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An armed Macedonian civilian walks in the village of Zilce Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. NATO liaison teams were overseeing the replacement of police units in Zilce with army troops. Police units in the area had been blamed for initiating exchanges of fire with ethnic Albanians in the neighboring village of Semsevo. Angry Macedonians, who believe they are better protected by the police, blocked the road in an attempt to prevent the police forces from leaving. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)
An armed Macedonian civilian stands at a chechpoint outside the village of Zilce on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. British liaison teams were overseeing the replacement of police units in Zilce with army troops. Police units in the area had been blamed for initiating exchanges of fire with ethnic Albanians in the neighboring village of Semsevo. Angry Macedonians, who believe they are better protected by the police, blocked the road in an attempt to prevent the police forces from leaving. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)
Macedonian army officers wait in their vehicles in the village of Zilce on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. British liaison teams were overseeing the replacement of police units in Zilce with army troops. Police units in the area had been blamed for initiating exchanges of fire with ethnic Albanians in the neighboring village of Semsevo. Angry Macedonians, who believe they are better protected by the police, blocked road to try and prevent the police forces from leaving. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)
Macedonian army officers stand by their vehicles in the village of Zilce on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. Liaison teams were overseeing the replacement of police units in Zilce with army troops. Police units in the area had been blamed for initiating exchanges of fire with ethnic Albanians in the neighboring village of Semsevo. Angry Macedonians, who believe they are better protected by the police, blocked the road in an attempt to prevent the police forces from leaving. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)
Macedonian boy stands on atop a barricade set to block Macedonian police from withdrawing from their positions at the village of Zilce, 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Skopje, Macedonia's capital, on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. Macedonians, who believe they are better protected by the police, blocked the road to prevent the police forces from leaving. (AP Photo/James T. Phillips)
Italian unit salutes the Italian Foreign minister Renato Ruggiero, and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino, unseen, in honor of their arrival at the Italian NATO base near Airport Skopje, Macedonia Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. The Italian ministers are on a one day tour to visit the troops, which are part of the NATO Operation Essential Harvest in Macedonia. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
A British army officer watches flames rise from an area where weapons are being destroyed at a steel mill in Athens on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. The weapons were collected by NATO troops from ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia during operation "Essential Harvest." (AP Photo/Aris Messinis)
Weapons are shown being destroyed at a steelmill in Athens Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. The weapons were collected by NATO troops from ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia during operation "Essential Harvest." (AP Photo/Aris Messinis
Armed ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation Front (NLA) check a car September 18, 2001 at the entrance in Sipkovika village, near Tetovo. Ali Ahmeti, the leader of NLA, has told NATO that rebels will finish disarming without waiting for Macedonia's parliament to start enacting civil rights reforms required by a peace pact, NATO sources said. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti
Visiting Bulgarian Capital. Bulgarian Premier Simeon Sax-Coburg-Gotha (R) and his Macedonian counterpart Lubcho Georgievski inspect the guard of honor in Sofia, September 18. EPA
PRIME MINISTER GEORGIEVSKI ARRIVES IN BULGARIA.
Macedonian Prime Minister and leader of VMRO-DPMNE with Bulgarian Prime Minister (Tsar) Simeon Saxcoburgotski.
Sofia, September 18 (MIA) - Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski arrived Tuesday to Bulgaria, upon an invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Simeon Sax-Coburg-Gotha.
After the intonation of the hymns of Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, Prime Minister Georgievski was welcomed with highest military honors on "St. Sofia" square, where he laid flowers on the monument of the Unknown Soldier.
As MIA's special correspondent reports, Georgievski will have meeting with his host Simeon Sax-Coburg-Gotha, and will hold joint press conference afterwards.
Prime Minister Georgievski is also scheduled to meet with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passi and Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov.
The meetings will focus on the current situation in Macedonia and the region, as well as on the improvement of bilateral cooperation between Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Macedonian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Supply Marjan Gjorcev is also in the delegation.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister in honor of his Macedonian counterpart Georgievski will host a formal dinner.
GEORGIEVSKI, SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA MEET.
Macedonian and Bulgarian Prime Ministers Ljubcho Georgievski and Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha noted on Tuesday's joint press conference that the relations between both countries are heading into positive direction, MIA's special correspondent reports.
"The talks we held, gives me the right to think that our relations are heading into positive direction besides all difficulties in the region," Bulgarian Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg-Gotha stated. He expressed his assurance that the relations between the both countries would consolidate and would be further developed.
Prime Minister Georgievski thanking for the warm welcome, stressed that the relations on the Balkans and the relations with neighboring Bulgaria were priority for Republic of Macedonia. "The good relations established in the past few years would continue and would be enhanced with the new Bulgarian Government. The friendship would be specified through many economic, cultural and political communications," Prime Minister Georgievski stressed.
Within the talks with the Bulgarian Prime Minister, many issues have been raised regarding the safety in the region, the further cooperation between the both countries as well as the projects between Macedonia and Bulgaria in the field of communications and economy.
"I believe that with this pace of development of the relations we will not only make contribution for the two countries, but we will also contribute toward stabilization of the region in the field of security and economy," Prime Minister Georgievski stressed. In that respect he added that the "meetings in Sofia would induce new enthusiasm and new spirit in the good relations and good cooperation between the two countries."
"We are shocked from the terrorism in USA, but we have to stress that Macedonia was also a victim of terrorism in the past eight months," the Macedonian Prime Minister stressed.
According to him, there is no positive or negative terrorism, in small or big countries and it could not be silently approved in one region, and to be condemned in another one. The fight against the terrorism has to be global and worldwide, Premier Georgievski said.
Macedonia has no information on the direct or indirect participation of terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Macedonia, but is known that he was in North Albania and on Kosovo and his supporters were still on that terrain, what means that they are involved in Macedonia as well. "There is evidence of the participation of the mujahedeens in Macedonia," Georgievski added.
He reminded that Republic of Macedonia was exposed to classical terrorist actions, where 70 persons were killed, 250 were injured, more than 70,000 persons were expulsed from their homes and many churches and monasteries were destroyed. "Unfortunately, the international community was not very firm and vigorous when it was dealing with the terrorism in Macedonia and sometimes it seemed like it communicated with the terrorists more than with the legal Macedonian state institutions. I think that NATO countries should review their policy toward Macedonia and toward the entire region i.e. the Balkans, where the terrorism is "in bloom", the Macedonian Prime Minister said.
Macedonia has not requested military assistance from Bulgaria, the premiers decisively said, but as Georgievski said, only practical political support not only from Bulgaria but also from all Balkans countries was requested in order to cease the spreading of terrorism in the region.
Asked about the Bulgarian paternalism toward Macedonia, Bulgarian Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg-Gotha stressed that "it was not a case of the current policy and the Bulgarian policy conducted in near past."
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski sees NATO's role after "Essential Harvest" operation with new mandate - only protecting OSCE monitors.
Asked about his position on the referendum that would be eventually called in Macedonia, the prime minister said that it did not mean that the people would reject the Framework agreement, but the Macedonian people could approve it.
RENATO RUGGIERO PROMISES URGENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR MACEDONIA.
"As a gesture of immediate solidarity, Italy decided to grant to Macedonia urgent financial assistance of US $ 4 million that will be added to already sent financial assistance of US $ 1,5 million," Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero stated Tuesday.
He confirmed the Italian engagement for participation in the donor's conference for Macedonia, which will be held October 15.
"It is of great importance to reestablish the multiethnic society, which was the ground for this country, as well as to continue the road leading towards Macedonian integration into Euro Atlantic structures," Ruggiero stressed on the joint press conference with the Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva. He added that Italy was ready to participate in the new phase of the peace agenda that will start after the completion of "Essential Harvest" operation.
Ruggiero stressed that the international community believed that the Framework agreement signed August 13, was irreplaceable.
"With full respect for the sovereignty of this country and its Assembly, we are partially concerned about some processes that could slow down the final approval of the agreement and the stabilization," Ruggiero stressed, adding that the eventual calling of referendum for ratification of agreement could represent "real threat for the stability of the country."
The Macedonian and Italian Foreign ministers started the Tuesday meeting with strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, agreeing that joint and organized fight against terrorism was necessary as "it was the greatest evil of the world and threat for the democracy and freedom."
"The consequences of terrorism were deeply and tragically felt in Republic of Macedonia in the last six - seven months," Mitreva stressed informing Ruggiero that the Macedonian Assembly adopted Declaration for denouncing the terrorism.
Minister Mitreva exposed the initiative of the Macedonian Security Council for establishing regional anti terrorist pact and supported US President Bush's agenda for establishing international coalition for fight against terrorism.
During the talks the both ministers focused on the cooperation between the two countries, emphasizing the plan for crisis management in Republic of Macedonia and all its phases.
The Macedonian Foreign Minister explained the components of the fourth phase from the crisis management agenda, what means establishing the constitutional law order in all parts of Republic of Macedonia, restoring the peace and safety and establishing conditions for returning the refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
Mitreva stressed that the Macedonian security forces, OSCE and EU monitors as well as the civilian representatives of the local authorities will participate in this phase of the agenda, and their activities would be coordinated with NATO forces stationed in Macedonia.
Minister Mitreva sent letter to OSCE Chairman in Office Mircea Geoana notifying him about the decision of the Macedonian Government to increase the number of monitors in Macedonia.
According to Mitreva, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski will also send a letter to NATO Secretary General George Robertson requesting additional support from the Alliance for guaranteeing the security of the civilian monitors in Macedonia.
MACEDONIAN STABILITY IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR ITALY AND EUROPE.
"The stability of Macedonia is very important for the region and for entire Europe, and especially for Italy, so I believe that the peace process will be positively resolved, what will contribute toward more active cooperation between the two countries," Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino stated after Tuesday meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Vlado Buckovski.
He expressed his satisfaction from the meeting with the Macedonian Minister, claiming that the friendship between Italy and Macedonia was very important for the both countries. Martino expressed his hope that the ongoing peace process would have positive outcome from the aspect of the Italian national interest, adding that this was the first in the line of meetings that will be held with Buckovski.
Macedonian Defense Minister Buckovski also expressed his satisfaction, saying that "this was another confirmation of the partnership and friendship between the both countries and confirmation that Italy was one of the most distinguished collaborators of Macedonia within the Partnership for peace."
"Italy shows its friendship in these moments when its soldiers are part of NATO "Essential Harvest" mission and when the terrorism knocked on the door of the most powerful force in the world - USA," Buckovski said. He added that according to the reactions in the world's public, "the world is more united in these dramatic events than ever before."
He emphasized that the terrorism also threatened to the country, and the threats would not end with completion of NATO mission to Macedonia. The Macedonian Defense Minister considering the military and technical readiness of Macedonian forces stressed the wish our special units for fight against terrorism to cooperate with the Italian as well as our commitment to modernize and equip the Macedonian Army.
Italy urges Macedonia assembly not to block peace.
By Jane Barrett
SKOPJE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Italy urged the Macedonian parliament on Tuesday not to cripple a peace accord with ethnic Albanian rebels as legislators prepared to debate whether to seek a referendum on reforms required by the deal.
Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero, in Skopje for talks with political leaders, pressed them to live up to their side of a bargain to ratify constitutional reforms in exchange for the disarmament of guerrillas.
NATO troops have collected two-thirds of the guerrillas' declared arsenal. But the final phase of disarmament has been stalled by parliament's failure to start amending the constitution. NATO's month-long mandate expires in nine days.
NATO Secretary General George Robertson visited Skopje on Friday to prod the government to live up to its side of the bargain. The parliament speaker told him the chamber would reconvene on Wednesday to tackle constitutional amendments.
But speaker Stojan Andov, a nationalist hardliner, also scheduled a session for Tuesday to decide whether to vote to hold a referendum despite a warning by Robertson this would torpedo the 45-day timetable for reforms to be passed.
"While respecting the sovereignty of Macedonia and its parliament, we are concerned about a process that could slow down the final approval of the (peace) agreement and as a result delay its realisation," Ruggiero told reporters.
REFERENDUM WOULD BE 'SERIOUS DANGER'
"A delay of what will probably be some months to organise and carry out a referendum seems to us to be a very serious danger for the political stability we are trying to reach."
After weeks of hesitation, the government on Monday approved a European Union proposal for a small NATO security force to protect foreign monitors who will guide steps to restore state institutions in guerrilla areas.
Ruggiero said Italy was willing to play a part in any international security presence in Macedonia after NATO's "Essential Harvest" weapons-collection mission ended.
But plans for the security force could collapse if parliament puts reforms in the hands of a referendum -- likely to deliver a negative verdict given strong anti-Albanian feeling -- and the rebels renounce disarmament as a result.
Many Macedonians bridle at Western pressure to ratify the peace accord swiftly, contending it rewards "Albanian expansionism" emanating from Kosovo and that the guerrillas are hiding weapons for an undisguised separatist conflict later.
The guerrillas say they sought only better civil rights for minority Albanians and want to be reintegrated in Macedonia as long as the reforms are put into effect.
Ruggiero emphasised the need for international assistance to build up Macedonia's economy, ravaged by years of U.N. sanctions against main trade partner Serbia and by wars, first in neighbouring Kosovo, then at home.
Italy had decided to grant eight billion lire ($4 million) in immediate emergency aid to Macedonia, Ruggiero said.
The West wants to hold a donors conference for Macedonia next month if the Skopje parliament has passed reforms, which would decentralise power, give Albanians jobs in the police and allow some official use of their language.
PM Meets His Daughter-in-Law and Grandchildren Today.
PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will receive today his daughter-in-law Princess Carla and his grandsons Mirko and Luca. The wife of his third son Kubrat will bring the boys here for 6 days. This will be the first visit to Bulgaria of grandchildren of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. A day later the Prince himself will also arrive in Sofia. Marie-Louise, the sister of the Premier, arrives on Wednesday. She will attend a session of the Board of Directors of the American University in Bulgaria. Carla Roio Villanova is to promote her second book, under the title of "Mother - She is Only One". Relationships between young mothers are interpreted in the book, and also advices on upbringing children up to 10 years of age, the publisher Dimitar Stankov said.
Decision on MiG-29 on Thursday.
On Thursday the Cabinet will take a political decision what to do with the MiG-29 fighters, Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov said yesterday. Several days ago he said before Reuters that we have to modernize the Russian planes no matter whether we will use them or sell them. At the moment they are unsalable. We are still looking for buyers for them, the Defense Minister said. To him, only after we have traded them, we could afford buying F-16. We have serious offers from Russian, German and two Israeli firms for the MiG-29 modernization, Svinarov added.
Ministry of the Interior special troops captured the drug dealer Kiro the Japanese.
In an operation carried out jointly by the National Bureau for Fighting Organized Crime and by the specialized troops for fighting terrorism in the Sofia "Faculteto" district, the famous drug dealer Kiril Sotirov Kirilov, known as Kiro the Japanese, was arrested. When the policemen came to arrest him, they were met by 12 men armed with loaded guns, some of them convicted criminals. The policemen searched the house and found illegal arms as follows: 2 "Makarov" pistols, one "Valter" pistol, and a hunting rifle. They also found three Mercedes cars and one Honda car and captured DEM 76,000 and BGN 36,000, for which Kiro the Japanese could not provide a proper explanation about where he had acquired them from. Kiro the Japanese was detained for 24 hours. He had been registered for frauds and had been announced for nation-wide tracing down in 1995. According to crime experts, he is one of the main figures in the drug business.
Bulgarian consulate in the USA is looking for five Bulgarians.
Bulgarian consulate in New York put on its official web-site the names of five Bulgarians that have been missing after the assaults one week ago. The names of the missing Bulgarians are as follows: Mitko Hristov Petrov, Steve Petrov Johnov, Koycho Koev, Dimitrina Dimova Pravcheva, and Kamen Yordanov Bachiysky. Bulgarian consulate in New York is constantly connected with the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the rescue headquarters on the territory of the former World Trade Center.
Sofia, September 18 (BTA) - Sofia City mayor Stefan Sofianski joined the Nis international conference on "Transborder cooperation between Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Macedonia - joint strategies for regional development and integration".
The initiative for the forum, organized with the assistance of the Council of Europe, belongs to the East-West university. It is attended by Nis mayor Goran Ciric, Skopje mayor Risto Penov and regional authorities and transborder cooperation directorate director at the Council of Europe Alfonso Zardi.
Sofianski familiarized the participants in the forum with Bulgaria's priorities in the field of transborder cooperation, infrastructure, small-sized business promotion and telecommunications.
The forum evidences the existence of a clear political will for a more intensive cooperation while the presence of NGOs indicates the desire of the ordinary people for the same, Sofianski said.
Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Jivkovic expressed hope good communications between the cities in the region will become a tradition. He released information on the Green Borders project which will facilitate the movement within the region of ideas, people and capital and will prevent that of people with criminal records.
The forum continues under the format of three working groups which are discussing regional development policies, transborder cooperation, the private sector and the cooperation between young people in the field of education and culture. BTA
Sofia, September 18 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Industrial Chamber (BIA) and the Union of Employers in Macedonia will sign a cooperation agreement regulating their joint participation in the Forum of Employers from Southeast Europe, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization of Employers.
Representatives of the Macedonian organization will attend September 18-21 a training course at BIA organized with ILO's assistance.
Employers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have already attended similar BIA courses.
Visits from Romanian, Albanian and Serbian delegations are imminent. BTA