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Magdalena Maleeva, of Bulgaria, returns a ball during her second round match against Martina Hingis at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt, Germany Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001. (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer)
Macedonians Pledge Amnesty to Rebels.
By Katarina Kratovac
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001; 6:01 a.m. EDT
SKOPJE, Macedonia Ethnic Albanian leaders in Macedonia are questioning whether a government-declared amnesty for the country's rebels is enough to move the fragile peace process forward, saying they want a stronger pardon and quicker action on promised rights.
Macedonia's president and Cabinet on Tuesday pardoned all ethnic Albanian rebels who battled government troops earlier this year but later surrendered their weapons to NATO. The amnesty does not apply to those who might have committed war crimes during the six months of clashes.
In a sign of persisting tensions, an explosion early Wednesday damaged a Macedonian-owned cafe in Prilep, about 50 miles southwest of the capital Skopje, police said. No one was injured. Also, gunfire echoed overnight above the northwestern city of Tetovo but police did not respond.
The amnesty statement endorsed by most members of Macedonia's multiethnic government was the first sign of progress in weeks toward implementing a Western-designed peace accord which the rival sides signed in August.
President Boris Trajkovski said the move opened the way for a "process of reintegration" of the militants.
But several ethnic Albanian officials demanded stronger guarantees that the recently disarmed militants would not be prosecuted and said the amnesty should become a law, adopted in parliament.
Justice Minister Idzet Memeti, an ethnic Albanian, said that only a special law could guarantee the former rebels known as the National Liberation Army freedom from prosecution.
The rebels did not immediately comment on the amnesty.
The militants took up arms in February to fight for broader rights for ethnic Albanians, who make up a third of Macedonia's 2 million people. Dozens died before the Western-brokered peace deal halted the conflict.
Most Macedonians regard the rebels as separatists bent on dividing the country.
Trajkovski and other Macedonian leaders hope the amnesty declaration will pave the way for government troops to move back into rebel-held areas. But Western envoys have warned against a hasty return until confidence-building measures have been met, such as deployment of a joint police force.
Also Tuesday, the Macedonian-dominated parliament failed to take up action on 15 crucial amendments to the constitution to upgrade ethnic Albanian rights a key part of the peace accord which persuaded rebels to lay down weapons. Ethnic Albanian deputies accuse majority Macedonian lawmakers of attempting to change the planned constitutional amendments and undermine the intent of the peace accord to put the ethnic groups on equal footing.
TOP AUTHORITIES LAY FLOWERS AT THE PARTISANS' CEMETERIES IN BUTEL.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski and Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov laid wreaths with fresh flowers Thursday, at the partisans' cemeteries in Butel municipality, on the occasion of the National Uprising Day - October 11.
A tribute to the fighters, killed during the National Liberation War of Macedonia, was given also by Lieutenant General Metodi Stamboliski, Chief of Macedonian army General Staff, some delegations of the Macedonian Fighters' Union and of the Council of the city of Skopje, as well as of the Students Association.
The prizes "October 11," that are being traditionally bestowed to individuals or organisations for their long-term and especially significant achievements in the field of culture, art, science, education and economy, were bestowed Thursday at the annual ceremony in the Macedonian Parliament.
This year's prize-winners for especially important achievements in the field of the culture and art were: the actor Meto Jovanovski, academic painter and graphic designer Aleksandar Cvetkovski, conductor Zapro Zaprov and composer Stojan Stojkov.
The "October 11" prize for special achievements in the field of science and education was bestowed to the surgeon M.D. Dimitar Kaftandziev, as well as to the Archive of the Republic of Macedonia.
Risto Guskov, Director General of the USJE factory won the prize for significant results and important achievements in the filed of economy.
A certificate, placate and money grant in amount of eight average salaries were given to the prize-winners by the President of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, who is also a president of the Board for the "October 11" prize-awards, the academician Mateja Matevski.
"To bestow such an important community award in these dramatic, tragic and difficult conditions for our country, but still with hopes and faith that this heavy period of time will soon be over, shows that our man's creativity and innovation still exist," stressed Matevski.
Addressing the attendants on behalf of all prize winners, Meto Jovanovski said, "this prize is an inspiration and an honour for any man, primarily because this day - October 11 - symbolises an unbreakable connection to the history, to our past and our ancestors."
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Premier Ljubcho Georgievski and Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov were also present at this event.
WE ARE IN PHASE OF SIGNING THE PROGRAMME FOR NORMALISATION OF MACROECONOMICS.
Macedonian Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski after the talks with IMF mission led by chief of the mission, Bishvajit Banerjee, Wednesday stated "our country is in phase of signing a programme for normalisation of the macroeconomic situation in the country."
This programme, the so-called Staff Monitoring Programme, as Minister said, "is a usual work when one country should enter the process of normalisation."
"From the economic point of view, the country has faced with heavy turbulence in the past eight months, and we have exit the frames of the agreement with IMF," Gruevski said adding "it is understandable for IMF mission since no country that is in war has not maintained previously planned frames." Because of these great changes in the macroeconomic policy happened.
Minister Gruevski expressed hope that if the political process is to be carried out successfully, as it is planned with this programme "then it will mean that we are in a period when the things should be normalised and to prepare for re-entrance with IMF arrangement."
This arrangement will probably be signed on April the following year, Gruevski said. It is up to the government to decide whether it would be FF-Arrangement or Stand-by Arrangement. The first and the later one have advantages and disadvantages, and according to Gruevski it is better to sign FF-Arrangement and then Stand-By Arrangement. According to IMF recommendations and government view it should be better to start with the Stand-By and afterwards to continue with FF-Arrangement.
"Stand-by arrangement has bigger advantage in relation to the not so strict deadlines for the reforms of the companies that have losses and for separation of certain institutions from the budget administration," he said.
"Stand-by arrangement again demands carrying out of the reforms, but as well as the arrangement with the World Bank FESAL 2, we can do it in determined period with this arrangement too."
The new programme with IMF should enable donor's conference and support of the international community, a condition which is set by the international community for the donor's conference besides the condition for adoption of the constitutional amendments and programme of such type, is also the adoption of the law on local self-government, with which the planned term will be postponed for 7 to 10 days.
"If the donor's conference will not be held by the end of the next month, we are to lose US$ 76 million which are to receive in this quarter," Gruevski said adding, "no one donates for something we have spent."
Regarding the tax for financial transactions, which is to be adopted by the end of the next year, Gruevski said that Macedonian negotiation side during the talks has rejected the possibility for continuation of this tax, however IMF mission was given an instructions from Washington that the income side of the budget must be strengthened in the next year, because the next year will be under great influence of the war from this year and certain expenses will continues as those for the reservists of the army and the police.
This includes expenses for employment of at least 1,000 Albanian policemen and 2,000 soldiers in the army, which additionally increases the expenses in the budget.
"We have made a combination of decrease of the expenses by 5 million denars and increase of the incomes also by 5 million denars, which compared to preliminary deficit for the next year of around 17 billion denars, is a significant decrease," Gruevski said.
In order this to be achieved he said that expenses of the defence will be lowered to 300 million denars and those of the police to 800 million. Gruevski said "the more the deficit is decreased the more foreign exchange reserves suffer and if we do not find a donation then everything will fall on the burden of the foreign exchange reserves." "The goal of the deficit is to be decreased by 3 to 3,5% from the GDP in the following year," Gruevski said.
The next visit of IMF Mission is announced for November, when the budget of Republic of Macedonia for 2002 will be reviewed.
Russia expressed desire to send its ships to Varna for repair.
Russia expressed a desire to revive the old practice of sending its ships to Varna for repair in the military repair shop Navy Arsenal and to improve its relations with the Navy General Staff, Russian Military Attache Gen. Anatoliy Kiseliyov announced in Varna. As he said, military cooperation between Bulgaria and Russia has been almost nonexistent for the time being, with the only partnership between the two countries remaining in Navy. He also talked with the mayor of Varna Kiril Yordanov and with the Navy General Staff Superior Vice Admiral Petar Petrov.