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Thursday.

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National Assembly Chairman Ognyan Gerdjikov met a delegation of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Macedonia led by Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, paying an official visit to Bulgaria. Pressphoto BTA Photo: Anelia Nikolova

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Let sleeping dogs lie, Gen. Boyko Borissov advised the journalists to refrain from releasing versions about an alleged clandestine meeting of chiefs of 'al-Qaeda' in Sofia. The chief Secretary of the IM returned form St. Petersburg, where he attended an international conference on combatting terrorism. Photo Stoyan Nenov (PY)

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Summit Begins In Tirana. Macedonian President Trajkovski and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Svilanovic (R) during The Fifth Summit Of The South-East European Cooperation Process in Tirana. EPA

SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
 
MIA

There are no shootouts in Tetovo crisis region Thursday morning, while one person was severely wounded in the chests Wednesday night at 21h in the village of Tenovo, Tetovo area, said the report of the Media Activity Center at the Coordinate Crises Management Body The wounded person, a resident of the village of Tenovo, was hospitalized in the Medical Center in Tetovo.
 
Total of 11 sporadic and four riffle shots were evidenced in Tetovo region during Wednesday night as well as several shots from infantry weaponry coming from the police checkpoint in Ratae.
 
According to the Interior Department in Tetovo, some shots were registered at around 2:00 after midnight, coming from the area of Arabati Baba Teke, southeastern part of the town, as well as from the residential complex No. 82.
 
Around midnight, series of rifle shots were registered coming from Palatica village, as well as some sporadic shots from the villages of Odri, Prsovce, Trebos and Dobroste.
 
The firings had undetermined targets.
 
According to some police sources, it is still uncertain if an expert team, comprised of representatives of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior and an investigative judge from the Elementary Court in Tetovo, will be able to carry out an investigation on site, where the shootouts among the representatives of the so-called NLA and ANA took place three days ago.
 
The same sources say that the investigation is hindered by OSCE, for security reasons only.
 
In Kumanovo-Lipkovo region, 15 sporadic shots were registered. Certain movements of the Albanian terrorists were noticed on Matejce - Gosince road in the area of the village of Lojane.
 
The ethnically mixed police teams continue their regular patrolling, according to the General Plan for police's redeployment and some necessary preparations are being made for police's entering into the village of Slupcane.
 
MACEDONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER IN A TWO - DAY VISIT TO BULGARIA.
 
MIA
Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, who pays two-day official visit to Bulgaria, Thursday had a meeting with the speaker of the Bulgarian National Assembly Ognjan Gerdjikov, which was also attended by Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov.
 
Boskovski informed on the current political situation in Macedonia and the efforts made by the Macedonian security forces for respecting the Agreement reached by the political parties in the country. He emphasized the concern of the Macedonian authorities for some forms of extremism in the crisis regions, which pose a threat to the fragile ethnical peace in the country.
 
Minister Boskovski also informed on the results from the cooperation between the Macedonian and Bulgarian interior ministries in the struggle against organized crime and trafficking in weapons, drugs and humans.
 
Gerdjikov said that Bulgaria supports the independence and the territorial integrity of Macedonia and will continue to participate in the processes for stabilization of the country.
 
"The threats on the Macedonian territorial integrity are risk for the peace on the Balkans and in Europe," Gerdjikov said, emphasizing that Bulgaria supports UN, OSCE and NATO's efforts for political resolution of the crisis in Macedonia.
 
The purpose of this visit is the continuation of the dialogue from the previous bilateral meetings.
 
A protocol on collaboration between the Border Control Services of the two Interior Ministers for the year 2002 is expected to be signed at the meeting.

EURO-ATLANTIC ORIENTATION IS IMPORTANT FOR STABILITY AND COOPERATION PROCESS IN THE SEE.
 
MIA

Lasting peace, democratic development and economic prosperity of South East European countries can be achieved only by their full integration in European and Euro-Atlantic institutions, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski said Thursday in his address at the meeting of Heads of State and Government of the SEE Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Tirana.
 
It would give a strong impulse to the stabilization, security and cooperation process in the region, Trajkovski said.
 
"In the last year our countries have done significant steps in their transformation on political, economic and democratic level. However, in the recent period, it has ben obvious that the region is still burdened with negative historic legacy that delays the necessary development," Trajkovski said.
 
In order to achieve the desired goals the SEE countries would have to enhance their mutual trust and understanding.
 
"We have to build and carefully nurture that trust among all political entities within our countries, which feel responsible for the peaceful development and prosperity, first for their own people, but also for their neighbors, " Trajkovski said.
 
Saying that the last year crisis in Macedonia has been the most serious challenge since the country's independence, Trajkovski expressed his belief that the crisis belonged to the past.
 
"Now we must turn to the future and work on implementing of our Agenda - strengthening democracy, rule of law and full integration in European and Euro Atlantic institutions," Trajkovski said.
 
The Macedonian leadership was fully committed to implementing of the Framework Agreement, redeploying of police and creating of conditions for safe returning of the displaced persons in the crisis regions, Trajkovski said.
 
Referring to the situation in the region, he welcomed the agreement on redefining the relations between Serbia and Montenegro and the successful elections in Kosovo, underlying the necessity for full respect of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1244 and 1345.
 
"However, I would like to reiterate at this point that we strongly reject any attempt, wherever it comes for, to challenge the Border Delineation Agreement between Macedonia and Yugoslavia," Trajkovski said.
 
In regard to certain specific proposals for the improvement of SEECP functioning, as well as for coordinating the activities with the existing regional forums and international organizations, Trajkovski expressed the readiness of Macedonia to give its adequate contribution.
 
"As leaders, we have a duty before our nations and our neighbors. We are also responsible towards Europe, as a community of democracies to which all our hopes and obligations are directed. We have to achieve this great responsibility towards citizens, our states and towards the idol of united Europe, by a constant and coordinated cooperation, " Trajkovski said.
 
During the SEECP Summit of heads of states and government, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski had bilateral meetings with the host-Albanian President Rexhep Meidani and Croatian President Stipe Mesic.
 
According to MIA's special correspondent, within the talks with Meidani specific proposal was given for scheduling meeting among Macedonia, Bulgarian and Albanian presidents in Ohrid, focused on realization of the Corridor 8, oil pipeline AMBO and the railroad.
 
Meidani accepted the idea for organizing such meeting and he has already discussed that with Bulgarian President Georgi Prvanov.
 
Trajkovski and Meidani also discussed the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between Macedonia and Albanian. The signing of the agreement, scheduled for Friday, is in accordance with the provisions from the SEE Stability Pact, which envisages 21 agreements to be signed among the countries in the region.
 
The meeting between President Trajkovski and Mesic focused on the bilateral relations between Macedonia and Croatia, on the situation in Macedonia as well as the options for enhancing the cooperation in the region.
 
Trajkovski also met with UNMIK's civil administrator Michael Steiner and president of Bosnia and Herzegovina Beriz Belkic.
 
He discussed with Belkic the bilateral relations and expressed the mutual support for the integration in the Euro Atlantic structures.
 
The presidents expressed their dissatisfaction from the bilateral economic cooperation, assessing that it is lagging behind the political one. Regarding the arrest of the Bosnian citizens, Trajkovski and Belkic said that this issue did not disturbs the relations between the two countries, and the competent Macedonian and Bosnia and Herzegovina's institution should resolve the case.
 
President Trajkovski met Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, and meetings with Bulgarian President Georgi Prvanov and Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragisa Pesic have been also scheduled. According to the information from President's Cabinet it is expected SEE Stability Pact's coordinator Erhard Busek to attend the meeting between Trajkovski and Prvanov.

DENMARK WILL BE THE FIRST COUNTRY TO RATIFY THE ASSOCIATION AND STABILIZATION AGREEMENT.
 
MIA

Macedonia and Denmark share same values, have full understanding of the mutual priorities and are motivated to contribute towards further promotion and enhancement of the stability in Europe, Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said Thursday in Skopje after the meeting with his Danish counterpart Per Stig Moeller.
 
Casule emphasized that "the Macedonian society was on the right path to create its own prosperity and stability."
 
"We are aware that we cannot achieve these two enormous tasks on our own, as we are faced with the global phenomenon - poverty that makes the people captives of the organized crime," Casule said, adding that "we are faced with series of crises and we cannot give another explanation except that the mutual enemy has a need to create chaos and to exist in it."
 
Minister Casule stressed that the resolutions of these issues should be sought in creating conditions for prosperity and investments in the joint projects, which would make Macedonia part of Europe.
 
Danish Minister Moeller said that he has realized at Thursday's meeting that the Macedonia works on accomplishing the European standards such as democracy, rule of law, free market and privatization, which would create conditions for attracting the necessary investments.
 
Moller said that Denmark will be the first country to ratify the Association and Stabilization Agreement between Macedonia and the European Union, and emphasized that Denmark can assist to Macedonia with different donations.
 
"However, the most important is to get on your feet and to create your future," Moeller said.
 
"You have already done that with the Ohrid agreement, which represents a step forward towards stable and peaceful Macedonia," Moeller said, pointing out that the Laws on amnesty and local self-government are especially positive steps in that respect.
 
Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski met Thursday with Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller.
 
Georgievski expressed his gratitude for the Danish support to Macedonia, as well as hope that Denmark would keep supporting the country in its efforts to join the international institutions. Greater support is also expected for Macedonia's membership in NATO.
 
The officials agreed that the country's economic revival would contribute to its political stability. In that respect, Georgievski underlined that reintegration of the country's territory as a priority.
 
Talking about the economic cooperation, Georgievski presented the favorable conditions for investing in the Macedonian economy.

MINISTER MEMETI MET REPRESENTATIVES OF POLITICAL PARTIES.
 
MIA

Macedonian Ministry of Justice develops 12 legal projects, arising from Framework Agreement and the constitutional amendments, which should be passed during the mandate of this composition of the Parliament, Justice Minister Ixhet Memeti said.
 
After the Thursday's meeting with the representatives of the parties - signatories of the Framework Agreement, Memeti said that it focused on the Laws on census, on state administration's employees, on Official gazette and the state institutions.
 
Kiril Andonovski from VMRO-DPMNE, Naser Ziberi from PDP, Minister of Labor and Social Policy Bedredin Ibraimi, as representative from DPA attended the meeting. Representative from SDSM was not present.
 
Minister Memeti said that he has submitted the texts of the laws to SDSM and expects the opinion of the party's members.
 
Memeti informed that one of the key topics on the meeting was the Law on census, which is coordinated with the relevant Macedonian institutions as well as with the representatives of the international community, which should monitor the census.
 
According to him, only three issues referring to the Law on census should be coordinated: the date for commencing the census, the use of languages and the option Macedonian citizens living abroad to be included with the census.
 
Speaking of the date for conveying the census, Memeti said "that it is most likely to hold the census April 1-15, 2003."
 
The census will be carried out in the official Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet, Memeti said, adding that "also the language spoken by at least 20 percent of the Macedonian population would be used and that is the Albanian language."
 
He said that it was suggested the census to be conveyed in the languages of the other communities, and the persons can decide whether they want their data to be recorded in Macedonian language or in the language of the community they belong.
 
Informing that the next meeting with the party's representatives would be held on Monday, Memeti announced that the Law on use of languages, as well as the laws on criminal lawsuit.

MINISTER GRUEVSKI: VAT MIGHT INCREASE.
 
MIA

New tax will not be introduced, and whether the value added tax would be increased, we will know for certain in the course of May when the next round of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund are to be held, Finance Minister Gruevski announced on Thursday.
 
According to Gruevski, "IMF and the World Bank consider that the state budget should be increased on a long-run, despite the fact that Macedonia continuously has increasing expenses, especially after the adoption of the Framework Agreement, which should be also covered on a long - run.
 
"IMF demanded tax of 5 percent to be increased to 19 percents, except for the food products, but I am not sure that we will be in a position to convince them in May not to increase VAT," Gruevski pointed out.
 
Finance Minister explained that IMF demands increase of VAT, in order not to oppress the Law on financial transactions. "This is a temporary measure and will be valid until 2003", Minister Gruevski underlined.
 
Regarding the Law on retirement with 25 years of working experience, which will be discussed at Thursday's session of the Parliament, Minister said that although the Government wishes to provide its assistance to the workers that lost their jobs after the closure of several loss - making companies, "this measure does not correspond with the demands of the IMF and World Bank."
 
"The loss that might arise by passing this law will be enormous, and in order to prevent this, the Government will undertake other measures as the social package, which allows severance pay of 12 - month salaries, social aid, retraining courses and providing of favorable credit lines," Minister Gruevski underlined.
 
Answering the question whether the passing of the Law on retirement will overload the budget, Gruevski said that it was impossible to predict the costs, as the law so far referred to loss - making companies only, while now it refers to all the companies in private ownership.
 
According to Gruevski, the passing of the retirement law with 25 years of working experience is "a measure that has not been applied by any world country ever", the Minister said.
 
The previous retirement Law with 25 years of working experience was canceled on the demand of the IMF and World Bank.
 
"It is hard to predict which private companies will bankrupt, there is also a possibility of calculations - some of them to arrange their own bankruptcy in order to gain pension fund for 25 years of working experience", Gruevski explained.
 
"If the Parliament adopts such law, IMF and the World Bank will cancel all relations with Macedonia", Gruevski said and added that the canceling of the relations with these institutions will be absurd as the " 90 percent of the financial resources obtained by Donors' conference are included in their arrangements, so their realization will be brought into question." This fact made the Macedonian Government to strengthen its attitude in regard with this question.
 
Gruevski explained that the means for severance payments amounting to 12-month salaries for the workers of the loss - making companies would be provided from the Budget, and not from the pension fund.
 
THIRD CONFERENCE ON TOPIC: "STOCK MARKET IN MACEDONIA"
 
MIA
 
In regard to the sixth anniversary of the Macedonian stock market, a conference, third of this type, titled as "Stock market in Macedonia - condition, problems and perspective" took place in Skopje on Thursday.
 
Macedonian Minister of Finance Nikola Gruevski said that "the capital market represents a special challenge, which is an opportunity for enhanced development, progress and profit, because weak and non-profitable stock market cannot be interesting for the foreign capital."
 
"Now we need to accept all successful models of the capital market and to implement them in our country. With the new changes to the Law for securities, which besides the broker's houses now also includes the banks, provide larger competition and better quality in the work with the securities," Gruevski said, adding that in 2001 the trade with securities became profitable.
 
Minister Gruevski said that in conditions of growing globalization the small stock markets have no future, which is the reason why connections among the stock markets is needed, in order "crossed trade" to be provided.
 
"At the beginning of the year, we have started with activities for cooperation with the Athens stock market. This cooperation is based on the double quotation of the stocks on both stock market and enabling of crossed trading.
 
This will mean introduction of the economies of both countries and activities in both directions," Gruevski said.
 
In his opinion the emission of state-owned bonds is also very significant, because they increased the turnover on the stock market. "If some company is running on the market it is exempted from the profit tax," he added.
 
As most significant moment in the work of the securities market, Minister Gruevski pointed out the Central Depositary of securities, "which represents true revolution for the small stock companies who find protection there."
 
Referring to the factors for development of the securities market in Macedonia, director of the stock market Evgenij Zografski said that soon a Memorandum for cooperation would be signed with the Athens Stock market. He pointed out that the primary market in Macedonia was not developed, because all 190 emissions of stocks in the past few years were done with known buyers.
 
Koha Ditore: "Former" NLA HQ Holds Secret Meeting.
 
Balkan Report
 
Influential Prishtina newspaper Koha Ditore informs that some members of the General Staff of the "disbanded National Liberation Army" met in Shipkovica village on Shara Mountain on Wednesday afternoon, 27 March, to adopt a position on the recent armed clashes between NLA and Albanian National Army, ANA in Mala Rechica.
 
Koha Ditore's unofficial sources claim that "former commanders" Valoni, Shpetimi, Leka, Hoxha and Iliri, as well as Sadri Fazliu, Nazmi Beqiri, and others attended the meeting.
 
Two important figures of the NLA (UK) did not attend this meeting: the political leader Ali Ahmeti, and Gezim Ostreni, the "former general commander."
 
Reportedly, the purpose of the meeting was to prepare for a meeting of the Coordinating Council of Albanians, which may be held in Mala Rechica on Thursday [28 March], at which the positions adopted in Shipkovica could be reconfirmed or other solutions sought concerning the latest events.
 
Koha Ditore's unofficial sources claim that Ali Ahmeti has been in constant touch with Kosovar leaders and has been asking for their support for further moves.
 
Also, Koha Ditore claims that that NLA might decide to allow Macedonian authorities to conduct an investigation of Mondays conflict only after the Mala Rechica meeting of the Coordinating Council of Albanians.

ALBANIA-MEETING-PURVANOV.
 
BTA
 
President Purvanov Addresses Fifth Summit of Southeast Europe Cooperation Process.
 
Tirana, March 28 (BTA) - The Southeast European countries' active participation in the world anti-terror coalition is particularly important for its success, Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov told the fifth meeting of the state and government heads of the Southeast Europe Cooperation Process member countries. The forum opened in Tirana Thursday. The Process should attach priority importance to "cleaning" the Balkans' negative image in the eyes of the European and international community, Purvanov stressed in his address, as quoted by his press secretary in a fax to BTA.
 
The Bulgarian head-of-state pointed out that the period following the Skopje meeting was characterized by hardship and challenges for the world and for some parts of the Balkans. Globally, the processes in the sphere of security can be divided into two periods: before and after September 11, 2001, said Purvanov.
 
Macedonia's stability and territorial integrity were questioned, the Bulgarian president stressed. He hailed the political wisdom of the Macedonian authorities, and of President Trajkovski personally, in dealing with the crisis.
 
Purvanov said that the countries in the region should continue to render active assistance to strengthening Macedonia's sovereignty and statehood.
 
The signing of a principled agreement on Yugoslavia's restructuring diffused a potential hotbed of tension in the region, said Purvanov. He voiced the expectation that the positive development of political processes in Kosovo will help achieve lasting stability in the region.
 
The past year confirmed the strategic orientation of all countries in the region towards integration in the European and Euro-Atlantic family of democratic nations, the Bulgarian president pointed out. He admitted that he hopes Bulgaria will be invited to join NATO at the forthcoming summit in the Czech capital in November. Purvanov confirmed the country's principled position in support of the efforts of the countries in the region for integration in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. EU and NATO's southeast enlargement will be an investment in strengthening stability and security, the climate of confidence and cooperation in the region and in the entire Euro-Atlantic zone, said Purvanov.
 
He voiced certainty that the Process' further development should be aimed at a more pragmatic use of the existing potentials. Purvanov stressed the need of closer interaction between the Process and the Stability Pact and the Southeast Europe Cooperation Initiative, as well as of finding new, more flexible forms of cooperation between the participants in the Process and the Stability Pact.
 
Building a network of regional coordination centres in key spheres of mutual interest like environment protection, the energy sector, transport, and telecommunications, will speed up the practical implementation of projects for the region's development. Bulgaria is ready to become the location of a regional coordination energy centre, said Purvanov.
 
The Bulgarian president stressed that priority importance should be given to coordination between the Process and the EU, lending European perspective to the countries in the region. Purvanov reiterated Bulgaria's principled position that the country's participation in regional initiatives and mechanisms should in no way prevent it from achieving its strategic political goal - membership in EU and NATO. He agreed that Southeastern Europe needs to draft and present before the European and Euro-Atlantic institutions decisions, proposals and ideas, which would result in working out and applying a long-term development strategy to promote development and integration and gradually isolate ethnic conflicts.
 
The Balkans need to translate to reality more ideas and proposals for the infrastructure's development and modernization in transport, telecommunications, the energy and electronic sector, among others, said Purvanov. The infrastructure corridors will increase the role of the region in European structures and on the international scene and will step up the establishment of European standards and EU and NATO integration, Purvanov concluded.
 
PRESIDENT-LAW.
 
BTA
 
President Purvanov Signs Decree on Promulgation of Child Benefits Act.
 
Sofia, March 28 (BTA) - President Georgi Purvanov signed a decree on the promulgation of the Child Benefits Act.
 
The President announced this Thursday upon his departure for Albania to attend the Fifth Meeting of State and Government Leaders of Southeast Europe Cooperation Process Member Countries.
 
Purvanov said he signed the decree following serious and difficult discussions on Wednesday with Deputy Prime Minister and Social Minister Lidia Shouleva and parliamentary Labour and Social Policies Committee Chairman Hassan Ademov which convinced him that at present this law provides the best possible solution to the problem of the distribution of the as it is small social security funds.
 
The Act does not solve and does not even try to offer solutions to the demographic crisis, Purvanov said, adding that this is a strategic issue to which the Government and the other institutions should seek solutions.
 
According to the President, there are omissions in the Act which he will try to identify and compensate by proposing new bills or by amendments to already existing laws. The President believes the categorical requirement that children receiving child benefits attend school is unconvincing. He said, however, that he understands the motives behind this requirement. "My argument is that if the State has not provided means for children of the border mountainous and semimountainous regions to reach the municipality centres, it cannot require this of their parents," Purvanov said.
 
The President said he also has reservations regarding the way the status of women in the final stage of pregnancy is regulated.
 
The President signed the decree on the promulgation of the Child Benefits Act with reservations.
 
The new law provides for an increase in child benefits from 8.50 to 15 leva a month. Only families with a monthly income of up to 150 leva per household member are entitled to receive child benefits.
 
According to statistics, there are 1,500,000 children aged under 18 in Bulgaria, Deputy Prime Minister and Social Policy Minister Shouleva said. She added that so far child benefits were paid to 1,200,000 children which means that 300,000 were deprived of such benefits. Unemployed parents not registered at job centres were not entitled to child benefits. According to National Social Security Institute data, there are 1,150,000 children living in families with a monthly income of up to 150 leva per household member.
 
The new law changes the system of distribution and many people will be entitled to child benefits without complicated registration procedures at job centres. All they will have to do is pass an incomes test, Shouleva said Wednesday.
 
PRESIDENT-VERBATIM RECORD-CROWN AGENTS.
 
BTA
 
President Georgi Purvanov Reads Verbatim Record of Government Session on Contract with Crown Agents.
 
Sofia, March 28 (BTA) - Taking a question, President Georgi Purvanov said he read the verbatim record of the Government session which discussed the customs reform consulting contract between the Finance Ministry and the British Crown Agents late on Wednesday evening. President Purvanov said this before leaving for Albania for the Fifth Meeting of State and Government Leaders of the Southeast European Cooperation Process Participating Countries.
 
Following the publication of a text in "Troud", claiming to be the verbatim record of the Government session, last Thursday the President asked for the verbatim record and the contract itself. The contract arrived on the same day but he received the verbatim record on Wednesday. According to the published text, the ministers discussed possibilities for signing a contract for customs consulting and ways to circumvent the Public Procurement Act.
 
The President said the delay of the document was explained by the division of powers and the nature of the document itself. Purvanov said that according to him, what is more important is the active cooperation or lack of such between the institutions.
 
"It is necessary to establish strict control over the customs and I hail the Government's intentions to do so," President Purvanov said. He said that he is aware of the fact that there are economic groupings affected by the decision which are part of the campaign against the contract with Crown Agents. But there is more to the problem than this, like the lack of guarantees of an increase in revenues, for instance, the President said. "The fact that the whole process was hidden from the public which has the constitutional right to be informed is inexplicable," the President added. According to
him, excuses citing national interests are obviously unconvincing.
 
The Government would have saved itself a lot of trouble if it had duly informed the public of the commitments it was undertaking, the President said. He added that this is also true in other cases. "There are other cases in which the Government has acted like a fire brigade instead of seeking active and democratic dialogue with the civil society," the President said.
 
All questions regarding the nature of the contract and its legitimacy can and should be referred only to the Court, the President said.
 
In response to a question, Purvanov said that the his agreement with the Prime Minister and the National Assembly Chairman that he is presented all bills before they enter Parliament is being partially observed and that he is maintaining good dialogue both with the Prime Minister and with the National Assembly Chairman.
 
"To my surprise there are individual ministers and MPs who are not part of this dialogue and, figuratively speaking, are even trying to impose their terms, contradicting already reached agreements between myself, the Prime Minister and the National Assembly Chairman," the Bulgarian head of state said.
 
Coalition "For Bulgaria" Insist on Velchev's Resignation.
 
Standartnews
 
Nadelina Aneva
Elena Yaneva
 
The leadership of coalition 'For Bulgaria' demanded the resignation of Finance Minister Milen Velchev yesterday. The decision about the no-confidence motion of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) will be taken on Saturday. The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) insisted the hearing of the Premier's explanation in parliament to be the first topic on the agenda. The BSP and MRF required explanations as well. Parliamentary chairman Ognyan Gerdzhikov, however, refused to put the issue on vote. This is a grave offence at the Constitution, Dimitar Abadzhiev said from the rostrum and the UDF PG left the plenary hall as a sign of protest. To Plamen Panayotov, the PM won't come until the competent institutions submit their stands.
 
(SH)
 
Ex-minster Bonev to Train Pupils in Horsemanship.
 
Standartnews

Vassil Ivanov and Vladimir Atanasov open the sports centers for the students during their April vacation.
 
Antoaneteva Peteva

During the April vacation children from Sofia will ride for free at the same manege where Nona Yotova and former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev do. From April 1 to 7 12 students could be trained in riding at the 'Han Asparukh' manege in Sofia. During their training the children will have the opportunity to look at the trainings of stuntmen, who rehearse for the shots of an Italian film. Exactly opposite the manege is the 'Slavia' skating rink. The students could use it after showing their students' cards. On each hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each workday a group of 20 children will have the opportunity to use the 'Madara' swimming pool where the temperature of the water and of the air is 28 C.
 
(PY)
 
Prof. Tchirkov: Stoian Ganev Will Be Back in the Game.
 
Standartnews

Stoyan Ganev is a capable politician and will soon take his due position, Prof. Alexander Tchirkov - head of 'Alexandrovska' hospital and close friend of the prime-minister said on 'Net' radio. To him, the rumors that Simeon would step down from his post and get back to Madrid, were nonsense. The ministers are working well, the Professor elaborated. Tchirkov called on the Bulgarian people for endurance, since only at the middle of those 800 days they might become aware of the first good results from the cabinet's ruling.
 
(SH)
 
Gen. Borissov Enraged by Rumors for Talebans.
 
Standartnews
Evgeni Genov

Don't spread versions that Al-Qaeda members had come to this country to plan terrorist attacks. Such rumors are dangerous, please, let sleeping dogs lie, Gen. Borissov called on the journalists yesterday at the airport. He and Gen. Ivan Chobanov - head of the National Security Service, came back from St. Petersburg where he attended a conference on the strike against international terrorism.
 
(SH)
 
Hacker Disbanded BSP on Internet.
 
Standartnews

The 100-year-old Socialist party was dissolved, the biggest world news agencies were informed.
 
Nadelina Aneva

The BSP decided to disband and rename at an extraordinary plenum on Tuesday night. This news on behalf of the BSP press office was surprisingly released on the Internet yesterday and sent to the 100 biggest information agencies worldwide. At that moment the BSP leader Sergei Stanishev was in Berlin. The news from a disguised site BSP.bg was also received by the European partners of the Socialist Party. In Parliament, the BSP MPs were panic-stricken. As late as at noon Iliana Yotova, head of the BSP press office, took to refuting the release. The Reuters were the first to call her. At noon, the BSP sent a refutation to the same 100 mails attacked with the news. "We've developed into an interesting party, if hackers are dealing with us," Roumen Ovcharov commented. The information on the BSP behalf is composed very intelligently, Iliana Yotova admitted.
 
President Reprimanded Shouleva.

Standartnews
 
The President and his secretaries cross-examined me on all issues of the Family Fringe Benefits Act, admitted yesterday Lidia Shouleva - Minister of labor and social policy. She was apparently embarrassed after the 3-hour meeting with the Head of state. Parvanov discusses the Act para by para, asking how many parents were to be allotted child's fringe benefits and how the children from socially handicapped families were to be protected.
 
(SH)
 
Every Second Baby is Extramarital.
 
Standartnews

Bulgarians were reduced by 770,000 in a decade.
 
Stephan Kioutchukov.

Last year almost half of the Bulgarian kids were born extramarital, show the data of the National Statistics Institute (NSI), voiced yesterday. The extramarital births boosted threefold in the previous decade. They account for 28,920, or 42.1 percent of the total number of babies in 2001. One of the reasons is that the parents prefer to keep extramarital relations. The average age of the Bulgarians is 40.1 years, said NSI sources. The population was getting older and older in the previous years. Girls and boys under the age of 16 had dropped by some 300,000 in the last seven years. Thus the active population dwindles to mere 4.732 million, no matter that the pension age increases constantly. The average life expectancy in Bulgaria is rising gradually. The women's average life span is 75.34 years, while the men - 68.15 years. 112,000 Bulgarian died only in 2001, or 14.1 per mille. This index makes us far beyond the European standards. The mortality in the European Union is within 8.8 per mille in Luxembourg up to 10.9 per mille in Denmark. Bulgaria's population dropped under 8 million in the previous year and at end-December it numbers 7.929 million, while last year the decrease is by some 220,000. The sharp drop in 2001 is due mainly to Bulgarians who went abroad and were mostly teenagers. The women were 51.3 percent of the population at end-2001. Yet, at the age of 37 the men predominate. The change occurs at the more advanced ages.
 
(SH)
 
Drivers Allowed a Pint of Beer.
 
Standartnews

Drivers will be permitted to drink a pint of beer before driving. The up-to-now restriction for 0.5 per milles of alcohol in the blood survived in the new version of the Road Traffic Act, but after two hours of heated debates in parliament. The MRF MPs insisted that drivers shouldn't drink before getting into the vehicles, but the NMS MPs disagreed. The voting of the special traffic regime for the MP's cars was postponed. The dark windows of the cars were forbidden.
 
(PY)

Bulgarian National Was Killed in Madrid.
 
Standartnews

on Tuesday evening, 'ABS' newspaper broke the news. 26-year-old Ivan R.T. was shot down in front of a bistro in the Spanish capital city. The killers fired at him from a car and drove away. The Bulgarian was immediately hospitalized, but died there. The police suspects squaring accounts.
 
(SH)
 
BG Companies - Deprived of Privileges.
 
Standartnews

We should stimulate the Bulgarian economy, 'Vazrazhdane' club insist.
 
Pavlina Zhivkova
Nevena Mircheva

Bulgarian companies to be deprived of privileges when aspiring for public procurement, MPs Panayot Lyakov (UDF), Atanas Paparizov (BSP) and Borislav Velichkov (NMS) demand. The amendment to the Public Procurements Act (PPA) - already passed by the cabinet, envisages the price offered by BG bidders to be decreased by 10 percents. So their offers will be more competitive as compared to those of foreign contractors.
 
Representatives of business club 'Vazrazhdane (Revival) insist on the same issue. If the preferences for Bulgarian firms are to be preserved, that will provide higher budget revenues and will assist in new jobs' opening, maintain from 'Vazrazhdane'. MPs decided the PPA to be effective for the mobile operators as well. The Bill should be passed in the plenary hall till Friday.
 
(SH)
 
New Age Gave Birth to the New Bad Guys.
 
Standartnews

From Zhivkov's era to these days the "shady powers" are blamed for the rulers' faults.
 
Krum Blagov

It became clear at long last who stands in the way of the power-vested in their efforts to raise the living standards of the Bulgarian: Stoian Ganev and the mob. Ganev has been demonized for quite a time, but after he was ousted from his post, he was developed from a grey cardinal into the blue devil. The second pivotal problem are the mob. They are the reason the Finance Ministry to keep secret from Parliament the contract with the British company "Crown Agents". The mob have not been specified as yet, i.e. the cabinet has not divided the mob into "our guys" and "bad guys". But the formula is well-known: "shady powers" stand in the way of progress. The former rulers excused for their failures in the same way. The now power-vested fell in this tradition of simple media explanations where only the names of the rulers and the bad guys changed places. It is a well-worn and cheap propagandistic trick - to find out some mythical and super mighty adversary, to blame everything on him. It seems that Stoian Ganev was summoned just to be sacrificed in the right moment. He was assigned the role of a Bulgarian Rasputin who misused the name of the good Tsar. And the mob, by definition, are hated by the people for they are rich and the people are poor. For a while, pointing to the bad guys will have some effect but, ultimately this ideologemma is a trap for the now rulers. The "new age" gave birth to new "bad guys". It seems that the now power-vested are not willing to make it out that the major adversary to any government are their own duds of cadres.
 
(ML)

'Crown' Contract - Paying Peter without Robbing Paul.
 
Standartnews

It would be right if the issues connected with the reform in the customs are discussed in advance in the parliament and in public.
 
Petkan Iliev

The political decision of the power-vested in connection with the contract of the Finance Ministry with the British firm 'Crown Agents' for reforms in the customs provoked a scandal in connection with the governing of the customs. Ministry of Finance turned into something like a secret unit, where only extreme decisions are taken confronting with a fact accompli the society, which should know whom it would shoulder! Because after the 'surprising move' with the first issue of Eurobonds, another secret operation was carried - the exchange of almost half of the Bulgarian brady bonds for new Eurobonds. Now for a third time we were surprised by the contract with 'Crown agents'. The reaction to this scandal continues to echo in the media. And it would be right, if issues like the ones concerning the customs reform and the debt management were discussed in advance in the parliament and in public and not confronting the society with a fact accompli. Otherwise it would be better the Finance Minister to be promoted to the rank of General! The gifted to the British firm sum of about 33 mil. levs could be easily associated with the 34-35 mil. levs - the sum to which, according to 'Coalition 2000', the illicit payments (i.e. bribes) at the Bulgarian customs checkpoints for 11 main group of goods, amount. At the end it may come out that this is paying Peter without robbing Paul.
 
(PY)
 
Producer of 'Oscar'-Winning Film in Sofia.
 
Standartnews
Georgy P. Dimitrov

The producer of the awarded an 'Oscar' several days ago film from Bosna 'No Man's Land' comes to Bulgaria. Frenchman Mark Bache arrives today and will tell about the triumph of the film in America. The guest will close the Sofia Film Fest. At the ceremony the organizers of the fest will hand him a honorary diploma. There's a surprise for him, too - a whole cardboard box with full-bodied wine from Melnik, bearing the name of the film - 'No Man's Land'. Some of the same elixir was sent to Los Angeles to director Danis Tanovic as a greeting for his success.
 
(PY)

No to 'Muraveism' in Politics.
 
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Miroslav Sevlievski

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We have to coalesce social interest, said NMS deputy Miroslav Sevlievski.

Nadelina Aneva

- Mr Sevlievski, what are the differences in the statutes of the followers and members of your party to be set up in April?

- We declared that we'd like to be an electoral party and it is impossible to modernize Bulgaria - at which the NMS aims - only with the help of the party members.

- How is the NMS party to attract followers?

- The recent practice shows that the political parties of the classic type develop inner political cliquism. We want to establish a political organization the members of which, instead of scuffling for party posts, to strive to become leaders in the sphere in which they work.

- Is the idea to be established a subgroup, which to combat bureaucracy in the party, welcomed?

- I suggested to be created a group, which to be called Committee for Optimization of the Organization Structure in the NMS or Committee for Anti-bureaucratization. This will guarantee that we will not bureaucratize or turn into an elite party.

- Probably after the conference many parties and formations will offer you their own ready local structures. Or do you prefer to establish your own ones?

- The building of structures isn't a much complicated task. If we want to be an electoral party, in addition to generating social interest we should create an exact and clear mechanism to coalesce social interest.

- Does the present conduct of the opposition bother you?

- The issue that interests me very much is whether Sergei Stanishev and Nadezhda Mihaylova support the deal for the exchange of the Bulgarian Brady bonds for new Eurobonds or the restructuring of our foreign debt.

- It becomes obvious by their behavior in the parliament that they don't back it.

- I hope that Stanishev and Mihaylova are aware of the realities in the 21st century. To me, now it's important to be aware who are the followers of 'muraveism'.

(PY)

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