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Pope Asked to Step in 'St. Alexander Nevski' Cathedral. Patriarch Maxim started negotiations on the protocol of the visit of Pope John-Paul II at the Synodical Court with Vatican legates yesterday. He, however, does not give a clear-cut answer if he would let His Holiness into the 'St. Alexander Nevski' Cathedral. Photo Marina Angelova

No Water In Prilep And Krusevo.


Prilep/Krusevo, January 10 (MIA) - Prilep and Krusevo are left with no drinking water, due to the low waterlevel of the spring "Studencica."

Studencica provides total of 50 liters in second for the city of Prilep, but all of this water is redirected to the Medical Center.

"Even under these conditions the hospital will remain operational. The epidemiological condition is at a risk level, but there are still no contagious diseases registered," Elisaveta Stikova from the Health Protection Department said.

Stikova added that a seven-ton water-tank truck was constantly at disposal for the Prilep hospital.

Director of the Prilep water company Ljupco Georgievski said that by sealing of the valves at the village of Plasnica and by shutting down of the thermal energy plant "Oslomej", additional 60 liters in second have been provided for the city. However, this quantity still does not satisfy citizens' needs.

The Health Protection Department warns the citizens to be careful when using water from private wells, because this water has not been tested yet.

The city of Krusevo, also connected to the Studencica spring, has drinking water only for two hours a day.

Officials said that in order to pump the water to Krusevo, the water pumps need at least 10 liters of water per second. Currently, Studencica provides only 4,5 liters per second.

The optimal quantity of water provided by Studencica in normal conditions is 460 liters per second. Largest quantity registered recently was 70 liters per second.




Macedonian President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Boris Trajkovski expressed "moderate optimism" in regard to a realization of the plan for transforming of the Macedonian Army in compliance with the standards of NATO member countries.

Defense Minister Vlado Popovski and Chief of the ARM Staff Metodi Stamboliski had a regular annual meeting with the President on Thursday, briefing him about developing of the defense system and the National Annual Program for the country's membership into NATO.

Trajkovski said that similar briefing would be organized for the foreign diplomats and military attachs of the NATO member countries.

Referring to the National Annual Program, Trajkovski said it was a fundamental document for Macedonia's preparations to become NATO member.

"It also includes the frame for Macedonia's cooperation with NATO, as well as the assessment on the ARM progress in its transformation," Trajkovski said.

Today, Trajkovski also had a meeting with the Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia H. H. Stefan. One of the reasons for this meeting referred to comments in some media on Bishop Petar's statement.

"We have agreed that any communication with the President through media is not useful at the moment. Any dispute between the Presidential Institution and the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) is neither for the benefit of the citizens nor for the country," Trajkovski said, expressing hope that the MOC Synod would issue an official announcement to present its stance on Bishop Petar's statement.

"I refuse to believe that the MOC Synod shares the opinion of Bishop Petar. As President to all citizens of Macedonia, one of my priorities is the affirmation of MOC and its international recognition," Trajkovski said.

For him, today's meeting with H. H. Stefan "was an act of friendship, cooperation and joint commitment to keep on working together."

"It was not an act of some kind of reconciliation, but of continued cooperation between the two institutions - the President of the state and the MOC's Head, Trajkovski stressed.

Asked whether the conclusions at yesterday's session of the Security Council were unanimous, as Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski said experts from his ministry would submit a new proposal for re-deployment of police units, Trajkovski said it was a political and expert issue.

"I hope that in the next few days the Interior Ministry experts, in cooperation with the EU and OSCE teams will again present their assessment of the main plan for re-deployment of Macedonian security force in the crisis regions. After that I will be able to say something more about this matter," Trajkovski said.




From the New Year onwards, Macedonia will be chairing the pan European intergovernmental organization for audiovisual arts, "Audiovisual - Eureka" (AVE).

The organization has 35 member-countries and two associate members - the European Commission and the Council of Europe. The initiative for establishing this organization was launched in Paris in 1989, and since 1996 it has been focused on realizing activities in the Central, Eastern and Southeastern European countries.

The basic mission of "Audiovisual - Eureka" is to provide the professionals in the region with "tools" for better approach to the European audiovisual market.

The activities focus on four priority areas such as training, informing and promotion, exchange of ideas and experiences.

"It is a rare opportunity for Macedonia to chair with important international organizations, and this is first opportunity of this kind in the field of culture," Macedonian Culture Minister Ganka Samoilovska - Cvetanova told the press conference, explaining the strategy and the program of the presidentship.

According to her, this opportunity will be used to "promote the Macedonian audiovisual sector in Europe and to improve the rating of the Macedonian filmmakers in the eyes of the European producers."

Our strategy also focuses on the training of young screenplay writers about the new technologies especially about the animations and the special effects.

Series of activities will be realized in the forthcoming period, such as organizing a ministerial conference, a film market in Ohrid that will be open only for the professionals, distributors and journalists, meeting of the AVE coordinators and seminar on digital technology within "Manaki Brothers" Festival in Bitola. In addition, it is planned meetings to be held with the coordinators in Brussels and Strasbourg, participation at AVE Forum in Strasbourg, organizing the "Cannes umbrella" within the Film Festival and screening Macedonian films to the members of the Euro Parliament.

"During our presidency we will enlarge the AVE organization with Albania, Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia," Samoilovska - Cvetanova stressed.

The national team that will chair AVE is comprised of coordinators and permanent member in Brussels, and president of the team is minister Samoilovska - Cvetanova.

BG to Send 20 Army Experts to Afghanistan.


Yuri Mihalkov
Evgeni Genov

20 Bulgarian army experts in radiation decontamination are to be sent in mid-February to Afghanistan, Elena Poptodorova, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said yesterday. The experts will attend for a chemical protection complex, providing body disinfection of Alpha particles. The anti-radiation bath is earmarked when shells of depleted uranium were used. Bulgaria has received a request from the UN, said sources from MoFA. Bulgaria's troopers are to serve units of the Britain's contingent in the area of Kabul. The Parliament is to vote our participation in the peacekeeping mission, Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov explained.



Government Plans to Reduce Army from 250,000 to 100,000.

Sofia, January 10 (BTA) - The Government approved changes to the military doctrine and the law on defence and the armed forces, providing for a reduction of the army from 250,000 to 100,000. The decision was announced Thursday by Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov.

In peace time Bulgaria will have a 45,000-strong army of whom some 41,000 will be in military units. The National Intelligence Service and the National Security Service are leave the composition of the armed forces but the officers in the departments and agencies of the Defence Ministry, the Military Medical Academy and the military intelligence are staying.

The changes will not result in reduction of the wages of the military, Svinarov said but would not give any figures. He only said that wages in the armed forces will be calculated on the basis of the national average wage and officers will get no less than the equivalent of two average wages plus more for rank and length of service.

The changes in the military doctrine include a new division of the armed forces. Based on the personnel level, there will be active forces - including deployment forces and forces for defence of the national territory - and back-up forces.

Terrorism is added in the military doctrine as a potential threat to national security.

The leave of servicemen is reduced as the military service got shorter. From 20 days for all servicemen, it is now reduced to 15 days for those serving 9 months and 10 days for those serving 6 months. An extra ten days may be given as bonus. Conscripts who have not finished high school may stay their military service until they turn 27.

The Defence Minister hopes that the changes in the law on the defence and armed forces and in the military doctrine will pass through Parliament and become effective by mid-February.


The Cabinet approved priority actions concerning European integration.



The Cabinet approved priority actions concerning European integration issues that had been discussed and adopted at the sessions of the European Integration Council during the period September - December 2001, the governmental Information and Public Relations Department reported. The government entrusted the Minister of State Administration to prepare an action plan for the implementation of the National Strategy for Fighting Corruption and the updating of the strategy for building a modern administrative system. The tasks of the Minister of Justice and the Foreign Minister would be to prepare a plan for action for the implementation of the strategy for reforming the Bulgarian juridical system and to prepare an edict for the organization and the coordination of the preparation of Bulgaria for a membership of the European Union and for the negotiations with the European Union. The Foreign Minister must also prepare a communication strategy and a strategy for accelerated joining the European Union. Ministers of Finance and of Regional Development must prepare a strategy for the participation of Bulgaria in the structure funds of the European Union. Minister of Energy Industry must prepare the updated strategy for developing energy industry and energy efficiency after carrying out obligatory consultations with the European Commission. The main task of the Cabinet would be keeping an accelerated and efficient rhytm of negotiations and fulfilling the commitments that Bulgaria had taken upon itself as for the negotiations and the European Association Agreement.



British Consultant Assesses Army Reform Positively.

Sofia, January 10 (BTA) - Bulgaria is doing everything possible in its preparations for NATO membership, and the military reform currently implemented under the updated Plan 2004 is proceeding well. This assessment was made Thursday by General Sir Jeremy McKenzie, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and consultant of Plan 2004 for the Bulgarian Army reform.

General McKenzie gave a press briefing after meeting with President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Peter Stoyanov. He started a four-day official visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov to review the implementation of Plan 2004.

"Bulgaria must become part of the anti-terror front, within its powers and capacity," Stoyanov said at the meeting, as quoted by his Press Secretariat, in connection with the deployment of a Bulgarian military unit to Afghanistan. McKenzie described Bulgaria's involvement in Afghanistan as a "showcase of our joint efforts."

Stoyanov thanked for Britain's support for the national army reform, particularly as regards the social re-adaptation of career servicemen who are made redundant in the process of troops reduction.

Stoyanov said he has observed "positive indications" that the new government and President-Elect Georgi Purvanov are committed to the army reform. Stoyanov and McKenzie also noted the importance of public support for the process.

"Small is beautiful" was McKenzie's comment on the plans to reduce the numeric strength of the Bulgarian Army to 45,000.


Satanic Death In Russian Church Yard.


A corpse of a 20-year-old boy was found yesterday by a sexton in the yard of the Russian Church in Sofia. The body was naked, lying on its face and buried in the snow. The initial version of the investigators is that this is a case of a ritual suicide. Stanislav Rouskov was student at the New Bulgarian University. A possible homicide is not excluded.

Clinton Greets Parvanov by a Video-Clip.


Elena Yaneva

Former President of the USA Bill Clinton greets Georgy Parvanov with his election for Bulgaria's Head of state by a video-record address to him, Bob Miller, former governor of the Nevada state said after his yesterday's meeting with Parvanov in the building of the National assembly on 'Batenberg' square. The greeting is a part of Clinton's address to the tourist conference 'Bulgaria - Country of Dreams' starting today in the 'Hilton' hotel. The clip will be shown at the opening of the forum in the presence of Georgy Parvanov and PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.



"Bulgaria: Land of Dreams" Conference Opens.

Sofia, January 10 (BTA) - The efforts of the government aim to establish a uniform national policy on the development of tourism as a leading economic sector, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha told the participants in the 1st International Conference on Tourism "Bulgaria: Land of Dreams."

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said Bulgaria needs an expert analysis of the state of the domestic tourist sector, a a package of real measures, a marketing strategy and a massive advertising campaign.

Tourism is very important for the economic development of the country. It is a viable mechanism for job creation and the latter is one of the items on the government's priorities list, he said.

Lending to projects for the development of fixed tangible assets in tourism, promotion of small and medium-sized businesses and the training of hospitality personnel are among the main tasks of the government in its efforts to develop the sector.

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha noted that a new law on tourism was drafted as well as a statutory framework for the creation of specialized infrastructure.

The main goal of the government is to diversify the tourist services. Bulgarian has great potential in areas such as eco and rural tourism, he said.

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is of the opinion that the tourist products offered in Bulgaria leave somewhat to be desired quality-wise. It is not that important to have a great number of tourist visits as is to make sure that those people that do come once are willing to come again in the future, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said.

A consensus has been reached on the priority importance of the tourist sector, President elect Georgi Purvanov says in an message to the participants in the forum.

Economy Minister Nikolai Vasil also addressed the forum. He expressed hope the growth of the tourist sector in 2002 will beat analysts' expectations and noted that tourism was the main driving force behind the country's economic growth in 2000 and 2001.


Three to Fight for UDF Leadership.


Elena Yaneva

Ekaterina Mihailova, Nadezhda Mihailova and Dimiter Abadzhiev will be nominated for leaders of the UDF at the National conference of the Union in March. All of them will be nominated by the National Executive Council, said a source from Rakovski 134 Str. Each of the candidates has advantages and suporters. Ekaterina Mihailova has been preferred because of her long-term parliamentary and organizational experience. Nadezhda - because of her international contacts, and Abadzhiev has been launched as the new image of the party.

Maxim Hasn't Given His Consent for the Pope's Visit in "Alexander Nevski'


Bishops from the Holy Synod split again in two fractions.

Silvia Nikolova

Patriarch Maxim and part of his bishops in the Holy Synod are split in two fractions for the visit of Pope John Paul II in May. This transpired after the meeting with the legates yesterday. Archbishop Leonardo Sandrini - first deputy-secretary of the State Secretariat of the Vatican, and Archbishop Renato Bocardo handed a pope's letter to Father Maxim, where the Pontiff extended his thanks for the honor to visit Bulgaria. John-Paul II wishes to attend the service for May 24 in 'St. Al. Nevski' cathedral, the Rila Monastery, the city of Plovdiv and to hold talks with Patriarch Maxim. If His Holiness wants to pay me a visit during his coming here, he will be given the traditional Bulgarian hospitality. With that phrase Father Maxim tried to avoid answering the question, whether he would let the guest to 'St. Al. Nevski' cathedral at the service for May 24, as well as to the Bulgarian monastery. 'We take the decision at a synod, he excused himself. Neophyte, bishop of Dorostol - Cherven, however, hasted to get a level with him and explained to the journalists that the pope will be let both in the temple and in the Rila Monastery, if he would wishes to.

Stoyanov Left 10,000 Files to Parvanov.


Chief of the NSS General Vladimirov will guard a third president.

Elena Yaneva

President Stoyanov will leave more than 10,000 files with information to his successor Georgy Parvanov. Only in the press-center computers 6250 documents are kept.

Stoyanov leaves in the building of the presidency all the presents he received while being head of state. He'll take with him to his apartment in the residential district of 'Darvenitza' only his personal gifts. Peter Stoyanov hasn't decided what to present to his successor Parvanov at the ceremony on January 22. Five years ago former president Zhelyo Zhelev gave him as a present 'Addresses to the Nation', a book written by him, with wishes for a successful mandate.

Petar Stoyanov and his family will leave the presidential villa 'Kalina' in Boyana before January 22. There will be a repair in the house. The taste of the new occupants will be taken into consideration in the renewing of the estate.

One thing is certain and it is that the chief of the National Security Service General Dimitar Vladimirov will guard new president Georgy Parvanov. Vladimirov was appointed to the post by Zhelyo Zhelev and left at it by Petar Stoyanov. The professionalism of his men was obvious during the visit of Bill Clinton in Sofia. Later in August they saved the life of Malta's president. The driver of one of the cars died in the accident then.

One of the most precious qualities of the General and his team is discretion. Because they not only guard the first couples of the state but keep their family secrets, too.


January 10, 1997 - People Gave a Sign.


The Bulgarians bade farewell to party bias and punished by ballots rather than stones.

Ekaterina Nikolova
Konstantin Sabchev

Did we learn anything during the five years from that horrible night at which the police beat students and MPs in front of the Parliament. When the people rebelled against poverty and rushed into the building of the National Assembly? Yes, we did. And one thing we learnt, for sure: the patience of Bulgarians knows no end. But if lost - dare not to confront them! They make no difference between the UDF, or BSP, strangers or friends. On January 10, 1997 people gave a sign to the world, the politicians and themselves. They showed explicitly, that if someone takes to viciously mocking at their life, they are keen for blowing back. At the time, the then governors really mocked at everyone. There was no bread available. The dollar's rates upped to Argentinean sounding 3,200 levs. And in the Council of Ministers office building a self-admiring prime-minister walked down the lobbies of his own irrational world. He obstinately refused to resign. His inherent surly disposition impeded him to give any explanations to people - no matter of good or bad events. January 10 made the way for another man of surly disposition - the one with the violet. He also stepped down, slapped in the face by people. Though, at elections. Today, half a decade later, those passions faded away. But discussions go on. To some, those events were a "democratic revolution". Or, to Evgeni Dainov, a "nationwide civil uprising with an impact as significant as that of the April one (1876)". To others, "a provocation paid for by CIA and IMF". To some, a shady deal of a tremendous scale that brought to brokers profits of some $800 million. It is a fact, however, that Bulgaria is not the same any more. The nation broke free from the ideologemmae. It happened as early as when late Nikolai Dobrev opposed Videnov and did not fling the army on the people. And when on February 4, Dobrev gave up the mandate a second Socialist government to be formed. Five years later people proved at elections as well that they do not think in terms of two political forces any more. They are already punishing the incompetent rulers by casting ballots, rather than throwing cobbles.

Panic in the airport over 10 million euro.


Banknotes Spilled in Plane, Police and Customs Go Crazy. The money was meant for UBB, nothing is stolen, maintains the chief of Sofia airport.

Pavlina Zhivkova
Victoria Serafimova

Ten million euro spilled amidst suitcases and bags in the luggage compartment of a plane nearly made the personnel of Sofia airport crack up. Torn packages with spilling over bundles of dollars and euro raised the alarm among policemen, customs officers and bank clerks. The action started at 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday, when an aircraft of Austrian Airlines from Vienna landed in Sofia. Then, the uniformed officers watching over the baggage unloading noticed that there are banknotes spilled amidst suitcases. The money leaked from 23 sacks and packages supposedly containing 3 million euro plus the same amount of USD. The "cargo" weighing 233 kg was meant for the United Bank of Bulgaria. The whole story had a happy end, nothing was missing, sources from the airport reported.

According to the rules, the packages had to be in a special cargo and mail compartment, which is personally controlled by the flight commander. After the check-up of the currency the representatives of the bank signed a protocol that they have no claims for the "luggage". Austrian Airlines sent a fax which explains that the packages had been dispatched with broken wrappings.

Stoitchkov to Inaugurate Fanclub of CSKA in Chicago.


The mega-star of the Bulgarian football - Hristo Stoichkov, will be honorary guest at the first meeting of the CSKA fanclub in Chicago. It was set up three days ago. The 'Gold Ball' prize winner in 1994 accepted the invitation for the celebration, which is to take place on January 20. Fans of CSKA who live in other cities of the Northern America, are also invited at the meeting. The overseas fanclubs of the 'reds' are also in New York, Toronto, Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro.



Athens, January 10 (BTA) - The chief of the State Agency for Youth and Sports, Vassil Ivanov, and the Greek Deputy Minister of Culture who is in charge of sports, Iannis Kourakis, agreed on Thursday that a bilateral commission will be established to be in charge of cooperation in connection with the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.

To step up the upgrading of the existing sports infrastructure in Bulgaria, Greece will try to arrange funding under EU programmes.

Vassil Ivanov is on a delegation visiting Greece on the invitation of the Greek sports authorities. The delegation also includes Bulgarian Olympic Committee President Ivan Slavkov and the President of the Bulgarian Boxing Federation, Marin Dimitrov.

The two sides reached an agreement to arrange regular annual meetings of the sports ministers of the Balkan countries in a bid to improve cooperation in the field, to restore the Balkan championships in a variety of sports and co-organize events on a regional and European level.

Kourakis accepted an invitation to visit Bulgaria some time after the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Later on Thursday the Bulgarian delegation has meetings at the Greek Olympic Committee and with the chairwoman of the committee in charge of the 2004 Olympics, Iana Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.


Off to a Bad Start.

Balkan Express

Does the Morning Foretell the Day?

Nebojsa Malic
January 10, 2002

There is a saying in the former Yugoslavia, that morning foretells the day. In other words, the way something begins portends how it will end. The accuracy of this proverb is somewhat dubious. If taken to heart, it would mean that 2002 though just beginning is likely to end badly.


Following the Julian calendar, Orthodox believers throughout the Balkans gathered this Monday to celebrate Christmas. Yet morning never came for Dragoslav Markovic, owner of a shop in eastern Kosovo town of Kamenica. He was blown up by a hand grenade, in his shop, on Christmas Eve. Occupation authorities first claimed the grenade was thrown into the shop, then said that Markovic had tripped a wire and set off an elaborate booby-trap. The Serbian government's commissar for Kosovo, the usually pro-NATO Nebojsa Covic, criticized the UN and NATO authorities for failing to beef up security in Kosovo during the holidays, despite the Albanian threats of violence.

Faced with Serb outcry over the death, and Covic's uncharacteristic condemnation, the UN quickly came up with another version of the event: Markovic blew himself up, ineptly handling the hand grenade that somehow materialized in his shop. If true, this would make Covic look like a buffoon, Kosovo Serbs would appear needlessly paranoid, the Albanians would be utterly blameless indeed, slandered and injured! and the UN police, plagued with corruption and sex scandals, would appear professional and serious. Truth, apparently, is whatever it needs to be.


The UN and NATO's three-ring circus in Kosovo is in desperate need of some credibility right now. Last week saw the abrupt resignation of its head, former Danish defense minister Hans Haekkerup, for "personal reasons." Unconfirmed reports indicate that Reichskomissar Haekkerup angered some militant Albanians over the last few months, and received death threats from them as a result. Confirmation, however, is highly unlikely even if the rumors are proven true. It would be too damaging to UNMIK and NATO's reputation.

Another rumor has it that Haekkerup will be succeeded by the experienced German Michael Steiner, who formerly assisted the UN/NATO Reichskomissar in Bosnia, then became the German chancellor's personal foreign policy advisor. In the meantime, Haekkerup's post of viceroy is occupied by an American bureaucrat.

It is doubtful that even the most competent viceroy would be able to control the immeasurable stupidity of his bureaucrats, though. Just last week, UNMIK distributed thousands of fake Euros through an Albanian newspaper, aiming to acquaint its subjects with Kosovo's new currency. However, it failed to mark them as samples, practically releasing counterfeit Euros into the occupied province's notoriously criminal economy.


To UNMIK's credit, it is not the only stupid, incompetent and often evil government in the world. Indeed, most governments embody all three characteristics as part of their job description. A specific example, however, can be found just a bit further north, in Serbia.

In a move commended by the IMF, World Bank, and most of the Empire, ministers in the Yugoslav government allied with Serbia's Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic closed the four largest banks in Serbia. Refusing to take responsibility for the closure, the Yugoslav finance minister resigned last Thursday.

According to Yugoslavia's central bank, the four commercial banks were insolvent and burdened with billions of dollars in debt. As usual, the truth is a bit more complicated. The banks were not private, but government enterprises, and their losses were really a consequence of government policies. Many employees barricaded themselves in their offices, refusing to leave and accusing the government of acting on the Empire's orders. Some genuine libertarians have bluntly accused the Djindjic regime of destroying the domestic banking system to make room for foreign commercial banks. It goes without saying that many such banks would pay substantial bribes in exchange for favored status granted by the government...

In the entire hubbub, no one bothered to reflect on the fate of bank customers, whose meager possessions were effectively expropriated by the state they trusted to protect them.


So far, every time Djindjic's confederates have seized more power whether by shattering the Constitution, destroying the Supreme Court or staging a coup in the Parliament President Kostunica's party has condemned the move, had its officials in the affected branches resign, and then done absolutely nothing. With every coup and every resignation, Djindjic has amassed more power and Kostunica has been further removed from it.

Most of the governing coalition has already thrown its support behind Djindjic, sensing the real power in the land. Through his allies and vassals, the Prime Minister now controls the judiciary, the police, foreign affairs, the parliament, finances indeed, just about everything except the military. It is still loyal to Kostunica, though only as long General Pavkovic stays at its helm. Djindjic has been pushing hard to have Pavkovic replaced, and Kostunica has actually resisted. But with most of the power already in Djindjic's hands, and the Hague Inquisition eager to accuse Pavkovic of "crimes" in Kosovo during NATO's 1999 attack, Kostunica may be fighting a lost battle. With some help from his outside friends, but mostly through his own ruthless cunning and Kostunica's ineptness, Djindjic is poised to seize absolute power in Serbia any day now.


Between murders, coups, crime, plunder, and ever-present lies, 2002 has not started out well. But unexpected encouragement comes from Bosnia, of all places. Even as this dysfunctional dystopia struggled into another year of precarious existence, there were no less than two signs that its peoples are beginning to regain some of their formerly discarded self-respect.


Bosnia's central government has requested that the United States arrest and extradite former Sarajevo regime official Mohamed Sacirbey, on charges of embezzling some $600,000 in state funds. Though a US citizen, Sacirbey served Alija Izetbegovic's government as Ambassador at the UN (1992-96, 1998-2000) and Foreign Minister (1996-98). If the Empire really believes its own rhetoric about the importance of Bosnia's central government, then Sacirbey will soon be on his way to a Sarajevo jail. That is a big "if," however.


Another ray of sunshine comes from Bosnia's Serb Republic (RS), which celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday. After years of silently suffering the vitriolic attacks of the International Crisis Group (ICG), the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) struck back this past weekend, dismissing the ICG an "informal group of lobbyists" with no right to formulate the Empire's policies or pass judgment on matters in Bosnia.

Of course, it is precisely ICG's "informality" that enables these lobbyists to propose measures the Empire would love to embrace openly but is held back by whatever shreds of international dignity still remain. However nave and ineffective, this criticism nonetheless indicates that some Bosnians are no longer in the thrall of the Empire's busboys and that is always encouraging.


It will, naturally, take far more effort to free the benighted Balkans lands from Imperial occupation and poisonous influence, and even more to cure these societies from the deadly affliction of repressive government. Yet each small act of resistance is a good start, and each voice of responsibility is a flicker of light in the darkness. It is worth remembering that the proverb from the beginning of this text has never been conclusively proven.

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