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Bussek Backed Up 'Vazrazhdane' Club. I support the concepts of business club 'Vazrazhdane' (Revival), Erhardt Bussek - Stability Pact coordinator, said. Yesterday the large-scale industrialists presented to him their priorities on the improvement of the Bulgarian economy and ensured him, that they were ready to participate in the Pact projects' realization. Meanwhile, Dimitar Kalchev - minister of the State Administration, said that the government would invite again the Club to take part in the Economic Growth Council. Photo Nikolay Donchev (SH)
Bulgarian flag bearer Stefan Georgiev carries his national flag while leading his country's team during the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, February 8, 2002. Athletes from 77 countries will participate in the XIX winter games in Utah, February 8-24. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama
U.N. international and local police run from ethnic Albanian protesters hurling bricks during a protest demanding immediate release of three suspected war criminals held in Kosovo's capital Pristina on Friday, Feb. 8, 2002. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) police officers push ethnic Albanian protesters at a protest in Pristina on February 8, 2002. The peaceful protest turned violent when protesters start to stone policemen, injuring two officers. Protesters carried placards reading "Long Live KLA", and "Freedom for Freedom Fighters" called on the United Nations administration currently running Kosovo to release all former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters who were arrested by United Nations Police suspected to have violated the criminal code on war crimes against the civilian population. REUTERS/Hazir Reka
Italian Prime and Foreign minister Silvio Berlusconi speaks during a pause at the informal meeting of European Union Foreign affairs ministers in Caceres on February 8, 2002. A tentative European Union plan to take over the NATO peacekeeping mission in Macedonia appeared to run into trouble over objections from Finland and doubts about Germany's willingness to lead the force. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan. - TANUSEVCI NOTE: Mussolini was also both Prime and Foreign minister.
German Foreign minister Joschka Fisher speaks to the press during a pause at the informal meeting of European Union Foreign affairs ministers in Caceres on February 8, 2002. A tentative European Union plan to take over the NATO peacekeeping mission in Macedonia appeared to run into trouble over objections from Finland and doubts about Germany's willingness to lead the force. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan.
YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS MACEDONIA.
"Main reason for my visit to Skopje is to tell the Macedonian public that we are not connected only with problems, but also with an idea for the future - how to improve the life of our citizens," Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said Friday after the meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Slobodan Casule.
ROBERTSON MET WITH MACEDONIAN TOP OFFICIALS.
Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski delivered a letter to NATO Secretary General George Robertson from the Macedonian Government for extension of the NATO mandate in our country for additional three months.
The NATO mandate in our country can be extended for additional six months if necessary and if the two parties mutually agree on this, Prime Minister's cabinet announced Friday.
In the context to this request, which has been positively supported by the NATO Secretary General, Prime Minister stressed his believe that with joined efforts of the international community and the NATO we will succeed to return the peace in the country in all respects.
Friday's meeting which has been focused on NATO enlargement and our country's membership in the Alliance, a preparedness for co-operation has been stressed and it has been pointed out that the Republic of Macedonia is accomplishing the obligations from Framework Agreement as well as the expectations for reintegration of the entire territory of the country.
Robertson evaluating the process and tempo for return of the security forces as important, positively estimated the preparedness for passing of the law on amnesty which will significantly contribute in return of the trust among the population and sooner stabilisation of the security situation in Macedonia.
Also conditions which should be accomplished by a country aspirant to NATO membership have been discussed, whereat Macedonian Prime Minister expressed his believe that the Republic of Macedonia will have full support of the Secretary General for its membership in the Alliance.
A NATO Command delegation, led by Robertson, had a joint meeting with Macedonian Minister of Defence, Vlado Popovski and the Macedonian Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Metodi Stamboliski.
The main discussion topic at the meeting were the activities of the Government in the field of defence, declared in Macedonia's Action Plan for integration with NATO.
While displaying the undertaken activities from this year's Action Plan, Macedonian Minister of Defence pointed out to the already initiated processes of Macedonian Army's restructuring and its transformation from a corpus system into a brigade organizational system. The procedure of professional upgrading of Macedonian Army's staff and their training in correspondence with the NATO standards was also discussed.
About the armament issue and Army's supply with weapons, it was underlined that Macedonia planned no additional activities in this field, especially when the purchase of heavy weaponry is concerned.
The Macedonian Army, as said at the meeting, will redirect its activities and pay attention to the confidence building among the citizens, which would create circumstances for accelerated implementation of the Framework Agreement and permanent peace in the country.
It was thereby underlined that the Macedonian Army will always protect and defend the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Macedonia, preventing any kind of country's division. In case of any terrorist activities and aggression from outside, Macedonia will act in accordance with its constitutional and legal commitments.
Regarding the question which of the countries, NATO aspirants, will be invited to participate in the upcoming Summit in Prague, Robertson said that the choice had not been made yet. He made positive assessments on the already passed Law of Defence, on the started procedure for legalization of the service in the Macedonian Army as well as on the processes for reconstruction and professional upgrading of the MA's staff.
Robertson greeted Macedonian Army's standpoint and the activities that were so far undertaken in the course of its development. He thereby pledged bigger support from the NATO structures in the field of the military training.
The anticipated data referring to the five-year future development of the defence system and the Army, as well as the financing sources for these activities were displayed before Robertson upon his request.
Robertson's meeting with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski was focused on the activities for Macedonia's membership into the Alliance.
In this context, Trajkovski said that NATO membership was not necessary to Macedonia for prestige, but for its and the stability of the whole region.
Trajkovski also underlined the necessity for extending of the Task Force Fox" mandate, because the process for restoring law and order in the whole country has not been completed yet, and the Alliance's presence is very important in this respect.
Trajkovski and Robertson agreed that the international community along with the Macedonian authorities should make additional efforts to resolve the problems in a realization of the Plan for redeployment of police, caused by extremists that are still present in some areas.
Friday, Robertson also met with Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov.
At the meeting, Robertson pointed out that NATO was not only a military organization, but also an organization, which in the process of analyzing the situation in a given country-candidate for membership also takes into consideration the human rights, minority rights and the political stability.
Andov and Robertson agreed that the process of future approaching to NATO should be completely transparent, which will enable more detailed insight not only to the deputies in the parliament, but also to the citizens.
Macedonian Assembly Chairman and the NATO Secretary General also referred to the political and security situation in the country and the possibilities for sooner adoption of the legislation that comes from the Framework Agreement.
Andov stressed that the possible scheduling of early elections could delay the obligations that come from the political compromise, because all political subjects would start preelection campaigns, which would additionally burden the process of adopting the package of laws and regulations that need to be reviewed by the parliament.
Macedonia's realization of the Action Plan for NATO membership was the main subject of Friday's talks with NATO Secretary General George Robertson, Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said Friday at a press conference.
"We have overviewed the political aspect for realization of all tasks, set before Macedonia, considering the fact that NATO membership is the country's strategic objective. Macedonia is ready to meet all necessary prerequisites to join the Alliance, but the process will be carried out in compliance with the situation in the country," Casule said.
The officials also discussed on current situation in the country, In that respect, Casule told his guest that Macedonia "has been moving towards peace, stability and economic prosperity."
"The political solution of the problems that the country has faced, avoiding a war, cannot bring results overnight. The process requires a step by step approach, while the Macedonian President, the Government and the Parliament should complete the political work," Casule said.
He underlined that Macedonia was ready to be part of the project for stabilizing of the region and for its integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions, particularly in NATO, saying that Macedonia's priority task is its integration into the Alliance.
"On its road to NATO, Macedonia has made a significant progress, in both political and economic plan, but there is still a lot to be done to achieving the goal, as NATO membership is not a gift for moves made in the past," Robertson said, expressing hope that Macedonia will meet the conditions and become NATO member.
Robertson underlined that great enthusiasm was expressed in that respect at all of his Friday's meetings with the Macedonian top officials. According to the last poll, 90 per cent of those included in the survey supported the country's membership into NATO.
Despite the ongoing reforms in the Macedonian Army, Macedonia, as all applicant-countries for NATO membership, should make additional efforts in that respect, Robertson said.
"In order to become part of the most powerful Alliance, all of these countries will also have to contribute," he added.
Friday, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski submitted a formal letter of request to Robertson for a three-month extension of the "Task Force Fox" mandate, including a possibility for an additional three-month extension.
"A decision of the NATO Council will be presented to President Boris Trajkovski," Robertson said.
He considers that the political situation in the country is clearer now, giving credit to the Macedonian President for his efforts in the peace process and in preventing further blood shed, as well as for everything he has done for the Macedonian multiethnic society.
Asked about a possibility for convening early elections in the country, Robertson said it was up to the people of Macedonia. However, the elections should be held after implementing of the Framework Agreement, he added.
He also underlined the significance of an amnesty law, which should be enforced as soon as possible.
Robertson expressed satisfaction with the ongoing redeployment of police in the crisis regions, saying it is more successful than expected.
He underlined that majority of the people in the country supported the multiethnic society and the peace process.
Asked to comment the frequent visits of Yugoslav officials to Macedonia, Robertson said he was glad that the new, democratic Yugoslavia was willing to help to its neighbors, making efforts to enhance the cooperation and security in the entire region.
PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI ON HIS VISIT TO U.S.
"I am pleased from the constructive visit to the U.S. and I am under impression that the U.S. is our friend that is truly interested in the complete stabilization and future progress of Macedonia," Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski said on his returning from the several-day visit to the U.S.
Trajkovski expressed satisfaction from the fact that Macedonia remains in the focus of U.S. interest.
Reporting on his presence at the World Economic Forum, President Trajkovski said that "with the participation alone we were given great honor and a chance to present the current political and economic situation in the country."
Referring to the meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Trajkovski said that "at the meeting, we once more highlighted Macedonia's efforts for securing peace and stability. In that context, the U.S. side hailed the efforts made by the Macedonian leadership for stabilization of the situation." He pointed out that the implementation of the Framework Agreement ought to continue because it would bring to sustainable stability in the country.
The American side hailed all Macedonia's efforts for maintaining its independence and territorial integrity.
"We asked for more dynamic support not only on political, but also on economic plan, which would provide higher living standard for our citizens and stabilization of the country, and this will justify all our efforts made in the past period," Trajkovski said, adding that necessity of concrete financial assistance for implementation of the Framework Agreement was also discussed.
It was also asked for strong U.S. engagement at the forthcoming Donors' conference for Macedonia.
The questions about recognition of Macedonia under its constitutional name and its approach to the NATO structures were qualified by President Trajkovski as emotional and of national interest, and issues where the security component was dominant. "These are issues that are related to Macedonia's survival and the stability of the region as whole," he said.
As the Macedonian President said, the U.S. is committed to assist in the final resolving of the conflict situation in Macedonia, and its position in regard to Macedonia's sovereignty and integrity remains unchanged.
During the talks with Condoleesa Rice, National Security Advisor to the U.S. president, Trajkovski asked for concrete support in the struggle against the corruption and organized crime, saying that "this is not just ours, but also a regional and global problem."
"I asked for more intense cooperation with the KFOR troops regarding the border security and their increased patrolling activities," the President said.
regarding Macedonia's approach to NATO, Trajkovski said that the U.S. President George Bush had stated that the future NATO expansion would not have geographic, or time dimensions, which, according to the Macedonian Chief of State, "gives optimism regarding Macedonia's integration in the Alliance."
At the meeting with the IMF director Horst Keller, as well as at the meetings with the World Bank representatives, the emphasis was put on their support to the implementation of the Framework Agreement, as well as at the forthcoming Donors' Conference.
"We expect support from them regarding the lowering of the poverty, and we also ask for support for the displaced persons," Trajkovski said.
Regarding the early parliamentary elections and the date when they would be held, President Trajkovski said that he did not like to oppose, because leaders of the four largest parties should decide on that. "For me it is most important to have conditions for fair elections," he stressed.
President Boris Trajkovski believes that the NATO mandate in Macedonia should be extended, adding that the establishment of forces for European security "is certainly a good thing.
The President: There Exists No Threat of a Monarchy.
No miracles can be worked for 800 days, claims Parvanov for the 'Libre Belgique' newspaper.
I maintain good relations with the former king who is fully dedicated to his functions of prime minister and hasn't manifested any desire for restoring monarchy, President Georgi Parvanov stressed in an interview for the Belgian 'Libre Belgique' newspaper. I don't think that any radical changes can be carried out for 800 days. Besides, we still encounter major difficulties in the economic and social spheres, Parvanov added. He stresses the big fears in Bulgaria over a delay in the country's joining the European Union. We have the ambition to step up the negotiations to close the final chapters in the middle of 2003 and then sign the accession agreement, Parvanov pointed out. In his view it is unfair for the European Commission to be guided by political considerations in assessing the 10 candidates from the first wave and resort to a more exacting approach to Romania and Bulgaria.
Simeon To Join Debates on the Vote.
Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will be among the basic speakers from the NMS at today's no-confidence vote demanded against the cabinet. Apart from him the longer to speak after the premier will be ministers Milen Velchev and Bozhidar Finkov. However, the major criticisms at the opposition will be levelled by Emil Koshloukov. The debate starts at 9.00 a.m. today and will be broadcast by BNR and BNT. The NMS will provide data on the UDF-conducted price policy concerning medicines. The vote itself will take place next Wednesday.
Dogan To Decide on Ministerial Reshuffle.
At a two days' sitting the MFR Central Council will discuss the current political situation in the country. The sitting begins at the 'Princess' hotel today. During the debates the participants will analyze a number of options for power reshuffles, well informed sources said. Dogan's people will have to draft a stand of their own on the activity of individual ministers and their deputies, as well as a strategy for their further political conduct.
Stanishev: We Remain in Irreconcilable Opposition.
Present governors should learn to carry out a dialogue in the society. Without it they'll make mistakes, the leader of the socialist party Sergey Stanishev said after his yesterday's meeting with chairman of the CITUB Zhelyazko Hristov. He added that the governors have serious opposition in the face of the BSP. The parliamentary majority and the government work really ineffectively, carry out restrictive tax policy and have weak organization, Stanishev and Hristov explained their mutual stand. It's necessary that the CITUB and BSP exert a more decisive pressure on the activity of the majority and the government, they added. The leaders of the BSP and the CITUB have agreed to cooperate in the legislative activity. The 'For Bulgaria' coalition will submit a worked out by the CITUB draft for assurance of the payments of the workers in case of bankruptcy of the enterprises, Stanishev said.
Easier Visas for Russia by End-February.
The agreement on alleviation of the visa regime between Bulgaria and Russia will be signed in end-February, Ambassador of Russia - Vladimir Titov, said yesterday in the Parliament. To him, the document was amended, so it would come into force immediately after its signing. One month term was envisaged earlier. Titov came to the National Assembly headquarters at the invitation of Vladimir Donchev, chairman of the group for friendship with Russia. In April we will pay a visit to the parliamentary group for friendship with Russia and will organize a round table to debate all topical issues between the two states, Donchev said. Most likely, Bulgaria's PM will soon visit Moscow, Donchev elaborated.
12 MPs to Investigate Cases against Varbanov.
A provisional commission comprising 12 deputies is to investigate if the papers submitted by Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev contain data of a crime committed by Ventsislav Varbanov. The commission is to work for a month. After that, its members have to report if the immunity of Ventsislav Varbanov in his capacity of an MP should be withdrawn. UtdDF representatives protested against the quotas and said that the commission was in want of balance. NMS deputy Borislav Ralchev heads the commission. UtdDF will be represented by Yordan Sokolov and Eliana Maceva. The Coalition "For Bulgaria" nominated Tatiana Doncheva and Boiko Rashkov and the MRF - Remsi Osman and Racim Moussa.
Cruel Murder of a Foreigner Was Disclosed.
The captured two man from Plovdiv have made full confessions, General Borisov said.
Policemen arrested two man from Plovdiv, who several years ago killed the Serb Serdzhin Cerubdzhich in a very severe manner. Both detained men made full confessions, but the names and the motives for the murder will be announced after the end of the case, said Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry Boyko Borisov in Plovdiv yesterday. He arrived in Plovdiv together with policeman No1 Gen. Vassil Vassilev, to continue their work on the solution of this case. Chief of the 'Heavy Murders' Department Colonel Botyo Botev was in Plovdiv on Tuesday evening. The body of Chibudzhich was discovered on May 31, 2000 in the 'Krichim' dam. For nearly a year he remained unidentified. The knot started to disentangle after an appeal from the Interpol was received, saying that Surdzhin Cerubdzich was wanted. The police in Plovdiv and Stara Zagora, as well as criminologists from Sofia, started to work on the case together.
Bussek Backed Up 'Vazrazhdane' Club.
The state should count on proprietor, rather than clerks, Pact coordinator maintains.
I support the concepts of business club 'Vazrazhdane' (Revival) on stimulation of the Bulgarian economy and development of infrastructure, Erhardt Bussek - Stability Pact coordinator said yesterday at a meeting with club's representatives. That was the only appointment of Bussek with representatives of the Bulgarian business. The club members have invested more than 2 billion levs and have provided over 50,000 jobs throughout this country, Chairman Emil Kyulev said at the presentation of the business-structure. He added, he was sharing the standpoint of PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on Bulgaria's transformation into energy center on the Balkans, as well as into major infrastructure junction. Erhardt Bussek was flat that for economic improvement the state should rely on the active
cooperation with the proprietor, but not with the clerks.
Electricity to Rise By 20 Percent More.
The wholesale and retail sale's prices should equalize, Minister Milko Kovachev maintains.
The prices of the electric power both for the household and industrial needs will get equal in 2002, Energy Minister Milko Kovachev said yesterday. Currently, the margin between the tariffs for the population and the companies, is within 16 and 20 percent. By April long-term price strategy of the energy branch will be mapped up, Kovachev elaborated. The strategy concept on the development of the energetics was submitted to the CM, while the complete document will be approved by March. Bulgaria should develop domestic energy market within the next 2 - 3 years, which will introduce competitiveness to the different energy products, the paper reads. Our country is highly energy dependant, since it imports over 70 percent of the crude energy resources, the concept runs more. The energy products hold 27 percent of the entire import of this country, while the export is mainly of oil and oil products, whose share totals at least 14 percent.
NEw Age - Old Mode of Work.
Bulgaria loses her major creditors. We were told on one and the same day that this country could lose the promised financing of infrastracture projects because of administrative lagging and bureaucracy. The Japan's Bank for Internationa developmet cut off the funds envisage for the construction of a tunnel under the Shipka peak. The Stability Pact was embarrassed over the lagging of the project conmprised in the "flying start": the Danube Bridge II, innovation of Sofia airport and the expanding of the Bourgas port. We were diplomatically indicated that we could bid farewel to the crediting of these projects. We've been allotted funds on the three projects a long time ago. An agreement for 50 million euro was signed with the EC on the Danube Bridge II. More means are expected in line with the EU pre-admission progran ISPA and from French sources. The agreed financing of the Sofia airport from the Kwveiti fund, EIB and ISPA toatls 150 million euro. Recently a scandal flared concerning the port of Bourgas. We agreed with Japan to be allotted $120 million on it expansion. And we'll have to pay them back. If the lagging with these and some other projects we will lose a lot of money. Part of them was spent on evaluations and updatings. And the contract for analyses are signe with the same consultants, for they were reportedly familiar with the up to naw situation. Such practices, however, suggests deliberate lagging and incompetent allotting of commissions to particular favoured firms. To put it in other words, the New Age keeps working.
We're Also Getting Ready for Pre-Term Elections.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Ekaterina Mihailova
We won't be partners with Bakardzhiev, UDF leader Ekaterina Mihailova says.
- Mrs Mihailova, why does the UDF seek non-confidence motion to the Cabinet right now?
- We submitted the non-confidence vote only for one issue, which is of major importance to the Bulgarian society. Although, it's not concrete one, actually the motif for the vote has serious background. Yet, by no means, it's not only for the monstrous mess due to the VAT levied upon the medicines. The vote resulted out of what the new rulers demonstrate to us. Series of mistakes, some of them severe ones, to be sustained by all. Chaos, absence of coordination and political will for implementation of reforms and lack of assuming responsibility. Including the Prime-Minister, who by Constitution is responsible for the development of the ruling. The sensation is gaining ground, that the ship lacks navigator.
- Why didn't you insist firstly on governmental reshuffles?
- Several times we've addressed the Premier, to undertake actions on shifting both the policy, and the structure of the cabinet. Not only that reaction didn't follow, but we felt that our requirements remained unheard. That's why we submitted the non-confidence motion.
- In the 36th and 37th National Assemblies the UDF PG sough vote to the end. Will it be again like that now?
- How many votes we will seek will depend on whether the rulers will change their policy. At the same time, we will propose other means to change the situation.
- What kind of politics in your view, should further lead the UDF?
- Change is necessary in the organization, so to cut off the party clientelism, which was the cornerstone of the organization's structuring. UDF must realize and should turn into more clear and strong opposition to the government. With fully transparent theses and to propose it's own standards. UDF should get ready for the elections to follow. The local elections will be the first ones, but the point hovers intensively above in the air, if there won't be elections ahead of schedule. So we should have to prepare for both of them.