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Several hundred ethnic Albanians gathered in Kosovos Pristina to protest against the arrest of three former rebels suspected of committing war crimes, January 31. cEPA

Situation In Kumanovo Crisis Region.


Kumanovo, January 31 (MIA) - It is calm Thursday morning in Kumanovo - Lipkovo crisis region, unlike the previous night, when frequent armed provocations were registered, coming from the direction of the villages in the northwest Lipkovo area.

Up till midnight in total of 13 occasions, about 80 sporadic and rifle shootouts were registered, coming from the villages of Vaksince, Slupcane, Kosturnik, Opae and Ropaljce.

The ethnically mixed police units continue their patrolling through the village of Matejce for three hours a day, while in Nikustak, Ropaljce, Opae and Lopate the police units are present 24 hours a day.

As reported by MIA's correspondent, the international monitors continue their talks with the local inhabitants and make efforts to create conditions for redeployment of the police in the villages of Otlja, lipkovo and Orizare.

Situation In Tetovo Area Until 7:30 Am.


Tetovo, January 31 (MIA) - It is relatively calm Thursday morning in Tetovo region without any firings, reported MIA's correspondent from Tetovo.

On the contrary, there were frequent gunshots from infantry weapons and occasionally firings from heavy machine guns, coming from some districts in the town, as well as from several villages down the hills of Shar Planiana Mountain overnight in this region.

According to some army and police sources, gunshots were registered from the direction of Tetovo Teke, State Reformatory, facilities of the SEE University, Rasadiste district, along the road Tetovo - Popova Shapka, as well as from the settlements of Drenovec 2, Kupenik and Vonvardarska.

It was also fired from the surrounding area of the "Cyril and methodius Elementary School, the residential area no. 82, as well as the irregularly built houses around the Railway Station. Some gunshots were registered also from the direction of villages Celopek, Tenovo, Miletino, Gajre, Mala Recica, Selce, Strimnica, Dolno Orasje, Prsovce, Dobroste, Odri, Neraste, the Tuneli county nearby the Dervenska Gorge at the Vardar River and from Tenovo village.

Macedonian security forces did not respond to the provocations, as they were pointed towards some undetermined targets.

Violations Of Public Order And Peace In Tetovo, Kumanovo, Gostivar Area.


Skopje, January 31 (MIA) - During the previous night were registered frequent violations of the public order and peace in Tetovo, Kumanovo and Gostivar region, announced the Media Activity Center at the Coordinate Body for Crisis Management.

Around 32 sporadic and 13 rifle shootouts, coming from the villages of Celopek, Tearce, Novo Selo, Miletino and Dobroste were registered in Tetovo area.

There were around 70 sporadic and six rifle shootouts from the direction of the villages of Ropaljce, Slupcane, Vaksince and Opae in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region.

Some 70 sporadic and two rifle shootouts were registered in Gostivar area, coming from the villages of Toplica, Kalista and Dobroste. A detonation was heard at about 3:30 a.m. in the center of the village of Toplica.

After the interruption of the police units' activities on Wednesday, Thursday they will continue patrolling through the villages of Celopek and Miletino, and are scheduled to enter the villages of Lukovica and Sedlarovo.



"I do not agree with the estimations that there might
be a spring offensive in Macedonia", said Macedonian
president Boris Trajkovski, answering to journalists'
questions, after yesterday's reception organized by
the Ministry of local self-government and the
Association of Local Self-Government Units (ZELS), on
the occasion of the adoption of the Law on local

"Implementing of the Framework agreement and the Plan
for redeployment of the Macedonian security forces in
the crisis regions are my priorities now," Trajkovski

According to Trajkovski, the NATO Mission "Amber Fox"
to Macedonia should extend its mandate, considering
the agreed activities for realizing of the plan on
redeployment of the police into the crisis regions.
However, the NATO mission mandate would remain the
same, he added.

"If necessary, it would be good to think about passing
of an amnesty law, as one of the elements for faster
security stabilization and realization of the major
plan," Trajkovski said, adding that it would depend on
the will of deputies and party leaders, as he has
already done everything in that respect by issuing the
statement on amnesty.

The main doubt whether to sign or not the law on
deputies referred to its legal base, i. e. whether he
was to sign a new or old law, and whether it violated
the regulations or granted status to other persons, to
whom this law should not be applied, Trajkovski said.

"There are other open questions," he added, reminding
that he refused to sign a draft of this law, proposed
last year.

"This is my personal opinion. I will not allow, under
any circumstances, for the parliamentarians to have
privileges or be treated unequally with the common
citizens, who vote for them," Trajkovski said,
announcing consultations with the international
legislation on the matter.

Commenting the Interior Minister information on the
kidnapped persons, Trajkovski said that no one should
give such statements without a confirmation that those
12 kidnapped persons were not among the living.

The Committee for kidnapped and missing persons should
submit a report to the President after his return from
the USA.

"Then I will decide whether this committee will
continue to work. There is also a possibility for
establishing of another committee that may include
Macedonian and foreign experts, Trajkovski said,
adding that experiences from Bosnia and Kosovo could
also be used in that respect.

Talking about the importance of the Law on local
government, Macedonian President said at the reception
that this document and the Framework Agreement are a
European project.

The Law "has shown that Macedonia is one step ahead in adopting the European legal standards, meeting the basic requirements that will bring the country closer to its integration into the European institutions," Trajkovski said, adding that he expects that the consistent enforcing of this law "will contribute to building of a European model of local governance, which will be created in accordance with our tradition and experience".


After the meeting at President Trajkovski's Cabinet,
EU Special Envoy to Macedonia Alain Le Roy said that
leaders of the four political parties - signers of the
Framework Agreement have reached consensus for
implementation of the accord.

It was agreed at the meeting for the authorized
ministries to develop the draft-laws foreseen with the
Agreement, which will be further on submitted to the

"There are still discussions on the election laws,
however the other laws that come from the Framework
Agreement have been supported," Le Roy said.

The EU envoy said that the VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, DPA and
PDP leaders - Ljubco Georgievski, Branko Crvenkovski,
Arben Xhaferi and Imer Imeri have stated that they are
in favor of organizing early elections, but, he added,
there is no consensus among them regarding the date
when the elections would take place.

In his opinion, this matter should be reviewed in
presence of the SDSM leader, who left early from
yesterday's meeting.

At the meeting, SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski
presented his attitude that he wouldn't participate at
the consultations until a session of the Assembly was
scheduled, at which events that occurred in the past
week would be reviewed.

In the statement given after leaving the President's
Cabinet, Crvenkovski pointed out "yesterday's
developments in the Negotino high school, the physical
attack on Pavle Todorovski from Tearce, the attack on
the SDSM headquarters in Ohrid and the disappearance
of the busts in Prilep" as such events.

Regarding abandoning of the meeting by Crvenkovski, Le
Roy said that he hoped that VMRO-DMPNE and SDSM
leaders would reach an agreement to prevent future
blockades of the meetings at President Trajkovski's
cabinet, because "it is more than necessary these
meetings to continue."

DPA Vice President Menduh Thaci said that issues about
the date of early elections and election model remain
open, adding that these would be reviewed at the next

Thaci said that Crvenkovski, with his abandoning of
the meeting, "is blocking the implementation of the
Framework Agreement."

He added that before leaving, Crvenkovski agreed with
the timeframe in which the laws scheduled in the
Framework Agreement should be adopted. "The deadline
for these laws to be adopted is the end of May, 2002,"
Thaci said.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Lawrence Butler was also present at the meeting held at the President's cabinet. Before the meeting, he said that James Holmes, special advisor to the U.S. president, "estimated that the things are moving ahead, especially after the passing of the Law for Local Self-government, and that advantages from this process should be used.




We have had very constructive talks on several issues, particularly on implementing of the Framework Agreement and the process of redeployment of police teams into the crisis regions, German Ambassador to Macedonia Werner Burkhardt said Thursday after a meeting with Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski.

Alain Le Roy, the European Union Special Envoy to Macedonia, Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Head of the European Delegation to Macedonia, and Yoanis Ikonomy, Chief of the Greek Liaison Office to Macedonia, also attended the meeting.

All parties expressed satisfaction from the implementation of the Framework Agreement. In that context, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski pointed out that the state institutions has fulfilled what was asked from them to fulfill, and now the agreement needs to be completely respected also by the other side, and the entire Macedonian territory to be reintegrated as soon as possible.

The next steps and priorities were also outlined, referring first of all to the laws that should be adopted in order the security situation in Macedonia to be completely relaxed.

In regard to the security situation in the region, concern was expressed over the events in Albania and Kosovo, and it was said that the international community, OSCE and NATO would actively participate in the protection of the Macedonian borders.

Concerning the question about organizing early elections, Prime Minister Georgievski expressed readiness for these elections to take place when the international community would estimate that the right time for their scheduling has come.

Georgievski stressed the significance of the Donors' Conference and expressed hope that the international community would do its best for this conference to be successful, because the economic recovery of the country would mean faster restoring of the security in Macedonia.




"There was significant progress in the implementation of the peace process during last week, the police redeployment is very positive process for long-term security of all people living in the crisis regions, the state is responsible for providing police protection for all those people and every attempt for violation of the human rights will not be tolerated," NATO spokesman to Macedonia Craig Ratcliff told the press conference on Thursday, reminding that NATO strongly condemns any use of violence, which aims to halt the peace process.

Ratcliff welcomed the efforts and the activities of the Macedonian Government for patrolling in the bordering areas, near Radusa. "Maybe some persons do not agree with this decision, but it is an absolute right and responsibility of every state to patrol in the bordering areas. It is necessary task to protect the Macedonian citizens from the outside threats, from illegal migrations and economic destabilization that might come as a result from the smuggling," he said. According to him, there are many other reasons to support the patrolling, but one of the best was "to maintain the national security in the country and to prevent the economic destabilization."

Mark Laity, the advisor of NATO Secretary General George Robertson, informed that NATO has not yet received a formal request from Macedonia for prolonging the mandate of "Amber Fox" mission. "If we receive formal request for prolongation of the mission we will discuss it seriously," Laity said.

OSCE spokesman to Macedonia Florin Pasnicu expressed concern for Wednesday's detonation in Celopek in the police public relations office.

"That is a criminal act that has negative impact in this multiethnic village," he said. Pasnicu explained that OSCE Spillover Mission to Macedonia requests full investigation to be conducted for this incident, expressing hope that the police office would be operational again.

According to him, it has not been decided yet and no talks were held about OSCE's role during the elections. "Our mandate this year will remain the same. We added some activities to our General plan. It is possible to develop media program, and even some activities referring to women trafficking and other economic maters, are envisaged," Pasnicu said.

EU spokesman to Macedonia Irena Gjuzelova informed that Wednesday's meeting between President Trajkovski and the leaders of the four political parties, also attended by EU special envoy Alain Le Roy was focused on defining the working agenda for February and review of the laws that should be adopted. Reminding that consensus has been reached to develop a Law on amnesty, Gjuzelova emphasized that "the Law on amnesty is and will be priority."

"There were several incidents in the past few days which pointed out the necessity for passing a Law. In some Kumanovo villages, some persons received imprisonment notices. These incidents only increase the sense of insecurity and do not contribute towards confidence building. It is important everyone to feel as a member of the society and we will continue to urge the adoption of the Law on amnesty," she said.

Gjuzelova informed that ad-hoc working groups would be established from the experts from Council of Europe and OSCE, which will work on the preparations for the Law on Amnesty. The groups should determine the date from which the amnesty will take an effect and which accusations will be excluded from the amnesty.




The Coordinate Crisis Management Body held Thursday its sixth session chaired by Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski.

The information about the realization of the revised General plan on police redeployment in the crisis regions was reviewed at the session. The members of the Body expressed their satisfaction from the progress made in the implementation of the Plan on police patrolling in the crisis villages.

"The police teams patrol along Tetovo-Jazince road, through Poroj and Dzepciste villages, and control has been taken over Tetovo-Gostivar highway, Tetovo Teke and Agricultural School," spokesperson of the Coordinate Body Zoran Tanevski said.

So far, eighteen villages have been excluded from the Plan as conditions for 24h patrols have been created in them. The patrolling in different phases is carried out in thirty villages, and preparations have been made for the police entrance in ten villages. The process of peaceful reintegration of parts of the Macedonia's territory that were not controlled by the security forces is underway in fifty-eight villages.

The members of the Coordinate Body stated that the activities of the multiethnic police patrols had good results within the confidence building measures among the local residents.

The Coordinate Body concluded that Justice Minister Ixhet Memti should start the preparations for developing Law on amnesty, which will include President Trajkovski's Statement for amnesty. "The Coordinate Body will follow the implementation of the Plan, and depending on its realization the procedure on the adoption of Law on amnesty will be advancing," Tanevski said.

The Coordinate Body also reviewed the information about the displaced persons, noting that 13,530 persons are placed in the families, while 2,871 persons are sheltered in collective centers. "Conditions for the return of the displaced persons to their homes should be created as soon as possible," Tanevski said.

According to Tanevski, the members of the Coordinate Body did not discussed the kidnapped persons and the withdrawal of the special unit "Lions.



Multiethnic police teams should enter Friday in Lipkovo, Orizare and Otlja villages in Kumanovo area, Media Activity Center within the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body announced.

According to the Plan, the police accompanied by OSCE, NATO and EU representatives should patrol from 10.00 to 12.00h.

The public order and peace have been violated 36 times with sporadic and rifle shootouts that came from the villages of Opae, Nikustak and Ropaljce during Thursday night, the Centre for Media Activities of the Coordinative Body for Crisis Management stated.

Around of 81 sporadic and rifle shootouts have been registered from the area of Tetovo and the villages of Gajre, Ciflik, Dobroste and Prsovce.




Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski arrived Thursday to New York, to attend the World Economic Forum, which was formally opened today and would last until February 4.

Macedonian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance Slobodan Casule and Nikola Gruevski are also members of the Macedonian delegation.

Yesterday Trajkovski eas scheduled to have a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, also attended by Casule and Macedonian General Consul in New York Filip Petrovski.

During the stay in New York, Trajkovski will have a meeting with the Eurasia group and will participate in the discussions titled "One Voice to the World," "Can Europe Offer Foreign Policy," and "Return Visit to the Balkans."

He is also scheduled to have bilateral meetings with many other presidents.

Trajkovski will pay a visit to Washington as well, on Feb. 4 - 7, where he is to meet with high USA officials, as well as with many of the IMF and World Bank representatives.

Casule, delivered a speech at the Council of International Relations. During the day he will meet with the Ambassadors of Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Argentina.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) usually takes place in the Swiss Winter Center Davos, but after the September 11 attacks, WEF President Klaus Schwab decided for the meeting to be held in Manhattan as a gesture of solidarity with New York.

The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting 2002 will be a comprehensive and disciplined gathering of world leaders and will contribute to shaping a new vision for the global agenda.

Participants at the Annual Meeting will include more than 1,100 businessmen, 200 academic experts, more than 100 representatives of non-governmental organizations, nearly 300 public figures and 300 media leaders from around the world, hosted in Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, with increased security measurements in its surrounding.

The US President, George Bush, will not participate in this Forum personally, but the US Administration will be represented by many high officials, among which the State Secretary Collin Powel.

This Forum will be the biggest international gathering in New York in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Many non-governmental organizations and anti-poverty activists that fight against the globalization will also take advantage of this five-day conference. Due to the announced peaceful demonstrations, About 4,000 police officers are expected to patrol the area surrounding the historic Waldorf-Astoria hotel in midtown Manhattan.

The main topic of the 32nd Economic Forum is titled "Leadership in Fragile Times: A Vision for a Shared Future", enabling the participants to share their opinions on the current global issues, such as - restoring sustained growth, achieving security and addressing vulnerabilities, redefining business challenges, reducing poverty as one of the reasons for terrorism and achieving equity, sharing values and respecting differences and re-evaluating leadership and governance.

"We created a brand new program for this annual meeting, a program designed to stimulate discussion and provide insights that will help us better cope with the fragility of our times," WEF President Klaus Schwab said, adding that the participants in this forum are "extraordinary collection of people, in extraordinary times, insecure because of the terrorism, clashes and recession."

At the same time with the World Economic Forum in New York, the second World Social Forum will be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The participants of this Forum are the opponents of the world's globalization. They will discuss the poor countries' debt issues, the bad sides of the globalization and the capitalism, the mistakes of the international finance organizations while implementing their credit policy and business deals into the multinational companies.

The participants introduce themselves as "a persuasive alternative" and point out that the terrorist attacks in the USA, the fears from the anthrax and some other biological weapon, the recession in the highly developed countries and the collapse of the economy in Argentina are only some of the new strokes against the globalization, as well as "an additional assets" for their combatt against the "neoliberalism".




"I expect coming of the representatives of the biggest part of the countries from the EU, as well as other European countries, together with the USA and Canada and maybe some others, at the donors' conference for Macedonia. Certainly, I also expect coming of the representatives of international institutions and organisations. I hope that they all will contribute their donations," Christian Portman, the Director of the World Bank for Macedonia, stated late Thursday.

Portman said that the goal of this conference is to provide donations for three fields and that is to the payments of balance, resources that are mainly directed for this year, financial needs related to the infrastructure of the areas included in the clashes and the third field is the financial needs connected with the implementation of the Framework Agreement.

For reconstruction of the crisis regions Portman evaluates that minimum US$ 40 million are needed. These resources include all that has been already given by the European Commission and other donators since the beginning of this process.

Regarding the needs related to the implementation of the Framework Agreement, the evaluation is finalised. "We are still working on this, we have one and half month until the beginning of the conference, but this will also be known soon," Director of the World Bank for Macedonia said.

Portman hoped that part of the resources will be usable this year but he added that it is about financing for the period longer than one year, about between 12 and 18 months.

He informed that the World Bank is co-chair of the donors' conference for Macedonia together with the European Commission. Bigger portion of the process for preparation has been also in the hands of the World Banka. The two subjects have been given the mandate to co-ordinate the donors' assistance for Southeast Europe.

Bulgaria approves tobacco monoply sell-off plan.


By Anna Mudeva

SOFIA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will sell up to 80 percent of its tobacco monopoly Bulgartabak Holding by mid-year and will not set a minimum price under a sell-off strategy approved by the government on Thursday. Bulgaria also plans to retain a golden share to take part in key decisions concerning the future of the company, said Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nikolai Vassilev. ``Our wish is to sell 80 percent of Bulgartabak but if there are bidders who are interested in a smaller majority stake we will consider the option. The state must sell a majority stake in any case,'' he told a news conference.

Bulgartabak's sell-off is among the cabinet's priorities this year and is expected to ensure considerable investment, badly needed in one of the poorest European Union aspirants. Officials have said up to 13 potential investors, including industry majors like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, have expressed interest in the company. Bulgartabak has 22 domestic subsidiaries, including 12 processing factories, nine cigarette factories and one producer of tobacco driers, filters and packing.

It also has five subsidiaries in Russia and one each in Ukraine, Romania and Yugoslavia. Under the sell-off strategy, which has yet to be approved by parliament, the cabinet also plans to place 12.84 percent of Bulgartabak on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange as part of efforts to boost somnolent bourse trade. This would bring to 20 percent the total stake listed on the bourse. The state controls 92.84 percent of Bulgartabak, with the remainder held by private companies and individuals.


Vassilev said the company would be sold through a two-stage competitive bidding and the government would prepare a short list of five bidders at the second stage.

Potential bidders would be required to boost Bulgaria's tobacco business and Bulgartabak's cigarette production, as well as expand its export markets, Vassilev said. Bidders will also be asked to restructure Bulgartabak Holding to turn it into a multinational company based in Bulgaria, added Vassilev but declined to say whether buyers would be allowed to close down loss-making factories. Another requirement to bidders will be to keep as many staff as possible. Preserving jobs is a politically sensitive issue, especially in the tobacco growing regions populated by Bulgaria's impoverished ethnic Turkish minority.

Vassilev said Bulgartabak's new owner would be obliged to keep and raise the annual amount of taxes and duties paid to the state budget. It stood at 500 million levs ($221 million) last year and is expected to reach 600 million in 2002, he said. Bulgartabak officials said earlier this month that the company had an eight percent rise cigarette sales by volume on the domestic market last year, which raised revenue from domestic sales by 10 percent to 330 million levs from 2000. According to official statistics, 40.5 percent of Bulgaria's eight million people were smokers last year, up from 35.6 percent five years ago. Bulgartabak's cigarette exports fell sharply last year and revenue dropped to 25 million levs from 45 million in 2000.



President Purvanov: National Security Parameters Underlying Country's Legal Framework Should be Revised.

Sofia, January 31 (BTA) - The national security concept and the military doctrine should define more clearly the term 'security' and the relations between its elements; they should determine more clearly the national interests, aims, priorities and threats to the country's security, including nonmilitary ones like terrorism and drug trafficking, and should regulate clearly the relations between the institutions concerning security and taking security-related decisions. This is what president Georgi Purvanov, who is also commander in chief of the Bulgarian army, said in a lecture Thursday before The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria. The lecture, which was dedicated to Bulgaria's foreign policy priorities, was attended by MPs, ministers, foreign diplomats and representatives of NGOs.

The best guaranties for Bulgaria's security lie in ensuring stable economic growth and an inflow of foreign investment, and in implementing projects for infrastructure corridors via Bulgaria, said Purvanov. He recalled that the need of economizing Bulgaria's foreign policy has been highlighted lately.

Bulgaria's foreign policy should be built on continuity, balance, multi-orientation pragmatism, realism and professionalism, said Purvanov. All steps should be viewed through the prism of the country's future EU and NATO membership. Bulgaria should work hard to meet the membership criteria, the president pointed out. He voiced hope that the EU and NATO will give clear signals that they have taken into consideration Bulgaria's contribution to international security and the losses it sustained during the crises in the region.

Bulgaria can and must assume greater responsibility for the stabilization of the region, said Purvanov. This country should continue to support the international assertion of Macedonia, he noted. The head of state dwelled on the need to promote relations with the Europan countries and the U.S., as well as with Russia, the Arab world, Israel and with regions with which commercial exchange is symbolic. The President stressed the country's opportunities to contribute to taking global decisions as a non-permament member of the UN Security Council, and in the future as a future chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Purvanov stressed several times that continuity in the work of the presidency as concerns the country's foreign policy has been ensured. He pointed out that in the sphere of foreign policy and national security the president can exercise his powers only provided that there exists close interaction between the state institutions. He pledged he would work actively for this.



Sofia, January 31 (BTA) - The report of the International Crisis Group (ICG) on Macedonia seeks to oust Bulgaria from possible talks on Macedonia concerning, for instance, its name, Prof. Ivan Kochev, Deputy Director of the Macedonian Research Institute (MRI) in Bulgaria, said at a news conference Thursday.

The document, compiled in Skopje by representatives of the old pro-Serbian intelligentsia, is signed by only one-third of the 150 members of ICG. "The report is both anti-Bulgarian and anti-Macedonian because it was prepared by oppositionists and does not reflect the position of Ljubco Georgievski's government," MRI Director Prof. Dimiter Gotsev said. According to the two scholars, it is required in the report that Bulgaria repeats endlessly it recognizes the Macedonian state - something which Bulgaria did before all other states back in 1991.

The claim to recognize the existence of a Macedonian nation and a Macedonian language turns scholarly problems into political ones, Prof. Kochev observed. He recalled that the Macedonian language and the Macedonian nation had been created by a decree issued in Skopje on August 2, 1944. If Bulgaria recognized the existence of a Macedonian language, it will contradict history as this would mean that the Macedonian language has been in existence ever since the Bulgarian language evolved.

"Macedonian is a dialect of the Bulgarian language," Prof. Kochev said.

The National Centre for Bulgarian national Strategy (NCBNS) will send letters to ICG Board Chairman Martti Ahtisaari, General Wesley Clark, george Soros and other members of ICG, explaining them what the facts are, NCBNS Secretary Associate Prof. Emil Alexandrov said.

The MRI and the NCBNS have delivered to Bulgaria's statesmen a report of their own made in response to the ICG one. Their report was published in the press, too.



Sofia, January 31 (BTA) - Customs Agency director Emil Dimitrov is in Macedonia for the first meeting of the specialized working group for combating financial and computer crime.

The two-day forum, to be held in Skopje, is organized by the regional center for transborder crime control under the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative. The forum will be attended by the Macedonian ministers of finance and internal affairs, that country's prosecutor general and customs chief and representatives of OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office.

Dimitrov will meet with the management of the Macedonian customs in the sidelines of the forum to discuss bilateral cooperation, exchange of information and harmonizing customs clearance procedures.

Dimitrov is in Macedonia at the invitation of that country's ministries of finance and of internal affairs.

Afghanistan thanked Bulgaria for the support.


Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Mohamad Rahim Shirazui has expressed gratitude for the support of Bulgaria and for the desire to fully restoring Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Kabul during his meeting with the special envoy of Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi Orbetsov. Bulgaria was esteemed highly for its inclusion in the international security forces and for the participation of Minister Milen Velchev in the conference for the recovery of Afghanistan, that took place in Tokyo. Deputy Minister Shirazui has expressed hope that Bulgaria would send the humanitarian aid soon. The two diplomats have also discussed possibilities for intensifying contacts between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries. Orbetsov has delivered the invitation from Deputy Foreign Minister Petkov to Shirazui to visit Bulgaria. During the meeting between Orbetsov and Minister of Agriculture of Afghanistan Anvary, they outlined visions for the future cooperation in agriculture. Bulgaria would provide a concrete help by sending agriculture machinery and products, fertilizers and protection clothes, as well as expert help in sheep breeding, poultry, gardening, etc. The AB COOP joint venture would be restored, as well as three sites built in Afghanistan by Agrokomplekt.

Bulgarian contingent in Afghanistan would consist of 31 people.


Bulgarian contingent in Afghanistan that would take part in the peacekeeping mission would consist of 31 servicemen and would leave for Afghanistan on February 16. They were chosen among 180 candidates. The 31 include 9 officers, 10 sergeants and 11 professional soldiers. Their training would finish on February 15, sources from the Bulgarian Army General Staff said for News.bg Agency. The Bulgarians would stay in Afghanistan for 3 months with the option to prolong their stay. The operation would cost BGN 3 mn to Ministry of Defense. On arriving in Afghanistan, the Bulgarians would be accommodated in a camp 10 km away from Kabul and guarded by German soldiers, and would remain only in the camp until the end of their stay. During their stay in Afghanistan, Bulgarian servicemen would receive USD 60 per day apart from their Bulgarian salaries. Their food (USD between 7 and 15 per day) would be paid by the British contingent. Every one of the servicemen received a brochure with information about dangers in Afghanistan. When leaving Bulgaria, they would take with themselves 100 kilos of soap and 50 kilos of laundry powder.

Bulgarian pilots expressed serious concern about the situation with Balkan Airlines.



The general meeting of the Union of Civil Aviation Pilots issued a declaration insisting that the state had not done anything to save Balkan Airlines.

Kosovar Extremists Targeted.

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

International officials pledge to crack down hard on Kosovo Albanian criminals

By IWPR staff in London (BCR No. 313, 31-Jan-02)

The UN's arrest of three Kosovar Albanians suspected of war crimes earlier this week suggests it is now serious about cracking down on criminal elements hampering the region's democratic development and international image.

The detention of Letif Gashi, Naim Kadriu, and Nazif Mehmeti follows two years of criticism of the international peacekeeping force for failing to stem a crime wave which began during the Kosovo war.

NATO forces, KFOR, and the UN mission, UNMIK, have been reluctant to take action against individuals suspected of war crimes or murdering Kosovar civilians for fear of triggering a violent backlash from militants and groups associated with these crimes.

Every international official in Kosovo will say, in confidence, that most offences can be linked to the hard line members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC, and the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK. Both were set up by the ex-Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, commander Hashim Thaci in 1999.

The three suspects apprehended on January 28 were former members of the KPC, a civilian protection force born out of the former KLA, and are active members of the PDK and the National Intelligence Service, a shadowy institution also set up by Thaci in 1999.

The Pristina-based news agency Kosovalive reported that Kadriu was in fact PDK party secretary in the town of Podujevo and that his headquarters had been, "searched, dismantled and shut down by UNMIK police and KFOR".

A UN statement announcing the arrests, however, made it clear that the organizations to which the suspects belonged were not being targeted - a move interpreted as an attempt to avert a backlash from the KPC, which has hampered international efforts at making arrests in the past.

The internationals' apparent fears were vindicated when around 500 KPC members and KLA war veterans staged a protest against the arrests in central Pristina on January 30. A similar protest was organized in Podujevo. "No KLA member has committed any crime against any other nation or against their own nation," said one protester at the Pristina demo.

The PDK has asked the Kosovo assembly to look into the affair, condemning the move as an insult to KLA members. But the international community is standing firm, with UNMIK police commissioner Christopher Albiston declaring that a major crackdown on crime in the protectorate was planned for this year. "All preparations have been made to arrest the main criminals in Kosovo this year," he said.

Organised crime and political extremism have seriously undermined UNMIK's efforts at building institutions and a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.

Since June 1999, when the 40,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping troops entered Kosovo, a series of ethnically motivated crimes against the beleaguered Serb minority have triggered widespread international condemnation. Crimes committed by Kosovar Albanians against their own people have largely been ignored. Western officials in the region have been equally bad at investigating attacks against both communities.

It is believed that members of Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, have been harassed and intimidated by elements within the KPC, who believe that the presidential candidate pursues too soft a line on the issue of Kosovo's independence.

Many ordinary Kosovans are concerned by the militancy of PDK members -some of whom are alleged to control much of the protectorate's energy and petrol supplies as well as a sizeable amount of other assets seized after the 1999 war.

As a result of these fears, the electorate opted for Rugova's more moderate LDK in the October 2000 local elections.

Shortly after that, the LDK's campaign chief and Rugova's closest associate, Xhemail Mustafa, was assassinated in front of his apartment.

A few months later, Ismet Rraci, LDK branch president in the town of Klina, was murdered on his way to work. It was the second such tragedy for the community in western Kosovo - his predecessor's charred body had been found dumped by kidnappers last July.

Yet another colleague of Rugova's was assassinated in an ambush near Drenica in November, during the parliamentary election campaign. Besim Dajaku was shot along with Bekim Kastrati, a journalist with the pro-LDK Bota Sot newspaper, on their way to a meeting with high-ranking KPC official Sulejman Selimi. Another LDK politician, Smajl Hajdaraj, was murdered on January 18.

These and other attempts on the lives of LDK officials remain unsolved although there's little doubt that the actions are politically motivated.

Under pressure to crackdown on the militants, UNMIK set up an organised crime intelligence unit last year with the specific task of gathering information on mob crime and terrorist activities.

As a result, several KPC officers were arrested on suspicion of involvement in criminal activities, including murders that had shaken Kosovo over the last three years.

Sali Veseli, a prominent KPC chief, and his associate Ruzhdi Saramati, were picked up last May, accused of planning and carrying out the murder of Ekrem Rexha, aka Commander Drini, a former KLA leader from the southern town of Prizren.

The motive behind the killing seemed be that Rexha was cooperating closely with an international police investigation into illegal construction deals in Prizren.

Veseli is still in detention awaiting trial while his comrade is serving a five-year sentence for unrelated offences. A source in the Prizren district court said that the latter case was collapsing as witnesses felt their safety was being compromised.

Gani Ymeri, a KPC commander in the town of Vucitrn, was arrested last December on suspicion of involvement in crimes against Serbs.

Alush Shala, a high-ranking commander of KPC's own internal security in Prizren, was arrested by KFOR on January 20, in connection with criminal activities. Charges have yet to be announced.

During his arrest, as has happened before in such cases, a confrontation broke out between UNMIK police and dozens of KPC members.

Critics of the international community acknowledge that it has begun to make some progress in bringing Kosovo extremists to justice, but say much more needs to be done, as most of the serious crimes committed in the region over the last few years remain unsolved.

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