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Interior Ministry official Boiko Borisov talks to reporters during a news conference Saturday, Oct. 6, 2001 in Sofia. A gunman was arrested just ahead of the recent NATO enlargement summit in the Bulgarian capital Borisov said. The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested late Thursday near the Hilton hotel in downtown Sofia carrying a Scorpion automatic gun with a silencer. A police officer was seriously wounded during the arrest. (AP Photo)
Djukanovic Wants Independence, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic speaking at the fourth congress of his party DPS (Democratic Party Of Socialist) in Podgorica, October 6. EPA
EU PARLIAMENT MAY APPROVE NEW PREAMBLE IF OTHER AMENDMENTS ARE ADOPTED.
European Parliamentarists could support new discussion on the preamble of the Macedonian constitution which will include historical aspiration of the Macedonian people for own state, but if only the rest of the parts of the Framework Agreement would be adopted, Doris Pack, President of European Parliament delegation for relation with SEE, stated Saturday.
At the press conference she stressed that it is not yet certain that the leaders of the Albanian political parties would agree with new discussion regarding the preamble, but according to her "the Parliament should first adopt all amendments, and after this it would be easier to make an agreement when only one amendment will remain."
Doris Pack stressed that the Framework Agreement is necessary, and the need of its implementation is crucial at the time when "large efforts and big results in the filed of interethnic relations were stopped on Feb. this year with the terrorists activities spilled from Kosovo."
"The spiral of violence that followed afterwards led your country in destruction, and this can not be accepted neither by you nor by the EU, and that's why the Framework Agreement is necessary to be implemented," Pack said adding that after her meetings with Macedonian top officials and the leaders of the political parties, she is an optimist that this should be done.
She said that European Parliament will urge EU to fulfil the undertaken obligations regarding the implementation of the Framework Agreement.
The President of the parliamentary groups of the Macedonian Parliament for relations with the European Parliament, Slobodan Kosev, at today's joint conference stressed that it is very clear that the Parliament will not support the amendments in the way they have been agreed in Ohrid.
"Although the time for public debate has been short, the citizens gave us clear message that there are negative reaction for certain amendments, especially for those where the Macedonian people is erased from the preamble," Kosev said.
He asked how it would be possible on such changes, which are brought under military threat and pressure, and are not accepted by the majority of the citizens, to build mutual life and trust in the future.
The messages that come from the international community and refer to constitutional changes, Kosev said that are understood as great pressure to accept the Framework Agreement in the way it is. He also said that Friday's pressure from IMF on Macedonia to retract the preferential VAT rate of 5% and to accept the new rate of 19% is "the pressure the public to accept the Agreement."
He demanded from his European colleagues to have more balanced approach to the situation in the country, more realistically to follow the situations on the ground and to understand that their every evaluation and message have direct influence on the political life in Macedonia and it would enable to see the truth."
In regard to expectations for additional assistance for Macedonia which is in heavy economic situation, the vice-president of the European Parliamentary delegation, Johannes Svoboda, said that the assistance for Macedonia has been stopped after the start of the crisis and it can be expected when the crisis ends, and the resources planned for this year are transferred for the next year.
He added that Macedonia can start the economic reconstruction "with spending less money on expensive weapons and to train the soldiers and policemen for special assignments.
Gruesome photos of mutilated soldiers fuel anti-amnesty sentiment among Macedonians.
By Misha Savic, Associated Press, 10/6/2001 14:49
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) Ethnic Albanian rebels have been promised amnesty in exchange for peace with the Macedonian majority, but the deeper Milivoj Kostevski looks into his heart, the less forgiveness he can find.
Kostevski's 25-year-old son was one of eight government soldiers ambushed and mutilated by rebels in one of the single most traumatizing incidents for the Macedonian side during the six months of violence that began last February.
While the amnesty promised as part of a Western-mediated peace accord would not cover people guilty of atrocities, horrifying photographs of the partly dismembered and burned bodies of the young soldiers are fueling wider public sentiment against amnesty in general.
Speaking on television Saturday, one of President Boris Trajkovski's advisers, Nikola Dimitrov, said the president probably would make a formal amnesty pledge soon, possibly in the form of a decree.
Parents of the victims fear amnesty might allow those responsible for the gruesome deaths of their children to escape prosecution.
''An amnesty for those who committed this horrendous crimes would feel like killing our children once more,'' said Kostevski, who heads the group of parents. ''We want punishment for those responsible.''
It's unclear whether the bodies were dismembered before or after death, and the cause of death itself is also in question.
A local forensic report says bullets were found in some of the bodies. But the report, which has not been challenged by the rebels or international experts, also says traces of smoke were found in all the victims' lungs, indicating they were alive when doused with gasoline and set ablaze.
The gruesome photographs, recently given to local newspapers by relatives, could hardly come at a worse moment for multinational efforts to implement the peace accord.
''Amnesty would not be without political consequences,'' said Stevo Pendarovski, an adviser to the president. ''There is considerable resistance in the public for such a move.''
Under the accord signed last month by Macedonian and ethnic Albanian leaders, the rebels handed over nearly 4,000 weapons to a NATO mission and declared themselves disbanded. That has put pressure on the Macedonian-dominated parliament to keep its side of the bargain by broadening minority rights and granting amnesty.
In announcing the end of the struggle late last month, rebel leader Ali Ahmeti said amnesty was of ''great importance'' as a means to allow his fighters to be ''reintegrated into society.''
Another rebel commander, known only as Shpati, has ominously declared that refusing amnesty would be ''fatal for Macedonia.''
Western officials agree.
''It is not easy to forget the past, but we have to look toward future here,'' said a NATO spokesman, Mark Laity. ''Amnesty and reconciliation is the only way ahead.''
Still, feelings against amnesty remain high among Macedonians even though Ahmeti has pledged cooperation with the same U.N. war crimes tribunal that is preparing a trial against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for alleged atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Less than 100 people died in Macedonia's violence, and there were far fewer atrocities than in the previous conflicts that have afflicted former Yugoslav republics. Human rights groups list several cases where rebels kidnapped and tortured non-ethnic Albanian civilians, while Macedonian police are accused of killing six ethnic Albanian civilians in August.
Amnesty is even favored by some in neighboring Serbia, whose conflict with ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo region was far more bitter than Macedonia's. Among those is Serbia's deputy prime minister, Nebojsa Covic, credited with helping defuse a smaller ethnic Albanian revolt in his region next to Kosovo.
''It was very difficult for me and other officials when we had to grant them amnesty, but it was worth it,'' Covic said.
''It is worth it to sometimes give people a chance,'' he added. ''By doing that you spare the entire nation from many further perils.''