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PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI MEETS PARTIES' LEADERS.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and the leaders of the parliamentary political parties agreed Monday to suggest to the institutions in charge to review the option the census in Macedonia to be organized by the end of October instead in May 15-30, due to the recent developments in the country.
According to President Trajkovski this decision aims the data from the census to present the actual situation in the country and to create conditions for obtaining quality data. "We have considered the UN criteria, standards and recommendations in administering the census," Trajkovski added.
The Macedonian President informed that the political leaders agreed that the institutions in charge should undertake measures in order to return the refugees and the displaced persons to their homes. The Macedonian Interior Ministry in cooperation with the international organizations will undertake appropriate measures to realize this goal.
It was concluded that funds, comprised of domestic and international sources, should be established in order to reconstruct the destroyed homes. The representatives of all parts, apart from the Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP), fully supported the construction activities of the South Eastern Europe University in Tetovo.
The PDP's representative was also restrained regarding the issue about the third channel of the Macedonian Television, which should broadcast program for the minorities in Macedonia.
According to President Trajkovski, the attendants at the meeting agreed that the Macedonian Parliament should undertake activities for ratification of the Convention on using the regional and minorities' languages.
The Macedonian President informed that these suggestions would be submitted to the Macedonian Government.
PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI RECEIVES GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER SCHARPING.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski had a meeting Monday with German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, who reiterated his country's support to Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Mr. Scharping gave credit to Macedonia for its contribution to stability of the region, and welcomed the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonian and the European Union.
Germany would keep on supporting Macedonia's future cooperation with the EU and NATO, Scharping said.
President Trajkovski briefed his guest about the ongoing political dialogue on all opened issues in the country.
Pointing out the necessity for economic support of the entire region, the officials agreed that the international community should make efforts to accelerate the Stability Pact implementation.
"We had intensive and fruitful dialogue," Scharping stated for MIA after the meeting.
"Germany has already granted military equipment to the Macedonian Army. This year program includes assistance in education and training. We shall continue with the cooperation, which is part of the Stability Pact, as well as part of the relations between the Macedonian and German Governments," Scharping said, referring to German readiness to grant military aid to the Macedonian Army.
According to Scharping, the situation in Macedonia has been stabilizing, but there are many things that the country should do in cooperation with the European Union and NATO.
PRIME MINISTER GEORGIEVSKI: DEFENSE MINISTRY TRANSFERS DM 11 MILLION.
Macedonian Prime Minister and leader of VMRO - DPMNE Ljubcho Georgievski stated that the Macedonian Defense Ministry did not transfer DM 3 million but DM 11 million on the bank accounts of the companies close to Defense Minister Ljuben Paunoski.
"In the past three, four months, on the bank accounts of the companies, whose employees are closely related to Defense Minister Ljuben Paunoski, around DM 11 millions were transferred without tenders and procedure. The most important thing is that the money is not spent, but the situation must be cleared," Premier Georgievski stated.
Three-member partys commission was established in order to discuss the matter once again with Minister Paunoski and with the persons, who allegedly, according to Paunoski, set the affair. According to the Prime Minister, Minister Paunoski repeated that "the case was set up by someone from the party." Georgievski said that due to this statement of Paunoski, the commission was established and announced that the case "will be proceeded through the institutions in the system."
Premier Georgievski said that if these allegations were confirmed, then he would have to ask Minister Paunoski to resign.
"Since the beginning of the crisis it was stated that the Defense and the Finance ministries should not spend money. But it was obvious that there were serious supplies and that surprising transactions were committed," Georgievski said.
Regarding the discovery of the DM 11 million, Georgievski stated that "most of these unconfirmed facts were submitted by a person that was recently replaced from the Defense Ministry."
The Prime Minister said once again that VMRO - DPMNE wants the talks for establishing wider coalition of the Government to succeed, "as long as they do not endanger the partys interest."
"It is paradoxical an opposition party that wants to enter the Government to request the Interior Ministry. We are ready to discuss the other issues and there is no reason the talks to fail because of one ministry," Prime Minister Georgievski stressed after the meeting of the Executive Committee of VMRO - DPMNE.
DEFENSE MINISTER PAUNOSKI: VMRO - DPMNE SESSION WAS INSTRUCTED.
Macedonian Interior Minister and VMRO - DPMNEs Vice President Dosta Dimovska stated that Defense Minister Ljuben Paunoski did not submit reports on terrorist activities at the Governments session in August and September 2000.
"At the Governments session in that period the broadening of the border territory was discussed. The Macedonian Army Staff suggested broadening of the border territory, but the Government did not know about the activities of the terrorist groups," Dimovska stated.
Dimovska stressed that there were no disagreements between her and Minister Paunoski during the crisis in Macedonia. "There were differences how to act in certain moment, but all our activities were jointly," Macedonian Interior Minister Dosta Dimovska stated.
MINISTER DIMOVSKA: PAUNOSKI DID NOT SUBMIT REPORTS ON TERRORIST ACTIVITIES.
Macedonian Defense Minister Ljuben Paunoski left Sunday session of the Executive Committee of VMRO - DPMNE due to the fact that "the session was instructed, but not because of those that were instructed but because of those that were ashamed."
"I do not want to obstruct the situation. They are aware that on this manner people were lynched in the past 10 years," Paunoski said.
According to this statement Paunoski did not resign.
Ivan Kostov will meet George Bush.
The meeting of visiting Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov and Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova with American President George Bush will start at PM 5 Bulgarian time in the Washington White House today. American Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will also take part in the meeting from the American part.
According to Gergyovden Movement, the court gave a well-deserved answer to Czar Simeon II.
According to a fax message that Gergyovden Movement has sent to News.bg Agency concerning the Sofia Municipal Court decision to deny registration of National Movement Simeon II, this denial of an "instant registration" is a well-deserved answer to the arrogance of Czar Simeon II and his team manifested towards the independent juridical power in their desire to get privileged registration. The message also expressed hopes that the movement would be registered under some form or another and would take part in the elections.
Czar Simeon II will announce his intentions later today in the afternoon.
Czar Simeon II will meet his lawyer Teodor Bozhinov and his juridical counselors at PM 4 today. They will inform him about the motives of the Sofia Municipal Court to deny registration of the National Movement Simeon II, the press-attache of Czar Simeon II Galya Dicheva reported for the News.bg Agency. She explained that after acquainting himself with the motives, Czar Simeon II would eventually announce a declaration concerning his plans about future.
Sofia Municipal Court did not register the National Movement Simeon II.
Sofia Municipal Court did not register the National Movement Simeon II because of invalid documents today. The lawyer of the movement Teodor Bozhinov said the documents were perfect and disagreed with the courts decision. According to supporters of National Movement Simeon II, the issue of the registration of the movement would be solved by the end of the day.
Montengrin president claims separatist victory, but only just.
PODGORICA, Yugoslavia, April 23 (AFP) -
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic claimed election victory for his pro-independence coalition Monday, but a surprise showing for Yugoslav loyalists put a dent in his plans for an immediate referendum on quitting the Yugoslav federation.
Results released by the republic electoral commission after a count of 98.8 percent of the votes counted showed Djukanovic's "Victory for Montenegro" coalition had only won a lead of less than two percent.
With fewer than 5,000 votes putting it ahead of the federalist camp, the unexpected outcome was widely seen as blow to Djukanovic's ambitions for pushing through a referendum on independence in June or July.
The electoral commission said the separatist bloc of Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democrat Party (SDP) had won 42.05 percent of the vote.
Their rivals, led by the Socialist People's Party (SNP) which used to back former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, won 40.67 percent, the commission said.
"These elections showed that Yugoslavia is going to survive," said Yugoslav parliamentary speaker Dragoljub Micunovic, quoted by the national daily Politika.
Analysts said Djukanovic, who wants an independent Montenegro to maintain close ties with Serbia, would have to seek an alliance with the far more anti-Belgrade Liberal Alliance to gain the backing necessary to stage a referendum.
"There will probably be new post-election arrangements in order to enable the DPS to rule," said Belgrade-based analyst Vladimir Goati.
"They need the Liberals and probably two Albanian parties in their coalition, but the question is what would be the price of such an alliance," he said.
Belgrade has said it will respect the will of Montenegrin voters and not interfere in the results, but has stressed it hopes Podgorica will not opt out of the federation.
Since 1992 Yugoslavia has been made up of Serbia, with a population of 10 million, and Montenegro with just 650,000 people.
And the international community urged Djukanovic not to quit the federation unilaterally, which could destabilise the already fragile Balkans region.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said: "Belgrade and Podgorica are now called upon to begin serious discussions without delay about the common future."
Fischer said the aim of such talks should be to "put their relations on a democratic basis, in accordance with existing constitutional rules and with a view to restoring stability to the region".
"Unilateral steps would run contrary to this aim," he warned in a statement.
Greece stressed that "unilateral logic" could destabilise the region, still suffering from smouldering nationalist sentiments, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said.
Beglitis said the two republics should seek a solution "in the framework of a united Yugoslavia", discussing the issue "democratically, without using blackmail or arguing on the basis of a fait accomplis".
"Our position is that of the European Union. We demand that the fundamental principlies of international law be respected, respecting borders and rejecting faits accomplis," Beglitis said.
The sensitive nature of the vote -- which became a de facto referendum on independence -- drew a massive turnout of 81 percent, which monitors described as a record for the tiny Balkans republic.
In Belgrade, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac called the result a "big surprise."
"Montenegro is completely divided and following such results, there is no basis to hold a referendum," he said.
The results also showed that pro-Yugoslav front of former Montenegrin president Momir Bulatovic, who split from the SNP earlier this year, won almost three percent of the vote, which would have given the "For Yugoslavia" bloc the edge in the polls.
But in an interview published Monday in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Djukanovic said Yugoslavia was finished.
"One must finally see the truth and that is all we ask from the international community: that Yugoslavia no longer exists, that it is an artificial entity," Djukanovic was quoted as saying.
NATO Troops Stage Second Raid On Croat Bank.
European Stars and Stripes
MOSTAR, Bosnia In one of the largest military operations since NATO first rolled into Bosnia more than five years ago, some 400 Stabilization Force troops, 80 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, 20 helicopters and two close-air-support jets sealed off much of West Mostar during a raid early Wednesday morning.
In what many local residents called excessive, soldiers smashed through the back windows of the Hercegovacka Bank headquarters at about 2 a.m., painted windows black to hide their silhouettes and ransacked every room of the three-story building before pulling out shortly before sunrise.
International community leaders accused the Hercegovacka Bank of hosting a money laundering operation for the Croat mafia with alleged links to a new Croat separatist movement in Bosnia.
Croat leaders, however, called the bank raids nothing more than a fishing expedition designed to find wrongdoing and an attempt by international leaders to discredit their hopes to set up a new Croat state within Bosnias borders.
Wolfgang Petritsch, the international communitys High Representative in Bosnia, which oversees the peace accords established more than five years ago, and the man who ordered the raids, has offered little evidence to support his claims of corruption at the bank. In fact, some western diplomats in Bosnia said privately that it would be hard to justify a search warrant of the bank before any U.S. judge, with whatever evidence there may be.
However, the bank doesnt fall under a U.S. judges jurisdiction and reams of paper, computers and other records confiscated from the bank are being examined.
In what had all the signs of a hasty retreat, however, some 18 boxes full of paperwork and documents each box marked in English by international officials and at least two computers were left behind in the banks stairwell.
In the banks basement, one massive safe was blasted open, leaving thousands of dollars worth of scorched money scattered on the floor.
The other vault stood firm against the discarded circular saw metal-cutting blades littered on the floor nearby, amid smashed furniture and broken glass.
More files, in dozens of loose-leaf folders, were left inside the safe room as well.
Upstairs, it was a similar mess. A smashed picture of the pope and a Croat leader was left on the floor. Not far away a can of black paint was overturned leaving a wide sticky pool.
This was not the first mess near the bank.
The bank headquarters was the scene of bloody clashes between SFOR troops and angry mobs two weeks ago when investigators were forced to flee empty handed.
"We tried to do this as smoothly and gently as we could the first time," said Maj. Gen. Robert Meille, the French commander who led both raids. "Thats the reason for this limited action this time."
British, French, Italian and German troops were involved in the raid, he said.
At least 30 British tanks and armored personnel carriers returned to their normal sector in northwest Bosnia Wednesday afternoon. The only U.S. peacekeepers participating in the raid was a team of Combat Camera military photographers.
In a prepared statement, a spokesman for SFORs commander Lt. Gen. Michael Dodson said the raid was designed to "collect evidentiary material helping to complete a continuing International Community investigation of fraud and money laundering suspected of being conducted by the Hercegovacka Bank.
"It was necessary to take action to protect citizens who entrusted the bank with their hard earned money," continued the statement.
Few citizens arriving outside the bank after soldiers removed their security cordon and cleared out of Mostar seemed thankful for SFORs protection.
Locals said shutting down the bank and its branches scattered throughout Bosnia has all but crippled the Croat economy. Nearly all municipal and local government accounts are kept at the bank, including pay for teachers, police and medical personnel.
"This is 21st century democracy?" wept one woman. "How can they do this? We are not criminals. We are not mafia."
U.N. security arrests car bomb suspect.
Monday, 23 April 2001 23:00 (ET)
By LULZIM COTA
TIRANA, Albania, April 23 (UPI) -- U.N. security forces in Kosovo have apprehended a suspect in connection with last week's car bombing that killed a Serb official and injured three others, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.
U.N. spokesman Charlie Johnson told reporters the suspect is a German mercenary who fingerprints were discovered near the scene of the bombing.
According to Johnson, the unidentified suspect with a Russian name and German citizenship is just one member of what is believed to be a foreign terrorist network operating in the provincial capital of Pristina.
It is the first time the U.N. security forces have apprehended a bombing suspect in Pristina over the last two years.
Following Monday's arrest, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson issued a statement saying "every bullet fired by Albanian extremists (an their supporters) is a bullet in the hear of every Albanian."
Kosovo has been under U.N. and NATO control since 1999, following a bombing campaign by the Western alliance to force Yugoslav troops to end a crackdown on ethnic Albanians.
Kosovo war reports 'looked like propaganda contest': NATO chief.
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, April 23 (AFP) -
Serious problems with NATO media briefings during the 1999 air strikes on Yugoslavia made the conflict resemble "a propoganda contest," NATO chief George Robertson admitted Monday.
"The communications problem in Kosovo was a most serious one, and we should never again be caught so unprepared," Robertson, who was British defence minister at the time, told students and journalists at Rotterdam's Erasmus University.
"As a result, it looked like a propaganda contest between NATO and Belgrade -- a contest that at times it seemed we were losing," he said.
Warplanes from several of NATO's 19 member countries started bombing runs on Yugoslavia March 24, 1999 to force Belgrade's forces out of the Serbian province of Kosovo, where the 1.8-million-strong ethnic Albanian population was being brutally opressed.
For the next 11 weeks of the NATO campaign, the main sources of information on the conflict came from overtly biased reports from Serbian state media and from media briefings given at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Due to tough visa restrictions imposed by Belgrade, there were virtually no Western journalists on the ground in Kosovo.
The NATO briefings, usually conducted by principal NATO spokesman Jamie Shea accompanied by a military spokesman from one of the NATO countries, downplayed so-called "collateral damage" -- civilian casualties -- and emphasised the efficacity of the strikes.
Because of the inability to substantiate the claims of either side, several media treated the reports with scepticism and wariness.
Robertson said "parts of the international press seemed more concerned with the unintended damage caused by our operation than with the one million refugees caused by the brutal ethnic cleansing NATO was trying to stop."
NATO had regularly used the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe the killings by Serbian forces or paramilitaries of ethnic Albanians and to justify its air-raids.
However, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the UN court judging those responsible for atrocities during the conflict, has avoided using the term.
The ICTY's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, told the UN Security Council in November 1999, at the end of the first stage of the excavations, that a total 2,108 bodies had been exhumed from 195 sites across Kosovo -- a significantly smaller number than that suggested by NATO.
Robertson said that while during the Cold War, "explaining NATO's relevance was easy", such a job now required more effort.
"We have to communicate far more than ever before -- among the allies, with our partner countries, and with our publics," he said.