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Simeon: Better Life Is in Store. This year, the living standards will be raised and Sofia citizen will feel it in no uncertain terms, said Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on his return from Madrid yesterday. Asked about his priorities in 2002, he answered: "The welfare of this country. I spared only several hours on Christmas and several hours on January 1 for my family," he said further. "I worked all the time," the PM added. From the airport he immediately headed for his office. Photo Kiril Konstantinov
KFOR Soildier Caught At Skopje's Airport With 400,900 DM.
By Irina Gelevska, A1 TV
Skopje - The German soldier Mihail Walter Jochanes was arrested on 29-th of December at the Skopje's airport with 400.900 DM, which were not declared to the customs officers. The regular detector check showed the money.
The KFOR soldier from the German Contingent in Prizren have crossed the border at the Blace pass and wanted to fly to Zurich . Jochanes told the Macedonian Police that the money are salaries of dozen German soldiers from Prizren, which sought be exchanged for Euros in Germany.
The NATO spokesman in Skopje, Craig Ratcliff, had no comment and gave an advice to ask in the German Embassy in Macedonia, because it's a national thing. The German Embassy is closed for the holidays. At the moment the money are in the Macedonian National Bank.
Ethnic Tensions Block Macedonian Returnees.
OneWorld SEE Initiative
By Dejan Georgievski, OneWorld SEE Initiative
Poor security and simmering ethnic tensions are thwarting international efforts to return exiled villagers to their homes in Macedonia nearly one year after they were uprooted by an outbreak of conflict in the Balkan nation.
Thousands of Macedonian villagers who were forced from their homes by a flare-up of tensions with ethnic-Albanians in the west of the country in February last year have spent New Year stranded at government "collection centers", according to refugee workers.
While over 90 percent of displaced ethnic-Albanians have already returned to their homes around Macedonia's capital, Skopje, and elsewhere in the west of the country, over 2,000 homeless Macedonians are still stuck in freezing urban shelters without fully-functional heating or electricity.
"The greatest problem is the lack of mutual trust between the Macedonian and the Albanian communities," says Aleksandar Krzhalovski of the Skopje-based Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC).
Krzhalovski points to the village of Aracinovo, in northwest Macedonia, where four out of every five residents are Albanian and where "Macedonians refuse to return, regardless of the significant presence of the security forces."
Almost all Aracinovo's exiled Albanian residents have returned to the village following an internationally-endorsed peace agreement reached in August, according to workers with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
But, say the refugee workers, only a few of Aracinovo's 250 ethnic Macedonian families have indicated a willingness to return, since many fear a hostile reception from the majority population.
The exodus of 120,000 people from the region encompassing Aracinovo began last February after a security clampdown on separatist Albanian guerrillas sparked conflict in the area along the border with the Yugoslav province of Kosova.
A peace deal signed by the country's major Macedonian and Albanian parties brought an end to the conflict--by suring up the status of the country's minority of 30 percent Albanian citizens--and the UNHCR was charged with helping refugees and displaced people return to their homes.
UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said that in addition to general material assistance, field teams have been present daily in Aracinovo helping to build confidence among the communities.
"It is particularly important to stabilize the ethnic Macedonian community in Aracinovo. All efforts must be made to help them return to their homes," he said.
"That won't be easy", says Roberto Belichanec, director of the Macedonian Media Centre, which has monitored problems faced by returnees to ethnically mixed villages.
"In the fall, many Macedonian refugees made day-trips to their villages in the conflict area to make repairs to their homes, but were reluctant to remain overnight, as it was reported that masked men, thought to be Albanian rebels, were harassing returnees and vandalizing homes," he said.
One Macedonian villager, who preferred to remain anonymous, responded angrily when asked recently on a local TV news program what he thought of reconciliation with his Albanian neighbors.
"What do you mean, reconciliation?" he said. "I was forced to leave home by my closest neighbors. They deserve no more than a bullet in the head from me."
Six-year-old Kid Murdered.
The corpse of a 6-year-old girl was found in the yard on Raina Popovic Street in Poduyane district of Sofia. The child was stabbed in the chest. The body was covered with snow. Some ten hours earlier, shortly before midnight, policemen found the dead body of the father, Vladimir Bankov, under the bridge over the Hemus highway. A death letter was in his pocket. There is a link between the two cases, policemen maintain. The two victims were residents of Pleven, they came to Sofia to visit their family friends. When they didn't come home, the mother alarmed the police in Pleven.
According to Gen. Vasil Vasilev, the murderer of the 6-year old girl was her father.
The Director of the National Police Service Gen. Vasil Vasilev expressed his strong conviction that the murderer of the 6-year old girl was her father. The body of the child was found in the courtyard of a house in Sofia. Gen. Vasil Vasilev said that the police was looking at all the possible versions and added that the knife, with which the murder was committed, was found. The official version about the incident, in which the girl and her father were found dead, would be distributed by National Police Administration in all probability on January 7. According to the main version, on which the police was working, the father Vladimir Bankov was surprised on his return from London to know that his wife submitted an application for divorce, which caused a depression in him that made him to kill his daughter and to commit suicide after that.
Clinton Advertising Bulgaria's Tourism.
An international conference on tourism "Bulgaria - Dream Country" will be opened with a video address by American ex-president Bill Clinton. The forum is to take place in Sofia next week. Ex-senator from Nevada Bob Miller is among the organizers. At the opening PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and President-elect Georgi Parvanov will deliver speeches.
Bill Clinton recorded a statement for the inauguration of a tourist conference in Bulgaria.
Former American President Bill Clinton has recorded his statement for the inauguration of a tourist conference entitled Dreamland Bulgaria scheduled to take place in Sofia on January 10, which would be the biggest international event in Bulgaria devoted to tourism. In his statement, Bill Clinton has included a special address to the newly elected President Georghy Parvanov, who is invited to inaugurate the forum together with Premier Simeon Koburg-Gotha. The Premier is expected to deliver a speech, in which he would say that the tourism has a great future in Bulgaria. At the inauguration, Deputy Minister of Economy Dimitar Hajijnikolov would present the program of the government for development of tourism in Bulgaria.
45 Volumes by Bulgarian Classic Writers Under Way.
"Zahari Stoyanov" Publishing House is to release 45 volumes of Bulgarian classic literature by end-2003. The first of the books will comprise poems by Yavorov and Botev, the nove "Under the Yoke" by Vazov, stories by Yovkov and the novel "Time of Violence" by Anton Donchev. The latter was nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature, BTA reminds. Selected works by emblematic authors of the last 120 years will be published to be used at the secondary and higher schools. A 15-volume series will comprise works by outstanding critics, philosophers, sociologists and national psychology researchers, with Simeon Radev ("Builders of Modern Bulgaria"), Ivan Hadzhiiski ("Bulgarian Ways of Life and Mentality"), as well as books by Boyan Penev, Ivan Meshekov and Vassil Pundev.
No One Excited over Euro in Pravets.
Financial reforms are not to be effected on holidays when people's heads are sore, say the residents of Pravets.
People shouldn't introduce financial reforms during the holidays time, when hardly anyone can think clearly. This is the explanation of the logical response of the locals to the introduction of euro. It was completely different from that of the Europeans. Despite the fact that when you take a look at all the imposing buildings all around Pravets you realize that this town could well be somewhere in Europe just some time ago. What strikes you, though, is that ten years ago all these buildings were brand new, full of people and machines and money, but alas... One shouldn't forget how many governments took turns since then. One man that Pravets will always be nostalgic about is gone, too. If it were not for the monument to Todor Zhivkov (who was born here) one could well think that the recent past of the town was but a fair dream. On Wednesday noon people talked about the new currency exactly Stalin's style - there is euro, there is a problem, no euro, no problem... No, there was no problem in town at all. At the local branch of the State Savings Bank they very politely explained to us that they were not working with this kind of money. Most probably the colleagues in the Botevgrad branch have it. In the lobby of the Post Bank, which was among the select few who could operate with the new international currency, there was even a poster on the wall featuring the colorful new banknotes. No lines, no one's quarreling, only one clerk was on duty at a teller's desk. It's clear as daylight - the town's euro zone, if any, must be here. The conversation that the team of "Standart" had inside, though, evoked thoughts about quite different geographical latitudes:
- Excuse us, we would like to ask you about euro...
- Oh, we are too busy. We don't have time for discussions. It's the beginning of the year and we have stalks of documents to process. Besides we are the only two working.
- Well, do you have euro notes?
- I've told you already. I have no time for discussions.
Wise people said long ago that the fatal flaw of money is their constant deficit. Evidently this will apply to euro as well. It doesn't matter that this currency is the creation of the new millennium.
Stoyanov and Parvanov Meet Today.
President-elect Georgi Parvanov will meet today incumbent President Petar Stoyanov for the first time after the election night. The talks will be held at the presidency office building at 2, 'Dondoukov' Blvd. The two are to discuss the details of Parvanov's taking office on January 22. The ceremony is already considered by the protocol service. On the agenda is also a discussion about the priorities of Bulgaria during the new year. The meeting was required by Georgi Parvanov yesterday morning, sources from the presidential press office specified. Yesterday, President-elect met PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and members of the Cabinet. Parvanov meeting his predecessor had been expected for two months.
MRF Is to Celebrate Modestly Their Anniversary Today.
The MRF leadership will modestly celebrate the 12 anniversary of the movement, as most of its MPs are in the country for the holidays, Emel Etem said yesterday. Still, there will be an official celebration and it will most probably take place at a sitting of the MRF Central Council in late January, she elaborated. At it, Ahmed Dogan is expected to report on the numerous achievements of the MRF and to outline their willingness to become strategic partners to the left-wing "Coalition for Bulgaria". The MRF was set up in Varna on January 4, 1990.
Student Initiated Action against PM.
Student Ivailo Krachunov (24) who studies pedagogics at the Sofia University, initiated an action against Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha yesterday. He called the editorial offices to invite photo reporters. The young man awaited for Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in front the VIP exit at Sofia airport and handed him a T-shirt reading in letters askew: "I am thoroughly ashamed of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and his cabinet." The student was dissatisfied with the government's policy. To him, they were not meeting their pre-election pledges. Evidently, the youth has been instructed to give proliferous interviews against the authorities. It has not been made clear yet who was behind his endeavour.
New BSP Media Policy Drafted.
After January 11 Ivo Atanassov is to hold a round of consultations with journalists to work out the new media policy of the party. "I want to study the way this work has been done to date," he elaborated. As a member of the BSP Executive Bureau, he is in charge of the media. "At the last plenum, BSP leader Stanishev said that we failed to elaborate a working media policy during the last decade. So, we should not be expected to make prompt decisions in 12 days," Atanassov said further.
Petar Stoyanov Showered with Offers for Job.
Petar Stoyanov is loaded with offers for job both in Bulgaria and abroad, news secretary of the Head of state - Nery Terzieva, said yesterday. Her reply resulted out of the speculations in the media about the President's future career. Terzieva neither confirmed, nor denied whether within the propositions received there were an offer to read lectures in the USA at the invitation of the U.S. Congress. To the publications, Stoyanov is likely to be the new coordinator of the Stability Pact on the Balkans. 'I'm only aware that the proposals are too many, but I don't know what sort they are. So, I can't tell you which one he will accept,' Nery Terzieva added.
Christmas with My Whole Family in Bulgaria Would Have Been Too Expensive.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Simeon Saxe-Coburg
I was in touch with minister Mollov all the time because of the emergency situation in Bulgaria, said Simeon Saxe-Coburg on his return from Spain.
- Mr. Premier, what will you do first thing in the new year?
- I will go straight to the Council of Ministers to see what's waiting me there.
- Will there be any changes in the cabinet?
- Each time I come back to Bulgaria you ask me the same question.
- How would you comment the fact that your personnal rating has dropped by 20 percent?
- Why should I?!
- Wasn't it unfair to deny a longer vacation to people when you yourself had a 12-day vacation?
- If my associates and assistants in Madrid hear you calling this a vacation they for sure would laugh at it.
- How would you respond to accusations that you left Bulgaria and went to celebrate holidays at home in Spain?
- I think that "accusation" is too strong a word. From April on I haven't had a single day of rest. I cannot invite in Bulgaria all my sons, children and grandchildren. That would have been too expensive.
- The taxes have been raised, do we have to expect a new rise?
- Certain measures must be taken along the path to Europe, but I hope that in 2002 we can expect some improvement in the living standard of the people.
- What will be your priority during the new year?
- The well-being of my compatriots, the people of Bulgaria.
- What could you say about lowering the unemployment rate and taxes?
- Everything in due time. We are discussing it currently. These problems cannot be solved like this, in the airport.
There's Risk Bulgaria to Follow Argentina.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Emil Harsev
Currency Board impedes business, thinks financier Emil Harsev.
- Mr. Harsev, at the end of 2001 the world witnessed the collapse of the economy in Argentina resulting from the policy of IMF there. Could we draw any parallels with Bulgaria, can anything of the kind happen in our country too?
- Yes, there are some analogies. The developments in Argentina are the result of a ten-year stabilization program, which has ruined the chances for any economic growth in the country. One shouldn't forget that Argentina is a fairly rich country. However, the standard policy the IMF pursues in Latin America resulted in sharp decrease of competitive power. This what always happens under conditions of a monetary board.
- How long can the monetary board exist in Bulgaria? How much time do we need to start giving up the IMF patronage step-by-step?
- The monetary board can last forever. The question is how long will we put up with this situation. In Argentina they realized that because of the decreasing solvency the state cannot serve its internal and external debts. Attempts have been made to re-finance part of the debt, but despite them and even despite the additional financial injections from the IMF a moratorium on payments had been declared.
- How could we avoid the similar impact of the currency board in Bulgaria?
- There are no recipes or an exclusive solution. The key problem of any economy facing a 20-year recession is reversing the trend and stimulating the development. My and my colleagues' criticisms are against the stabilization policy applied in Bulgaria. It impedes normal development of the economy.
- Do you think that the government's prognosis for 5 % economic growth in 2002 is realizable?
- Yes, 5-percent growth may turn out a realistic prognosis. We could even attain a 10-percent growth. However, presently the strategy applied in national economy is to avoid any risks and be protective to the maximum. Thus, not a single Bulgarian venture, and the economy on the whole, can use the potential they have.
Newborn babies from Pleven and Smolyan became Babies of 2001 an 2002.
The initiative Baby of the Year organized by the Nine Months magazine took place for third consecutive time this year. According to the regulation of the initiative, 2001 Baby should be the baby that came into the world in the last minutes of the previous year. The newborn Nicole that was born in 11:59 PM on December 31, 2001, was announced 2001 Baby. Her mother Kameliya Parashkevova is from Pleven. There were several calls for the 2002 Baby nomination. According to the regulations, the newborn Delyan from Smolyan, who was born on 00:01 AM on January 1, 2002, was elected 2002 Baby. His mother Nadezhda Galabova is 28 years old. The two babies would receive gifts from the sponsors of the initiative and from the Nine Months magazine, as well as special medals delivered to them by Godzhi and Slavi Trifonov. Nine Months magazine also announced an award for the best wishes to the two babies.
Check ups of discotheques in Veliko Tarnovo have been continuing.
Police check up of two Veliko Tarnovo discotheques started today. According to preliminary information, the discotheques have worked in the New Year night in spite of the order by the Regional Ministry of the Interior Department for their closure. The acting Director of the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Ministry of the Interior Department Georgy Stefanov ordered the check up of discotheques Intriga - Veliko Tarnovo and Tornado - Svishtov, as well as of all the sites where young people are gathering in the Veliko Tarnovo region.
Eighty policemen arrived at the Turkish border because of the refugees.
The first group of 80 border policemen arrived in Svilengrad today. The strengthening of the border sector personnel was needed because of the latest immense refugee waive and the security measures along the Turkish border. The body of a 16-year old Afghani girl was found nearby Radovets village. The girl had been a part of the last 22-member refugee group, where her mother was also included. The search of the remaining three people that were left behind the group has been continuing. The Kapitan Andreevo regiment has been taking care of the deteriorated medical condition of the survived Afghanis. Total number of refugees detained on the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint reached about 150. Some of them were sent back to Turkish territory, while others were sent to the Refugees Agency.