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Filchev Also Pledged Assistance Against Highway Gangs. Chief Secretary of Interior Col. Boiko Borissov paid a visit to the Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev yesterday in the late afternoon. The appointment was due to the action against the highway gangs in Southwestern Bulgaria. We want quick and effective justice, Col. Borissov said. You will see what we have decided, Filchev added. On the photo: Col. Borissov and Gen. Vassilev (the second one) yesterday ran the action in Blagoevgrad. Photo Roumen Zherev
Patriarch Maxim (R), leader of Bulgaria's Orthodox Church welcomes Archbishop Leonardo Sandri (L), Under-Secretary of State for the Holy See in Sofia January 9, 2002. Sandri is on a two-day visit to Sofia as part of the preparations for the first visit to Bulgaria by the Pope, which is being planned for May this year. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff
Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios (L), primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis (C), and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, (D-NY) walk from the site of the World Trade Center attacks January 9, 2002, after a visit to the site of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, destroyed in the Sept. 11th attacks. The group visited the site of the World Trade Center disaster for a brief prayer service for the victims of September 11th. REUTERS/POOL
Greek Prime Minster Costas Simitas (C) hands over a check for $500,000 to Archbishop Dimitrios, (L) the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, for the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church during a visit by the two to the site of the World Trade Center disaster in New York, January 9, 2002. The church was destroyed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) (R) applauds. REUTERS/Mike Segar
If Prilep Does Not Receive Water, It Will Face Disaster.
Prilep, January 9 (MIA) - If the city of Prilep does not receive water by the end of the day, the Ministry of Health and the State Department of Health Protection will recommend even more severe measures of precaution, because the city is facing epidemic risk due to the low hygiene level.
According to the new measures, the baby clinic in Prilep will be closed and all pregnant women will be sent to the Bitola hospital.
A team from the Ministry of Health that paid a visit to Prilep on Wednesday reported that the hospitals, as well as the kindergartens could be closed due to the lack of water.
Director of the Prilep water company Marjan Gjorgievski said that he expected ten more water delivery trucks to be dispatched to Prilep, because the existing vehicles are insufficient to cover the needs of the citizens.
There are also water problems in Krusevo. The citizens of this town have drinking water only two hours a day.
German Priest Was Caught With 400,900 Dm.
Skopje-Michael Walter Jochanes who was detained by the Macedonian Custom Police on 29th of December at Skopje Airport in Petrovec with 400,900 Deutch Marks in his baggage, is a German priest, not a KFOR soldier from Prizren.
Jochanes said that the money are salaries for KFOR soldiers which should be exchanged in Euros in Germany. KFOR spokesman in Prishtina denied this saying that the money belonged to the Catholic priest Mark Soppy in Kosovo, who gave the money to his colleague Jochanes to be exchanged in Euros.
According to the German Embassy in Skopje, Jochanes was in Macedonia privately not by the invitation of Macedonian officials. Jochanes is now in Germany and if he wants to return the money he will have to show the Macedonian Custom Police a proof of origin of the money.
Situation In Tetovo.
Tetovo, 9 January (MIA) - It is relatively calm in Tetovo this Thursday morning, MIA' s correspondent announces.
Series of sporadic and automatic shoots were registrated during Tuesday night. The shoots were coming from the direction of Gajre, Selce, Mala Recica, Odri, Strimnica, Zelino, Tenovo, and Poroj.
The Albanian terrorists opened fire from Tetovo - teke, the region of the streets "Cetinska" , "Vonvardarska" , and Stipska, as well as from the direction of the residential area 82 and settlement Drenovec 2.
According to Tetovo Interior department, infantry weaponry was used to wards undefined targets. Macedonian security forces did not respond to the armed provocations of the Albanian terrorists.
Tetovo, January 9 (MIA) - Few shootings were heard in Tetovo on Wednesday, MIA's correspondent from Tetovo reported.
According to spokesman of the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body Zoran Tanevski 16 shots and 65 volleys of fire from various locations were registered overnight.
Tanevski also informed that realization of the program for re-deployment of police units continued today in the villages of Merovo, Cerovo, Neraste, Odri, Dobrosta, Glogi, Otusiste, Tearce, Lesok and Neprosteno.
Ethnically mixed police units did not enter in the Tetovo settlement Teke due to the absence of the European Union and the OSCE monitors, and of representatives of the NATO-mission "Amber Fox". According to the plan, police patrolling in this settlement was to start on January 3.
Terrorists Will Attack Again In Spring.
Report By Irina Gelevska
Skopje-The President Boris Trajkovski called for a meeting of the National Security Council yesterday, with two issues on the agenda: current security situation in Macedonia and the next phase of the return of the Police in the crisis regions. The National Security Council consists of the President, the Prime Minister, the ministry of Police and Defense, the Speaker of the Parliament and other experts. After a two hour meeting yesterday, the Security Council talked about the current security situation in Macedonia.
The Minister of Defense Vlado Popovski has warned the Council that the snow has stopped the terrorists from attacking but in spring, an offensive on a smaller scale is expected by the Macedonian Security Forces (army and police). According to the information that the Police and the Army have, the so-called ANA, the new Albanian terrorist organization in Macedonia (ex-members of NLA who do not want to give up the fight and except amnesty) will start to attack the security check points of the Macedonian Army and Police in the crisis regions.
"But this offensive will not have the same dimensions as during the conflict in 2001"-said the Defense Minister Vlado Popovski at yesterday's meeting of the National Security Council.
The members of the Council have agreed that if the attacks start again in spring that the response of the Macedonian Security Forces should be quick and strong. The Police and Army have both said that this will be no problem for the units because now they have the necessary combat experience.
The meeting of the Council continues this afternoon at 18:00 with the general plan of the returning of the Police in the crisis regions. There are opinions that the return of the police should be rapid in order to take positions in the whole area in case of a new offensive by the terrorists in spring.
21 Workers Injured In Two Separate Explosions In The Last Two Days.
STRUMICA AND BITOLA-5 workers from the wood factory, Dijos, in Strumica were injured yesterday in an explosion caused by the pressure tank in the factory.
Two of the injured workers have serious burns and have been moved to the Clinical Centre in Skopje. The cause of the explosion is frozen installation.
Today in Bitola's sugar factory, 4th of July, 16 workers were injured in an explosion. 9 of them have moved to intensive care. The cause of this last explosion is also from damaged installation from the ice and cold temperatures.
Situation In Kumanovo Region.
Kumanovo, January 9 (MIA) - According to MIA's correspondent it was calm and peaceful during the night in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region, without any provocations from the Albanian terrorists.
Six shots were registered around 18.00h Tuesday evening from Matejce village, but because the shootings were not targeted the Macedonian security forces did not respond.
Spokesman of the Macedonian Army's Staff Col. Blagoja Markovski said that the terrorist provocations were less intensive in this region of crisis in the past few days.
MIXED POLICE PATROLS TO ENTER IN EIGHT MORE VILLAGES.
Spokesman of the governmental coordinate body for crisis management Zoran Tanevski reported that a list of eight more villages where ethnically mixed police patrols are due to enter has been developed.
According to the plan for redeployment of the security forces, starting from Friday the police should enter in the villages Mojance and Radusa in the Skopje area, Celopek, Slatino and Neprosteno in the Tetovo area and Vrutok, Recane and Zdunje in the Gostivar area.
The governmental coordination body developed this list in cooperation with OSCE, NATO and EU missions in Macedonia.
Mine disposal activities in these areas have been already completed.
Regarding the Kumanovo area, the police is patrolling 24 hours a day in the village of Lopate starting from Wednesday. As result to the 24 hour patrolling, police posts have been removed from the villages Lopate in Kumanovo area, Vratnica in Tetovo area, Raven in Gostivar area and Ljuboten near Skopje.
Tanevski reported that redeployment of police forces in the Tetovo Teke district was postponed due to security reasons.
EIGHT POLICE GENERALS PROMOTED.
At a formal manifestation organized on Wednesday at the police base 1 near Skopje, Macedonian minister of interior Ljube Boskovski promoted eight police officers into rank of police generals. Minister Boskovski also decorated the members of the special police units with medals of honor with religious motives. Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski was also present at the ceremony.
Goran Mitevski, Director of the Public Security Department, was promoted into police general, and Risto Galevski was decorated with another star and now he holds the highest police rank in Macedonia - four stars general.
Deputy police undersecretaries Zoran Jovanovski and Goran Georgievski, commanders of the special police units "Lions" and "Tigers", Goran Stojkov and Goran Zdravkovski, Head of the Special Police Vasko Stamevski and deputy commander of the "Tigers" Stojance Angelov were promoted into ranks of General-Major.
Addressing the present, Minister Boskovski said that Macedonia was living through the hardest period of its history.
"Macedonia has left behind a year filled with crisis and aggression, a year in which Macedonian defenders showed that there is nothing more secret then to defend the sovereignty and integrity of their fatherland," Boskovski said, adding that the Macedonian security forces did not allow their country to fall on its knees.
"You showed that Macedonia has the strength to defend its sovereignty, but also that Macedonia is part of Europe," he stressed.
"Macedonia must never again be put under someone's foot or to serve as an experiment for some international protectorates or international federations," Boskovski added.
"We are standing in front of a difficult task to reintegrate Macedonia. 80,000 displaced persons must return to their homes together with the Macedonian security forces," the Macedonian interior minister said, adding that the Macedonian security forces would return on every inch of the Macedonian territory "because that is our secret task."
Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Stefan, expressed joy from the decoration of the special police units with medals of honor on which the text of St. Stefan's prayer is written.
"Macedonia is a biblical country, fatherland of heroes. Be proud that you are descendents of your glorious ancestors. Perhaps it is our generation that had the hardest task - to defend and maintain Macedonia," H.H. Stefan said.
Members of the special forces "Tigers", "Lions", rapid reaction and antiterrorist units were decorated with medals with religious motives.
Ministers of Transport and Culture Ljupcho Balkovski and Ganka Samoilovska - Cvetanova also attended the ceremony.
Supply of Farm Land Greater Than Demand in Bulgaria; 60,000 Ha of Land Sold in 2001.
Sofia, January 9 (BTA) - There were 31,324 ransactions for farm land concluded in 2001, involving nearly 60,000 hectares of land or three times more compared to the previous year, show the results of a land market analysis disclosed by Agriculture and Forestry Deputy Minister Nihat Kabil at a news conference Wednesday. The analysis was made by the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS).
The average size of the land plots transacted in 2000 was 1.71 ha, and in 2001 it was 1.89 ha. Dobrich region (Northeastern Bulgaria) is an exception - there the plots of land were bigger, averaging 4.5 ha. The key prerequisite for the purchase and sale of land is the restoration of title to it. However, experts say that the supply of land is greater than the demand which results in price levels that owners willing to send their land find unsatisfactory. The market price and the rent paid by tenants is still not influenced by the category of land but by the location of the plot and the impossibility to change its designated use. Greatest is the demand for land situated near highways, large population centres or irrigation channels, Kabil said.
Three-hundred hectares of land have been leased, and the rent has dropped to 50-60 leva/ha in the last few years.
Last year, the farm land sold cheapest in the regions of Rousse, Razgrad and Turgovishte (Northeastern Bulgaria), at 680 leva/ha. The highest prices of farm land were registered in Sofia region (Western Bulgaria) and the regions of Plovdiv and Haskovo (Southern Bulgaria), from 2,300 to 3,500 leva/ha. The farm land in Dobrich, Pazardjik (Southern Bulgaria) and Lovech (Northern Bulgaria) sold at prices close to the average for the country, about 1,360 leva/ha, Kabil said.
Nearly 50 per cent of the land sold in 2001 is located in Dobrich region, and as the land is offered grouped, the price of the transactions concluded in 2001 soared by 58 per cent compared to 2000, the AMIS analysis shows. A serious problem of the Bulgarian land market is that only 5 per cent of the 761,000 farms in the country are market-oriented ones, the rest are subsistence farms, Kabil said.
According to experts, in 2002 the upward trend in the prices of land will persist and they will be strongly influenced by factors such as the general condition of agricultural production, the competitiveness of markets and the export-orientation of farm products.
BULGARIA - AFGHANISTAN - MILITARY INVOLVEMENT.
Bulgaria May Commit Chemical Protective Washing Facility to Afghanistan Operation.
Sofia, January 9 (BTA) - An initiative is being discussed with British government officials concerning Bulgaria's possible involvement in the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan by providing a chemical protective washing facility and means of transport.
Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov broke the news during a press briefing at the Charalitsa Operational Training Centre near Sofia Wednesday. The idea is that the facility should provide chemical protection to manpower, armament and equipment.
It may be operated by some 20 servicemen. The British request implies that, if Bulgaria takes on the task, the facility should be made available by mid-February, Svinarov said.
According to preliminary information, the Bulgarian unit will be expected to service British forces deployed in the vicinity of Kabul, the Minister said. Expert opinion is needed on what kind of equipment should be used. No projections have been made concerning the related expenses.
A list of British requests, suggesting various options on Bulgaria's possible involvement in Afghanistan, was received on Monday, he said. "I expect further developments on this issue next week. Obviously, Bulgarian presence in Afghanistan will not involve direct use of military force."
Minister Svinarov and National Assembly Chairman Ognyan Gerdjikov attended the closing panel of an operational meeting called by the Armed Forces Chief of General Staff at the Charalitsa Centre. Such meetings are held at the beginning of every year to map out the army's priorities. Possibilities for Bulgarian Army participation in collective defence systems and peacekeeping operations featured on the agenda, said Chief of General Staff Gen. Miho Mihov.
The journalists heard presentations of an Automated Information System for the Bulgarian Army Command, which provides real-time access to all army information sources, and modules from a Field Integrated Communication and Information System (FICIS) used at 61st Brigade stationed in Karlovo, Central Bulgaria.
The brigade forms part of the Rapid Reaction Corps. The 100 million leva FICIS project involves installation of system components on 342 vehicles of the Karlovo Brigade. The FICIS is fully compatible with NATO standards.
The agreement was signed in 1998. The principal contractor is Marconi of Italy. Ten per cent of the price of the contract has been invested in several Bulgarian companies acting as subcontractors. Thirty-eight tracked vehicles and 28 wheeled ones have already been equipped with FICIS components. The remaining 276 vehicles are to be equipped until April.
Bulgarians Detained in Libya Ran Distillery.
The detainees are Bulgargeomin's employees, one of them was released after being interrogated.
Three Bulgarian nationals were detained by the Libyan police in Garabuli on January 3, Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry said yesterday. During a search of the camp of Bulgargeomin, a distillery, a 200-liter still and 6 bottles of distillate were found. The scandal flared in Garabuli, some 80 kilometers away from Tripoli. The detainees are Bulgargeomin's employees. Bulgaria's consul in Tripoli attended the interrogation on January 4. After that one of the arrested Bulgarians was released. The Bulgaria's embassy has already requested the two Bulgarians to be released on bail, an official letter of guaranty was handed in to the prosecution. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is eyeing the case, employees from the ministry said. In case the accusations are testified, such actions would undermine the authority of several thousands of Bulgarians, working correctly in Libya. To Solomon Passy's employees, the scandal is not expected to affect the case against the six Bulgarian medics.
MPs rebel against taxes.
Economic Lobbies' War Splits NMS Parliamentary Group. MRF, BSP and UDF are preparing to attack the new taxes, Parvanov's team makes its own analysis.
The war against the new taxes is about to cause a split in the NMS. A group of NMS MPs, headed by Antonia Parvanova and Kamen Vlahov, insist on alleviating the restrictive taxation policy of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha cabinet. Yesterday Vlahov demanded Minister of Finance Milen Velchev to elaborate on the government's tax policy before the parliamentary group of the NMS on Friday. A day before it Parvanov asked for the resignation of the deputy minister of finance, Atanas Katsarchev. He is personally in charge of the tax policy. The scandal burst out because of the medicines' price shock provoked by the introduction of VAT on pharmaceutical products. The tax hysteria is actually the result of war between the economic lobbies within the NMS parliamentary group, say the King's deputies. Antonia Parvanova caters for the interests of traders and some producers, says Nina Radeva (NMS) from the Budget Committee. In her opinion, the debate within the NMS parliamentary group will bring no result. "Such debate has already been held several times, before the package of taxation acts was approved. Already at that time Parvanova and Vlahov were the opposing minority, said Radev. The MRF, BSP and UDF are to launch an attack against the new taxes. On Friday, the MRF Central Council is analyzing the cabinet's activity. Dogan's people are not satisfied with the social policy carried out by the government. An assessment of the notorious new taxes will be made for sure, MRF deputies maintain. They reminded that Katsarchev was invited to the National Assembly shortly before Christmas, on Dogan's initiative. At the time, the Movement leveled devastating criticisms at the tax acts and some of them were amended. Tomorrow, the UDF PG is also to assess the work of the cabinet. Long before the new taxes were passed, UDF deputies warned that the new stakes will result in strong social tensions, Ivan G. Ivanov, ex-deputy minister of the economy reminded. "We can't back up such a tax policy, which puts to risk not only the producers, retailers and distributors of medicines, but the health and life of common Bulgarians as well, said Rumen Ovcharov (BSP). He is in charge of the parliamentary activity of the "Coalition for Bulgaria, and of the relations with the state institutions. Tomorrow the BSP PG group in the National Assembly will decide exactly how to react. The restrictive tax policy has nothing to do with the socio-liberal model which helped the NMS to win the elections, Ovcharov generalized. Newly elected president Georgy Parvanov has ordered to his team a full analysis of the tax policy in the country. Sources from his stuff announced that the analysis will be announced after January 22 when he takes office. In his pre-election campaign Parvanov promised to be the social president. He promised to veto laws that don't take into consideration the financial status of the Bulgarians. According to the constitution Parvanov hasn't any opportunity to react, because the tax laws are already in force.
I'm Waiting for Judgement for Clientelists.
Will Kostov go back to the big politics? I remember Harry Potter: we'll meet some twice - once in their past and a second time in our future.
Leader of BDU 'Radicals', for BNR
By the end of February the 'Radicals' union will have a membership of around 15 000 - 20 000 members in the country. This is a good start. However, we'll have to talk about quality this time. We are looking for partners and friends. We are aware that the right to the center space in Bulgaria failed, it was exhausted. Many troubles were caused both within the UDF itself and during the UDF rule in the past 4-5 years. This inevitably leads to quakes. We are going now through an efficient period in which a number of formations and different ideas will be able to find their own niche. I'm convinced that many of the people I've been will find their own path in time. Some of them will get the judgement they have deserved. In every administration, apart from faults, there are offences that are punished in another way. It was not accidental that the UDF leadership was so upset by the article I wrote about the UDF and clientelism. In it between the lines one can read at least a dozen or two names. Inquiries have been launched against some of them. A big portion of the things are already coming to the fore. I would like very much that for the first time after a rule in Bulgaria the truth about who worked for the state and who for himself, who broke the law, may come out. In order that people know who dedicated themselves to the cause and who plundered at the expense of their political force. There should also be people to get judgement for their own crimes and faults. I don't anticipate any major quakes in parliament by the end of March. Apart from the desire of the prime minister himself for a good and calm tone I should mention the very, the explicitly good results of our foreign minister Solomon Passy. He proved his capability of making a useful and attractive foreign policy without too much media noise, and without too many photos and shows. The efforts of the IM leadership - of the minister and the chief secretary Boiko Borissov alike, should also be stressed. On the other hand we can see some flagrant mistakes - the introduction of VAT on medicines. One day the price of the electric energy will go up, on the following day there will be no rise. The same holds good of the heating energy price. I hope this wavering will be brought to a halt. If there is something this government owes to the people, just like the second UDF government, it is assistance for the medium, small-scale, the family business. One of the problems is in the absence of an alternative of the rule. If another right to the center space is not shaped up, we might come to a leftist rule. Not because the left wing has been consolidated, but because of the absence of balance on the other side - in the center and to the right. A new type of political relations is needed. We, from the 'Radicals' union will do our utmost to help the Bulgarian government resolve Bulgarian problems and the problems of the Bulgarians. Another national consensus is needed. And this time we shouldn't comment on the issue of the country's Euro-Atlantic integration. Perhaps the time has come for political formations to start talking about another national consensus to help the economy in Bulgaria resurrect. To outline categorical and clear-cut steps, and measures to be indisputable in the coming 2, 3 or 4 years too.
Resignation of Katsarchev Is Not on the Agenda.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Milen Veltchev
Minister of Finance
- Mr. Velchev, in recent days the ministry of finance was repeatedly attacked in media. What has provoked the NMS' criticism of the tax policy the government pursues?
- There are certain disagreements between the MPs as regards tax policy. This is not the stand of the entire parliamentary group.
- Are you prepared to accept the requests for the resignation of deputy minister Atanas Katsarchev, if this should be the price of the compromise with your political partners?
- Today (yesterday - ed.'s note) I had a meeting with the leadership of the NMS PG. The question about resignation of Mr. Katsarchev has not been raised at all. No one is going to demand his resignation and he is not going to hand it in. However, we'll seek solution to the problems caused by the introduction of VAT on medicines.
The Currency Board Isn't Threatened.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Martin Zaimov
A 100 lev bill doesn't mean inflation, claims the sub-governor of BNB Martin Zaimov.
- Mr Zaimov, how would you comment on what's taking place in Argentina?
- What is taking place in Argentina doesn't surprise me because the economy of that country has been going through some major difficulties for a long time. They have existed even prior to the introduction of the currency board. The situation in Argentina resembles very much Bulgaria's crisis of 1996. The reason is in the fiscal policy. And if the fiscal policy conducted in Bulgaria is irresponsible and indecent, there will be a crisis, here too, regardless of the currency system.
- What dangers the Bulgarian economy faces against Argentina's background?
- Argentina's fiscal policy encountered major problems mainly because of the big deficits in the local finances. If the Bulgarian society affords the deficit it experienced prior to 1997, we'll also witness a crisis no matter what the currency system is. In every household which spends more than it earns, there will be a crisis sooner or later. The board in Argentina allowed for a 10-year-long stability despite the leaning of the political class to manage the country's finances in this way. For 5 years now this country's finances have been managed with discipline, so that we are far away from the situation in Argentina.
- About what should we be careful the most?
- Every individual type of public policy should be professional and decent. Every change in the monetary policy might result in a devaluation of our currency. As soon as the monetary power in a state has allowed for its own currency to devaluate, it will immediately entail a devaluation of all savings. However, I don't think that there exists similar threat. Because I don't see the reason why we should be so indecent as to allow this to happen, after our savings have already been devaluated several times.
- Doesn't somehow a 100 lev bill mean that our currency has been devaluated?
- No, not at all. There are two reasons for such a decision. In the first place it is connected with alleviating the payments for those who would like to use high nominal values. The European Central Bank encountered similar question when there were countries which, unlike Germany, hadn't such a high nominal and there were disputes on whether there should be a 500 euro nominal value. There is such a nominal value in the long run. In the presence of a bank note worth of approximately 1000 levs and provided we accept it because, to a very big extent we are integrated with the European Union, we should have nominal values which approximate theirs.
Secondly: 55% of a total of the available 3 billion and 200 million levs are in 50 lev bills. There is an unwritten rule in central banking which says that when 50% of the bank note circulation is in the biggest nominal value, a bigger one should be established. This has nothing to do with inflation. Most prices haven't changed drastically. In recent years the daily purchases of all Bulgarians are not made in 50 lev bills. They are spent on bigger purchases - cars, flats, expensive things, commercial payments.
- Does it mean that the Bulgarian keeps shopping cash, even when it comes to cars and flats?
- Probably yes. This is part of the economy.
- Hasn't the very idea of the currency board been devaluated somehow? There emerged many critics of late who believe that the board is something which belongs to the past.
- Observers from outside are for this - to criticize one or another political decision. To be quite honest, I have no difficulties with the policy of the present government. What is important for the monetary policy is that the state finances be managed in a disciplined way and this is being done.
Bosnian Serbs mark 10th anniversary.
The Bosnian Serb Republic's status is still called into question.
By Alix Kroeger in Sarajevo.
Ceremonies have begun in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka to mark the 10th anniversary of the proclamation of the Bosnian Serb Republic. A service is taking place at Banja Luka's main Orthodox church and there will also be a ceremony at the town's main war cemetery. For many Bosnian Serbs the creation of their own mono-ethnic mini state was the most tangible gain of the war. Their political leaders continue to resist changes to the entity's status, including constitutional recognition of non-Serbs. On 9 January, 1992, the Bosnian Serb leadership announced the creation of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia Hercegovina, later renamed the Republic of Srpska, or Bosnian Serb Republic. The proclamation was a key part of the plan to create a greater Serbia. The Bosnian Serbs wanted to remain part of Yugoslavia - increasingly Serb dominated under the leadership of Slobodan Milosevic. But Bosnia's Muslims and Croats saw little future for themselves there. Instead they asked the European Union to recognise Bosnia as an independent state. It was a move strongly opposed by the Bosnian Serbs.
President Sarovic: The anniversary is an important jubilee.
Even before official recognition of Bosnian independence in April 1992, the fighting had begun. By the time the war ended in 1995 the Bosnian Serb Republic was established in law under the Dayton peace accords. However, its status is still sometimes called into question. In August, a Bosnian Serb general was convicted of genocide by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Critics say this shows that the Bosnian Serb Republic was established by ethnic cleansing. But its current President, Mirko Sarovic, has called the anniversary an important jubilee, the day when the only possible solution was reached.