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Queues for Water in Sofia. Residents of Sofia residential district "Krasna Poliana" were left without water supply for two days already. Hundreds of Sofia citizens stood in line for hours before the water cisterns to fill their cans, bottles and demijohns. The water supply in the residential district was cut off because of a serious leakage. Emergency teams of "Sofiiska Voda" worked day and night to stop it. Photo BTA


Presidential Couples Meet. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski (2ndL) and his wife Vilma (L) welcome Bulgarian President George Parvanov (R) and his wife Zorka (C) in front of the Macedonian parliament building in Skopje. ŠEPA


Bourgas - Hypermarket. International hypermarket operator METRO will inaugurate a new outlet in the Bulgarian coastal city of Bourgas on Wednesday, February 27. The facility was built in five months only. German Ambassador in Sofia Ursula Seiler-Albring is expected to attend the ceremony. The picture shows the seafood department. Pressphoto BTA photo: Todor Stavrev


The intensity of the shootouts in Tetovo crisis region has been increased during Monday night and early Tuesday morning, over the night firings were also registered in Kumanovo - Lipkovo crisis region.Police and army sources say most frequent shootouts came from Tetovo Teke, Cetinjska, Vonvardarska and Lenin streets, the facilities of SEE University, Drenovec 2 and the lower slopes of Sar Mountain above the city stadium. Rifle and sporadic shootouts have been registered from Selce, Gajre, Sipkovicko teke, Odri, Dolno Orasje, Vratnica lake locality, Trebos, Poroj and Mala Recica.Shootouts have been directed at unknown targets due to which Macedonian security forces did not respond to the provocations.In Kumanovo - Lipkovo crisis region, Monday by midnight, 27 sporadic and seven rifle shots were heard from the direction of the mountain villages of Runica, Brest, Matejce, Nikustak, Opae and Lojane. The shootouts had no determined targets. The ethnically mixed police units continue patrolling across the villages of Matejce, Otlje, Orizare and Lipkovo, as planned.


Skopje,Macedonia, President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski(right) meets Georgi Parvanov President of R.Bulgaria (2097). MIA


Skopje,Macedonia, President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski(right) meets Georgi Parvanov President of R.Bulgaria (2096) MIA


Skopje,Macedonia, President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski(left) meets Georgi Parvanov President of R.Bulgaria (2098) MIA


Skopje,Macedonia, signing of agreeements (2101) MIA



Presidents of Macedonia - Boris Trajkovski and Bulgaria - Georgi Prvanov expressed satisfaction with their talks at a meeting held in Skopje on Tuesday and outlined their firm commitment for integration of the two countries in the European institutions.
"Prvanov's first visit to Macedonia is certainly a honor for us and shows the high level of cooperation between our countries," Trajkovski said, adding that "this is not only evidence for the friendship, but also evidence for the trust and understanding between the two countries."
The meeting between the two Presidents was focused on several aspects of the cooperation between the two countries, as well as on the current situation in the region, in Macedonia in particular, after the adoption of the constitutional changes and the Framework Agreement.
"We agreed that the economic development and the efforts for peace are our contribution to the development of the region," President Trajkovski said.
In his opinion, the meeting with Prvanov had a "European dimension", and it was also discussed about more specific joint interests, like the energy and the opportunities for enhancement of the trade exchange.
"We seek space for our young generations to join in the European trends and not to be hostages of the past, but to have equal opportunities like the European youth. We must not let the region to become catalyst of crime, but it should be catalyst for foreign investments," Trajkovski stated.
Prvanov stressed that the fact that right after his visit to Brussels, he is paying a visit to Macedonia, shows that "for Bulgaria, Macedonia is priority, because it is factor of stability for the entire region."
As he reported, the meeting was also focused on several projects from the field of economy, infrastructure and energy, as well as on the project for construction of a railroad from Skopje to Sofia.
"We also suggested construction of an international road that will enable access for the Macedonian business to Bulgaria, and we also reviewed several other ideas, like the one for construction of a long-distance power line and opening of joint tourist facilities," the Bulgarian President said.
"We hope that the Parliament will adopt the package of laws and normative acts which will expand the path that leads to European integration for Macedonia," Prvanov said, adding that Macedonia could count on Bulgarian assistance in the process of harmonization of the legislation with the one in the EU.
In his opinion, "the NATO membership of the two countries will be an investment from the Alliance in the stability and peace in Southeast Europe and the continent as whole."


Ministers of Interior of Macedonia - Ljube Boskovski and Bulgaria - Georgi Petkanov signed two agreements for cooperation between the two countries on Tuesday in Skopje.
The first agreement refers to the struggle against terrorism, organized crime and illegal trafficking in drugs, and the second one to training of Macedonian police cadets in Bulgaria.
Macedonian Minister of Culture Ganka Samoilovska-Cvetanova and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi also signed an agreement for cooperation which refers to the Program for cultural cooperation between the two countries in the period 2002-2004.


Petkanov and Pasi are members of the Bulgarian delegation led by President Georgi Prvanov, which is in official two-day visit to Macedonia.
On Wednesday, Prvanov is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski and the speaker of the Parliament Stojan Andov. He will also deliver a speech at the Macedonian Parliament.
The Bulgarian President will also have meetings with the leaders of SDSM, DPA and PDP, Branko Crvenkovski, Arben Xhaferi and Imeri Imeri.
This is the second visit of a Bulgarian President to Macedonia, as well as Prvanov's second official visit to a foreign country since he took power on January 22, 2002.
As Sofia media say, Prvanov's choice for Macedonia to be his second destination after Brussels, shows the country's priority position in the Bulgarian foreign policy.
Bulgaria considers that there is no stability in Southeastern Europe without peaceful, stable and prosperous Macedonia, the Bulgarian President's Cabinet said in a press release.

Macedonian, Bulgarian ministers note importance of cooperation accords.
Text of interview with Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov and Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski by Slobodan Tomic in Skopje broadcast by Macedonian MTV1 television on 26 February:
[Tomic] Do these agreements bring Macedonia and Bulgaria closer to the European Union?
[Petkanov in Bulgarian with superimposed translation into Macedonian] We have signed two agreements. The first agreement deals with cooperation in the fight against organized crime, such as terrorism, the narcotics trade, and so on. I believe that the signing of this agreement effectively brings us closer to Europe. It is in compliance with European standards. The fight against this form of crime cannot be waged from one particular country, because this type of crime has a cross-border nature, which requires neighbouring countries to cooperate with each other. In my view, when it comes to countries such as the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria, this becomes twice as important.
[Tomic] The second document is, more or less, an agreement on the training of personnel between the two ministries.
[Petkanov] The second agreement deals with the training of Macedonian policemen at our educational institutions, that is, at the Police Academy in Sofia and the school in Pazardzik. The second school specializes in the training of border police. This school was built according to a German model. It complies with European standards, and, apart from Bulgarian, it also has German instructors. I believe that this will be extremely advantageous for the training of policemen from Macedonia.
[Tomic] Mr Minister, here is a question that analysts have been wondering about and I am obliged to put to you: the Republic of Bulgaria has been removed from the black list of the Schengen Agreement. Bulgaria is a country that enjoys privileges in terms of travelling through the European Union, and even to the United States, with a 10-year visa. What is the formula or message, that is to say, how can the Republic of Macedonia achieve the same, given that criminal elements also exist in Bulgaria?
[Petkanov] Yes, there is crime. Crime exists everywhere. The fight against crime is difficult. Yet Bulgaria has managed to get itself struck from the Schengen list and to secure a non-visa regime for its citizens. I feel that the EU positively assessed Bulgaria's efforts. It decided that we had met its standards, especially with regard to the Interior Ministry, because one of the preconditions for being struck from that list was our accomplishments in the field of the border police. I feel that Macedonia should move in the same direction. I believe that, if we link this question to the previous one, then the training provided by the German instructors specializing in the border police will prove extremely helpful in enabling you to meet the necessary requirements. I honestly wish you every success in your endeavours.
[Boskovski] Well, today we continued our cooperation by signing this agreement, which further intensifies our cooperation. This means that Macedonia and Bulgaria have joined the fight against global terrorism, which is the No 1 problem that modern Europe and the world are faced with. This effectively became a trend following 11 September. Furthermore, there is the fight against organized crime, where we have noted considerable results, especially in terms of discovering criminal groups involved in illegal drug and people trafficking, as well as the organization of crime by structures that are located within the two respective ministries. Speaking of the latter, we recently had a case where those who should have been fighting crime were de facto responsible for organizing acts of crime.
In addition, the latest success in the fight against illegal drug trafficking contributes to our intensified cooperation, which is crowned today with the signing of this agreement.
[Tomic] Corridor 8, which connects the two countries, is a Mecca of a kind for illegal drug trafficking and other forms of crime. Will this agreement rein in the crime spanning Corridor 8?
[Boskovski] Whether we call Corridor 8 the eighth or first corridor for the Republic of Macedonia, because there are two other sides of the world in addition to the south and west, that is, apart from the south and east, there is also the west and north, so the link up and implementation of this long-running project will certainly mean a great deal in terms of linking the two friendly countries, which have no open issues, and which are willing, through these roads, to facilitate our journey to the ultimate goal, and that is the two countries' entry into NATO and the EU [sentence as heard].



Delegations of the successor-countries of former SFRY's property meet Tuesday in Zagreb to continue talks about the division of assets from the joint banks and of the former USSR Clearinghouse debt in amount of US $ 1.299. million.Before successor-countries start the division procedure for the assets of the joint banks, they need to determine the exact amount of these assets, since there is discrepancy between the accounting data and the real amount of these assets. There is also need to determine exactly what happened with these assets and banks in the previous period.The balance of the Clearinghouse accounts of former republics of SFRY and the former USSR is also on the Zagreb's meeting agenda. The former SFRY requests US $ 1.299 million from Russia, which overtook the commitments of the former USSR.In the framework of the talks about the succession of the property, a session of the Committee on division of the diplomatic and consular property of the former SFRY, was held Monday in Skopje. This session was focused on all aspects of division of the diplomatic property, the state secretary in the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Viktor Gaber informed.He said that "all information was exchanged," and "the best results so far have been achieved.""Big progress has been made in understanding the wishes and the intentions of all delegations, and we will continue with our intensive work in order to determine many other details and to meet the interests," Gaber said.During the meeting, a Body was established which would work on evaluation, registration and allocation of the artworks that are found in the diplomatic offices of the former federation.Gaber expressed hope "that the success accomplished on Monday would continue." According to him, new, more dynamic realization of the agreement signed in Vienna on the succession of the former SFRY property, begins.On November 14, 2001, delegations of successor-countries of the former SFRY's property agreed on the division of US $ 74 million mutual monetary gold, decision that will be put in force as soon as it is ratified by each of the countries separately.Serbia and Montenegro got 38 percent of this gold, Croatia 23 percent, Slovenia 16 percent, Bosnia and Herzegovina 15,5 percent and Macedonia got 7,5 percent. The monetary gold is located in Zurich and Paris. At Zagreb meeting, delegations will also talk about division of the rest of the gold, transferred after the Second World War, worth US $ 350 million.Delegations should also talk about the division of former SFRY's capital in the international financial organizations, such as Bank of Africa, African Development Fund, Bank of Asia and Inter-American bank.

Village inhabitants near Tetovo stop police patrols' entrance.
Skopje, 26 February: The police teams do not patrol Tuesday [26 February] in Pirok, Bogovinje and Zerovjane villages [southwest of Tetovo], the media activity centre within the governmental Coordinating Crisis Management Body announced.
The residents of the villages set barricades, expressing their solidarity with the requests of the residents of Kamenjane municipality, among which is full implementation of the Framework Agreement, adoption of Law on Amnesty and police patrols comprised only of ethnic Albanians.
The patrolling will not be conducted in Celopek [southeast of Tetovo] as well.
The multiethnic police teams continue their patrolling according to the scheduled dynamics in all the other villages.

Early Election In Macedonia Not A Chance!
Reality Macedonia
Skopje, 26.02.2002. The leaders of major political parties, signatories of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, failed to compromise on early election date.
The opposition SDSM announced late on Tuesday that it will no longer participate in party leader meetings. The leaders discussed the possibility of applying a proportional model with one or several electoral districts.
"SDSM is a serious political party that stands behind its signature and the obligations it has undertaken in Ohrid. We just consider that it is useless to take part in these so-called leader meetings, as they have turned into instrument for buying time, hindering the faster implementing of the Agreement," Crvenkovski said.
At yesterday's seven-hour meeting, Prime Minister and VMRO_DPMNE leader Ljupcho Georgievski said that early parliamentary elections could be held any day after August 1.
"Any day from August 20 to November 20 is within the term for regular elections in compliance with the Macedonian Constitution," he said, adding that there was no will for early elections.
"Setting of election date in July, August or on national holidays is a trick solution, as most of the voters will have no chance to present their wish in normal circumstances," Crvenkovski said.
Speaking about the leaders' meetings, Prime Minister Georgievski said that they were postponed due to obligations of the SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski, but also due to Crvenkovski's anger and statements of the type whether he would participate or not.
"The fact that Crvenkovski announced that he would no longer participate in the Framework Agreement is very smart of him. It is an intelligent move from a political point of view. I do not even intend to talk in that style," he said.
The Macedonian People put up with this govermant for more than 1300 days, we can manage another hundred or so, added Crvenkovski on his press conference after the meeting.
The leaders had however agreed on draft-law on amnesty. They agreed on starting date of amnesty January 1st 2001. The draft-law will be put to the vote in parliament in the coming days.

Blurring the Boundaries in Macedonia.
by Christopher Deliso
February 26, 2002
From the beginning of the Macedonian crisis, apologists for Western intervention were forced onto the defensive. In the face of mounting criticism, they denied that Kosovo was the main contributing factor to violence in Macedonia. Although this outcome had been predicted even two years prior, Western apologists went on for months protesting any Kosovo-Macedonia connection. The former region was home to the Kosovo Liberation Army; the "freedom fighters" in Macedonia were called the National Liberation Army.
The Albanians in Macedonia, they declared, were different and had different grievances than their kinsmen in Kosovo; in short, Nato had run a neat, contained operation with minimal chance for spillover or "blowback."
As evidence attesting to the contrary mounted, the denials grew so loud that they turned into attacks. By July 2001, the Macedonians were being compared in the media with "the Serbs," as the embodiment of brutality and minority repression. As such, the argument was deflected; no longer was the question about the relative benefits of NATO intervention. Rather, it became a question of whether those "evil Slavs" deserved second helpings of intervention. With this substantive manipulation of the main argument, NATO's positive role in Kosovo was tacitly implied, and the ground was prepared for a new intervention in Macedonia. But this is old news.
A new development in the tangled tale of NATO intervention, however, happened just last week. It was a narrowly-averted diplomatic disaster, initiated when an American, Brigadier General Keith Huber, made some inopportune comments to the press regarding the Macedonia-Kosovo border demarcation:
"Brigadier General Keith Huber, the KFOR Commander of the Multinational Brigade East, stated at the press conference in Gnjilane last week that the agreement between Skopje and Belgrade for correction and re-defining of the border is "illegal." The General added that the UN Secretary-General has also confirmed this. According to Fakti daily in Albanian language, which has reported Huber's statement, the US General was concerned that the agriculturists from Kosovo have landed from the Macedonian side of the border and were not able to cultivate it. In the statement for the Kosovo media he said that he will send his troops to secure the agriculturists."
Now this is something. Deploying NATO troops for a Kosovo-Macedonia border showdown? Would a US general really risk his men in order to "secure" a few Albanian farmers? And who would they even be fighting against, anyway?
Of course, the hapless general was threatening something far more grandiose, something far more- principled.
The significance of this showdown is fundamental to the nebulous, insecure status of Kosovo since its "independence" in 1999. Although nominally still a part of Yugoslavia, Kosovo is a free-for-all protectorate under UN administration and mafia "protection." The services arranged by ex-KLA thugs (many reborn into the KPC police force), include forced evictions of their fellow Albanians to make room for the "war heros" of Kosovo and Macedonia. Although heavy weapons are still being stockpiled, and all sorts of smuggling continues, UNMIK police are neither able nor allowed to do much about it. A Reality Macedonia interview claims that certain "inside" forces are hindering UNMIK police. A mixture of insipid red tape and direct decrees have resulted in failures to make arrests, and the inexplicable releases of criminals caught red-handed. A former peacekeeper states:
"I remember one case where a Swiss military police officer observed a car in town with Swiss license plates. The officer called the Suisse Police in Switzerland and discovered that the car had been reported stolen. The MP's seized the car and arrested the driver, a TMK officer. Through the KFOR chain of command, the MP was ordered to release the driver and the car because he (the MP) had "illegally" accessed the Swiss Police database.
I know of another incident where some Italian police officers stopped a car near Orahovac that was occupied by Akim Cheku and his bodyguards. An armed standoff commenced when Cheku's bodyguards took defensive positions around the car armed with automatic weapons. The Italian officers were ordered by the regional commander (a German) to release Cheku and his men. The regional commander seemed to know what was happening as it was happening. This incident was not discussed at any staff meeting I attended, so I don't know where the orders came from."
If such testimonial is evidence of UNMIK's uselessness in Kosovo, it helps explain a bombastic comment like Huber's. Perhaps, it was meant to remind the Macedonians that UNMIK is still in charge in Kosovo: forget about Belgrade, baby we're calling the shots now. This raises a fundamental question, and one which has never been resolved: the limits and applications of state sovereignty in the former Yugoslavia.
Indeed, considering that they invited themselves in, it is rather ironic that UNMIK and NATO claim to support the rule of democracy, sovereignty and free elections. The only bodies which were never elected by the people, they nevertheless have assumed the right to govern. In failing to resolve the Kosovo question definitively, they have created a new, parallel nation one belonging neither to its inhabitants, nor to the country which allegedly has sovereignty over it.
Further, this regime would like to claim responsibility for dealing with neighboring states, without, of course, endangering themselves in any way.
After all, Kosovo is just a protectorate. The UNMIK people can go home anytime they want. Indeed, US soldiers there are obligated to serve only one year, while their European counterparts generally stay for 6-9 months. UN stipulations bar any of them from serving more than 3 years in one place. So what do they care? It's a vacation, really.
That said, Macedonia's ire is not that surprising. The reaction from Skopje was swift and sharp. Government spokesman Giorgi Trendafilov declared that statements like Huber's are common to "those who have supported the armed conflicts in Macedonia." The Macedonian government reminded the West of five years of border negotiations, all overseen by the international community, which were successfully concluded last March. In regards to the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1214, the Macedonians argued that:
"The Resolution, which is also an obligatory document for the UN missions, does not consist (of) provisions that grant a right to the KFOR and UNMIK official in Kosovo to interpret resolutions in a manner that raise new tensions in the region, endangering the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries the UN members.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers that such ungrounded statements are harmful, because they are not in compliance with the missions' mandate, and do not contribute to establishing of lasting stability in the region. All of the UN Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions on developments in SEE, affirm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region."
In an uncharacteristically strong defense, Macedonia then lodged a formal complaint with NATO. US reaction, for once, was muted. Ambassador Lawrence Butler demurred, "the US Embassy in Macedonia is not competent to say whether the bilateral agreement is valid." In a surprising admission (perhap intended to leave the headache for UNMIK to deal with), Butler stated, "at the end of the day the US is not the one that should say whether the agreement is valid."
Of course, this does not rule out future "modifications." Regarding the allegedly binding agreement between Macedonia and Yugoslavia, UN spokesman Perhan Haak stated that,
"I have no comment on that agreement. The countries can conclude agreements between each other. What I suggest is that similarly as it is the case with the other UN peace keeping missions, the territory where we operate is defined by the Security Council. We need a decision from the Security Council in order to make any changes or to reflect any changes, regardless of the bilateral agreements," Haak believes."
By Friday's NATO press conference, all attempts were being made to suppress the scandal, and mollify the Macedonians:
"NATO fully respects the Border Delineation Agreement signed between Macedonia and Yugoslavia on February 23, 2001," NATO Ambassador to Macedonia Klaus Vollers said at Friday's press conference."
Much to the dismay of the Macedonians, Vollers also stated that no action would be taken against Huber. Presumably, however, he has shelved his plan for rescuing the "agriculturists" for now, at least. It will be interesting to see how things proceed as the snow melts in Macedonia, and the temperature warms up for "war season."
We have already asked why an American general would commit his troops to "secure" a "situation" that does not exist. My guess is that he would rather not secure anything at all, but rather use the threat to keep the Macedonian authorities from doing anything themselves. In the past few months, NATO has put pressure on Macedonia to vacate certain police checkpoints as part of "confidence building" measures. One checkpoint was even attacked in late January, when armed gunmen crossed over from Kosovo.
The truth of the matter, however, is that there is no border between Macedonia and Kosovo and UNMIK would like to keep it that way, either by swallowing up ill-defined territory, or by preventing the Macedonians from policing their own border. IF UNMIK had really wanted to crack down on drugs and weapons smuggling in the border area, they would have done so.
The inside testimonial quoted above indicates a negligence that is now almost endemic.
For obvious reasons, chronic instability on the border benefits the KLA-NLA and its criminal patrons. For less obvious reasons, it also benefits UNMIK's administrators. So long as the border remains unmarked, undefined and contested, UNMIK can move in and occupy space. Not the physical space of territory, of course. They gain instead a conceptual space- one inhabited by legislative, administrative, and mandate-producing decrees. Intervention, which replicates its physical entanglements with bureaocratic entanglements of this sort, thrives off of maintaining instability- the very instability it is allegedly there to minimize.
The unfortunate statements of General Huber simply follow this pattern of diplomatic disruption. Although his comments have been erased from the record, the damage cannot be undone. Already suspicious of Western intentions, Macedonia is now on the defensive. Yet it has already wasted another golden opportunity. Its media failed once again to provide a lucid report, one that would explain the situation to a worldwide audience unfamiliar with all of the details and their implications. And by failing to coherently explain its grievances to the world, Macedonia will probably allow itself once again to be painted as the aggressor.
And so, in the long run we might just find that achieving justice for a few rural "agriculturists" will far outweigh all other considerations for UNMIK authorities in FMRK the Former Macedonian Republic of Kosovo.

Queues for Water in Sofia.
Silvia Nikolova
The water supply of two Sofia residential districts was cut off, a checkup carried out by reporters of "Standart" established. The prefabricated houses in "Krasna Poliana" residential district had no water on Sunday and Monday. Yesterday, the firm "Sofiiska Voda" (Sofia Water) brought cisterns with fresh water for the residents. Hundreds of them filled cans, bottles and demijohns with water.

Prof. Simon: You Are Not Ready To Join NATO.
Evgeni Genov
The new 3 NATO member countries are in a very poor condition and as for the aspiring countries, with Bulgaria among them, is even worse, said Prof. Jeffrey Simon from the US National Defense University at the yesterday's conference on the national and regional security, held at the National Palace of Culture. The guest gave Poland as an example. Poland, though already member of the Treaty, is dramatically lagging behind in meeting the targets of the partnership. The enlargement is not NATO's major issue, for now the Organization is being restructured, Simon said further. My criticisms are leveled with the only aim to help you in the process of joining NATO, Simon pointed out at his meeting with President Georgi Parvanov earlier in the day. At the presidency, the guest had talks also with Vice-President Angel Marin. I do not see Mr Marin as a threat to the Alliance any more, Simon said after the talks.

Even NATO Supported Bulgaria for 'Kozloduy'
Victoria Seraphimova
I believe that the 'Kozloduy' NPP will be preserved and will continue to function, said General Charles Dyke, Deputy-President of the Industrial Consultant Group of NATO, who is on a visist in Bulgaria. $150 are invested in safety measures for the NPP, said Gen. Dyke only several days after it became clear that Russia is against closing of reactors in the 'Kozloduy' NPP. To the General the use from the nuclear energetics is bigger than the risks. The government shouldn't feel uncomfortable, if it decides to keep some of the state military firms, Dyke added.

Secret Skopje - Sofia Line To Be Established.
Bogdana Lazarova

A secret telephone line will be established between Sofia and Skopje, 'Standart' was told yesterday. It will be negotiated by interior minister Georgi Petkanov and his colleague Ljube Bojkovski. Petkanov is within the delegation which is to leave for Macedonia today. The delegation will be headed by President Georgi Parvanov. The two ministers will sign two agreements. The first one will be on the training of Macedonian police and border personnel in Bulgaria. The second one will be on police cooperation. It will help establish direct contacts between the services and they will carry out operative cooperation. A secret telephone line between Sofia and Skopje will be established to promote cooperation in the struggle to combat the trafficking in people and drugs, the forging of documents and money. The agreements were drafted last Thursday during the 20-hour blitz visit of deputy interior minister Boiko Kotsev to Skopje.

Skopje, February 26 (BTA exclusive by National Television correspondent Kostadin Filipov) - The Macedonian authorities Tuesday warned Skopje residents that city traffic will be reorganized and some thoroughfares will be closed to vehicles in connection with a two-way state visit by Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov.
The partial shutdown will affect the road leading from Petrovec Airport, where the presidential aircraft is expected to land at 3.10pm local time Tuesday, to the Parliament building in downtown Skopje.
The Macedonian Parliament will be the venue of all meetings featuring on Purvanov's agenda for Tuesday and Wednesday. The building is home to President Trajkovski's office.
Similar security measures will be in place on Purvanov's passage from Parliament to the five-star Alexander Palace Hotel in the city outskirts, where the visiting President and his delegation will be accommodated.
The Skopje authorities said that the area around Parliament will be completely closed to traffic between 3.30 and 6.30pm Tuesday. The official reception ceremony will be held in the square in front of the House building.
In May 2000, the then Bulgarian president Peter Stoyanov was the first foreign head of state to be formally received in front of the Macedonian Parliament instead of at Petrovec Airport.

Bulgarian, Macedonian Presidents Agree to Set up Hot Line.
Skopje, February 26 (BTA special correspondent Roumyana Kinkina) - President Georgi Purvanov of Bulgaria and Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia agreed in Skopje Tuesday to set up a telephone hot line.
It will be used not just for exchange of information but also for deciding joint action, President Purvanov said. He arrived on a two-day official visit earlier on Tuesday, which has been his first visit to a Southeast European country since he took office in January.
The Bulgarian President was met by President Trajkovski with an official ceremony outside the Parliament building. A crowd of Macedonians who had come to meet the guest greeted him with hand claps.
The programme continued with a one-to-one session between the two Presidents followed by official plenary talks.
At the end of the working programme for the first day Purvanov and Trajkovski made statements for the press.
The two agreed that the fact that Macedonia is the first Balkan country Purvanov comes to is indicative of Bulgaria's attitude to its neighbour.
"It is a proof of the high degree of friendship and understanding between the two countries," Trajkovski said.
In Purvanov's words, "it is a clear sign that Macedonia is a priority for Bulgaria, that we want to see a secure and stable Macedonia as a guarantee of the stability of Bulgaria, the Balkans and Europe". He also said that the visit reflects the consistency in the Bulgarian foreign policy and "the new, European-style Balkan policy of Bulgaria".
Purvanov assured his host that Macedonia can rely on Bulgaria's support in the efforts to meet the European criteria for harmonizing the legislation. Bulgaria will also support Macedonia's aspirations for NATO membership.
NATO membership for Bulgaria and Macedonia will be an investment in peace, stability and security in Southeastern Europe on the side of the Alliance, said Purvanov.
The two heads of state also discussed bilateral relations and the developments in the region, paying special attention to the situation in Macedonia after the constitutional changes set forth in the framework agreement signed in Ohrid.
Purvanov congratulated Trajkovski and the entire political elite in Macedonia for the successful implementation of the framework agreement.
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Purvanov expressed a hope that the Macedonian Parliament will be successful in passing the package of acts and regulations tracing the road to reconciliation and to Macedonias European future.
Purvanov said that the two discussed concrete projects and ideas, some of which are follow-ups of previous initiatives. The two presidents discussed the construction of the railway between Sofia and Skopje, the idea to build a trunk road between the two capitals, which will provide Skopje an access to the Black Sea.
Purvanov and Trajkovski agreed that work has to be stepped up on the construction of the 400 kV power line and that the sides should promote the creation of joint ventures.
Trajkovski said that the two shared the view that Bulgarias and Macedonias common future is integration in the EU and contributing to Europes peace and stability. The Macedonian Head of State stressed the need for joint efforts in the fight against organized crime, saying that the two countries should not remain "a grey area" but strive to attract more investment.
The two countries interior ministers, Georgi Petkanov and Ljube Bozkovski, signed in the presence of Petkanov and Trajkovski an agreement on cooperation in combatting terrorism, organized crime, illegal trafficking in drugs and precursors, illegal migration and other crimes, and an accord on training and qualification of officials of the Macedonian Interior Ministry in establishments of higher education of the Bulgarian Interior Ministry.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and Macedonian Culture Minister Ganka Samoilova signed a programme for cooperation between the two countries culture ministries in 2002-2004.

Hot Line between Sofia and Skopje.
Heavy security measures blocked the Macedonia capital because of Parvanov's visit.
Elena Yaneva "Standart" correspondent, Skopje.
Unprecedented security measures have been taken in Skopje to meet Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov yesterday. Apart from the road from Petrovac airport to the parliament, the police cordoned off all major streets in the center of the city. "We are guarding him better than the Pope", said city residents jokingly. Parvanov is in Skopje for a two-day official visit. This his first visit to a Balkan capital as a head of state. For the first time the welcoming ceremony in honor of a visiting head of state was staged in front of the Parliament, not in the airport. In the havoc Macedonian News Agency, MIA, released the news that "Macedonian President Georgi Parvanov is arriving in Skopje". The mistake remained unnoticed for several hours and MIA apologized for the gaffe. Except the railway that will connect Sofia and Skopje Presidents Georgi Parvanov and Boris Traikovski agreed on the construction of a highway. They also agreed to lobby before the EU to raise funds for the project. A hot line will connect minister of interior of the two countries, said Minister of Interior Georgi Petkanov, after a new agreement was signed on the cooperation between police forces of the two countries. It will enable them to exchange hot information about drugs, people and arms trafficking and money laundry.

The First Ladies To Visit a Monastery.
Skopje, correspondent of 'Standart'
The first ladies of Bulgaria and Macedonia - Zorka Parvanova and Vilma Trajkovska will today visit the 'Saint Naoum' monastery in Ohrid. The tomb of the disciple of Cyril and Methodius is to be found there. As the legends go if you put your ear on the sarcophagus, you will hear the beat of Naoum's heart. Zorka Parvanova will go sightseeing in the old part of Ohrid. In the meantime, President Georgi Parvanov and his colleague Boris Trajkovski will visit the Orthodox church 'Saint Spass'. The host who is a Protestant will light a candle to the two peoples' prosperity. Later in the day President Parvanov will lay a wreath of flowers which he's carrying from Bulgaria, at the tomb of Gotse Delchev. Then he will see the iconostasis and the museum to the revolutionary. At 12.00 o'clock the president will deliver a speech in the parliament of the Republic of Macedonia after which he will meet with prime minister Lubcho Georgievski.

Sofiansky: UDF and NMS Will Unite.
Elena Yaneva

Sooner or later, however impossible it may seem, the UDF and the NMS will unite, leader of the 'Social Democrats' Union Stephan Sofiansky said during the held in Sofia seminar entitled 'Restructuring to the Right of the Center'. The integration of the right to the center political forces is without an alternative, Sofiansky was explicit. To him the sociological surveys show that neither right force will be able to win more than 50% at the forthcoming elections. This meant that a social agreement, which to lead to an unification, was needed. To him this process will start at the local elections next year and won't depend on the person, who will head the UDF.

Parvanov Reads Laws Before the MPs.

President Georgy Parvanov and PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha met at 2 p.m. in the Presidency yesterday. There is an idea for the two of them to meet at least once a week. Parvanov informed the PM about the program for his visit in Macedonia. The head of state has been assured that he'll get the draft laws before they are sent to parliament. Parvanov demanded this at his first meeting with Simeon after the elections. The idea is that the experts of Parvanov get acquainted with the projects in advance and that he give his stand on them before their adoption in parliament. Thus the vetoing of the laws will be avoided.

Washington Reprimands Bulgaria for Corruption.
Stephan Kyotchukov

The level of corruption among the customs officers in the region is extremely high, Director of the WB for Bulgaria Andrew Vorkink said after his meeting with President Parvanov. On Wednesday the bank will review all the projects, which the WB finances in Bulgaria. We'll turn a special attention to the loan for facilitation of the commerce in the region, Andrew Vorkink said. The money are for decrease of corruption and Bulgaria should get $7.3 mill. On Wednesday the possibility for restructuring of the second loan for the health reform will be discussed. Vorkink said that families and plants in Bulgaria waste electricity. Except for realizing the measures for encouraging of the energetic efficiency, programs for subsiding of the consumers will be needed, he added.

Europe Punished Bulgaria, $60 Million Blocked.

The ministries are deeply sunk in bureaucracy, major projects are frozen.
Nevena Mircheva

The European commission refused to grant to Bulgaria Euro 70 million because of the sluggishness of our employees, deputy minister of the economy Sofia Kassidova stressed for 'Standart'. The amount is almost half of the money we expect from the IMF this year. The money had to be spent on major EU PHARE projects which will now be frozen. Brussels politely told us that to get more money, our employees should be more efficient. In many cases however, the money was granted and then the implementation of the projects had been delayed for bureaucratic reasons. In this way this year Bulgaria will get only euro 100 million under the PHARE program which is much less than the money allocated in preceding years.

Vice-PM Declared War to Corruption.


Citizens could send warnings to the office of Nikolay Vassilev.

Nevena Mircheva

Vice-PM Nikolay Vassilev declared war on corrupted employees at the Economic Ministry, which he heads. The citizens could already send warnings or submit appeals and complaints with information about employees of the ministry or the agencies to it, who have demanded bribes. They should send their letters to the office of the Vice-PM in the CM. The signals should obligatory include the full names of the sender, address and phone. They should be signed, too. Thus there wouldn't be improper use of anonymous malicious reports, sources from the economic ministry explained. Since he took office the Minister of Economy doesn't stop reminding that he wouldn't tolerate corruption. He promised to open a post box for warnings in January at a meeting with employees of his ministry.

Obligatory School-Leaving Exams Reduced to 2.

Pupils are still unsatisfied and insist on postponing the exams for the graduates of 2003.
Ralitsa Krasteva

The obligatory school-leaving examinations will be reduced from 3 to 2, sources from the Educational Ministry said yesterday. A day earlier thousands of pupils held rallies to protest against the exams. Only the exams in Bulgarian language and literature and the basic discipline in line with the subjects of the schools are to remain obligatory. This amendment to the Educational Act was filed in the parliamentary secretariat. It is the National Assembly to decide if the exams should be 3 or 2, employees from the ministry elaborated. The examinations, however, will not be canceled, the employees were flat. The pupils, though, rejected the proposals made by the Educational Ministry and were unsatisfied. They insist that the school-leaving exams be canceled for the graduates of 2003. Now, the Act envisages the graduates to have 3 obligatory school-leaving examinations from 2003 on. "We will wait for the stand of the ministry till mid-March. If the answer be negative, we will go on a strike once again," said Stoian Monev, one of the initiators of the nationwide protest. The Educational Ministry, in its turn, invited the pupils to a round table on the exams, which is to take place in April.

Sofia, February 26 (BTA) - Bilateral political relations were described as excellent but those in the field of economics as leaving lots to be desired by the business people from Bulgaria and Croatia that attended a forum organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
Deputy economy minister Dimitur Hadjinikolov and Croatian Ambassador here Tonci Stancic described as ridiculous the state of bilateral trade which totalled only eight million dollars in 2000. Stancic said the reason for that was the lack of direct and cost-efficient road link between the two countries.
Chairman of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Trade Nadan Vidosevic said bilateral trade has the potential to reach 1,000 million dollars. He said his country managed to reach such a trade volume with Bosnia and Herzegovina in about four years.
BCCI chairman Bozhidar Bozhinov advised the Balkan states to standardize shipping documentation and set up joint border crossings.
80 companies from the light, food, metalworking, machine engineering, construction and drug industries were represented at the forum.
Bulgaria and Croatia have signed agreements on the creation of a free trade zone, on avoidance of double taxation and on promotion and mutual protection of investment.

There Are No Secret Agreements on Moscow's Debt.

The payment is not connected with any diplomatic property and buildings of 'Bulgartabak'
Krassimir Katev
Deputy Finance Minister

The question of Russia's debt has been on the agenda for 7 years and no government assumed the responsibility to settle it. The negotiations started from $100 million in 1992. According to the then agreement, $52 million had to be paid in the form of equipment for 'Kremikovtsi', while $48 million - by military deliveries. The negotiations also included several other intergovernmental agreements. We have now reached an increase of the debt, recognized by Russia, by $32 million. The total debt comes up to $132,5 million. Of it $34 million are deducted as compensation for the damages under the foiled agreement for the delivery of equipment to 'Kremikovtsi'. The present agreement doesn't include any intra-firm liabilities but only the intergovernmental ones. Initially Russia brought in a claim for $27 million for damages following the failure to supply the equipment to 'Kremikovtsi'. The amount includes interests and damages from the storage of the machines. Adding to this the agreed deliveries worth of $52 million, it turns out that Russia had brought a claim for $79 million. We agreed that they be settled by a $34 million decrease in the debt. In this way the officially negotiated debt comes up to $98,5 million. To have it liquidated, by this June we will get $15 million in cash - in this way Russia will pay off $25 million of the debt. Besides Russia will supply us fresh nuclear fuel to the 'Kozloduy' NPP. In 2002 the fuel will be worth of $35 million, and in 2003 - $14,5 million. By the beginning of 2004 Russia's military supplies will account for $24 million. 'Kremikovtsi' won't get anything. We proposed that we deliver equipment to the metallurgical combine. However, the management of 'Kremikovtsi' answered they didn't need it. It isn't serious to maintain that Russia's debt comes up to $200-300 million. The federation is among the riskier states and for this reason the interests are higher there. The value of the money now is much higher than if we had reached a rescheduled payment agreement. We managed to cut off the connection of the debt payment with Russia's property in Bulgaria. There have been no secret agreements. There has been no talk of any buildings of 'Bulgartabak'. In all likelihood the document will be officially signed during the visit of the premier and president to Russia. The visit is expected during the second half of the year.


Recorded by Stefan Kioutchukov

Rulers Take Their Families for a Walk Abroad.

Plamen Petrov took his family on a business trip to the Cote d'Azur.
Team of 'Standart'

Vice-Minister of Economy Kaloyan Ninov took his wife to see India. She accompanied him at his several days business trip to the exotic country. PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha never takes members of his family with him when he travels on business trips. But no matter where he goes abroad he meets with relatives, friends from his childhood or family friends. Simply his family is related to half of the royal families in Europe. PM hasn't travelled abroad since he was on a vacation in Madrid. Fogs spoiled his only visit within two months, which should be in Strasbourg. There Simeon hasn't relatives. As a compensation he was visited by Michael, exiled King of Romania. A week ago his smallest son Konstantin delighted him by bringing to Bulgaria his favourite grandchildren - Umberto and Sofia. He came to 'Vrana' to visit his father, but succeeded to see Minister of Finance Milen Velchev, too. Ex-PM Kostov never took with him to his business trips abroad his wife. But he always shortened the voyages by half a day only to come back home for dinner. The new rullers are still far from reaching the level of Yordan Sokolov and the extravagant walks he organized for his wife Eva. But his successor Ognyan Gerdzhikov almost reached him in this point. Within 7 months he succeeded to enjoy the beauty of several continents. MPs like to take their wives to their business trips. Socialist leader Sergey Stanishev always appears with his friend Elena Yoncheva at public events. The two of them live together for several years already. Last time they were seen together at the dinner of former Russian PM Evgeniy Primakov and president Georgy Parvanov.

"Bulgartabak" and BTC Are Not to Be Given Out.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Apostol Apostolov


It will be a success, if we manage to sell them off before the end of the year, says Apostol Apostolov.

Apostol Apostolov is the CEO of the Privatization Agency. Last week the MPs finally adopted the new Privatization and Post-privatization Control Act. After its enforcement the sales of all ventures with the state shares will be started. They are about 1800. Another text in this act that stirred up heated debates before the vote said that annexes should not be included into privatization contracts. Thus, all claims of the buyers will be considered in court.

Slavka Bozoukova
Nevena Mirtcheva

- Mr. Apostlov, the Privatization and Post-privatization Control Act has been adopted. What will be the first deals you are planning to announce?

- The first ones are the long-awaited tenders for "Bulgartabak", Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) and the State Insurance Institute (DZI).

- Apart from them, what smaller deals will be started at once?

- Maybe the sales of the minority shares, which will be denationalized through stock exchange deals or mass privatization. There are about 1000 such ventures.

- After the sale of "Bulgartabak" and BTC the state will keep the so-called "gold share". Does this mechanism cause any problems? Do the European Commission and IMF insist not to apply it?

- We shall take into consideration the stand of the EC and IMF.

- How many candidates do you expect to buy the memoranda for BTC and "Bulgartabak".

- I expect more than two candidates to bid for both ventures.

- Do you think that Russian claims on the property of "Bulgartabak" holding may create problems?

- I don't think so.

- What will be the procedure for the sale of the armories?

- Only VMZ is left now. I think that for it we have to find a buyer who is dealing in arms.

- The new Act bans the annexes even to the already sealed deals. A week ago, vice-premier Nikolai Vassilev said that we may expect mass bankruptcies of Managers' & Employees Associations (MEA). A MEA is associated with the company that it had privatized. They say, if you declare us bankrupt, the workers will walk out. This owner made a commitment to pay a certain price, to invest certain funds, to keep a certain number of jobs intact. If he fails to fulfill his obligations we can sanction him. After we punish a shareholder, the venture should go on working. If it closes down, then we can check out if were not a fraudulent bankruptcy. If we prove it was true, that he will have to bear criminal responsibility.

- Do you know how many MEAs are threatened by bankruptcy?

- I think they are about 100.

- Doesn't it worry you that the new act may trigger off a lot of legal proceedings?

- This would be a tragedy.

- In your opinion, what would the optimal procedure for the forthcoming privatization?

- It should be prompt - this is the simplest answer. I would be happy if we finalize the deals for BTK, "Bulgartabak" and DZI before the end of the year and realize at least one serious privatization deal at the stock exchange.

- Mr. Apostolov, how are you going to sell such big foreign trade companies, as Kintex and Teraton. Are you going to map out a special strategy for their privatization?

- I'm afraid we are a little late with strategy-writing. We had to do it 4-5 years ago. Here again we face the question about the role of the government, the politicians. Maybe in this lies the real tragedy of our country. The governments were busying themselves with political economy instead of making economic policy. If we don't preserve this status quo, the country will have future.

Arsenal - Kazanlak demanded renewal of Russian licenses.


Deputy Director of the Arsenal - Kazanlak military factory Hristo Streshkov said that licenses for Russian military equipment produced by the factory should be renewed within a 3-month period. He said that the problem with the licenses was not discussed at the last intergovernmental meeting, in which a representative of Arsenal - Kazanlak also took part. The former military industrial giant Arsenal - Kazanlak has been using also Western European, Japanese, Swedish and Austrian licenses. Commenting last-week visits of Czech, Hungarian and Polish military attaches in Kazanlak, he said that the diplomats could help in establishing more stable relation with military companies from the respective countries.

Blagoevgrad (Southwestern Bulgaria), February 26 (BTA) - A round table on "Custom and Law in the Balkans" opened at the Neofit Rilski South-West University of Blagoevgrad on Tuesday. The forum is attended by university lecturers, scholars and researchers from Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Finland, Britain, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Albania, Slovenia and Bulgaria.
The international round table, preceded by a course in Bulgarian for foreigners and an international course in historical anthropology, was held at the end of the Eleventh International University Seminar for Balkan Studies and Specialization, which is part of the Winter Balkan Meetings Programme of Blagoevgrad University.
"Our aim is to create an area of dialogue, mutual knowledge and understanding among representatives of academe from the Balkan and other European countries," Associate Professor Kristina Popova, the moderator of the seminar, told BTA.
Popova gave two main reasons for the strong interest in the subject of this year's seminar and round table. First, the Balkans are widely believed to be a place where human relations are regulated mainly by customs and local practices rather than by institutions and laws. Furthermore, trust in the institutions, the state and the law was not build in the course of the twists and turns of history in the region.
Second, the view that neither law nor custom is operative is the subject of an ongoing debate in Bulgarian society, Popova said. The crisis of the judiciary and legislation are issues raised in the very first report by Assoc. Prof. Dobrinka Chankova, the moderator of the seminar said.

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