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Erler: We Wait Parvanov in Berlin. The fog frustrated the program of Gernot Erler - deputy-leader of the GSDP's parliamentary group. The prominent social-democrat, who is also chief of the German - Bulgarian forum, arrived out of schedule at the Sofia airport. 'We expect President-elect Georgi Parvanov in Berlin,' he said for 'Standart' PHOTO Kiril Konstantinov (SH)


Iran's Parliament speaker, Mehdi Karrobi, said January 15, 2002, that he would not chair parliament until judiciary hard-liners released outspoken reformist deputy Hossein Loqmanian from prison. Loqmanian, a veteran of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, was imprisoned last month after being convicted of criticizing the judiciary in a parliamentary speech. Karrobi visits the Bulgarian Parliament in Sofia in this January 24, 2001, file photo. (Dimitar Dilkoff/Reuters)


Chief of Ukrainian armed forces General Staff Petro Shuliak, left, and his Macedonian counterpart Metodi Stamboliski pass by the Guard of Honor at the defense ministry in Ukraine's capital Kiev Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2002. A Macedonian military delegation is in Kiev for an official visit. (AP Photo/Viktor Pobedinsky)

Ukraine to modernize Macedonian arms.


Kiev, 15 January: Macedonia does not plan any new weapon purchases, the chief of the General Staff of the Republic of Macedonia army, Col-Gen Metodi Stamboliski told a news conference today. He was speaking after a meeting with the chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces, First Deputy Minister of Defence Petro Shulyak.

Stamboliski said Macedonia would like to modernize the arms already purchased, including tanks delivered from Ukraine.

A centre servicing tanks and APCs will be set up in Skopje, and Macedonia expects Ukraine to send its specialists there.

For his part, Shulyak explained that Ukraine would deliver spare parts, work together with Macedonian specialists on repairs and provide technical support.



Spokesman of the Macedonian Army Staff Colonel Blagoja Markovski told MIA on Tuesday that no agreement for buying weaponry was made with Ukraine. He stressed that the only goal of the visit of a Macedonian military delegation of Kiev was to enhance military cooperation between the armies of the two countries.

"The Ukrainian Army is ready to provide assistance to Macedonia in regard to maintenance and modernization of the weapons already purchased from Ukraine," Markovski said.

Recently some world news agencies reported that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced that it would continue equipping the Macedonian Army with modern armored vehicles and tanks.

A Macedonian military delegation, led by Head of the ARM Staff lieutenant-General Metodi Stamboliski paid on Tuesday a visit to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and to the Ukrainian Army Headquarters.

The Macedonian delegation was also received by Ukrainian Defense Minister Vladimir Petrovic Skidenko.

Out of the agenda, the former Ukrainian Defense Minister and now military advisor to the Ukrainian President, Oleksandr Kuzmuk also received the Macedonian delegation. At the meeting, Mr. Kuzmuk said he would continue urging enhancement of the friendly relations between Macedonia and Ukraine.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Macedonian delegation held meeting with Ukrainian deputy minister of foreign affairs Igor Harcenko. The meeting was focused on the security situation in the Balkans, especially in Macedonia.

"At all meetings, Ukrainian representatives expressed full support to all Macedonia's activities aimed to strengthening of the peace in the country," Colonel Markovski said.




The Macedonian Parliament adopted Tuesday a law on special rights for the members of the Macedonian security forces and their families.

According to the Law, the members of the security forces and their families are entitled to financial support if unemployed, free health care, providing of employment, priority in acquiring of apartment under rental agreement or by granting of credit and other benefits.

So, an unemployed member of the security forces is entitled to financial support equal to 30% of an average salary in Macedonia in the current month, for no longer than two years.

A member of the security forces, who was injured or got sick during his service in defending of the country's sovereignty is entitled to free health care for no longer than two years.

According to this law, the Macedonian Government is obliged to employ one member of a family of a killed soldier at the state institutions without a public announcement.

Disabled veteran and family of killed soldier, who have no residence, are entitled to an apartment under rental contract or to granting a credit.

Family of a killed soldier is entitled to financial assistance at amount of 35 average salaries.

Children of disabled veterans and killed soldiers are granted priority for enrolling in the national secondary schools and universities, if they meet the required conditions. They are also entitled to scholarship, free textbooks and have priority for accommodating in dormitories.

Security Council Of Macedonia Warns: Albanian Militants Could Become More Active.


A distressing forecast is being made by Macedonian Security Council. In regions settled mainly by Albanians, already this spring armed conflict could recommence. Alas! This should be expected...

At its latest sitting, the council recommended to Macedonian security forces to act most guardedly on the territories with Albanian populations majority.

Really, in Macedonia, in north-west of the country, already several times violation by Albanian militants of the peace agreement was noticed, signed by their representatives with mediation of the West, however the parliament of the country has passed amendments to the fundamental law corresponding with demands of Albanian minority.

Macedonian police patrols are often simply not allowed by guerrillas of Great Albania to villages settled by ethnic Albanians. Moreover, fearing for their lives, international observers of OSCE, EU and NATO refuse to accompany the policemen in such raids.

According to some reports, at the moment, the Macedonian police controls about 20 Albanian settlements in areas of Tetovo, Skopje, Kumanovo and Gostivar, while constant presence of the police to be established in other 60 settlements. To fasten this process in some way, the Council of National Security decided to work out special measures for taking control of the country.

Though, these special measures hardly will turn out to be effective, for this situation could be effectively settled only with an active military interference of the state, while such decision is being opposed by peace keepers of the US and NATO. Now, the most southern republic of former Yugoslavia unfortunately does not control de-facto its own territory, while oppression of Slavic population is being continued.

Now, the freshest example of Madeconain Albanians peaceableness. A group of Albanian youth threw stones at a bus with Serbs in the town Strpce, not far from General Jankovic Yugoslav-Macedonian frontier post. The bus was returning from Skopje. One person was injured. At the spot, Polish and Greek soldiers of KFOR were present standing guard over the frontier.




Special EU envoy to Macedonia Alain Le Roy said at a press conference held on Tuesday that although the situation in Macedonia was not yet stable, it had much improved from October 2001.

Regarding the announcements for "spring assault", he said that according to their intelligence sources there were no indicators that something like that could happen.

Le Roy said he still had no information on the whereabouts of the missing civilians from the Tetovo area. "I have no information whether these people are dead or alive," he said.

On Monday evening, Le Roy met with President Boris Trajkovski and with relatives of the 12 missing ethnic Macedonians. He also reported that Head of the Commission for Missing and Kidnapped Persons Lars Noeberg met on Monday with the leader of the disbanded "NLA" Ali Ahmeti, who promised to help in finding of information for the missing persons.

Regarding the announced changes to the General Plan for police redeployment to the regions impacted by the crisis, the EU envoy said: "We can be flexible. The general matrix of the plan will remain unchanged, but changes are needed in certain parts of the plan so it could be more compatible with the real situation on ground." Changes to the general plan would be reviewed today by representatives of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, OSCE and NATO mission "Amber Fox."

The changes aim to provide 24-hour police patrolling in the crisis regions. For that purpose, as Le Roy said, there is a need of police stations in the villages.

EU envoy to Macedonia Le Roy condemned the last announcement from so-called ANA, and added that according to their information this was a matter of small number of people who want to destabilize the country.

He reported that today and tomorrow he would meet again with experts from the political parties, in order to review the possibilities for continuation of the parliamentary debate on the four disputable points from the Law on local self-government.

In his opinion, it will take from two to four months for all conditions from the Framework Agreement to be fulfilled. Early elections could take place in May or June, or later, he said.

"We hope that elections would take place in that period. If the date is specified, that would urge the ministries to work better and faster," Le Roy stated, adding that the census should take place before the elections, i.e. in April.

Alain Le Roy expressed satisfaction from the realization of President Trajkovski's statement for amnesty, pointing out that the Government has completely fulfilled its obligations.

Le Roy said that the international community would demand from Macedonia to pass a Law on amnesty, which would be obliging also for the next government.

Responding to a journalist's question, Le Roy said he was surprised by the awarding of the special forces' members with medals with religious motives, adding that there was no such practice in his country, nor in most of the EU countries.



"According to the decision of the Macedonian Government adopted at the end of 2001, the employees in the state administration will receive Denar 2,000 in the next ten days, and in return of the other means amounted to Denar 4,000 they will receive food products," spokesman of the Government Gjorgji Trendafilov said after the session of the government.

The Plan on redeployment of the police in the crisis regions was not discussed at Tuesday's session, as further consultations with the internationally representatives were necessary. After the completion of the consultations, the changes to the Plan on police' redeployment will be put on the agenda of the Government.

"According to the information from the Interior Ministry, they have developed the changes and are waiting for the consultations with the international representatives to take place," he said.

The conclusions of the competent commission regarding the changes and the supplements to the Law on Deposit Insurance were approved so the citizens who have saving accounts will gain different status and can deposit their money in the banks.

The ministers also discussed the criminal offenses registered by the Ministry of Interior by September 2001, regarding the hiding of tax.

In regard with the supply of M-24 helicopters for the Ministry of Interior, Trendafilov pointed out that they will be used for transport.

Asked about the realization of the requests included in "Partnership for Peace" program, Trendafilov said that this program should be understood as possibility to see the development and the compatibility of the Macedonian armed forces in comparison with NATO member-countries. "There are other programs that refer more directly to the progress and the development of the Macedonian armed forces, which are more dominant," Trendafilov added.




President of the Macedonian Chess Association and Macedonian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Supply Marjan Gjorcev opened Tuesday afternoon the international chess tournament "Skopje - Open 2002."

Twenty-four chess players from 16 countries including 25 Macedonian players will take part at the tournament.

"The Macedonian Chess Association with its organization promotes the chess in Macedonia," Minister Gjorcev said. Besides the sport element included in this creative game "Skopje - Open 2002" also delivers a message of humanity from Republic of Macedonia to all chess fans

"Fersped" and "Skopska Pivarnica" supported the tournament.

Vice President of the Macedonian Government Zoran Krstevski, Minister of Transport and Communications Ljupco Balkovski, Minister of Culture Ganka Samoilovska - Cvetanova and several deputies from the Macedonian Parliament were present at the opening.


Twenty-five are grand masters, including three women, six are international masters and 11 FIDE masters. The holders of the tournament are Kiril Georgiev from Bulgaria and Aleksander Onischuk from Ukraine, with 2,655 points. Georgiev holds the 33rd and Onischuk holds the 34th place on FIDE's rating list. Mladen Palac from Croatia and former European Champion Natalija Zukova from Ukraine also confirmed their presence, while Vladimir Bakla cancelled his participation due to the illness.

The parties will be played in nine rounds according to the Swiss system. This year's 18th Open Chess Tournament will be one of the series of eight grand prix FIDE's tournaments. The results will be also considered for the general placement in FIDE's grand prix series, and the condition for placement on this list is to take part in three tournaments of this kind. The Final will take place in Oslo.

The award fund is 8,500, out of which 2,500 will be presented to the winner. Eleven of the domestic chess players were invited to participate in the tournament according to their rating, nine were Ljualified in the City's Championship of Skopje, while five obtained "wildcard" from the Macedonian Chess Association. These are: Danilo Andreeski, Filip Pancevski, Atanas Kizov, Nikola Vasovski and Dritan Suaibi.

The entire Macedonian representation led by grand master Nikola Mitkov will take part at the tournament.

The results will be presented on the web site: www.chess.mkd.com, which will be updated regularly.

The first day of the "Skopje Open 2002" chess tournament ended with the following results:

board 1: Kiril Georgiev (Bulgaria) - Orce Damcevski (Macedonia) 1:0

board 2: Natasa Bojkovic (FR Yugoslavia) - Aleksandar Oniscuk (Ukraine) 0:1

board 3: Aleksander Graf (Germany) - Vanco Stamenkov (Macedonia) remie

board 4: Dejan Stojanovski (Macedonia) - Mladen Palac (Croatia) remie

board 5: Atanas Kolev (Bulgaria) - Rui Damaso (Portugal) 1:0

board 6: Marjan Mitkov (Macedonia) - Vladimir Kosirev (Russia) 0:1

board 7: Vladimir Georgiev (Russia) - Droberto Paramos (Spain) 1:0

board 8: Rolando Kutirov (Macedonia) - Branko Damljanovic (FR Yugoslavia) 0:1

board 9: Caba Horvat (Hungary) - Zoran Ilic (Macedonia) 1:0

board 10: Atanas Kizov (Macedonia) - Ivan Ivanisevic (FR Yugoslavia) remie

board 11: Bojan Kurajica (BiH) - Oliver Orandziev (Macedonia) 1:0

board 12: Blagoja Gicev (Macedonia) - Dorian Rogocenko (Romania) 0:1

board 13: Luis Galego (Portugal) - LJubisa Andonovski (Macedonia) 1:0

board 14: Mert Erdogdu (Turkey) - Igor Miladinovic (Greece) 0:1

board 15: Emir Dizdarevic (BiH) - Nikola Vasovski (Macedonia) 1:0

board 16: Venci Popov (Macedonia) - Nikola Mitkov (Macedonia) remie

board 17: Trajko Nedev (Macedonia) - Ljubomir Ilic (Macedonia) 1:0

board 18: Dejan Dinev (Macedonia) - Dragoljub Jacimovic (Macedonia) remie

board 19: Spiridon Skembris (Greece) - Dejan Georgievski (Macedonia) 0:1

board 20: Vlatko Petkovski (Macedonia) - Zvonko Stanojoski (Macedonia) 0:1

board 21: Igor Efimov (Italy) - Atanas Rusomanov (Macedonia) 1:0

board 22: Filip Pancevski (Macedonia) - Natalija Zukova (Ukraine) remie

board 23: Joana Dvorakovska (Poland) - Daniel Adreeski (Macedonia) 1:0

board 24: Dritan Suaibi (Macedonia) - Vlatko Bogdanovski (Macedonia) 0:1.

Parvanov Founds a Public Council for EU and NATO.


Lyubomir Mihaylov

Georgy Parvanov intends to establish a public Council for the Euro-Atlantic integration of Bulgaria, Gernot Erler, vice-president of the German Social-Democratic party, said after a meeting with the new Bulgarian president. Because of the mist he landed in Sofia with several hours delay and his meetings with Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Petar Stoyanov were postponed. At the meeting with Mr. Parvanov I received confirmation about the orientation of Bulgaria to NATO and the EU. Mr. Purvanov also confirmed the wish of this country to further develop the bi-lateral cooperation between Bulgaria and Germany , which is a basic factor in both the organizations, said Mr. Erler.


Gerdzhikov: I won't give my resignation.


Parliamentary boss Ognyan Gerdzhikov declared that he wouldn't give his resignation on February 1. He had promised that he would resign if the voting with other people's cards didn't stop. I think that I'll manage to make the MP's fulfil their duties, he said yesterday. To him the system didn't work because of some mistake in the software product. I'm ready to pay the expenses to the firm personally, he said. He did not expect any split in the NMS.


Beating or Bribes for Tax Inspectors.


Neyka Krasteva

We lived to see modern times. The strikes of students and miners are part of history. Now the representatives of other professions become fashionable. After the customs officers now comes the turn of the tax inspectors. The subordinates of Finance Minister Milen Velchev threaten with a strike in the beginning of February. Their demands include: bonuses and protection alike the one of policemen. And in addition - someone to listen to them. But there's no one. The ones who should do this are too busy increasing the existing taxes and introducing new ones. The time hasn't come somebody to say who and how will collect the taxes. The tax inspectors are right. Good or bad, the state relies on them to fill the treasury. It's impossible with a salary of 200 levs to go around the luxurious restaurants and draw acts for concealed incomes to their owners. Or to enter the offices of firms-phantoms created only on the purpose to drain VAT. Such a tax inspector has two perspectives before him - to take a bribe or to be beaten. In both cases nothing enters the budget.



Establishment of NMS as a Party Postponed.


The forum could be reappointed for April 6, Emil Koshlukov said.

Nadelina Aneva

Probably the establishment of the NMS as a party will be postponed, because the drafts of the program and the statutes wouldn't be ready till January 26, Emil Koshlukov said. It's possible that the establishment be postponed even till April 6, as Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said some time ago. For now the PM hadn't commented the categorical statements of Ognyan Gerdzhikov and Plamen Panayotov that NMS will become a party on January 26. I don't see anyone, except the parliamentary group itself, who could decide when the establishment would take place, Emil Koshlukov said yesterday.


Good for Stephan!

INTERVIEW Standartnews: Bobeva

I'm surprised how mayor Sofiyanski made Standart and Poor's work so inexpensively.


- Mrs Bobeva, how would you comment the accusation raised against Sofia mayor Stephan Sofiyanski?

- What's happened after all?! Nothing! As an expert I can comment that Standart and Poor's is the best rating agency. Whatsoever cooperation with it is useful. It has an extraordinary respect all over the world. The 'Black Sea Bank', whose president am I, also selected Standart and Poor's to draw up its rating. The company's tariff is deadly. I'm highly surprised by the price to map up the assessment of the Sofia credit rating. I'm also surprised how mayor Sofiyanski managed to persuade them to work at low prices of the sort. I will say frankly:

"Bravo" to Stephan. He is a great businessman. I, in my capacity of bank vice-president, didn't manage to obtain even five times bigger sum, at that for very small service.

- Whom is that strike targeted against?

- I wouldn't like to comment the point. But it will affect the other municipalities, which are intent to issue Eurobonds. They may backtrack of such deal. But it shouldn't be that way. The local self-government couldn't be in progress without money.





Special Coordinator Encourages Bulgaria's Participation in Balkan Pact.

Sofia, January 15 (BTA) - Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and South Eastern Europe Stability Pact Special Coordinator Erhard Busek discussed infrastructure projects and Bulgaria's ambition to play a central role in processes related to the region's stabilization.

Busek told the press here on Tuesday he is ready to hear initiatives aimed to increase Bulgaria's involvement in regional coordination. Busek recalled that he had first met with the Prime Minister in his (Busek's) capacity as coordinator of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), adding that now it is his pleasure to meet Saxe-Coburg-Gotha again.

Busek has invited Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to a meeting of the Stability Pact Business Advisory Council to be held in Sofia February 7-8.

After meeting with President-Elect Georgi Purvanov earlier in the day, Busek said the Business Advisory Council will consider opportunities to attract external investment in Bulgaria and the region. A special representative of the Southeast European countries to the Stability Pact will be elected.

The Pact administration is considering the establishment of structures to coordinate the activities of the Stability Pact, SECI, and the EU programmes for the region.

The future role of the Southeast European special representative will be essential in cross-border cooperation, the guest said. The countries of the region are expected to identify their priorities in order to settle emerging problems more expeditiously.

National Stability Pact Coordinator Vladimir Filipov will probably represent Bulgaria in SECI, said Ivan Stancioff, former Bulgarian foreign minister and ambassador to the United Kingdom, who has worked with Busek for years.

Busek is paying his first official visit to Bulgaria after recently assuming his current office. Also on Tuesday, he received the Order of the Balkan Range First Class for exceptional accomplishments in his capacity as SECI coordinator.

"Bulgaria attaches paramount importance to the Stability Pact and its potential," President Stoyanov said at the ceremony.

"We very much hope that Bulgaria may benefit from the Pact's initiatives as soon as possible. This is a matter of reciprocal efforts due to be made by our government and Bulgarian business, and the Pact administration, and it is also a matter of awareness of the problems facing Bulgaria and the region," Stoyanov said.

The President further noted that "regional problems and difficulties can be better addressed with the understanding and help of people with a vision such as shared by Mr. Erhard Busek - a vision which stresses the prompt integration of Southeast European countries in united Europe. Bulgarians have always felt they belong in Europe."

In his address of thanks, Busek said what he has done so far is what any European is supposed to do. He said the honour obliges him to persist with his efforts for the region's development within the Stability Pact framework.

He noted the historic bonds between Bulgaria and his native Austria. Today, the two countries continue to develop their relations on the basis of a shared interest in the region's integration as an element of all-European integration, Busek said. In this context, the guest underscored the role of the Bulgarian government and diplomacy, particularly the role of Ivan Stancioff.

Busek pledged continued commitment to the building of an Elias Canetti Centre in Rousse in Northeastern Bulgaria, the native place of the 1981 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Later in the day Busek conferred with Foreign Minister Solomon Passy.

"I regard the fact that Bulgaria is the destination of the new Special Coordinator's first official visit as an expression of support for the country's efforts towards integration in European structures," Passy told reporters.

Busek said his work will focus on achieving "better visibility" in the region. The countries are supposed to state their needs before they seek cooperation with the Pact, he added.

Passy and Busek considered setting up in Sofia a centre for cross-border cooperation in combating organized crime, such as the one based in Bucharest.

Opportunities for establishment of a free trade area in the region were also discussed. It is hoped that the initiative will help create a better business climate. The process is to be completed by the year's end, Busek said.



Foreign Minister Passy Charge d'Affaires Saifi Discuss Bulgaria's Participation in Afghanistan's Restoration.

Sofia, January 15 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Foreign Minister
Solomon Passy and Afghanistan's Charge d'Affaires Mohammad Fazil Saifi discussed at a meeting Tuesday this country's participation in the restoration of Afghanistan.

Bulgaria will attend a donors' conference on the country's restoration in Tokyo January 21 and 22, and will thus join the donors, Passy said after the meeting. Currently, a discussion is underway on the type of humanitarian aid which Bulgaria will offer Afghanistan.

According to the Afghani diplomat, Bulgaria is a major investor in his country. "Many facilities have been built by Bulgarian companies and we are now looking for ways to make them return to Afghanistan," said the Bulgarian Foreign Minister.

Passy added that Bulgarian Charge d'Affaires in Afghanistan Angel Orbetsov leaves for Kabul Friday. According to Passy, Bulgaria's will be the first embassy of a country from Central and Eastern Europe to reopen in Kabul. Orbetsov said his main tasks will be to establish relations with the new Afghani government and to determine the state of Bulgarian property in Kabul. He added that he has information about damages to the Bulgarian property, which were repaired , according to the local staff. In his words, many Bulgarian companies, including Electroimpex and Bulgartabac, have already voiced their wish to return to Afghanistan.



"I Hope Bulgaria's Foreign Policy Will Remain Open, Balanced and Predictable in 2002," President Stoyanov Tells Foreign Diplomats.

Sofia, January 15 (BTA) - "Last year's elections brought into perspective the most formidable challenge to the Bulgarian political elite: how to prevent the transition fatigue and the low living standards of quite a few Bulgarian citizens from leading to disappointment with democracy and withdrawal of support for the reforms," President Peter Stoyanov said Tuesday in a toast speech at the New Year reception which the head of state traditionally hosts for foreign diplomats accredited to Bulgaria.

Stoyanov wished success to the new Bulgarian Government and to his successor in the presidency, Georgi Purvanov, in their efforts to live up to the Bulgarian citizens' expectations of better life.

The reception was attended by Prime Minister Simeon
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, Parliamentary Speaker Ognyan Gerdjikov and politicians that have been involved in Bulgarian foreign policy.

Summing up the outgone year, Stoyanov noted that in recent years the Bulgarian people has been making tremendous efforts to cope with the difficulties of the transition and with the adverse effects of the development of the political situation in the territory of former Yugoslavia.

"The world will remember 2001 for the tragic events on September 11, which showed the vulnerability of contemporary civilization and the need of a new type of solidarity in the face of the new challenges from which not a single country in the world is safeguarded," the President said.

He recalled a number of serious international-scale problems and noted in this context that both Parliament and the Government are demonstrating a very clear and categorical aspiration to uphold Bulgaria's strategic priority: integration with NATO and the EU. "At the beginning of my term in office I called this aspiration 'choice of civilization' for my country, and I geared all my activity as a head of state to its attainment," the outgoing President added.

He expressed the hope that, along with Parliament and the Government, President-elect Georgi Purvanov will also provide very soon tangible proof of continuity in Bulgarian foreign policy, especially in respect of NATO. "The possible enlargement of the Alliance this year is facing the Bulgarian institutions of state, the Bulgarian Army and the entire public with an extraordinary responsibility," he added.

"I would like to believe that in 2002 Bulgaria's policy will remain open, balanced and predictable but also sufficiently active. Undoubtedly, this policy will continue to be guided by the aspiration to my country's European integration, something which not a single Bulgarian political force is calling into question now," Stoyanov said. He expressed the hope that Bulgaria's foreign and home policy will unswervingly conform to European norms and standards and will adhere categorically to the principle of Euro-Atlantic solidarity. Bulgaria must continue to play a key role in the strengthening of good-neighbour relations between the countries in the region and in the region's integration into the common European area of shared security and prosperity," the President said. He spoke about the significance of Bulgaria's good relations with a number of countries and regions and said he hoped that they will be further invigorated and enhanced.

"I am convinced that during its nonpermanent membership of the UN Security Council, Bulgaria will make the greatest possible contribution to the success of the international community's efforts towards building world peace and security, economic progress and sustainable development, and protection of human rights and freedoms," Stoyanov said.

The President thanked the ambassadors for their work, for their cooperation with him during his tenure, and for their understanding of Bulgaria's problems. "Without your support, my country would have been unable to achieve a number of its successes during the last five years," he said, extending best wishes for the New Year to the ambassadors and their countries.

Austrian Ambassador here Georg Potyka noted Stoyanov's contribution to Bulgaria's foreign and domestic policy and expressed conviction that Stoyanov will continue to serve his country even after the end of his presidential term.

This is the last dinner given by Stoyanov for the diplomatic corps. He leaves office on January 22.

Rugova To Be Elected For The First Time.


Anarchy Rules In Kosovo.
Sergei Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

Situation in Serb province Kosovo which is under UN protectorate has become really dramatic. In this way, it was characterized by spokesman for UN Civil Mission, Susan Manual. At the same time, UN missions head in the province, Hans Haekkerup has sent in his resignation, as reported, for domestic reasons.

Radically oriented Albanians do not listen to Western representatives advise to support moderate Rugova, who is practically US and NATO protege, while continuing to carry out their own line. One of these days, already third attempt of Kosovar parliament failed to elect the president of the province. Only 51 deputies (of 120) voted for the only pretender Ibragim Rogova. This time, 10 voices failed to reach the sufficient parliamentary majority.

Though it was clear anyway that the candidacy of Democratic Union of Kosovos leader would not pass. Albanian party of odious Hashim Tachi, ex-leader of the Liberation Army, and Serb coalition Return refused to participate in the voting. Tachi has his own ambitions, while Serbs cannot make it up with Rugovas promise to build an independent republic. Now, a new election will be carried out. The deputies will vote until they are not tired of it. UN and NATO representatives expect political ripeness from Kosovar political figures and that they finally find consensus. Though it is obvious that there is no hint at the newly elected Skupschinas effectiveness. Albanians are simply at another step of development.

There can be no forward movement, taking into account the fact that all Albanian parties are aimed at Kosovos withdrawal from Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in other words, at disintegration of the state. (Before November 17, this was called by the West pre-election promises, as if for attracting more Albanians to ballot boxes). Social, political, economical and other issues are neglected by the elected representatives of the people, because money and personal ambitions reign over the minds. Anarchy is ruling in Kosovo.

As for the Western mediators, it could be supposed that this variant of evolution was forecasted by them. The United States and its main allies from NATO most likely would prefer to see extremist Republic Kosovo, than to give an opportunity to Serbs to return their influence upon the Serb spiritual heart and to strengthen this state which is traditionally friendly towards Russia. For them, it would be easier to establish contacts with Albanians. Now the West seems only to wash its hands of it, while making its demonstrative steps.

Apropos, KFOR commander, general Marcel Valentin said on Saturday he did not exclude declaration of independence of the province. Did he see the things clearly?

Ambassador says Russia opposes Bosnia's Partnership for Peace membership.


Sarajevo, 15 January: Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Bosnia-Hercegovina Aleksandr Sergeyevich Grishchenko has told SRNA that the Moscow authorities are not ready to support proposals and demands by some parties for the cantonization of Bosnia-Hercegovina and the abolition of the [Bosnian] Serb Republic.

Grishchenko said that the Russian Federation viewed Bosnia-Hercegovina as "an integral, multiethnic and democratic state made up of two equal entities, the Serb Republic and the Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina".

"Russia's principled official stance is that any problems in the Dayton structure of Bosnia-Hercegovina can be resolved exclusively as a result of a consensus by all sides, in a way laid down in the Bosnia-Hercegovina Constitution," Ambassador Grishchenko said.

He recalled recent talks in Moscow between the chairman of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Council of Ministers, Zlatko Lagumdzija, and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who said on that occasion that Moscow viewed the Dayton Agreement as "a living organism", a process that included possible changes.

"Some of these changes are already visible, such as the establishment of the Bosnia-Hercegovina State Border Service and other changes that we are witnessing," Ambassador Grishchenko said.

According to him, Russia "is ready to support all changes, on condition that they are a result of agreement arrived at by all sides in Bosnia-Hercegovina"...

Noting that parallel and special ties between the Serb Republic and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on one side and the Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Republic of Croatia on the other are absolutely based on the Dayton Agreement, the Russian ambassador said that - when it comes to Bosnia-Hercegovina joining NATO programmes, "the Russian Federation does not believe that the enlargement of the alliance is conducive to the consolidation of security and trust in Europe".

"This only leads to other divisions. NATO is a military-political organization which is represented throughout Europe, because of which Russia would not greet Bosnia-Hercegovina's possible membership of the Partnership for Peace and NATO," he said.

According to him, there are other options to consolidate security and stability, and one of them is to strengthen regional stability in the Balkans and in this respect Russia is offering an initiative, promoted by President Vladimir Putin, for the signing of agreements between countries in the region by which they would assume the obligation to respect the integrity of signatory-countries to the agreements.

If there was a readiness to embrace this initiative, we would propose holding a Balkan summit, which should result in the signing of these agreements, possibly under UN auspices," the Russian ambassador said.

He believes that "there is still no possibility of a drastic reduction in the number and mandate of international players in Bosnia-Hercegovina, although that process should begin after the expiry of the UN mandate at the end of 2002, which should be normal after six post-Dayton years...

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