Enter content here
SOLANA: SIGNING OF SAA-SIGNIFICANT FOR BOTH MACEDONIA AND EU.
I am in Skopje again to continue the important ceremony that took place in Luxembourg on April 9, when Macedonia signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement in the presence of all the countries of the European Union, High EU Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said Thursday after a meeting with Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski.
"This was a very important event for the EU and for your country, as from April 9, the relation between Macedonia and the EU has been formalized, " Solana said.
So, Solana said, his and visits of the EU officials to Macedonia, as well as visits of the Macedonian officials to Brussels would be normal part of the work within the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
Asked how pleased he was with the ongoing dialogue between the political parties of Macedonians and Albanians, which is being held under the initiative of President Trajkovski, Solana expressed satisfaction with a determination of all the main political parties to make a reality the content of the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
"And the Agreement, as you know, entails a creation of politically stable and democratic country, and has the ambition to be part of the EU. I think that most of the parties in the country do want and I am very pleased to see that," Solana said.
The meeting of Trajkovski, Georgievski and Solana was focused on the further cooperation between Macedonia and the European Union in order to implement the recently signed Stabilization and Association Agreement. The officilas expressed their satisfaction on the signing of the Agreement and confirmed their readiness to coordinate their obligations. Solana welcomed the Macedonian determination for European integration, which was proved with the ratification of the agreement in the Macedonian Assembly.
Trajkovski confirmed Macedonian readiness to continue its efforts for further adjustment toward the European values and standards and informed on the political dialogues held under his patronage. The Macedonian President emphasized the determination of the Macedonian parliamentary political parties to discuss openly all issues within the system.
The security situation was also discussed at the meeting.
Montenegro's crucial election battle.
The pro-independence feeling has gathered speed.
By south-east Europe analyst Gabriel Partos
The people of Montenegro are going to the polls on Sunday in parliamentary elections that could lead to the tiny Yugoslav republic becoming independent within the next few months.
A clear victory for the outgoing governing coalition - which backs independence - would clear the way for a referendum on Montenegro's future status, perhaps as early as June.
There are two main blocs pitted against each other in these elections - each of them led by a successor to the old communist party of the Tito era.
The pro-independence bloc - known as The Victory is Montenegro's - is dominated by President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists.
Mr Djukanovic turned against the then Serb President, Slobodan Milosevic, four years ago, when the Belgrade authorities faced huge public protests when they attempted to deny the opposition's electoral victories in Serbia's municipal elections.
Bulatovic: Says Montenegro not strong enough by itself.
Since then Mr Djukanovic has gradually distanced his party - and the Montenegrin state - from Serbia, its partner within the Yugoslav federation.
What Mr Djukanovic would like to achieve now is to formalise this de facto independence, and then set up a loosely-knit association with Serbia. Although a relatively recent convert to the cause of independence, he now emphasises Montenegro's separate statehood as it existed before 1918.
Besides, he argues that Montenegro with its Adriatic coastline has a sizeable tourist and maritime trade potential that it should exploit itself rather than share with Serbia.
But Serbia is not prepared to accept this kind of root-and-branch restructuring of Yugoslavia. Instead, the post-Milosevic authorities in Belgrade want to revamp the existing Yugoslav federation in a way that would, in their view, reassure Montenegro that it is not being dominated by its big brother, Serbia.
Djukanovic has already distanced Montenegro from Serbia.
Belgrade's stand is reflected within Montenegro by the Socialist People's Party - the leading force in the pro-federation bloc, known as Together for Yugoslavia.
Although the Socialist People's Party stayed allied to Mr Milosevic until the bitter end, once he fell from power last October it formed a federal government coalition with Serbia's anti-Milosevic umbrella group, whose representatives are now also in charge of the Serbian government.
Supporters of the Together for Yugoslavia grouping, under Predrag Bulatovic, stress the close historical, cultural and family links between Montenegro and Serbia. They argue that Montenegro, a republic with a population of just 650,000, would not be economically viable as an independent entity.
Opinion polls give the outgoing governing coalition a lead of 7-18% over Mr Bulatovic's Together for Yugoslavia. That, on its own, may not give Mr Djukanovic an outright majority, let alone a big victory.
However, the pro-independence cause is also supported by other parties, first and foremost the Liberal Alliance. Its pro -independence credentials are so strong that it has been reluctant to support Mr Djukanovic because he is willing to accept an association - however vague - with Serbia.
If President Djukanovic's alliance does well in the elections - and if he can do a deal with the Liberal Alliance - that would pave the way for a referendum on independence.
But while the trend towards independence has accelerated in recent months, Montenegrin politics remains volatile and personality clashes often cut across ideological boundaries.
The emergence of yet another independent state in the Balkans now looks increasingly likely - but it is by no means inevitable.
Moldovan Parliament Votes for New Government and its Program.
The Moldovan Parliament today voted confidence in the Vasily Tarlev Government and their Work Program.
The new team was supported by 75 MPs of the Communist Party and Braghis Alliance, and received unanimous 11 'contra' votes from the Christian Democratic People's Party (CDPP) deputies who remain in an irreconcilable opposition to the ruling Moldovan Communist Party (MCP).
The day before, the Parliament approved a new structure of government, having increased the number of ministries from 14 to 15 by dividing the former Ministry of Industry and Energy into two separate establishments.
Six members of the previous Cabinet will be working in the new one. These are Deputy Premier and Minister of Economy Andrei Cucu (born in 1938), Minister of Education Ilie Vancea (1949), Minister of Finance Mihai Manoli (1954), Minister of Energy Ion Lesan (1945), Minister of Labor and Social protection Valerian Revenko (1939), and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolae Cernomaz (1949).
The number of Deputy Prime Ministers has remained as before -- three. However, only Valerian Cristea (1950), a Communist parliamentarian, has become a 'full-time' Deputy Premier. His other two colleagues will be combining their posts with ministerial ones: Andrei Cucu is also the Minister of Economy (the words 'and Reform' have been eliminated from the ministry's name), and Communist MP Dmitry Todoroglo (1954) will be Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry.
Other Government members are:
- Minister of Industry -- Mihai Garstea (1939, before this appointment -- Lutroscop enterprise director);
- Minister of Transport and Telecommunications -- Victor Topa (1967, Director General of the State Civil Aviation Administration);
- Minister of the Interior -- Vasily Draganel (1962, head of the Presidential Security Service since 1997);
- Minister of Health -- Andrei Gherman (1941, Chief Physician of the dermato-venereological dispensary);
- Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territory Development -- George Duca (1952, Chairman of the Commission for Culture and the Mass Media in the previous Parliament);
- Minister of Justice -- Ion Morei (1955, deputy of the previous and current Parliaments);
- Minister of Defense -- Victor Gaichuk (1957, Deputy Minister of Defense);
- Minister of Culture -- Ion Pacuraru (1952, Deputy Chairman of the National Union ofMusic Composers).
The Government's nominal list was approved without particular surprises, with the exception of, perhaps, only one -- Victor Topa who had headed the State Civil Aviation Administration over last 3 years. His candidacy caused stormy objections by the CDPP deputies who have been long accusing Topa of committing illegal deeds.
Vasily Tarlev was born on October 9, 1963 in southern Moldova. Began his work career as a tractor driver, then truck driver. Graduated from the food technology faculty of the Chisinau Polytechnic Institute. At the Bucuria candy factory (Chisinau) since 1991, where he worked as a mechanic, then Chief Engineer, them Deputy Director General, and since 1995 -- Director General.
In 1998 Tarlev became Doctor of Technical Sciences. He has published over 20 scientific works, and received 5 patents on inventions. His technical specimens and solutions have won 6 golden, one silver and one bronze medals and several diplomas at various international exhibitions. He was a member of the Supreme Economic Council under President Petru Lucinschi. Married, has 2 children.
"The new Government will make the State a full-right participant in the market and market relations", Prime Minister Vasily Tarlev stated in parliament today.
Presenting his team's Work Program in the forum, he said that enterprises with dominating share of State property will be participating in economic processes on equal terms with other economic operators.
The Premier is not ruling out that in case of need his Government will consider introduction of State monopoly on the production and realization of some goods.
To raise the efficiency of State property utilization, the new Cabinet intends to carry out "an inventory of State-owned objects, to analyze their work efficiency, and to consider the transfer of some enterprises into other forms of management".
Tarlev said his Government plans to change the Privatization Department's functions by transferring some of its authority to ministries concerned. Privatization of enterprises is going to be carried out on the initiative of their ministries.
According to Tarlev, the State will introduce strict control over imports and exports in order to protect domestic producers, root out smuggling of goods and raw materials which de-stabilizes the market and suppresses the domestic manufacturers' competitiveness.
"We will attract entrepreneurs to fulfilling State orders, to participating in State projects and programs provided with corresponding resources", said Vasily Tarlev.
He is resolute "to modernize the governmental policy in the field of external borrowing and foreign investment". His Cabinet will enter into negotiations with international organizations on a phased repayment of external debts, bearing in mind that Moldova is supposed to repay about $90 million this year, and some $200 million in the year 2002.
The state strategy of external economic activities supposes improvement of the commodity structure of exports and imports, and certification of imported products.
To reduce the trade deficit, the Government intends to credit the manufacturing of export-oriented products. In doing so, the Government will be toughening the responsibility of local exporters for repatriation their hard-currency proceeds.
In the industrial sector, the Tarlev Government's policy will be aimed at backing manufacturers of competitive products.
Recognizing the peasants' right for private land ownership, the multiformity and full freedom of running the agriculture, the Government will be stimulating the peasants' voluntary cooperation with the purpose of developing a large-scale commodity production.
Already on the first stage of activity, the new Government is projecting to concentrate efforts on developing the strategic-importance agriculture sub-sectors -- grape growing, wine making, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, grain, vegetable oil, sugar beets, animal husbandry.
In the energy sector, the Government will seek to restore the country's united electric system, and is going to analyze the results of energy sector privatization, in particular how investors meet contract terms, as well as to study a possibility of passing electric networks over into trust management.
The Cabinet is projecting a GDP growth at the level of 5 percent, reduction of the annual inflation rate to 10 percent, and diminishing of Budget deficit to 1.5 percent GDP size.
"The Government will seek to restrict the current account deficit to 6 percent GDP size through lowering the trade deficit", said Vasily Tarlev.
In relations with international financial institutions, the Government will concentrate efforts on developing cooperation with the IMF, WB, EBRD, International Financial Corporation (IFC), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Fund for Social Development, other financial organizations, including within the CIS.
"To ease the Budget's strains, the Government will hold negotiations with foreign creditors about restructuring the repayments against previous years' debts", said the Prime Minister.
He promised the Cabinet would carry out a strict inventory of foreign credit utilization, and would inform the population on the examination findings.
New moldovan government intends to consolidate state's role in reform conductance.
Albania: Macedonians in Albania adopt declaration of support to Macedonia.
Tirana, - The Association founded by Macedonian ethnic minority in Albania, dubbed Peace, adopted a declaration for full support to Macedonia in its strife to bridge the crisis. This Association welcomes the Stabilization and Association Agreement, signed recently by the Republic of Macedonia and the European Union.
This Association, headquartered in Tirana, held a session late on Wednesday. The participants discussed the ongoing census in Albania. They shared the view that ethnic minorities in Albania should be granted the rights to express their national and religious group.
Macedonian ethnic minority in Albania has identical stance with Greek minority in this country regarding the ongoing census in Albania.
MACEDONIAN STOCK EXCHANGE TO START WITH ELECTRONIC TRADING.
Macedonian Stock Exchange Executive Director Evgenij Zografski marked the end of the floor trading, which was practiced in the past five years.
Zografski stated that one phase from the Stock Exchange development has ended and another one - the electronic trading - would begin April 25. Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski will mark the commencing of the electronic trading.
The Electronic Trading System will provide more transparency in the trading, better information and liquidity of the Macedonian Stock Exchange, Zografski stated, adding that they introduced the electronic trading due to the enlarged turnover of securities and transactions.
The electronic trading will be carried out three times per week, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Stock Exchange Index will not be introduced, as it is not appropriate at the moment.
"Memorandum on cooperation with Ljubljana Stock Exchange will be signed April 25, which is a step forward toward the regional cooperation of the stock exchanges," Zografski announced.
Zografski also spoke of the gradual development of the Macedonian Stock Exchange, following the market and structural reforms in the national economy.
Executive Director Zografski informed that with the privatization process in Macedonia more that 200,000 persons became shareholders, whose number was reduced to 15,000 as a result of the process of increasing the ownership. According to Zografski the Macedonian Stock Exchange did not serve only to small shareholders but also served to the state, as it was selling its residual shares.
"The biggest benefit from the Macedonian Stock Exchange is the provision of organized, transparent and controlled market for secondary trading of securities," Zografski said.
The Macedonian Stock Exchange should meet the financial needs of the privatized companies as a key factor for its development.
According to Zografski, the economic factors, i.e. the macro economic stability, the low inflation rate, the economic growth, the end of the privatization process as well as the political stability are important factors that contribute to the development of the Macedonian Stock Exchange. Measures should be undertaken in order to attract the companies to offer their shares on the Stock Exchange and in order to connect the stock exchanges in the region.
Bulgarian Parliament ended its 38th term with an official ceremony today.
The 38th Bulgarian Parliament was officially closed with a ceremonial session led by the Chairman of Bulgarian Parliament Yordan Sokolov today. According to him, the 38th Bulgarian Parliament would be remembered with the adoption of 631 laws, 444 resolutions and 8 declarations. In his speech before the assembly, President Petar Stoyanov said that the main merit of the 38th Parliament would be the strict observance of the spirit of Bulgarian Constitution and democracy. Premier Ivan Kostov spoke about the course of reforms in administration, pension system and health care system and about the political will component in it. He emphasized the role of the Parliament in the accomplishment of successful European integration moves of Bulgaria and in placing the country on the way to prosperity and economic growth. The leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party Georghy Parvanov in his speech called the 38th Parliament and "appendix" to the executive power and denounced its allegedly low-quality production and irregular way of working.
Petar Stoyanov talked about the future membership of Bulgaria in the NATO with foreign ambassadors.
The main theme in the conversations between President Petar Stoyanov and ambassadors of NATO member countries that took place today was the desire of Bulgaria to become a NATO member in case NATO decides to expand in 2002. Bulgarian President has said to the ambassadors that the forthcoming election campaign would differ from any previous campaign as for the consensus between all the parties concerning the basic Bulgarian priorities of membership in the European Union and in the NATO.
Georgia - Bulgaria military agreement.
Georgia and Bulgaria have signed a military co-operation agreement during a visit to Tbilisi by the chief of Bulgaria's General Staff, General Miho Mihov.
Under it, Bulgaria will provide Georgia with two aircraft capable of carrying two-hundred troops each, and will help to train Georgian officers.
At a news conference, General Mihov said the two countries had a common goal -- they would be entering NATO.
Ambassadors Want to Appoint Meetings with Simeon II.
TV journalist Tzvetelina Uzunova will be press-secretary for the King's movement
'Standart' learnt that many of the foreign ambassadors would like to meet Simeon II. Several diplomats visit the home of the King in 'Vrana' estate every day. The increased interest is provoked by the intention of His Majesty to take part in the general election. The talks with the representatives of the foreign legations to Sofia began immediately after Easter. Simeon II had meetings with ambassadors yesterday. The talks will continue today, as well. Galya Dicheva from the King's secretary's office refused to announce the embassies of what countries have asked for meetings with His Majesty. You know that it's our practice not to announce the meetings, she explained. The only information she shared is that the King is engaged in business talks all day long and works from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. That's way during the following two weeks he will not travel around the country. TV journalist Tzvetelina Uzunova will be the press-secretary of the 'National Movement Simeon II', Nikolay Marinov, chief coordinator, announced before Radio 'Free Europe'.
So Far Simeon II Hasn't Made a Wrong Move.
We are prepared to register the King's movement within 24 hours, if the court refuses to do so, says Secretary of the Constitutional Union, Nikolay Bouchkov.
- Mr. Bouchkov, what has changed in Bulgarian politics after Simeon II entered the scene?
- For the first time after November 10, 1989 there is a feasible possibility that the bipolar model will be broken. His Majesty offers an alternative to the Bulgarian people.
- Simeon II has declared that he would like to change the political system in Bulgaria. This statement brought about heated debates about how exactly to interpret his words.
- Party leaders of all sorts went hysterical immediately and employed all their demagoguery to interpret the words of His Majesty. He, however, has never mentioned monarchy. As a citizen of the Republic of Bulgaria he is the leader of a regular and legitimate party which aims to take part in the political life of the country.
- Some people claim that the King's appearance on the political arena is a threat to democracy in Bulgaria?
- There is no democracy in Bulgaria, hence nothing is threatened. It is only fear that has stirred up panic in recent days. What they fear, however, is not that the nation will be led astray from the path of democratic development. They are afraid to face the consequences of the possible victory of the King that can well make the National Movement "Simeon II" the major political force after the election. At this instance we must take heed of the King's message. And he says, "I forgive, but I don't forget!". It means that each of our present-day politicians and all people in power, who are at odds with the law, will have to take the responsibility.
- Do you think that "monarchy-or-republic" referendum is really needed now?
- Such referendum would be totally out of place now. I have always maintained that monarchy is the only guarantor of Bulgaria's national independence and sovereignty, taking into confederation the ethnic problems, both inherited and forthcoming. Look at the developments in Yugoslavia. If this country were ruled by a monarch, all this could have hardly happened. I won't be surprised if Macedonians, being an Orthodox people with Bulgarian antecedents, would invite Simeon II to their country. Just to put an end to the crisis in their young state.
- Is there any risk that the King will be forced to leave Bulgaria before the election?
- The only way to force him to do so is to deny his party registration in the court. But we, members of the Constitutional Union, have another option in reserve and we are ready to register the King's movement within 24 hours, provided the King wants it. All documents are prepared.
FRY: Kostunica says customs checkpoints do not comply with Resoluition 1244.
Belgrade, - Yugoslav President Voislav Kostunica gave a message to the Head of UNMIK Hans Haekkerup that the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 does not justifies setting up of customs checkpoints along the administrative border between Kosovo and central Serbia.
Following the statements released by UNMIK representatives saying that Yugoslav Foreign Ministry was informed about the UNMIK initiative in February, Yugoslav Foreign Ministry announced that such initiative violates both the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Yugoslav laws.
NATO Troops Smash Through Roadblocks.
By Fisnik Abrashi
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2001; 8:32 a.m. EDT
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia NATO troops smashed through three roadblocks set up by Serbs in northern Kosovo protesting tax collection checkpoints established by the United Nations, a spokesman for the peacekeepers said Thursday.
The roadblocks were destroyed "in order to re-establish freedom of movement for all people of Kosovo," said squadron leader Roy Brown, a spokesman for the peacekeepers.
The action began around 6 a.m. near the towns of Zvecan, Zupce and Loziste, French 1st Lt. Francis Megerlin said.
He said the roadblocks were hampering freedom of movement of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers and U.N. officials administering the province.
In Zupce, peacekeepers used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing crowds. In Zvecan, one Serb was detained.
NATO used several armored vehicles, two bulldozers and a truck to remove the blockades, Serb-language media in the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica reported.
After the roadblocks were torn down, Serbs set off sirens that wailed through the Serb-held part of Kosovska Mitrovica, a city divided along ethnic lines. The sirens were intended to summon residents to man the barricades.
At least two barricades remain in northern Kosovo, and Megerlin said those could be removed. "They have the right to protest peacefully, but we will remove any roadblocks which hamper our operations," he said.
Local Serb leader Marko Jaksic said more blockades would be set up despite NATO actions. "We have to persevere," Jaksic told Belgrade radio station B-92. "We won't let them separate us from our state, Serbia."
Serbs are incensed because the province's U.N. administrators set up a new tax collection checkpoint Sunday on a road entering northern Kosovo, where the province's remaining Serbs are concentrated. The checkpoints are used to collect taxes on goods being shipped into the province.
Serbs charge the new checkpoint will drive up prices in northern Kosovo, which relies heavily on shipments from Serbia proper. They also argue the checkpoints suggest that Kosovo is an independent state something they reject.
U.N. officials argue the tax revenue is needed to provide basic services and warn northern Kosovo could face shortages of food and other supplies if the roadblocks remain.
Kosovo remains a province of Yugoslavia, although most of its majority ethnic Albanian population wants independence. The province has been run by the United Nations and NATO since June 1999, after the alliance's bombing of Yugoslavia forced out Serb authorities.
Solana joins Macedonia peace calls.
The European Union's head of foreign policy, Javier Solana, is due in Macedonia on Thursday in an attempt to boost efforts to build stability there.
Mr Solana is the latest in a number of high-profile visitors to the small Balkan country in the wake of clashes between the Macedonian army and ethnic Albanian rebels.
His visit comes a day after the Macedonian Government fired the ethnic Albanian police chief of Tetovo - the centre of last month's clashes - in what is being seen as a sign of new-found confidence on its part.
The government did not give any official reason for the sacking of the police chief, Rauf Ramadani, but state radio speculated it was due to "suspected involvement in extremist activities".
Talks between the majority Slavs and ethnic Albanians have so far failed to produce any concrete results.
Mr Solana will meet the Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Lubjco Georgievski and will "call on all actors to speed up the political process and give extra impetus to setting out a consensus".
The last weeks have seen a flurry of activity from the international community aimed at firming up the fragile peace established after last month's hostilities.
A stability pact which Macedonia signed last week with the European Union has committed it to improving relations between the two communities.
And US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Macedonia to state his support for a multi-ethnic society.
Ethnic Albanian leaders have warned that a failure to meet their demands for greater rights and representation could spark a new wave of violence.
The Albanians' main demand is more recognition in the constitution.
At the moment, this describes the former Yugoslav republic as a country of the Macedonians, and lists Albanians as a minority along with Turks, Roma and other groups including ethnic Serbs and Bulgarians.
They are also calling for improved representation in administration and greater use of the Albanian language.
But the Macedonian Government fears any change to the constitution could lead to the break-up of the country.
Yugoslav Army Says Its Men Committed Kosovo War Crimes.
BELGRADE, Apr 20, 2001 -- (Reuters) The Yugoslav army acknowledged on Thursday that some of its soldiers committed war crimes in Kosovo, according to local media.
Independent B92 radio quoted army spokesman Svetozar Radisic as saying there were 24 such cases and that the army had tried the individuals concerned. Some had already been punished.
It was believed to be the first time the army, which fought separatist ethnic Albanian guerrillas in Kosovo in 1998-99, had given specific information about war crimes within its ranks.
Last December, a military court jailed three Serb soldiers for the killing of an ethnic Albanian couple in March 1999, during NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia which ended in June that year with the withdrawal of Belgrade's forces from Kosovo.
Western governments and human rights groups have accused Yugoslav forces of widespread and systematic atrocities against majority ethnic Albanians in the Yugoslav province, which is now under United Nations administration.
During NATO's 1999 air war, the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague indicted then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his closest associates for war crimes blamed on troops and police under his command in Kosovo.
Milosevic, ousted in a popular uprising last October, was arrested by Serbian police on April 1 on corruption and abuse of power charges.
Serbia's new reformist leaders have so far rebuffed the UN court's demands for him to be handed over for trial.
Radisic said the army had launched court proceedings against suspected individuals as soon as it got information about war crimes, of which he gave no details.
"There were war crimes (committed) in the Yugoslav army during the Kosovo conflict and during the aggression on (Yugoslavia)," he said, referring to the NATO air war.
"The proceedings were launched and some of the individuals have already been punished. We are talking about 24 such cases," he said. "The Yugoslav Army wants everyone who committed crimes to be held responsible for those crimes."