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FM KERIM: MACEDONIAN - EU RELATIONS DEPEND MOSTLY ON US.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim informed that the Macedonian Parliament will ratify Thursday the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the European Union signed Monday in Luxembourg.
Minister Kerim reminded that the Macedonian Government on the Tuesday session determined the draft-Law on ratification of the Agreement, which will be adopted through the urgent procedure.
According to Kerim, the procedure aims to implement the Stabilization and Association Agreement as soon as possible. He stated that the European Parliament announced to ratify the agreement May 2 and it is also expected the Austrian, the German and the Swedish parliaments to ratify the Agreement very soon.
Kerim assessed that the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement changed the relations between Macedonia and the European Union. "Until recently the development of the relations depended on the Union, but now it depends mostly on us," Kerim stated.
According to the Macedonian Foreign Minister the Thursday visit of the American Secretary of State Colin Powell, only a month after the American administration was established, proves that Washington recognizes the constructive role of Macedonia in the region.
During his visit to Skopje, Powell will meet Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski and the Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim. According to Kerim, the meetings will focus on the Macedonian - American relations, the security and economic bilateral cooperation, as well as on the NATO's enlargement. Macedonia will request the American support for its integration in NATO, and it will request from Powell to inform the Macedonian representatives on the meeting of the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia, which is held Wednesday in Paris.
Powell will hold a joint meeting with the leaders of the political parties in the Macedonian parliament, but will also have separate meetings with leader of the Social Democratic Alliance Branko Crvenkovski and leader of the Democratic Party of the Albanians in Macedonia Arben Xhaferi.
Powell will attend Thursday afternoon the ministerial meeting of the foreign ministers of Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary and Croatia. Kerim informed that the ministerial meeting, which is initiated by the American State Secretary, would focus on the situation in the region in order to surmount the regional problems or to destroy the virus of terrorism and criminal directed against the Euro-Atlantic values. Several bilateral meetings are announced after the meeting.
Kerim also announced that the Hungarian Foreign Minister JŠnos Martonyi would start Thursday his two-day official visit to Macedonia.
Regarding the Wednesday meeting with OSCE Commissioner of Human Rights Max van der Stoel focused on the South Eastern Europe University in Tetovo and the financial means for its construction. Kerim informed that within the SEE University Scientific-research Center would be established.
MACEDONIA ENTERS INFORMATION SOCIETY.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) presented Wednesday its services, which refer to the enhancement of the economic relations between Macedonia and the US and to the Macedonian entry in the true global net of contacts and business opportunities. The AmCham is a non-governmental, business association of Macedonian and American companies focused on the information technology and on the investments.
According to Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski, the recent sale of the Macedonian Telecom is the biggest event in this field and its privatization is an example of the privatization process in our country, which should be followed in order to attract more foreign investments.
" We received great amount of money from the Telecom sale, which if used properly, will be useful for the Macedonian economy and will lead toward increase of the investments and lowering of the internal and external debts. It would also enable the liberalization of the telecommunication market and new services to be introduced," Gruevski stated. He added that the Government intended to lower its participation of 47% in the Telecom and to offer 10% of its shares on the Macedonian Stock exchange.
"With the sale of the Telecom shares, the Government will continue its activities in the investments area. The Telecom should support the Government in its intention and should support the Finance Ministry's campaign to offer the companies' shares on the Macedonian Stock Exchange," Finance Minister said.
"We had real advance in the field of information technology and telecommunications this year, what is very important as the entire digital economy will be based on it. The sale of the shares will be also available through internet, which would lower the expenditures and increase the speed, although great deal of time is necessary the digital agenda to be raised on state level," Gruevski stressed.
The Law on electronic commerce, as a separate law will be adopted very soon. In that respect the Macedonian Stock Exchange should begin the electronic commerce and should connect with the Slovenian Stock Exchange, as its way of trading is most similar with the trading of our Stock Exchange. That will also enable electronic connection with the other stock exchanges in the region. The central part in this filed will be the Telecom, which will speed up the Macedonian integration in Europe.
Executive director of the "Macedonian Telecommunications", Daniel Doncev referred to the company transformation from national to world telecommunication operator. In that respect, the Telecom would continue its vision to support and to be a part of the information society, which was also supported by the MATAV consortium - the dominant owner of the company. In order to accomplish the goal there are three preconditions regarding the infrastructure, the legislative and the business practice as well as the education and the raising of the public awareness. Doncev pointed out that it was planned for the entire net to become digital by 2001 and to offer new Internet services.
Former Kosovo Rebel Chief Slams "Anti-Albanian Alliance"
Agence France Presse
SOFIA, Apr 11, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Former Albanian rebel leader Hashim Thaci accused Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia Wednesday of trying to create an anti-Albanian alliance in the Balkans, on the back of the latest violence in the region.
He also denied that the ethnic Albanian rebellion in Macedonia was sparked by Kosovo Albanians.
"I am very worried because certain Balkan countries have started to create a sort of alliance against Albanians in Balkans," the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) said in an interview with the Bulgarian daily Monitor.
"I am talking about an alliance between Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia," he said, referring to the three Orthodox countries. "The region cannot develop by using this old mentality," he added.
Bulgaria and Greece both supported the Macedonian government politically and materially in fighting ethnic Albanian rebels in the latest upsurge of violence, which has raised fears of a new wider conflict in the region.
Thaci, the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), meanwhile also denied that Kosovo Albanians were responsible for the ethnic Albanian rebellion in Macedonia.
"The conflict in Macedonia has been generated by Macedonia. It does not come from Kosovo," he said.
He added that the problems of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, who make up over a quarter of the country's population, "must be resolved by political and peaceful means."
And he insisted that the Macedonian government must accept fundamental changes and improvements in Albanian rights compared to the country's Slavic majority.
"Skopje will change its constitution," because "Macedonia cannot remain a country of a sole ethnic group," he said.
Kosovo itself, Thaci said, "must separate from Serbia once and for all, by peaceful means .. In the future borders in the Balkans will not be so important," he said. ((c) 2001 Agence France Presse)
The main threat for security of Bulgaria is Kosovo, Premier Ivan Kostov said.
"Ethnical and religious problems in Western Balkans have always been the main threat for security of Bulgaria in 2000", Premier Ivan Kostov said at the presentation of the 2000 Annual Report for the Bulgarian National Security. In an interview for News.bg Agency, the Premier said that non-solving the problems in Kosovo has continued to destabilize Southern Serbia and Macedonia, even after Milosevic was not any more in power. He commented the desire of Montenegro to leave Yugoslavia as another potential threat for the security in the region, and said that this would provoke a chain reaction in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. He expressed his hopes that besides Bulgaria Serbia would also start to play a stabilizing role in the region, and said that Bulgarian government would help new Serbian authorities in any possible way to start forming another stabilizing center on the Balkans. The report for the first time mentioned that certain foreign lobbies have threatened Bulgarian national security by exerting pressure on the government to close the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant and making Bulgaria dependent on outside energy resources.
Deaths, Emigration Shrink Bulgaria's Population.
SOFIA, Apr 11, 2001 -- (Reuters) Bulgaria's population has shrunk by around 500,000 since 1992, the biggest fall in a century because of a high mortality rate and emigration, the Census Committee said on Tuesday.
Two-thirds of the fall was because of the higher number of deaths, while one-third was from emigration, committee chairman Ivan Balev told a news conference.
The census carried out in March showed population stood at 7.978 million against 8.488 million counted in the previous census in late 1992.
Hardship caused by the transition to a market economy since the last census has forced many young Bulgarians to seek better life abroad.
The previous biggest fall was recorded between 1985 and 1992 when population numbers fell by 410,000 as Bulgarian ethnic Turks fled to neighboring Turkey to avoid forced assimilation under the Communist rule.
The birth rate fell to nine children per 1,000 people last year from 14.5 in 1980. The mortality rate had risen to 14 people per 1,000 last year from 12.9 in 1993.
Bulgarians, Turks and Gypsies Chanting 'Simeon' in Rousse.
Photo by Reuters
Residents of the Danubian town gave the King a century old prayer-book and banknotes of 1943
Bulgarians, Turks and Gypsies were chanting 'Simeon' in Rousse yesterday. People of all nationalities rejoiced together, weeping and singing together on the arrival of the King in the Danubian town. There hadn't been such a thing - all of us together, gathered in one and the same place, commented some of the residents. The inhabitants of Rousse followed closely Simeon II during his tour of the city, while those who did not manage to join in the march waved from all windows along the route. Simeon II and his wife, Queen Margarita arrived at noon. The square in front of the town-hall was filled by hundreds of impatient citizens from early morning, while the vicinity resounded with Bulgarian pop songs coming from the powerful loudspeakers provided by the municipality. The multitude of people asked every few minutes about any news from the town of Byala, the first stop of the King. There Simeon II stopped at the bridge of Kolyo Ficheto to shake hands with the crowding people. The welcoming group presented the King with a prayer-book kept for more than a century. The leader of the group of monarchists Dr Petko Nikov handed over to him the Holy Bible with the words: 'The people must be with God, the King and the fatherland!' "Yes, at this moment we need faith," the King answered. "Hope is my message to the Rousse residents," were the first words of Simeon II. He and his wife walked to the town-hall. However, the close order in front of the town-hall was totally disrupted when the royal couple came into view. The people rushed to shake hands with them and hand all sorts of gifts. An elderly woman managed to reach the King and give him as a present 500 and 1,000 lev banknotes of 1943. One of them bears the image of the King as a little boy, while the other one - the portrait of his father - the late King Boris III.
Bourgas Mayor To Enter the Royal Ticket.
Bourgas Mayor Yoan Kostadinov will join the ticket of National Movement 'Simeon II' for the parliamentary elections, people close to him said yesterday. The information was also confirmed by the people of Trenchev in the Black sea city. In their view, the decision for mayor Kostadinov to head the royal ticket in Bourgas was reportedly taken last Tuesday during the meeting of Simeon II with the leaders of the Democratic Alliance. Movement 'Simeon II' still has no local structure of its own but there has been talk in the city that the mayor is Simeon's most trustworthy man and will play a key role in the forthcoming elections.
Kostov: I Won't Comment Simeon.
"I can't comment a statement which is obscure and is not concrete." This is how Ivan Kostov answered a journalistic question put to him at the Council of Ministers whether he regarded the appeal of Simeon II for an immediate change of the political system as dangerous for our national security. In his opinion the country's political system was changed on December 14, 1989. "Then we froze with cold until the removal of Article 1 of the Constitution which legalized the ruling role of the BCP," the PM specified. "If he means a replacement of the republic by a monarchy, he should speak it out, only then can I comment," the premier said.