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16, Feb-2001.

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Friday.

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ARMED ACTIVITY IN TANUSHEVCI AREA.

Macedonian Defense Ministry.

On 16th of Feb.20001 in Tanushevce area, close to Macedonia - Yugoslav border there was an armed activity between the border guards and black uniformed members of a terrorist group.

Responding to fire in the incident when A-1 TV crew on duty trying to make a report about life and work of Tanushevci inhabitants was attacked, one of the border patrols alarmed the military crew at the border post Tanushevci, which was followed by certain activities for full combat readiness including enlarged and enforced patrolling and terrain search within ARM domain as well as enforced measures for border-post security.

Due to these activities one of our border patrols located an armed terrorist group of four people in the area between village Debalde, neighboring Yugoslavia in direction towards village Tanushevci. Simultaneously at about 15:55 hrs in the wood 150m.northwest from "Stara prodavnica" two people hideously approached were spotted and ordered to stop. Acting counter the order of our border guards the people started running and at the same time our patrol was exposed to fire coming out of the woods from different directions.

This armed activity was without wounded and casualties. During extraction of the border patrol, at the edge of the wood across the border 5 other black uniformed terrorist were spotted and they also opened fire towards our official bodies.

MACEDONIA-INTERIOR MINISTER RESIGNS.

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Macedonia's Interior Minister Dosta Dimovska resigned on Friday, saying it was her moral responsibility to step down in connection with the accusations for wire-tapping levelled by the opposition. In her letter to Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, Dimovska writes that she holds herself morally responsible about what is happening in the Interior Ministry and says that she never issued a decision to wire-tap for political and ideological reasons the persons opposition leader Branco Crvenkovski claims were wire-tapped. Dimovska said that in the month after the scandal against her as a minister broke, a witch-hunt campaign is being waged by part of the opposition, former security service functionaries and former top Yugoslav politicians. She said they want to eliminate her politically which serves the intelligence aims of foreign countries.

In her letter the Macedonian Interior Minister also says that the campaign against her inflicted serious political damage. Dimovska points out that performance of the most responsible functions in the state should be guided by the ethical principles of honour and moral responsibility.
Dimovska is deputy chairperson of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party and the closest ally of its leader Georgievski since the time the VMRO-DPMNE was set up more than ten years ago.

The Name Game.

AIM Skopje

For a while the haggling between Skopje and Athens over the name of Macedonia that would end the seven-years dispute between the two countries had stopped. New names are now in the game and the stakes are up: in addition to the country's name, the "package" now contains a Macedonian Orthodox Christian Church

As many times in the past, the Greek government used the news media to announce its readiness to support Macedonia's integration into the European Union and NATO if the country's leadership agrees that its current name be changed from the Republic of Macedonia to Northern Macedonia or New Macedonia. For the first time, the "package" also contains an offer: Athens will support the Macedonian Orthodox Church's autonomy in regard to the Serbian Orthodox Church if it changes its current name to the Ohrid Archbishopric, or the Ohrid Macedonian Archbishopric. As additional "bonuses" the withdrawal of Schengen visa requirements for Macedonian citizens is also mentioned, as well as financial aid amounting to some one million German marks The offer was too tempting to be easily rejected. The dispute over Macedonia's name has been going on for several years because the Greeks, having a province of the same name in its northern part, are unwilling to accept the present name of the former Yugoslav republic. On the other hand, the Macedonian Orthodox Church is still not recognized in the Orthodox Christian world due to decades of dispute with the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Macedonian Church simply declared its independence, but the Serbian Church is possibly willing to settle for no more than autonomy.

As far as Macedonia's name is concerned, Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim immediately strongly denied that the country's name was a matter of any negotiation. His Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, failed to show equal resolve: in an interview on Skopje A-1 TV he said that the dispute was slowing down cooperation and added that its resolution would "open new prospects."

Papandreou also said that Greece and Macedonia "have identical interests in the region." "When we say that that country (Macedonia) should be part of the EU and NATO, we do that because we see it as a strategic partner." When asked whether the change of Macedonia's name to Northern or New Macedonia would resolve the dispute, Papandreou responded that "many names were proposed," and that "the problem is not in the name, but whether the two sides will muster enough political will to make a step forward."

Diplomatic observers are convinced that Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski made a small amount of progress compared with his foreign minister, when after a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the so-called Stoel University of Southeastern Europe, on Feb. 11 in Tetovo, he was taken by surprise by a journalist's question. Namely, the prime minister then recalled that the former government had already allowed a change of the country's constitutional name when agreeing that it be called by the international community the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and that because of that he accepted any initiative that would bring the country closer to its constitutional name -- the Republic of Macedonia. Subsequent reactions, premonitions and warnings in the media, including the pro-government Nova Makedonija newspaper, saying that the country's leadership should not make hasty moves in that direction, forced Georgijevski, otherwise always ready to respond to all "slippery" questions, to be more specific. Three days later he said: "For us it is best to use the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia when communicating with Greece. The only alternative to this is the name Republic of Macedonia. The only name that can be negotiated is the Republic of Macedonia," the prime minister stressed, adding that the purpose of negotiating was to remove the "disgrace" of the past decade. "This does not mean that there is willingness to make further concessions," Georgijevski underlined. He recalled that president Gligorov was the one who proposed the use of two names the constitutional one for domestic and international use, and the other to be used solely by Greece. A similar statement was made by President Boris Trajkovski, who said that no one is authorized to make any further concessions concerning the country's name.

As far as the name of the Macedonian Orthodox Church is concerned, an official proposal came from the Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Constantinople (Istanbul), brought in by a Church delegation which traveled there in a bid to have the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, the first among equals in the family of Orthodox Churches, side with the Macedonian Church in its dispute with the Serbian Church. The Ecumenical Patriarchate proposed that the Macedonian Church be called the Ohrid Patriarchate, until a dispute over the name is resolved between Skopje and Athens. The proposal also said that the Macedonian Church should be granted a four-year autonomy, and only afterwards be declared independent.

Dignitaries of the Macedonian Church admit that the problem is being transferred from ecclesiastic to political ground. This comes as no surprise given that Patriarch Bartholomew is Greek, and that the Greek Orthodox Church is faring pretty well in Constantinople. If news reports are to be trusted, a majority of Holy Synod members left ample room for the belief that the proposal could be found acceptable. It appears that the bishops trust that recognition of the status of the Macedonian Church would receive support from all Orthodox Churches, and that the dispute with the Serbian Church would be resolved once and for all. Macedonian Orthodox Church Patriarch Stefan himself recently said that "as much as the Macedonian Orthodox Church is the Ohrid Archbishopric, the Ohrid Archbishopric is the Macedonian Orthodox Church." The news media also carried a letter by Patriarch Stefan to Serbian Patriarch Pavle asking him to agree that the Ecumenical Patriarchate should resolve the issue of the Macedonian Church's status. A response from Belgrade is expected to arrive shortly...

The usually well-informed A-1 TV station, however, learned that the American-Canadian Diocese, the Australian-New Zealand Diocese and the European Diocese threatened to secede if the Synod opted for a name in which national reference, that is, Macedonian, is omitted. This would be, they say, "the last straw" in the otherwise increasingly poor relations between the Church leadership and the Diaspora. Similar threats came from inside Macedonia, because it is believed that two bishops, Kiril and Agatangel, otherwise members of the eight-member Holy Synod, are strongly against the offer.

Media outlets not controlled by the government called on Church leaders to ask the faithful what they think about changing the name, and warned of the possibility of a schism. They also asked about the fate of the 1967 decision of the Macedonian Orthodox Church to declare independence from the Serbian Orthodox Church. Obviously not being at home in Divine matters, they neglected the fact that principles of self-rule, referendums and democracy, can hardly oblige the Church.

This is where the prime minister once again stepped in. Georgijevski, who was reputed to have played a role in all relations between the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate in Constantinople, and of being influential in Church circles said he would accept a Synod decision reached unanimously. He told the journalists that disputes over church independence and autonomy were "a normal occurrence." "One first goes to grade one and only then to grade two." A day or two before this statement he even openly said that "proven atheists, who until recently attacked the Church, are now more concerned with its fate than the bishops themselves."

The offers, both of the laity and the clerics, are now on the table... Optimists, encouraged by signals from Brussels, believe that the dispute over the name will be resolved at the Balkans Summit next week in Skopje. Experts in Church matters are no lesser optimists, and are convinced that Archbishop Stefan, Patriarch Pavle and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will soon sit at the table, shake hands in reconciliation, after which the Macedonian Orthodox Church will be welcomed into the family of Orthodox Churches.

Be it as it may, if all of what had reached the public is true, the leaders of both the state and the Church, are facing a difficult task. And time for pondering is inevitably running out...

Zeljko Bajic

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