organizing the election.
Taqi is guaranteed a big slice of the pie as well. His party's presidential candidate is Flora Brovina, a former KLA physician whose claim to fame is spending 19 months in a prison in Serbia. Thanks to this, Brovina also enjoys the admiration of Albanians' foreign sponsors. She carefully nurtures this sympathy by well-chosen platitudes, from her lip service to UN/NATO's bromides about "multiethnic" Kosovo ("Serbs are citizens of Kosovo and they have to be part of Kosovo"), to the slick sales pitch for independence (an "inevitable, life or death issue" that would lead to "better times for the impoverished economy," an "independent Kosovo will guarantee the minorities equality" all from Reuters). Most of all, Taqi is playing on Brovina to dispel the stereotype of Albanian patriarchal backwardness.
Ramush Haradinaj, a frequent guest at the US Department of State and one of America's favorite KLA commanders, is another strong candidate. That Haradinaj is still at large and becoming more influential by the day despite a fight with Russian peacekeepers and a midnight arrest following a shooting at a henchman's home, shows that he must have some very powerful protectors. Perhaps it was they who coached him to advocate Kosovo as a "regular society, a stable one, with high standards of respect for human rights and minority rights." (Reuters)
THE SHADOW SUPPORTERS
Of course, Brovina and Haradinaj's KLA has never paid any heed to lofty proclamations of tolerance, multi-ethnicity and human rights not when they blew up Serbs in refugee buses; not when they killed Serbs in the fields, barns and homes; not when they stole or torched Serb and Roma homes; nor when they murdered Serbs and even their fellow Albanians in the course of their separatist quest. Their pronouncements are not aimed at the victims of separatist terror; they are either dead, or know better. The only likely customers are the foreigners the occupying authorities themselves and the public of their countries.
Though officially US, EU, UN and NATO disavow any intention to grant Kosovo independence, their unofficial minions are busily agitating for just such a course. So, there is plenty of reason for suspicion when the election is endorsed by these minions the omnipresent International Crisis Group (ICG) and the "independent" international commission on Kosovo, to mention just two. The latter (currently led by the former ICTY Head Inquisitor Richard Goldstone) issued a call for "conditional independence" of Kosovo just before last year's local elections.
NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE
With all that in mind, the Belgrade regime nonetheless instructed the Kosovo Serbs to take part in this weekend's vote. Scattered in exile or surrounded by barbed wire, KFOR guards and mobs of murderous Albanians, even if the Serbs could vote, why should they?
What would taking part in Kosovo's quisling government mean? A respite from incessant attacks? Unlikely. Even if it does, that would only show who had been behind the attacks for so long, or who had the power to stop them but did nothing. Freedom of movement? Only in one direction out. Security of life and property? Only if they disappeared, or sold their property for whatever pittance the Albanians offered. A voice in decision-making? They have been ignored before; there is no reason to listen to them now. More aid? More food in the ghetto would be nice. It would be nicer not having the ghetto, though.
For Belgrade, Kosovo is but a means to boosting individual politicians' vanities and influence. They feel important and jubilant when the UN and NATO invite them to sign meaningless treaties. These perfumed princes also believe that the same people who terror-bombed the Serbs for 78 days on behalf of the KLA (which they armed and trained) and occupied Kosovo to begin with, can somehow be their partners in bringing Kosovo back. Perhaps there is a word in the English language more fitting to describe this than "idiocy," but it doesn't readily come to mind.
ARBITERS OF BLAME
All these pretentious morons have to do is look south, where NATO's obedient ally Macedonia continues to be framed for its own murder. Whether it is the Albanian parliamentarians who refuse to show up for the vote on constitutional "reforms," or the supposedly disarmed UCK attacking Macedonian police with rockets and assault rifles and taking hostages, both the Western press and the Imperial representatives in that semi-occupied country lay the blame squarely on the Macedonians.
Or has Belgrade forgotten that yesteryear's Bombers of Belgrade and yesterday's Aracinovo Taxi Service have armed, trained and sheltered the Albanian "liberation army" of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac for almost a year, then agreed to its "disbandment" in order to create a precedent for eviscerating Macedonia? Perhaps they failed to notice that the "National Liberation Army" of Macedonian Albanians operated unhindered from Kosovo for months, or that a new "liberation army" is budding in NATO-occupied Kosovo, ready to swoop into the Presevo valley again. Will they, in a couple of years, encourage the surviving Serbs in "Eastern Kosovo" to vote for Albanian institutions as well?
EMPIRE'S WILLING SERVANTS
These may sound like rhetorical questions, but even a cursory glance at the behavior of local leaders throughout the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans in general is proof enough that this sycophantic bootlicking is not an exception, but rather a rule.
It is as if everyone assumes that the Empire (manifested through the UN/NATO/OSCE/EU et al.) has a right not only to interfere, but also to set itself up as the ultimate authority, judge, jury and executioner anywhere it pleases.
Yet no law, no writ, no divine providence grants these people this right, save for the fact that they say so, that they have the bombs to kill anyone who might disagree, and that they can get away with it. What would have been denounced as tyranny a hundred years ago is now accepted as normal. What would have been inconceivable just a decade ago is now taken for granted. What has possessed the minds of human beings so, that they are selling out this cheaply what generations of their forebears earned with rivers of sweat, tears and blood?
THE REAL CHOICE
Though this column's deeply held conviction has always been that the Balkans will not see any progress until the Empire's occupation is lifted, perhaps this sentiment has not been entirely accurate. Even before this physical liberation can occur, the people of the Balkans those in the former Yugoslavia as well as their neighbors must face what they have become and start taking responsibility for their future. Right now, they are but slaves of the Empire, of their own demagogues, and of illusions. Unless they choose to think differently, this is all they will ever be.
That, and only that, is the real choice; today, this Saturday, and forever.