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A NATO helicopter takes off from a weapons collection site in Radusa, some 12 miles northwest of Skopje, Thursday Sept. 20, 2001. NATO troops started the final stage of collecting ethnis Albanians rebel weapons according to the peace agreement between the rebel Albanian National Liberation Army and the Macedonian government. The tank with painted initials of the NLA was captured from Macedonian army.( AP Photo/Robert Ghement/Pool)
German soldiers guard a weapons collection area as an Ethnic Albanian rebel of the National Liberation Army holds an Albanian flag and a child as he jumps off a tank which was captured from Macedonian troops, and has now been handed over to NATO in Radusa, some 12 miles northwest of Skopje, Thursday Sept. 20, 2001. (AP Photo/Robert Ghement/Pool)
Ethnic Albanian members of the rebel National Liberation Army wait to hand over their weapons to NATO forces in Radusa, some 12 miles northwest of Skopje, Macedonia Thursday Sept. 20, 2001. (AP Photo/Robert Ghement/Pool)
Deputy Speaker of Macedonia's Parliament Tomislav Stojanovski, face to the camera, talks to a group of unidentified lawmakers during a pause at the parliament session in Skopje, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001. The parliament is to approve constitutional amendments granting the country's ethnic Albanian minority greater language and political rights in exchange for the rebels handing in the weapons and disbanding. The ethnic Albanians make up about a third of the nation's 2 million people. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Ethnic Albania rebels with the National Liberation Army march holding weapons and the Albanian flag on their way to surrender their weapons to NATO forces in Radusa, some 12 miles northwest of Skopje, Macedonia Thursday Sept. 20 2001. (AP Photo/Robert Ghement/Pool)
Ethnic Albania rebels with the National Liberation Army march holding weapons and the Albanian flag on their way to surrender their weapons to NATO forces in Radusa, some 12 miles northwest of Skopje, Macedonia Thursday Sept. 20 2001. (AP Photo/Robert Ghement/Pool)
The U.S. envoy to Macedonia accused political leaders September 20, 2001 of distorting last week's hijacked airliner attacks in the U.S. to sabotage a peace accord with minority Albanians. After two weeks of obstructions by nationalist hard-liners, parliament met for a preliminary vote on 14 constitutional amendments that would grant Albanians better civil rights. A NATO 'Task Force Harvest' soldier (L) points the way to dump a rifle to an ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army rebel in Radusa village. Albanian fighters have turned in more then two thirds of their declared arsenal as part of a Western brokered peace deal. (Reuters)
Bulgaria's President Petar Stoyanov, center, speaks with U.S. Lt. Gen. Ronald Keys, right, and Bulgaria's Army Chief of Staff Gen. Miho Mihov, left, at Plovdiv, Bulgaria, during international airforce exercise near Bulgaria's Krumovo airbase, 170 kilometers (106 miles) southeast of Sofia on Thursday, Sept.20, 2001. U.S. soldiers taking part in the military exercise said Thursday that America should respond forcefully to terrorist attacks once it identifies those responsible. (AP Photo)
United States paratroopers, no identities available, come in to land at Bulgaria's Krumovo air base, 170 kilometers (106 miles) southeast of Sofia on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001, during an international military exercise that included some 1,500 troops, many from NATO countries. U.S. soldiers taking part in a military exercise in this Balkan country said Thursday that America should respond forcefully to terrorist attacks once it identifies those responsible. (AP Photo)
It's terrible in the USA, sister of PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Princess Marie-Louise said. She arrived in Sofia yesterday, accompanied by her husband Bronislav Hrobok (on the photo next to her). The Princess was surprised by the question if her brother is to run for President. A president? Well, he is Prime Minister, isn't he, she asked the journalists
Photo: Nely Nikolova (AB)
NATO Cancels Macedonia Weapons Plan.
By Elena Becatoros
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2001; 7:08 AM
SKOPJE, Macedonia NATO opened a new weapons collection site Thursday but said it didn't expect ethnic Albanian rebels to hand in any arms, signaling possible trouble with lawmakers reluctant to implement a Western-backed peace accord.
NATO spokesman Maj. Barry Johnson said troops were ready to take weapons from the militants in the alliance's last phase of collections as soon as the rebels were willing to resume handing them over. Officials suggested the rebels might be holding back in anger over Macedonian lawmakers' resistance to proceeding with constitutional reforms.
Under the phased-in peace plan, the government has agreed to have parliament work toward approving constitutional amendments granting the country's ethnic Albanian minority greater rights in exchange for a commitment by the rebels to hand over 3,300 weapons to NATO troops.
The alliance already has collected more than 2,200 weapons. Parliament was expected to discuss the amendments before the last third was collected, but it did not convene Wednesday after failing to reach a quorum.
The discussion also has been delayed by another potentially disruptive issue: a proposal to put the constitutional amendments to a referendum. Legislators were to resume debate Thursday on the proposal by the small New Democracy party.
A referendum could disrupt the peace efforts because sentiment is strong among majority Macedonians against giving ethnic Albanians greater rights.
The alliance's arms-collecting mission ends Wednesday. A Macedonian government request for a small NATO force to protect international monitors beyond that date was being discussed at alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, NATO spokesman Mark Laity said.
"We are planning to be out when our mandate finishes," he said Thursday.
The U.N. refugee agency urged the creation of a larger force capable of assisting in the return of tens of thousands of displaced people to tense areas. Representative Eric Morris called for a "credible security presence that can ... address the legitimate security concerns of both communities."
Security concerns have come to the forefront in recent days in the Macedonian villages of Zilce and Ratae, northeast of the city of Tetovo. A tense standoff developed when villagers refused to allow certain police units to be replaced by the army.
Police spokesman Vasko Sutarov said all police units in Zilce and in nearby Ratae had been replaced by the army by Thursday morning.
The Macedonian government took the decision to replace units following an exchange of fire on Sunday night between police and ethnic Albanians in the neighboring village of Semsevo.
NATO said its liaison teams determined the firefight was initiated by the police units in Zilce.
In another development, an explosion seriously damaged an ethnic Albanian-owned gas station near a police checkpoint outside Skopje early Thursday, police said. No injuries were reported.
Macedonia Braced For New 'Watergate'
IWPR-Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Leaked phone transcripts reveal move to block referendum on Macedonian peace agreement.
By Veton Latifi in Skopje (BCR No. 281, 20-Sept-01)
Hard line opponents of the Western-backed peace deal in Macedonia are accusing leaders of the two pro-agreement parties of "treason", in a scandal which some are already calling Macedonia's new Watergate.
The core of the "scandal", which Macedonian nationalists are using to destabilise the August peace deal, centres on a leaked transcript of a telephone conversation made between Branko Crvenkovski, head of the Social Democratic Union, and Arben Xhaferi, leader of one of the two main ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia, the Democratic Party of Albanians.
The two men, both of whom have backed the Ohrid peace deal, are reported to have agreed to block proposals in the Skopje parliament for a nationwide referendum to be held on the terms of the agreement, which nationalist Macedonians bitterly resent as a sell-out to the ethnic Albanians.
Supporters of the peace deal fear a referendum will be used to shelve indefinitely a parliamentary debate on constitutional changes in Macedonia concerning ethnic Albanian rights, which form a crucial part of the August 13 deal. The debate was supposed to begin at the end of this month.
The ethnic Albanian parties oppose any talk of a referendum, seeing it as proof that the ethnic Macedonian majority has no intention of delivering on any of the promised constitutional changes, which were a condition for the NLA to end its uprising in the west of the country.
The crisis poses a new threat to the coalition government, formed three months ago with European Union backing, to pull the country back from the brink of an all out civil war. Crvenkovski has warned he will leave the government if the referendum proposal is accepted.
The so-called scandal was broken by an anonymous person, who informed the media by fax that "he intends to notify the Macedonian public about the treason of Crvenkovski and Xhaferi" - the clear targets of the campaign.
Both have admitted the content of the phone call faxed to the media. "They did not even need to tap my phone calls because my position [on the referendum] and that of the Social Democrats have been made public," Crvenkovski said.
Xhaferi said the scandal offered disturbing proof of the degree to which Macedonia remained a police state. "We are continuously being tapped," he said. "'Big Brother' Ljube Boskovski is behind this," he added, referring to the hard-line interior minister.
There are rumours in Skoplje that Boskovski, a key figure in the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity' (VMRO-DPMNE), is the "anonymous person" behind the famous phone call.
Some observers think that he and fellow hard-liners from his party, lead by the Macedonian prime minister, Ljupco Georgievski, want blame for the Ohrid deal, which they signed but oppose, transferred to the Social Democrats and to the Macedonian president, Boris Trajkovski. They want to present their signature to the agreement as a tactical move, only made under heavy international pressure.
Boskovski has made no public comment about the furore. He said he "did not have enough information" about the case.
Aside from its allegedly "treasonous" implications, the transcript sheds light on the changing political alliances within the republic, as the Social Democrats and Xhaferi's Albanian party move closer together, signaling an end to the period of cooperation between Xhaferi's party and VMRO-DPMNE.
Unlike VMRO-DPMNE, the Social Democrats have been vocal in criticising the proposals for a referendum on the Ohrid deal, a standpoint which aligns them with the ethnic Albanians. As one Social Democrat official put it, there was no going back on Ohrid at this stage. "Peace is achievable only through the full implementation of the agreement," he said.
"One referendum would lead to others and spawn a new conflict," Xhaferi said. He has warned that if a plebiscite is approved, the ethnic Albanians will organise their own referendum, along the lines of an earlier vote they organised in 1992.
The 1992 vote, on "cultural autonomy" was largely a symbolic exercise. This time the threat is taken more seriously. According to Slobodan Casule, of the small New Democracy party, "The referendum with which Arben Xhaferi is threatening us would be an attempt at secession."
This is not the first phone-tapping scandal in Macedonia. In January, there was another "Watergate", involving leaked conversations between President Trajkovski and other politicians. As in the latest affair, the conversations were leaked by an anonymous source. Again, the trail of smoke led straight to the hard liners, those who are now enemies of the Ohrid agreement.
Veton Latifi is a political analyst and IWPR editorial assistant in Macedonia.
GEORGIEVSKI: NATO SHOULD LEAVE MACEDONIA AFTER THE END OF "ESSENTIAL HARVEST"
In the interview for the German weekly "Der Spiegel", Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski talks about several issues in concern to the current security- political situation in the country.
Georgievski states that the west "obviously dislikes" the evaluation concerning the crisis in Macedonia "before all, because I negate any kind of blame that Macedonia has in this crisis. Suddenly, we are nationalists, although the west has been giving us plenty of compliments in the last two and a half years, and we complied with all requests of the international community, economic or military".
He reminds that during the Kosovo crisis, Macedonia accepted 360,000 Albanian refugees, while Kosovo "is now sending us terrorists". He underlines that Macedonia was the first country that allowed NATO air traffic during the crisis, while our neighbors did that after 2-3 months, and that the Macedonian constitution "was internationally estimated as an example Constitution'.
Asked whether the Ohrid Agreement for constitutional changes confirms the attitude of Albanians in Macedonia that they are underestimated, the Macedonian Prime Minister emphasised that despite differences "Albanians in Macedonia, as a minority, had the best multiethnic conditions at the Balkans. Besides that, standard, as well as education are on a higher level than in Albania. Negotiations in Ohrid had the purpose of handling problems with political dialog. However, Albanians in Macedonia are not fighting for human rights, but for territories".
Concerning the feeling of pressure from the west, Prime Minister Georgievski says that inequality is the hardest thing to swallow. "We are pressurised- but not the Albanian terrorists", Georgievski says, adding, "maybe, after everything that has happened, the west will simply be tired from the Balkans. We have already three agreements: the Dayton one for Bosnia, the Kumanovo one for Kosovo and the Ohrid one for Macedonia. The only thing that was reached with those agreements was cease-fire, but neither problem was solved, meaning a 10-year agony for the people in this region".
"Before all, the west does not want to reveal its mistakes in Kosovo, so we can say that we serve as a collateral damage from Kosovo. The Chief commanders of the Macedonian so-called NLA were former commanders of the Kosovo KLA and Kosovo Protection Corps, which is financed by the UN. They apply in the Kosovo Protection Corps, and arrive in the ranks of the terrorists a week later. Thus, Albanian guerilla who perform attacks in Macedonia, gain basic training in the ranks of the Kosovo Protection Corps".
Concerning the situation after the end of operation "Essential Harvest", Macedonian Prime Minister says, "NATO should leave after the end of the operation". He estimates that the attitude of the Alliance is paradoxical "it first doubted whether to come to Macedonia, and is now pressurising for continuance of its mandate. He also underlines that this NATO operation, in which weapons not worth more than DM 2 billion would be collected, is costing DM 1 billion per month. "If we gave this DM 1 billion to Albanians in Western Macedonia, their living standard would be secure for several years".
He says that he does not fear the fact that Macedonia could be turned into an international protectorate like Bosnia and Kosovo, but stresses that he does not want a similar situation created in Macedonia like the ones in Bosnia and Cyprus, with the continuance of the NATO mandate for three months, then a year or more.
He also underlines that after NATO's leaving, there would be no security vacuum created in Macedonia. "After the Ohrid agreement, Macedonian security forces will enter these regions together with OSCE monitoring mission. Our objective is bringing 12 Macedonian villages back under our control, as well as the roads that lead to them", Macedonian Prime Minister says, emphasising "those are Macedonian territories".
Prime Minister Georgievski stresses that Macedonia is neither Serbia, nor Kosovo, and "Macedonian people is the victim". "Around 60 soldiers and police officers have been killed so far, 250 injured, hundreds of Macedonian civilians are terrorised by the Albanian terrorists. Very few attacks on Albanian terrorists have been registered one third of the coalition Government is consisted of Albanians, meaning higher functions in police ranks".
Stating that the number of OSCE observers has not been determined as yet, Georgievski says that the Government "is ready to accept an international army, NATO or EU, at the borders with FR Yugoslavia in the part of Kosovo, as well as with Albania, but outside Macedonia's territory".
He stresses that in case of an eventual attack by the so-called NLA, the Macedonian Army would be competent for the defense and that "in Macedonia there are no two sides. There are only tow legal state institutions, which were attacked by the terrorists".
In the interview for "Der Spiegel", Prime Minister Georgievski emphasises that in the past ten years, Macedonia has served as an example for successful interethnic life, but at least ten more years would be needed after the crisis in order to bring back relations between Macedonians and Albanians at the former level. He also stresses his fear that the Balkans would become a victim of the great Albanian plans in the following ten years.
Battle in the Balkans.
September 20, 2001
A week after the terrorist strikes at Manhattan and the Pentagon, the United States was still mourning and gearing up for revenge. But as all eyes and ears of the wounded Empire focused on Afghanistan, another possible field of battle waited with distinct uneasiness for the heralded crusade against terrorism to begin unfolding.
After a decade of internecine warfare over territory, occasionally with strong religious overtones, the Balkans is likely to become a battlefield again. For though this may come as news to most Westerners, the United States counted on assistance from Iran, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Muslim movement to the militants and self-declared governments of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
BITTER FRUITS IN BOSNIA
The litany of U.S. connections with Islamic militants during the Bosnian war (1992-95) is long and disheartening. The US actively supported the Muslim-led government of Bosnia-Herzegovina in its fight against Bosnian Serbs and Croats, even though it enlisted several thousand foreign mujahedeen. These fighters committed terrible atrocities against Serbs and Croats, none of which have ever been prosecuted. After the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995, some of these Islamic warriors were sent home, but many remained, marrying Bosnian Muslim women and taking Bosnian citizenship. One of them, bin Laden's close associate Mehrez Aodouni, was arrested in Turkey two years ago while on his way to Chechnya with a Bosnian passport.
Furthermore, the U.S. had allowed Iran to gain influence in Bosnia and Croatia by knowingly allowing Teheran to ship weapons to both regimes in direct violation of the UN arms embargo in 1994-95. After the war, millions of American taxpayer dollars paid for new equipment and weapons for the Bosnian Muslim Army, while Iranian spies and the mujahedeen plotted to assassinate the Pope and blow up the NATO peacekeepers' HQ in Sarajevo (which was to be blamed on the Serbs).
Bosnia's postwar destitution and kleptocratic governments have contributed to the readiness of many young Muslims to join the Wahhabi movement, aggressively exported by Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabis' practice of austere Islam completely foreign to Bosnia has already destroyed many Bosnian Muslim families, as their daughters were married off in their teens and their sons joined the Jihad in Chechnya and Kosovo, many never to return. This, and more, is well-documented by the Bosnian Muslim and foreign press.
BEHIND THE KLA
Efforts to create a Greater Albania have been less overtly Islamic than the struggle in Bosnia, mainly because the KLA in Kosovo and Macedonia focused more on the Albanians' ethnic, and less on their religious, identity. Nonetheless, both the al-Qaeda and the Wahhabis have been involved with the KLA and inside Albania proper over the past decade.
During NATO's assault in 1999, Belgrade made serious allegations that the KLA was connected to bin Laden's terrorist network and the muhajedeen movement in general, but the US was not willing to listen. Now these allegations are confirmed by none other than the CIA. More than two years after bombing Serbia on behalf of the KLA, US officials are now quoted by the Washington Times :
"Since the mid-1990s, bin Laden associates have been based in Tirana, Albania's capital, as well as in at least two other towns in the small, formerly communist nation Islamic radicals, including supporters of bin Laden, have been supporting Albanian rebels fighting in the region, including members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Intelligence officials have said there are reports that KLA members have been trained at bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan."
POINTS OF DEPARTURE
The US government has not only known about this all along, but has enlisted the terrorists as a useful weapon against the Serbs, and recently the Macedonians as well. It certainly made sense to join forces with a CIA-sponsored movement in a fight against the common enemy. With the events of September 11, however, that picture is likely to change.
Compared to the authors of September 11, Slobodan Milosevic is no threat to the United States. After his fall, Serbia and Yugoslavia have been reduced to the margins of the Balkans, impotent and obsequiously subservient to US/NATO commands. Yet the Empire's victory over Milosevic now seems largely irrelevant, even harmful as America's allies against Milosevic in Sarajevo, Pristina and Tirana have also aided those suspected of bombing New York and Washington DC. Bitterly ironic, for sure, but the Balkans was built on irony.
Bosnia, Albania and the KLA regime in Pristina have, of course, all vowed complete loyalty and commitment to help the US fight terrorism. Problem is, terrorism and militant Islam are so rooted in their societies, they cannot get rid of it even if they honestly wanted to.
AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE
September 11 did not just shatter the illusion of America's invulnerability and result in thousands of civilian and military deaths; it also revealed a festering wound that America's interventions has inflicted on the Balkans. Now the unholy alliance between the USA, KLA, Alija Izetbegovic's regime, the mujahedeen and the al-Qaeda lies exposed to the world, stinking to high heaven. No one is paying much attention to it right now save the CIA but this situation is likely to change soon.
In the Balkans, anything is possible. As soon as he finished pledging support to the US last week, NATO Secretary General George Robertson continued to back the KLA in Macedonia, insisting on a NATO military presence past the end of the sham disarmament mission late this month.
America seems determined to remain an Empire and strike back, most likely in Afghanistan, but possibly elsewhere in the Middle East. The escalating rhetoric of war makes such an outcome seem sadly inevitable. Yet how can this crusade have any effect if the "network" Secretary Powell vowed to attack remains alive and well in the Balkans? Can the Empire really fight in the Middle East while leaving the Balkans tumor behind?
THE HOUSE OF CARDS
Some 30,000 US troops are propping up the defunct Bosnian state and the KLA regime in Kosovo, at the same time masters and hostages of the KLA and the mujahedeen. Given the somewhat precarious manpower situation of the Imperial military, Bush The Younger will need every man and woman in uniform for his high crusade. Can he afford to keep them in the Balkans?
If the rhetoric coming out of Washington is anything to judge by, the Empire now has bigger fish to fry than aiding tin-pot dictators of the Balkans, especially those with terrorist ties, realize their chauvinist territorial ambitions. Suddenly, a partial or even complete US withdrawal from the Balkans does not seem as outlandish as it did just weeks ago.
US withdrawal would inevitably mean the collapse of the artificial edifice its interventions have created in the Balkans. Absent its pillar of Imperial support, this order will crumble like an ill-made house of cards. Nations of the Balkans would finally be able to crack down on terrorism given the current situation, who would deny them that right? and the peninsula might move closer to peace and true stability, one that needs not be enforced with occupying armies.
All the US needs to do is bring its troops home, where they can finally defend America something they should have been doing in the first place.
Macedonian peace moves do little to end fear in the villages.
ZILCE, Macedonia, Sept 20 (AFP) -
Zilce, Ratae and Semsovo have avoided the brunt of the fighting in Macedonia, but as the deadline for adopting the peace accord approaches fear is still palpable in these northwest villages.
Zilce and Ratae are Macedonian controlled islands in a sea of majority ethnic Albanian land. On the outskirts of Zilce, a tree trunk and branches block the road. "Don't try to move that," says one of a clutch of villagers standing guard at the barricade.
A short walk up the road, dozens of women, children and old men yell from where they stand or sit on benches laid across it. "We're going to stop the police from leaving, we don't trust the army to look after us," says 17-year-old Mirko.
It all began late on Sunday, when shots, including heavy ammunition and grenade launchers, were fired between the three villages -- Zilce and Ratae back-to-back amongst a patchwork of cornfields not two kilometres (about a mile) from Semsovo.
No one was killed, but confidence between the Macedonians and the ethnic Albanians, whose guerrilla army has been fighting a seven-month battle with security forces, was seriously dented.
It was unclear who started the shooting, but both sides eventually, perhaps inevitably, became involved. NATO soldiers who were at the scene say Macedonian "police reserves", otherwise known as paramilitaries, fired first.
Under Western pressure, the authorities decided to replace these reserves, considered a renegade bunch at best, with regular soldiers.
"The paramilitaries have been coming and going for weeks, provoking us," says Fatmir in Semsovo. "Before they only shot in the air, now they are starting to aim at the village."
Macedonians, too, see things in black and white. "The terrorists attacked us," Mirko says, blaming the rebel National Liberation Army (NLA) for surrounding the villages.
The communities here have never really mixed, but that harmony at a distance has given way to anger on both sides.
"We called the NLA on our telephones," says Fatmir, as if the shadowy army was available on some sort of hotline. Little had been seen of the rebels in this area. "But the men who gave up their uniforms picked up their weapons again," he says.
While Zilce was organising its road defences, the Albanians in Semsovo were preparing theirs, blocking access from the other villages.
At one point a group of nervous teenagers with an NLA road sign and one Kalashnikov between them were stopping cars, but after a NATO liaison team took what they described as a "shopping trip", the youths had disappeared.
In Zilce's main square, soldiers and "police reserves" chatted idly as armoured cars patrolled and a dozen or so trucks filled with paramilitaries waited for the roads to be cleared.
"The reserve units have to go," admitted an army officer. "They will be replaced by the anti-terrorist police, the Tigers, and elite soldiers called the Wolves," he said. Some 150 military personnel will remain to keep the peace among the spots of ethnic groups on this leopard-skin of land.
In Semsovo, the movement of armoured cars seemed to have reassured the Albanian villagers, who had pushed aside the car bodies blocking the road. "We will be OK if the paramilitaries leave," says an old man.
But back in Zilce, few were reassured. A local official, Petre Antovski, tried to convince the villagers their security would be assured by the army now, but he admitted that the recent violence had created a lot of fear.
If Simeon Did Not Make a Mistake about the "Macedonian" Language?
The allegations of PM's "blunder" may turn to be precipitous and totally wrong.
The hysteria produced by some circles in this country at each word of the premier is understandable. But the terms "PM's blunder" in regard to the issue over the "Macedonian language" may turn to be precipitous. And totally wrong. To a Macedonian journalist's question if the language issue was to be solved during the Saxe-Coburg's mandate, the PM answered on Tuesday: "It is of mutual interest to find the answer to this question in a civilized and analytic way." Does it mean that Sofia intends to revise the unprincipled policy of the hitherto majorities that ruled the country? Because even the most ardent adherents of Kostov and Ph. Dimitrov admit, though confidentially, the failure of the UDF policy concerning Macedonia. The "Skopje" trump was played by the then UDF rulers to achieve their personal goals. The important thing in this case is the attitude of the Macedonians themselves towards Bulgaria. After the severe inner conflict, which split their country, they already know better than believing Bulgaria and Bulgarians are a real threat. But the Albanians who are striving for independence with the support of the West. And whose rate of population growth will most naturally, in the forthcoming years, decide Macedonia's fate - via elections and Albanian voters' majority. Actually, now is the time to pre-formulate Bulgaria's policy concerning Macedonia and it to be set on principle grounds. Because most of the renowned figures in politics and science admit that there is no such thins as Macedonian language and nation. This thesis has been proved many times already. Diverse Bulgarian governments recognized the Macedonian language and nation using ambiguous and slippery formulas to cater to their narrow party interests and personal goals. And cater to forces, alien to the Bulgarian national interests. Let's hope the New Time for Sofia and Skopje has come.
60 Bulgarians Missing in USA.
A special center in New York digs up information about missing fellow-countrymen.
More than 60 Bulgarian nationals from New York and Washington are being looked for by the Bulgarian General Consulate, Elena Poptodorova, spokeswoman of Foreign Ministry, said yesterday. Till now, contacts have been established with only ten of the searched people. Of the five missing persons only two are not found. There's no contact with Kamen Bachiyski and Mitko Petrov. Petrov left for the USA 33 years ago, a first cousin of his is searching him. No victims of Bulgarian extraction have been reported, Poptodorova said. It came out, that Dimitrina Pravcheva who was believed to be killed in the terrorist attacks, is on leave and that's why was not found. The firm reassured her relatives of that. The search for Koycho Koev turned out to be misunderstanding, because he kept constantly in contact with his father and sister. The General Consulate got in touch with believed to be killed Steve Johnov, who was safe and sound. The inquiries about the fate of the Bulgarians in the USA increase avalanche-like, Poptodorova said. The General Consulate in New York has set up a special center, in which detailed written inquiries about the missing persons will be accepted from the relatives. Till now the applications have contained only the names, which impeded the work of the employees.
MIG-29s Secure Kozloduy and Sofia.
A MIG-29 fighter of the Airdefense guards the NPP Kozloduy, officers said. It is on duty at Graf Ignatievo airport. The task was assigned after the USA events, they elaborated. Another MIG-29 is guarding Sofia in case of accident similar to the American one. It is located near Plovdiv as well. The third fighter of the same class in good order is in reserve. The Bulgarian army has 21 MIG-29 fighters in total. The Plan-2004 has to be revised in its part on the Airdefense after the attacks in the USA, officers from the General Stuff think.
Bulgaria has been behaving practically as a member of NATO for several years now, Petar Stoyanov said.
Speaking during his visit at the scene of the final stage of the Cooperative Key 2001 military exercise that has been taking place on the Graf Ignatievo airfield ground near Plovdiv, President Petar Stoyanov said that as a President of Bulgaria and Supreme Commander of Bulgarian Army it was a great honor for him that Bulgaria was the host of the biggest NATO exercise in 2001. He emphasized that during all the crises in the last years, Bulgaria had been behaving practically as a member of NATO and as a country that would share responsibilities of the NATO and of an united and secure future Europe in any moment. In most of the time, he was speeking in the context of the assaults in New York and Washington and finished his speech with the words: "I am convinced that afther that what happened in the heart of America, one key word - the word "solidarity" - would be laid in the foundations of a new policy, which would make the world of democracy to stand against the world of terror, anarchy and disorder".
Bulgaria fixes November presidential vote.
The Bulgarian Parliament has decided to hold the country's presidential election on the 11 November.
So far the only candidate is the incumbent head of state, Petar Stoyanov, who's supported by the country's centre-right opposition.
The governing coalition of the Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, is reported to have started talks on finding its own candidate, but it hasn't excluded supporting Mr Stoyanov either.
Correspondents say backing of the popular Mr Saxe-Coburg - the country's former king - is likely to have a deciding influence on the outcome of the election.
If Bulgarian medical personnel in Libya were convicted, the sentences would be appealed against, Anton Stankov said.
Minister of Justice Anton Stankov said that in case Bulgarian medical personnel in Libya were convicted of premeditated infecting 393 Libyan children with the HIV virus, the sentences would be appealed against. He also said that the heaviest sentences, including dead penalty, should be expected by all means in view of the seriousness of the charges. According to him, the hearing scheduled for September 22 would be just the next stage of the trial, which would continue in the future. Libyan defender of Bulgarian medical personnel Osman Bizanti said that an appeal would continue for quite a long time - maybe for one month, two, or three, or for one year. According to him, in case of dead sentence the case could be sent to the Supreme Court, whose ruling would be final. He also prognosticated postponement because of procedural reasons.
Cyprus, Greece And Bulgaria To Launch Billion-Dollar Satellite.
Nicosia (AFP) Sept. 20, 2001
The first satellite will be built by Boeing Satellite Systems and will be launched from French Guiana in late 2002. It will cover 28 countries in Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa. The Hellas Sat Consortium comprises Cypriot Avacom Net (43.40 percent), Greece's OTE Telecom (25 percent), Cyprus Development Bank, Hellenic Aerospace Industry and Telesat Canada BCE Inc.
Cyprus on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with Greece and Bulgaria to launch a one-billion-dollar communications satellite in time for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Project managers are seeking to raise revenues by renting out the satellite's 37 frequencies to international broadcasters, with the satellite expected to be in orbit by the start of the Games in September 2004.
"We're certain this venture will launch our country into the modern age of high-tech communications from which we can't afford to be left behind," Communications Minister Averof Neophytou said after signing the deal in Nicosia.
Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Zdravko Velichkov and his Greek counterpart Alekos Voulgaris co-signed the deal.
"We will quickly set in motion procedures to attract satellite communications companies to exploit this tremendous opportunity," said Voulgaris.
Velichkov for his part said the "memorandum opens the road to an important program that will strengthen ties between our respective countries."
The Vatican is a potential partner in the satellite project, but has so far balked at becoming fully involved, adopting instead a "wait and see" attitude until it appraises the deal's benefits.
"We need time to examine this, especially the commercial aspects," Vatican representative Pier Vincenzo Giudici told AFP.
Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria will each receive 10 frequencies, while the remaining seven are earmarked for the Vatican. Each frequency will be able to carry four digital TV broadcasts, mobile telephone and Internet connections.
Neophytou said although the partners hope the Vatican will eventually jump on board, its seven frequencies will not be left idle if the Holy See finally opts out.
The venture will be bankrolled by local and foreign private investors.
It is the second satellite deal in less than a month which Cyprus has signed.
On August 23, Cyprus and Greece signed an agreement to launch two satellites that will provide communications and broadcast services to a potential audience of 400 million people in 28 countries.
The first of the two satellites, which will be operated by the Cyprus-based Hellas Sat Consortium, is expected to be launched by August 2002.