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"I'm a dull pragmatist and I'm so busy I have no time for daydreaming. Yet one of my dreams is to see Bulgaria as a well functioning state," said Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha yesterday, at the opening of the third round table of the Bulgarian government with 140 leading Bulgarian and foreign companies. "The Bulgarian people is my boss," the prime-minister said further. Photo Stoyan Nenov


Patriarch Maksim meets Monsignor Renato Boccardo, Chief of Protocol in the State Secretariat of the Vatican. Pressphoto BTA: photographer Vladimir Shokov

The ethnically mixed police units failed to enter the villages of Celopek, Radiovce, Tenovo, Zerovjane, Bogovinje and Pirok, Tetovo area.
As stated in the report from the Media Activity Center at the Coordinate Body for Crisis Management, the patrolling in the rest of the villages in Tetovo, Gostivar, Kumanovo and Lipkovo regions proceeds as planed.
It was calm and no firings were heard in Tetovo crisis region Wednesday morning, unlike the night, when the peace was violated in many occasions, with shots from various types of infantry weapons.
According to police and army sources, the firings came mostly from the Teke of Tetovo, Drenovec 2 settlement, Cetinska, Stipska, Vonvardarska and Ilindenska streets. Several shots were registered also from Mala Recica, Selce, Prce, Prsovce, Radiovce, Odri, Dobroste, Dolno Orasje and Vratnicko Ezero county.
Tuesday before midnight, a fire broke out in the communal office in Radiovce village. The fire was extinguished by the Tetovo Fire Department early Wednesday morning.
Calm Wednesday morning without violations of the public order and peace in Kumanovo-Lipkovo region.
Tuesday afternoon, all till late in the night, total of 30 sporadic and 11 rifle shots were fired, coming from the direction of Vaksince, Slupcane, Ropaljce, Opae, villages, from the miners' colony and the Bukurica county.
The firings had no determined targets.
A convoy of about 10 vehicles was noticed along the road St. Virgin Mary - Matejce village.
The ethnically mixed police units cruise the villages of Matejce, Otlja, Orizare and Lipkovo without any hindrances.

"Reading the report of the US Department of State on the human rights practices, in the part regarding to Macedonia the tendentiousness is obvious, certain blame is put only on the institutions of Macedonia, while on the other hand the results from the emergence of the Albanian terrorism and militarism are described very casually," government's spokesman Gjorgji Trendafilov said Wednesday for MIA.
Making comments on the report by the US Department of State, he emphasized that it is realistically this document to be subject of serious analysis by the Macedonian Government.
The Department of State in the report on human rights practices in Macedonia in 2001 points out that numerous abuses in this area were registered mainly related with the military conflict.
Upon an invitation of the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski Wednesday starts a two-day visit to Brussels.
Besides the talks with Prodi, President Trajkovski will also meet with NATO Secretary General George Robertson, the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, the President of the European Parliament Pat Cox and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt.
The talks will be focused on further improvement of the relations and co-operation of the Republic of Macedonia with the European Union, the NATO and the European Parliament as well as of the bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Belgium.
Minister Of Foreign Affairs Comments Kosovo PM's Statement.
Skopje, March 6 (MIA) - "One-sided revision of the border, without using the agreement mechanism, is a declaration of war, which destroys the European foundation and the basic principle of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for inviolability of borders," Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said Wednesday.
This attitude came as a reaction to the statement of the newly elected Kosovo Prime Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, who emphasized that he did not recognize any border delineation agreement between Macedonia and FR Yugoslavia, because, according to him, Kosovo lost part of its territory with that document.
Casule stressed that Macedonia and its Government seriously objected to the authorities in charge of Kosovo's stability, before all UNMIK, and asked for taking serious measures that "will thwart these adventures."
On the contrary, he emphasized that the darkest prognosis would come to surface, and the crisis generator in this part of the world, organized crime and terrorism would be promoted, with the end objective for solution of Kosovo's status.
"Macedonia cannot accept this and will oppose it with all political means. Macedonia is ready to react on time and in a preventive manner," Casule emphasized.
He informed that he had found out from agency sources that "the president of the executive branch office of local self-government in Kosovo," refering to Bairami, had said two "for us, highly dangerous things."
"The first is that the Kosovo institutions do not recognize the border delineation agreement between Macedonia and FR Yugoslavia, because Kosovo lost 2,500 hectares of its territory with it," Casule emphasized.
He also said that this dangerous position was more important due to Rexhepi's evaluation that there was a need for Kosovo Parliament to adopt the declaration for revision of the border delineation agreement, which would afterwards be directed to the UN Security Council.
"Macedonia cannot accept, does not want to accept, and will not accept any kind of revision of the freely expressed will of our country in the interest of its citizens and the sovereign Yugoslav Federation, which includes entities that have their own local authorities. It also does not accept any attempt for revision from Kosovo, which is under UN governance at the moment," Casule said.
The Macedonian Foreign Minister said that Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council clearly stated that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of FR Yugoslavia was non-disputable and it did not allow a change of the Kosovo status. "Any kind of act by an institution that is established and guarantied by the UN, which disrupts the Resolution, will present a great danger and one of the most serious blows on the institution itself," he said.
Casule informed that the Foreign Ministry sent notes to the 5 permanent members of the Security Council today, in which he asked for an explanation for Rexhepi's statement, but also an immediate reaction, because "everyone, including the 10 non-permanent members of the session of the Council stated that the agreement between Macedonia and FR Yugoslavia must be respected by all." Macedonian Foreign Minister emphasized that this position must be also respected by the newly elected Kosovo Prime Minister.
Asked whether the current events confirmed the announcement for a spring offensive in Macedonia, which was previously denied by Javier Solana and George Robertson, Casule said "if things are not put under control, it is possible for events to develop in a negative direction."
Casule added that the Macedonian authorities looked with optimism on the institutions of the international community and believed in their maturity and efficiency, emphasizing that in all his prior consultations with high officials of the international community it was emphasized that the international community would not allow the creation of new states on the Balkans.
Kosovo PM Disputes Border With Macedonia.
Macedonian Media - MakFax
Radical Albanian leader, Hashim Tachi, his ("ex"-KLA) party, and his Prime Minister of Kosovo, do not seem to agree with US, UN statement and decision: Macedonian-Yugoslav Border Agreement signed one year ago has to be respected by everybody!
"Kosovo institutions do not recognize the Agreement for the border line between Skopje and Belgrade, because with this deal Kosovo lost some 2,500 HA of its territory to Macedonia."-says Bajram Rexhepi.
By Irina Gelevska
Prishtina - The newly elected Kosovo PM, Bajram Rexhepi, from the Democratic Party of Hashim Tachi, after the first meeting with the KFOR Commander General Valentine Marselleu, gave a statement today for the local radio station 'Radio 21,' saying that:
"Kosovo institutions do not recognize the Agreement for the border line between Skopje and Belgrade, because with this deal Kosovo lost some 2,500 HA of its territory to Macedonia."
Rexhepi added that he will request the Kosovo Parliament to adopt Declaration for annulling of the Macedonian-Yugoslav border agreement. The Kosovo PM said that this Declaration will be sent to the UN Security Council.
The Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Slobodan Chashule had an urgent briefing with the journalists this afternoon. Reacting to the statement of Kosovo's Prime Minister, he said that Macedonia will not stop working on the border issue with Kosovo and if it is necessary, he will defend its legality in front of the UN Security Council, again.
- "One-sided revision of the border, without using the agreement mechanism, is a declaration of war, which destroys the European foundation and the basic principle of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for inviolability of borders," Casule said today.
Casule stressed that Macedonia and its Government seriously objected to the authorities in charge of Kosovo's stability, before all UNMIK, and asked for undertaking serious measures that "will thwart these adventures".
On the contrary, he emphasized that the darkest prognoses would come to surface, and the crisis generator in this part of the world, organized crime and terrorism would be promoted, with the end objective for solution of Kosovo's status.
"Macedonia cannot accept this and will oppose it with all political means. Macedonia is ready to react on time and in a preventive manner," Casule emphasized.
"Macedonia cannot accept, does not want to accept, and will not accept any kind of revision of the freely expressed will of our country in the interest of its citizens and the sovereign Yugoslav Federation, which includes entities that have their own local authorities. It also does not accept any attempt for revision from Kosovo, which is under UN governance at the moment," Casule said.
More news from MakFax:
Kosovo institutions do not recognize the border demarcation agreement signed by Skopje and Belgrade, based on which, some 2,500 hectares had been taken away from Kosovo and added to Macedonia, Pristinas 'Radio 21' quotes the newly elected prime minister of Kosovo, Bajram Rexhepi, as saying after Tuesdays meeting with KFOF commander, General Marcel Valentin.
The prime minister of Kosovo said the Kosovo parliament should adopt a declaration on revision of border agreement. The revised version will be presented to the UN security council.
During the 1st day in office, Rexhepi met the commander of KFOR to address the security matters and co-operation between the government and the multinational peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR).
Referring to yesterday's statement of Kosovo Premier, Rexhep Bajrami, who does not recognize the Border Delineation Agreement between Skopje and Belgrade and will demand for the Kosovo Parliament to pass a resolution in this respect, Macedonian Prime Minister, Ljubco Georgievski said that such statements of Kosovo politicians should be another proof to Macedonian citizens, media and politicians about how complex the situation in the country really is.
For him, the problems with smuggling of cigarettes, drugs and weaponry are not only secondary products of what has been going on, but part of "a historical, complex conflict."

Parvanov Vetos the Privatization Act?

The whole procedure will last at least a month. The pressure on the president to veto the law is exerted from both left and right to the center forces. The UDF leadership discussed this issue with the president at their yesterday's meeting. They discussed the submitted several hours earlier letter by UDF MP Jordan Nihrizov, insisting on vetoing of this Act. BSP MPs confirmed unofficially the information that they have demanded Parvanov to veto the law because interests of employers and employees weren't balanced by it. The main argument of both the UDF and the BSP is that workers are deprived of their privilege to buy shares at lower prices. The privatization of the hospitals would be blocked because it wasn't regulated in the law.

President G. Purvanov Returned Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act to Parliament for Reconsideration.
Sofia, March 6 (BTA) - President Georgi Purvanov returned the Privatization and Post-privatization Control Act, adopted on February 21, 2002, to Parliament for reconsideration, the Press Secretariat of the Presidency told BTA. This is the first veto imposed by the President since taking office in January 2002.
"The motives for the veto are of social nature," Nikolai Genov, the President's Secretary for Social Policy, told the media. In his words, the veto will not delay the act's entry into force. "The purpose of imposing the veto is not to hinder the Government from fulfilling its programme," Plamen Kirov, the President's Secretary for Legal Affairs, said. "In 15 or 20 days, the majority can approve the act again, without any changes," he said. "If approved unchanged, it is not envisaged to challenge the act by petitioning the Constitutional Court," Kirov said.
The veto reasoning points out that important components of the privatization process are not regulated by the act, assigning their regulation to the Council of Ministers; that the act does not envisage new guarantees for investors in the Bulgarian economy , and that in some aspects the act is even a step back from what has already been achieved, the press release of the Presidency said.
Reducing the guarantees for foreign investors and Bulgarian entrepreneurs is unacceptable, it is said in the reasoning.
In his capacity as Supreme Commander-in-chief, the President draws attention to the deletion of a clause from the previous act obliging buyers of enterprises to perform tasks in wartime and at the time of crisis. He expresses hope that on concluding privatization contracts, the Privatization Agency will do what is necessary to protect the interests of the state in the area of national security.
Purvanov disagrees with restricting the opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in privatization deals under privileged terms when such an enterprise is chosen as a buyer or is the sole candidate for the deal. In His opinion, the elimination of such opportunities deprives the small and medium-sized enterprises of real participation in the denationalization process because they do not have enough financial resources.
In Purvanov's opinion, the expedience of the distribution of privatization proceeds as provided for in the new act, adopted on february 21, is controversial because it does not envisage any allocation of proceeds to fund socially important projects or activities.
According to Purvanov's reasoning, there is ground for fears that the act has internal contradictions which will make it difficult to apply, creating possibilities for the different treatment of investors and for violation of equality rights. The act allows different approaches to its application by different authorities and by one and the same authority, thus creating prerequisites for subjectivism and corruption. The formulation of the status, the rights and responsibilities of the Privatization Agency, the Agency for Post-privatization Control and their bodies is fragmentary and the functions of the agencies' supervisory boards are severely limited, it is said in the reasoning.
According to Purvanov, the act does not regulate the privatization of banks and does not envisage the opportunity for participation of members of the public who have years-long home purchase savings in the process of privatization.
"I cannot but return the act for further consideration because it eliminates important social and economic rights of the Bulgarian people," Purvanov says in his reasoning, guided by the idea that people's social rights must not only be preserved but broadened as well.
The new act curtails people's rights in two aspects, it is said in the reasoning. The first aspect concerns workers and employees at privatized enterprises who are deprived of the opportunity to acquire shares under soft terms, which places them on an unequal footing.
The second aspect involves the opportunity of participating in the privatization process with the investment vouchers issued for mass privatization. The President challenges the provision that fixes the validity of the investment vouchers. "I believe that thes epayment instruments should be used on an equal footing with all other payment instruments," the head of state says in his reasoning. In his view, the Council of Ministers should give the holders of investment vouchers the opportunity to invest the vouchers in shares of profit-making enterprises.
If the deadline for using them is observed, the investment vouchers may remain unused, leaving Bulgarians with disappointed expectations.
Returning the act for reconsideration is not aimed at and could not really hinder the work of the Government and slow down the privatization process, Purvanov says in his reasoning.
Bulgarian Parliament Speaker Demands Albania Recognise Bulgarian
TIRANA, Albania -- Ognyan Gerdjikov, speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, met Wednesday (6 March) with his Albanian counterpart Namik Dokle and demanded recognition of the Bulgarian minority in Albania. Gerdjikov referred specifically to ethnic Bulgarians in Liqenas, and requested they receive minority status as provisioned in the Albanian constitution.
In Sofia, meanwhile, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg met Wednesday with lawmakers from the National Movement Simeon II, the ethnic Turk party Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the opposition United Democratic Forces, urging all parties to unite in efforts to accelerate legislation that will result in an invitation to join NATO.

Kostov Withdraws from UDF NEC.

That was made known during the National Council of the UDF, participants in the sitting said. The Commander called Vassilev for a conversation. The ex-minister of tourism was one of Nadezhda Mihailova's nominees for the post of chief secretary of the UDF in her team. A group of UDF activists were reportedly getting ready to even nominate him as conference leader. To make him give up the race, Kostov had even confessed that he himself would withdraw from the party power. Later in the day V. Vassilev was also called for a conversation by Filip Dimitrov.


PM Asked When Corruption Is to Be Coped With.
Victoria Seraphimova
Nevena Mircheva
"I'm a dull pragmatist and I'm so busy I have no time for daydreaming. Yet, one of my dreams is to see Bulgaria as a well functioning state," said Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha yesterday, at the opening of the third round table organized by Economist magazine with the Bulgarian government and 140 leading Bulgarian and foreign companies. The foreign investors asked the premier about the measures taken by the cabinet in line with the reforms of the judicial system and combatting bureaucracy and corruption. He answered that the government would stop at nothing to carry out the reforms in the judicial system and reduce the administrative services to a single desk.
Simeon Did Not Ask MPs to Resign.

No decisions for punishments were made, Plamen Panayotov maintains.
Pavlina Zhivkova
Nadelina Aneva

The party discipline issue was rushed through for two minutes only at the yesterday's sitting of the NMS Parliamentary Group. The notorious letter to the Premier signed by 17 deputies had to be discussed at this sitting. At it, nobody spoke about resignations or recantation of deputies. Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha neither attended the sitting, nor he sent a letter. As early as at the opening of the sitting, it became clear that a sign was given from the Council of Ministers that the things should not be pressed. Kamen Vlahov was the only one to ask questions of the 17 NMS MPs who signed the letter to the PM, but to no avail. "Everyone kept silent because we were under stress," said Prof. Petko Ganchev, who also took part in the written pledge. "It is the Premier to say what measures he had in mind while commenting on the letter, said Plamen Panayotov, Chairman of the NMS PG, after the sitting was over. He asserted that no punishments were envisaged by the PG. To him, the Parliamentary Group needed further information to take any decisions.


I Asked Them, Why Did They Discredit the Cabinet.
Kamen Vlahov, NMS MP

It's a matter of ethics certain people of the PG to decide where they belong, and if they have to hand in their resignations. I asked those who had signed the letter to the PM, what they aimed at. Aren't they aware that in this way they screw the hands of the Premier, they discredit the Cabinet. I asked them if they were aware about the unity of the group. No one took a stand, because, to me, they should consider the matter.


Fired Deputies - That's The End of Democracy.

The idea to fire 2 or 3 law-makers from NMS is dangerous, the next step is suspending of the constitution.

Two or three deputies from the NMS PG are likely to be asked to leave the parliament for the intrigues they had spread in the group. The problem may blow up not only the society. But the democracy in Bulgaria as well. Our constitution reads that a parliamentarian may be found guilty only by the law. He can be ousted - at that by an extremely complex procedure, in case of a crime, for which the Penalty Code envisages more than 5-year jail. These are for example - high treason, large-scale finance frauds, murder, etc. Two persons hinted for future dismissal of deputies from the NMS PG: Ognyan Gerdzhikov - chairman of the National Assembly, and Plamen Panayotov - head of the NMS PG. Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov proposed dissolving of the parliamentary groups. As if because of NATO. Too much coincidences. Only one step is to follow: suspending of the constitution.

Kostov Called Nadezhda Mihailova To a Secret Meeting.

N. Mihailova proposes an ex-minister as the chief secretary.
Velislava Krasteva
Elena Yaneva

Former PM Ivan Kostov called Nadezhda Mihailova to his office in 'Democratsia' Foundation building lately on Monday, 'Standart' learnt. The Commandeer insisted that she would announce her favorites for the National Executive Council (NEC) before the national conference. She was pressed to backtrack from her team the candidacy of Valentin Vassilev, since lots of classified files had been accumulated against him. Nadezhda, however, announced yesterday before the UDF National Council only the candidacy for chief secretary of Ivan Ivanov - MP from Montana. The former deputy-minister of economy in the second cabinet 'Kostov' was preferred for his long-lasted and steady career in the UDF. As far as I was the second one to place my candidacy for UDF leader, I was asked to declare at least part of the names, Nadezhda Mihailova elaborated yesterday. 'I won't announce whoever of my team, thus not to supercharge the tension in the UDF which anyway addravates before the election of a new leader,' Ekaterina Mihailova said. There's some talk, that her candidate for chief secretary is Plamen Ivanov, who currently takes the same post.


Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi

arrives on a two-day official visit to this country at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Passy. The two will consider the problems of cooperation within the framework of the Central European Initiative. The two foreign ministers will analyze the bilateral political and economic relations and are expected to discuss some issues related to Bulgaria's candidature for NATO and EU membership. Today the Hungarian guest will meet with President Georgi Parvanov and with Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Hungary Supports Istanbul Declaration on NATO's South-Eastward Enlargement.
Sofia, March 6 (BTA) - Hungary supports the joint declaration of the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Turkey on NATO's southeastward enlargement, adopted at their meeting in Istanbul February 13, 2002, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told the press here on March 6.
On Tuesday, March 5, Martonyi started a two-day official visit here at the invitation of Foreign Minister Solomon Passy.
At the Istanbul meeting, Greece and Turkey pledged active support for Bulgaria and Romania's ambition to obtain NATO membership invitations at the November 2002 Summit in Prague.
"As Hungary belongs to the NATO Southern Command, the country has an interest in Bulgaria's and Romania's forthcoming accession, which will strengthen the Alliance's southern structures," Martonyi said, emerging from a meeting with Passy.
The guest noted Bulgaria's and Romania's contribution to the fight against international terrorism. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on targets in the United States "have furnished one more reason for NATO's southward enlargement," the chief Hungarian diplomat said.
Martonyi expressed his country's willingness to provide concrete assistance by organizing bilateral expert consultations, in order to contribute to Bulgaria's successful preparation for accession.
Minister Passy described Hungary's support for the Istanbul declaration as an "extremely important step forward on the track which will lead Bulgaria to NATO membership." Passy noted that Hungary is among the NATO countries which are located closest to Bulgaria, besides Greece and Turkey.
The two ministers discussed their countries' future accession to the European Union and possibilities to provide Hungarian expertise to Bulgaria in order to step up the membership talks.
Martonyi expressed hope that the EU enlargement will start soon, and that all candidate countries currently involved in the negotiation process will soon become full members of the European family.
Passy and Martonyi were unanimous that there are no outstanding problems in bilateral relations. "Efforts should be focused on boosting two-way trade and on economic cooperation, particularly in tourism," Passy said.
According to Martonyi, "bilateral economic relations should be promoted to a strategic level by encouraging two-way trade and Hungarian investment here. We hope to be able to expand the scope of free trade within the framework of the Central European Free Trade Agreement and to promote tourist exchange."
Later in the day Martonyi is expected to confer with President Georgi Purvanov and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Elena Yoncheva Returns to Channel One.
Galin Plahoichev

The newly appointed chief of BNT Kiril Gotsev has offered Elena Yoncheva to go back to the Bulgarian National Television, well informed sources from BNT stressed for 'Standart' yesterday. Gotsev promised Yoncheva to provide her the necessary means to shoot films from the hotbeds of tension in the world. Immediately after he was elected chief Gotsev announced he would return to BNT some of the emblematic faces of the National Television. The last film the girl-friend of BSP leader Sergey Stanishev shot was a documentary for the UNO. The documentary features Gypsy children from the town of Lom.

Bulgarian Marine is Candidate-Buyer for Shipyard.

State run Bulgarian Marine Shipping Agency is ready to participate in the bidding for the Varna shipyard, if no other aspirants emerge, 'Standart' learnt. The shipyard's sale-off procedure started a few days ago. So far, however, no candidate-investor have placed an official order. Transport Minister Plamen Petrov had already given permission to the Bulgarian Marine to bid in the tender. The venture should ask also the permission of the Privatization Agency (PA), since it's undergoing privatization proceeding as well. Limit was already imposed on the price, which the shipping agency may offer - $15 million.

Visas With Russia to Cost $20.

Businessmen can visit both states after payment of $100
Svetoslav Abrossimov

Bulgarians will have to pay some $20 if travelling to Russia. The same price will be the visas for the Russian tourists to visit Bulgaria. So far the price was $53 and now it's lowered more than twice as much. This happened after sealing the agreement for the mutual travellings within both states. Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and Vladimir Titov - ambassador of the Russian Federation to Sofia, signed the paper. In accordance with the fresh agreement, the one-year multiplied entrance visas for the carriers will also cost some $20, while the businessmen should have to pay for the document more than $100.

Foreign Investors More Optimistic About Bulgaria, According to The Economist Group.
Sofia, March 6 (BTA) - Three quarters of the foreign investors taking part in a roundtable with the Bulgarian Government are optimistic about this country's future, Nenad Pasek, Director of The Economist Group in Vienna, said at a newsconference Wednesday, speaking on behalf of the organizers of the event.
Hewlett Packard Vice President Peter Testen announced the intention of his company to increase investment in Bulgaria and to export to the region via this country. He recommended that some provisions of the Public Procurement Act are made more precise and stimuli for high technologies investors considered.
Transport and Communications Minister Plamen Petrov said the Government is ready to provide funds for high technologies and telecommunications investment projects.
Overgaz representative Svetoslav Ivanov said some 1,700 million US dollars need to be invested in gas facilities for consumers. According to him, two Bulgarian banks are ready to extend 20 million US dollars in the form of a consumer credit to this end. Ivanov recommended that this country start producing gas appliances.
Verheugen Praised Bulgaria for a First Time.

Bulgaria is to open the negotiating chapters till end-year.
Antoinetta Markova

The European Union will not forsake Bulgaria and Rumania and no delays in the negotiations with them is expected, said European Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen in his speech before the 5th EU Enlargement Conference held in Maastrich late on Monday. "Bulgaria's preparations are developing very rapidly, quite more rapidly than at the time when the negotiations started," Verheugen said further. It is for a first time that he makes such a statement, committing the Eurocommission to step up the negotiations with Bulgaria or otherwise the country will go by the board of the enlargement process. "EU enlargement is irreversible and this fact should not be forgotten or a delay could undermine the process as a whole," Verheugen elaborated. It is a political rather than a technical problem. Any delay could give birth to political instability, nationalist of anti-European trends, Verheugen admitted for a first time. He said further that Bulgaria and Rumania should open all the negotiating chapters in 2002. Any delay in negotiations might be dangerous and provoke an anti-European opposition, drop in investments and even result in a state of exhaustion within the EU itself, Meglena Kuneva, Chief Negotiator for Bulgaria, pointed out in her speech. Kuneva stressed that Bulgaria is harmonizing itself with the EU legislation and rules and Bulgarian economy is gradually starting to work according to these rules, but at the same time Bulgaria is denied an access to the mechanisms for support and subsidies, granted to the member countries. Kuneva expressed the intention of Bulgaria to start negotiating on the arduous chapters "Farming" and "Monetary Policy" this or next month.


Kachakova - Jobless, Now What

She is good for a cover girl, but only if she doesn't touch anything, businessmen say
Team of 'Standart'

Lyubka Kachakova remained without work. She was dismissed from the government and from the board of 'Bulgartabak'. Her former employer 'PriceWaterHouse' doesn't want her. She is young and clever. She is tenacious and ambitious. But she is awfully talkative and self-willed. Each office would like to have her. But... only as a cover girl. Nothing more. It's dangerous. It's not clear if the work will go on. Because the lady has a loyalty problem. And problems with her work in team. To some people in Bulgaria this is the image of Lyubka Kachakova. To many of them she's a victim. According to some of them - she's a victim of the yuppies in the government. According to others - she's a victim of her own ambition. Not many are the brave people, who are ready to employ her immediately in their firms. Except if the word isn't about some 'useful' activity like hiding of the taxes from the state authorities. People from the town of Pazardzhik are most benevolent to the former Vice-Minister of Economy. Almost everybody is ready to employ Kachakova.
Orthodox Church to Notify Pope John Paul II of Desire to Welcome Him.
Sofia, March 6 (BTA) - By the end of March, Patriarch Maksim and the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church will send a written confirmation to Pope John Paul II that they wish to meet with him during his visit to Bulgaria in May.
Monsignor Renato Boccardo, Chief of Protocol of the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Metropolitan Dometian of Vidin made statements to this effect Wednesday, after a meeting between Monsignor Boccardo and Patriarch Maksim. The members of the Holy Synod, chaired by Maksim, are currently discussing the content of the letter.
Monsignor Boccardo arrived here Tuesday, accompanied by Vatican Radio Administration Director Alberto Gasbarri, in connection with preparations for the papal visit.
The Vatican envoys conveyed greetings from the Pontiff to Patriarch Maksim and the Holy Synod. The guests reaffirmed John Paul II desire to meet with the senior leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and recalled that the Vatican is still expecting a reply to a January letter which expressed this desire.
"The Pope will be in Bulgaria when the nation will be celebrating the Sts Cyril and Methodius Day, and he thus wishes to demonstrate his respect for the Orthodox Church," Monsignor Boccardo said. "The Patriarch assured us that he and the Holy Synod have given due consideration to this desire."
Until Saturday, March 9, the guests are planning to meet all officials involved in the preparations for the papal visit. They will go to Plovdiv and the Rila Monastery, and hope to meet with Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, according to Monsignor Boccardo.
It is necessary that several Metropolitans be assigned to "go into the general aspects of the programme for the visit," Boccardo said, as quoted by Metropolitan Dometian.

The Divine NEC Is Finished.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Alexander Bozhkov


It doesn't matter who of the two Mihailov ladies will be the leader, says Alexander Bozhkov.


- Mr Bozhkov, the 13th national conference of the UDF will be held this Saturday. Will it be fatal for the party?

- No, it's indispensable. The forum will hardly be a radical turn within the UDF. What matters is the taking of the necessary steps - small but indispensable: in the first place - the election of an influential leader to be also supported by the losing rival. Secondly - to bring to an end the question of the failure at the elections, to formulate, clearly and precisely, the reasons for this. It is extremely important to rehabilitate the UDF government. History will assess that 4-year rule as extremely successful - particularly so against the background of what had happened earlier and what is happening now.

- You declared for the press that the conference would be the first supplementary examination of the UDF as a political force. Which of the lessons the UDF party didn't learn?

- The UDF is a very young party. It has to get used to organizational life, it has to be taught to ideology, and perhaps most of all - to personnel policy.

- With whom of the two Mihailov ladies - Ekaterina or Nadezhda does the UDF stand a bigger chance to get stabilized?

- I don't think there is any substantial difference between the two of them. They are obviously the two leading persons within the UDF, and there isn't any conflict between them. To me they are a good tandem. Nadezhda is the outwards-looking person who is capable of gaining over voters. Ekaterina is the inwards-looking person who is capable of having the party well in hand. One couldn't dream of a better combination of the two together at the head of the party.

- Has Kostov any future in the UDF leadership?

- Of course he has. If he is a candidate, he will be elected for sure. He is an authority within the UDF.

- Won't the NEC grow too dependent if it is elected by the National Council?

- This is the better option. One of the faults we established, is the 'divineness' of NEC. It is elected once every two conferences. During its mandate no one can remove any NEC member.

- Which moves of the former UDF leader Ivan Kostov and of the present one - Ekaterina Mihailova, shouldn't the new chairman repeat?

- Two things. In the first place, the leader should be closer to the people, be aware of the real situation in the country. Secondly, the leader should rely on a much broader consensus and a much broader discussion when it comes to personnel selection.

- Why did Alexander Bozhjov decide to write a book?

- There were 20 interesting articles. It came to my mind we could attach the discussion held on each one of them in the electronic version of the newspaper. Something non-traditional came out of it.

- Who will attend the presentation of your book today?

- Friends. In this way I'll see how many they are when I'm no factor, when I'm no minister, but just a man who has written a book.


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
By Ulrich Buechsenschuetz
(Ulrich Buechsenschuetz is a freelance political analyst based in Berlin. He contributes regularly to "RFE/RL's Balkan Report.")
In the past, relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia have often been strained. For decades, politicians and historians in both countries engaged in acrimonious discussions over whether there is a Macedonian nation, and if so, if it is distinct from the Bulgarian nation. At the center of these discussions stood the question of the Macedonian language.
While the Macedonian government has set up an Institute for the Macedonian Language, Bulgarian scholars work to prove that Macedonian is merely a Bulgarian dialect.
When Macedonia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the Macedonian state -- but not the Macedonian nation. Relations subsequently became difficult. Many bilateral agreements made between the governments after Macedonian independence could not be signed, as the Bulgarians refused to accept Macedonian-language documents.
But since the conservative Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization -- Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) came to power in Macedonia in 1998, the situation has improved considerably.
Although many questions remained unsolved -- such as the recognition of a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria -- Macedonia's pro-Bulgarian prime minister, Ljubco Georgievski, has maintained friendly relations with the conservative Bulgarian government.
When Georgi Parvanov, the new Bulgarian president, decided to make his first official visit to Macedonia late last month, he was aware of the pitfalls in Bulgarian-Macedonian relations. But even if Parvanov -- a historian by profession -- had not been, a brief flare-up of the old differences would have reminded him. published short interviews on 5 February with two of the key players in the Macedonian-Bulgarian controversy -- Slavko Mangovski, the editor in chief of the Skopje weekly "Makedonsko sonce," and Professor Bozhidar Dimitrov, the director of the National History Museum in Sofia.
In his answers, Mangovski criticized the Bulgarian side for not recognizing the existence of the Macedonian language and thus laid the blame for the difficult relations between the two countries on Bulgaria. "Why does there have to be a Macedonian Historical Institute in Sofia, if it only works to prove that there is no Macedonian nation? It would be as if we opened a Bulgarian Historical Institute in Skopje and began to prove that the Bulgarians do not exist."
Dimitrov, who is well known for his nationalist views, made it clear right from the start what he thinks of "Makedonsko sonce." Asked whether he knew the publication, he described it as being run by "a bunch of idiots."
You just have to take a look a the cover [of the publication] to know what it is worth." Dimitrov then went on to reiterate the classical Bulgarian position, which dismisses the Macedonian nation as a project promoted by the Serbian scholar and politician Stojan Novakovic. At the end of the 19th century, Novakovic planned to divide the Bulgarian nation by creating a Macedonian one, over which Serbia would have greater influence.
Knowing all this, Parvanov obviously decided not to step into the same history trap as his predecessor in office, Petar Stoyanov. Stoyanov had prompted angry Macedonian reactions with his statement that "Macedonia is the most romantic part of Bulgarian history." In order to avoid similar problems, Parvanov said in an interview with the Skopje daily "Dnevnik" prior to his visit to Macedonia that no one can deny their own history, and it does not make any sense to do so, as one can only learn from past mistakes and successes.
"History has to be dealt with by historians, not by Bulgarian or Macedonian politicians. Our governments have to concentrate on the future and improve the positive tendencies in our relations," he added.
During his visit on 26-27 February, it seemed as if his tactic to leave history aside worked. The atmosphere during meetings between the Bulgarian and Macedonian leaderships was positive, and there was even time for jokes.
Some Macedonians, however, were critical of Parvanov's attempt to circumnavigate the reefs of history. Tito Petkovski, the former parliamentary speaker and 1999 presidential candidate of the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), argued in a polemic for the Skopje daily "Utrinski vesnik" that Parvanov failed to make a step toward reconciliation between Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Bulgarian journalists expressed disappointment that Parvanov's visit did not produce much in the way of results. Mitko Mandzhukov pointed out in the weekly "Kapital" that Parvanov's visit had two main aims: first, the president wanted to show that Bulgaria is a stabilizing factor in the southern Balkans in order to enhance Bulgaria's chances of joining NATO and the EU as soon as possible. Second, Parvanov sought to improve Bulgaria's standing in trade relations with its neighbor.
However, Mandzhukov wrote that he doubts whether the enthusiastically promoted idea of signing an agreement on good neighborly relations would help to increase Bulgaria's economic influence in Macedonia. "As a matter of fact, Greece has signed far fewer agreements with Skopje, but the share of Greek companies in the Macedonian market is enormous." He expressed doubt as to whether Macedonian will keep its promises to improve trade relations.
Mandzhukov recalled the joint project for the Sofia-Skopje railway, which has been delayed by the Macedonian side for years.
It is questionable, however, whether the long-standing history dispute can ever be resolved. For the future of the Bulgarian-Macedonian relations, it would be of great help if the historians of both countries decided to cooperate as much as their political leaders have.

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