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PRESENTATION OF MACEDONIA-EU STABILIZATION AND ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT.
The Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) that Macedonia and the European Union are going to sign on April 9 in Luxembourg was presented Friday to the Macedonian Parliament Commission for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration by Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim and Vice-Premier Zoran Krstevski.
The session was also attended by representatives of the EU member countries and of the Macedonian institutions.
The Stabilization and Association Agreement is a historic chance for Macedonia to join the European family. By this Agreement Macedonia and EU create a synthesis of its partnership and presents Macedonia's strategic interest in its efforts to get closer to the EU.
The Agreement is significant for prevention of the stability and improvement of democracy and interethnic relations. It is also a proof that the EU and all other international factors consider Macedonia as friend and partner, not as a case.
KERIM: SAA OPENS PERSPECTIVE FOR MACEDONIA'S MEMBERSHIP INTO EU.
"The forthcoming signing of SAA is a historic act and finalization of the main preoccupation of Macedonia for getting closer to Europe," Kerim said, adding that there was a general and national consensus on the need Macedonia to become part of the EU.
According to him, the Agreement directions are basically the three pillars of the Macedonian foreign policy - good neighborly relations, regional cooperation and getting closer to the EU.
Pointing out that Macedonia completed the negotiations for signing of the Agreement for a very short time, Kerim said the stabilization was mentioned only as EU need to have stabilized situation in the region, which would enable a beginning of regional cooperation.
"The association is essential for Macedonia's approach to the EU, as the country will acquire the EU association status on April 9. Such a status is the last and decisive step to full EU membership, " Kerim said.
Considering the Balkan environment and the decade of wars, a new generation of agreements between EU and the countries in the region was necessary, Kerim said, underlying that Macedonia would be a first country form the region to sign the Agreement as a result of its own achievements.
"April 9 is the day when Macedonia and the EU will create a synthesis of its partnership, Kerim said, adding it would open perspectives and obligations for Macedonia.
In that respect, he pointed out the necessity for carrying out reforms in Macedonia, so that the country would have more efficient economy, attract more foreign capital and strengthen its fragile democracy.
"Therefore, Macedonia is trying to create a European region from the area "Mala Prespa", including the Greek and Albanian parts," Kerim said, pointing out that projects with European content should be developed.
Kerim also referred to the actions of the extremist groups on Macedonian territory, saying they were an attempt to threaten not only the security but also the interethnic coexistence in the country.
The attempt could have had deep consequences, if not prevented by political, diplomatic and security means, Kerim said.
"If we had not succeeded, I believe that signing of SAA would have been postponed, which most probably was someone's wish. But the EU reacted as a true partner, trusting in Macedonia's credit it has created for the last 10 years investing in democracy, interethnic relations, human and minority rights, shortly in the European standards, " Kerim said.
"What we have achieved for the last few weeks, is not a victory in a battle against extremists and terrorists but defense of the European standards," Kerim said.
Referring to the Macedonian Government efforts to improve the interethnic relations, Kerim said it would be done not because of the shootouts in the mountains but because of the desire of the Governmental coalition and of all parliamentary parties to do something more for the coexistence in the country in close cooperation with the international institutions, such as EU, Council of Europe and OSCE, i.e. to provide financial resources for the Southeast Europe University in Tetovo, to establish the Macedonian TV third channel, which is to broadcast programs in the national minorities' languages and to improve the position of local self-government,
Finally, he announced the restructuring of the security forces, which would replace the army in border control.
"All of the mentioned projects are part of the SAA implementation, and above all part of Macedonia's goal, determined by its basic policy in these spheres," Kerim said.
He also expressed hope that the Agreement ratifying procedure would be completed in a very short time.
KRSTEVSKI: HISTORICAL CHANCE FOR MACEDONIA TO BECOME PART OF THE EUROPEAN FAMILY.
Macedonian Vice-Prime Minister Zoran Krstevski said in his address to the members of the Commission for Euro-Atlantic integration that the Association and Stabilization Agreement is a strategic interest for the Republic of Macedonia in regard to its efforts for approach and integration in the EU.
He pointed out that the relations between Macedonia and EU at this moment are regulated by the Agreement for cooperation, which became operational on January 1, 1998, as well as with the agreements for transport and textile.
"Crown in the relations between Macedonia and EU is the signing of the Association and Stabilization Agreement," he stressed, adding that with this agreement, Macedonia joins the family of countries - candidates for EU membership, which will enable building of a society according to the highest democratic standards, certainty for the citizens and social justice.
On an economic field, the Agreement opens a door to one of the most powerful and biggest economic markets in the world, urges reconstruction of the society and provides opportunities for social development of the Republic of Macedonia.
Krstevski reminded that the Association and Stabilization Agreement was initialed on November 24th, 2000 at the Zagreb Summit and made an overview of the more significant dates since the beginning of the building of Macedonia-EU relations.
"All three compositions of the Macedonian Parliament and all governments participated in the construction of the relations with EU, meaning that this is a collective effort of all political forces and institutions in the country," he stated.
He underlined the significance of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, whose goal is to provide peace, prosperity and stability in the region, as well as regional cooperation and implementation of the European option and perspective.
Vice-Prime Minister Krstevski stressed that through the Southeast Europe Cooperation Process, the EU offered to the countries from the region opportunity for European integration based on progressive and individual approach through the agreements for association and stabilization.
Main goals of this process are the development of regional relations based on agreements, development of lasting economic and trade relations and respect for the main European principles for democratization, civil society, education and institutional upgrading.
Krstevski stressed that the Association and Stabilization Agreement is consisted of preamble, ten chapters, seven annexes, five protocols and joint unilateral statements.
As he said, the preamble refers to the joint intentions of the two parties - signers of the agreement, such as establishment of lasting relations between Macedonia and EU based on political, economic and institutional association, increased political and economic freedoms, establishment of legal state and observing of the human rights and the principles of free market economy.
"Main element of the Association and Stabilization Agreement is Macedonia to adjust its legislation according to the principles of the European Union," Krstevski stated.
The preamble also includes an "evolution clause", by which the EU expresses readiness to integrate Macedonia to the highest extend in the political and economic currents in Europe, which makes Macedonia potential candidate for gaining an EU membership.
The fifth chapter of the Agreement includes the main principles, which give advantage to the regional model of cooperation between the SEECP member countries, but still takes into consideration the individual achievements of every particular country, from a political, economic and democratic point of view.
The fifth chapter defines the lasting period of the Association and Stabilization Agreement, and reads that complete association is expected after the end of the transitional period of ten years.
"Four years after the implementation of the Agreement, the Council for Association and Stabilization should give an evaluation on the achieved progress and will set the period for the second stage," Vice-Prime Minister Krstevski stated.
The political dialogue which will be led on a level of ministers in the framework of the Council and on a parliamentary level within the Parliamentary Committee will be regulated in the second stage.
The third chapter regards the regional cooperation based on Macedonia's commitments for promotion of good neighborly relations. Signing of a Convention for regional cooperation is also planed, which will include political dialogue, establishment of free trade zone, joint concessions for movement of labor force, establishment of enterprises, provision of services, free movement of capital and cooperation in other areas of joint interest. The Convention is to be signed latest two years after the implementation of the Association and Stabilization Agreement. Cooperation with the countries that already have agreements for association with the EU is also planed.
The free movement of goods is regulated in the fourth chapter, which according to Krstevski is of paramount importance, because it provides free export of Macedonian goods to the EU markets, with exemption of the wine and lamb meat. According to this provision, Macedonia will gradually open its market to the EU and in a period of 10 years a free trade zone between Macedonia and EU will be established. The fourth chapter will become operational on June 1, 2000.
The fifth chapter also regulates the movement of labor force, founding of enterprises, provision of services, the ongoing payments and the movement of capital.
The chapter six refers to the coordination of Macedonia's legislation with the one of the EU. Krstevski pointed that Macedonia needs to coordinate 130,000 pages of regulations and 50,000 pages of standards. The obligation for coordination of these documents comes on power starting from the day of signing of the Agreement.
Chapter seven refers to the justice and internal affairs. In that context, Krstevski pointed out that Macedonia is the first country whose Agreement with EU includes such provision, based on the Amsterdam agreement and it will regard the cooperation in the field of strengthening of the institutions and ruling of the law, then the visa regime, border control, exile, migration, prevention and control of illegal immigration, struggle against money laundering and against crime, as well as against other illegal activities.
The chapter eight regulates the economic, statistic, industrial, cultural and social cooperation, as well as the cooperation regarding the banking sector and financial services, promotion and protection of investments, small and medium sized enterprises, tourism, customs, tax collection, education, information, communications, transport, energy, regional and local development, research and technological development and environmental protection. The goal of this chapter is to provide institutional connection and transfer of EU policy in Macedonia and development of compatibility of all systems.
"The chapter nine includes the provisions regarding the financial cooperation and lists the sorts and conditions for this sort of cooperation," Krstevski stated.
He mentioned that this cooperation would be realized through granting of non-refundable funds, loans, macroeconomic assistance and direct support to the budget. He also stressed that within the KARDS program, Macedonia will receive assistance in amount of Euro 42 million.
Chapter 20 regulates the institutional, common and closing provisions, regarding the establishment of institutions for monitoring of the Agreement implementation, such as Association and Stabilization Council, Committee for Association and Stabilization and Parliamentary Committee for Association and Stabilization.
At the end of his speech, vice-Prime Minister Krstevski referred to the already implemented documents regarding the Association and Stabilization Agreement, as well as to the documents that are in a development phase.
Referring to the adopted documents, Krstevski pointed to the system of management and coordination of the European integration processes, methodology for harmonization of Macedonia's legislation with the one of the EU and the Strategy for EU training. Speaking about the documents that are under construction, he mentioned the following: the Action Plan for implementation of the agreement for association and stabilization, National Program for approximatization of the legislation, Strategy for informing the public for the process of European integration and the National Strategy for EU integration.
Vice-Prime Minister Krstevski pointed out that the following bodies are engaged with the coordination of the association and stabilization process: Working Committee for Euro-Atlantic integration, Sub-committee for Euro-Atlantic integration and for approximatization of the legislation, Governmental department for European integration, the EU sector in the ministry of foreign affairs, Macedonia's mission in the European communities in Brussels, the Center for European Integration, and other institutions such as the Customs Department, State Statistics Bureau, Agency of Information, Chamber of Commerce and the trade unions.
"The Agreement is a legal act, consensually adopted by all political subjects in the Republic of Macedonia, which determines the political and economic future of our country. The agreement will enable better living standards to all citizens," Krstevski said, adding that this is a historical chance for Macedonia to become part of the European family.
TRAJKOVSKI RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY FOR TURKS MOVEMENT.
Skopje, April 6 (MIA) - Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski received Friday Adnan Kahil, president of the Democratic Party for Turks movement in Macedonia.
President Trajkovski has been introduced with the views and positions of this party regarding the situation in the country. They gave support to the policy of the Macedonian top officials that firmly opposed the terrorist attacks. A special respect for President's determination for intensifying of the political dialogue for improvement of the situation in the country has been given.
Macedonian President reiterated his determination for improvement of the multiethnic life in the Republic of Macedonia in the institutions of the system. In that direction, he said that the Turks in the Republic of Macedonia confirmed to be citizens engaged in the prosperity of the country.
Macedonia Holds 35 Ethnic Albanians.
AP Top News
AP Top News
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) -- Macedonian authorities rounded up 35 ethnic Albanians on Friday in a mop-up operation against insurgents who battled government troops last month, police said. The men were detained for illegal possession of weapons near Tetovo, Macedonia's second-largest city and an ethnic Albanian stronghold, police spokesman Stevo Pendarovski said. Officers seized bombs, explosives, bullets and hand grenades, he said.
Seventeen were released shortly after. The rest were being investigated for taking part in an armed rebellion that has threatened to escalate into a major new conflict in the Balkans. Government forces have mostly suppressed the rebels, who claim they are fighting for greater rights for the country's ethnic Albanian minority, who are outnumbered three-to-one by Slavs. The government, comprising the Slav majority and some ethnic Albanian parties, considers the rebels ''terrorists'' linked to militants in the neighboring Serbian province of Kosovo.
Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim pledged Friday to further integrate the restive minority into state administration, police and media. He denied that the changes were a concession after weeks of armed clashes that have left a dozen dead and many more injured. ''The enhanced dialogue is not a result of the shootings in the mountains, but a result of government's effort to do much more,'' Kerim said. He outlined plans to support an Albanian-language university in northwestern Macedonia and to increase the minority's presence in police units, state television programs and in local governments.
Kerim spoke before the Macedonian Parliament's Commission for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration in preparation for April 9 signing of the Association and Stabilization Agreement between Macedonia and European Union. The agreement is meant to bring Macedonia closer to EU standards and regulations.
Among other reforms, Kerim mentioned more multiethnic police units to patrol the country's tense border with Kosovo, where local ethnic Albanians have enjoyed a de facto independence since the 1999 NATO military intervention in the Serb-Albanian conflict over territory. Kosovo is considered the key staging area for rebel attacks into Macedonia.
Bulgaria To Deliver Arms to Skopje without a Mandate of NA.
The cabinet will deliver arms and munitions to Macedonia without a mandate of parliament. The MPs included the extraordinary rights of the ministers in the agreement for assistance with Macedonia. Yesterday it was ratified by Parliament. However, the mandate concerns only extra quantities of the already agreed aid. Concerning them, the government will sign annexes to the agreement. Skopje will pay for the munitions and arms, but will receive logistics aid gratuitously. The prices and quantities are inseparable from a classified document. On the insistence of the BSP the text on the mandate was taken out of the transitional and concluding provisions of the Law, for ratification. For its part, UDF gave up insisting on more powers for the cabinet without their being bound to the base agreement. On first reading, the law was approved by 180 votes without anyone against or abstained, and on second - by 137.
Czar Simeon II will participate in the elections with a National Movement Simeon II.
In a special statement that he made today in his palace in Vrana, Czar Simeon II announced he would participate in the elections with a National Movement Simeon II that he is going to establish. He also said to News.bg Agency and to almost 100 Bulgarian and other journalists the following: "I am doing this in order to fulfill my historic debt to Bulgaria in a time, which is crucial for my homeland and for me." The purpose of the new movement will be the implementation of a quick and qualitative change of living standard in Bulgaria by turning Bulgarian economy into functioning market economy according to the European Union criteria and increasing inflow of foreign investments to Bulgaria. He said he would propose a scheme of economic measures and social-economic partnership to change live in Bulgaria within 800 days.
Union of Democratic Forces welcomed the decision of Czar Simeon II to participate in the elections.
Union of Democratic Forces welcomes the decision of Czar Simeon II to participate in the elections, the UDF Deputy Chairman Dimitar Abajiev announced after consultations of Union of Democratic Forces leaders that took place in the cabinet of the Chairman of Bulgarian Parliament Yordan Sokolov today. He added that the purposes that Czar Simeon II had stated implied values that are common with those of the Union of Democratic Forces, including economic reform and integration in European Union and in the NATO.
The positions of Czar Simeon II deserve support, Hristo Biserov said.
The leader of the parliamentary group for dialog and partnership Hristo Biserov said that the positions of Czar Simeon II deserve unconditional support, although nobody has any right to bind this support with political calculations. He confirmed that the group would stand behind Czar Simeon II.
Czar Simeon II and Queen Margarita will celebrate Palm Sunday in Botevgrad.
Czar Simeon II and Queen Margarita will celebrate Palm Sunday in Botevgrad, the Czars press secretary Mrs. Galya Dicheva reported for News.bg Agency. During its visit to the town, the royal family would also meet local dignitaries, Mrs. Dicheva also said, but refused to give more details about the visit.
Cook urges Macedonia to agree peace talks.
By Steve Crawshaw in Tetovo
06 April 2001
The main Albanian leader in Macedonia's ruling coalition warned yesterday of renewed violence if the government refused to negotiate in earnest and called for an amnesty for armed Albanian rebels.
Speaking after a meeting in Tetovo with Robin Cook, Britain's Foreign Secretary, Arben Xhaferi said: "If we do not open dialogue the violence will return very easily. Because of the rigidity of the Macedonian side, we can again have a crisis here."
Recent fighting between rebels and Macedonian forces in the hills surrounding Tetovo has raised fears of a fifth Balkan war.
Mr Cook was cheered by a small crowd that gathered to welcome him in the central square of this mostly Albanian town. But the welcome may have been based partly on a misunderstanding. Mr Cook is perceived by many Albanians as a hero because of Britain's hawkish role in Kosovo in 1999. On Macedonia, however, Mr Cook while emphasising the need for dialogue between the two sides has seemed more eager to placate the Macedonian side.
After talks with President Boris Trajkovski and the Prime Minister, Ljubco Georgievski, he lavished praise on the Macedonian authorities. Referring to the National Liberation Army, which is closely linked to the Kosovo Liberation Army, he said: "I admire the democratic and multi-ethnic values of Macedonia. We want to help Macedonia defeat the terrorists."
Mr Xhaferi, though a declared opponent of the NLA, firmly rejected Mr Cook's use of the word "terrorist". He said: "They cannot be terrorists, because they have uniforms and a front line they haven't attacked civilians. We have an uprising."
Mr Cook is the latest high-profile minister to visit Macedonia (the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, will be in Skopje next week) to encourage the Albanian parties to discuss ways of reducing the tension. But even Mr Xhaferi, whose party has agreed to take part in the peace talks, sounded contemptuous. "They want coffee-table discussions," he said.
Mr Cook promised British aid, in the form of global positioning systems equipment, remote devices for detecting and destroying bombs and booby traps, and body armour.
A Macedonian delegation goes to Luxembourg on Monday to sign a stabilisation and association agreement with the European Union, giving the country more-favoured status in its relations with the EU.
For the moment, however, Macedonia is anything but stable. Albanian anger is strong in the words of one unemployed factory worker waiting in the square for a glimpse of Mr Cook: "Things have to change. It's the same syndrome here as it was in Kosovo. In the old Yugoslavia, things were much better for us."