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A Macedonian policeman stands on the turret of an APC behind the country's red-and-yellow flag while patrolling a street in the ethnically mixed village of Mateiche, some 36 km (22 miles) northeast of the capital Skopje May 14, 2001. Macedonian army guns were silent on Monday to allow civilians to leave rebel-held areas after a national unity government of Slav and ethnic Albanian parties was formed to subdue an Albanian uprising threatening civil war. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
NEW GOVERNMENT SHOWS THERE IS NO PLACE FOR HATE IN MACEDONIA.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski welcomed the establishment of the new Government comprised of all relevant political parties in his interview for the Macedonian Television.
"There are several reasons why I want to express my satisfaction. Firstly the Government, I have often mentioned and supported in the past, has been finally established. I think this is a step forward toward political consolidation and symbolizes union of all political parties, what is of national and state interest. I think that the nation should be unique and united," President Trajkovski stated.
The second very important moment for Trajkovski is that the political parties showed political maturity and put the state and national interests before their personal interests.
According to the President the third positive moment in the establishment of the Government is that the Macedonian political parties showed to the Macedonian citizens and to the international factor that they could adequately recognize the problems and could adequately respond in order to resolve them and to establish peace in the country.
"The participation of the bigger Macedonian and Albanian political parties in the Government showed once again that the there is no place for hate or intolerance in Macedonia but on contrary there is a place for democracy and prosperity. The election of such Government also indicated that the roots of the problems are not in Macedonia, but they are imported from Kosovo," President Trajkovski stressed.
He underlined that there was a lot of work ahead of the Government. "The Government should return the stability and the security in the country, it should take back the citizens' confidence into state institutions, to continue the economic and political reforms and to intensify the political dialogue," President Trajkovski said.
The Sunday meeting of the state officials including the newly appointed defence and interior ministers was a good opportunity to introduce the new members with the ongoing activities. I hope that the Government will realize the commitments and promises of all political parties in order to bring peace in the country," the Macedonian President stated.
Asked whether the new Government is truly a Government of political unity President Trajkovski answered "it is not just a Government of political but also of national unity.
PM GEORGIEVSKI: I EXPECT THIS GOVERNMENT TO DEFEAT EXTREMISM.
I believe that this Government will fulfill its task to defeat extremism and armed groups, conducting the democratic dialogue in the same time, Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski said referring to the formation of a new government coalition of political unity in Macedonia.
"We have agreed to introduce a legal model that has been exercised in many countries in danger. The fact that the four major Macedonian and Albanian political parties in Macedonia, as well as many others have joined and supported the government coalition, say more than enough for the power of this government," Georgievski said.
He considers that all parties in Macedonia are aware that the country is in a great danger, because somebody is planing to create a new state in the Balkans, including Macedonia's territory.
"According to latest information from the Police and the Macedonian Army General HQ, an encirclement around the villages, occupied by terrorists, is tighten. Now, a decision should be made whether to enter into these villages or to keep them under control from a distance, considering the risk for the security forces and civilians," Georgievski said.
NEW GOVERNMENT WILL SHOW THAT MACEDONIA HAS STRONGEST DEMOCRACY IN THE REGION.
Spokesman of the Macedonian Government Antonio Milososki said at press conference held on Monday that the Government of National Unity is the best indicator for the fact that in the moments of largest crisis in the recent Macedonian history, in a situation of a military threat, all political subjects that speak the language of democracy have united against those who want to change the borders in Europe and in the region, and who violate the European principles.
According to Milososki, the new Government will have an extremely hard task, and its priorities will be to surpass the current security crisis and to continue the political dialogue led so far based on an initiative by President Boris Trajkovski.
As he stressed, the outcome from the crisis was known even at its beginning, and added that "regardless how long will this crisis take place, at the end the democracy shall prevail and will defeat the terrorism."
Minister of Defense Vlado Buckovski considers that we all witness a historical process aimed to development of democracy.
"With the establishment of the Government of Political Unity, the political parties in Macedonia have shown readiness for reaching political stability in the country, as main precondition for restoration of stability," he said.
"The Ministry of Defense, as one of the main axles of the Government, will try to provide all preconditions for logistic support to the Army, which in the past few months deserved all compliments regarding the manner how the operations were led," Buckovski stated, adding that he would do everything in his power to restore the rating of the ministry of defense.
Priorities of the ministry, Buckovski said, would be to provide sufficient material resources for the needs of the Army and to increase the number of recruits.
Spokesman of the ministry of defense Gjorgji Trendafilov reported that currently the Macedonian security forces are not undertaking actions against the Albanian terrorists in order to enable to the Red Cross Committee to inspect the situation in Vaksince, Slupcane, Orizare, Lojane and Lipkovo villages. He added that the cease-fire does not mean that the Macedonian Army will allow free movement of terrorists in the area.
"Any attempt by the Albanian terrorists to regroup their lines or any other activity that would represent a threat for our security forces will be eliminated," Trendafilov stressed.
At 13.20 on Monday, the Macedonian Army shelled an Albanian terrorist group in the region of Vejska Reka, Defense Ministry spokesman reported, adding that the military operations on Sar Mountain are still going on.
Asked whether the military operations would cease after the establishment of the Government for political unity, Buckovski said that the government has a task to increase the capacity of the Macedonian security forces.
"According to the priorities presented yesterday by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, all participants in the new Government should give full contribution to the stabilization of the country. That means with all political and military means," he stressed.
Trendafilov denied that there were desertions from the Army by Albanian recruits.
Macedonia: Local dailies say NLA attempts to present its dead fighters as civilian casualties.
Skopje, - Ethnic Albanian terrorists operating in the village of Slupcane had staged a funeral of 20 members of the NLA, dressed in civilian clothes. They attempted to present the dead fighters as civilian casualties killed by Macedonian security forces.
Skopjes daily newspapers say the terrorists had invited foreign reporters to attend the funeral. However, the foreign reporter teams had probably not managed to attend the funeral. The local daily Vecer says the local villagers, who were used by the terrorists as human shields, are probably the victims who were laid to rest in funeral services.
Bulgaria seizes drugs on Turkish border.
Customs officials in Bulgaria say they have seized more than 150kg of heroin from a Turkish-registered lorry bound for Germany.
They say the drugs were contained in 300 separate packages hidden behind a double wall in the lorry's trailer.
The driver was detained.
The discovery was made at the Turkish border - Bulgaria lies on the so-called Balkan route for smuggling drugs from Asia into western Europe.
BULGARIA - YUGOSLAVIA - VISIT.
The Bulgarians in Yugoslavia will have Radio Nis newscasts and press publications in their mother tongue, Yugoslavia's Minister of Ethnic and National Communities Rasim Ljajic said here Monday after conferring with Bulgarian Minister without Portfolio Alexander Pramatarski. Ljajic is paying a two-day visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova. "The Government of Yugoslavia has the political will that the Bulgarian minority there preserve its identity and develop its own culture and education," Pramatarski said. "Our visit here is prompted by a willingness to demonstrate a new attitude towards addressing minority issues. We want to ensure them all human rights and to implement their democratic integration into society," the guest said.
"Minority problems arose in the last ten years due to the short-sighted policy of the Milosevic regime and affected the Bulgarian minority, too. By our new policy line we want to end this policy and wish all minorities, including the Bulgarian one, to integrate into society," Ljajic added. He noted that the Yugoslav Parliament will shortly adopt a minority rights law which has already been coordinated with the Council of Europe and the OSCE. Two days ago Yugoslavia acceded to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and it will soon accede to the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, the guest said.
As he put it, the new law will coprehensively solve the problems in the culture and education of all minority groups, the Bularian one included. The law provides for establishment of national councils for each minority which will be vested with powers in culture and education for the purpose of preservation of minority identities. A conference on confidence building in the Balkans will be held in Belgrade in late June, the Yugoslav Minister said.
Bulgarian Army mobilise.
Lyulin Stamenov. Cadets from the Naval School in Varna marched in the streets of Sofia as part of the celebration parade.
Traditionally, Gergiovden is one of the grandest, most important Bulgarian holidays. It was celebrated this Sunday with family gatherings, feasts featuring roast lamb, and with a heavily-promoted army parade, hindered by rain.
Georgi is among the most popular names in the country, but Gergiovden is much more than another name day celebration. It is the most multi-faceted holiday pagan and Christian, religious and non-religious.
St. George has been the patron saint of the Bulgarian Army since the First Bulgarian State (681-1018).
In pre-Christian times people believed that the way this day passed predicted the success of the following year, whether it would be healthy and prosperous, and whether there would be enough rain for a successful harvest. To please the gods, they would sacrifice their best lambs. Later, George became the patron saint of farmers.
The Christian background of the holiday is quite different. St. George, who is the patron saint of many different lands, was a high-ranking Roman soldier and a Christian, in the days when Christians were heavily persecuted by the Romans. He was tortured and killed for refusing to give up his faith. He was later canonised by the church, and became the symbol of manhood, strong will, and steadfastness in the face of ordeal.
Icons usually depict St. George riding a white steed and killing a monster, for his existence is shrouded in legend, the most famous perhaps being that of the damsel and the dragon. According to the legend, a pagan town was being terrorised by a dragon. Villagers tried to satisfy the creature with offerings of sheep but it clamoured for human flesh. Eventually, the Kings daughter was chosen by lot for the sacrifice and was only saved when George appeared and killed the dragon, thereby securing the conversion of the community to Christianity.
The Day of the Bulgarian Army was first celebrated in 1880 to mark the re-establishment of the Bulgarian Army after the liberation from the Turkish yoke. It was celebrated even during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 and the First World War. After 1947, the date was changed several times, partly to coincide with the rise of the communists. The original date of May 6 was reinstated as the Day of the Bulgarian Army in 1993.
The celebrations start with a religious ceremony during which the army flags are blessed. With the blessing of the army flags, hope is expressed that God will watch over the army and make it victorious, but this is actually a prayer for peace, not for war and bloodshed. This year, nine flags were blessed in front of the St. George Rotunda, one of the oldest Christian churches in Bulgaria, in the presence of Defence Minister Boiko Noev and other officials. Among the guests were nine Chelsea Pensioners retired British military men from the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London. They were invited by Noev to visit Bulgaria from May 4-7 .
The army holiday traditionally culminates in a military parade in the centre of Sofia.
This years parade was unique since it involved military manoeuvres for the first time in 17 years. Unfortunately the heavy rain prevented aircraft from participating in the show.
Sofia citizens had probably seen and heard enough of them in any case, as on the Thursday and Friday, they were practicing in the skies above the city. City centre traffic was also disrupted on more than one occasion as troops rehearsed the route with the fleet of military vehicles.
Bulgarian President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Petar Stoyanov paid tribute to the sacred flags that had led the Bulgarian Army in its five wars after the liberation from Turkish yoke. In his address to todays army units, the president spoke of Bulgarias glorious victories and of its worst losses.
He said that the Bulgarian Army had not lost any wars since the liberation from Turkish yoke, nor had a Bulgarian army flag been captured on the battlefield. He thanked the soldiers for enduring the high social price of the reform in the army, and stated that Bulgarias future membership in NATO was the best guarantee for national security and prosperity.
The parade then began, to the beat of military marches and heavy rain. Of the 21 aircraft that were advertised in advance, only four military helicopters flew over Battenberg Square, carrying the Bulgarian flag, and the flags of the three forces: land, air and navy. The armoured cars and other army vehicles followed the marchers through endless puddles. The armys central brass band brought up the rear.
Wreaths were laid at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier (near Alexander Nevski Cathedral), to commemorate all who have died protecting Bulgarias freedom.
Stoyanov said later: In spite of the national nihilism and the spring rain, this was a nice parade that made me feel proud of being Bulgarian. The faces of the people watching the parade were faces of hope.
Bulgaria hits back.
By Annie Rusinova
BULGARIA cannot and will not accept a political trial for the six citizens accused of intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV, Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova told Arab ambassadors to Bulgaria on Monday.
She told the top diplomats of 11 Arab countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Sudan that Libya seems set to stage a political trial.
She quoted media reports stating that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi told an African AIDS summit in Nigeria on April 27 that the trial of five nurses and one doctor was going to have an international scope like the Lockerbie trial and that the defendants were under the orders of the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry is yet to receive an official version of the text of Gaddafis speech from Libya. Mihailova has received only verbal guarantees by Libyan ambassador to Bulgaria Farage Gibril that no political figures speech could influence the court.
Mihailova said such pre-trial statements violated the internationally accepted legal principle of the presumption of innocence and indicated that Libya intended to turn the Bulgarians into pawns through which to settle scores with other countries.
Bulgaria has requested the opinions of the International Health Organisation, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, and UNAIDS (joint United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS) to be considered in the trial. If they are not, the courts decision could not be considered fair, Mihailova said. She asked the ambassadors for their countries support in pushing for a just and transparent trial.
At its meeting last Friday the Bulgarian Interdepartmental Commission appointed to the Libyan case discussed ways to guarantee that the process aginst the Bulgarian medics would not be politicised following Gaddafis Nigeria speech. Possibilities included Nadezhda Mihailova going to Libya.
The commission stuck to its request that the Tripoli court takes into consideration reports by international medical specialists during the trial, which is due to re-open on Monday, said spokesman Assen Girginov.
Bulgarian journalists wishing to cover the trial would be given Libyan visas, ambassador Gibril said. The presence of Bulgarian journalists at the trial would be a serious guarantee for transparency, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov said.
Kosovo Albanian leader 'joins Macedonia rebels'
A high-ranking official in the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, is reported to have joined ethnic Albanian rebels in northern Macedonia.
The reports - from both Kosovo and Macedonia - say the man, Gezim Ostreni, has been made one of the military commanders of the rebel forces.
He was suspended as the chief of staff of the Kosovo Protection Corps last month over alleged links with the rebel.
He had been absent from his post for a month.
The Macedonian authorities have accused Kosovo Albanians of involvement in the fighting in the north of the country.
Mr Ostreni - who is originally from Macedonia - served in the Kosovo Liberation Army during the conflict in the province.
PAPANDREOU: THE ALBANIAN LEADERS SHOULD CONDEMN THE TERRORISM IN MACEDONIA.
Brussels, May 14 (MIA) - The Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou called the Albanian leaders to "sharply condemn the terrorist acts" in northern Macedonia, MIA reports.
Papandreou gave this statement after todays meeting of the EU Ministers Council of Foreign Ministers, in Brussels. At the meeting, the Union hailed the establishment of the Macedonian Government for Political Unity.
The meeting was focused on the situation in Macedonia and the Balkans, the middle-east issue and the possibility for reception of new members in the Union.
Russia/Macedonia: Russia welcomes the formation of broad government coalition.
Moscow/Skopje, - Russia welcomes the formation of a broad government coalition in Macedonia designed to stabilize the situation in the country and to create convenient conditions for continuation of domestic political dialogue. The new government is due to creating an appropriate atmosphere for early parliamentary elections.
One of the main tasks of the new government coalition is to accomplish an immediate cessation of violence, a representative of Russian Foreign Ministry says. He reiterated that Russia has a full understanding for the response of Macedonian officials, including the resort to force, aimed at ultimate neutralization ethnic Albanian extremists given that the protection of territorial integrity and sovereignty is the top priority. Russian Foreign Ministry makes clear that Kosovo is the main source of tensions in the Balkans, noting that the international community has to implement the UN Security Council Resolutions 1244 and 1345, says the Russian Foreign Ministry communiqué, handed over to Makfax news agency by the Russian Embassy in Skopje.
Albania: Tirana welcomes the broad government coalition in Macedonia.
Tirana, - Albanias government welcomes the formation of a broad government coalition in Macedonia. The communiqué released late on Monday says the new government of political unity needs to pursue a comprehensive reform agenda in order to bridge the crisis in the country.
Welcoming the formation of the new government coalition, joined by two ethnic Albanian parties, the Foreign Minister of Albania, Paskal Milo, had once again condemned the armed extremists operating in Macedonia.
Belgium: Robertson calls on UCPMB to lay down the weapons.
Brussels, - NATO Secretary General, George Robertson, presumes that there should be no longer a Ground Safety Zone (GSZ) between Serbia and Kosovo, noting that the Alliance did not took so easily the decision on redeployment of Yugoslav forces in the Sector B of the Ground Safety Zone. It is high time for ethnic Albanian armed groups to lay down their weapons and to participate actively in the political processes within democratic Serbia, NATO Secretary General said, adding that any attack on KFOR members would cause a heavy military response.
NATO decided Monday to allow the return of Yugoslav forces in the Sector B of the Ground Safety Zone, along the administrative border between Serbia and Kosovo, as of May 24th, despite the threats and the impending risk of armed clashes with the fighters of the so-called Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB). NATOs communiqué says the KFOR will closely monitor the gradual and controlled return of FRY forces into the Sector B of the GSZ.