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NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson, left, meets Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, right, during his one-day visit to Macedonia's capital Skopje, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
US soldiers from 3/502 Infantry check vehicles at one of the gates of the US Camp Able Sentry, 16 kms (10 miles) east of Macedonia's capital Skopje on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. US troops increase the security measures, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
US Army Spc. Frank Guevara from Pasadena, Cal. C company 3/502 Infantry, scans the surrounding area from a check point tower, at US Camp Able Sentry, 16 kms (10 miles) east of Macedonia's capital Skopje on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. US troops increase security measures following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
US Army Spc. Maurice Jones from Brooklyn New York, B company 7/101st Aviation, maintains an engine - part of a Chinook helicopter, at US Camp Able Sentry, 16 kms (10 miles) east of Macedonia's capital Skopje on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. US troops increased the security measures, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
US Army Pfc. Edward Elliott from Clarksville Tennessee, C company 3/502 Infantry, left, checks a vehicle at one of the gates of the US Camp Able Sentry, 16 kms (10 miles) east of Macedonia's capital Skopje on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. US troops increase the security measures, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
A British Royal engineer checks a weapon collected by NATO troops from ethnic Albanian rebels of the National Liberation Army at an army base in Krivolak, 80 kilometers southeast of Skopje, Macedonia, on Friday Sept. 14, 2001. NATO officials said that 1,271 pieces of weapons collected during the second phase of NATO operation Essential Harvest were prepared for destruction. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson, left, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, center and head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mircea Geoana, right, observe a minute of silence in honor of the victims of terror attacks in the United States on Tuesday, at Parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia, Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, center, walks with Tihomir Ilievski, right, member of the Macedonian crisis coordination body, and Mark Laity, left, NATO spokesman, after arriving at Skopje airport, Macedonia, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. On a one-day visit to push Macedonia's peace process ahead, Robertson said the success of the peace plan could brighten a "black week" for the world after the terrorist attacks in the United States. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)
Bulgaria's Premier Simeon Saxcoburggotski, center, surrounded by Cabinet members stand during a minute of silence on the street in front of the government headquarters in downtown Sofia Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. Bulgarians held a minute of silence Friday, to commemorate the victims in the terrorist attacks on the United States. (AP Photo/Dimitar Deinov)
A Bulgarian woman holds a candle as she mourns at Sofia's main cathedral "Alexander Nevski" September 14, 2001. Bulgaria declared Friday as a day of mourning for the victims of the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington on Tuesday. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff
A Bulgarian woman lights a candle as she mourns at Sofia's main cathedral 'Alexander Nevski' September 14, 2001. Bulgaria declared Friday as a day of mourning for the victims of the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington on Tuesday. (Dimitar Dilkoff/Reuters)
And The Walls Came Tumbling Down.
by James Phillips
September 14, 2001
Skopje, Macedonia The terrorists destroyed the building, surprising everyone with a well-planned sneak attack. The ground trembled as the structure came tumbling down, shaking the very foundation of a nation. The perpetrators were unknown, although government sources, the media and many stunned citizens indicted Muslims. Muslims had the motive and the means, and have committed other acts of terror upon innocent civilians. Identifying followers of the Islamic faith as the terrorists responsible for the terrifying explosion was an easy choice for many of the victims.
The destroyed building was located in Macedonia, not the United States, and although the destruction was much greater in New York City, the victims from the mountainous village of Leshok understand what it is like to suffer at the hands of terrorists.
"Terrorism is terrorism," said Gorgi Dimitrijevski, a 30-year-old refugee from Leshok. Gorgi once lived in the Macedonian village where a large bomb, allegedly planted by rebellious ethnic Albanian Muslims, destroyed the historic Orthodox Christian Monastery in Leshok on July 21, 2001. "We never wanted this to happen to any people," said Gorgi, referring to the bombing of the World Trade Center. "But, it will make Americans understand what is happening in the rest of the world."
"I want to give blood for the American people because we know what it is like to suffer," said Gorgi Dimitrijevski as he donned a clean shirt before visiting the office of the American Red Cross.
Gorgi lived with his family in a small hotel room in Skopje, Macedonia after they were made homeless by terrorist acts committed by rebels of the National Liberation Army. "We have terrorist acts here, too. Albanians are the terrorists. When the war start, America turn their back on Macedonia and support the Albanian terrorists. For us, they are bandits; for America, the Albanian Muslims are fighting for human rights."
The American Red Cross office in Skopje did not have the facilities to take Gorgi's blood, but the deputy head of the Regional Delegation invited the young Macedonian into an office to talk about the offer. David Haskett, a 45-year-old American from Alexandria, Virginia sat patiently and listened while Gorgi spoke about terrorism facing both Macedonia and the United States.
"As someone who has been driven out of home, I would like to tell the American people that I feel the pain they are feeling," said Gorgi. "I would like to donate blood. There are other people who want to help because, although we are very angry with the American politics in the Balkans, we are not angry with the American people."
Gorgi and his family are "internally displaced people." The Albanian Muslim rebels of the NLA have attacked their village, forcing most of the people to evacuate their homes. The NLA continues to occupy territory in Macedonia, and the government has been unable to respond militarily because the United States and NATO have pressured Macedonian politicians to negotiate a peaceful settlement. In Macedonia, the international community has rejected the use of force as a response to terrorism.
"I'm asking you as a humanitarian, how would you like to see people suffering," asked Gorgi. He had scanned the headlines of his local newspaper before going to the American Red Cross office, and knew that the United States would certainly retaliate against the terrorists responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center. Gorgi looked at the deputy head of America s premier blood collection agency, and said "If the United States can fight terrorism, why not Macedonia?"
It is a question on the minds of many Macedonians, and one that was deftly deflected by David Haskett. "Unfortunately, many of us do not donate blood until a tragedy or sad event happens and impacts us directly," said Haskett. "On the issue of politics, the American Red Cross is neutral, we're impartial. We do not deal with politics. We deal with the needs [of the people] as they surface."
The needs of the people of New York City, and all the other American victims of terrorism, will be catered to during the coming weeks, months and years. Blood will be donated by thousands of concerned people from around the world, including Gorgi. The government of the United States will avenge the horrific crimes committed against Americans on September 11, 2001; many more thousands of innocent people will undoubtedly die when the retaliation begins. Terrorism against Americans will never be tolerated, nor will any possible settlement of grievances be negotiated.
The rubble scattered in the streets of Manhattan dwarfs the small pile of stones that was once the Leshok Monastery in Macedonia; and, instead of only one person dying, as happened in Leshok, the deaths caused by the actions of terrorists in the United States will rise into the thousands. The people of America will demand justice, and will allow their leaders to obtain it using whatever means necessary.
The people of Macedonia, currently embroiled in political negotiations to end terrorist acts in their own country, will soon observe the response to terrorism by the United States and ask themselves: "Why not Macedonia?"
NATO chief warns Skopje against delaying peace deal.
SKOPJE, Sept 14 (AFP) -
NATO Secretary General George Robertson warned the Macedonian parliament Friday not to delay putting the peace plan into effect, saying talk of a referendum on the accord was a "wrecking amendment."
With the accord due to be adopted in less than two weeks, Robertson said the August 13 framework peace agreement should be passed its entirety and that delays would only prevent displaced people from returning home.
"This referendum idea seems simply to have been floated as an idea to derail that process and not to reinforce it," he said.
"Those, like me, who care about the people who have been displaced from their homes should be warned that if this amendment is passed then it will simply take longer and longer for these people to go home."
"This is not a democratic amendment, this is a wrecking amendment," he said.
Parliament is due to begin debating within days 36 constitutional amendments that would turn most of the peace agreement into law and it has to finish that job and ratify the new constitution by September 27.
But it remains unclear when the assembly, where nationalists oppose giving extra rights to the country's large ethnic Albanian minority, will resume debate on the changes required by the plan.
Complicating the process is a proposal that a referendum be held on the accord, in which the nation's population of two million would be asked to vote. Albanians make up between a quarter and a third of the population.
Parliamentary sources say debate on the amendments, the second stage of the peace plan, may not resume until the middle of next week, after the referendum proposal is discussed.
Robertson said the speaker of the assembly, the nationalist Stojan Andov, had told him that the political requirements of the agreement could be fulfilled with "only a slippage of a few days on the original time-table."
"I make it clear now to the Macedonian people, the displaced people will not get home in peace and in safety until that parliamentary process has finished," he said.
"If parliamentarians make long speeches, they will be talking people out of their homes."
Robertson also urged the assembly to introduce legislation on an amnesty to rebels from the National Liberation Army (NLA) who disarm and are not suspected of war crimes, saying a serious crisis would develop without it.
NATO said its Operation Essential Harvest had by Thursday collected more than two-thirds of the weapons held by the NLA under the peace plan aimed at boosting ethnic Albanian rights and ending a seven-month rebel insurgency.
Earlier the NATO chief had said that Task Force Harvest, which aims to collect a total of 3,300 NLA arms by September 26, would finish the job once parliament meets its obligations by passing the amendments.
Once that task is completed, the assembly is due to adopt the modified constitution as a complete document by September 27, effectively turning many elements of the peace accord into law.
The agreement grants an amnesty for most rebels who disarm, makes Albanian an official language in some areas, provides more minority jobs in the police force and administration and gives wider powers to local government.
Robertson also said he had held talks with Macedonian officials on what kind of international force should remain when NATO starts pulling out at the end of the month and would take their proposals back to Brussels.
The EU's Balkans envoy said on Friday that Brussels remains at odds with Macedonia over the exact mission of any international force. The EU wants any such force to be deployed to protect foreign observers, while Skopje wants it restricted to border areas, Francois Leotard told AFP.
MACEDONIA CATEGORICALLY AGAINST IDEAS FOR PEACE CONFERENCE.
Macedonia categorically rejects the speculations and ideas for convening of peace conferences for the country, as well as for establishing of new associations in the Balkans, Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva said Thursday at a meeting with her British counterpart Jack Straw.
"The Republic of Macedonia is a sovereign country, which has been imposed to an aggression from another country. Macedonia is making enormous efforts to restore control and reestablish law and order in the whole territory," Mitreva said.
As MIA's special correspondent reported, Mitreva informed her host about ongoing activities on implementing of the Framework Agreement, particularly about the forth phase of President Trajkovski's plan, which refers to restoring of peace and stability in Macedonia.
Mitreva and Straw agreed that NATO mission "Essential Harvest" should be completed on September 26, as planned. According to the President's plan, the forth phase should start afterwards, including the OSCE, EU monitoring missions, as well as local authorities and civil monitors. Their activities would be carried out in cooperation with NATO and KFOR. The possibility for inclusion of NATO signal-corps unit in this phase was also taken into consideration, Mitreva said.
Straw confirmed British will to take part in the donor's conference for Macedonia, adding that the financial assistance to the country would depend on implementing of the Framework Agreement.
He also noted that some ideas for scheduling of referendum in Macedonia were not appropriate.
"Elections are the best referendum. However, they are included in the agenda of the grand government coalition," Straw said.
At the meeting, Mitreva also raised the issue on international recognition of Macedonia under its constitutional name.
"This is the right moment for adopting of Macedonia's suggestion, according to which the country's constitutional name will be used on an international level, while the differences with Greece may be settled by a bilateral agreement. Solving of the name issue is very significant not only for Macedonia, but also for the entire region," Mitreva said.
She also considered that solving of this problem should remain within the UN authority as foreseen by the Interim Agreement between Macedonia and Greece, saying it should not be discussed in the European Union, as suggested recently at an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers.
Saying that Britain has taken no position on the matter yet, Straw reiterated the British support to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unitary character of Macedonia.
Mitreva extended her regret for the death of British citizens in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. She and her British colleague strongly condemned terrorism, as the greatest evil against freedom and democracy.
In that respect, Mitreva mentioned the conclusions of the National Security Council for establishing of an antiterrorist pact and for organized, joint action against organized crime, trafficking in arms, drugs and humans.
Later, Mitreva had a meeting with British Defense Secretary Jeffry Hoon.
Hoon expressed his gratitude for the Macedonian support to British soldiers in the framework of NATO mission for disarmament of Albanian terrorists in our country.
The British Defense Secretary emphasised the significance of the next phase of the implementation of the Framework Agreement, which, as he said, should go on in a peaceful and safe atmosphere.
Great Britain gives its support to international observers, who would participate in this phase of the implementation of the Framework Agreement. Hoon stated that the rest of the international community should participate as logistic support.
Mitreva and Hoon discussed on the cooperation between the two countries, and the readiness of Great Britain for its further development in the area of defense and other spheres.
Today, Mitreva also met with Simon Ray, official in charge for Southeastern Europe at the British Ministry for international development, to discuss the economic consequences of the crisis in Macedonia.
Britain confirmed its participation in the donor's conference on Macedonia, scheduled for October 15 in Brussels, as well as its readiness to grant expert assistance in the conference's preparation.
Mitreva presented the initial assessments of the Governmental Crisis Management Body for damages in the crisis regions. Accordingly, the country is in urgent need of Euro 30 million for reconstruction of the power supply system, compensation to families that granted shelter to the displaced persons, compensation to students for accommodation as their dormitories are occupied by displaced persons, and for reconstructing of destroyed houses and infrastructure.
Assessment of expenditures for implementing of the Framework Agreement would require detailed analysis, Mitreva said.
Ray said that Britain shared the Macedonian position for the need of urgent financial assistance for healing of the wounds, adding long-term measures are also necessary to enable Macedonia to continue with the reform processes.
Britain also required security for its experts, who will grant assistance to Macedonia through the international agencies and the European Commission in confidence building measures, reconstruction of the power system, and in education system in general.
Ray said Britain would grant 2,4 million through the international organizations, such as the International Red Cross, UNHCR and others.
Referring to the long-term measures, Ray said Britain expected enforcing of laws that would be adopted in Macedonia as part of the Framework Agreement.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva, who is paying an official visit to Britain, met Wednesday with the British Undersecretary of State for Southeastern Europe, Denis McShane, MIA's correspondent reported.
"Now is the real time for to offer support and solidarity to those who work for peace, as there is no room for irredentism and adventurism," said McShane, who will pay a visit to Macedonia next week.
UK: Mitreva says Macedonia disagrees with initiative on peace conference.
London, - Macedonia disagrees with initiatives on staging peace conferences or creation of associations in the Balkan Region, Macedonian Foreign Minister, Ilinka Mitreva, said while meeting the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
Mitreva had completed a two-day visit to the United Kingdom. She has been holding talks with the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon and the Political Director of the British Foreign Office, Peter Rickets as well as with the Director of the Ministry for International Development, Simon Rae. Mitreva made it clear that it is high time for Macedonia to solve the open issues with its neighboring countries. Mitreva called upon the international community to recognize Macedonias constitutional name.
Macedonia: Cease-fire violations reported in Tetovo region.
Tetovo, - A series of cease-fire violations by the ethnic Albanian terrorists had been reported last night in the troubled Tetovo region. Macedonian army and police positions had been fired on by the terrorists. Macedonian forces responded given the high intensity of attacks.
Heavy machine-gun rounds were fired by the terrorists in many parts of Tetovo. The police checkpoint near the villages Ratae and Neprosteno was fired on, Macedonian state radio reported, referring to police sources.
The Crisis Management Center set up within the government announced that a humanitarian convoy will be organized later today to the city of Tetovo.
Macedonia: Lord Robertson to visit Macedonia today.
Skopje, - The NATO Secretary-General, Lord George Robertson, is due to visiting Skopje for talks with Macedonian top officials. Lord Robertson is scheduled to meet the President Boris Trajkovski, the Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and the Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov.
The NATO Secretary-General will be holding talks with the Foreign Minister, Ilinka Mitreva, the Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, the Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski, as well as with the leaders of the ethnic-Albanian parties, Arben Xhaferi (DPA) and Imer Imeri (PDP).
After completing the talks with the government officials and party leaders, Lord Robertson is due to meeting the chief commanding officers of the Task Force Harvest.
Two Bulgarians Victims in New York.
Alex Philipov was on board the first plane, Stoyan Ivanov worked in the World Trade Center.
In all probability, two Bulgarians have been victims of the terrorist attacks in New York. From September 11 no one heard from Stoyan Ivanov, who worked in the World Trade Center. Another Bulgarian name, Alex Philipov, was on the list of passengers on board the first hijacked plane that crashed into the World Trade Center on Tuesday.
Stoyan Ivanov (26) hasn't shown up at home for a second day. He worked in the southern tower of the World Trade Center, told "Standart" Alexander Stefanov, CEO of the international company for currency markets research, "MCG International". He got the information from Tsvetelina, girlfriend of Stoyan Ivanov.
Our missing compatriot worked as a consultant on world currency markets for the "Bank of America". The young man was from Plovdiv. Stefanov has been knowing him for three years and a half. He couldn't say for sure on which floor Stoyan's office was. Alexander Stefanov himself is gathering information on Bulgarians who could perish or be in any way affected by the terrorist attacks against the USA. From the relevant US institutions he is asking for data about people with Russian or Bulgarian names. Alexander Stefanov has been in the USA from 1990, the company he heads makes research on the international currency markets. It also trades in precious metals.
One more Bulgarian name is on the list of the terrorists' victims. Among the passengers of Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, which crashed into the World Trade Center, was Alex Philipov. On the list of the victims, made public by CNN, Philipov was mentioned as a 70-year-old resident of the town of Concord in Massachusetts. Over the phone "Standart" got in touch with a person from town who bears the same name. The man said that most probably it's a coincidence of names. He himself had read in the "Boston Globe" daily about a 70-year-old passenger, an engineer by profession, who was his namesake. If Alex Philipov was really a Bulgarian, he must have been one of the people who emigrated to the USA long ago, "Standart" learnt on the hotline of the Foreign Ministry in Sofia.
Philipov emigrated to the USA in 1959, his grandfather is of Serb origin, told "Standart" the wife and son of the 70-year-old Alex, who died on board the plane. The inquiry in the Bulgarian consulate in the USA showed that Alex Philipov is a man of Bulgarian descent, said especially for "Standart" Ambassador of Bulgaria to the United States Philip Dimitrov. Philipov (71) belonged to the second or the third generation of immigrants and lived in Toronto. To the moment there is no information about other victims of Bulgarian origin.
If NATO Strikes the Terrorists Bulgaria Will Give Troops.
The government promised every possible help to the Treaty.
Yesterday, after the sitting of the Cabinet Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, said that Bulgaria will offer every possible help to NATO if the Treaty asks for it to strike the terrorists. The memorandum, signed with the Treaty during the crisis in Kosovo provides the legal ground for it, he said.
It implies all means. Live force is not excluded, diplomat No 1 elaborated. NATO treats us as allies already and we ought to support it in such hard times, he stressed.
The terrorists' attacks shouldn't be identified with the Arab world, because the source of the attack is not specified yet, Foreign Minister said. We have not received any particular requirements, Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov said. He said that there's not any threat to Bulgaria even if we have to help. According to Solomon Passy, the Bulgarian territory is not endangered to become the object of terrorists' attacks, if we join the NATO forces in a possible war against terrorism.
We Buy F-16 Fighters from USA.
Bulgaria will buy F-16 fighters to get its air forces ready for NATO, defence minister Nikolai Svinarov said for Reuters. In the first place, however, we shall have to repair and sell the Russian MIG-29s. The Defense Ministry will also negotiate on the purchase of F-18 fighters. More helicopters are to be purchased, too. However, the deals will become possible only if sufficient resources are raised, Minister Svinarov said. We have planes but they can't fly, he admits for the world news agency.
REMARKS BY RICHARD M. MILES, AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED STATES.
September 13, 2001
Citizens of Bulgaria, American citizens, foreigners who are present on the territory of Bulgaria:
I'd like to say just a few words to you about the tragic events which have taken place in the United States and which we are all trying to come to grips with.
President Bush in his remarks said: "...our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terrorism."
I don't think I can improve on President Bush's words. Our other leaders have also spoken out. Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday evening called on the nations of the world and the peoples in the world for unity in the fight against international terrorism. This message was blunt and brief.
We are going to count who is with us and who is against us at this time. The Bulgarian Government has expressed its sympathy and its support in many ways - they have increased protection around American facilities in Bulgaria including around my home. Our people feel safe and they feel wanted in Bulgaria.
The Prime Minister spoke to me personally shortly after these incidents. I've had personal contacts with other members of the government and with the opposition. We've had an outpouring of support from ordinary Bulgarians - from business people, from local mayors, from the man on the street. The sympathy of the Bulgarian people and the support of the Bulgarian government are noted, and it has been noted in Washington.
I have no inside information about any particular threat against Americans or American facilities or anyone else in Bulgaria. We feel safe here. We feel protected by the Bulgarian government and by our own resources. But I just want to thank the people of Bulgaria, to thank the Government for the support that it has given us and to express my appreciation for that.
This is a time to think of steps ahead. I would not care to be involved in the decision process which we will take to enact our own retribution against those who have carried out these acts. I think it will not be a pleasant prospect.
On a more positive note, we have much to do to repair our facilities, to rebuild our lives, and to get on with the tasks ahead. In that, I know that I can count on the support of Bulgaria, its Government and its people.
Thank you very much.