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Mummers Chase away Evil Spirits. Horrible mummers' masks with horns and bird wings appeared in Pernik yesterday. They participated in the traditional festival of the masquerade games. The holiday is dedicated to chasing away the evil spirits and to abundance, participants in it explained. PHOTO Stoyan Nenov
Bulgarian military team begins inspection mission in Macedonia.
Skopje, 21 January: Inspection team of the Bulgarian military forces starting Monday [21 January] and continuing until January 24, accompanied by the officials from the Department for Control of Armament of the Macedonian Defence Ministry, will carry out a mission inspecting certain areas in the eastern region of the country.
The aim of the mission is confidence and security building measures as one of the basic principles of the inspection missions.
The Republic of Macedonia is obliged to enable to three mission of this kind in one calendar year. The obligation emerges from Vienna document, which is undertaken by 55 member states of the OSCE.
COMBAT AND SURVIVAL: TERRORISTS IN MACEDONIA ARE NLA MEMBERS.
There are plenty of evidence that "the fighters for minority rights" in Macedonia are members of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the Australian magazine "Combat and Survival" reads in its last edition.
MIA presents the magazine commentary on the situation in Macedonia of its two journalists, who visited the Tetovo region last year.
"Right from the start of the armed intrusions from Albania and Kosovo into Macedonia most European politicians and media referred to the rebels as being members of the National Liberation Army (NLA) inferring that they were Macedonians of Albanian ethnicity fighting for minority rights within the boundaries of the country in which they were residents.
Those journalists, including two from Combat and Survival, who ventured into the hills above Tetovo saw plenty of evidence that the fighters were actually members of the KLA abbreviated UCK in the local language. This has now been borne out graphically by even just a cursory glance at the insignia and T-shirts and uniforms, worn by those handing in weapons in last year's essential harvest weapon collections. The Red and Black UCK tags of the Kosovo Liberation Army were everywhere to be seen.
Despite the surrender of more than 3,000 UCK weapons, which after all is just a tiny proportion of those "liberated" from the Albanian state arsenals in 1997, one must question whether these soldiers have really given up the idea of establishing a greater Kosovo, encompassing a large swathe of Northern Macedonia or might they just be waiting for NATO to move elsewhere?
What is even more worrying is the suggestion from quarters that a large number of these clearly well organized soldiers rather than being a rag tag bunch of Albanian Macedonian amateurs fighting for their rights in their own land, might actually be Kosovars who have received conventional para military training, courtesy of NATO, as part of the fledging Kosovo Protection Corps.
Armed attacker wounded in shooting in northern FYROM.
Ekathimerini - AFP
SKOPJE (AFP) - An armed attacker was wounded in the northern part of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) yesterday, in a shooting incident between the Slav-Macedonian army and a group of armed men from neighboring Kosovo, a military spokesman said. Three armed men crossed the border between FYROM and the UN-administrated Yugoslav province of Kosovo near the village of Gosince, 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital Skopje and opened fire on the Slav-Macedonian soldiers around 11.30 a.m. local time, Blagoje Markovski told AFP. The soldiers returned fire and injured one of the attackers, Markovski said, adding that two of the men had managed to help their wounded comrade back across the border to neighbouring Kosovo.
The northern region around Gosince was the scene of intense clashes last year between Slav-Macedonian troops and ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (NLA), officially disbanded under a Western-brokered peace plan last year. Meanwhile yesterday, a group of armed ethnic Albanians prevented a multiethnic police patrol from entering a suburb of the northwestern town Tetovo, government spokesman Zoran Tanevski told AFP.
"The patrol decided not to enter the suburb in order to avoid incidents," Tanevski said. FYROM's multiethnic police force entered the volatile town on Thursday, one week after thousands of protesters attempted to block a patrol from entering the former ethnic Albanian rebel stronghold.
The police patrol is part of a plan to return police units - which now include members of the country's large ethnic Albanian minority - to former conflict zones following the peace accord signed in August.
The police force currently patrols 25 former NLA strongholds, while rebels still control some 60 others. The NLA launched its insurgency last February in what it said was a bid to improve rights for ethnic Albanians, who make up almost one third of the country's 2 million people.
The Day's Disturbances and Developments in Macedonia.
by Christopher Deliso
January 21, 2002
Skopje, Macedonia The following news items are condensed from the nightly news on Skopje's A-1 television; they attest to another day of occasional turbulence within Macedonia.
Germany has extradited Seme Habibi, the Albanian terrorist who has been wanted for the past year for the destruction of a Macedonian police station in Tanuscevsi. This attack, regarded as the first by the NLA, was the initial provocation against the Macedonian state by the Albanians. Habibi had a long criminal record in Germany, as well as Macedonia, and was on Interpol's wanted list. The extradition is seen as some measure of justice by the family of Momir Stojanovski, the 30-year-old policeman killed in the explosion.
Two Macedonian houses in the village of Jedoarce, Tetovo area, were burned last night. Also in the same village, an attempt was made to burn down a Macedonian church. The attempt failed, and only the door was damaged.
Yesterday the Macedonian security forces were engaged in a brief firefight at a checkpoint on the Kosovo border. Three armed men attempted to cross into Macedonia, ignoring the police's command to drop their weapons. In the brief battle, one of the attackers was injured. The three men retreated back to Kosovo.
The spokesman for KFOR was "not able to comment" on whether the men were from Kosovo, or UCK. The suspicion, however, is that they were.
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.
AGREEMENT IS REACHED FOR DRAFT LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT.
The leaders of the four political parties - signers of the Framework agreement reached a final agreement regarding the text of the draft-Law on local self-government, EU special envoy Alain Le Roy said after the meeting.
Minister of local self-government Faik Arslani who also attended the meeting announced the he would submit the amendments to the Ministry at Tuesday's session of the Government. Assembly session on passing the Law will be scheduled during the week.
PLAN ON REDEPLOYMENT OF POLICE IN CRISIS REGIONS WILL BE CHANGED.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski had a meeting Monday, attended by Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, Police General Risto Galevski and head of the Crisis Management Center Aleksandar Doncev and representatives from OSCE - Sandra Mitchell, of EU monitoring mission - Michael Frendman, NATO's ambassador Klaus Vollers as well as of NATO's "Amber Fox".
The plan on redeployment of the police forces in the crisis regions will suffer some changes in order to become more efficient and to be implemented as soon as possible, EU special envoy to Macedonia Alain Le Roy said Monday after the meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski.
"We discussed the amendments to the plan on redeployment of the police forces. We all agreed that they should be implemented in the plan in order to make it more efficient and to realize it as soon as possible," Le Roy said, assessing the atmosphere of the meeting as "positive."
"Before we implement the plan, it should be approved by the Government, but we want it to be approved as soon as possible," Le Roy said.
According to him "the check points will be dislocated after the mixed police forces would establish 24h patrols in the villages."
"We do not request all police check points to be dislocated at the same time, but that should be carried out gradually along with the 24h patrols," he stressed.
He informed that the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body would continue its activities and head of Crisis Management Center Aleksandar Doncev will temporary lead the body.
In the meantime, spokesman of the Macedonian Government Georgi Trendafilov and spokesman of VMRO-DPMNE party Vlatko Gjorcev confirmed to MIA that Prime Minister and leader of VMRO-DPMNE party Ljubco Georgievski accepted the resignation of Dosta Dimovska.
On Friday, Dimovska resigned from her positions as Vice Premier, Chief of the Government's Coordinate Crisis Management Body, Vice President of VMRO-DPMNE, member of VMRO-DPMNE Executive Committee and President of the Staff Commission.
FOREIGN MINISTER CASULE IN SWEDEN TUESDAY.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule will pay a visit to Sweden Tuesday.
Minister Casule will hold separate meetings with his Swedish counterpart Anna Lindh and Defence Minister Bjorn von Sydow. He will also meet Deputy Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, Rose-Marie Frebran.
In Stockholm, Casule will deliver a speech at the Swedish Institute for Foreign Policy and will meet with the representatives of the Macedonian community in Sweden.
Macedonia stands for fulfilment of the obligations that come from the Framework Agreement, but the international community should also fulfil its part of the obligations, first of all when it comes to support for overcoming of the damage caused from the conflict and in regard to organising of donors' conference for Macedonia, Macedonian foreign minister Slobodan Casule said at a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja held in Helsinki on Monday.
In regard to the bilateral co-operation between Macedonia and Finland, both Casule and Tuomioja expressed satisfaction and commitment for its future enhancement, especially on the field of economy.
In regard to the Association and Stabilisation Agreement signed between EU and Macedonia, Minister Tuomioja said that its implementation should be made faster. In that context, both Tuomioja and Casule agreed that both Macedonia and EU should work more dynamically in regard to the reforms that need to be carried out in the country.
During his one-day visit to Helsinki, Minister Casule also met with Jari Vilen, Finnish minister of Foreign Trade. The meeting was focused on the possibilities for intensifying of the Macedonian-Finnish economic co-operation.
Minister Casule in Helsinki met with the Finnish Foreign Trade Minister Jari Viln and reviewed the possibilities regarding the improvement of the Finnish-Macedonian economic co-operation. Casule visited to visit the company FORTUM that is one of the Nordic countries leading energy companies. He also held a press conference and granted interview for the central television channel TV-1 answering questions regarding the current situation in Macedonia and the Balkans.
Government Coordination Body For Managing Crisis Will Be Dismissed.
Skopje-According to sources in the Macedonian Government, the Coordination Body for Managing Crisis (CBMC), formed by the Government, will be dismissed tomorrow at the regular meeting of the cabinet of the Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski. Last week, the head of this body and vice prime minister in the Macedonian Government, Dosta Dimovska, resigned from all functions.
NATO, OSCE and EU representatives in Macedonia were hoping that Dimovska would change her mind after an offer made by the Prime Minister Georgievski to stay in the Government and the board of the ruling political party, VMRO-DPMNE. Dimovska refused this offer. The first head of the CBMC was Ilija Filipovski, member of the Socialdemocratic Union of Macedonia, which left the government coalition in November of last year. "The reasons for dismissing the CBMC is that it hasn't done the job as it was expected"-said a source in the government adding that some new way of coodination among the Police, the Army, Task Force Fox and the international observers from EU and OSCE will be made.
Video Ties al-Qaida to Chechen Rebels.
Reality Macedonia - Nation & World
Why do we publish this? Because the torture and execution style used by the NLA during the Vejce massacre mirrors the torture and execution style applied on other fronts where Islamic militants operate, Chechnya included.
KABUL, Afghanistan A videotape found in a former al-Qaida residence appears to buttress Russia's claim that Osama bin Laden's militant Islamic network has been backing rebels in Chechnya.
The tape, obtained by Newsday for $500 from a Kabul landlord, features bin Laden and Khattab, a prominent but shadowy Arab militant who goes by one name and has played a leading role in the Chechen insurgency. It includes footage of ambushes and suicide-bomb attacks and shows bodies of Russian soldiers, some apparently executed.
The tape appears to have been produced in 2000 for propaganda or fund raising, perhaps to show potential donors how al-Qaida helps the Chechens in what bin Laden considers part of his holy war against Christian forces.
Khattab has become famous in Russia and Chechnya as one of the key leaders of the current Chechen uprising. With his long, black beard, frizzy hair, black beret and a certain flair for drama, Khattab is a man about whom more is whispered than known. He reportedly is in his 30s, Saudi- or Jordanian-born and perhaps from a wealthy family.
The tape's emergence from an al-Qaida residence in Afghanistan "will definitely help to prove that Russia is right to use force in Chechnya," said Ivan Safranchuk, director of the Moscow office of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.
Georgi Parvanov Gathered Elite in Presidency.
President Georgi Parvanov gathered a mixed team of professors, lecturers, bankers, businessmen and public figures. The secretaries are to make statements only after they are concerted with the president. "According to the Constitution, the secretaries express the stand of the head of state when he authorizes them to," Parvanov elaborated. Parvanov gathered in the same team former advisor of Zhelyu Zhelev, rear-admiral Petar Stanchevski and former experts in foreign policy from the BSP staff Zlatin Trapkov and Georgi Dimitrov. They are to work together with former UDF member Nikola Karadimov. The MRF, on their part, proposed Sabrie Sapoundzhieva, Ertan Kara and Ibrahim Ahmedov. The memberships of the consultative councils are very mixed, either. These bodies comprise experts holding confronting opinions on the matters they are to work on. "The aim is the decisions to be made in competition of stands," employees from Parvanov's staff said. The councils will shape the policy of the president and the secretariats will carry it out.
Parvanov and Simeon - Marriage of Convenience.
London, exclusively for 'Standart'
What impresses the most when analyzing Parvanov's statement is the analogy between his vision and the one outlined by Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha several months ago. Even if we look at the ceremony by which the new president begins his term, there can also be found many analogies between him and the premier. In the person of Patriarch Maxim both of them involved the church in the ceremony. Georgi Parvanov even went farther and directly quoted a monarchic predecessor of his - Prince Alexander Batenberg. Parvanov began his very statement displaying respect for traditions and stressed that the roots should be remembered and preserved. Besides, he used almost the same words by which Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha addressed the Bulgarians in July last. He also said that to build our future we should remember and respect our roots. In their first addresses both the new president and the premier pointed to their pragmatism. Parvanov again went farther by declaring an end to ideologies and the grave, ideologically and historically burdened confrontation. The president and the premier alike stressed their consensus orientation for a maximum concord and not for confrontation in society. There are other similarities too. Both Parvanov and Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha underline their respect for the achievements of their predecessors, that is, they pointed to the continuity in the Bulgarian politics. Analogous economic visions concerning the country's economic growth with preservation of the currency board were outlined in a likewise way. And finally, Bulgaria's strategic, foreign political priorities for EU and NATO membership were stressed in an absolutely the same way. This striking likeness between the addresses of Parvanov and premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha provides a good basis for a fruitful co-existence. However, it is also a big challenge to the premier. In two directions. In the first place, Georgi Parvanov presented himself as a guarantor and corrective of the pre-election campaign of the NMS. It is a very convenient position which allows him not only to support certain measures of the government but to remind the NMS all the time that, for example, it hasn't fulfilled some of its promises. Or that they haven't met the hopes of the electorate. The second direction and perhaps the major difference between president and premier is in the explicit statement of Parvanov concerning the republican form of the state. Something more, the new president pointed out that the presidential institution is the most republican of all the institutions of the public power. By his statement in parliament and the moves he is expected to take, the new president provides an opportunity for a broad cooperation with the government, on the one hand, and occupies a very convenient position to guarantee the eventual power takeover by his party - the BSP in the next parliamentary elections, on the other.
The author is a lecturer in European politics at the Keel University, England, and BBC commentator for the Balkans
BSP Deputies Sang Macedonian Songs in Bansko.
Irina Bokova and Emilia Maslarova didn't miss a dance.
The MPs from the 'Bulgaria' coalition demonstrated that they were incredibly talented singers on Saturday evening in the 'Pirin' complex in 'Bansko'. They celebrated the taking of the presidential oath by their former leader Georgy Parvanov. More than five hours the socialists danced under the rhythm of Macedonian ring dances, performed by Nikolina Chakurdukova. The MPs Emilia Maslarova and Irina Bokova quickly jumped from their seats and sang together with her a famous Bulgarian folk song. After them Vessela Lecheva took the microphone and sang 'If You Go Away for a While...' with professionalism that made the clients in the whole restaurant sit and listen in silence. BSP leader Sergey Stanishev showed that the ring dance is not a passion of his, but he turned to be a class dancer of blues. Irina Bokova and Emilia Maslarova didn't miss a ring dance. The journalists who wrote about the seminar in Bansko were also well received. 'Now I see how important and pleasant it is to communicate that way', Stanishev said. There were fine wines from Melnik at the party.
Valeri Petrov to Head Spiritual Development Council.
Most probably, Valeri Petrov will head the Council for Spiritual Development with the Presidency, it transpired yesterday. Theater director Vili Tsankov, writer Victor Paskov and poet Pavel Matev have already confirmed their participation in the council. No one can dispute that Valeri Petrov is really able to consolidate the nation and outline the vision of Bulgaria's spiritual development. Valeri Petrov graduated in medicine from the Sofia University. He made impression as early as publishing his first cycles of lyrics. He wrote scripts for feature films and theatricals. He translates poetry from English, Italian, French, Russian and Hungarian. He translated into Bulgarian the entire works by William Shakespeare.
Maxim To Give a Treat by Plum Brandy for Name-day.
Patriarch Maxim will give a treat to mark the name of the Saint after whom he is christened. His Holiness will receive guests and greetings in the hall of Sofia Metropolitan from 1.00 p.m. onwards. Year-long cook of the patriarch - aunt Nedka has prepared baked piglet, minced meat balls and cheese pie. According to a synodical tradition the guests will be treated to a 19-year-old plum brandy from Troyan region.
BSP Insists PM to Reshuffle Cabinet.
BSP leader Sergei Stanishev will personally meet Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and the NMS political leadership to ask for reshuffles of the government, he said at a seminar of the BSP MPs in Bansko yesterday. "We will not name particular ministers, whose replacement is a must, but we'll say that we are dissatisfied with the economic and social policy," he elaborated. "We would not take part in unprincipled deals without clear-cut political basis and priorities", Stanishev answered to the question if the BSP was to insist on some more BSP ministers after possible cabinet reshuffles. As for Paskalev and Kalchev, he commented that it was difficult to have any success in a poor organized environment.
Japanese Family Finds Paradise in Bulgaria.
They are convinced that one million of their fellow-countrymen can spend their old age here.
The Takadas crossed Bulgaria on their way to Portugal. However, after several months there, they came to know that it was not the country they had dreamed of. They returned to Bulgaria, stayed for several days and set out to look for their small town to the east. They reached as far as Sungurlare and spent 2 - 3 days. Later on they crossed Sliven, Nova Zagora, Stara Zagora, Kazanlak, Sheinovo. They reached the village of Shipka and again spent a couple of days there. People told them to go to Karlovo. As soon as they took off the bus, Satomi said:'Lio, let's go back to Shipka, it is our place...' For already 8 months now they have been here, 'at the foot of the Balkan range, under the blue skies', as the song Lio composed and dedicated to Bulgaria and Shipka says. Music is his hobby, he plays the guitar well and composes. Otherwise, 53-year-old Takada is a professional translator, for more than 20 years he translated technical literature from English into Japanese. As for Satomi she was a social worker, she used to look after elderly people in their homes. Both of them have saved enough to lead a calm life in the future but outside of Japan. 'We need around 6 000 BGL for our monthly upkeep in Japan', Lio has calculated. In Shipka they don't spend more than 900 lev monthly and they indulge themselves. Something more, they can afford helping their daughter Mammy, every month they remit her 1000 lev. At the beginning they got accommodation at the private 'Perounika' hotel, and two months later they moved to the home of Donka Shikova. They rent two most ordinary rooms and started living as an ordinary Bulgarian family. They heat themselves by timber using a stove and are happy. The couple can't stop rejoicing the marvellous nature, the calm and secure life and the hospitable residents of the Balkan range - they invite the newcomers to their homes almost every day. All that makes the Takadas believe that other fellow-countrymen of theirs can avail themselves of hospitable Bulgaria. This is how several months ago Lio sat and drafted a Project for a Happy Migration. Lio is convinced that Bulgaria can well invite 1 million Japanese couples and that the profit will be mutual. Lio has calculated precisely what Bulgaria will profit from the project. In his view only the issuance of permanent visas by the Bulgarian government to those 1 million Japanese will bring the treasury 3,6 billion lev. Apart from this, the couples will remit at least half of their savings on which they'll live in Bulgaria. 'It is at least 125 billion lev which is more than the gross national income of the Bulgarians', Takada claims. The above huge amounts don't include the taxes on the interests, the revenues from the rent the Bulgarian families will get. Mr Takada hasn't included the huge consumption growth - the commodities and services the Japanese will buy in Bulgaria during their stay.
25% of the Plovdiv Fair - for Compensatory Vouchers.
The trade on the stock exchange starts in March.
49% of the 'International Fair in Plovdiv' will be released for sale on the stock exchange. 25% of the bonds will be sold for compensatory vouchers, too. The venture is in the list of the 17 enterprizes, minority shares from which will be traded on the stock exchange against vouchers and notes. The list is proposed by the Ministry of Economy and has to be addopted by the Council of Ministers. Five per cent of DZI and Bulgartabak are to be released for sale for notes first, because their preparation for privatization is most advanced. After the first share package is sold, more shares will be released. 5% of BTK as well as 25% of the shares of 'Oil and Gas Extraction Investigation' will be put on the stock exchange. Packages between 10% and 15 % from the DZI (National Insurance Institute), the NEC (National Elecric Company), the BM (Bulgarian Marine), the BRN (Bulgarian River Navigation), TEC - Varna (Thermal Electric Plant Varna) and the electricity disrtributing ventures will be traded.
Bulgaria Reduces Natural Gas Deliveries from Russia.
In the past 2 years Bulgaria uses 20% less of the 'blue' fuel than the agreed quantities.
a special correspondent of 'Standart' in Russia
On the departure of the Bulgarian delegation for Moscow yesterday it became clear that vice-premier and economy minister Nikolai Vassilev would insist on a change in the agreed deliveries of Russian natural gas to Bulgaria. The program of the visit envisages meetings with officials from the Russian gas company 'Gazprom'. The change in the gas agreement is necessitated by the fact that Bulgaria has delayed its commitments concerning the extension of its transit and gas supply network. Because of the shrunk capacity of the big plants which are basic consumers of the blue fuel, we don't fully utilize the quantities we get in return for transit charges for the transfer of natural gas to third countries. Probably the deliveries will be reduced since Bulgaria loses from the envisaged quantities of the energy raw material, informed sources comment. Nikolai Vassilev is expected to negotiate on barter payments of the gas and the nuclear fuel.
Bulgaria Allotted $150 Million to Combat Corruption.
The World Bank allots $150 million per year for combating corruption. The program is to be carried out in a 3-year term, Minister of the State Administration Dimitar Kalchev said. The money will be provided for control over the finances, the customs houses, defence and police. Kalchev said that experts from the Council of Europe and the World Bank have highly assessed the strategy drafted by the government to fight corruption, Kalchev elaborated.
Police Tapped Lieberman's Daughter As Well.
In the period January-June, 1999 police tapped and printed the telephone calls of the under-age daughter of Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well. The "Maarib" daily learnt it form the information and printed copies I laid my hands on. Of course, Lieberman's daughter has already got familiar with this information. In one of the calls (February, 1999), Lieberman's daughter talked with Knesset deputy (at the time, running for the Knesset), Eliezer Cohen. The printed copy reads that the name of Knesset deputy Michael Eitan was mentioned. From the same printed copy, that contains several calls, it transpired that the names of Avigdor Lieberman, Dalia Jahiri and Ruham Abraham were mentioned, among others. In other printed copies, which we also quoted already, the names of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Nethaniagu, Dani Nave, Zahi Hanegbi, Eldada Yaniva, Dov Weisglas, Yahuda Rasler and many others were mentioned as well. It also transpired that at present, the police was carrying out a parallel inquiry to establish the hero of this story - an engineer and investigator who fled abroad. As we already released, it turned out that Stanislaw Yazhemski, who left work because of differences with Moshe Mizrahi and went abroad, had now at his disposal casettes containing all the printed information of the investigation, carried out by the department for international crime combat. The police has already started chasing him to locate him and find all the abovesaid information. "Maarib" also learned that in the framework of the investigation the police turned to the Petach Tikva court with the request to oblige lawyer Canan Gold, Yazhemski's defender, to testify about the case. The police asked his immunity to be withdrawn and he to be forced to submit his information. The hearing of the case was fixed for January 28, 2002 at the Petach Tikva court.
I'm to Work with Cabinet, Without Sparing Criticism.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Georgi Parvanov
I want to attract the professional potential of the nation, New President Georgi Parvanov says.
- Mr President, what did you precisely mean, when you mentioned that some amendments to the Constitution should be made?
- They are in line with the harmonization of Bulgarian with the European legislation, and at the final stage, at that. Really, our accession to EU is pending. For now, no one is able to answer me thoroughly, for the EU legislation itself is being amended all the time. But the amendments to the Constitutions are not forthcoming as yet.
- Why are you establishing new councils with your administration? The impression is that you are forming a Shadow cabinet.
- God save me from such insinuations. My goal, by establishing such councils, is only to find out the maximum of the professional, political and expert potential of the nation. The presidential administration is of quite a limited staff. There are well-trained experts in all spheres and I want to make use of them. This is my only aspiration.
- Do you intend to move the presidency from the present office building?
- I don't intend either to move into another building, or to make any radical changes or overhauls. I found it in a proper condition, so I do not mean to spend additional money.
- What about your cooperation with the other institutions? Are you still taking offence at the premier for not backing you at the presidential elections?
- I should express my thanks to Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha for not backing me. Had he supported me at the elections, now I would be, to a great extent, a dependent president. It is not the case, though our relations are, let's put it this way, very good. The problem is that both of us are burdened with too much history. But, regardless of the past, weighing heavy on our shoulders, we were elected because of the pragmatic policy we formulated before our voters, because of the expectations for the future to come true thanks to us. I'll keep on my active dialogue with the PM. Of course, as for the cabinet, I'm not to spare any criticisms.
The interview was composed from questions of "Standart" and other media.
Greek PM to Pay One-day Visit, to Sign Protocol on Ratification of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.
Sofia, January 21 (BTA) - Prime Minister Kostas Simitis arrives on a day's working visit here Tuesday on the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Apart from meetings with his host, Simitis' programme also includes talks with Georgi Purvanov on the day he takes office as Bulgaria's head of state. Simitis and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will be at the official ceremony for the take-over at the presidency scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
In the presence of the Prime Ministers the two countries will sign a protocol on the exchange of ratification documents for an agreement on avoidance of double taxation.
Simitis will give a lecture on "The European Union and Southeast Europe" at the St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia. The university will award him an honorary doctor's degree.
The Greek delegation includes Foreign Minister Georgios Parandreou and his deputy Iannis Zaphiropoupol, prime ministerial spokesman Tilemachos Chitiris and Greek Ambassador here Michalis Christidis.
The Greek Prime Minister is also coming with a group of business people and 35 journalists.
The Bulgarian delegation for the talks includes the Minister of State Administration Dimiter Kalchev, Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Petkov, the chief negotiator with the EU Meglena Kouneva, the Prime Minister's Chef de Cabinet Stoyan Ganev and Bulgarian Ambassador to Greece Stoyan Topalov.
Cooperation in the energy industry will be atop the agenda of talks, according to the Athens correspondent of the private bTV. This TV channel quoted Greek sources saying that the two sides will focus on the carriage of Caspian oil and the establishment of a joint system for power transmission in the region. Simitis is also expected to discuss with his hosts the results of the Greek visit of Russian President Putin in December, when Moscow suggested that the oil pipeline from the Bulgarian Black Sea port city of Bourgas to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis should be extended to Thessaloniki. Greece has the ambition to create a common regional market of electricity in the first half of 2003 while it holds the EU presidency, and that will be discussed in Sofia as well. The project includes Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey.
Simitis is coming to Bulgaria at a moment when the Greece government is stepping up its international activity and putting as a top priority in its relations with the Balkan countriers the energy industry, said bTV.
It will be the fifth Bulgarian visit of Simitis in the last four years. In April 1998 and April 1999 he came on official visits, in November 1999 he took part in the second Bulgarian-Greek-Romanian summit meeting in Borovets and in 2000 paid a day's working visit to the Southern city of Plovdiv.
Among the effective bilateral accords is a Treaty on Friendship, Good-neighbourliness and Security signed October 7, 1991, ratified January 8, 1992, and effective since May of the same year; additional measures for promoting confidence and security to the Vienna document signed on January 11, 1992.
Bulgarian-Greek two-way trade in the recent years has been as follows: 243,6 million dollars in 1991, 340 million in 1992, 400 million in 1993, 532 million in 1994, 660 million in 1996, 648.5 million in 1999, and nearly 230 million in 2000.
These figures make Greece the fourth biggest trading partner of Bulgaria in the world, the third biggest in Europe and the first in the Balkans.
Cooperation has been mostly in agriculture, the processing industry, services and healthcare.
There are some 1,000 Greek companies registered in Bulgaria, as well as many joint ventures with Greek interest and three Greek banks (Xiosbank, National Bank of Greece and the Ionnian Bank) all of which have full banking licences. In July 2000 the National Bank of Greece paid 207 million dollars for the controlling interest in United Bulgarian Bank and now holds 89.9% of its capital.
Finance Minister Velchev Meets Japanese Counterpart, Discusses Japan's Support for Bulgaria.
Tokyo, January 21 (BTA) - Bulgarian Finance Minister Milen Velchev met Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa Monday on the sidelines of the International Conference on the Reconstruction of Afghanistan, the press office of the Ministry of Finance said.
The two sides discussed Japan's further support for the structural reform in Bulgaria including co-financing of Bulgaria's production and financial sector by a loan to small and medium-sized enterprises. The Japanese Government expressed readiness to provide financial resources for the realization of infrastructure projects of regional significance in Southeastern Europe.
Japanese Finance Minister Shiokawa said he was impressed by Bulgaria's economic indicators and its higher credit rating in recognition of the balanced fiscal policy and ambitious structural reform programme of the new Bulgarian Government, the press release says.
Finance Minister Velchev thanked his Japanese counterpart for the support and assistance rendered by the Japanese Government in attracting direct Japanese investment to Bulgaria.
The offers of the candidates for the modernization of the MIG-29 airplanes will be opened.
The offers of the candidates for the modernization of the MIG-29 airplanes, with which Bulgarian Army is armed, will be opened tomorrow at 2 PM in the Ministry of Defense building in the presence of the Ministry leadership, the General Staff personnel and journalists. The deadline for submitting offers expired today at 5 PM. Five companies have bought tender documents, although information about who of them have submitted offers could not be disclosed yet, a source from the Ministry of Defense said for News.bg Agency. The state commission for the modernization was initiated by an order of Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov of December 11. The commission includes recovering the wings, the engines and all the components of 16 MIG-29 fighters and of four training MIG-29 airplanes, as well as replacement and modernization of navigation and communication systems.
Bulgaria and Ukraine would act together against organized crime.
Minister of the Interior Georgy Petkanov and his Ukrainian counterpart Yuri Smirnov discussed concrete forms to fight organized crime and practical measures for cooperation in the struggle against economic crime, trade with people and IT crimes. Bulgarian delegation led by the Minister of the Interior is on an official visit to Ukraine on invitation by Smirnov, the Ministry of the Interior press-center reported. Bulgarian and Ukrainian parts agreed on working together to preventing money counterfeiting and documents forgery. They also paid enough attention on measures against terrorism in view of the events of September 11.
Bosnians decry IS seizure of 6 terror suspects.
The Boston Globe
By Brian Whitmore, Globe Correspondent, 1/21/2002
SARAJEVO, Bosnia - Three years ago, jubilant Bosnian Muslims showered the US Embassy in Sarajevo with flowers to show support for NATO's air war against Serbia. Last week hundreds of angry Muslims showered America with insults and contempt.
Furious that the United States had seized six Algerian men in Bosnia, allegedly linked to the Qaeda network, without providing evidence, many Bosnians were calling Washington's war on terrorism a crusade against Islam. Western officials say they believe the suspects were part of a terrorist cell composed of Islamic mercenaries who fought in the Bosnian war and later settled here.
''We will start hating America because of this,'' said a young Muslim woman who would not give her name. ''America is making enemies out of us.''
Few places more starkly reflect the inverted post-Sept. 11 world than Bosnia, scarred by five years of ethnic war and dependent on NATO peacekeepers and Western aid. In the eyes of hard-line Muslims, a tiny but vocal minority here, the United States has changed from a savior who protected them from Serb and Croat-sponsored ''ethnic cleansing'' into a villain bent on bullying the rest of the world.
The majority of moderate Muslims and secular Bosnians support the war on terrorism and reject the severe interpretation of Islam espoused by many of the mercenaries. But they also worry that Washington is sacrificing the rule of law after so vigorously promoting it here for the past decade.
''Americans are very popular here and there is still a reservoir of good will, but it is eroding,'' said Madeleine Rees, head of the Bosnia office for the UN High Commission for Human Rights. ''America more than anyone has been promoting the rule of law here. And now they have done this.''
The United States had demanded that the Bosnian government turn over the six suspects. The Bosnians complied reluctantly early Friday, amid a violent protest.
''We are being sandwiched,'' a senior Bosnian official, who declined to be identified, said shortly before the men were handed over to US custody. ''We are under pressure from the United States to do one thing and from human rights groups to do something else. We are not in a position to respect our own laws and procedures.''
US officials said the evidence against the men is compelling, and they made no secret of the fact that they did not trust Bosnia's courts to try the case.
''The legal system here is dysfunctional,'' said a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ''They can't even lock people up who were caught red-handed stealing millions.''
The Bosnian dilemma illustrates the kind of high-stakes judgment calls that governments around the world must make as they try to show the United States that, as President Bush has declared, they ''are with us'' and not ''with the terrorists.''
''The government did the right thing,'' said Jacques Paul Klein, head of the United Nations mission in Bosnia. ''If these guys were released, Bosnia-Herzegovina would be seen as the first European country not to take the war on terrorism seriously.''
During the 1992-95 war, when Serb and Croat paramilitaries carried out a brutal campaign against Bosnian Muslims, thousands of Islamic mercenaries came to Bosnia to fight. After the war, about 200 stayed, married Bosnian women, and were granted citizenship under what officials now say were dubious pretenses. Some are suspected of having ties to terrorist groups.
Bosnia's porous borders, weak institutions, and underdeveloped legal system made entry and exit easy for drug traffickers, smugglers, and terrorists.
''A number of terrorist groups have used Bosnia as a staging ground, logistics point, and a place to get travel documents,'' the US official said. ''For a number of years the United States has urged Bosnia to get this under control.''
Bosnian police arrested the six Algerians, five of whom held Bosnian citizenship, in October after US authorities said there was credible evidence they were planning an attack against American interests here. Bosnia revoked the citizenships as well.
One of the Algerians, Bensayah Belkacem, was arrested Oct. 8 in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, based on intelligence reports that he allegedly made telephone calls to Abu Zubaydah, a senior lieutenant to Osama bin Laden.
The others, Mustafa Adir, Sabir Lamar, Muhamed Nehle, Lakdar Bumedien, and Budelah Hadz, were arrested in Sarajevo on Oct. 18 and 19 after British and US officials in Bosnia briefly closed their embassies, citing security threats. The five had been casing the US Embassy and had discussed attacking American interests in Bosnia in retaliation for the US-led campaign in Afghanistan, officials said.
NATO officials, including Secretary General George Robertson, said the arrests had disrupted a Bosnia cell of Al Qaeda members.
US authorities declined to turn over key evidence - including the wiretaps - to Bosnian courts, saying the intelligence was too sensitive. For three months, authorities weighed how to handle the case.
On Thursday, Bosnia's Supreme Court ordered the men released because of lack of evidence. Since they had been stripped of their Bosnian passports, they were deemed to be in the country illegally. After Algeria declined to take them, Washington stepped in.
Rights groups complained that the men were not given due process because appeals on the revocation of their citizenship had not been heard.
''We are on our way to establishing a state governed by law and incidents such as this could destroy the small achievements we have made so far,'' said Srdan Dizdarevic, head of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Sarajevo.
Sex, drugs and illegal migrants: Sarajevo's export
trade to Britain.
A three-part investigation into the traffic in people and drugs from Eastern Europe to the UK.
By Ian Burrell in Sarajevo 21 January 2002, The Independent
Immigration hit squads to target 500,000 illegal workers.
From the Balkans to brothels in Soho There are wolves, bears and unexploded mines in the snow-covered elm and pine forests that divide Bosnia-Herzegovina from the outside world. Yet the borders of the young state that has become a springboard for illegal immigration to Britain are so porous that thousands of people are smuggled through its 432 mostly unmanned crossing points every month.
The situation is so serious that Tony Blair has persuaded the Bosnian government to allow a team of British immigration officials to try to plug the gaps being exploited by international organised crime.
Last week, in a mountain gorge that separates Bosnia from Montenegro, Steve Parke, a British immigration officer, and Ian Johnston, a Merseyside police officer, were checking lorries, cars and buses for signs of people headed illegally for the European Union and Britain. Mr Johnston, who works for the United Nations as deputy chief of the Bosnian border service, said: "The border is crossable anywhere. All 1,600 kms [1,000 miles] is passable, depending on how desperate you are to cross into the next country."
Mafia gangs in Istanbul and Kosovo are exploiting the post-war destabilisation in the former Yugoslavia, with its weak laws, liberal visa regimes and widespread corruption, to ferry Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, Albanian and Afghan migrants into Europe for 5,000 a head.
A report from the International Organisation for Migration says 120,000 women and child sex workers are trafficked into the European Union each year. In Bosnia, 34,000 foreign visitors have disappeared after flying into Sarajevo airport during the past two years. Most have remained for just a few hours before being taken to the border by people smugglers.
In his third-floor office in the blue and white United Nations building overlooking Sarajevo airport, Graham Leese, the project head of the British-led immigration team, is under no illusions about the scale of the problem. "For the EU as a whole and the UK in particular the Balkan route has long been identified as the most productive route in terms of illegal migration flows. It's quite easy to bribe border guards to turn a blind eye when you are smuggling across a lorry load of illegal immigrants."
Bosnian organised crime is turning over an estimated 170m a year and, according to one member of the British team, government corruption is a major problem. "There are big fish here. They have massive influence and a lot of them are holding senior positions," he said. The view is shared by Ian Cliff, the British ambassador in Sarajevo, who said there was "massive" corruption among government officials administering the districts and cantons established in Bosnia after the Dayton Accord in 1995.
"It is basically a country that has not built a proper economy since the end of the war," he said. "People look to office as a way of supporting themselves, their families and their extended families."
He said officials were subjected to bribery and threats. "Money is used very directly to influence the political system. All sorts of pressures are brought to bear on people through their families and through threats on their jobs."
The immigration team, made up of seven Britons and a Dane, is trying to establish the newly-formed Bosnian State Border Service (SBS) along 1,616km of land border. The SBS now controls 36 of 52 international crossings the rest are staffed by poorly paid police but hundreds of minor crossings are unmanned.
The difficulties for the SBS are apparent at Hum where, 100ft above the river Drina, a steel bridge spans the snow-covered gorge dividing Montenegro, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, from Srpska, the Serbian sector of Bosnia.
In a hut on the Bosnian side, Jagos Matovic, a border guard, said people arriving with Turkish passports had only to show they had the equivalent of 33 for each day of their stay. Most were waved through by guards who lacked the technology or training to check the documents.
Mr Johnston said: "A lot of officers think that if people are transiting into Western Europe that's not a problem for Bosnia. We have to educate them that it's creating lots of problems and that Bosnia wants to be part of Europe." Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia want to be part of the EU.
Bosnia is also a transit point for thousands of Chinese migrants heading west from the Federal Republic. Mr Leese said there were 50 new Chinese arrivals on each flight into Belgrade from Moscow.
"I asked [the Yugoslav authorities] how many leave, but they have no record," he said. "They are probably being shipped across the northern border and through the Serbian part of Bosnia."
Many of the 58 Chinese migrants found dead at Dover in June 2000 had travelled via Sarajevo, as had eight mainly Turkish migrants found dead in a shipping container in Ireland last month.
The British immigration team is likely to be called in by the Belgrade government to tighten border security. A similar request has been made by Romania. The group is proving effective at Sarajevo airport, where British-bought forgery detection equipment and new questioning techniques have disrupted the smugglers.
The new vigilance, together with the introduction of a visa requirement for Iranian visitors, reduced "disappearing" airline passengers to 8,400 last year, compared with 25,000 in the previous six months.
But Mile Juric, the SBS chief, said the trafficking gangs had switched tactics. He said: "Because of the measures we have undertaken at the airport we can sense bigger pressure from Turkish citizens on the land border crossings."
Once in Bosnia, most migrants head for Sarajevo, from where couriers will ferry them onwards. They gather in the Bascarsija district, where the architecture recalls Sarajevo's Ottoman past. In Humska Ulica street a group of Turks congregated at an international telephone booth to arrange the next stage of their journey.
Others head straight to the taxi ranks at the city's bus station. Vaha Srce, a taxi driver, said that "all last year" he had been driving the six-hour journey to the northern town of Bihac. His passengers were always Kurdish, always had the US$200 fare (140) and often asked for the same hotel. Bihac is on the Croatian border, and from there it is just a short hop to Italy and the EU.
The clampdown on people smuggling is also made difficult by more than one million unexploded mines in the border areas. Mr Leese said: "There is no way you are going to get immigration officers walking around here. But the people who planted the mines are the same ones who are now taking money to show illegal immigrants across the border."
From the Balkans to brothels in Soho.
By Ian Burrell
21 January 2002, The Independent
Immigration hit squads to target 500,000 illegal workers.
Sex, drugs and illegal migrants: Sarajevo's export trade to Britain More than 300 Eastern European women and girls have been forced into brothels in Soho, central London, but British police do not take the problem seriously, the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration believes.
The group, which is funded by governments, says foreign women in British brothels "are getting younger". A report by the group says: "Trafficking is likely to be more significant than official figures suggest, given the existence of 75 known brothels in the Soho area of London alone, in which 80 per cent of the employees are foreigners, the majority...Albanians or Kosovars."
But it says police outside London appear to have little understanding of the problem. "Outside the capital, trafficking is not prioritised, thus the scale of the phenomenon is unknown," it reports.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says 120,000 women and children are being trafficked into the European Union each year, mostly through the Balkans.
Graham Leese, head of a British immigration team sent to Bosnia to tackle people smuggling, said the country was a training ground for brothels in the EU.
The IoM's Sarajevo office says 10,000 women, mostly from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, are working in the country's sex trade.