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Parvanov and Simeon Tete-a-Tete for 1 Hour. President Georgi Parvanov and Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had a tete-a-tete yesterday for almost one hour at 2, 'Dondoukov' Blvd. The journalists have waited statements in vain after their first meeting after Parvanov took the office. Both of them refused commentaries. PHOTO NIKOLAY DONCHED (SH)
A Bulgarian wine selector fills a glass with red wine, January 24, 2002, from the latest vintage, choosing wines for the Vinaria wine fair in Plovdiv which starts on February 6. Some 450 wines and spirits produced by local firms are due to be exhibited during the annual wine fair, the biggest in Bulgaria which is an important red wine exporter to the European Union and North America. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff
A wine expert fills glasses with red wine during the annual Bulgarian wine degustation in the town of Plovdiv, east of Sofia, January 24. cEPA
Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomaios I, left, listens to Pope John Paul II reading his address for peace in Assisi's St. Francis Lower Basilica, central Italy, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2002. The pontiff attended a daylong prayer for peace in Assisi with the representatives of the world's religions. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
Interview with Ljube Boshkovski.
INTERVIEW Antiwar: Ljube Boshkovski
by Christopher Deliso in Macedonia
January 24, 2002
Skopje, Macedonia Ljube Boshkovski is Minister of the Interior for Macedonia, and is currently one of his country's most popular leaders. Young and energetic, Boshkovski has won the favor of the people and most of all the police, due to his "hands on" approach to governing. He is one of the few ministers who gets out into the community to assess for himself what are the challenges facing Macedonia. Mr. Boshkovski is also popular for his tough, no-nonsense attitude to Albanian extremism. In a government that has been criticized for failing to take resolute, unwavering action against the NLA, the Interior Minister stands out. Whether one agrees with his viewpoints or not, Ljube Boshkovski is unquestionably one of the most important figures in Macedonian political life today. Sparing euphemisms in favor of candor, Mr. Boshkovski's comments provide a sober view of the realities facing Macedonia today.
I spoke with Mr. Boshkovski in his spacious offices at the Ministry of the Interior. It was already evening, and I was informed that he was tired out after a long day. Nevertheless, after attentively peeling a kiwi fruit, Mr. Boshkovski fielded my questions on the pressing issues of the day for Macedonia.
CD: First of all, for the foreign readers who may not be familiar with your career, can you tell me something about your background and previous positions?
LB: First, for almost two years I was Deputy Director of the Public Safety/Police. After that, I became State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior. Now, I have been Minister of the Interior since May 2001. I am a lawyer by training.
CD: You are currently enjoying great popularity with the Macedonian public. Recently I saw you on television, surrounded by enthusiastic students, when you answered their concerns with a promise for better student housing. This would be an example of one of the "normal things" that the government can return to, in the absence of war. To what extent has Macedonia been able to return to normal life?
LB: The answer, unfortunately, is not very much. Due to the situation, we are maximally dedicated to the security of the state. The most important thing for Macedonia now is the reintegration of the areas which are still not under control – meaning returning the Macedonian police to these areas. So there has only been a little bit of normalization.
CD: Is this new group, the Albanian National Army (ANA), distinct from the National Liberation Army (NLA)?
LB: The situation is, there are still groups of Albanian extremists from Kosovo, who are the same as the extremists from Macedonia. And they are always finding a reason not to have peace. They have only one aim – to create an unstable situation, which is good for the establishment of unstable businesses. That is, the trading in drugs, weapons, prostitutes, etc. Therefore, we can't distinguish between these bandits, because in their essence they are the same… and the also have the same personnel.
CD: You have gained a reputation as being tough, and not compromising when it comes to the NLA. How does this affect your relationship with the international community?
LB: The international community is here on the invitation of the Macedonian authorities, and of course Macedonia – and we as leaders – are constantly requesting the international community to take an objective approach. But unfortunately it happens often for us that we are equalized, are equated with those who created aggression against the Republic of Macedonia. For us, it's important to deny these suspicions, and I think we are succeeding. Now, our relations with the international community seem to be improving.
CD: Since when?
LB: Since after the adoption of the constitutional changes and the Framework Agreement. But this (improved relationship) is not having a huge impact for the situation on the ground. Mostly, it has been just verbal support, and unfortunately during the crisis and during the biggest attacks, we weren't getting the biggest support we could from the international community.
CD: The subject of security checkpoints is perhaps the most controversial and important issue in Macedonia today. The Albanians and the international community are pressuring Macedonian police and army to withdraw from certain checkpoints in strategic areas. What are your thoughts on this?
LB: This plan with the checkpoints is not (carved in stone); this plan for redeployment of the police to the crisis region is a flexible one, and we are struggling constantly to make sure that, after the implementation of the constitutional changes, we'll have 24-hour patrols and contact offices. Otherwise, the function of the checkpoints is lost. Yet we also have proven that these checkpoints occupy strategic positions, and we cannot allow ourselves to leave them, until the very last Macedonian feels safe.
So in other words, we don't have a strict timeline for redeployment. We are being patient, and flexible. And this is what we feel we have been able to offer the international community.
CD: The NLA, or former members of that organization, still are disrupting the peace regularly in Macedonia. Have their tactics this winter changed at all from last year?
LB: Their concern now is in the cities, and the inhabited places generally. They are planning a change of strategy, with attacks on facilities, using classic terroristic methods… true, there have been small provocations only, but the process of ethnic cleansing is continuing. All the villages in western Macedonia, and the city of Tetovo, are being ethnically cleansed, and the psychological warfare – threats, intimidation – has not stopped. These areas are susceptible because the Macedonians are a minority there. But even so, this fact has not significantly changed the attitude of the international community. In the last two months there have been some positive developments, but still, not enough.
CD: The question on everyone's mind is whether there will be a renewed war in Spring. Do you think this is likely?
LB: I think there could be, and even before this Spring. It depends in part on us, and whether we want to enter the occupied territories or not.
CD: On that same theme, I recently heard an unofficial comment from a NATO soldier, to the effect that NATO is already certain that there are some villages to which Macedonian police will never be able to return. What do you think of that?
LB: (Chuckling) We'll see.
CD: Now that the Macedonian army has had some combat experience and training, do you think they are now improved from last year?
LB: No, so far the improvement has not been shown. We'll see in the eventuality of any future clash.
CD: So what kinds of training could they do to improve?
LB: Well, in fairness, about 95% of our soldiers died in ambush, not in direct combat.
CD: So they aren't prepared for the NLA, because they have been using guerrilla tactics?
LB: Ambush is not a guerrilla tactic, it is a terroristic tactic. They are hiding behind people, using them as human shields, and hiding in sacred buildings. Macedonians, however, do not hide in churches and start shooting.
CD: During last year, NATO was frequently criticized for failing to control the border between Kosovo and Macedonia, and a great deal of weapons and other supplies slipped into NLA hands. Is NATO doing anything now to control the border?
LB: Yes, they are having a certain effect But the border territory with Kosovo is still extremely porous in certain places… and of course, these places are the most dangerous ones for us.
CD: Finally, how do you see Macedonia one year from now?
LB: For sure, the democratic processes are on standby due to the continuing terrorism. And so the reforms – for a free market, for EU accession, not to mention all the world and European associations, and also the invesment structure and economy in general – these are all on hold. And we think that we were considering from the very beginning that Macedonia must defend its sovereignty as an internationally recognized country. We must also have implemented the same principles that are foreseen in the international conventions. We believe that the destiny of Macedonia is in the hands of the people, the strength of the security forces, which slowly are becoming respectable.
So we'll do our best, give our maximum, and cooperate with the international community. We will stress the importance of respecting the democratic process, respecting the individual, and human rights – while at the same time we must prepare ourselves in case we have to liberate Macedonia with our own strength.
(Thanks to Mr. Vladimir Gorcev for translating).
PARLIAMENT ADOPTS LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT.
The Macedonian Parliament adopted late Thursday the Law on local self-government by 85 votes "for", four "against" and four restrained.
According to amendment 16 to the Macedonian Constitution, the Law on Local self-government can be approved with a qualified majority of two-thirds of votes, within which there must be a majority of the votes of deputies, who belong to the communities not in the majority in the population of Macedonia.
Out of 27 such deputies, 19 voted "for, granting five votes more than the necessary 14.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski were present during the voting process.
Earlier, Minister of local self-government Faik Arslani, explained the key amendments to the draft-Law of local self-government adopted by the Government. With the new amendments, instead of common administration it is proposed to establish common administrative bodies among the municipalities.
In the field of education the municipalities have authorization to establish and finance elementary and secondary schools in cooperation with the central authority. In the health sector, the municipalities will administer the facilities of the primary health care, and the Health Insurance Fund will not be decentralized.
With the proposed amendments the directors of the public administration would be appointed by the major and not the Council of the municipality. The dateline for implementation of the Law is prolonged to the end of 2003 in order to adopt other three laws that would regulate this sphere and changes to be introduced to eighty other laws.
Before the 95 session started, the Macedonian Assembly held the 99th session, where the deputies cancelled the mandate of vice president of the Government and minister without portfolio Dosta Dimovska. She submitted her resignation several days ago.
FM CASULE IN AUSTRIA.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule, who is currently in Vienna, is scheduled to meet his Austrian counterpart Benita Ferrero-Waldner and the Speaker of the Austrian Parliament Heinz Fisher and to ask for support for acceleration of a ratifying process of the Stabilization and Association Agreement by the Austrian Parliament.
Thursday he addressed the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, briefing on progress Macedonia has made in implementing of the Framework Agreement.
Macedonia met its obligations regaining its role as a factor of stability in the region, including adopting the Local Government Law. Now, the international community should be a guarantor of that stability, Casule said.
In his address, Casule asked for further and more efficient engagement of the European Union and the international community in stabilizing the region, provision of fast and unconditional financial assistance and efficient combat against organized crime, which has taken characteristics of terrorism in the region of Southeastern Europe.
He also presented Macedonia's expectations for acceleration of a ratifying process of the Stabilization and Association Agreement by the parliaments of the EU member countries.
Referring to the OSCE Mission to Macedonia, Casule said it should continue its engagement in all spheres agreed with the Macedonian authorities.
Yesterday, Casule also met with OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubis and US Ambassador to OSCE Steven Minicis. The OSCE officials said they strongly supported the territorial integrity and unitary character of Macedonia, giving credit to the Macedonian Government for its efforts to restore law and order in the entire country and to create conditions for safe return of the displaced persons to their homes.
SITUATION IN KUMANOVO AND IN TETOVO REGIONS.
The armed provocations of the Albanian terrorists continued Thursday night in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region although with lower intensity.
Around of 15 sporadic and rifle shootings have been registered from 21:00 to 02:00 hours Thursday night from direction of the villages of Vaksince, Opae, Slupcane, Matejce, Grusino and Lojane. The shootings have been directed at unknown targets.
The patrolling of ethnically mixed police patrols continues in Nikustak, Vistica and Ropaljce.
It is relatively calm Friday morning in Tetovo and its surrounding, but Interior Ministry Sector says Albanian terrorists during Thursday night frequently opened fire from Drenovec 2 and Teke settlements, Mosa Pijade high school, Rasadiste locality near Tetovo - Popova Sapka road and Cetinjska and Vonvardarska streets.
Shootings have been also registered from the villages Gajre, Lisec, Trebos, Poroj, Sipkovica, Prsovce, Zelino, Celopek and Strimnica.
Situation Stable, More Work Needs To Be Done.
Skopje-"The security situation in Macedonia is relatively stable, but more work needs to be done"-said NATO Spokesman, Craig Ratcliff, at the press-conference today in Skopje, for the Spokespersons of NATO, OSCE and EU. NATO is pleased that the Government Coordination Body for Managing Crisis will remain to work and is looking forward to cooperating with the new head of the body, who will be chosen this week. The OSCE Spokesman, Florine Pasniky, announced that the mixed police patrols will soon enter the villages, Matejche, Miletino and Chelopek, the crisis regions around Tetovo and Kumanovo.
"The burning of the houses in Tetovo's villages, Varvara, Prshovce and Jedoarce is not helping the process of building trust in the country"-said the OSCE Spokesman who has condemned these acts. The EU Spokeswoman, Irena Gjuzelova, said that the Donor Meeting will be held 15 to 20 days after the adoption of the Law for Local Self-government in the Macedonian Parliament. She has reminded Macedonian officials that there are other laws that need to be approved of according to the Framework Agreement. "These laws are not a condition for early election in the country"-said EU Spokeswoman who announced today, tomorrows visit of EU Special Representative for Security and Foreign Policy, Havier Solana.
Solana will arrive tomorrow afternoon from his visit to Kosovo and he will meet the President Boris Trajkovski and the leaders of the biggest political parties. One of the topics of tomorrows talks will be the early election in Macedonia.
Some Sources Of Bias In Reporting About Macedonia.
An excerpt from the unpublished research paper Nationalistic Influences on Various Interpretations of Macedonian History (finished Dec 2000).
By Filip Stojanovski
Although complete classification of the works of different authors [who write about Macedonia] is not possible, they can be generalized into three categories: works done by Balkan historians and publicists, works done by their Western counterparts, and works done by Western historians/publicists of Balkan origins (and if you expect "the best of both worlds," you are in for a treat).
About the former group, American historiographer Donald V. Gawronski wrote the following: "Balkan historiography reflects the changes in Balkan countries in the twentieth century. Up to the end of World War I the dominant trend in writing consisted of an emphasis on independencehence, nationalistic history. During the inter-war period historians sought to justify independence to the rest of the world by tracing the origins of their respective nations. World War II brought Communist control for the Balkans, and history writing, as in Russia, was used for political purposes," which included building "a sense of nationalism and unity" under the regime.1
And indeed, the primary school textbooks published while Republic of Macedonia was part of the union called Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia promoted what Gawronski called "Marxian philosophy of history."2 It emphasized the role of the working classes, and downplayed the role of reactionary forces: the Church and the bourgeoisie. Peasant uprisings, for instance, which were most often spurred by imposition of heavier taxes, were presented as national uprisings. Although sometimes acknowledging the role of the Church in regard to preserving the literacy, the textbooks did not mention of the efforts of Ohrid Archbishops who were asking for foreign aid as part of their efforts to organize uprisings against the Ottomans in 1589 and 1615.3
But, being non-socialist does not mean that the countrys historiography moves closer towards more objective history. Greece, the so-called cradle of democracy, which has not been under Communist rule, provides a prime example of a country where (romantic) nationalistic history flourished, especially in the nineties. The same is evident for the countries that become capitalist (again) in the last ten years. Although some historians from such countries attempt to be objective and use scientific methods, their general population more often than not gets nationalist propaganda disguised as history.
Promotion of objectivity among Western historians was also hindered by political purposes. One such purpose was the fight against communism during the Cold War. The text "The Communist Insurrection in Greece,"4 written by a French military expert in the fifties, avoids mentioning the role of Macedonian ethnic minority during the Greek Civil war. By doing this, it directly supports the official stance of the Greek state of the day that such minority does not exist.
Support of political purposes often went hand-in-hand with the market-driven, sensationalist nature of the Western media. American reporters stationed in Belgrade after World War II clearly described the situation:
"They told me that they put a running fight with editors at home and diplomats on the spot in their effort to tell the truth as they see it. They said they were principally handicapped by the demand of their editors for sensations that will make headlines that will sell more papers. They said that they rarely have an opportunity to engage in what Victor Lawson, one-time publisher of the Chicago Daily News, called constructive journalism. If theres an airplane shooting, a riot, or some other development which appears to put Yugoslavia in a bad light, theres hardly any limit, they said, to the number of words they can cable. But if any one of them tries to send a dispatch which tells how the people are building a new railroad, or increasing their own food supply, or overcoming illiteracy, back comes the hold-down order."5
The unofficial, but effective censoring of non-sensationalist material by the Western media was not confined only to this then-socialist country. Balkans was generally invisible for the Western audience, unless something really bad is happening. The situation didnt seem much different at the turn of the century, either. On 29 April 1903, a small group of young Macedonian nationalists called Gemidzhii,6 frustrated by the disinterest of the Great Powers to the problems in their country, created a sensation via terrorist actions in the port of Salonika (Thessaloniki in Greek, Solun in Macedonian, Serbian, Bulgarian). They bombed objects representing the European capitalist interest: the French ship "Guadalquivir," the Ottoman Bank, the Post-Office, the German Club, and others. "The attacks did attract attention of the whole Europe, which become interested in the Macedonian problem, but they also strained the situation in Macedonia even more."7 The behavior of the Western media during the Kosovo Crisis8 of 1999-2000 provides the most recent example of this tendency.
Rebecca West, an English writer who journeyed through Yugoslavia in 1936 and 1937, pinpointed personal prejudices as yet another factor that hindered Westerners understanding of the Balkans:
"Hence, each people was perpetually making charges of inhumanity against all its neighbors. The Serb, for example, raised his bitterest complaints against the Turk, but was also ready to accuse the Greeks, the Bulgarians, the Vlachs, and the Albanians for every crime under the sun. English persons, therefore, of humanitarian and reformist disposition constantly went out to the Balkan Peninsula to see who was in fact ill-treating whom, and, being by the very nature of their perfectionist faith unable to accept the horrid hypothesis that everybody was ill-treating everybody else, all come back with a pet Balkan people established in their hearts as suffering and innocent, eternally the massacree and never the massacrer. The same sort of person, devoted to good works and austerities, who is traditionally supposed to keep a cat and a parrot, often set up on the hearth the image of the Albanian or the Bulgarian or the Serbian or the Macedonian Greek people, which had all the force and blandness of pious fantasy."9
Presence of positive and negative bias often sets the tone in writings about the Balkans, even with writers who advocated objectivity: "He was one of the handsomest Serbs I ever knew. And thats saying a lot, for they turn out the best-looking men in the world here, as you probably know."10 A similar example: Henry Noel Brailsford, "a British journalist who was in Macedonia during 1903 and 1904 providing British relief assistance to victims of the Ilinden-Preobazhenski Uprising,"11 wrote the following about "Bulgarian [peasant] of Macedonia": "He lacks the plausibility, the grace, the quick intelligence of the Greek. He has nothing of the dignified medival chivalry of the Albanian. Nor has he physical graces to recommend him; and even the women are unprepossessing."12
Western historians and publicists of Balkan origins seem even more inclined to support nationalistic outlook on history than non-migrs. Expatriates might perceive nationalism as one of the few remaining links with the "old motherland." Their perspective is often skewed, when compared to the one of their fellows. For example, a page about most important Macedonians, made by amateur historian from Canada, lists seven persons: three historical figures (Alexander the Great, Gotse Delchev and Kiro Gligorov) and four prominent businesspersons from Canadian-Macedonian community. So, it turns out that being the first president of independent Republic of Macedonia is as important to the 'Macedonian cause' as owning a chain of warehouses and a NHL hokey club in Canada.13
1 Donald V. Gawronski, History—meaning and method (Glenview, IL: Scott-Forresman, 1975), p.89
3 “A Letter from Gavril, Archbishop of Ohrid, to the Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg” written October 8th 1589, and “The Archbishop of Ohrid Atanasius Requests Foreign Aid for an Uprising Against the Ottoman Rule” from 1615, in Documents on the struggle of the Macedonian people, Volume 1, pp.152-153; 156-158.
4 Captain Labignette, “The Communist Insurrection in Greece,” in G. Chaliand, Guerrilla Strategies (Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1982) p.263-269.
5 Robert St. John, The Silent People Speak (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948), pp.12.
6 Duncan M. Perry. The politics of terror: the Macedonian liberation movements, 1893-1903 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1988), pp.100-101; 127-128.
7 Ivan Katardzhiev, “I.M.O.R.O. (II),” in Macedonian Review, 3/1990, (Skopje, Macedonia: Cultural Life, 1990) p.143.
8 Noam Chomsky provides detailed analysis in his book The New Military Humanism, Lessons From Kosovo (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1999).
9 West, Rebecca. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia. (New York: The Viking Press, 1941). p.20.
10 The Silent People Speak, p.20.
11 The politics of terror, p.22.
12 Will S. Monroe, Bulgaria and Her People, With an Account of the Balkan Wars, Macedonia, and the Macedonian Bulgars (Boston, MA: The Page Company, 1914) p.370.
13 “Famous people of Macedonian descent” in Biser Balkanski, Canadian Macedonian Internet Community (http://www.biserbalkanski.com/famous/) (20 November 2000)
Organized Crime Will Blow Up In Europe's Face.
Two days ago, Kole Chashule, the Macedonian Foreign Affairs Minister, said that "The organized crime prepares a major explosion, which will enfold much of the Balkans." According to Sense Agency, the chief of diplomacy of Republic of Macedonia made this statement two days ago, while visiting Sweden. He emphasized that "this problem will blow up in Europe's face, as soon as springtime."
Chashule claimed that the perpetrator of this "explosion" is the so-called Liberation Front, based in northern Albania, whose goal is creation of "Great Kosovo." The Front finances its operations by smuggling illegal drugs, weapons, and people.
- They present great threat to the stability of ethnically mixed Balkans Chashule said during his meeting with the Swedish Minister of Exterior Ana Lind.
He depicted Macedonia as an oasis of stability and democracy and denied the existence of a general "Albanian question," but claimed that such notions are nurtured "only by the Mafiosi and criminal groups."
The hosts acknowledged this statement, but remarked that such a picture does not correspond with the reports from the field.
Neighbours Wished Success to Parvanov.
At 9.25 a.m. the first working day of the head of the state started.
In front of the block in which Bulgarian president lives everything was as usual. Some people walked around with their dogs, others started for the cars, parked near by, or for the bus stations. At 8.55 a.m. a black 'Mercedes', accompanied by a BMW with a blue light stopped in front of the stairs, leading to the block's entrance. Only one of the drivers remained in the 'Mercedes'. On the balcony of the block against the presidential one a young woman hanged out laundry. A man and a woman stopped at the garden pavilion near by to enjoy the unexpected winter sun. At exactly 9.15 a.m. the entrance door of the block opened and Georgy Parvanov appeared carrying a black suitcase. Obviously, despite not having chiefs, the presidents have working time. The first real working day of the head of the state started. Four people ran round him. Auntie Magda was the first to pass past the guards and congratulate him. Before that she had said that she lived on the same floor with Parvanov and knew him for a long time. And that he's a good man. 'I wish you success, my boy. I love you very much', said auntie Magda while shaking the president's hand and he politely nodded. Then he greeted his neighbours , who drank coffee in the garden pavilion, and got into the 'Mercedes'. Today for the first time Georgy Parvanov entered the president's office early in the morning. He had a cup of coffee in privacy. The people around him had long been used to this ritual of Parvanov. After that he called his team. Later, he met the experts with whom he discussed the program for the day. There wasn't a common meeting of the new administration staff of the presidency. May be because in keeping with his favourite phrase the president solves most of the problems 'in motion'. Till now the new president hadn't made any changes at his working place.
Putin's Bankers Chose Rossexim.
The second ranking bank in Russia - Mezhprombank has chosen the Bulgarian Rossexim for strategic partner. Both the institutions will participate together in the 'Biochim's privatization. That is one of the most important results of our visit in Moscow, Vice-Premier Nikolay Vassilev commented at his return.
We Welcome Willingness to Cooperate with Russia.
Ambassador of Russia
Exclusively for "Standart"
We do welcome the declared willingness of President Georgi Parvanov to give a new impetus to the relations between Russia and Bulgaria and further develop cooperation between our countries. Russia upholds this position and is open for a constructive dialogue with Sofia. Already now the relationships between the two countries are gaining the necessary momentum. These days in Moscow vice-premier of Bulgaria, Nikolai Vassilev, met the representatives of Russia. By the end of the month Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Solomon Passi, is planning a very important visit to Russia. Along with the restoration of the traditional historical and cultural ties, trade and economic relationships, together our countries could make a significant contribution to the stabilization of the situation in the Balkans and the world. We can also work hand-in-hand in the UN Security Council.
Russia could clear off its debts by one-and-a-half year from now.
Russia could clear off its debts by one-and-a-half year from now, Deputy Minister of Finance Krasimir Katev prognosticated. During his visit in Moscow as a member of the Bulgarian delegation this week, he negotiated with the Russian part reconsideration of the agreement of 1995 stipulating paying off USD 52 mn of the Russian debt to take place by shipping equipment for Kremikovtsy and USD 48 by military equipment and spare parts. Katev said that military equipment should be compatible with NATO standards. A part of the debt could also be paid by supplying nuclear fuel for Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, he explained. Bulgaria is importing nuclear fuel worth between USD 40 and 70 mn per year. The agreement about the debt would be signed during the visit of the Russian Vice-Premier and Minister of Finance Alexey Kudrin on February 21 and 22, according to Katev. He said that in all probability the next session of the joint Committee for Economic and Technological Cooperation could take place as well then. Commenting the plans for the privatization of Biochim as a member of the Bank Consolidation Companys Managers Board, he said that Roseximbank did not correspond to the new requirements for the potential buyers. The Managers Board of the Bank Consolidation Company decided a week ago that the minimal price for Biochim should be BGN 95 mn, and the buyers should have USD at least 100 mn as assets in order to qualify for the tender.
Police Managed to Corner Gangsters.
193 dangerous gangs were routed, the crime was curbed in 2001, reported Gen. Vassilev.
The police is doing fine job. In 2001 the registered crimes number 137,349, which is by some 4 percent less than in 2000. The Chief Secretary of Interior - Col. Boiko Borissov and heads of police directorates all over the country listened to the National Police Service Directorate (NPSD) report for the past year. They summoned at the headquarters of the Sofia Directorate of Interior. The crime index during the reported period totals 1,677 crimes per 100,000 persons. Last year the index was higher. The policemen carried out some 15,000 complex actions. 23,380 bandits were detained and 69,505 criminal offences were detected. The effectiveness has also grown by 8 pts. as compared to year 2000. We have cut short the activity of 193 criminal groups and organized gangs, Gen Vassilev said. They had committed severe robberies and murders. 'I appraise as good the work of the police. Lots of things are completed, but much more are pending to be done, Gen. Boiko Borissov said.
Killer of the Bulgarian in the USA Was Found.
The police in Syracuse, state of New York, is searching Dominique Dener from New York for the murder of the Bulgarian Simeon Popov. The 27-year old student in music from Sofia was shot on Saturday evening. An accomplice of the killer had been arrested. A funeral ceremony for Simeon Popov was organized in the university in Siracuse.
Military Reform Is Going On.
His E. Yan Suttar
Exclusively for "Standart"
New President Georgi Parvanov in his speech before the Parliament accentuated the continuity and cooperation between the institutions and parties in Bulgaria. I was impressed by the explicitly declared commitment to Bulgaria's EU and NATO membership. An aspiration fully backed by Great Britain. I was deeply impressed by his serious attitude towards the further progress of the military reform. This is a field in which the British government consults their Bulgarian colleagues and the role of the President in his capacity of the commander-in-chief of the military forces, is a unique one.
Monks from Mount Athos Complain to PM.
Father Superior of the Monastery of Zographos Archimandrite Ambrose, together with the monks Athanasius and Euthymius will complaint to Premier Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Parliamentary Chairman Ognyan Gerdzhikov and Foreign Minister Solomon Passy of deputies. Yesterday, the three of them arrived to Sofia from Mount Athos to make a complaint about the bill of ephoria "Zographos" drafted by deputies Vesselin Bliznakov, Lachezar Toshev and Ahmed Useyn. The bill envisages the ephoria to be annually checked up by the Audit Office, its head to have a diplomatic immunity and the coenoby no to be self-supported or to allot revenues to Bulgarian churches.
PM's Speech in the Internet.
The speech of PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha before the MPs from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and will be available live in the Internet, sources from the government announced. His speech will be broadcasted in real time on the PACE site. This is the usual practice concerning highly reputed guests of the assembly. This morning the PM leaves for a 12-hour visit in Strastburg. He will meet with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the president of PACE.
Austrian National Seeking to Embroil Simeon with Business.
The attack was inspired by Kostov's circle, observers maintain.
Ivan Kostov's lobby abroad is gaining momentum. Former Austrian deputy - Christian Democrat Friedrich Koenig tried to drive a wedge into the relations of Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha with the big Bulgarian business. Koenig released discrediting materials in a Sofia newspaper reading that the King's movement should break off "any relations with the mafia organizations such as MG". It was reportedly the condition the NMS to be admitted into the European Popular Party. The manner of this discrediting material is well-known. It is very like the ex-premier. And the moment to attack was not chosen by chance. It took place few hours before Simeon paid his visit to Brussels and on the eve of establishing the Economic Growth Council - a structure for dialogue of the cabinet with the business. On the other hand, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CE is sitting in Strasbourg at present. The NMS deputies in the PACE, headed by Milena Milotinova, are aspiring to become members of the Christian Democrats' group. The NMS is to file their candidature for the EPP, after being transformed into a party. For now, the UDF are the only Bulgarian members in the EPP and they are doing their best to impede the NMS from becoming members as well. "Koenig may state only his personal opinion. During my talks with other EPP deputies I received support for the possible candidacy of the movement, from the Chairman of the group including," Milena Milotinova elaborated. To observers, the fact, that a foreigner is intruding upon Bulgarian home affairs so directly. At present, Koenig is not on the list of the PACE deputies. His name is not on the list of the secretariat on the Internet site of the party, either. Neither is he on the Web site of the European Parliament and the site of the Christian Democratic International. It is an infamous calumny upon the corporation, sources from the MG said yesterday. And reminded that MG signed recently the global contract with the UN Secretary-General, comprising some of the biggest world companies. The corporation said, that they have already hired a competent lawyer in Vienna, to clean off their tarnished reputation.
Shouleva: We create 60 000 new jobs.
This year the cabinet will create 60 000 new jobs, Social Minister Lidiya Shouleva promised yesterday. 47 000 Bulgarians will pass requalification courses. The promise was written down in the employment plan, drafted by the Social Ministry. From January 1, two alleviations for the employers are in force. The state will pay the salaries and the insurances of every employed jobless person up to 29-year old when his/her contract is for at least 12 months. For the employment of people who were jobless for a long time the employers will have the right to subtract as expenditures the sums for salaries and insurances before the taxation.
BG Population Lives on Beans and Potatoes.
The incomes collapsed by 5 percent, BGN 1,100 necessary for a 4-member family.
The Bulgarians lay particular stress on beans and potatoes and save money even from bread and milk now. Meat and cheese, however, are more and more unaccessible, said sources from the Institute for Social and Trade-Union Surveys with the CITUB. The consumption of meat, milk and cheese has shrunk by 11 - 13 percent last year. The population buys more and more rarely fruits as well. Only the consumption of potatoes and beans is growing. The prices of all foods have increased by some 6- 8 percent during the previous year, trade-union experts estimated. The sun-flower oil's price growth is most drastic - by 14.4 percent. The real incomes of the Bulgarians have collapsed with 4 - 5 percent per annum. The same drop was reported also in 2000. Almost half of the Bulgarians live with less than 105 levs per month. That's the poverty threshold according to the Institute. The average per capita income needed for normal life was 274.56 levs in December.
"Flexible" Tickets Too Difficult for Older People.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Daniel Valtchev
Majority vote and proportional counting can hardly be combined, says NMS deputy Daniel Valtchev.
- Mr. Valtchev, yesterday Emil Koshlukov informed the parliamentary group that he was going to introduce a new Election Bill. Is the timing for it appropriate?
- It depends on one's angle of vision. I agree that it would be good to have the new Election Act adopted at the beginning of this Parliament's mandate rather than by the end of it.
- Do you approve the formula proposed by Koshlukov, that is preferential tickets which the voters will be able to "rearrange"?
- The Bulgarian political model has confronted with such problems. Already before the Grand National Assembly was elected, there were debates about what kind of representation to prefer, proportional or majority. It's common knowledge that proportional representation with "rigid" tickets was chosen. Actually, our colleague Koshlukov suggests that "flexible" tickets should be introduced now. Which means that a voter will not only cast his ballot, but will also express his preference as to how to arrange the names of the nominees. Such systems are applied in some other countries, the problems lies in the technicalities of the vote. We have to decide if it won't be difficult for a certain part of the Bulgarian electorate, e.g. old or uneducated people. On the whole I'm ready to embrace the idea.
- How could we avoid this drawback?
- We all know that there are many options when choosing the system of representation. None is ideal, without any imperfections. The problem is what drawback you are ready to accept at the expense of other qualities. The essence of what we wrote 6-7 years ago as a project was that the proportional representation gives a clearer idea about the moods of the electorate. In the eyes of a voter, the majority representation enables people to express their preference to this or that candidate.
- Does this mean that time has come to introduce majority representation?
- I wouldn't say that majority representation is a more modern electoral system. Had it been so, majority vote would have prevailed throughout the world. Yet, as you know, proportional types of representation are more commonly accepted. They stimulate the development of party democracy. The fact that NMS has declared its willingness to develop as a party of electoral type is another matter. This is closer to the Anglo-Saxon political model. We have nothing against majority representation, although this question has not been discussed on the political level.
Sofia Airport Fog-Bound, PM Unable to Leave for Strasbourg.
Sofia, January 24 (BTA) - Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's visit to Strasbourg was cancelled on Thursday after low visibility conditions caused the Sofia Airport to be closed down, governmental PRO Tsvetelina Uzunova said.
It was estimated that even if the fog disperses allowing Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to depart later in the day, he still will not make it on time for his address before PACE scheduled for 13:00hrs local time.
Head of the Bulgarian delegation to PACE Yunal Lyutfi said preparations are underway for Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's visit to Strasbourg in April. This emerged after PACE President Peter Schieder contacted Lyutfi in connection with the cancellation of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's Thursday visit.
Ten Years in the Twilight Zone.
Balkan Express - Antiwar
Ten Years in the Twilight Zone. A Brief Overview of a Morbid Experiment.
January 24, 2002
When the French king and the Holy Roman Emperor signed a peace treaty in Munster, Westphalia, on October 24, 1648, they were hardly aware that by ending Europe's worst war to date they had also established the foundations of the modern system of international relations. The Treaty of Westphalia introduced and enshrined the principle of territorial sovereignty, without which modern nation-states would have been impossible.
Three and a half centuries later, their heirs aspiring to lord over the creation of a new European superstate chose to casually reject this legacy. On January 15, 1991, the European Union formally recognized the declarations of secession by two of Yugoslavia's federal republics, Slovenia and Croatia, declaring Yugoslavia no longer existed.
At best, this was a heavily assisted suicide of an already dying country; at worst, an act of incalculable malice. Whatever it was, it plunged the people of Yugoslavia into the abyss they've been in ever since.
Between the outbreak of the Wars of Yugoslav Succession1 and the end (?) of Macedonia's Apartheid Rebellion, both the Balkans and the world changed beyond recognition. The "hour of Europe," heralded by Yugoslavia's enthusiastic executioners, was more like the proverbial fifteen minutes. Having shrugged off the unpleasant distractions of Somalia and Haiti, the United States rolled into the Balkans in full force, leveling anything in its path and rewriting history as it went along. With massive amounts of propaganda supplementing brute force, the United States used the Balkans to assert its position as the world's "indispensable nation," the global Empire incarnate.
The Empire's scions claim to have brought "peace" to the Balkans, along with "democracy" and "human rights." All they really brought were subjugation, kleptocracy2 and conquerors' privileges: sex slavery, drug-running and widespread organized crime in general. None of the problems between Yugoslav peoples has been resolved with the possible exception of Croatian and Albanian distaste for Serbs, largely cured by mass expulsions and, equally, mass murder.
Last November, Bosnia entered its sixth year of existence as the Empire's protectorate divided, impoverished and despairing. To make matters worse, the Empire's erstwhile Arab and Afghan allies, who also helped out during the war in Bosnia, had just committed mass murder in New York and Washington. Soon thereafter, five Algerians and a Yemeni who stayed in Bosnia and were even granted citizenship by a grateful Muslim regime had been arrested at US urging, based on the CIA's claims they were connected to Al-Qaeda.
The men had violent criminal records in Bosnia, but no hard evidence linked them to terrorism. So the six were released last week into the custody of the US military. At US urging, they were stripped of their citizenship, then shipped to the luxury cages in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while their families and supporters rioted outside the Sarajevo city jail.
A loyal vassal of the Empire for years, the Muslim regime in Sarajevo thus found itself in dire straits. The current government is still mostly Muslim, though it includes many of Bosnia's Croat and Serb Christians. Both facts prevent it from dealing with the issue of its predecessor's dalliances with militant Islam in a forceful manner. On one hand, Bosnian Muslims still depend on support and aid of many Middle Eastern charities. On the other hand, many of those charities are suspected fronts for organizations the US labels "terrorist" and the US does not tolerate any debate on this particular subject right now.
If they crack down on the fundamentalists, the Muslim authorities risk the full wrath of the "holy warriors," with Bosnia's Christians the first likely target. But if they do nothing, the fundamentalist influence will grow and Bosnia might find itself on the US blacklist as "collateral damage" in the War on Terrorism.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER.
The Empire's "help" is also felt in Serbia these days. The future of its union with Montenegro is so obfuscated by Imperial meddling, many people are increasingly willing to settle for any solution, to the benefit of various politicians with illegitimate aspirations.
As if that were not tragic enough, Serbia's 18-headed hydra of a government is busy not only plundering its citizens through the destruction of banks, but also destroying the state from the inside. The Serbian Parliament is likely to approve the "omnibus" law proposed by several power-hungry separatist parties in the ruling coalition, giving the northern province of Vojvodina its Communist-era "autonomy."
In practice, this would mean creating a separate state within Serbia a crazy idea if there ever was one. The repressive statism of Zoran Djindjic would be replaced by the even more repressive statism of Nenad Canak and other self-proclaimed "Vojvodina leaders," in comparison with whom Djindjic appears downright saintly. President Kostunica's party, far from opposing this madness, is actually advocating a proposal to divvy up Serbia into five sub-states six, counting the occupied Kosovo.
LA SERBIE, C'EST MOI!
Djindjic himself is staying out of the division debate, content that he would end up ruling all the fiefdoms anyway. He is also very busy setting up his own national security council, which would take control in a "crisis situation." Given Djindjic's political and academic credentials in the field of power-grabbing through provoking crises, this should be a red flag for every Serbian patriot well, that, and his choice of ambassador in Washington.
Namely, Djindjic's allies in the government approved the choice of Stojan Cerovic for Yugoslavia's second Ambassador to the Empire, after the first Milan St. Protic was recalled late last year. Cerovic has no diplomatic credentials, but he does have a history of maligning the Serbs to his employers in the US Institute of Peace and elsewhere. This has been enough to force many American Serbs to bitterly denounce Djindjic and his private diplomacy, but few voices of opposition were heard in Serbia itself, as usual.
NOT WITHOUT CAVIAR.
These are but the most egregious examples of distilled evil that has festered in the darkness of the Balkans under Imperial rule, and the list is far from complete nor is there enough space here for it to be. But this brief overview would be sadly lacking without the news that the new governor of occupied Kosovo is none other than German diplomat Michael Steiner. Formerly a deputy governor of Bosnia, Steiner advised the German Chancellor for a while, before resigning in a scandal involving several German officers, an airplane at the Moscow airport and caviar that apparently wasn't there.
Word is that Steiner has quite a taste for caviar, and that he is not known for diplomacy or tact. So while Kosovo is awash in murders, theft, slavery and extremely distasteful politics not to mention the whole bit about it being occupied territory of a nominally sovereign state at least its occupiers and their subjects will now be treated to some sharp German wit and lots of caviar.
As a historical footnote, Steiner's appointment means that for the first time since World War One, Bosnia and a part of Serbia will be ruled by an Austrian and a German, respectively.
Certainly, the demagogues that came to lead the successor states of former Yugoslavia bear a great deal of culpability for the present sad state of affairs in the once-promising region. Their involvement with outside powers, however, and those powers' incessant meddling in the Yugoslav crises, has exacerbated these consequences exponentially.
The recognition of Slovenia and Croatia created a precedent for future "diplomatic aggression," destruction of countries by recognition of their seceding parts. Political pressure in Macedonia, proxy warfare in Croatia, outright force and occupation in Bosnia and Kosovo were all meant as precedents for other parts of the world their authors admitted as much, publicly.
Principles, logic, tradition, law and just about everything else that even remotely resembles sanity and civilization were tossed aside for the sake of a grand experiment in statist imperialism. How well that has worked one can see from the examples above. Having performed the most gruesome procedures on human beings declared lab rats, the Empire turned its morbid curiosity to other places. The experiment continues, with less haste than before. The Balkans lab rats are still alive, though horribly mangled by the experience, and still inhabit their despoiled cages hoping for a better tomorrow or a release from the nightmare of their existence.
It sounds like a chilling script for a Twilight Zone episode. Only it's all too real.
 Since no one contested the constitutional right of Yugoslav republics to secession, but rather their stubborn insistence on international recognition of arbitrary Communist borders, the 1991-95 wars were fought over the division of territory – i.e. succession of Yugoslavia's property. The subsequent conflicts in southern Serbia (Kosovo, Presevo) and Macedonia were wars of Albanian separatism, and thus completely unrelated to the Succession Wars.
 By strict definition, any government is a "kleptocracy" – i.e. it rules by stealing the property of its citizens (through "taxes"). Therefore, statist writers commonly misuse the term to describe corrupt regimes. A kleptocracy is not corrupt, it is simply a state entirely devoted to plunder.