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PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI RECEIVES BISHVAXIT BANERJEE.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski received Tuesday Head of International Monetary Fund Mission to Macedonia Bishvaxit Banerjee.
Banerjee informed President Trajkovski on the current talks between the Macedonian institutions in charge and the IMF mission. Banerjee expressed his understanding on the real expenditures from the Macedonian budget and delivered the clear message that IMF will keep on supporting Macedonia. The future activities will be undertaken according to the agreed program, which will be adjusted in compliance with the reconstruction of the budget.
President Trajkovski stressed that Macedonian efforts are focused on complete and permanent stabilization of the political and security situation in the country, pointing out that one of the priorities is the long term monetary stability especially the IMF arrangement.
BANERJEE: ECONOMIC PROJECTION WILL DEPEND ON POLITICAL DECISIONS.
"Reconstruction of the current executive state authority is a political decision that should be reached by the Government, politicians and all Macedonian citizens. We have no position regarding that issue, because currently you are facing a political situation for which we all agree that must be resolved. The solution must come from the Macedonian citizens. We are not part of that process and we are not part of the mediations," Chief of the International Monetary Fund mission for Macedonia Bishvaxit Banerjee said after today's meeting with President Boris Trajkovski.
Banerjee said that the meeting was focused on the eventual strategy that he plans to apply in the negotiations in order to stimulate a dialogue.
"We also talked about the dialogue among the political subjects in your country, because everything that will be decided on a political level at this moment will have economic implications as well. We know that the talks are proceeding and we know that the eventual decision will be reached soon. We can only wait to see the final result from the negotiations," Banerjee stated.
INFOCOM 2001 OPENS ON SKOPJE FAIR.
The international computers, telecommunications, office equipment and professional literature fair - Infocom 2001 opens Tuesday on Skopje Fair. The novelties in the field of information technology and telecommunications will be presented on the fair, which will be open until April 22.
Vice - Minister of Economy Lambe Arnaudov opened Infocom 2001, and Skopje Fair Manager Alija Shakic addressed the guests and the exhibitors.
"There is a straddle between the knowledge of the programs developers and the technology available in Macedonia. I am convinced that the fair will lower the straddle and the new technology would reach the Macedonian scientists from this field," Vice - Minister of Economy Lambe Arnaudov stated.
Exhibitors from Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, USA, Greece, Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, Romania, Croatia and Macedonia will be presented on the fair.
The exhibition program includes exhibits from the computers industry, the telecommunications and the mobile telephony, office equipment, safety devices and systems, and professional literature.
PRIME MINISTER GEORGIEVSKI RECEIVES HEAD OF IMF MISSION BANERJEE.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski received Head of International Monetary Fund Mission to Macedonia Bishvaxit Banerjee. Banerjee stressed that IMF will continue to support Macedonia in its efforts to realize the agreed program.
Banerjee pointed out that IMF understands the newly developed situation in Macedonia that determines the economy achievements. He announced that the true expenditures of the ministries in charge would be reviewed in order to rebalance the budget.
According to the press release from the Cabinet of the Premier, during the talks, the IMF representatives agreed that due to the crisis Macedonia faced big problems that negatively affect the realization of the macro economic program, which implies changing of certain parameters as well.
In that respect, the Prime Minister stressed that the Macedonian Government would not abandon the planned reforms, but it expects the additional activities undertaken as a result of the crisis not to be included in the previously planned parameters.
They also discussed the use of the means from the Telecom privatization, where Premier Georgievski insisted on tenders for certain projects to be offered.
The meeting revealed that due to the recent developments the program should be redesigned in order to realize the macro economic policy and to obtain the second instalment of the FESAL - arrangement.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski received today Bishavxit Banerjee, Chief of the International Monetary Fund mission for Macedonia. Macedonian Minister of Finance Nikola Gruevski was also present at the meeting, which was focused on the current political situation in the country and influence of the crisis on the Macedonian budget.
"I wanted to hear about Prime Minister's visions for the future, regarding the influence of the crisis on the state budget," Banerjee said after the meeting.
Mr. Banerjee said that talks will continue during Minister Gruevski's visit to Washington by the end of this month.
As Minister Gruevski reported, at today's meeting was agreed DM 270 million from the sale of the Telecom to be spent in three phases. The first phase will start these days with announcement of tenders for projects heavy about DM 100 million.
"By the end of May and beginning of June we expect increased financing of projects in the Northwest part of Macedonia, which will reduce the shortage of investments there," Gruevski stated.
Bulgaria: Bulgaria suffers Leva 924 million loss due to organized crime.
Sofia, - Over the past 12 months, Bulgaria has suffered roughly Leva 924 million loss due to organized crime, Sofias daily Trud says.
Bulgaria has made a considerable progress in the fight against drugs trafficking. This country has the distinction of being the first in Europe to have confiscated 1.861 kg of heroin. Bulgaria has detained 938 suspects so far, among them, 121 are foreigners, Trud daily says.
This daily claims the Albanians play a leading role in drugs trafficking. It is no longer a secret that the profit of this illegal business is the main source of financing the Albanian radical force sin the Balkan. Albanians control the smuggling with cigarettes, humans and stolen automobiles from Kosovo to Western Europe, Trud daily says.
Albania: Mejdani says Macedonias federalization is impossible.
Tirana, - There is no possibility for Macedonias federalization, the Albanians rights need to be sought within state institutions, Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani said after meeting the Balkans analyst Janosh Bugajski.
Both interlocutors shared the view that neither the Greater Albania nor the Greater Kosovo is possible. The ethnic Albanians in Macedonia should exercise all rights they are entitled to, President Mejdanis Cabinet announced. The analyst Bugajski outlined that the situation in the Region is still tense.
Albania: U.S. is against confederation of Albania and Kosovo.
Tirana, - The United States condemn the statements released by Albanian Minister of Justice, leader of Party for Democratic Alliance, Arben Imami, who presented recently the platform of his political party. His party pledges for confederation of Albania and Kosovo. The US Ambassador in Tirana Joseph Limbreht remained adamantly opposed to such idea given that the union of Albania and Kosovo aims to create a Greater Albania.
The major political parties in Albania, including the ruling Socialists and the opposition Democrats, raised strong objections to such idea. They claim such idea is nothing but a political marketing ahead of parliamentary elections in Albania. The Prime Minister Ilir Metas Cabinet distanced from Imamis platform, outlining that Albania will fully comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
Holland supports Bulgaria for a membership in the NATO and in the European Union.
Bulgarian Vice-Premier and Minister of Economy Petar Zhotev and the Kingdom of Netherlands Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dick Benschop signed a memorandum for agreement concerning implementation of joint projects between the two countries, the Ministry of Economy Information and Public Relations Department reported. The Premiers of Bulgaria and Holland Ivan Kostov and Wim Kok also attended the signing ceremony. The money for the projects amounting to NLG 17.8 mn for 2001 would be allocated under the Dutch program P50 for cooperation with Eastern Europe, which is the main financial instrument used in relations between the Netherlands and Bulgaria. Priority fields for 2001 - 2003 under the program for Bulgaria would be private sector projects in agriculture, transport, industry, energy resources and environment.
Czar Simeon II presented the chief organizer of his movements election campaign.
Czar Simeon II introduced Mr. Nikolay Marinov as the chief organizer of the election campaign of the National Movement Simeon II. Nikolay Marinov announced that he does not have any political ambitions and does not want to be included in the movements election tickets. He arrived in Bulgaria from New York, where he has been living since 27 years now. He is being the President of a real estate company operating in New York. His assistants are expected to arrive in Bulgaria from Germany, France and Switzerland in few days.
Royal bid begins.
King officially enters Bulgarian political arena
By Iglika Bisserova
Bulgarias exiled king officially staged his long-awaited entry into Bulgarian politics on Sunday with the foundation of the National Movement Simeon II.
According to the partys founding document, he has the option of running for Prime Minister or nominating someone from the party to do so in his place.
He boldly promised Bulgarian voters that if they put their support behind him, their situation would improve within 800 days.
On Tuesday, the movement submitted to Sofia City Court the necessary documents for their registration as a political formation. It could take until May 10 for the party to obtain the official status needed to enter the elections.
The kingdom topic is not on our current agenda, said Saxe-Coburg, during the founding of the movement. The society has much more pressing needs. Our movement is a peoples movement, and I am a pragmatic person. Talking will not improve the situation of our fellow countrymen only specific measures will.
More than 600 people gathered at the meeting, and expressed their willingness to help found the new political formation. According to the latest express surveys by the Mediana, Gallup, and MBMD polling agencies, the Kings movement is far ahead of the ruling United Democratic Forces (UtDF) coalition and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).
The group has chosen a form of seashell as its emblem, and its symbol will be a rectangular flag with horizontal blue and yellow stripes.
The partys founding document declares that they will work towards establishing a functioning market economy, departing from guerrilla tactics in politics, and erasing corruption in Bulgaria.
Saxe-Coburgs rights as party leader are extensive. He may appoint and dismiss the organisations secretary, mayoral candidates, municipal councillors, and MPs. By his proposal, the movements trust can be removed from elected MPs. He is also the groups candidate for Prime Minister.
The National Movement Simeon II controlling council consists of three people renowned actor Kosta Tsonev, a member of the International Womens Club, Stela Bankova, and Elka Atanasova, a Bulgarian language and literature teacher from Kyustendil (west Bulgaria). The strong female presence in the partys formation stems from Saxe-Coburgs promise to involve more women in politics.
Last Friday, from his residence in Vrana, just outside of Sofia, he announced before Bulgarian and international media that he was counting on the support of women, young people, Bulgarians living abroad, and on his countrymen who are living in poverty.
It is neither moral nor politically justified, that most people in Bulgaria live in poverty, while some politicians live in unexplained affluence; that tens of thousands of our sons and daughters are leaving the country; that almost half of Bulgarian people have declared they wont vote, said the King during his speech.
The reactions from other Bulgarian politicians varied from total confusion to desires for coalitions.
Finance Minister Muravei Radev said: Simeon is repeating the basic points from the UtDF programme. Radev took the news of Saxe-Coburgs entrance into Bulgarian politics as an abdication. I am saying farewell to the king, to my dream. I am also saying: Welcome to Simeon Borisov, Radev said.
Ahmed Dogan, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, was not optimistic about the future Bulgarian government. Simeon Saxe-Coburgs declaration is directly related to a change in the bipolar model. My prognosis is for a parity of the UtDF, the New Left and the kings formation and for an impossibility to form a government.
Kosovo Serbs block roads in protest against UN customs.
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia, April 17 (AFP) -
Serbs blocked roads in northern Kosovo Tuesday in protest at a decision by the UN administration to introduce customs duties on goods from the rest of Serbia.
Serbs see the move as a step towards secession from Belgrade.
A local Serb radio reported that protestors erected roadblocks in the mainly ethnic Albanian-populated villages of Leposavic and Zvecan in the north of the UN-run Serbian province.
Major Nicolas Engelbach, spokesman for Kosovo's NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR), told AFP that roadblocks had also been set up in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica, preventing the movement of KFOR and UN vehicles through the large town.
Only vehicles belonging to locals from the town -- split between a Serb-dominated north and an ethnic Albanian south -- were allowed to pass, an AFP reporter at the scene saw.
Protestors in the industrial town blocked crossroads with cars and garbage bins, extending their blockade to prevent access to the UN adminstration's police station.
A street protest was due to be held in northern Mitrovica at noon (1000 GMT), local officials said.
On Monday, leaders of the Serb minority prostested against UN-backed customs posts being set up to collect import duties on the border between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia.
They said in a statement that the new arrangement would "lead directly to the progressive creation of an independent state of Kosovo," a goal established by leaders of province's ethnic Albanian majority.
The Serbian minority has been under pressure since a NATO bombing campaign two years ago forced Yugoslav security forces to withdraw from Kosovo.
Kosovo Serb leaders have formed a crisis committee and appealed to their community to join in the protest action, which they say will last until the UN civilian administration revokes its decision, Serb leader Marko Jaksic said.
Serbs say neither their local Kosovo community nor Serbian authorities in Belgrade had been informed of the UN customs ruling.
The UN administration, tasked with re-establishing Kosovo's autonomy scrapped more than a decade ago by former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, has been trying to rebuild the province's ruined economy, in part by levying duties on its borders.
Internal customs posts exist within the Yugoslav federation, of which Kosovo is still officially a part, with duties paid on goods travelling between the partner republics of Montenegro and Serbia.
But it is the first time such tariffs have been imposed on the Kosovo-Serbia boundary.
Albania blamed for human trafficking.
Gangs use Albania to lure women into prostitution.
By Claire Doole in Geneva
Albania has failed to stem the tide of trafficked women entering the country and criminalises the victims, according to a report.
The report by the International Organisation for Migration is highly critical of the Albanian authorities' response to what it calls an horrific trade.
The findings were based on the testimony of a 125 women repatriated by the IOM.
Albania is a key route in the smuggling of women from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine into Italy and Greece.
But appeals to the Albanian Government to start prosecuting the traffickers have repeatedly been ignored.
Over the past nine months, more trafficked women have been arrested and prosecuted than the criminal gangs who recruit them with false promises of work as waitresses and au-pairs.
Many refugees come from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.
Furthermore, many of the traffickers work in collusion with the underpaid police force, who turn a blind eye to the highly lucrative trade.
The women are reported to be bought and sold several times, with an initial price of about $70 doubling by the time they reach Italy. Most of them have been intimidated, and around a third have been raped and beaten. About one in five had been kidnapped.
A separate report by Save the Children says teenage girls in some rural areas of Albania are so scared of being trafficked that they no longer attend school. It concludes that thousands of Albanian children have been cheated, abducted and forced to work as prostitutes.
Italy's sexual slave trade - REPORT 2000.
Many prostitutes in Italy come from Albania.
Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
In the first of two special reports, the BBC's Brian Barron investigates Italy's clandestine trade in sexual slaves and the Albanian criminals behind the business.
It is estimated that there could be more than 40,000 foreign prostitutes on the streets of Italy - and the numbers are increasing.
The streetwalkers venture out every night after 10, on the edge of big cities like Rome.
In the Eor district, they are Albanian or from other former communist countries.
Most are controlled by Albanian mafia gangsters. A handful have travelled to Italy through their own efforts.
One streetwalker whose identity must be kept secret recalls her particular journey.
"I came by boat," she says.
"I was smuggled in. I had tried four times. It was a horrible trip."
"It was winter, cold and raining. It was a terrible risk. I saw dead people with my own eyes."
"Each trip was awful but that was my choice. If I returned to Albania I was dead."
"Dead or alive - this was my only choice."
Tarantelli: Women are held in slavery.
The former Italian MP, Carol Bebbe Tarantelli, says that the women are slaves.
"They are brought here," she says.
"Their passports are destroyed often, usually as a matter of fact they are tortured to break their wills."
"They're moved around from place to place so they don't know where they are. They don't speak the language."
"They're terrified and they can't escape. They're held in slavery."
For many of the girls, the journey began in their Albanian homeland.
In Durres, most people are out of work, surviving on remittances from relatives abroad, like the girls on the streets of Italy.
In its poverty and human desperation it is typical of countless Albanian communities.
Once Albania was an all-powerful communist police state. It is now a country beyond the rule of law.
The police chief of Durres, Colonel Albert Pilo, is having a difficult time stamping out the smuggling of young girls.
Durres: Lawlessness and poverty prevail.
"We have had some success against traffickers in prostitutes," he says.
"We've arrested at least three. But a big problem is what to do with the girls caught up in the system, especially if they come from outside Albania."
"The fact is we do not have any organisation for helping them."
"At times we've had to keep the girls in prison because there's nowhere for them to go."
Dramatic pictures, taken two years ago, show one of the speedboats of the Albanian mafia being intercepted by Italian security forces.
An Albanian mafia speedboat with its human cargo heads for Italy.
It was trying to land a batch of illegal immigrants on Italy's Adriatic coast.
Boxes of drugs were thrown overboard as the gangsters, travelling at 60 miles an hour, evaded the helicopters and ships trying to encircle them.
On the coast at Lecce, the Italian Justice Ministry, working with a Catholic charity, has launched another kind of assault on the Albanian mafia.
In one camp for illegal immigrants, Father Cesari helps run a witness protection programme for former prostitutes from Albania and Eastern Europe.
Hope for some of the women in the witness protection programme.
"The choice of denouncing their pimps is an act of responsibility," he says.
"It's not an easy decision to make. So these girls must have the courage to do it.
"To cut all ties with the past. By pointing the finger at those who abuse them there is the chance that some of the guilty will be brought to justice."
Eighty girls have collaborated. They have been rewarded with the right to remain in Italy and, when necessary, new identities.
However, 500 declined because they were afraid of the godfathers.
Albanian mafia steps up people smuggling - REPORT 2000.
Children are pawns in Albanian mafia smuggling operations.
Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
In his second special report from the southern Adriatic, the BBC's Brian Barron investigates how Albanian gangsters are profiting from human trafficking.
One of Italy's top anti-Mafia magistrates says Albanian gangsters are taking control of organised crime on both sides of the Adriatic.
The most lucrative commodities are illegal immigrants.
In fact, trafficking in people is the world's fastest growing criminal business. In the past year, nearly 200 died trying to reach Italy.
Last week, two Italian policemen were killed as well as two Albanian smugglers, in a chase and collision in the Adriatic.
It is in this region - amid reports of more clandestine landings - that the police scour the beaches.
Large scale trafficking.
However, the coast is so vast that only a small percentage of illegal immigrants are caught.
Reliable figures on the scale of people smuggling are hard to come by.
There are believed to be between 20 and 40 million illegal immigrants in the world.
Italian warships aren't able to stop people being smuggled from Albania.
Several million are believed to be in Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Germany.
Italian warships are highly visible in Albanian ports in a vain attempt to deter clandestine operations.
However, Italian commanders told me they have no powers to intervene, let alone use force.
One of Italy's top prosecutors, Cataldo Motta, who has identified Albania's most dangerous mobsters, says they are a threat to Western society.
"Albanian organised crime has become a point of reference for all criminal activity today," he says.
"Everything passes via the Albanians. The road for drugs and arms and people, meaning illegal immigrants destined for Europe, is in Albanian hands."
Cataldo Motta (centre) is always accompanied by armed guards.
When the prosecutor leaves his office, three police bodyguards are at his side because of the risk of assassination by Albanian gangsters.
The latest pawns of the people smugglers are children.
The Italian authorities will not order the enforced repatriation of anyone under 18 and the gangsters are aware of this.
At a transit camp for illegals from all over the world, 35 young Albanian teenagers are being prepared for life in Italy.
They were consigned to smugglers' boats by their families.
Roberto Matrandold, a psychiatrist, says that the children suffer from stress.
"The stress comes from the voyage itself which is more and more dangerous," he says.
Smuggled children, once in Italy, aren't usually returned to Albania.
"And the kids are also under pressure from their parents, back in Albania, who've sent them over to Italy with orders to somehow find work or make money to send home."
In Rome, at a Vatican-sponsored convention, delegates heard warnings about far greater numbers of illegal immigrants in the years ahead.
Laura Balbo, an adviser to the prime minister, says that Italy wants co-ordinated European action.
"I think it is the biggest problem we face in Italy and in Europe because there's so much money being made which was not the case before," she says.
"It has become the main source of money for organised crime."
Italy's attitude towards illegal immigrants is hardening.
"So it is hard to imagine how we can fight this kind of international organisation."
Public attitudes towards illegal immigrants are hardening.
They are blamed for rising crime. In fact, Italy is chronically short of workers because of its falling birth-rate and growing economy.
Paradoxically, as operations intensify against people smugglers, the door is about to be opened for many more legal immigrants.