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Bulgaria's new President Georgi Parvanov, center, and his Vice President Angel Marin, right, take an oath of loyalty to the country's republican constitution in the presence of Patriarch Maxim, head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church during a ceremony at the parliament in Sofia Saturday, Jan.19, 2002. Parvanov, 44-year-old historian, will be the third president elected by a popular vote after the collapse of communism in 1989. (AP Photo/Dimitar Deinov)


Bulgaria's new President Georgi Parvanov (L) smiles in parliament after his inauguration in Sofia on January 19, 2002, while Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg (R) passes by. Both Parvanov, a former Communist, and Saxe-Coburg, a former king, say their priorities are swift entry into the European Union and NATO but there are some doubts among analysts over the future collaboration by the two leaders with such different political backgrounds. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff


Bulgaria's President-elect Georgi Parvanov and his wife Zorka enter the parliament building in Sofia Saturday, Jan.19, 2002. Parvanov, who had won the November 2001 presidential elections, took an oath of loyality to the country's constitution during a ceremony in the parliament. The 44-year-old historian will be the third president elected by a popular vote after the collapse of Communism in 1989. (AP Photo/Dimitar Deinov)


Blagojce Angelovski, a 26-year old Macedonian, holds the wooden crucifix that he caught in the Vardar river, cast by the Macedonian Archbishop Stefan, in Skopje, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002. By an old tradition, Macedonian Orthodox believers celebrate Epiphany day by jumping for the crucifix into a river, in a ritual that stems from the belief in the purifying powers of water. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)


Macedonian Archbishop Stefan, below right, gives blessing to Blagojce Angelovski, left, who caught a wooden crucifix thrown in the Vardar river, in Skopje, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002. By tradition, Macedonian Orthodox believers celebrate Epiphany day, jumping for the crucifix into a river, in a ritual that stems from the belief in the purifying powers of water. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)


An Orthodox priest puts a cross in the Neva River to bless it on Epiphany in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002. Water that is blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. The Russian Orthodox Church follows the old Julian calendar, according to which Epiphany falls on Jan. 19. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)


A Russian man emerges from a hole in the ice, made in the form of a cross, in the Moscow River after it was blessed by an Orthodox priest on Epiphany in Moscow, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, cleansing themselves with water deemed holy for the day. Water that is blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. TheRussian Orthodox Church follows the old Julian calendar, according to which Epiphany falls on Jan. 19. (AP Photo/Yuri Kozyrev


Belgraders watch Serbian Orthodox believers swim through the cold water of the frozen lake of Ada Ciganlija to retrieve a cross made from ice, traditionally marking Epiphany day, in Belgrade January 19, 2002. REUTERS/Marko Djurica


A Russian believer jumps into the icy waters of the Neva river secured by safety ropes, in central St. Petersburg as she celebrates the religious holiday Baptism of Christ, January 19, 2002. Russians celebrate Baptism as one of the 12 main orthodox religious holidays. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk


A Russian believer is doused with water at the Neva river in central St. Petersburg as she celebrates the religious holiday Baptism of Christ, January 19, 2002. Russians celebrate Baptism as one of the 12 main orthodox religious holidays. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk


Russian winter swimmers get out of an ice covered lake in Moscow in the early hours of January 19, 2002, as they celebrate the Baptism of Christ religious holiday. Russians celebrate Baptism as one of the 12 main orthodox religious holidays. REUTERS/Dima Korotayev


Russian believers kiss the cross as they gather by the river to celebrate the religious holiday Baptism of Christ in the town of Novoierusalim, outside Moscow, January 19, 2002. Russians celebrate Baptism as one of the 12 main orthodox religious holidays. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin


Russian believers kiss the cross as they gather by the river to celebrate the religious holiday Baptism of Christ in the town of Novoierusalim, outside Moscow, January 19, 2002. Russians celebrate Baptism as one of the 12 main orthodox religious holidays. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin




The Great Christian Orthodox Holiday - Epiphany, celebrated in the honor of Jesus Christ's baptism, was marked Saturday through the sermons delivered in the churches, the sanctification of water and the traditional throwing of the Holy Honorable Cross into water.

Albanian Hackers Deface Macedonian Website.

Reality Macedonia - AntiWar, Cristofer Deliso

Skopje, Macedonia – For the past three days, the website of respected Macedonia analyst, Dr. Sam Vaknin has been under attack by Albanian cyber terrorists. When one opens the page (www.geocities.com/vaksam), the following greeting appears: "this page has been hacked (sic) by metal team." Above this is a graphic of the double-headed eagle Albanian flag (adopted by the NLA), with the phrase "proud to be Albanian." Further text in Albanian reads: "fuck all Macedonian mothers and everyone who works with Macedonia."


The supreme irony of the attack is that Dr. Vaknin's highly objective and analytical articles show no particular favoritism and are certainly not inherently anti-Albanian. A former economic advisor to the Macedonian government, Dr. Vaknin pulls no punches in his insightful studies of Balkans economics criticizing Macedonians, Serbians, Albanians, Croatians, etc., in equal measures.

The more sinister aspect of the attack is that Mr. Vaknin today found an unwanted guest on his doorstep. It was a laconic local Albanian, previously known to him, who Vaknin termed a "thug for hire." The Albanian said nothing to him; he seemed to be making a show of intimidation only, and then turned around and left. Despite the fact that Dr. Vaknin has received death threats in the past from extremists on various sides, he is downplaying the danger of this latest attack. "I've received these threats before," he told me. "But I won't stop writing. The only thing that infuriates me is that Geocities has left the hacked site up for three days, and have not responded to several letters from me. All I have received are some bizarre automated responses asking for more information. I get the impression that there is nobody there."

The crucial issue here, for Dr. Vaknin, is one of security. "This reflects very badly on Yahoo/Geocities," he said. "It shows that their security basically sucks. When you sign up with them, you have to give your personal information, address, credit card details can this all become accessible to hackers? This could become grounds for a lawsuit."

Christopher Deliso is a journalist and travel writer with special interest in current events in the areas of the former Byzantine Empire the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, and Caucasus. Mr. Deliso holds a master's degree with honors in Byzantine Studies (from Oxford University), and has traveled widely in the region. His current long-term research projects include the Macedonia issue, the Cyprus problem, and ethnography of Byzantine Georgia.

editors note: In the further e-mail communiaction, Dr. Sam Vaknin informed us that "the thug for hire" was actualy Macedonian not Albanian. However with the previous communication with Mr. Criss Deliso, he was 100% sure that Dr. Vaknin told Deliso that it was Albanian that he knew before. When we find out more details, we will post it on this site as soon as possible.

Germany Extradited the NLA Assassin Habibi.


Skopje, 18 January (MIA) - Person Semi Habibi, convicted of "most extreme acts of terrorism," has been extradited Friday at the Berlin's airport and handed over to the Detention prisonment in Skopje, Macedonian Interior Ministry announced.

Following the order of the investigative judge Nehad Ismaili within Tetovo's elementary court, The Interpol section based in Skopje issued a warrant for Habibi's arrest. Habibi, born in Tetovo, on 16 th of August 1973 has been charged with "most extreme forms of terrorism," according to the Criminal Law of the state.

After the actions undertaken by the Interpol - Wisbaden, person Semi Habibi has been deprived of his freedom on 12 of July, year 2001 in Berlin. Ministry of Justice of Macedonia was asked to submit an official request for extradition on a Diplomatic level to the German Ministry of Justice.

After the request for extradition was submit, The German Government approved the extradition of Semi Habibi and made appeal for his quicker extradition to Macedonia, because of the charges pressed against him for inflicting severe body injures.

Macedonia: a Prelude.


by Christopher Deliso
Reporting from Macedonia
January 19, 2002

Macedonia is a land of myth. Nothing is ever as it seems, and things that seem like nothing are everything. It is a nation, an idea, and a state, all at once and all hazardously dependent on a past that is both bloody and ambiguous and a future that looks to be wavering atop a very steep cliff. And so Macedonia's rich history, and all it drags with it, often seems more like a blessing than a curse. Unhappy memories of Ottoman domination, the skepticism of both Greece and Bulgaria over the nation's very identity, and ongoing Albanian intransigence have all led to the strange mix of qualities that constitute the Macedonian spirit. Proud but peace-loving, fatalistic yet determined, the Macedonians exemplify the Balkan experience.

Slowed by interminable subjugation, ringed by hostile neighbors, they have developed both a bunker mentality and suspicion of outsiders. Yet too often these characteristics are emphasized too much, to the point where they block out the best qualities of the Macedonians: a joyous national pride, hospitality, and a genuine tolerance and love of peace. These qualities should be brought out from the darkness of myth, and into the light of day the ideal they dreamt of on the vivid red-and-yellow sun of the Macedonian flag.

The myth of Macedonia derives not only from its tortuous past. It is sustained in a different way by the physical dimensions of the country itself. Macedonia is small; it can be traversed from one end to the other in well under a day. The war of 2001, so much of which has faded into a willed obscurity, has therefore left its mark across the commonest and closest of places. Driving down the Skopje-Tetovo highway, one can see the very curve where Macedonian soldiers were killed in an ambush from the hillside, or where the civilian roadworkers were kidnapped and mutilated by the NLA. In Tetovo itself, one gazes at the bullet-holes in the sides of houses destroyed in the glaring heat of August, and the mountains above from where the shots were fired. It is now Winter, and the hills are silent, brooding and fog-strewn, but the army checkpoint remains and who knows what the next season holds.

The winter fog, and the snow that accompanies it, clutch Macedonia in a protective embrace; no fighting is likely to occur as long as they stay. Hidden somewhere in the same fog are the truths and half-truths of a complex aggregate of events. "Look," says my guide, as we pass through an underpass on the road from the airport to Skopje. "This is the place where the British soldier died." And indeed, through the thick, icy fog crouches the spot where Sapper Ian Collins met his mysterious end.

The cause of Collins' death, if we remember, was attributed to a rock hurled from the bridge above. Never mind that the Macedonian police found all traces of the accident had been moved immediately by NATO; never mind that the coroners later concluded the type of injury indicated some other cause. The fog of Skopje conjures up another fog, the one made famous by Geraldo Rivera's plea that "the fog of war" was responsible for his fraudulent reporting from Afghanistan.

"The fog of war" did not, of course, slow the frenzy of incoherent reports that were constantly being produced throughout the fighting of 2001. In retrospect we can draw some conclusions, separate some of the truths from the fictions, but this is little solace to the victims of the war, to the refugees and to the relatives of the kidnapped. Like every war, there are not only innocent victims and open antagonisms, but also darker and more unknown currents. And so Macedonia remains not only a land of myth but one of insinuations, whispers, and clandestine alliances. In this sense, it is precisely the same country as it was a century ago, when the "Great Powers" and the various Balkan rivals were playing a complex chess match for control of Macedonia, as an ideal and as a physical space; as the saying went, "he who controls the Vardar controls Europe."

I can see them everywhere, in restaurants, in the streets, in a dingy open-air shopping mall. The protagonists and the unlikely ones swept along into this mess, in 2002, and the new Great Game. They say that the war is over, or at least resting, but I see no letup in the preparations and provisions for a new one. In the hotel bar, men who might be spies stir their drinks, while British soldiers in full camouflage chat on mobile phones. Loud Americans who might be arms dealers talk over breakfast, about how NATO was irritated when the last shipment was botched. "X is our man there," one guy growls, "he's supposed to be on top of that stuff." A Frenchwoman spreads a portfolio out on the next table, illustrating its contents to her peers. Are they business plans? NGO guidelines? They could be anything, but in Skopje, they are certainly not nothing. This snow-stricken, drab city is merely functional; it would not attract anyone who did not have a job to do.

And these are merely the foreigners. The Macedonians themselves are even more suspicious, more conspiratorial, and more convinced of their own fellow citizens' lack of good intentions. Those who believe in their own patriotism are certain that their comrades lack it, and those who see the situation as a lost cause believe that no Macedonians really love their country anyway. Corruption, secret deals, and black betrayals are on everyone's lips; yet even these sentiments are shared only by those who have a perceptible interest in their country. The others are resigned to the disintegration of Macedonia. "Do you know," says one young woman, "that last year, over 70,000 Macedonians moved to Canada? 70,000! Next year, I will go, too."

A curious mixture of fatalism and pride feature prominently in the Macedonian character. The current crisis frozen temporarily by the snow, concealed by the fog is one for which nobody has a solution. There are many theories, and many who would cast blame on both those within and without the country. But in general, Macedonia is locked in a slowly-moving battle of conflicting forces; and all of them have neither the means nor the insight to manipulate the larger situation. Macedonia remains, therefore, both fluid and static, both hopeless and full of possibility. The complexity of the situation on the ground cannot be overestimated. In this complexity especially, there is great similarity to the days of the Balkan Wars and World War I. While one hopes that the final outcome will be less catastrophic this time, talking to anyone here reveals definite reasons for pessimism.

In the next few days, I will present this situation as I have witnessed it, in order to set the scene well in advance of what looks likely to be a larger war in 2002. Whether or not Macedonia will survive as a state, or simply pass over entirely into the realm of myth, is now an open question.



New President Address Parliament.

Sofia, January 19 (BTA) - Newly sworn-in President Georgi Purvanov named full memberships in NATO and the EU as especially important tasks in his speech in parliament on Saturday. He said he will work for a Bulgaria open to the future and the rest of the world.

First of all, there is the matter of full membership in the EU, Purvanov said. In his view, once achieved it will be an attestation of a quality of life and modernity.

Accelerating the accession talks with the EU will undoubtedly be on our priority list, he said. Bulgaria can catch up only if it puts in order its own home and if it meets the European standards and heeds EU recommendations. Purvanov expressed hope that in assessing Bulgaria's readiness, the EU will adopt a broader political approach and will take notice of this country's efforts to strengthen stability in the region, to fight terrorism and overcome the losses incurred in fulfilling its obligations as a member of the international community during the regional conflicts.

Purvanov said the other great task ahead is NATO membership. He said he is convinced that during his mandate and with his signature Bulgaria will become a member of the Alliance.

2002 will be especially important in this respect in view of the fall Prague summit. Bulgaria has proven its consistency with its role as a stability factor in the region and with its participation in the international anti-terror alliance, Purvanov said. An immense amount of work has been done to meet NATO membership criteria but a lot still remains to be accomplished, he said. The military reform should be accelerated to create a modern and combat worthy army. "It is in our future allies' interest to accept as member a country with well-defined national priorities, with an awareness of its responsibilities and with the necessary potential to meet the challenges stemming from the membership in the Alliance," Purvanov said.

In terms of foreign policy, the efforts will focus on strengthening national security, on creating external conditions for accelerated growth and protecting effectively Bulgarian citizens all over the world, Purvanov said. This, in his view, can be achieved through a pragmatic, balanced and multidirectional policy without losing sight of the strategic goals - NATO and the EU.

Purvanov continued the list of priorities with a greater responsibility on Bulgaria's part for the stability and cooperation in Southeast Europe, improvement in relations with Russia, Ukraine and the CIS countries, rediscovering the potential of relations with countries from other regions and work within the framework of international organizations.

According to Purvanov, the success formula is governance through maximum agreement. The presidential institution will not be a source of confrontation but a factor of stability, he said.

Purvanov said he will not request his powers to be extended but will not allow them to be curtailed either.

In his view, the president has enough prestigious powers vested in him by the Constitution and also has a moral prestige. He said he will propose changes to the Constitution that will align the domestic to EU legislation.

Purvanov said he will seek real, sensible and businesslike partnership with the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. He said he will be guided by his concept for security in change and for continuity as regards the political goals and priorities of the country.

He said he will work for tolerance towards the ethnic minorities and their inclusion in the governance of the country, for the strengthening and development of the Bulgarian ethno-political model and for reaching a commonality of the interests of the different social groups. Purvanov said he will work for the unification and strengthening of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The presidential elections conclusively confirmed the republican state system, he said. The presidential institution is the most republic institution of public power. "From this position I will pursue a policy to improve the prestige of the republic and strengthen its parliamentary character," he said.

Purvanov said he will streamline the operation of the Consultative Council on National Security and of the presidential administration which need to face the real problems of the moment.

In his capacity as Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Purvanov said he will work to accelerate the reform and modernization of the army.

He pledged to mobilize in the first months of his term all institutions, political parties and civil structures to form a anti-corruption and anti-crime front. "This policy will only succeed if we have an independent and stable legal system," he said.

He paid tribute to the achievements of his predecessors Zhelyu Zhelev and Peter Stoyanov and said he would do everything in his power to free the domestic political scene of partisanship and fierce confrontation.

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