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COMMENTS OF MACEDONIAN POLITICAL PARTIES ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE RESOLUTION.
Referring to an adoption of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution, which welcomes "negotiations on the Constitution" in Macedonia and requests a creation of "a multiethnic state" Cedo Kralevski, coordinator of the Macedonian parliamentary group of the party VMRO-DPMNE, said that "adopting of such a resolution is absurd."
"This resolution is to pass at the Council of ministers, where the Macedonian Foreign Minister will present Macedonia's position for a unitary state, i.e. against federalization of the country, Kralevski said, adding that lobby groups have been very active in Strasbourg. In addition some of the CE parliamentarians were financially stimulated.
"Unfortunately, the financial lobbying was more efficient," Kralevski said.
Chairman of the parliamentary Commission for Foreign Policy Jordan Boskov considers that the resolution is a humiliation for Macedonia despite the fact that it has been adopted at the debate on Kosovo.
"Those parliamentarians, regardless which country they come from, expressed impudent conduct voting for something that deeply interferes with the concept of Macedonia, doing it as part of the Kosovo declaration. This is humiliating," Boskov said, adding that Macedonia would probably react by its declaration.
"The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has made a very wrong move, so it should apologize or cancel this document, Boskov said.
Gjorgi Kotevski, chairman of the parliamentary Commission for interior policy and defense, considers that those parliamentarians are not entitled to adopt a resolution on behalf of Macedonia.
"It is violation of all standards and result of some kind of lobbying by powerful groups of certain political parties from Macedonia. No one may force us to be a multiethnic state," Kotevski said.
Vice-Chairman of the Macedonian parliament Ilijaz Halimi said he was not familiar with the resolution wording.
Zamir Dika, coordinator of the parliamentary group of Democratic Party of Albanians, said that the resolution was clear sign for the Council of Europe's interest in the situation in Macedonia.
Parliamentarian of the Social-Democratic Union (SDSM) Ilija Iljoski said that the SDSM parliamentary group would submit a document against the CE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution.
Naser Ziberi, coordinator of the parliamentary group of the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP), said his party was for the CE resolution.
"We do not know the details yet, but we welcome the position of the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on intensifying of the political dialogue in Macedonia, aimed at finding solution of the crisis," Ziberi said.
Ziberi also informed that member of his party Azis Polozani, who is also member of the Macedonian parliamentary delegation in Strasbourg, presented the PDP position at the CE Parliamentary Assembly session.
"I do not accept the reactions of other members of the Macedonian delegation in Strasbourg, " Ziberi said.
Nikola Jovanov, coordinator of the parliamentary group of the party Democratic Alternative, considers that the resolution from Strasbourg shows disrespect to Macedonia.
"It is ridiculous by such kind of lobbying and conduct to impose the wish of a small group in Macedonia, disregarding the wish of the majority," Jovanov said, adding that the parliamentary delegation that represents Macedonia in Strasbourg, regardless the party membership, should agree on a strategy, follow the developments there and act accordingly.
For Nenad Ristevski, parliamentarian of the party VMRO-True Macedonian Reform Option, "Macedonia is not a multiethnic state", while Zlatko Stojmenov, member of the same party, considers that "no one, as a member of the Macedonian delegation, is entitled to present positions that are not adopted by the Parliament or any other governmental institution."
In regard to creating of a large governmental coalition, Kralevski said that his party VMRO-DPMNE would not accept any blackmails, quoting the statement of the party leader, Ljubcho Georgievski, that nothing more of the already offered exemptions regarding this large coalition would be considered.
Dika expressed his support to this idea, saying that yesterday's meeting brought some optimism and might give a favorable result at the end of this week.
Ziberi denied that he was a candidate for a minister of justice if there would be a new government.
"We (PDP) shall take part in this coalition, if the party conditions are meet. The party position is very clear: parties in power to be in charge of the Interior and Justice Ministries. According to the political power at the Parliament, the parties should be given positions in the Government, both in quantity and quality," Ziberi said, pointing out that VMRO-DPMNE was ready to give up from the current holder of the ministerial position at the Interior Ministry.
Stojmenov supports the idea for a large coalition, composed of all political parties.
"I am against the large coalition, composed of half Macedonian and half Albanian participants. Our party will discuss with all of those who are stand for the national interests of Macedonia, which are now threatened," Stojmenov said.
LOSSES OF DM 192 MILLION DUE TO MILITARY ACTIONS IN MACEDONIA.
Direct and indirect economic losses, caused by the last month military actions in the north and north west of Macedonia, have reached up to DM 192 million, according to the initial estimations by the Macedonian Economic Chamber.
This amount presents 3 per cent from the Gross Domestic Product in the last year.
Losses of about DM 60 million are registered in the textile industry, DM 30 million - leather industry, DM 30 million - non-ferrous metallurgy and DM 20 million - electric industry. Closing of the borders with Kosovo and Montenegro have caused direct losses in the agriculture complex of DM 13,5 million, while chemical and oil industry - per DM 2 million.
Aco Spasovski from the Chamber banking sector says that the industrial production marks constant decline. In the first quarter of 2001, it has been decreased for 8.7 per cent. In the last two months, the foreign trade exchange has declined for 16.4 per cent, with an exchange deficit of $ 66,2 million. The inflation rate has reached 5 per cent.
According to Spasovski, main reasons for the permanent decline of the industrial production and inability to meet the projected GDP growth of 6 per cent, are the military actions, insolvency of the companies, high tax rates and lack of investments.
Dusan Petreski, President of the Chamber, said that the economy should be divided from the politics.
"There are no big and small states, but only big economic interests," he said.
Vice-Premier Zoran Krstevski said the Government was considering to create a guaranty fund for support of profitable projects.
This idea is part of an initiative, which is being negotiated with the International Monetary Fund, and relies on allocation of part of the financial means from the Telecom's sale.
"There are different suggestions about the amount of those means. Some think that DM 100 million should be allocated for this fund, some 50 million. However, the money will be used for development of small and medium enterprises," Krstevski said.
TAIWAN SUPPORTS MACEDONIAN BUDGET WITH US $ ONE MILLION.
The Republic of China - Taiwan granted to Macedonia as a support for the Macedonian Budget in order to cover the expenditures for the recent crisis in the country.
The Ambassador of the Republic of China - Taiwan to Macedonia Peter Chang delivered the check to the Macedonian Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski.
"The grant from Taiwan, is the first financial support that Macedonia received within its requests submitted to several countries in order to cover the expenditures caused by the crisis in the northwestern part of our country," Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski said.
Minister Gruevski announced that beside the grant from Taiwan, Macedonia has received Euro one million from the European Councils Bank. The Taiwanese grant is within the support comprised of US $ 20 million for realization of the infrastructure projects.
The Ambassador of the Republic of China - Taiwan to Macedonia Peter Chang pointed out that the grant reaffirms the good relations between these two countries.
"We are aware that the recent armed incidents affected the economic and financial condition of Macedonia and therefore we have accepted the initiative of Minister Gruevski," Mr. Chang said.
He also stressed that they are trying to convince the Taiwanese investors to carry on investing in Macedonia.
Informing about the meeting between Minister Gruevski and the Taiwanese representatives in London, Ambassador Chang said that they have agreed to use the means from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in order to support the infrastructure program in Macedonia.
In that respect he mentioned the construction of the Skopje orbital motorway in amount at US $ 20 million.
Macedonia Peace May Just be Pause Before War.
TETOVO, Apr 26, 2001 -- (Reuters) The guns are silent in the leafy hills that resounded to the noise of ethnic Albanian insurrection but the threat of renewed violence in Macedonia grows with each week that passes.
Guerrillas frustrated at the status of ethnic Albanians in the small Balkan state retreated after a month of mountain combat but were not defeated. Inter-communal talks underway to ease tension between rival races are making slow progress.
The hundreds of rebels that pulled out of the high hills along the border with Albanian-dominated Kosovo in the face of a Macedonian army onslaught have taken off their combat fatigues and returned to homes on both sides of the frontier.
The Kalashnikovs and grenades have been buried in forest dumps, with their owners waiting for the call from shadowy leaders whose strength and motives are unclear but whose violent appearance thrust Macedonia into grave crisis.
The Macedonian government has given itself until June to deliver credible political change to appease the resentments of ethnic Albanians, up to a third of the population, which lay behind February's rebellion.
Some think the patience of the gunmen will not last.
"I suspect May is when changes have to start happening," says Brenda Pearson, an analyst at the respected International Crisis Group think-tank.
"If it doesn't then we may start to see things like sniping attacks, bombings, land mines," she said, adding that areas of mixed ethnic population were likely to be targeted. "I'm quite pessimistic because the momentum for change has dwindled."
The rebels of the National Liberation Army (NLA) have published a political platform that appears moderate, calling for more rights within an undivided Macedonia. But they complain of harassment of Albanian villagers and growl about provocation.
"This situation cannot go on for long. These provocations cannot be endured and I don't know how long calm will last if they continue," said the NLA's political leader Ali Ahmeti, speaking from an undisclosed mountain location by telephone.
Ahmeti, who was jailed in old Yugoslavia for demanding Albanian-language rights, sees Macedonia as a future Balkan Switzerland, the country where he spent 18 years in exile.
Observers charge that using violence to pursue the Swiss model of peaceful co-existence is contradictory but Ahmeti argues that the NLA took up arms reluctantly and would prefer a negotiated improvement in minority rights.
"I don't think you can achieve your aims by extreme actions. I believe in force of arms but only when it is used with a certain measure," he said, arguing that the NLA has 2,000 men already with 8,000 more standing by, far more than outsiders believe.
"I do not embark on adventures. Without the support of the people, I would not have undertaken this enterprise. Our movement is spread widely because the people back it," he said.
Ahmeti said "empty promises" by Macedonia's majority Slavs of improvements for Albanians were to blame for the rebellion that rolled along the hills bordering Kosovo, sparking international concern that Macedonia was heading for civil war.
He wanted international mediation to deliver the NLA's core demand of changes to Macedonia's constitution, which Albanians say gives them second-class status. Skopje, fearful of a Slav nationalist backlash, has kept the constitution off the agenda.
"It all now depends on the Macedonian government, how capable it is of speeding up these processes and what effect its violence against the Albanian population will have," he said.
Entrenched positions on the constitution issue would fuel political extremism, warned the ICG's Pearson.
"The Albanians have put themselves in a position where the Macedonians can only say no," said Pearson. "The rebels are likely to try to polarize the two communities and paint the moderates into a corner."
Mainstream Albanian parties are also calling for a change to the constitution but analysts doubt the NLA will refrain from combat and allow established politicians to win the credit for whatever concessions might be extracted from the government.
"They don't want to let Arben Xhaferi become their postman," said an Kosovo analyst. Xhaferi is the respected leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians, a ruling coalition member.
"The NLA people want to create their own political profile like (ex-Kosovo Liberation Army head) Hashim Thaci in Kosovo," the analyst said.
The guerrillas appear resolute and well-schooled in low-intensity warfare by months of rebellion against Serb forces in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.
The Macedonian government said its forces faced a force of some 200 frontline fighters, backed by 300 soldiers along rear supply lines, when the rebels occupied hillside villages above Tetovo, the unofficial capital of Macedonia's Albanians.
Few of those men were captured, either by Macedonia or NATO-led forces keeping the peace in Kosovo and supposed to be sealing the borders to prevent the rebels from reinforcing. The NLA says it has many more soldiers waiting in the wings.
"Our elite troops were not involved in the fighting. This was a blitz war to see how people who had never known what fighting is like would react in an armed conflict," said the NLA chief of staff who used "Skopje" as his nom-de-guerre.
"This was a signal that we are unhappy and we hope the Macedonian government has understood it," Skopje said.
He estimated the NLA's assault had cost impoverished Macedonia some $45 million and said it would face further economic pressure unless it met rebel demands.
"Imagine what would happen in a year's fight if our guerrilla units start their hit and run actions," said Skopje.
ROOTS LAY ABROAD
A military veteran, Skopje said the origins of the NLA lay in a group of ethnic Albanians expelled from Macedonia who met in a bar in Leverkusen in Germany in 1991.
At that meeting some 40 ethnic Albanians decided they must train militarily to prepare for rebellion in their lands, he said.
Such men formed the nucleus of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was disbanded after NATO drove Serb forces from the Yugoslav province, bringing Kosovo to the brink of the independence the guerrillas had been fighting for.
The LPK, the Kosovo People's Movement, a nationalist grouping formed in 1981 that had been the political force behind the KLA, also disbanded at a meeting in August 1999.
Ethnic Albanian LPK delegates from Macedonia, who included Ahmeti, were left on their own.
"The Albanians of Macedonia were told to choose their way," said Ibrahim Kelmendi, a close friend of Ahmeti who attended the LPK's final meeting. "They met in October 1999 to form the National Liberation Army (NLA)."
IMRO submitted a complaint to the Central Election Commission about violations.
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization has submitted a complaint to the Central Election Commission about violations of regional election commissions consisting in non-allowing representatives of the organization to consultations for forming Regional Election Commissions, the Chairman of the Sofia regional IMRO structure Dr. Krasimir Pantev said for News.bg Agency. He mentioned Burgas, Varna, Sofia-region, Pazarjik, Smolyan and Lovech as places where such violations had been committed.
IMRO and Gergyovden Movement would decide about common tickets on April 28.
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization would take final decision about how it would participate in the elections at the meeting of its Organization Council that is scheduled on April 28, the Chairman of IMRO Krasimir Karakachanov reported for News.bg Agency. He explained that the meeting would also decide whether IMRO would make a coalition with Gergyovden Movement.