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Britain: Attempts for uniting territories predominated by ethnic Albanians turn sour.
London, - Londons newspaper Daily Telegraph says the military operations led by Yugoslav Army against ethnic Albanian guerillas in southern Serbia as well as the operation led by Macedonian Army against ethnic Albanian guerillas are very likely to put an end to ongoing attempts of uniting the territories predominate by ethnic Albanian population.
Londons daily says the ethnic Albanian rebels operating in Macedonia and southern Serbia are dealing with mighty opponents. This daily also says some 3.500 civilians from Kumanovos nearby village of Slupcane had rebuffed the appeal of Macedonian government to evacuate. They do not want to depart their families.
Macedonia: Utrinski Vesnik daily says captured soldier is safe and sound.
Skopje, - I feel well and I stay in touch with my close family almost every day, the local daily Utrinski Vesnik quotes Macedonian soldier, Goran Mitrevski, who was captured recently by members of the so-called National Liberation Army. Mitrevski told the local daily that he is good health condition and he was treated well, in accordance with general principles of international conventions.
Utrinski Vesnik daily says both the soldier and the NLA members had rejected the rumors on alleged ransom. The NLA members had also denied the rumors on alleged barter with two ethnic Albanian prisoners. They claimed that the captured soldier was treated well.
As far as his release, NLA members say the commanding structures will decide about it. The soldiers parents could come here and talk with their son if only the NLAs commanding structures allowed, NLA representative said, adding that the other two captured civilians are also safe and sound.
Albania: Robertson says Macedonias stability is NATOs priority.
Tirana, - One of the most urgent priority of NATO in the South East European Region is to preserve the security, stability and territorial integrity of Macedonia, said NATO Secretary General, George Robertson, while making an address to Albanian Atlantic Association in Tirana.
NATO Secretary-General said the irresponsible acts of aggression led by ethnic Albanian extremists are likely to undermine the peace in Macedonia, a country that is a successful example of how the democracy could function well in the Balkans. The international community will press ahead with further isolation of the extremists, both diplomatically and militarily, as long as they become aware that their insurgency could not and shall not turn successful. It is obvious that there is a regional dimension of the unrest in Macedonia, including the concomitant risk of hostilities to spill over into the neighboring countries, therefore, KFOR had intensified the patrols along the border with Macedonia, Roberston said.
Albania: Ambassador Ahrens says both the authorities and opposition in Albania condemn the extremists in Macedonia.
Tirana, - Albanian government and Sali Berishas opposition had strongly condemned the armed extremists who jeopardize the lives of ethnic Albanian civilians in Macedonia, Makfax news agency quotes the Head of OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Geert Ahrens, while addressing the events in Macedonia.
OSCE welcomes Tiranas condemnation given that all citizens of Albania fully support the rights of ethnic Albanian population in Macedonia.
Several thousands of ethnic Albanians from Macedonia are currently in Albania, Ambassador Ahrens said, noting that they are not refugees. The situation in Macedonia did not escalated to an extent, which would ignite a refugee crisis.
OSCE Mission in Tirana stays in touch with the Prime Minister of Albania, Ilir Meta, on regular basis, Ambassador Ahrens said, adding that Tirana government called on OSCE and the international community to provide assistance to Albania in terms of border security upgrades. The Macedonia-Albania border must be sealed in order to deter the extremists from illegal border crossings.
The recent events in Macedonia, including the disruption of shops and houses in Macedonias principal cities, show increased readiness of both sides for conflicts, therefore, it is very important at this moment to put an end to such tendency and any kind of hostility, Ambassador Ahrens told Tirana media.
Greece: Beglitis says Skopje and Athens resume name talks.
Athens, - There are several proposals on Macedonias new name, both Skopje and Athens are reviewing the options, said the Spokesman for Greek Foreign Ministry, Panayotis Beglitis.
Negotiations between Skopje and Athens are underway, Beglitis said when asked by the reporters to comment the claims of Skopje media saying that Macedonia will not negotiate for any changes of its constitutional name.
We have made certain progress in name-related issue, there are good chances for reaching an agreement given the possibility of changing Macedonian Constitution, within the frames of resolving the current crisis in the country. Both sides are close to reaching an ultimate agreement on mutual content.
Athens media said the name issue is very likely to be bridged soon. The name that allegedly emerged at the round-table dialogue is Upper Macedonia.
Beglitis rejected to comment the unofficial information that the US Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Thomas Miller, was appointed as new US Ambassador to Greece.
Macedonia: Fighting outbreaks near Slupcane.
Skopje, - Macedonian security forces launched earlier today selective attacks against terrorist strongholds and commanding post north of Vakisnce and northwest of Slupcane. Macedonian forces averted the ethnic Albanian terrorists from conducting an offensive against Macedonian army and police positions.
We used artillery while attacking two strongholds and one commanding post held by the terrorists, north of Vaksince and northwest of Slupcane. The action lasted half-an-hour, terrorist strongholds are disrupted, the Spokesman for Macedonian Military, Lt. Blagoja Markovski, told Makfax new agency.
Macedonian forces delivered a swift blow to terrorists as soon as they noted that the terrorists stood ready to attack Macedonian army positions. Macedonian army suffered no human or material losses.
NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL EXPRESSES STRONG SUPPORT TO MACEDONIA.
Besides the support of the new Macedonian Government and the reforms in defense, Macedonia has been granted strong support today from all Ambassadors regarding the restraint activities of the Macedonian Army and the care for civilians, Macedonian foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva stated for MIA after a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels on Friday.
In their addresses at the meeting, Mitreva and Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski informed the attendants about the situation in Macedonia, the formation of a new coalition Government, as well as its agenda, which includes intensifying of the interethnic dialogue; continuation with economic, defense and all other necessary reforms and passing of new election regulations.
In regard to dealing with the crisis, Mitreva said the Macedonian Government was using political and security means, making great efforts to protect civilians in the areas, occupied by terrorists.
At this meeting, Macedonia presented its Annual National Program for NATO membership for 2000/01.
Members of the North Atlantic Council reiterated their strong support to Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, restoring of peace and security in the country, and its inclusion to the European Union and NATO.
MEETING OF NEW ASSEMBLY PRESIDENCY.
Macedonian assembly chairman Stojan Andov reported at today's press conference on the meeting between the new assembly presidency and coordinators of the parliamentary groups. The meeting was focused on scheduling elections for two empty seats in the parliament and on the further work of the assembly.
"We unanimously agreed that the coordinators should initiate talks in the parliamentary groups and in the political parties for estimation of all consequences that might appear from scheduling of additional elections, having in mind the fact that part of the agreement for political unity in Macedonia is also the date for early elections - January 27, 2002. Meaning, there will not be plenty of time for the new parliamentarians to carry out their activities.
The assembly chairman reported that on Tuesday he sent a note to Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski informing him on the drafts that are in assembly procedure and asked from the new Government to review the list and to reply which of them will remain in assembly procedure, which will be modified and which will be withdrawn.
"The Government will probably reply next week," Andov said, adding that priorities of the Government are the new law of defense and the National program for culture, which are on the agenda of the 56th and 62d assembly session.
Stojan Andov announced that he would schedule a session of the Committee for interethnic relations, but added that the crisis in Macedonia is not a crisis that originates from the interethnic relations but a result from the aggression of the Albanian terrorists.
Macedonian Forces Shell Vilages.
By Konstantin Testorides
Associated Press Writer
Friday, May 18, 2001; 8:06 a.m. EDT
SKOPJE, Macedonia Macedonian forces lobbed six artillery shells at three northern villages Friday, shattering nearly a day of quiet following a government deadline for ethnic Albanian rebels to lay down their arms.
The villages of Slupcane, Orizare and Vaksince, in the Kumanovo region, each were targeted by two shells. No reports of casualties were immediately available.
The Macedonian government had set a noon Thursday deadline for rebels to surrender. If not, the government had threatened to "eliminate" the insurgents.
Macedonian forces, heeding Western calls for restraint, held their fire Thursday after the deadline passed without the rebels laying down their arms.
The government decision to back off from an all-out offensive was preceded by intense international lobbying, generated by fears that large-scale fighting in Macedonia could spill over into neighboring countries.
Talking to reporters in neighboring Albania, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson urged Macedonia's new, multi-ethnic unity government to press ahead with reforms empowering the ethnic Albanian minority. This, he said, would "undermine the political agenda of the gunmen."
Robertson promised further military assistance to the government, without offering specifics.
Ethnic Albanians make up about one-third of Macedonia's 2 million people. The militants, who began their struggle in February, are demanding that Macedonia's constitution be rewritten to upgrade their people's minority status, but the government accuses them of attempting to divide the country.
Last week, all main political parties in Macedonia formed a unity government in a bid to find a political solution to the crisis.
On Friday, a Yugoslav army officer died of injuries from a rebel attack in the volatile buffer zone with Kosovo, a government spokesman said.
Army Capt. Djurko Bojovic is the second officer to die from an attack Thursday at St. Ilija Hill, near the southern Serbian town of Vranje. Four other officers were wounded when the rebels ambushed an army Jeep, targeting it with rocket-propelled grenades.
The attack near central Serbia's boundary with Kosovo raised tensions days ahead of the planned return of Yugoslav security forces to the remaining part of the buffer zone.
The buffer was set up as part of a peace deal for Kosovo in 1999, to separate NATO peacekeepers in the province from Yugoslav troops, their enemies at the time. However, ethnic Albanian rebels have since used the buffer as a haven for attacking Yugoslav army and police.
The Yugoslav forces already have returned to much of the buffer. Their return to the most volatile part, known as sector B, is planned for next week.
"I am surprised that Czar Simeon II would not be on the tickets", President Petar Stoyanov said.
Commenting the participation of National Movement Simeon II in the elections, President Petar Stoyanov said for News.bg Agency he was surprised to find out that Czar Simeon II was not included in the election tickets of National Movement Simeon II. According to him, this must have happened in spite of the explicit statement of Czar Simeon II that he would provide a possibility for every Bulgarian citizen to vote for him. The President also shared his conviction that on the forthcoming elections Bulgarians would elect parties on the ground of what they have done for the country.
According to Orban, NATO insists on confidentiality of information.
Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban announced after his meeting with Premier Ivan Kostov that only a country that would guarantee security of information received from the NATO could become a member of the Alliance. During the meeting, Hungarian Premier has insisted that all the countries applying for membership in the NATO should carry out reforms in their secret services in order to guarantee that information they would receive would not leak out to third countries that used to be their former allies.
In 2000, Bulgaria scored the highest economic growth rate in the last ten years.
According to the Ministry of Finance Agency for Financial Analyses, in 2000 Bulgaria has scored the highest economic growth rate during the last ten years due mainly to improvement of outside environment and to restructuring Bulgarian economy as a result of privatization. According to the analysis, proportion of private sector has reached 54.1 and 73 percent in industry and bank sectors respectively. The Agency for Financial Analyses prognosis for 2001 foresees about 5 percent growth of Bulgarian gross domestic product and inflation of about 4.5 percent.
Only New Passports Valid for Voting Abroad.
Only the newly-issued passports will be valid for voting out of Bulgaria, Central Electoral Committee (CEC) informed yesterday. Diplomatic and Sailors' passports will also give the right for casting a ballot abroad. An application for passport issue will not be considered as a valid document, explained Iliana Rizova, spokeswoman for CEC. According to her, only the Bulgarians staying abroad illegally do not have new passports.