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Germany's Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping checks his files as he sits in the parliamentary defense committee of the German parliament, in Berlin, Monday, Sept. 10, 2001, to explain the use of air force planes. Scharping came under fire last month when it emerged that he had used air force planes to visit his girlfriend on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca between official business as German soldiers were gearing up for a NATO mission in Macedonia. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone in his office in Moscow's Kremlin, September 10, 2001. Putin and French President Jacques Chirac discussed the situation in Macedonia by telephone on Monday, the Kremlin press office said. REUTERS/ITAR-TASS/KREMLIN PRESS SERVICE
A Greek soldier stands guard as a Hungarian engineer destroys weapons collected from Albanian fighters at the Macedonian army base in Krivolak September 10, 2001. Macedonia may bow to international pressure and accept a long-term foreign military presence to prevent ethnic violence once the NATO mission ends in late September, government officials said. (Peter Andrews/Reuters)
An explosion is caused as NATO forces destroy ammunition surrendered by ethnic Albanian rebels from the National Liberation Army in Krivolak, Macedonia, 80 kilometers (49 miles) southeast of Skopje, Monday, Sept. 10 2001. NATO soldiers burned piles of ammunition and cut apart guns from ethnic Albanian rebels Monday, another step in a peace effort that has left the West groping for what to do next. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Hungarian metal workers use a saw to destroy an automatic weapon surrendered to NATO forces by ethnic Albanian rebels from the National Liberation Army in Krivolak, Macedonia, 80 kilometers (49 miles) southeast of Skopje, Monday, Sept. 10, 2001. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski
Greek soldiers look for the serial number on a weapon surrendered to NATO forces from ethnic Albanian rebels of the National Liberation Army before its destruction in Krivolak, Macedonia, 80 kilometers (49 miles) southeast of Skopje, Monday, Sept. 10, 2001. NATO soldiers burned piles of ammunition and cut apart guns from ethnic Albanian rebels Monday, another step in a peace effort that has left the West groping for what to do next. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Premier Visits Bartholomew I. Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha visited Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The Patriarch received him at the 'Hrankov' hotel where he is residing. I'm impressed how much His Holiness appreciates the Bulgarian Church, the premier said after the meeting. On the photo: Bartholomew sees off Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Photo Kiril Konstantinov (SB)
In Macedonia, schoolchildren stay home waiting for peace.
JAZINCE, Macedonia, Sept 10 (AFP) -
September may mean back to school for most children, but few students returned to class in the rebel-held villages of northwest Macedonia on Monday, despite Western efforts to ensure their safety.
Two school buses escorted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) arrived in this mountain village on the Kosovo border at 8:30 am (0630 GMT) only to find a group of old men milling about at the bus stop.
"We have 15 children here, but we told the kids it's not safe to go to school," said one villager.
The rebel National Liberation Army (NLA) that controls these hills has been swapping weapons for greater ethnic Albanian civil rights with the Macedonian parliament since August 27.
Under a peace accord signed by ethnic Albanian and Macedonian political leaders, that trade-off will come to an end in the last week in September and NATO's Task Force Harvest will leave the country.
But fears remain that a security vacuum will be created by the alliance's absence and that people from both sides could try to take revenge for past acts.
And students in this volatile part of the Balkans were on the frontline of those fears Monday.
In nearby Vratnica, villagers who had been stopped from doing their shopping in Tetovo by a series of roadblocks saw a unique chance to slip into town.
Amid shouts and jostling and to the dismay of the OSCE team, half the organisation's operation in this region, more than 40 adults piled aboard the buses with perhaps a dozen children in their midst.
The OSCE, which accompanied but did not plan the transport, then led the buses back down the mountain road linking the villages to the large town of Tetovo.
There are also concerns about the safety of the monitors from the OSCE and the European Union, or that they could simply become bogged down in the demands and complaints of villagers from both sides.
As for the safety of the students, the tensions have already forced the Macedonian authorities to push back the start of the school year from the first Monday in September.
Near Tearce, the two buses, now growing into a convoy of support vehicles, roar past five teenagers and an adult standing in the dust on the side of the road. After braking to a halt and a brief discussion with the OSCE monitor, the group climbs aboard.
Fears about trouble at the roadblocks prove unfounded, as the buses cross downed power lines and climb the curb in front of a burnt out building on the edge of Tetovo.
They pass by half a dozen soldiers who merely smile and wave.
In the centre of town, satisfied villagers with shopping bags spill out onto the pavement while the few students with bags of their own head off to school.
One women asked the OSCE representative if he would be accompanying the buses every day.
"I have two children. One of them is doing a master's, but I'm scared," she said walking quickly away.
"Maybe they can go back to school in October. We'll see."
For the Macedonian government coordinating body, the exercise was a success and will continue as long as it is needed.
"Of course, this was only the beginning and it was necessary. We truly believe the convoy was successful, but let's see if we can get back this afternoon," spokesman Tihomir Ilievski said.
"We will keep doing this until everything calms down and conditions are safe for a normal school year. As long as the students want that, we'll be here," he said.
NATO Insults The Intelligence Of Macedonian Journalists.
By Irina Gelevska A1TV
Brodec,September 10, 2001 - After a request of the so-called NLA, today the Harvest operation continued in the Tetovo village of Brodec. The so-called commander of NLA known as Valoni asked NATO troops to keep the collecting site open till 16:30 today. Yesterday he said to the Macedonian media that NLA is ready to give here all the weapons from the Tetovo villages: Brodec, Poroj and Drenovec. The leader of the NLA Alija Ahmeti was also present today in Brodec to oversee the operation.
400 French, Spanish and German soldiers have collected yesterday about 150 pieces of weapons, including 9 machine guns and dozen of antipersonnel and antitank mines.
Today at the regular briefing in Skopje on a journalist question from Macedonian Radio, why NLA have not given up some more sophisticated weapons such as sniper guns, the civil spokesman of NATO Mark Leity asked the journalist whether the Radio has an intelligence service and how he knows that NLA has such weapons. When the journalist from the Macedonian Television told Mr. Leity that she was fired on by a sniper gun, Leity asked her what caliber the bullet was. When the journalist answered 7,9 mm, Leity answered: So what? It's only one gun". This offended the Macedonian journalists who left the briefing.
However, major Barry Jonhson, the military spokesman of NATO in Skopje, said that we should wait and see what kind of weapons will be return in at the end of the mission.
Interview: MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT LOOKS AHEAD.
by: Sam Vaknin
SKOPJE, Macedonia, Sept. 10
Macedonia - a landlocked country at the southeastern tip of the Balkan, bordering Yugoslavia, Albanian, Bulgaria, and Greece - has been coping with an Albanian armed insurgency since February this year. The insurgents - collectively known as the NLA (National Liberation Army, or UCK in Albanian) - are comprised of commanders with experience in Kosovo and recruits from Macedonia's Albanian population. The NLA demanded improved civil rights, human rights, enhanced participation in the police and public administration (to reflect the Albanians' share of the population, officially c. 24%), and the right to use the Albanian language in parliament and in mixed municipalities (with more than 20% Albanian population). Their demands were met in the Ohrid Framework Agreement signed by the leaders of the four major political parties (2 Macedonia and 2 Albanian). One of the signatories was the Prime Minister, Mr. Ljubco Georgievski, head of the VMRO-DPMNE, the moderate right wing ruling party. Georgievski has tactical differences with his erstwhile friend and co-partisan, the current President of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, who came to power in much disputed elections, decided by the votes of the Albanian population in 1999. Trajkovski believes in the constructive role of NATO and the West in restoring peace and stability to Macedonia. The Framework Agreement - if rejected by Albanian extremists - will establish their culpability and responsibility for the current situation, on the one hand, and Macedonia 's flexibility, on the other hand. Georgievski resents the West's apparent lenience towards the NLA and firmly believes that agreements should never be signed at gunpoint. About 17% of the 9,800 sq.m. country (its western and north-western parts) is still controlled by the gradually disarming NLA.
The President of Macedonia is a soft spoken but single-minded visionary. We met in his office amid frequent interruptions from a noisy anti-NATO demonstration right outside his window in the Parliament building. Mr. Trajkovski was the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs during the taxing days of the Kosovo crisis 1999. But this was not his first exposure to foreign affairs. For many years this American educated methodist ran the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the VMRO-DPMNE (then in the opposition).
Q: Whether one agrees with your policies or not - you are definitely a brave man. What did you experience emotionally during this existential crisis? Were you ever afraid? Do you regret decisions you made or refrained from making?
A: I am considering two things on a daily basis: what is right to do and what is wrong to do in my role as President of my people. According to my conscience, I am trying to abide by the right. My vision is peace. My vision is prosperity. Even when making difficult decisions on behalf of my people, I am striving to attain peace, it is very important to me. When you are a man of vision, you are bound to succeed. Consider Anwar Sadat when he flew to Israel to meet his Israeli counterparts. His Egyptian compatriots were furious. He answered: "I am going to these talks for peace. I am going to bring peace and prosperity for my people". I am doing the very same. I want to bring peace and prosperity to all the citizens of Macedonia. This is my vision.
Q: It is a frightening example...
A: (Raises his voice, for the first and only time during the interview)
Leadership and vision! I have to lead my people towards my vision and my goal - peace and prosperity! Never mind how misunderstood I am and how irrationally I am treated. But I have a goal. Time will say. If I succeed, it will prove to the people that I was a man of vision. Therefore, you need courage and leadership. I am ready to accept all accusations, allegations, anger - but I have to succeed.
Q: Parliament has embarked on the path of constitutional amendments in accordance with the Ohrid Framework Agreement. What does the future hold? Armed conflict, unarmed conflict, or peace?
A: I welcome the final vote made by the Macedonian parliamentarians. It is a significant moment which leads towards the implementation of the framework agreement. It allows for discussing, in a democratic manner, the various appendices attached to that agreement.
We are witnessing a situation where NATO is trying to disarm and disengage the terrorists. We are witnessing a durable cease fire. The terrorists gave their word not to continue to fight. We have to trust them because they gave their word to NATO and NATO gave their word to us. Once we put all this behind us, I hope that Macedonia will continue with its endeavors to be part of the European family and towards a Euro-Atlantic integration. The future prospects of my country in collaboration with the international community is to concentrate on economic prosperity and the achievement of our strategic goals.
Q: There is a growing anti-Western and anti-NATO sentiment among the Macedonian population. It is sometimes expressed even by the Prime Minister, Mr. Ljubco Georgievski. You seem to be the focus of this popular sentiment because you are identified with the goals, policies, and activities of the West here. How do you feel about it?
A: I have no doubt about my orientation. It is Euro-Atlantic. My target is, from the very beginning, to incorporate Macedonia in the European family. Should this fail, I believe that all Macedonian efforts will be in vain. NATO and EU are our friends and they are doing everything to help us overcome this crisis. I am aware that, at this moment, NATO's image is suffering. But, NATO and KFOR still have a lot of problems with armed and unarmed terrorists. Perhaps this engagement created the wrong atmosphere and the wrong image among the Macedonian population that they are allied with the terrorists. There may have been a lot of misunderstandings regarding our mutual co-operation but I think that their final goal is to reach peace in Macedonia as soon as possible.
As far as Mr. Georgievski is concerned, he devoted himself, from the very beginning of his career, to ensuring that Macedonia becomes a part of NATO and the EU family - and I am deeply convinced of that. But he is a man of dignity, honesty, and open rhetoric. It is not a matter of anti-NATO toughness. These are his proper reactions and the way he feels. In our past, together, working as partners - NATO and the Macedonian government - we made mistakes and there were misunderstandings. But there is no person in the government or in the Macedonian population that is against NATO.
But having said that, once NATO's mission is completed successfully within the prescribed timeframe, and with the Framework Agreement signed, we have all the elements in place to re-establish internal stability in Macedonia. But a prolonged NATO presence as either a guarantor of peace or to maintain peace and stability - means that NATO has failed in its mission. It will only foster a false or artificial sense of security. It will produce long term instability. Only the Macedonian security forces are the guarantors of peace. This is not in the interest of either NATO or Macedonia to have a Bosnia or Kosovo scenario. Should those who are against the political document provoke violence - we will have to go to war. There is no capacity to replace the security forces which are the only ones authorized to enforce the constitutional order and rule of law in the country. NATO cannot do it, they are not authorized to do this. Macedonian Albanians have to strongly bear in mind that the Macedonian police is their police as well. Should they reject this, there will be no long lasting solution for our country.
The police were not the ones to cause these problems, violence, and ethnic cleansing. We must not give room to the terrorists to misuse NATO's presence here. Even the security of EU and OSCE monitors will be guaranteed by the Macedonian security forces. NATO's mandate is clear, precise, and limited to the collection of weapons here. They will then depart and the Macedonian police will resume their positions in the villages and cities and take up their normal duties. The Macedonian army will return to the borders to watch over them. My request regarding UNPREDEP was for a collaboration with the Macedonian Army in observing the borders with Kosovo and Albania, something they had a lot of experience with in the past. The current violence was transmitted to Macedonia from Kosovo and from Albania. We think that Kosovo will continue to serve as a centre of violence and regional instability in future.
Q: There is fear among the local population and foreign observers alike regarding the continued existence of Macedonia. Could you relate to the possibility of a division of Macedonia (a proposal floated, in a way, by the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences) - or its transformation into an international protectorate?
A: There is no doubt, even in the Framework Agreement, that the sovereignty, political and territorial integrity, and unitary character of our country are unquestioned and preserved. The Agreement transforms Macedonia into a more inclusive state and a multi-ethnic society. We are now more focused on the development of individual human rights and are creating a society based on the individual and not on ethnic groups. This is a civic model - the individual is given more rights but also more responsibilities.
Regarding an international protectorate - the international community is not interested in such a scenario. Macedonia has legitimate, officially elected political representatives from different communities, unlike in Bosnia, or in Kosovo.
Q: The disagreement between Macedonia and Greece regarding Macedonia's constitutional name has been dragging on for 8 years now. Any ray of hope for an agreement?
A: Thank you for asking me this. One of our sternest demands, apart from a donor conference, is the recognition of our constitutional name. Now is the time - if we and the international community regard the Framework Agreement as a European document - to prove to us that they are supportive of our democracy and sovereignty. The citizens of Macedonia find the current changes hard to accept. They would be even harder to accept should we not be recognized under our constitutional name. Our citizens will lose their confidence or trust in the values and principles of the international community, especially if our personal identity is denied.
(Sam Vaknin is a former economic advisor to the Macedonian government.)
Chirac, Putin Talk on New International Mission in Macedonia.
French President Jacques Chirac and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Monday discussed the presence of a new international force to provide security in Macedonia at the end of the current NATO mission this month.
Chirac called Putin on Monday morning and explained his opinion on the principles of next steps that international mediators and monitors should take in the Balkan country, said Catherine Colonna, spokeswoman of the French presidency.
"It is unreasonable that all international presence ends immediately at the end of the mission of arms collection," Chirac was quoted as saying.
"The number of civil observers must be increased and it is equally indispensable to prepare a military force to protect these observers," he said.
The two presidents agreed to pursue consultation on this issue on a bilateral basis and within the United Nations, said the spokeswoman.
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine will meet his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, in the coming days, she added, without giving a definite date of the meeting.
On Sunday, European foreign ministers agreed in Brussels on the issue of a pending "security vacuum" in Macedonia when the current 4,500-troop mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ends as scheduled at the end of September once all the rebel arms are collected for destruction.
"There is agreement that the European Union must remain involved," said Vedrine at the meeting. "One way or another, Europe must stand by Macedonia."
But there was no consensus on the nature of an eventually new mission. Vedrine suggested that it should be open to non-NATO countries such as Russia, Sweden, Finland and Ukraine.
Macedonians resent West's pressure over Albanians' rights.
SKOPJE, Sept 10 (AFP) -
Macedonia may be committed to a peace plan strengthening the rights of ethnic Albanian rights, but many ordinary citizens fiercely resent Western pressure on how to run their country.
The truth is that the fragile Balkan state, weakened by seven months of fighting and economically dependent on foreign aid, feels it has had its hand forced by the West.
"NATO's aim: the Albanization of Macedonia," read one placard, in English, at an anti-NATO rally outside parliament, where lawmakers last week backed a framework Western-backed peace deal, after five days of debate.
"NATO lies," ran another banner held aloft by protesters at the latest demonstration in Skopje, the capital of the two-million strong nation of whom up to a third are ethnic Albanian.
Since the start of the crisis, the international community has scrambled to help prevent this fragile state turning into the latest Balkan ethnic flashpoint, after Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Urging moderation, the West managed to persuade Skopje's fractious politicians to form a government of national unity including two key Albanian parties, and finally, on August 13, to agree to a Western-backed peace accord.
Hardline nationalist leaders, led by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, have since then repeatedly slammed the pressure put on them by the West, whom they accuse of being unacceptably soft on the "terrorists".
Macedonia's press regularly accuses the West of "blackmail" by linking financial aid to political reforms.
"There is a deep resentment among the Macedonian people against NATO," said one government source.
"The reforms set out in the peace accord are not fundamentally bad, but they were caused by the terrorism and Macedonians feel they are being forced into them," said Ljubomir Frckovski, a former minister who is now an academic.
The international community denies vehemently that it has put pressure on Skopje.
"We are not putting conditions, we are not putting presure on anybody, it is really getting on my nerves," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said last week, referring to Macedonian press reports.
Solana and European external affairs commissioner Chris Patten were in Skopje to discuss its aid needs, and notably signed a 42.5-million-euro (37-million-dollar) package of funding for the country.
Macedonia's needs are indeed urgent: in a country where 35 percent of people are jobless, where the budget deficit is 260 million euros, or six percent of GDP, and where forecast growth for 2001 has been slashed from six percent to 2.5 percent, international aid is crucial.
"Macedonia is not facing bankruptcy," assured International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative in Skopje, Jan Mikkelsen, ahead of an IMF mission to the country due this week.
In June the IMF said Macedonia needed some 65 million dollars to ease the crisis.
Skopje wants an international donors' conference to be held as soon as possible. Patten said last week such a conference would be held in mid-October, after the parliament has adopted constitutional reforms boosting Albanian rights.
"We are going to fulfil our part of the agreement, and the other side is going to fulfil its party," he said.
WAR BY PROXY.
US and EU in a tug of war over Macedonia?
September 10, 2001
By Justin Raimondo
I wrote a column subtitled, "How do we know what's going on in Macedonia?," which concluded that I would have to go there myself to find out. But that is really far too general a question for just one short visit, so I'll have to narrow it a bit, and get down to the essential question: who or what is behind the destabilization of the country, and to what end? Clearly, the UCK-KLA-ANA is the instrument, but in whose hands and to what ultimate purpose?
AN OPENING FOR SKOPJE
I think we are coming to some understanding of the broad outlines of the conflict, its origins and sources of support, with the news that the European Union is now considering sending an armed force when NATO leaves. You guys drop the ball, the Euro-crats seem to be saying, and we'll pick it up. This gives credence to the theory, put forward by Michael Chossudowsky and others, that the Macedonian conflict signifies the growing split between the US and the EU. According to this theory, the UCK-KLA is entirely the creation of US intelligence services, and represents an extension of American military power in Europe. Does this mean the Euro-crats are siding with the Macedonians? I wouldn't count on it, but the possibility is there, and hopefully Skopje will take full advantage of it.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE
I also do not think it is as simple as the US versus the EU. How does this explain the key German role in the development of the UCK? This "war by proxy" theory also fails to explain the apparent unity of NATO during the Kosovo war, except for a few ineffective protests from the Greeks. It cannot account for the key role of the British, not only in Macedonia but throughout the Balkans, in creating and sustaining the Albanian insurgents. While American troops escort NLA fighters to safety, the Brits pretend to disarm them. In any case, an appeal to European public opinion may be Macedonia's last and only hope.
Another reason for the Macedonian leg of my Balkan journey is, frankly, to help fill the tremendous void left by the complete absence of any Macedonian public relations effort in the United States and internationally. The cause of the Macedonian people their sovereign right to live, unmolested and independent is entirely without defenders in the West. Except for a few journalists, whose work we feature in the pages of Antiwar.com, the bias of the media is clearly pro-Albanian, just as it was during the Kosovo war. The New York Times splashes "news" of an alleged Macedonian massacre all over its front page: once again, the victims are those blameless, peace-loving Albanians.
POLITICS ABHORS A VACUUM
The EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels at the end of September, where the subject of the Macedonian "security vacuum" is slated to come up. As nature abhors a vacuum, so does international politics, and there is always some wannabee superpower ready and willing to fill it. Francois Leotard, the EU envoy to Macedonia, will make his pitch for a "lightly armed" EU force of some 1,500. One curious aspect of the Human Rights Watch report alleging a Macedonian massacre of civilians at Ljuboten is that it attacks the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] almost as much as it denounces the Macedonians. According to HRW,
"The OSCE mission in Skopje has remained largely silent on the grave human rights abuses that have been committed by the Macedonian forces throughout the conflict. For example, the OSCE has not issued a single statement about widespread beatings and torture at police stations in Macedonia, even though its monitors have certainly documented an adequate number of such cases to speak with authority. Human Rights Watch researchers were often told by victims that the OSCE monitors had also interviewed them."
Could it be that OSCE monitors were not overly impressed with the credibility of these witnesses? The possibility is unimaginable to HRW: Albanians are apparently inherently incapable of lying. HRW hews strictly to this axiom throughout their report, which repeats the testimony of Albanian "victims" verbatim, as if it were gospel. I realize Ljuboten is an Albanian-dominated area, but weren't any non-Albanians on the scene or is this yet another village entirely "cleansed" of ethnic Macedonians by the NLA? I suppose I'll find out soon enough
TAKING THEIR WORD FOR IT
Furthermore, claims HRW, "the OSCE has been much more willing to criticize similarly serious abuses by the NLA. This imbalance in its public reporting clearly has an impact on the OSCE's credibility and effectiveness in addressing abuses by both sides." The mentality behind this kind of critique is revealed in the footnote, which enumerates three OSCE press releases condemning Albanian atrocities including the bombing of the monastery in Leshok and bemoans the fact that the OSCE failed to generate a similar number of press releases attacking the other side "even though both NLA and government forces were responsible for serious abuses during this period." What were these abuses for which the Macedonian government was responsible? I guess we are supposed to take their word for it: after all, this is Human Rights Watch talking.
SHILLS FOR NATO
The brazen quality of HRW's willingness to act as NATO's enabler is evident in the following horrifying quote, which treats opposition to or even suspicion of NATO as evidence of "extremism" and "ultra-nationalism":
"Many Macedonian leaders, in particular ultranationalist members of the government such as Prime Minister Georgievski and Minister of the Interior Boskovski, have been openly hostile to international actors in Macedonia, such as the western media, NATO, the OSCE, and international NGOs. They have accused all of these actors of having a pro-Albanian bias and often whipped up public hostility against them, resulting in several anti-Western riots in the capital Skopje."
THE GREATEST SIN
It is the natural reaction of patriots to bridle and rebel at the prospect of foreign occupation, but the New World Order forbids patriotism as the greatest sin. There are no more patriots: there are only "ultra-nationalists." And, after all, why should the Macedonians complain about being demonized in the Western media? Whereas before they were a relatively obscure people, today their international profile is considerably higher. At least they can claim they are no longer being ignored. But this, as the Macedonians have discovered, is not a good thing. They long for the kind of obscurity that will give them peace, but, unfortunately, their country is getting more famous by the minute, for all the wrong reasons.
TO THE HAGUE WITH THEM!
If HRW is to be believed, along with the Western (and particularly the British) media, those ornery Macedonians are Balkan porcupines fairly bristling with hostility. Not only have they failed to roll out the red carpet for NATO's faithful scribes, but their elected government failed to bend the knee to their masters. Here NATO has offered them control over at least part of their country, and prevented the NLA from swallowing up what is left, yet "ultra-nationalists" like Georgievski and Boskovski have the nerve to complain. What ingratitude! Off to The Hague with them!
The one-dimensional imagination of a committed ideologue is on full display in the HRW report, and the author's blinders, his infuriating thick-headedness, is never more in evidence than when, as evidence of the Macedonians' incorrigible extremism, he cites Antonio Milosovski, the government's chief spokesman, as saying: that "NATO is not our enemy, but it is a great friend of our enemies who are attacking the future of this country." This is hardly extremism, but is, instead, a fairly moderate position, and a subtle one at that. It takes into account the American-European rivalry, and accurately describes the NLA as NATO's chief ally in the region. I would say that Milosovki does not go far enough: NATO is indeed the enemy: it is both father and mother to the enemy. For the NLA is nothing more than NATO's spawn, an army of real ultra-nationalists, armed, trained, and unleashed by the West.
A WAY OUT?
The developing tension between what the French call the American "hyperpower" and the rising European superpower could provide a way for Macedonia to preserve its territorial integrity and its independence from both blocs. By appealing to the Europeans to save them from a guerrilla insurgency that has "made in America" written all over it, Skopje can raise the banner of "Europe for the Europeans," one that will have resonance of continental proportions. But the Europeans alone cannot and will not save them. What the Macedonians need is more understanding of their own case in America and Britain. An appeal must be made over the heads of the elites in government and the media, directly to the public.
GETTING BEHIND THE HEADLINES
This, of course, has always been our strategy here at Antiwar.com: to bypass the media elite, so often beholden to (and, often, married to) government officials. In the past, we have simply gone around them, by linking to alternative, non-Western, or lesser-known news sites, and featuring the work of those few mainstream journalists who refuse to be inducted into NATO's media harem. Now we are trying a different strategy: we have the technology and we have the people to go directly to the scene and report the news ourselves. That, really, is the whole point of my Balkan odyssey: to get behind the headlines and record some semblance of the truth.
EU warns of long haul in Macedonia.
Special report: Macedonia
Ian Black in Genval
Monday September 10, 2001
EU foreign ministers signalled last night that Nato will have to stay in Macedonia once ethnic Albanian rebel weapons have been collected if the Skopje government wants continued western aid.
In the clearest sign yet that the crisis is going to demand a long-term commitment, the EU warned of a "security vacuum" if the 4,000-strong, British-led alliance force were to leave later this month.
Macedonian officials indicated over the weekend that the government would not agree to a Nato deployment beyond September 26, when 3,300 weapons are due to have been surrendered by the National Liberation Army.
But diplomats made clear that millions of euros of assistance could be at risk if Skopje refused to allow troops to protect unarmed observers from the EU and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"If Skopje doesn't see the sense of where we're going then it's another ball game," one senior source said.
At the end of a informal meeting at Genval, near Brussels, the Belgian foreign minister, Louis Michel, told reporters that a "Nato-plus" deployment would follow Operation Essential Harvest. Non-Nato countries such as Russia and Ukraine, as well as EU neutrals Finland and Ireland, could then take part.
The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, opposed calls from Germany for a mandate from the UN security council for a new mission, reflecting strong US opposition to UN involvement and fears of complications from China.
"We are clear that if troops remain it has to be under the auspices of Nato," Mr Straw told the BBC.
Behind the scenes, EU diplomats said they feared that the Slav-dominated government would crack down on rebels and prevent the return of 70,000 displaced persons once the disarmament mission has finished.
"We are under pressure of time," warned the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer. "We must avoid a vacuum."
About half of the weapons expected have already been collected since the start of the operation late last month.
Chris Patten, the EU's external relations commissioner, made it clear that future aid from the EU, as well as from the World Bank, depended on a cooperative attitude from Skopje.
"It's easy to see what we should be doing but there are still security concerns and we can't send people into situations where their lives might be at risk," Mr Patten said.
Officials said that an inter national donors' conference for Macedonia planned for next month should give the west leverage to persuade Skopje to accept a new Nato-led force.
It is likely to be some 1,500 strong, and would be given the task of providing security for 150-200 observers from the EU and OSCE.
Monitors doing a similar job in Kosovo in 1999 were not given such protection, and could therefore do little to stop abuses by Serbian security forces or the gradual occupation of the Serbian province by the guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said the international community must go on helping the Macedonian government, but it should beware of turning the country into an international protectorate like Bosnia.
Mr Fischer warned of a "silent coalition of extremists" exploiting the dispute over Nato's future role to resume fighting and partition the country.
The western-brokered accord to end the conflict in the former Yugoslav republic calls for rebels to surrender their weapons and for Macedonia's parliament to enact constitutional changes granting ethnic Albanians greater political and language rights.
Albanians are supposed to get more jobs in public services, especially in the police force, commensurate with what is estimated at a one-third share of the population.
Over the weekend the fragility of the peace process was underscored by a report that government troops and rebels exchanged fire in the western Tetovo area.
Premier Visits Bartholomew I.
The two discussed the Pope's visit over a cup of tea at the 'Hrankov' hotel.
Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha visited Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew yesterday. The Patriarch received him in the presidential suite of the 'Hrankov' Palace hotel where he is residing. Although the meeting between the two had been kept in complete secrecy, at around 11.00 a.m. tens of journalists had lined up in front of the hotel. A little before 12.00 a.m. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha also arrived there. At the entrance he was welcomed by Metropolitan of Brussels Emmanuel who led him to the suite of Bartholomew. It is normal to talk about the schism in the Bulgarian Church, the prime minister said before the meeting. He, however, did not undertake to explain whether the government would launch any concrete measures to overcome it. After the one-hour meeting Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha specified he had been impressed by how much Bartholomew appreciated the Bulgarian Church. Under the aegis of His Holiness, very good possibilities lie ahead for all the Orthodoxy in general, the prime minister said. The two also discussed Orthodoxy's economic upsurge. Over a cup of tea they also talked over a possible travel of Bartholomew I and a meeting between the premier and the Pope next year. The patriarchs served jointly at the 'Sveta Nedelya' cathedral yesterday. Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was 10 minutes late for the mass at 'Sveta Nedelya' on the occasion of Virgin Mary's Day on Saturday. Three times Bartholomew addressed the prime minister with 'Your Majesty'. Only after that he added his premier's rank. For his part, Father Maxim addressed him by 'prime minister'. Simeon read out the Credo during the service, and was later the first to take the communion bread. Later Premier Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and the two patriarchs spent a quarter of an hour in the side altar.
According to Ahmed Dogan, participation of Rights and Freedoms Movement in power is successful enough.
Speaking before todays meeting of the Rights and Freedoms Movement central Council, the Rights and Freedoms Movement leader Ahmed Dogan said that participation of Rights and Freedoms Movement in power was successful enough and considered about it differently, was not aware of political realities. He commented the words of resigned Rights and Freedoms Movement leader Osman Oktay of Rights and Freedoms Movement assuming more responsibilities than its real participation in executive power, and said that Rights and Freedoms Movement could not desire to have more than two Ministers and six Deputy Ministers, and expressed hopes that Rights and Freedoms Movement would soon have positions also in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Interior. He said he had already suggestions for a new Deputy Chairman to replace Osman Oktay, but did not disclose any names before the opinion of the Central Council. According to him, the most important issue for the Rights and Freedoms Movement for the time being was to change its mentality from opposition to a ruling-party mentality. Answering a question, he could not comment eventual candidates for a President or Vice President, and expressed his expectation that the coalition partners of Rights and Freedoms Movement would soon coordinate such a candidate. He said that there would be changes in the content of the Rights and Freedoms Movement Central Bureau by forming an economic block for synchronizing regional development in lagging regions.
Islamic Bank To Open Branch in Bulgaria.
The Islamic Bank may open a branch of its own in this country, if it takes to financing projects for Mohammedans in Bulgaria, 'Standart' was told. The institution already helps local programs, but operates in Islamic countries mainly. At the forum of the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) to start this Wednesday the Chief Mufti's Office will look for funds for Bulgarian Moslems. Over 100 senior Moslem leaders, chairmen of charity funds, clericals and diplomats are expected to arrive in Bulgaria for the conference. The premier will have a tete-a-tete meeting with ICO secretary General Abdulwahid Belkeziz. The guest will also meet with President Stoyanov. The talks with the head of state are expected to be attended by officials from Libya too.
Businessmen Help Thaw Ice with Russia.
Heads of major Bulgarian firms left for Moscow. Our politicians have been sounding the soil for fresh negotiations.
After years of ice-cold silence and year-long bargaining Bulgarian-Russian relations are likely to be taken out of the freezer. The new authorities will shortly try to make the first step towards overcoming the long established political and economic barrier in relations between the two countries. A Bulgarian delegation headed by economy deputy ministers Lyubka Kachakova and Dimiter Hadzhinikolov left for Russia where by September 17 they will have a number of business meetings in Moscow, Perm, Nizhni Novgorod and Ekaterinburg. Taking part in the business visit for the first time will be MPs and deputy ministers of the two countries, which suggests the adoption of political decisions, the deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Georgi Chernev told 'Standart'. The Bulgarian delegation includes representatives of 40 leading Bulgarian firms from almost all branches of the economy. Among them are 'Samel '90', a producer of electrical engineering and electronics products, 'Gas Petroleum' - Plovdiv, 'Aroma', DZI, the resort complexes of 'Albena' and 'Zlatni pyassatsi'. In Moscow they will be also joined by the representatives of our big firms which do business in Russia as 'Balkankar Holding', 'Bulgartabac Holding', 'Balkanfarma', Balkan Airlines, 'Glavbolgarstroy', etc. The initiative came from the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Commercial and Industrial Chamber of the Russian Federation, with 'LUKoil' - Russia being the sponsor. At the moment the Russian side is waiting for the decisions of the new authorities in Bulgaria. This is why not too much should be expected from the visit of the businessmen. Because now is the turn of Lyubka Kachakova and Dimiter Hadzhinikolov. The successor of Hristo Mihailovski will make the first probing in line with the settlement of Russia's debt worth of 100 million to Bulgaria. She will also make every effort to decrease customs duties. In exchange, Hadzhinikolov will have to negotiate alleviated conditions for the Russian tourists after the introduction of the visa regime.
Farming Is Ruined by Megalomania.
Even if Arab sheikhs buy plots of land, it will remain in Bulgaria. However, then there will be investments, without which, as we can see, agriculture lags behind in its development, says Dimiter Kovachev.
- Mr Kovachev, the successful farmers in Dobroudja admit that if it were not for you there would be no private farming in Bulgaria. Why come that the first and biggest land leaseholder in the region is also the first one to declare liquidation?
- As the proverb has it, the early bird catches the worm but an early bird is also early butchered. I'm the pioneer but after me the farmers managed to do much more because they staked on the new technologies. I took to private farming months before the historic November 10, 1989. Then Decree 911 had been promulgated and it provided opportunities to cultivate land on lease or on the contract basis. The Dobroudja Bank gave me a loan of 30,000 levs, I purchased equipment and started with 400 ha of land. My business began well and therefore I extended the land to 22,000 ha. My biggest mistake was that I tried to outleap myself and go beyond my possibilities. It was very risky and things in production went out of control.
- Do you also forecast a bad business end for others from the branch?
- I wouldn't like to be a bad prophet but I have to say that if I'm the first at the finish, I won't be the last one, either. Big-scale farming in Dobroudja is liquidated by megalomania and drought. A successful farm business can be developed with 1000 or 1,500 ha of land at the most.
- At the meeting with minister Dikme and in the presence of the former chief of the Zemedelie (Farming) State Fund Stoyan Hristov you called the Fund's Board of Managers a mafioso structure. Why?
- During the past two or three years the fund used to allot state funds without caring for it. State employees would help people of theirs. If the new minister takes to the affairs he will get to know who and how much money has been drained.
- The idea for an amendment to the Constitution under which foreign nationals will be able to purchase land enjoys lots of supporters and opponents. Which group do you belong to?
- I back up the idea. I support such an amendment. Even if Arab sheikhs come to purchase plots, land will remain in Bulgaria. But then there will be investments, without which, as we see, agriculture lags behind in its development
UN Security Council lifts Yugoslavia sanctions.
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 10 (AFP) -
The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Monday to lift the arms embargo it slapped on Yugoslavia in March 1998 to halt the repression in Kosovo.
The lifting of the ban -- the last remaining UN sanction against Yugoslavia -- was made possible by the government's decision to transfer former president Slobodan Milosevic to the UN warcrimes tribunal in The Hague on June 28.
It will permit the re-equipment of the Yugoslav armed forces, which have for the past six months been cooperating with NATO in patrolling a buffer zone between Kosovo and the Yugoslav republic of Serbia.
The Security Council resolution lifting the embargo emphasised that the NATO-led force in Kosovo (KFOR) would continue to "restrict and strictly control the flow of arms into, within and out of Kosovo."