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Yugoslav Slavoljub Muslin, who makes his debut as a coach with Bulgarian champions Levski Sofia, points to his players during their derby of the country's premier league with Slavia Sofia in Sofia on March 31, 2002. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff


Dimitar Rangelov (R) from Slavia Sofia challenges Stanislav Angelov from Levski Sofia during their Bulgarian premier league soccer derby in Sofia on March 31, 2002. REUTERS/Dimitar Dilkoff

For the first time in the Balkan history, there are no authoritarian regimes in the region We have democratically elected officials Therefore, we express the need to use this opportunity for strengthening the democratic institutions, reeds the Declaration, adopted by participants in a two-day International Conference "Regional Security in the Balkans and the Role of the Balkan Political Club", which was closed in Skopje on Sunday.
"We the members of the Balkan Political Club believe that the forthcoming enlargement of NATO, the forthcoming invitation to the candidate members in Prague in November 2002 is directly related to the Balkan security and stability. We believe that the expansion of the Alliance's southern flank is of exceptional importance for the future of the entire Balkan region," the Declaration reeds.
The Balkan Political Club believes that the general context for the solution of ethnic problems and development of democratic societies should rest on respect for and development of basic universal human rights. The Club strongly supports the need to use constructively the unprecedented opportunity for peaceful settlement of the existing problems in the region.
Sustainable democracy is not possible in poverty. Increasing prosperity in just societies is an irreplaceable condition for viable, stable and secure countries in the region. Therefore, it is urgent that the attention of the international community, especially of the European institutions to be drawn to rapid and comprehensive economic development of the Balkan countries.
"We are calling for a coalition of governments in the region and the international community for a concerted effort against corruption, organized crime and terrorism," the Declaration reeds.
At a press conference, Macedonian Ambassador to Bulgaria Ljubisa Georgievski said that the Balkan Club considered that everybody should try to be bigger than its ethnic origin, as it is the basic prerequisite for defying of the Balkan problems.
The Conference was held in a democratic atmosphere, leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians Arben Xhaferi said.
"Intellectuals, politicians and citizens are focused on the Albanian issue, as it has not been resolved yet," he added.
To a journalist question about the Balkan Club projection when the time would come for resolving of the Albanian issue along with the Kosovo status, former Turkish president Suleyman Demirel said that the Club was not an executive body.
"It just presents its opinion about the Balkan stability and security. Various nations and groups are living in the Balkans and their coexistence and tolerance is their fate. Nothing can be achieved by violence and bloodshed and everyone must recognize the identity of its neighbor," Demirel said.
For the former Bulgarian president Zelju Zelev, Kosovo is independent and sovereign country in a certain way, but the US, the European and Balkan countries do not agree with this position, not because they deny the right of Kosovars fro freedom and independency, but because it presents a dangerous precedent for the Balkans and Europe.
"On the other hand, Kosovars are not satisfied with this position. Maybe at the moment, both solutions are wrong if we fail to democratize the Balkans," Zelev said.
Dragoljub Micunovic, chairman of the Yugoslav parliamentary chamber of citizens, called for resolving of economic, political, cultural and issues related to human freedoms and rights. He considers that there is no final solution for the national matters.
Asked whether the democratically elected governments were acting in that manner, Kosovo publicist Veton Surroi said that the institutions were the weak point in the Balkan countries.
"We call on the government to develop and enhance the institutions," he added.
"Our histories, values, cultures can change if we as individuals do not face the reality and address the differences," Zelev said, replying to the same question.

Skopje, March 31 (BTA exclusive by Kostadin Filipov) - The Balkan Political Club ended its conference on regional security in the Balkans Sunday with the adoption of a final declaration.
The Balkan Political Club is an informal association established last year to bring together former and present political, government and state leaders, journalists and intellectuals.
In its final declaration the Club hails the fact that for the first time in its history the Balkans are free of autocratic regimes and have democratically elected governments, and calls for using this fact for the promotion of the democratic institutions.
The Club members believe that the enlargement of NATO and more specifically the invitation of more countries to join in at the Prague summit in November 2002, has direct implications for stability and security in the Balkans. "We believe that the enlargement of the southern frank of the Alliance is of crucial importance for the future of the whole Balkan region," the document says.
Underscoring the unprecedented opportunities for peaceful solution of the existing problems in the region, the Club members call for solving the ethnic issues and developing further the democratic societies with full respect for human rights.
The Club calls on the international community and especially the European institutions to take sweeping and comprehensive measures for the economic development of the Balkans, and urge an alliance of the regional governments and the international community for joint efforts against corruption, crime syndicates and terrorism.
At a brief news conference after the conference, most questions were about the open Albanian problem in the Balkans.
According to former Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, who is one of the Club members, there are issues that at some points of time have no rational solution, and the Albanian issue is one of them. He believes that a future independent Kosovo will not be to the liking of the international community - not because it denies Kosovars' right to sovereignty but because it will set a dangerous precedent in the Balkans and in Europe.
"If we succeed to democratize the Balkans, the problems will be solved as we go - in the best interest of peace and stability in the region," said Dr. Zhelev.
At the news conference were also the former president of Macedonia Kiro Gligorov, of Romania Emil Constantinescu and of Turkey Suleyman Demirel, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska Mladen Ivanic, Dragoljub Micunovic of the Yugoslav Parliament, former Greek foreign minister Michalis Papakonstantinou, Arben Xhaferi of the Democratic Party of Albanians, outstanding Kosovar journalist Veton Suroj and Macedonian Ambassador to Bulgaria Ljubisa Georgievski, who is among the Club founders.

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