Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Macedonia: 20 M EURO for Non-existing Bulgarian Company

Skopje. The capital of Macedonia Tabac amounting to EUR 20 million has been sold to non-existing Bulgarian company Tivamex for EUR 800,000 and the money has never been paid, the Macedonian newspaper Vreme reports in a publication “EUR 20 M for Non-existing Bulgarian Company” and subtitle “Case with Macedonia Tabac – topic for Scientific Dissertation”. Lawyer Tanya Mihaylova who was the authorized person from Tivamex1 tried to mislead the court in the town of Stip in the procedure for proving the crime, shareholders claim.
Vreme has already written that a time was needed and political will in order to be found out the perpetrators and to scrub the shame that the Macedonian judicial system
Suffered after the blow from the tobacco mafia. The mafia was probably supported by supreme political structures and they managed to acquire the capital of Macedonia Tabac, the biggest plant in the country.

Bulgaria to Facilitate Macedonia's NATO Membership

Bulgaria is working in favour of the FYROM's getting a positive signal from NATO's summit in Riga, Solomon Passy, chair of Bulgaria's foreign policy parliamentary commission and the country's former Foreign Minister said for Utrinski newspaper.

We really hope the Adriatic states - the FYROM, Croatia, and Albania, will get encouraging signals, Passy said.

The reform of the FYROM's armed forces is going well, so is the professionalisation of the army, he added.

It is very important that each candidate-member state provides for itself the maximal support of all countries that are already members of the Alliance, he noted.

I would like to stress out that the voice of the neighbours always weighs more, Passy concluded.

Issue for Kosovo Status Should be Solved in End of January

Skopje. Macedonia demands on solution of Kosovo issues as soon as possible, Kanal 5 reports. “This should happen in the end of January or in the beginning of Febrauary”, the leader of Macedonian diplomacy Antonio Milososki stated who was on a visit in Kosovo yesterday. Milososki didn’t say what steps Skopje should undertake if the resolution of the UN Security Council presents an opportunity for the countries to solve whether to recognize Kosovo as independent country. The Macedonian Foreign Minister met with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Agim Ceku who insisted that the neighboring countries should recognize the future independence of the region.
“I think that now we should speak for good relations between Kosovo and Macedonia and after defining the statute of Kosovo we are going to solve the issue for the border”, the Prime Minister of Kosovo said.

Macedonian NGO sector clusters

More rapid development of the civil society and strengthening of the capacities of the civic organizations in Macedonia are the main goals of the Macedonian Human Rights House, which was presented today in Skopje.

Macedonian Human Rights House is a part of the international Human Rights House Network based in Oslo, Norway. It represents an association of NGOs, whose joint mission is promoting the human rights in home countries and abroad.

The founders and principal members of the Macedonian House are World's First Children Embassy "Megjashi, Association for Democratic Initiatives, Macedonian Helsinki Committee, Center of Women's Rights - Sheltering Center and Association of Disabled Persons "Polio Plus".

"The House will serve as a national center for human rights protection, contributing to stepped up development of the civil society in or country", said Dragi Zmijnac from Megjasi, who was appointed as President of the new association.

Daniela Dabeska from the Macedonian Shelter Center said the House will be open for all Macedonian NGOs which want to join in, with an aim to step up the cooperation in human rights protection activities that would be "to the benefit of citizens" in exercising their rights and needs.

Macedonia is the 13th country in the world that has a branch of Human Rights House Network.

The executive manager of the Norwegian Human Rights House, Maria Dahle has personally supported the Macedonian project. She attended today's presentation of the Macedonian Human Rights House, along with the European Ambassador to Macedonia, Erwan Fouere.

Skopje surgical team performs ear implantation

A successful implantation of an artificial ear has been performed today at the Skopje Clinic Center's Otolaryngology Clinic.

The surgical team headed by Dr. Ilija Filipce performed the procedure on a four-year-old
child from Kumanovo.

The first ear implantation procedure was performed in mid 2006, and five more are planned to be carried out until the end of this year.

On.Net Enters Fixed Telephony Market in Macedonia

On.Net will be the first alternative operator in fixed telephony after the interconnection agreement has been signed between Attila Szendrei, CEO of Makedonski Telekomunikacii and Predrag Chemerikic, CEO of On.Net on November 15, 2006.

Makedonski Telekomunikacii informed that this is the first interconnection agreement signed between MakTel as incumbent operator and On.Net as alternative fixed telephony operator. The agreement is based on the referent interconnection offer by Makedonski Telekomunikacii.

“Signing of the interconnection agreement shows that telecommunication market in Macedonia is liberalized, and MT is open for fair competition. It proves that EU recommendations are being followed,” is stated in MAkTel’s announcement.

Makedonski Telekomunikacii welcomed competition in fixed telephony and added that interconnection agreement allows alternative operators to be competition, especially in national and international services.

Hungary backs Macedonia's NATO, EU entry

SKOPJE, Macedonia-Hungary's prime minister on Thursday offered to support Macedonia's bid to join NATO and the European Union, asserting that European stability cannot be achieved without a stable western Balkans.

"We will do our best to ensure that Macedonia can accede to ... the EU and NATO as quickly as possible," Ferenc Gyurcsany told reporters after meeting with his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Gruevski.

Gyurcsany in on a Balkans tour that will also take in Bosnia and Albania.

Macedonia applied for EU membership in March 2004 and was accepted as a candidate last year, after the European Commission praised institutional reforms following an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001.

The tiny Balkan country hopes to join NATO in 2008 and to start EU entry talks next year.

"It appears to us that the realistic date when Macedonia can receive an invitation to join NATO can be in 2008. We will do our best next week in Riga, so that the message is given," Gyurcsany said.

A NATO summit will be held in the Latvian capital on Nov. 28-29.

However, Gyurcsany warned that Macedonia's road to EU accession will be "much harder" and urged the country to redouble its reform efforts.

"You still need to invest a great deal so that all your goals can be achieved," Gyurcsany said.

Croatian military delegation kicks off visit to Macedonia

The Croatian Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Josip Lucic will kick off today a two-day official visit to the General Staff of the Army of Republic of Macedonia.

General Lucic and his host, ARM Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Miroslav Stojanovski, will discuss the modalities of boosting the cooperation in the fields spanning military education and joint military exercises.

Gen. Lucic is leading a Croatian military delegation, whose agenda includes visit to the ARM's Air Force WING and attendance at a demonstrative exercise of the ARM Special Operations Regiment.

Promotion of publications on road of Macedonia and Bulgaria to NATO

Publications on road of Macedonia and Bulgaria to NATO have been promoted today in Skopje.

The books "Macedonia toward NATO", prepared by Blagoja Markovski and Aleksandar Comovski and "Atlantic Solitaires" written by Maksim Mincev, have been presented at the
promotion set up by the Balkan Security Forum.

The event was attended by the Macedonian Defense Minister Aleksandar Elenovski, Bulgarian Ambassador to Macedonia Miho Mihov, President of the Bulgarian Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, Solomon Passy and the President of the Bulgarian Atlantic Club, Ljubomir Ivanov.

"If you take a look at the 'Atlantic Solitaires', the whole chronology of events starting from a few people's dream to its realization, will unfolded before you", Minister Elenovski said.

On "Macedonia towards NATO", Elenovski said it portraits a precise and realistic picture on the process of Macedonia's integration toward NATO, since the 1993 Declaration of the Macedonian Parliament to this day.

Maksim Manchev, the author of "Atlantic Solitaires", pointed out the 15-year long activities of the Bulgarian Atlantic Club managed to change the pubic opinion to support membership in NATO.

Solomon Passy, the founder and honorary President of the Bulgarian Atlantic Club, expressed conviction that Macedonia will receive positive signals from the upcoming NATO Summit in Riga.

FM Milososki: Demarcation to be part of future UN resolution for Kosovo

Macedonia supports each solution by Marti Ahtisaari, UN special envoy, regarding the Kosovo future status, said Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki after meeting Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku in Pristina.

Ceku said "Kosovo is reality and it should be crowned with independence". He said Ahtisaari would cover all issues that were discussed in his package. -We pledge for Kosovo state within its borders, said Ceku.

Commenting on the border demarcation issue with Macedonia, Ceku said it had been discussed before with the previous PM, underlying that it was a technical issue, which required appropriate time for settlement.

-I believe now is the time to discus the good relations between Macedonia and Kosovo. The border demarcation issue will be reaffirmed after concluding the Kosovo status, said Ceku.

Milososki reiterated the demarcation issue should be considered as part of the future UN resolution regarding the Kosovo status.

He granted UNMIK support on the matter while discussing it with Steven Schook, acting UNMIK head earlier on Thursday.

Both interlocutors also discussed on certain technical issues, reviewed opportunities for reinforcement of economic cooperation, EU/NATO integration, as well as stability and security in the region.

Milososki also met with Rangel Noikic, chairman of the Serbian List in Kosovo's delegation and president of the Minority Rights Commission in Pristina.

Promotion of ARM's Special Operations Regiment

Special Operations Regiment of the Army of Republic of Macedonia will be promoted today at the Skopje's Army Barracks "Ilinden".

Macedonian President and Supreme Commander of Macedonian Armed Forces, Branko Crvenkovski, will give an address at the promotion.

The regiment has derived from the transformation of the Special Tasks Team. The organizational setup of the regiment includes commanding headquarter, logistics units, and two combating units - special tasks battalion and ranger battalion.

The regiment fully implements NATO standard operating procedures.

Since 2003,.more than 200 troops of this unit have participated in "Freedom for Iraq" operation.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Macedonia has right to expect positive message from NATO: Crvenkovski

Macedonia, as one of the candidate-countries for membership, has a legitimate right to expect from the upcoming NATO Summit in Riga to receive a positive signal for a membership invitation in the next round of enlargement, announced for 2008.

Macedonian President and Supreme Commander of the Macedonian Armed Forces, Branko Crvenkovski, said this at the promotion of the ARM's Special Operations Regiment.

According to Crvenkovski, Macedonia acquired this right "on the basis of accomplished reforms in a number of areas", adding that the country should keep on with the current pace "of defence and security transformation".

At the promotion of the ARM's elite unit that took place in Ilinden Army Barracks today, Crvenkovski handed over the military flag to the commanding officer of the Special Operations Regiment, Colonel Vladimir Bojadziev.

The Regiment has derived from the transformation of the Special Tasks Team. The organizational setup of the regiment includes commanding headquarter, logistics units, and two combating units - special tasks battalion and ranger battalion.

The Regiment fully implements NATO standard operating procedures.

Since 2003,.more than 200 troops of this unit have participated in "Freedom for Iraq" operation.

Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski, ARM Chief of Staff Gen. Miroslav Stojanovski, as well as numerous guests and foreign diplomats attended the event.

Macedonia's democracy ranked 68th in EIU surveyMacedonia's democracy ranked 68th in EIU survey

Macedonia's democracy was ranked 68th according to a survey of 167 countries by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Macedonia was placed in flawed democracy section, and the country is behind Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

With countries ranked according to their electoral process, government functioning, political participation, political culture and civil liberties, 17 EU member states made it on to the 28-strong 'full democracies' list.

The rankings of Balkan countries: Serbia is ranked 55, Montenegro 58, Croatia 51. Bosnia and Herzegovina 87 sit in hybrid regime section.

Sweden has a near perfect democracy, followed by Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.

Over half of the world's population lives in some sort of democracy, but just 13 percent in full democracies, according to this study. Meanwhile, with 55 countries falling in the worst category, almost 40 percent of people live under authoritarian rule.

Macedonia’s Foreign Minister to Visit Kosovo

Skopje. Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski will pay a one-day visit to Kosovo today, MRT reported. He will meet with UNMIK deputy chief Steven Schook, Kosovo’s President Fatmir Sejdiu, Prime Minister Agim Ceku. Miloshoski will also meet with the head of the delegation of the Serbian List for Kosovo and chairman of the Minority Rights Commission Rangel Nojkic.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A step forward for judicial independence in Macedonia

More than 600 judges in Macedonia voted on Wednesday (November 15th) by secret ballot to elect eight members of the new Judicial Council. The council is taking over the election and dismissal of judges, something previously handled by MPs. It will also have the power to remove judges' immunity, and will review their performance.

With these changes, an important part of Macedonia's judicial reform has been launched. Two judges from the state Supreme Court -- Vasil Grcev and Bekir Iseni -- became members of the council. Also elected were Bojan Eftimov (Skopje 2 Basic Court), Ljubin Aleksievski (Ohrid Court) and Aleksandra Zafirovska (Tetovo Court), plus three judges from appellate courts -- Ruska Paparoska (Stip area), and Mirusa Elenovska and Veli Vedat (Skopje area).

"The foundations of a new judiciary system in Macedonia are being laid today," Minister of Justice Mihailo Manevski said. "I hope the judges who are first exercising this right to elect members of the council will choose the best candidates."

Preparations for constituting the council are expected in mid-December, he said.

"Judges elected to the Judicial Council have great responsibility because they are the members of a body that should ensure and guarantee independence and sovereignty of the judiciary system," said Rahilka Stojkovska, chairwoman of the commission in charge of the election. She confirmed that vote to select council members took place without incident or irregularities.

Three additional members of the council will now be chosen by parliament following an open competition, and two members proposed by the president will be elected by MPs. The minister of justice and president of the Supreme Court are also council members, bringing the total to 15.

The system of election is a dramatic change from past practice. Previously, members of the judicial council were elected by parliament, leading to recurring charges of partisanship.

Croatia's Podravka to Acquire Vitaminka in Macedonia for EUR 30 Million

Croatian food firm Podravka is planning to buy Macedonian food processing company Vitaminka for 30 million euro, according to southeast European press reports.

Ilija Sirovina, a Swiss investor and one of co-owners of Vitaminka, reportedly confirmed this information along with Podravka Management President Darko Marinac.

Vitaminka employs 245 people. The company mainly produces snacks, confectionery, instant beverages, as well as sauces and various other products.

Podravka makes powdered food seasoning Vegeta, ready-made soups and meals, pasta, canned meat and children's food. It mostly operates in central and eastern Europe and the former Yugoslav republics.

Last week, FLEXNEWS reported that Podravka increased its sales by 3% in the first nine months of 2006. The firm registered a net profit of 99.1 million HRK (about 13.5 million euro), which is 16.6% more year-on-year.

Macedonian judiciary causes concern in EU - Fouere

Judiciary in Macedonia causes concern in the European Union, states Head of European Commission Delegation to Macedonia Erwan Fouere for Vienna newspaper Wiener Zeitung.

The judicial system must be freed from political influence, with more efforts employed in the combat against corruption. There should also be more legal security for foreign investors, Fouere stresses.

According to him, the beginning of Macedonia's EU accession talks depends on the speed of reforms' implementation.

One of the timeframes could be the period of Slovenia's Union presidency in the second half of 2008, Fouere adds.

Fouere states there is progress in overcoming of ethnic tensions, and a possibly independent Kosovo cannot create intentions for unity with Albanian population in Macedonia.

There is no one that could bring Macedonia's borders into question, EC Delegation Head Erwan Fouere underlines.

Macedonia vows to fight terrorism

Macedonia is committed to remain a steadfast ally in the global fight against terrorism, Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski said Wednesday.

"The partnership with the United States is among Macedonia's greatest priorities and there has been a consensus among all Macedonian political powers on this issue," Crvenkovski was quoted by the Macedonian News Agency (Makfax) during a meeting with US congressmen visiting the former Yugoslav Republic.

During the meeting, Crvenkovski informed the congressmen of the reforms in Macedonia related to its relations with the European Union (EU) and North Alliance Treaty Organization (NATO).

He also discussed the situation in the region, especially the Kosovo issue, the agency added.

On his part, Head of the House of Representatives' Democracy Assistance Commission David Dreier said that US was "deeply appreciative" of Macedonia's stance regarding terrorism.

He also praised bilateral relations between the two countries and hoped for their development prospectively.

Eide announces Norwegian investments in Macedonia

Norway will continue to be a big donor to Macedonia, and will go over from providing help to making investments in Macedonia, said Kai Eide, the Political Director with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

"I believe we will find joint projects, in which Norwegian companies can invest. We are gradually going over from giving help to creating a positive investment climate in Macedonia", Eide said after the meeting with the Macedonian Euro-Integration Minister, Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska, at a joint press conference.

Eide and Konevska discussed the modalities of stepping up the Norwegian assistance in the reform processes and resumption of the ongoing projects in the fields spanning education, healthcare and public administration.

The Norwegian official underlined the important ace of the Secretariat for European Integrations (SEI), through which three out of ten million euros provided for 2006 have been channeled.

380.000 euros from these funds were allocated for equipping the new SEI premises that were put into operation today.

Kai Eide expressed hopes that "at the Riga Summit, Macedonian progress will be acknowledged and the country will be encouraged to keep on with reforms in order to acquire membership in NATO as soon as possible".

"I am impressed of the job done so far, and of Government's ambitions in the Euro-Integration sphere", he added.

This afternoon, Eide attended the ceremonious opening of the new Norwegian and Swedish Embassies in Skopje.

"Our new seat will continue to be a house for cooperation with Macedonia and for support of its efforts towards the Euro-Atlantic integration", Eide said.

Representatives of the Macedonian Government, diplomatic corps and international organizations in the country also attended the opening of the Embassies..

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ex UNMIK Mission Leader Petersen Insists on Fast Decision on Macedonia – Kosovo Border Demarcation

Washington. The former UN Mission in Kosovo (UMIK) leader Soren Jessen-Petersen has insisted that a fast solution be found to the issue about the demarcation of the border between Macedonia and Kosovo, the Macedonian Makfax agency reports.
“I talked to the authorities in Pristina and I convinced the competent bodies in Skopje that the issues will not stay unsolved till the time when a decision is taken on the final status of Kosovo. I have also talked to representatives of the Contact Group, and several times with Marti Ahtisaari as I summoned them not to leave the problem unsolved”, Petersen stated.

Regional meeting on public administration

A first meeting of the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) for the Western Balkan will kick off Tuesday in Skopje.

The two-day meeting has been set up by the Macedonian Agency for Public Servants with financial support of the European Union and OECD.

ReSPA Programme was initiated by EU with an aim to improve the regional cooperation in the field of public administration by improving its performance and human resources in line with the principles of the European Administrative Space.

The main goal of the meeting is to promote transfer of experiences on the regulation management in the region.

Representatives of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia will take part at the conference.

Macedonian Vice-Prime Minister, Zivko Jankulovski, First Counselor of the EC Delegation in Skopje, Ms Joan Pearce, the Director of the Macedonian Agency for Public Servants, Aleksandar Geshtakovski and ReSPA's representative Nicholas Dubois, will give opening addresses at the event.

EC: Administration should be professional not political

Each country needs to have a public administration that is recruited on merits rather than on political affiliation, said EC delegation representatives at today's meeting of RESPA.

"European Commission considers that it is essential that this country and all other potent ional candidate-countries have a public administration that is professional, recruited on merits rather than on political affiliation," said Joan Pearce, First Counselor of the European Commission's Delegation in Skopje, at the opening of the first meeting of the Regional School of Public Administration for Western Balkans (RESPA).

On behalf of the Macedonian government, Deputy Prime Minister Zivko Jankulovski expressed gratitude to the European Commission, the SIGMA - a joint project of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union - for the financial assistance for realization of this initiative.

"Regulatory management is one of the most important issues that need to be absorbed on the road to the European Union," Jankulovski said.

"We will make sure that most public administration employees keep their job, and those redundant be reassigned to other post," he added.

The Head of the Macedonian Agency for Public Servants, Aleksandar Gestakovski, said the Agency is ready to provide the needed training of public servants.

RESPA is EU initiative intended to boost regional co-operation in the field of public administration, strengthen administrative capacity and develop human resources in line with the principles of the European Administrative Space.

Representatives of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia attend the two-day conference in Skopje.

Vecer: Macedonia Pays Lowest Wages in the Region

Skopje. The average net salary in Macedonia is too low and amounts to only EUR 218, official data of Macedonian central bank shows, the Vecer daily reports.
Compared to the rest of the countries in the region only the average net salry in Bulgaria is lower – EUR 172, while the highest salaries for the first half of the year have been paid in Slovenia and Croatia – EUR 757 and EUR 622 respectively.
The low wages in Macedonia defines the low standard of living in the country, as well as the low purchasing ability and the comparatively weak credit activity of the population, experts say. This also affects the economic growth, which stands at 4% this year. In contrast to the low level of wages in Macedonia, the total expense on payments after taxation is extremely high.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Macedonia has future in EU

VIENNA -- Macedonia has a future in the EU, but much depends on the Balkan country's efforts to fight corruption and promote legal certainty.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassniksaid in a statement that"Macedonia has a future in the EU," adding that Austria actively supports the country's bid for membership in the bloc. "But much will depend on Macedonia's persistent efforts."

In particular, Macedonia should focus on fighting corruption and creating legal certainty, Plassnik said.

"Progress in these areas will primarily serve the people of Macedonia," Plassnik said, adding that improving the conditions for foreign investment would promote economic growth and job creation.

Earlier this month, the EU warned Macedonia over its problems with corruption, saying it must speed up reforms if it wants to get a starting date for membership talks.

High officials from Sweden and Norway pay visit to Macedonia

High officials of the Swedish and Norwegian Foreign Ministries kicked off a two-day visit to Macedonia on Tuesday.

The Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Trade, Hans Jeppson, and the Political Director of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Kai Eide, will attend the openings of the Embassies of their countries in Macedonia.

The visiting officials are also scheduled to attend the opening of the new premises of the Macedonian Secretariat for European Integrations, a project funded by the Norwegian Government.

According to Tuesday's agenda, the Swedish and Norwegian officials are due to meet with the Macedonian Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski, Interior Ministry's State Secretary Igor Ilievski, and with the coordinator of SDSM's deputies' group Jani Makradulu.

Tomorrow's agenda includes meetings with the Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski, Vice-Prime Minister in charge of European integrations Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska, as well as visit to the UNDP Office in Skopje.

Macedonia Is Still Included in EU Black Visa List

Skopje. Macedonia has a statute of a candidate member state in the EU but it is still included in the black visa list of the EU, A1 reports. Experts worked on the newest report of the East-West institute for Southeast Europe were shocked by the procedures and demands that has to be fulfilled in order to travel in Europe. According to experts Brussels doesn’t know how difficult it is to get Shengen visa and East West will lobby on that matter to the EU.

Croatia, Macedonia expect "good news" at NATO summit

Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader met with his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Gruevski, in Zagreb on Monday (November 20th). The two said they were expecting "good news" from the forthcoming NATO summit regarding their countries' aspirations to join the Alliance. The two prime ministers also discussed economic co-operation, particularly trade in agricultural products.

No Consensus in Macedonia over Establishing a Special Prosecutor’s Office to Fight Organized Crime

Skopje. The question whether a special prosecutor’s office for combating organized crime and corruption will be formed in Macedonia, or the present decision envisaging the formation unit in the frames of the Macedonian prosecutor’s office, remains open, the Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik
Experts are not unanimous on the issue, however, it is the politics that will arrive at the final conclusion, the newspaper stressed.
After innumerous sessions, the working team, which operates on the law on prosecutor’s office, could not come to an agreement on the issue. The Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, headed by Jovan Ilievski, approved the idea of establishing a separate prosecutor’s office. Instead of working out a compromise, the draft version of the law includes both the conceptions - Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption and special prosecutor’s office as an alternative.
daily wrote today.

Macedonia Does Not Consider Iraq Pullout for Now

Skopje. Macedonia is not considering to pull out its troops from Iraq for the time being, spokesman for the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spresa Jusufi has told the Macedonian Vreme daily. In her words the Foreign Ministry is constantly observing the situation in Iraq and analyses the situation in this country in the frames of its regular tasks.
High-standing diplomats had told the Vreme daily on Friday that Macedonia might start Iraq pullout before the US authorities start pulling out their contingent.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandar Dimitrov has stated in his turn that Macedonia had made a rash move sending its troops to the Freedom for Iraq mission since there has been no positive result from this regarding Macedonia’s NATO aspirations.

Ali Ahmeti and Arben Xhaferi will Meet Next Weekend in Mavrovo

Skopje. The leaders of the biggest Albanian parties Arben Xhaferi (Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) that participates in the coalition government of Macedonia and Ali Ahmeti, leader of the oppositional Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) will meet next weekend in Mavrovo, FOCUS Agency reporter announced from Tetovo. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders from more than a year and a half. The meeting is organized under the aegis Swiss NGO in which program research of inter ethnic relations was included.

Macedonia PM seeks Manatee beef briefing

The Republic of Macedonia in southeastern Europe is looking to a Manatee County cattleman to help improve its cattle line and meat processing.

About a month ago, Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski sent an official letter of invitation to Manatee County fourth-generation cattleman Jim Strickland to visit his country Tuesday through Nov. 20 to study its herds, Strickland said Friday.

When Strickland, who also works for the Manatee County Property Appraiser's Office, arrives in Macedonia he will also bring a packet prepared by a team of University of Florida and Florida Department of Agriculture personnel about what Florida agriculture can provide to Macedonia, Strickland said.

"Anything we can sell to Macedonia from Florida is good for us," Strickland said. "We need every market."

Not being a tropical country, Macedonia may not be able to use Florida cattle, but might use Florida orange pulp for cattle feed, Strickland said.

Strickland's trip gets a thumbs-up from one local cattle insider.

"I think we should be looking for international trade for all Florida agriculture and cattle," said Travis Seawright, who recently retired as a University of Florida extension livestock agent. "With corn prices going up and cattle prices going down we need all the markets we can get."

Gruevski, who took office July 28 in the country whose capital city is Skopje, population 600,000, heard about Strickland through Strickland's trips to Cuba to help that country's beef industry, Strickland said.

In 2005, Strickland helped broker a $1 million cattle sale between Cuba and John Parke Wright, a Naples investor, according to Herald archives.

Most of the deal fell through when 118 of the 140 Florida beef cattle scheduled to go to Cuba tested positive for Bluetongue virus.

Bluetongue is not a virus that Florida ranchers test for since it doesn't harm cattle or humans, according to Herald archives.

But the Cubans may have been worried about the disease jumping to their sheep population, said Dr. Owen Rae, a University of Florida associate professor.

Strickland and two other ranchers from outside of Manatee County will meet with the Macedonia minister of agriculture, minister of economic development and prime minister and will take an intense three-day tour of the country, Strickland said.

"We will look at their cattle genetics and pastures," Strickland said.

At the same time, Jerry Greenfield, co-owner of Ben & Jerry's from Vermont, will be visiting Macedonia to line up a dairy and ice cream deal, Strickland said.

Strickland's personality and cattle knowledge are perfect for the job he is attempting to do, Seawright said.

"Jim has been with Florida Cattleman's Association a long time," he said. "He's real easygoing and a likeable person. But he's also real cattle-savvy. He keeps up to date with the markets in Florida and the Midwest."

Macedonia's politics have stabilized and the country is a candidate for joining the European Union, Strickland said.

"The United States is pushing for economic development with this country," Strickland said. "We are trying to get them in the EU."

Strickland said it's been hard to get much information about how much cattle Macedonia has right now and what shape it's in.

So, he goes into this adventure with an open mind.

"Any time you can help someone, somewhere, it feels pretty good," Strickland said. "This is a new country, but it's also an ancient country. We always have to remember, underneath all the politics, we are all just humans trying to get along together."

Gruevski-Hoon: Britain backs Macedonia on EU and NATO, but it must do its homework

Britain wants to see Macedonia in the European Union but its Euro integration will depend on speed of the reforms which should be conducted, British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon said after the meeting Wednesday with the Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski.

Britain strongly supports Macedonia in the process of enlargement in the EU and NATO reminding that the country received candidate status during UK's presidency of the EU.

- However the candidate status is only the first step towards full-fledged membership. EC today will present the Progress Report of Macedonia where acknowledgement for the achieved progress will be given as well as the steps that the country should undertake in the future. What I have seen from today's meetings with the Macedonian officials is that the government is prepared to undertake all steps to achieve the wanted goal, Geoff Hoon said.

On journalist question whether is it real Macedonia next year to receive a date to start the negotiations with the EU, Hoon said that setting up dates is not in favour either for EU or for candidate countries.

Also Gruevski considers that it is not time to speak about dates. - Macedonia should focus on fulfilling home tasks and then to request what it's coming, PM Nikola Gruevski said.

Gruevski and Hoon signed today the Agreement between the Governments of the Republic of Macedonia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on double taxation avoidance and protection from tax evasion in relation to income tax and capital tax.

Hoon assessed that the agreement is a step forward in good bilateral relations. - The relations between the Great Britain and Macedonia are excellent but they could be strengthened especially in context to the EU and NATO, Hoon said.

Gruevski said that they discussed the Macedonia's preparations for NATO membership, the reforms, which are being conducted by the Macedonian government needed for Euro-Atlantic integration, the problem that Macedonian citizens have with EU visa regime, the Framework Agreement implementation and situation in the region with an accent to Kosovo.

Hoon also met with Deputy Prime Ministers Gabriela Konevska - Trajkovska and Imer Selmani and FM Antonio Milososki.

Students in Skopje protest against EU visa regime

SKOPJE, Macedonia-Around 1,000 Macedonian students demonstrated on Thursday, demanding that EU member states open their borders to citizens of this tiny Balkan country.

The youth protest, under the catchphrase "Visa, forget about it!", was aimed at abolishing the Schengen system, which allows passport-free travel for participating countries but restricts entry for outsiders, and promoting democracy in Europe.

It was timed to coincide with the 17th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall in 1989.

The protesters called for "speeding up bureaucratic procedures and eliminating visa requirements" for all Macedonian citizens, saying young people were worst affected.

"We cannot speak of a European dimension for education, mobility, corruption, democracy and tolerance while cramped within the boundaries of our country," the organizers said.

The protesters marched from the main government building to the European Commission office, where they erected a simulated border crossing and distributed mock visas allowing "entry" to the EU.

Macedonians, who can visit only 12 countries visa-free, spend about €2.5 million ($3.2 million) a year on visas.

"We are the victims of Europe's hypocrisy ... They are demanding that Macedonia apply western democratic values but stay out of Europe," said Svetlana Spasovska, a 21-year-old economics student.

PDP calls DPA and DUI for dialogue

The Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP) addressed a public call for dialogue to the ruling Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) and the opposition Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Makfax's correspondent reported.

According to PDP's spokesman Safet Neziri, the dialogue would be carried out in relaxed and rational fashion, focusing on the issues relating interests of Albanians in Macedonia and broader.

"Our stance is that it would be of general national interest, but to the benefit of all Macedonian citizens as well, if DPA and DUI overcome their antagonism", Neziri said.

He added that the dialogue is a necessary prerequisite for putting an end to further degradation of the democratic institutions and the ongoing processes within.

In that sense, Neziri stated the examples of "degradation" of the Ohrid Agreement, forceful takeover of the local authorities' competencies in the village of Zelino by the Minister of Education and Science, adoption of the Law on Police without consensus, as well as the intrusion of government's institutions in the State University in Tetovo.

At today's press briefing held in Tetovo, PDP reiterated its commitment for granting independence to Kosovo, which according to Neziri, would contribute to the region's stability.

60 hand grenades and 2.500 rounds ammunition disappear from army barracks

60 hand grenades and large quantities of ammunition are missing from the Bitiola barracks's depots.

The last inventory made in early November showed that as many as 60 hand grenades and 2.500 rounds of 7.62 caliber ammunition went missing, Makfax's correspondent reported.

Since the army barracks in Bitola are under 24-hour guard, it is unlikely that burglary is in question. The army set out an investigation in order to establish whether a mistake had been made during delivery transfer of the explosive materials.

At the same time, Makfax's Tetovo correspondent reported that Police arrested L.M., 26, employed in the Tetovo army barracks, after finding a pistol CZ 7.62 stashed in her house.

Macedonian Defence Ministry confirmed officially today that "shortage of materials used by ARM units" has been detected in the army depots, refusing to give further information in the interest of the ongoing investigation.

The press statement says that one person has been arrested and charged for stealing a machine gun.

Stepping up cooperation with foreign universities

Macedonian State Universities are boosting cooperation with the foreign high-education institutions, implementing successfully the Bologna Process.

This is the conclusion of the final conference dedicated to "Project on integration and structuring of the international relations" of the state universities "Sts Cyril and Methodius" from Skopje, "St Kliment Ohridski" from Bitola and "SEE University" from Tetovo, with universities from France, Belgium and Sweden, Makfax's correspondent reported.

The project, launched in 2003, is executed in the framework of the EU's Tempus high education programme and financed by CARDS Programme's funds.

University rectors and representatives included in the Project, shared the opinion that high degree of openness of the Macedonian high education institutions has been achieved.

Britain backs Macedonia's EU bid

Britain supports Macedonia's bid to join the European Union, but its EU integration process will depend on the pace of its reforms, a high British official said on Wednesday in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia.

"We want to see Macedonia in the European Union, and it is clear that the sooner the required reforms are completed, the sooner it can join the EU," Jeff Hoon, Britain's Minister for Europe said after his talks with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Macedonia was granted candidate status in December last year when Britain was at the helm of the EU presidency.

The western Balkan country hopes to start entry talks with the EU next year and to become a full member by 2012.

Hoon and Gruevski also signed an agreement between the two governments on double taxation avoidance and protection from tax evasion of income tax and capital tax.

Macedonia praised, criticised in EC report

The Republic of Macedonia "has continued to make progress, although at a slower pace in 2006", according to the latest regular report by the European Commission, released on Wednesday (November 8th).

The report praises Macedonia for its "constructive position on Kosovo status talks", as well as for efforts to create an information society. It lauds progress in employment, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, social policy and some aspects of transport policy, taking note also of legislative progress made towards a customs union.

At the same time, the EC has concerns in a number of areas. In particular, it criticises Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's administration for making too many politically motivated staff changes after its victory in the July elections. "Appointments and dismissals in the administration continue to be politically influenced. Large scale changes occurred in the administration after the change of government," the report says.

The EC is also critical of what it describes as a lack of communication and co-operation with the opposition, in particular with Ali Ahmeti's Democratic Party of Integration (DUI).

One year after achieving EU candidate status, Macedonia has not been given a date for the start of membership negotiations. Gruevski and his government had said they did not expect the report to mention a date, though they insist the talks could realistically begin some time in 2007.

The report is a "road sign for moving ahead, [indicating] what weaknesses we should focus on. And we will do that," Gruevski said.

Radmila Sekerinska, the new leader of the Social Democrats, said a chance has been missed. The report should be seen as the final wake-up call, she said.

Parallel with the report, the EC also released a paper on the bloc's capacity to integrate new members.

"Further accessions are likely to occur in the medium to long term, given the present state of pre-accession preparations," it says. Media reports quote sources in Brussels as saying Macedonia can hope for membership between 2012 and 2014.

The document also terms it "unlikely" that a large group of countries will accede simultaneously in the future. Rather, countries will be evaluated and progress individually on the basis of a reinforced monitoring system.


The diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia were constantly improving, President Georgi Purvanov said in an interview for Macedonian Radio Skopje.

All institutions in the two countries were co-operating and results in economy and cultural exchange were already noticeable, said Purvanov.

Further developments were needed in a number of economic sectors, said Purvanov. More communication was needed in the border regions, said he.

Bulgaria could also aid Macedonia in its attempts to achieve NATO and EU membership, said Purvanov as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.

Purvanov said that during the last NATO summit in Istanbul he called for the recent acceptance of Macedonia to the alliance.

The same message would be repeated in the upcoming NATO summit in Riga, said Purvanov.

Bulgaria could also aid Macedonia with its knowledge and experience in the accession process, said he.

Vecer: Power and Opposition in Macedonia will Cooperate in Achieving Country’s Strategic Aims

Skopje. The executive power and the opposition in Macedonia will cooperate in order to achieve the county’s strategic aims, Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Radmila Sekerinska, the current leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), made an agreement at their first leaders’ meeting on November 8th, the Macedonian Vecer newspaper writes.
Macedonia’s Prime Minister expressed his opinion that the ruling party and the opposition must aim at one and the same thing - improvement of Macedonian population’s living standards. According to Gruevski, it is important to come to an agreement on the front burner issues, like the name of Greece, the democracy of the Kosovo boundary and key legislation projects.
SDSM will seek dialog with the main parties both from the ruling power and the opposition, for which the European Commission (EC) appealed in its latest report, Sekerinska noted.
She also announced that she plans to introduce change in the political debate, which, at present, leads only to mutual accusations.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

EC presents enlargement report today

European Commission is due to present today the strategy paper on EU enlargement and the annual report on the progress achieved by the candidate-countries.
The Commission report will stress that the EU is not likely to take in any more candidate countries in the near term, i.e. before EU's institutional challenges are resolved. It will also spell out that despite having achieved a certain progress, Western Balkan's countries are not yet prepared to establish higher-level relations with the Union.
As regards Turkey's EU bid, the report will say that despite a perceived slowdown in reforms since the country began entry talks in 2005, no breakdown in its accession process will take place.

In the part referring to Macedonia, the draft-report will commend the progress in implementing forms over the last 12 months, but will also point out the necessity for further reforms in the fields spanning judiciary, internal affairs, battle against organized crime and corruption, as well as the need of keeping a closer dialogue between the ruling power and opposition.

The report does not include any date for launch of negotiations for Macedonia's membership in EU.

European Ambassador to Macedonia, Erwan Fouere, is due to present the annual progress report and EC's strategy paper on enlargement in Skopje today.

After acquiring a candidacy status in December 2005, Macedonia is now hoping to begin negotiations with EU for fully-fledged membership in 2007.

Vecer: No Doubt that Macedonia Will become NATO Member State Soon

Sofia. The chairman of the Bulgarian Commission on Foreign Policy Solomon Passy has expressed his belief that Macedonia will soon become a NATO member state. That happened after the meeting of Passy with the Macedonian Minister of Defense Lazar Elenovski in Sofia on 7th November, the Macedonain Vecer newspaper writes today.
On the other hand, Elenovski pointed out that the experience of Bulgaria for membership in the Alliance was of special importance to Macedonia.

Macedonia’s Prime Minister Attends Vienna Economic Forum

Skopje/Vienna. Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski will give an address on Tuesday at the Vienna Economic Forum, the Macedonian MRT informs.
According to the announcements, Gruevski will meet with the Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.
Macedonian Finance Minister Trajko Slaveski, and Minister for Foreign Investments Gligor Taskovic will also be part of the Macedonian visiting delegation.
Representatives of Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the host Austria, are taking part at the forum.
MRT reminds that Finance Minister Trajko Slaveski delivered an address Monday at the Economic Forum on the topic - Development of Banks and Insurance Systems and Importance of Long-term Financing from Macedonian Viewpoint.
Banking is a dominant part of the finance system and covers over 90% of the total assets, Slaveski in his speech. He added that reinforcement of finance sector was underway, encouragement of small banks to merge as well as liberalisation of foreign bank's entry.
Slaveski announced amendments of Law on Banks to be adopted by the end of the year given the reforms.
Minister without portfolio in charge of foreign investments Gligor Taskovic addressed the energy round-table. He presented Macedonia's investment opportunities to the Austrian companies.
PM Nikola Gruevski is due to address at the Austrian Federation of Industry.

Britain's minister for Europe backs Macedonia's EU bid

Britain's minister for Europe expressed support Wednesday for Macedonia's bid to join the European Union, despite an admission by the country's government that reforms had slowed.

"We want to see Macedonia in the European Union, and it is clear that the sooner the pace of reform is completed, the sooner Macedonia can join the EU," Geoff Hoon said after the talks with Macedonia's new prime minister, Nikola Gruevski.

Hoon is on a three-day Balkan trip, with stops in Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro.

Macedonia applied for EU membership in March 2004 and was accepted as a candidate last year, after the European Commission praised institutional reforms following an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001.

The tiny Balkan country hopes to be invited to start entry talks next year and to fulfill membership conditions by 2012.

Gruevski acknowledged reforms had stalled.

"There was a slowing down with the reform process in the last 12 months," Gruevski said, but added that the country expected to continue on track.

In August, Gruevski was sworn in, after his conservative coalition won general elections in July.

Also Wednesday, the head of EU mission in Macedonia urged the government and political parties to show greater unity regarding reforms.

"I appeal to all political parties to unite in achieving political consensus for continuation of the reforms. Also I appeal the government to run an extra mile for the reform process," Erwan Fouere said the after EU Commission issued its latest report on enlargement.

Macedonia, UK to sign agreement on avoiding of double taxation

Macedonia and Great Britain are due to sign an agreement on avoiding double taxation and protection of fiscal evasion relating revenue and capital taxes.
Geoff Hoon, the Minister for Europe with British Foreign Office and Macedonian Finance Minister Trajko Slavevski, will put their signatures on the agreement today in Skopje.

The visiting agenda of the British Minister includes meetings with the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski, as well as with the Vice-Prime Ministers Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska and Imer Selmani.

Minister Hoon and the representatives of the Macedonian Government will discuss the requirements for Macedonian membership in EU.

Macedonia leads the way in east with promise of lowest ‘flat’ tax

Macedonia will become the 10th eastern European country to adopt a flat-rate tax next year, in a move which will highlight Britain’s increasingly high levels of tax and spending.

The Macedonian government will introduce a single rate of income and corporation tax of 12% in 2007. It then plans to lower both to 10% by 2008 to attract more foreign investment and reduce tax evasion, according to the country’s finance ministry.

The new flat rate would replace a corporate tax of 15% and personal income tax ranging from between 15% and 24%. The tax on reinvested profits will be scrapped and there will be a significant zero-taxed personal allowance.

A government statement said: “This step should decrease tax evasion and stimulate taxpayers to meet their obligations to the state. It would also encourage foreign investors to put their money in Macedonian businesses, knowing that taxes are low.”

The most recent country to introduce a flat rate was Romania, last year. The other eight countries to operate such a system are Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Georgia.

Until now, Georgia boasted the lowest flat tax at 12% but Macedonia’s move will give it the most competitive rates from 2008. The reform will also put pressure on neighbouring countries, including Greece, Albania and Bulgaria, to follow suit.

Supporters of flat-rate taxes believe that they boost economic growth by improving incentives to work, invest and save; by cutting tax evasion; by reducing bureaucratic costs and by attracting global financial and human capital.

Statement of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski at SEE Ministerial Conference in Ohrid

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has announced that the Government will allot resources for revival of the St. Clement University and construction of a floating museum.

Widely known in the world as the first 9-century Slav University, St. Clement University will be located in the compound of the St. Clement Church at Plaosnik, its original venue. Monastery shelters (rooms) will be constructed in the compound and will have both sacral and secular character. This means that the Faculty of Theology or the Secondary School of Theology in Skopje are planned to move to a part of the building with shelters. There will also be a monastic order. And the secular part will include libraries, reading rooms, exhibiting parlours and halls for other cultural events.

St. Clement University is planned to be completed in three years, Prime Minister Gruevski said. The work will be done in phases and the money is provided from the budget for 2007. The first phase will be carried out in parallel to archaeological research of the whole complex of Plaosnik for the contents of the underground vaults, archaeologist Pasko Kuzman said. In the meantime, tenders for conceptual designs of the University will be released.

In two years, a floating museum will be opened in Ohrid. That will be a reconstructed settlement of lake-dwellings which Pasko Kuzman discovered in his underwater explorations seven years ago. He found 6000 wooden piles on the bottom of the lake which served as a wooden platform for the dwellings of people 3200 years ago in the Bronze Age.

The Floating Museum will be built in the Bay of Bones in Gradiste. Kuzman also said Gradiste would thus become an even more attractive tourist settlement for the world.

VMRO Leader: It is Normal for Bulgarians in Macedonia to Recognize the Bulgarian President as Their Own

Sofia. The member of the VMRO-Narodna Den Donchev hasn’t raised anti-Bulgarian slogans during the ceremony in the Bulgarian military cemetery in the village of Novo Selo in Strumica, the Leader of VMRO Krasimir Karakachanov said in an interview for FOCUS News Agency.
Karakachanov confirmed that tens of citizens of Strumica gave an icon of St. George to the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov. ‘This was the way Petar Stoyanov was welcomed, six years ago when he was in Ohrid and Strumica, so it is normal for the Bulgarians in Macedonia to recognize the Bulgarian President as their own’, Karakachanov said.

Prodi says EU enlargement is historical challenge

Any attempt to halt the EU enlargement process for countries such as Macedonia and Croatia threatens to halt the entire exercise, said Italian Prime Minister and former European Commission president Romano Prodi in an interview with Financial Times.

"Enlargement of the European Union must continue by pressing ahead with negotiations for the countries that used to be part of Yugoslavia, as well as Turkey," Prodi told Financial Times, just hours before the European Commission is due to publish a report on EU enlargement strategy.

According to Prodi, enlargement is a great historical challenge.

Germany, Italy and Spain will be vital players in the relaunch of the process, he said, adding that France must also become involved after next year's presidential election.

A1: Bosnia and Herzegovina will Help Macedonia to Cope with Electricity Shortage

Vienna. Bosnia and Herzegovina will help Macedonia to cope with the electricity shortage, Bosnian Prime Minister Adnan Terzic said during talks with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski on the sidelines of the 3rd Vienna Economic Forum today, the Macedonian television A1 reported. Terzic invited Gruevski to visit Sarajevo after the formation of a Bosnian government in order to sign agreements in the sphere of energy. During the meeting it was proposed that an economic commission for a trade exchange be set up. Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Zoran Stavrevski attended the talks as well.

Roman tombstone unearthed near Bitola

n ancient tomb stone dating from the Roman era has been uncovered today in the Bitola's nearby village of Zabeni, Makfax's correspondent reported.

Mentor Huseinovski found the plaque, dating from the 3rd century A.D., while digging through his yard.

"I was digging a hole by the duct in order to build a crossing bridge over to my doorstep. I found the plaque dug in about half a meter into the ground", said Huseinovski, who notified immediately the Bitola's Museum and Office for Protection of Cultural Heritage.

The preliminary findings of the archeologists suggest that an artifact is likely to be a segment of a family tomb.

The value of the archeological artifact is yet to be determined as Huseinovski family is still pondering what to do with it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The integration of the Republic of Macedonia in the European Union represents a clear and categorically expressed strategic interest and a priority goal in the policy of the Macedonian Government. The bilateral Stabilization and Association Agreement signed in April 2001 is the last stadium before Macedonia’s admission to the family of developed European democracies. The agreement, as part of the stabilization and association process, initiated by the European Union, represents its major contribution to the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. By the end of 2002, the agreement was ratified by the parliaments of Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and United Kingdom. In 2003, the parliaments of France, Portugal, Greece and Luxembourg also ratified the agreement.
Macedonia is the first country in Southeastern Europe that successfully brought to an end the negotiations for signing of such an agreement. Another detail of this accord is interesting, and that is the fact that the Agreement was first ratified by the European Parliament before the separate EU members states did the same. The Stabilization and Association Agreement, as a complex and legally binding political act, places the Republic of Macedonia among the potential members of the EU and makes it a factor in creating a Europe of the future, a society with the highest democratic values, security for all its citizens and social justice.
From an economic point of view, the Agreement opened the doors to one of the largest, and financially one of the most powerful market in the world. The European family is the most significant partner of the Macedonian economy and within those frames, exports to the EU account for 50.7%, as imports account for 45.2% of Macedonia’s total foreign trade. Before the Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed, in 1997, Macedonia and the EU signed an agreement for cooperation, as well as textile, wine, and transport agreements. Macedonia’s most important trade partners in Europe are Germany, Italy, and Greece, and its most important export products are ready-made clothing, hot rolled and zinc-coated plates, non-alloyed zinc, wine, ferrosilicon, flexes, footwear, and cotton yarn. The export of these goods earns Macedonia an annual profit of around $400 million.
The Stabilization and Association Agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the EU
has an asymmetrical model that regulates their bilateral trade relations. Under the SAA, the Macedonia-made goods imported in the EU will not be subject to customs and quantity restrictions, save for fish, sea products, veal and wine. Macedonian goods will be one-sidedly entitled to customs relieves in a ten years’ period of adjustment towards a future, limitless competition. The European Union is already allowing customs-free import of almost all the Macedonian products, and with the gradual trade liberalization on the Macedonian side, a free trade zone will be introduced over the next ten years. Within the framework of the SAA, special protocols regulate trade in, what are known as, sensitive sectors, such as textiles, and production of steel and steel products.
In March 1996, the Republic of Macedonia became a full member of the PHARE program and between 1996 and 1999, 100 million euros was granted to Macedonia in support of its reforms.
In January 2002, the European Commission adopted a five-year strategy for Macedonia for which
EUR 110.5 million was approved. The EU financial aid will be implemented through the CARDS program from 2002 to 2006 and will support the plan for stabilization and association of the West Balkan countries. Priority will be given to the democratic processes, the legal, economic and social development, ecology and other key matters in the process. An accent will be put on the promotion of the civic society and the inter-ethnic dialogue, and on reconciliation and prevention of any new conflicts. The money will also be used to support the process of creating effective market economy, promote trade, decrease unemployment, improve the judiciary system, reinforce border controls, protect natural environment and prevent money laundering. For the countries in the region
included in the process of stabilization and association - Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro - the European Commission committed a total of EUR 5.5 billion.
In the next ten years, the EU, as well as other international political and financial factors are expected to show greater interest in the political consolidation of Southeastern Europe. In this regard, Macedonia is considered one of the leaders that should use its positive influence to help the countries of the Western Balkans get out of the crisis as soon as possible.

Cytostatic medicines to be procured by Clinic Center on monthly basis

Skopje Clinic Center has launched a new practice in procurement of cytostatics, Borce Georgievski, the Director of the Center announced today.

He explained that in the future, each Clinic Center's department will have to file their orders until the fifth day of the month.

Georgievski said that this month's orders have been already executed. It is the first order of medicines and medical material made by the new managerial team.

"All previous orders, have been made by the prior managerial team", Georgievski said.

According to him, the shortage of these medicines occurred due to improper tender procedures.

"We wrapped up this process last month, and conclusion of new contracts with suppliers is now under way. We expect to provide access to the patients of the six types of cytostatics, which were omitted from the list of available medicines' throughout 2006", Georgievski said.

Dnevnik, Skopje: EU Starts Talks with Macedonia on Visa Regime Facilitating

Skopje. The EU started talks with Macedonia for easing the visa regime. Students, business people and air carriers will be the first to take advantage, Macedonia’s Deputy PM Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska said in Bitola cited by the Macedonian Dnevnik newspaper.
“This is the first step towards the entire liberalization of the regime,” Trajkovska announced. She refused to comment on the European Commission’s draft paper that BBC knows of. The paper states that Western Balkan countries will not join the EU for many years on.

UK Minister for Europe to visit Macedonia

he British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon will visit Macedonia on 7 - 8 November.

"The award by the European Union of Candidate Status to Macedonia last year was both welcome and deserved. But, as with any other candidate nation, the EU's conditions for membership are tough and will be rigorously applied," Hoon said on his visit to Macedonia.

Minister Hoon will be discussing the work that meeting the conditions will involve with the new government, British Embassy said in a statement.

"No-one doubts that there is hard work ahead. This will include building a modern, independent and professional police force and an efficient and fair judiciary," Hoon said, adding that through this process, Macedonia will realize its future as a modern, democratic European state that can deliver security, justice and prosperity for its citizens.

Minister Hoon kicked off a three-day visit to the region today, visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.

Macedonia's corruption index worsens

Macedonia ranks 105th in corruption watchdog Transparency International's 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The CPI is a composite index that draws on multiple expert opinion surveys measuring perceived levels of public sector corruption in 163 countries. It scores countries on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and 10 indicating low levels.

In the past three years, Macedonia has the same corruption perceptions index (CPI) of 2.7 and it continues to drop in TI's annual reports. In 2005, Macedonia was ranked 103rd, and a year before it was ranked 97th.

In 2006, Macedonia was 105th among 163 countries tying with Bolivia, Iran, Libya, Malawi and Uganda.

According to TI's 2006 rankings of countries in South East Europe (SEE), Macedonia is almost at the bottom of the SEE region. Albania was ranked 111th with CPI 2.6.

As regards the countries in South East Europe, Slovenia was ranked 28th, Greece 54th, Bulgaria 57th, Turkey 60th, Croatia 69th, Romania 84th, Serbia 90th and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was ranked 93rd.

TI said that some of the world's poorest nations are also the most sleaze-ridden, undermining international development efforts. Corruption is shockingly rampant worldwide with almost three-quarters of the countries in the report scoring below five, including all low-income countries and all but two African states.

Wealthy democracies topped the list, confirming the link between anti-sleaze efforts and prosperity. Finland, Iceland and New Zealand scored a near-perfect 9,6, followed by Denmark (9,5), Singapore (9,4), Sweden (9,2) and Switzerland (9.1).

Worsening perceived levels of corruption was seen in the United States. TI noted that while industrialized nations scored high on this year's index, corruption scandals continued to rock many of them.

Macedonia's opposition social democrats elect new leader

Macedonia's main opposition social democrats elected former deputy prime minister Radmila Sekerinska as their new leader early Monday.

At an emergency congress of the Social-Democratic Alliance for Macedonia, Sekerinksa, 34, won the overwhelming majority of the vote.

She was the only candidate to replace former prime minister Vlado Buckovski, who stepped down after the party lost July's parliamentary elections to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservative VMRO-DPMNE party.

"We are turning a new page," Sekerinska told reporters after the vote.

Considered a close ally of Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, Sekerinska served as deputy prime minister responsible for Macedonia's EU integration in Buckovski's leftist coalition government.

Macedonia applied to join the European Union in March 2004 and was accepted as a candidate last year, after the European Commission praised its efforts in dealing with an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001.

The social democrats have 24 deputies in Macedonia's 120-seat unicameral parliament.

Macedonia’s Defense Minister: Dividing Line between Macedonia and Kosovo is Technical Issue

Sofia. The dividing line between Macedonia and Kosovo is a technical issue. If we turn it into a political one we make it a problem, Macedonia’s Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski told a reporter of FOCUS News Agency after a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Veselin Bliznakov.
Elenovski pointed out that the dividing line would be specified in the framework of Kosovo status talks. Minister Elenovski underlined after the meeting that he hoped Bulgaria’s EU membership and support would influence Macedonia’s NATO aspirations. He also said that during the meeting plans for future joint defense initiatives between the two countries were swapped.
Minister Elenovski promised to continue cooperating for the reconstruction of the Bulgarian military cemeteries in Macedonia.


Bulgaria would support Macedonia in its attempts to become NATO and European Union member, Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin said.

International Herald Tribune (IHT) quoted Kalfin as saying that he hoped Macedonia would be invited to join NATO in 2008. Macedonia’s NATO accession was important both for Bulgaria and for the whole region, Kalfin said after a meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki.

Kalfin also said that as an EU member state Bulgaria would support future EU enlargement.

“Bulgaria's position is that the enlargement is the most successful European project in the past decade," Kalfin said.

After the European Commission’s decision to let Bulgaria and Romania join the EU on January 1 2007, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso called for halt in the enlargement process.

Such decision would lead only a ‘distant chance” for Balkan countries such as Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania to enter the union, IHT said.

Bulgaria would impose a visa regime for the Macedonian citizens after January 1 2007, but “thanks to Bulgaria's decision to issue visas charge-free, mutual travel and communications will not suffer that much", Milososki said.

Macedonia Wildcats Fight for Survival

LESNICA, Macedonia - It's considered a national symbol, displayed on the back of Macedonia's 5-denar coin. But the Balkan lynx, the largest of European wildcats, is a very rare sight in the southern Balkans these days.

Conservationists say only about 100 remain scattered across the region, making it Europe's most endangered wildcat, and they're mounting an urgent effort to save it.

The cat roams the rugged hills of western Macedonia and is also found in parts of Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and Greece. Macedonia is home to the largest number, about 30 - not nearly enough to stave off extinction, experts fear.

Zdravko Moteski, a 70-year-old hunter from the western village of Lesnica, is helping researchers gather information about the elusive cat.

"It's a very rare and sensitive animal, like a shadow moving in the trees," Moteski said during a visit by members of a conservation group to his home in Lesnica, a village 50 miles west of the capital, Skopje.

"I never had a chance to see a lynx. I've only traced its footprints during the winter," he said.

Shepherds and loggers also are being interviewed about the lynx, which can grow to a length of 4 feet, 3 inches and weight of nearly 80 pounds.

A distinct subspecies, the Balkan lynx is generally reddish brown or light gray. Because of its short tail, it largely relies on ear movements for communication.

The cat is adapted for surviving in heavy snow and it follows a largely solitary life. Males are not aggressive among themselves, preferring to avoid one another.

"It's believed the Balkan lynx inhabited the empty territory in the southeast Balkans. This type, like its European relatives, leads a solitary life, moving in territory up to 5 square kilometers (almost 2 square miles)," Svetozar Petkovski, a zoologist and program director at the Macedonian Museum of Natural History.

"Its favorite prey is mammals of different sizes, including mice and rabbits as well as the wild boar piglets. They usually ambush their prey," he added.

Several European conservation groups are providing support for efforts to save the Balkan cat from extinction. They include the German-based Euronatur, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the Swiss-based organization KORA.

The Balkan lynx shares the same fate as other European wildcats, all but vanishing from former roaming grounds. But several European countries, among them Austria, Switzerland, France and Germany, have halted the decline by reintroducing the animal.

Such efforts are a long way off in Macedonia, where the lynx is legally protected from hunting.

"Macedonia is just at the beginning of that road," said Dime Melovski, a 26-year-old biologist who works for a local conservation group.

"Our project is planned to last till the end of 2009. Within that time, after interviewing people, we will carry out field research, setting up photosensors to hopefully photograph a lynx," he said. "Then we hope to eventually capture one for DNA analysis and to reintroduce the Balkan lynx with breeding in captivity."

Melovski isn't optimistic.

"It's still a big cat with slim chances of survival," he said.

Crvenkovski Met Parvanov in Strumica

Strumica. Macedonia’s President Branko Crvenkovski met Bulgaria’s President Georgi Parvanov in the center of the town of Strumica, FOCUS News Agency’s special correspondent Denka Katsarska reported.
The two heads of state laid flowers to the monument of late Macedonia’s President Boris Trajkovski. Trajkovski’s monument is located in the center of the town near the Army Home. The script on the monument quotes the late President’s words: “We all share one and the fate, which is Macedonia”.
A meeting is scheduled to take place between the two heads of state.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bulgaria to support Macedonia's drive for NATO, EU entry

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister on Friday voiced firm support for neighboring Macedonia's hopes to join NATO and the European Union.

"I hope that in 2008 Macedonia will be invited to join NATO, which is important not only to us, but also to the whole region," Ivailo Kalfin told reporters after meeting Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki.

Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 along with six other eastern European nations, and is set to become an EU member on Jan. 1.

Macedonia, Croatia and Albania are all hoping for early invitations to join NATO, but the alliance has refused to set a date.

Kalfin also said that as an EU member Bulgaria would favor the continuation of the bloc's expansion policy.

"We ourselves feel the expansion fatigue in the union ... but Bulgaria's position is that the enlargement is the most successful European project in the past decade," he said.

After the European Union decided to let Bulgaria and Romania in on Jan. 1, the EU's chief executive, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, called for a halt to further expansion. That leaves only a distant chance of membership for Croatia, which has already begun entry talks, and for EU candidate Macedonia, as well as for other Balkan nations such as Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Albania.

Kalfin and Milososki signed a deal to impose a visa regime on Macedonian citizens' traveling to Bulgaria, as required by Bulgaria's EU entry agreements.

"I am not happy with these visas ... but I hope it is a temporary measure," Milososki told reporters. "But thanks to Bulgaria's decision to issue visas charge-free, mutual travel and communications will not suffer that much."

EU to disappoint Balkan hopefuls

The European Commission will recommend next week that Western Balkans countries postpone any moves towards joining the European Union.

Last year Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Albania's all edged closer towards joining the EU.

But a draft Commission report to be published next week says the countries cannot expect to join the EU in the short term, despite some progress.

The report says they are likely to join only in the medium to long term.

The countries are now marking time - not only because reforms have slowed down at home, but also because people in Western Europe want enlargement to pause.

Reforms needed

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was hoping to start membership talks, but the European Commission is saying: "Not yet."

The draft report seen by the BBC urges Skopje to speed up political reforms, fight corruption and improve relations with ethnic Albanians if it wants to move ahead with its EU bid.

The report praises Serbia's new constitution and the country's economic stability. But it offers no prospect for the early resumption of talks on an association agreement unless Belgrade helps catch Gen Ratko Mladic, suspected of masterminding some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war a decade ago.

Leaders from Balkan nations at a regional summit
Balkan leaders will be told to delay EU membership talks

Serbia is also urged to take a constructive approach to Kosovo, where the majority ethnic Albanians are expected to gain limited independence in the next few months.

The report describes the question of Kosovo's status, relations with Serbia and Bosnia's future as the major challenges for the year ahead.

But it points out that accession for the countries of the region is many years away and calls for the EU to refrain from setting any dates for future new members.

It appears unlikely that a large group of countries will join at the same time, the European Commission says. Future accessions are likely to occur in the medium to long term.

When they meet in December, EU leaders are expected to back those conclusions.

But some, like the French and the Austrians, will be frustrated that the Commission has stopped short of setting the bloc's ultimate borders.

The EU is defined by its values, the draft report says, rather than by fixed geographical limits.