Make your own free website on

8, April-2001.


1, April-2001.
2, April-2001.
3, April-2001.
4, April-2001.
5, April-2001.
6, April-2001.
7, April-2001.
8, April-2001.
9, April-2001.
10, April-2001.
11, April-2001.
12, April-2001.
13, April-2001.
14, April-2001.
15, April-2001.
16, April-2001.
17, April-2001.
18, April-2001.
19, April-2001.
20, April-2001.
21, April-2001.
22, April-2001.
23, April-2001.
24, April-2001.
25, April-2001.
26, April-2001.
27, April-2001.
28, April-2001.
29, April-2001.
30, April-2001.


Enter content here




In today's interview for the information program "Radio specter" of the Macedonian Radio - Radio Skopje, State Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs Ljube Boskovski referred to several issues regarding the security situation in our country.

Regarding the current security situation in Macedonia, Boskovski said: We now enter in a more peaceful stage, more peaceful period from which we expect more relaxed situation that we all wish for. Speaking from a short time distance, Boskovski recommended to the terrorists that they did not achieve their goal and they did not bring the Macedonian Government to a negotiating table. They also failed in their idea to set up the international factor in a role of inter-mediator with them. They only succeeded to be defeated, and Macedonia and our security forces once more showed how should one deal with terrorists, whether they come from inside or outside the country. We have showed them that we will deal with all of those who have no respect for the Constitution, who violate the basic human rights, whose main tool for communication is the weapon. Asked about the possible motives and reasons due to which the Albanian terrorists make aggression against the Republic of Macedonia, the State Secretary in the Interior Ministry said that the basis of the problem is the mafia that stands in the background of this case. Our intelligence structures have had previous information about the collection of finances, an idea inspired by the ideologists for Greater Albania, for Ilirida, for cantonization and federalization of the Republic of Macedonia. The Albanians from the diaspora believed more and more in this ideology. Our intelligence services have information that in Tetovo only enormous financial means have been collected. The executors of this idea, Boskovski says, do not have to be Albanians, although most of them are. That is an operation carried out by mercenaries, paid to kill and cause terror, paid to realize the goals of these ideologists who stand behind this concept. But, Boskovski recommended, we will not step back to the terrorist and extremism. There is no space for negotiations or for realization of any political goals. Our commitment to defend Macedonia and to make it rich and safe country remains, Boskovski said in the interview for the Macedonian Radio.




A Macedonian delegation, led by Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski, arrived Sunday to Luxembourg, for the ceremonial signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Macedonia and the European Union.

Along with SAA, Macedonia tomorrow will also sign a trade agreement with the EU.

Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and Euro-Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten will attend the signing ceremony.

Georgievski is also scheduled to meet with his Luxembourg counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker.

Vice-Premier Zoran Krstevski, Vice-Premier and Minister of Labor and Welfare Bedredin Ibraimi, Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim, Macedonian Ambassador in Brussels Jovan Tegovski and Government spokesman Antonio Milosovski are also members of the Macedonian delegation.

The delegation is also accompanied by leaders of the political parties in Macedonia, the Democratic Party of Albanians - Arben Xhaferi; the Liberal Party Risto Gusterov; SDSM - Branko Crvenkovski; the Union of Roma Amdi Bajram, the Democratic Party of Turks Erdogan Sarac; the Democratic Party of Serbs in Macedonia Dragisa Miletic, the Bosnian Democratic Party Alija Sakic, the Union of Vlachs Dimo Dimcev and SKIR Ljativ Pajkovski.

Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Macedonia, also accompanies the delegation.




The Republic of Macedonia and the European Union will sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) Monday with which one phase from Macedonia's accession in the EU is summed up.

Since the start of the negotiations with EU and until the present days, Macedonia has made exceptional steps in the realization of one of her major priorities in the foreign policy, the EU accession.

The Republic of Macedonia has started the negotiations with EU on December 1995. On that day, EU council of ministers unanimously approved the mandate for negotiations for signing of Euro-Macedonian Agreement for Cooperation and Trade.

At the beginning of 1996, European Commission started the negotiations with Macedonia for signing of SAA, as first step for strengthening of the relations between Macedonia and EU. With this the Spain as the chair of EU fulfilled its obligation to have the document ready before the end of 1995 for further development of the negotiations between Macedonia and EU.

Although the negotiations should have started on January 1996 yet they started on March 1996.

In the meantime, on January 9, 1996 the European Commission protocolar service informed the Macedonian Embassy in Brussels that the EU established diplomatic relations with Macedonia.

It is a logical continuation of the relations between Macedonia and EU that started right after signing of the temporary agreement between Greece and Macedonia on September 1995, in New York, and European Commissioner Hans van der Broek announced it, on November 1995. At that time, EU had not yet brought the final decision for the form of the European diplomatic presence in Macedonia.

The European Parliament, on February 16, 1996, unanimously with no remarks, gave "green light" for approach of the Republic of Macedonia to PHARE, the European Programme for assistance and development of the Central and South East European countries, now named as CARDS Programme.

With this, the long procedural way that Macedonia had to pass in order to obtain the right to use the fund of this programme had ended introduced in 1990 aimed of strengthening of the economies in the new democracies. Macedonia had to wait for four years until the temporary agreement was signed in New York, with which the Greek veto, that stopped the start of the procedure for the Macedonia's approach to PHARE, was lifted.

After three rounds of talks, on June 18, 1996 in Brussels at the European Commission headquarters, Jane Miljoski, the vice-president of the previous Macedonian government, and Gunter Burghardt, the director of the general directorate for foreign political affairs, exchanged letters with which both parties accepted the text of the Agreement for cooperation. This was the first agreement of this kind between EU and the Republic of Macedonia. All this happened only two days after Macedonia refused to sign the document where the name FYROM was on several passages. The signing was made by exchange of letters by European Commission to Macedonia, and Macedonia to European Commission.

The letter sent by Macedonian party reads that Macedonia accepts the Articles from the agreement, but it dissociates from "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." The letter includes two unilateral declarations: the first for strengthening of the associative development of the relations with EU and precise that Macedonia's aspirations are associative agreement for the near future. With the second declarations Macedonia obliges to stop the illegal entrance of her citizens in EU member-states.

The Republic of Macedonia and EU signed the agreement for cooperation on April 29, in Luxembourg. Branko Crvenkovski, the former Macedonian Prime Minister, in behalf of the Macedonian government signed the agreement, and Hans van Mierlo, former Netherlands chief of the diplomacy, on European Commission party signed the agreement. The document is considered for important for improvement of the political and economic relations between Skopje and Brussels.

On July 16, 1997, European Commission announced the long kept secret included in the voluminous document - Agenda 2000, for when and with whose countries EU should start its fifth enlargement towards the east part of Europe. In this document Macedonia was not in the mid-term plans of EU.

European Parliament adopted the text of the Agreement for cooperation between EU and the Republic of Macedonia at the beginning of October in Brussels, applied on January 1, 1998.

Tony Lloyd, the British foreign minister, departed to Macedonia on February 2, 1998 to start the political dialogue between Brussels and Skopje. The first session of the political dialogue was held in Ohrid between Blagoj Handziski, the former foreign minister of the Republic of Macedonia and Tony Lloyd. Issues on interior political and economy situations, interior stability, the results of the reforms in Macedonia and security in the region were discussed.

In the second half of March 1998, the two-day session of the Council for cooperation between the Republic of Macedonia and the European Union started in Skopje, where European Commissioner Hans van den Broek participated. During the two-day session an accent was put on the economic and monetary development of Macedonia, carrying out of the reforms in the economy and other fields.

Opening of the European Commission office in the Republic of Macedonia on March 1998 and appointing of Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira for its first resident envoy, was a kind of European support to Macedonia. According to the statement of Teixeira given after the opening of the office in Skopje, his presence in Macedonia will contribute in strengthening of more active contact between European Commission and Macedonian government for maintenance of the economic cooperation and political dialogue.

After the meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers on November 9 in Brussels, the report on five Balkan states Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and FR Yugoslavia was adopted.

The report reads that Macedonia respects the democratic principles, the regional stability and the cooperation. The progress in the field of legal state, the respect of the minorities and the economic reforms was also noticed in Macedonia. However a bigger progress in the public administration, judiciary, private sector and participation of the minorities in the public life is necessary. Macedonia must continue to apply the Agreement for Cooperation and Traffic with its financial protocol and to try to use PHARE assistance better.

On March 5, 1999, the second meeting of the Council for cooperation was held where joint Declaration between the Republic of Macedonia and EU was brought. It reads that "the level of the agreed relations between Macedonia and EU can be faster upgraded on level of associative agreement." European Commission decided to take this step, after the conclusion that Macedonia fulfils the conditions in whole.

On March 9, 1999 by the visit of Joshka Fischer, German foreign minister, and Hans van der Broek, European Commissioner, to Skopje, the EU raised the level of its diplomatic office to Macedonia. In that way EU thanked Macedonia for the contribution in the stabilisation and the return of the peace in the region. At the press conference the former Macedonian foreign minister Aleksandar Dimitrov informed that Prime Minister, Ljubcho Georgievski delivered letter to Fischer for official request for associative membership in EU which will develop into full-fledged membership in the future.

On May 31, 1999, the European Commission proposal for negotiations for stabilisation and association agreements, first with Macedonia and Albania, and later with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Yugoslavia was supported by EU council of ministers. After the prepared feasibility study by European Commission, EU foreign ministers on June 21, 1999 decided that Macedonia fulfilled the conditions for signing of the stabilisation and association agreement.

European Commission proposed presentation of new form of cooperation with the Balkan states called "virtual annexation."

In order "doors of Europe to be opened" the Balkan states should recognise mutually the permanent borders, to solve the problems with national minorities and to elaborate programme for regional cooperation with which a customs union will be formed which will be included in EU, reads the conclusions from the meeting.

EU council of foreign ministers on January 24, 2000 gave mandate to European Commission to start the talks with the Macedonian government for possible signing of the stabilisation and association agreement.

"It is my pleasure to inform you that the European Commission Council for Common Policy accepted all principles for starting of the negotiations in the frameworks of stabilisation and association process with Skopje," the representative of former chair of EU, from Portugal, Charles Louis le Guern, stated after the meeting.

After European Commission gave the mandate to Macedonia, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia welcomed the decision and demanded all ministries to make efforts through its departments for European integration to contribute in fulfilment of requested conditions for faster European integration of Macedonia

European Parliament on February 17, 2000 with majority of votes adopted the report with which the European Commission is supported for starting of the talks with the Republic of Macedonia for signing of stabilisation and association agreement. The evolutional clause must be included in the agreement it was demanded in the report.

Christopher Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations, on March 7, 2000 made official the diplomatic mission of EU in the Republic of Macedonia on higher level - from Office to Delegation. Chief of the European Commission Delegation to the Republic of Macedonia is Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira.

With this step the relations between Macedonia and EU advance in more dynamic phase. The first step to this is the start of the negotiations for signing of the stabilisation and association agreement which has been inaugurated by the Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski and Christopher Patten, European Commissioner.

"It is my great pleasure for being here today with you and it is a great honor that at this day the negotiations for signing of the stabilisation and association agreement will start," Christopher Patten stated in Skopje, hoping that others would follow the Macedonia's example.

Patten formed such position due to generous and courageous role of Macedonia in its attempts for stabilisation of the situations in the region. The successful end of the negotiations will depend on Macedonia's success in carrying out of the planned reforms, Patten said.

Addressing the Macedonian Parliament, Patten said "By starting of the stabilisation and association agreement process in EU, you have obliged to carry out the serious reforms that you must perform in the way to Europe. This is the programme of work, which will demand enhanced efforts by the government as well. What EU expects from you is the same that other donors demand: labour market and social reforms, transparent and not quasi privatisation, legal system that gives trust and no tolerance towards the corruption."

"Today, we are more than happy that Macedonia is the only state that EU starts negotiations for association and I experience the start of the talks as a big challenge and also a big chance," Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski stated.

The first round of talks between Macedonia and EU started on April 5, 2000 in Brussels, with Fabrizio Barbaso and Vasil Tupurkovski, the chiefs of negotiating teams. European Commission, on the basis of Cologne texts for stabilisation and association process established negotiating platform consisted of 5 parts: general clause, political dialogue, institutional clause, regional cooperation and financial cooperation.

The first round of talks between Macedonia and EU continued in Skopje on April 12, 2000, where the two negotiating teams discussed the first five chapters comprised in the general principles of the agreement, the regional cooperation, approach of legislation, financial cooperation and institutional and final Articles.

Macedonian team submitted several amendments, which are negotiated. One of the main amendments is the evolutional access to be indirectly mentioned in the initial Articles of the agreement. Macedonian team demands the pose with which "individual achievements of Macedonia will be stressed" to be inserted. The negotiating team also proposed decreased of the deadline from 10 to 8 and later to 6 years for full association of Macedonia in EU.

Macedonia demands proposed 10 years to decrease to 8 of the transitional period which will lead us to free trade zone with EU member-states. The official statement of the negotiating team is that the reforms are heavy but they would be carried out at all costs. European Commission persistently refuses to precise the evolutional clause in the future stabilisation and association agreement between Macedonia and EU, with an explanation that for such thing Macedonia needs a mandate from EU member-states.

On September 18, 2000, EU council of ministers adopted the European Commission proposal for asymmetrical opening of the market towards the Balkan countries. The wine has been excluded from the free export regime for which the quota and fish and beef meat products are decreased.

Vasil Tupurkovski, the former vice-president of the Macedonian government and chief of the negotiating team with EU, on October 26, informed journalists for the realised talks with EU representatives regarding the stabilisation and association agreement.

"If we look at all states candidates for entrance in the EU, we will notice no big differences. There are no champions among the states, that will approach EU for two-three years," Tupurkovski said.

He told that joint council for association and stabilisation was formed and, as a constitutional part of the agreement will bring decisions immediately. The council is authorized to solve any issues from the realization of the agreement.

Tupurkovski said that evolutional clause will be defined after the end of the negotiations. The Republic of Macedonia has nothing to fear what the evolutional clause will include, if it is capable to reach the standards accepting them as a mutual obligation with the association and stabilisation agreement. It is clear that Macedonia has guarantees to become an EU member, if it is capable to realize those standards.

European Union, informed Tupurkovski, sent letter which reads "due to the interior technical reasons in the frameworks of the EU, the meeting for the third round of talks, scheduled for October 27, has been rescheduled for future term which will be determined additionally." The postponement is due to Spain's opposing to certain privileges that Macedonia will gain within the frameworks of the initialling of agreement that refer to free export of goods from Macedonia to EU member-states with no restrictions.

European Commission on November 8, estimated that the negotiations for stabilisation and association are close to final phase.

The third and the final round of talks were held on November 22, in Skopje where the text of the stabilisation and association agreement between Macedonia and EU has been co-ordinated.

Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski stated that after two years from election the new government "Brussels opened the door to Macedonia maximally, for which the Balkan events contributed, at most the role of Macedonia in the Kosovo crisis and the new position of the region towards Europe and EU towards the region."

Georgievski stressed that initialling of the agreement is only a start of the long way for Macedonia towards Europe, which now becomes easier and careless.

"With this agreement we have become part of the Europe. That is something that cannot be denied by anyone. We only have the political way which I believe we are to complete successfully in the following decade," Georgievski stressed.

On November 24, in Zagreb during the Summit EU-Western Balkan, the stabilisation and association agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and EU was initialled. Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski and Christopher Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations, initialled the agreement.

Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski estimated the initialling of the agreement as a "historical step" that Macedonia waited for ten years and it was a priority in its foreign policy. "We would be an example that EU would be proud of, an example of good international cooperation and regional activity and in proportion to the level of development of the democracy, interethnic tolerance and intensity of the reforms," Georgievski said.

He said that the Republic of Macedonia is the first country that signed stabilisation and association agreement with EU.

Last year, in December the regulation of the Council for introduction of trade exclusive measures of EU came into force and Macedonia was included in CARDS Programme for the period 2000-2006.

The next important step of Macedonia's accession towards EU was made on February 6, 2001 when the temporary agreement for regulation of the trade relations from stabilisation and association agreement was signed.

The temporary agreement is to be signed Monday in Luxembourg together with the stabilisation and association agreement and will come into force on June 2001.

Signing of the stabilisation and association agreement between the European communities and its member-states and the Republic of Macedonia is of a strategic importance for our country and its efforts for access and association in EU, with which it enters in the circle of the state-candidates for membership in the union. On economic plan, the agreement opens the door to Macedonia at one of the biggest and most powerful markets in the world and enables establishment of political and economic relations with every EU member-states.

European Union is a union of 15 member countries. On May 9, 1950, Robert Shuman, the French foreign minister, proposed establishment of coal and steel community. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands became members of the community on April 18, 1952. The six countries on March 25, 1957 established European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Community, in Rome. Three communities joined on April 8, 1965. Denmark, Ireland and Great Britain joined the community on January 1, 1973. Greece became the tenth member of the community on January 1, 1981 while Portugal and Spain became members on January 1, 1986.

Austria, Finland and Sweden became members on January 1, 1995, while on January 1, 1999 the Euro became joint European currency in 11 countries.

European Commission proposed start of the negotiations for inclusion in EU for 12 countries, on October 13, 1999.

By this decision Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta joined Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus whose negotiation for entrance in EU had started on March 1998.

Commission proposed the Republic of Turkey to given a status of candidate for entrance in the Union.

Negotiations with the six countries from the so-called "second group" should start 2001 while their entrance in EU will be not earlier than 2003.

Romano Prodi, European Commission president said that with this decision for the first time from the fall of the Roman Empire, a possibility for uniting of Europe is created, based on mutual objectives and interests.


The whole town of Botevgrad crowded to see Simeon II on Palm Sunday. On the photo: In the Holy Ascension Church His Majesty said a prayer closely mobbed by the citizens
Photo Kiril Konstantinov

Simeon II Preferred Bulgaria to Kingship.


If the King declines the offer to become a prime minister, he will nominate the person to take up the office, the Statute envisages. Simeon II was elected a leader unanimously. He will be filed in the register as Simeon Boris Coburg-Gotha. The chairman of the meeting, Prof. Panayot Panayotov, said that the official address of the King is the village of Banya (Karlovo district), 14 Vazrazhdane Street. The founders also elected the three members of the Control Council. These are actor Kosta Tsonev, Stela Dimitrova Angelova-Bankova, former employee of the Culture Ministry, and a teacher of Bulgarian literature from Kjustendil, Elka Panchova Atanasova. The meeting hall was overcrowded and the jostle made people nervous. Catastrophic lack of organization prevented many journalists from reporting the event.
Anelia Basheva

Brass Band Welcomes the King.


The entire Botevgrad gathered to welcome King Simeon II, an ambulance was called to rescue a woman smashed by the crowd

A brass band, which once played for Kim Il Song, Indira Ghandi, Todor Zhivkov and other world leaders, welcomed yesterday Simeon II and his wife in Botevgarad. The royal family came to the town on the invitation of vicar Georgi Bozhkov. Fifteen musicians ranked up in front the Holy Ascension Church already at dawn and recalled stories from the old times. "I've been playing for 31 years, but it is the first time that I play for a King", said the conductor Ivan Neshkov emotionally. The entire Botevgrad, along with the residents of the nearby villages came to see the royal couple in person. Security officers from the Ipon firm, had difficulties guarding them for the outburst of popular love. One of the welcomers was literally smashed by the crowd and an ambulance had to be called for urgently. Early in the morning crowds of people blocked the yard in front of the church and the adjacent streets. It took half an hour to His Majesty and his wife to make their way to the church. A nine-year-old Tsetska Hristova, attired in a folk costume, had to start her welcoming speech several times before she finally managed to outvoice the crowd chanting "We want the King". "Welcome to Botevgrad. This is the best gift to me and all residents of our town," recited the girl to the smiling King. The kid crowned the King and Queen with wreaths made of willow twigs, while Father Bozhkov couldn't conceal tears of excitement welling up in his eyes. In the church His Majesty said a prayer. Later, surrounded by cheerful citizens, His Majesty set out for the Town's Hall, where he had a meeting with Mayor Tsvetoljub Savov. A brass band accompanied the royal cortege all the way and the people spontaneously sang out popular patriotic songs.
Anelia Basheva

Bulgarians flock to support ex-king.



The former king got a rapturous welcome when he returned.

Sunday, 8 April, 2001, 23:25 GMT 00:25 UK

Thousands of people have gathered in the Bulgarian capital Sofia to join the new political party being set up by the former King, Simeon II, to contest general elections in June.

There were chaotic scenes as crowds attempted to enter a small hall to join the party, named the National Movement for King Simeon II.

The former king, who spent most of the past 50 years in exile after fleeing Bulgaria in 1946, returned to the country on Friday.

Now a Madrid-based businessman, he announced his plans to stand for election on Friday, pledging to fight poverty and priority.

The BBC central Europe correspondent says estimates of the party's popularity vary wildly, with some even predicting it will win the election.

Simeon II says his party's priority is not to re-establish the monarchy but to restore what he calls morality and honesty to Bulgaria.

Shunning ideology

While shunning traditional left/right ideology, his party's programme stresses above all Simeon's own power within the party.

Many of the advisers he has gathered around him are figures from the immediate post-Communist period in the early 1990s.

Political observers are at a loss to explain Simeon II's soaring popularity.

The former king first returned to his homeland six years ago, to a rapturous public welcome.

"It is neither morally nor politically justified that most Bulgarians live in misery... while certain politicians are drowning in opulence; nor that tens of thousands of our sons and daughters flee Bulgaria because they see no prospects here," he said, announcing his party's candidacy.

The election is expected to be a close-run contest between the ruling reformists and the opposition socialists, who are mainly former communists.

People disenchanted

But polls suggest the former king's party could get around 20% of the vote, as the current government's austerity measures have left many people disenchanted.

Earlier this year, the constitutional court banned him from contesting presidential elections as he had not lived in Bulgaria for long enough, leaving him legislative polls as the only alternative.

The former king said he was looking forward to serving his country.

He became king at the age of six, but his reign was cut short after three years when the communists took power and abolished the monarchy, causing him to flee into exile.

Macedonian Muslims torn between two sides.


URVIC, Macedonia, April 8 (AFP) -
Torn between a "natural solidarity" with the ethnic Albanians and his loyalty to Macedonia, Lokman Tairi admits he "does not want to take sides" in the tumultuous events in the country.

The head of this tiny village is a "torbes", a Macedonian of Muslim belief. About 80 percent of Urvic's residents, near the western Macedonian town Tetovo are torbes, living in the majority Albanian region.

In March, when Macedonian security forces and Albanian guerrillas clashed, most of the 1,000 villagers fled their homes.

"The Albanian guerrillas? Every sane person worries about the situation. But we are also close to the Albanians, mixed marriages are not rare," Tairi said.

He said that the Albanian demands for official recognition of their language, better education and more employing rights "are justified."

The villagers have "never been harassed" by the rebels of the National Liberation Army (NLA), Tairi insisted.

"No one came here, the rebels have nothing to do with me, and I have nothing to do with them," he said.

"One should not take sides," Tairi explained, but "one thing is sure: it is better to talk and negotiate for 10 years than to have a war for one day."

In the nearby sister village of Jelovjane, people vowed their loyalty to Macedonia.

"We are faithful to the state, but we do not want to be sandwiched in," Biliul Yousoufi, a local shopkeeper said.

"The Albanians here are also citizens of Macedonia. During the clashes we were urged not to leave. We are here as a family, we want to live with everyone. But for them (the authorities), all the world should speak Macedonian," he said.

The Union of Macedonians of Muslim religion, which calls for recognition of their culture, estimate that "up to 150,000" members of their community live in Macedonia.

The last official census in the country showed that out of its two million population, some 67 percent are Macedonian, 23 percent Albanian and 10 percent belong to other minorities.

Approximate numbers have already provoked intense conflicts among the population.

Lativ Paikovski, a member of the ruling party, noted a "pressure in certain regions on why the Macedonians assimilate" the Albanians.

"The first argument is the religion," he said, accusing the Albanians, notably their religious chiefs, of trying to convince the villagers that a Muslim can not be a Macedonian.

"We are Macedonians who during a Turkish empire rule accepted the Islamic religion. The Macedonians are not only Orthodox Slavs. Our president is a protestant," he insisted.

Paikovski, deputy head of the census commission, estimated that more than 30,000 Macedonian Muslims are among the Albanians.

He said a category of "Macedonians of Muslim confession" will be established for a new census planned in the coming months.

But in Urvic and Jelovjane, where three-quarters of the villagers live on welfare, such considerations still seem far away.

"Language links us to the Macedonians, religion to the Albanians, but their politicians see us only when they have some interest in it," Rexhep Nouredine, a torbes from Urvic complained.

"When the situation is normal, we are forgotten," he said, showing his monthly paycheck of 120 German marks (55 dollars, 61 euros).

"How can one have rights if he can hardly survive?" his neighbour Abedin Zenoulai, an Albanian married to a torbes, asked.

Enter supporting content here