Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Inter-resor meeting for adopting EU law

An inter-resor coordinative meeting for finalization of the National programme for adopting the law of the European Union (NPAA) is set to be held on Friday in Skopje.

The meeting, to be held in the Ministry of Justice, is the final one of the series of meeting organized by the Secretariat for European Matters in all ministries of the Macedonian Government.

"These meetings are held in order to finalize NPAA which is a key mid-term document with plan of activities aimed towards meeting the criteria for membership", says the communication from the Secretariat for European Matters.

The meeting will be led by deputy president of the Government of the RM, Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska, and the Minister of Justice, Mihajlo Manevski.

Macedonia’s name used by Albanian writer causes a “Diplomatic incident” in Athens

Albanian writer Ismail Kadare has caused a “diplomatic incident” in Athens, by using the name “Macedonia”, which is considered by Greeks as theft of their national heredity, according to the Tirana daily Shqip.

Mr. Kadare was in Athens to present his latest books “Agamemnon Daughter” and “The Successor”, translated in the Greek language. The event was supported by Piraeus Bank, which operate in Albania through Tirana Bank.

Athens’s Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis welcomed the Albanian writer, but had left the event protesting for Mr. Kadare's use of the word “Macedonia” as the name of the Balkan state which Greeks want to be called “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.

Macedonia launches investment campaign

The Macedonian government launched the "New Business Heaven in Europe" initiative last week, to promote the country's business potential. A media print campaign, covering 50 newspapers in 35 countries, will continue through March 1st. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski announced the plan at a press conference Wednesday

High NATO delegation in Macedonia

Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, John Colston, continues his official visit to Macedonia on Friday.

As announced, Colston is set to meet Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski.

During the visit, NATO team will estimate the status of implementation of the Action Plan for NATO membership and obligations contained in the Annual National Programme of the Republic of Macedonia for membership in the period 2006-2007.

Macedonia-EU talks on visa regime alleviation continue

Macedonia and the European Commission on Friday in Brussels will continue the talks on visa regime alleviation for Macedonian citizens. The two-day round that started on Thursday is expected to bring about motion in the negotiations for simplification of the visa procedure and the re-admission agreement, started by Skopje and Brussels at the end of last year.

In the part of visa regime alleviation, the negotiations will continue in Brussels on Friday by the team of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), led by Agneza Rusi.

On achieving re-admission agreement between Macedonia and the European Union, on Thursday the negotiations were led by a team from the Ministry of Interior (MoI), headed by chief negotiator Antonio Sanev.

Macedonia requests the European Commission to simplify the visa procedure for as much of Macedonian citizens as possible and to receive concrete perspective on full liberalization of the visa regime.

Czech investments in Macedonia and Western Balkan on rise

The companies and real estate in Macedonia and other Balkan's countries are big hit among Czech investors, while the campaign of the Macedonian Government has been described as "a good business move".

After "discovering" Croatia, Czech businessmen are now turning to Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, Prague's media report.

The local experts qualified the campaign promoting Macedonia as a business paradise with low taxes and simplified company registration procedures as "a good business move".

"It might prove to be a good move, however, we are talking about an unstable developing market, therefore, I would recommend to our citizens to find a partner who is well acquainted with local situation", said Petr Wosmik, head of a big real estate agency based in Czech Republic.

Czech businessmen focus their interest in coastal region of Montenegro, i.e. in Serbian machinery production industry.

Due to low prices, Czechs are buying property on a massive scale in Balkans, report Czech agencies specialized in purchasing property abroad.

$12 mln. loss for "Halliburton" from US embassy in Macedonia

United States (US) company "Halliburton" reported loss in net income for the last quarter of 2006 of $520 million in regards to the same period in 2005, and the losses include the building of US Embassy in Macedonia.

"Halliburton" is second world's oil trader, and its daughter companies as "Kellogg Brown and Root" (KBR), operate with businesses financed by US administration, cooperating mostly with the Pentagon and the State Department.

The company recorded net income of $658 million before tax in the last quarter of 2006, which is significantly less than the $1,1 billion in 2005 or $1,04 billion in 2004 for the same period of the year.

Among the loss-making business stated are $9 million losses in Nigeria and "$12 million loss in the project of US Embassy in Macedonia", reported on Friday Bloomberg television on its website.

KBR is Pentagon's largest supplier in Iraq, 6th by the size of business that operates with the army and is under heavy criticism from the Democratic Party due to close relations of the company with American vice-president Dick Cheney, who was placed in "Halliburton's" top 1995-2000.

Foundations of the new US Embassy in Macedonia were laid out last year, after Macedonia previously sold US land near the most prominent location in Skopje, the middle-ages "Kale" fortress.

Italian Mafia experts to help Macedonia fight organized crime

SKOPJE, Macedonia-Italian experts who deal with the Mafia will help train Macedonian police in fighting organized crime as part of a program funded by the European Union, officials said Wednesday.

Justice Minister Mihajlo Manevski said the two-year project will promote contacts with Italy's Ministry of Justice and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences, based in Sicily, as well as Italian police officers who deal with organized crime.

"This project is timely. Macedonia has intensified its efforts to reform the judiciary system and is resolved to give the battle against organized crime and corruption the highest priority," Manevski said.

Macedonia is hoping to start EU-entry talks next year, and has promised to crack down on organized crime networks as part of those commitments.

The Italian experts will help in a review of Macedonia's legislative framework, recruit some 40 crime-fighting experts, provide training seminars, and help upgrade crime-fighting data systems.

The project is being sponsored by the European Agency for Reconstruction.

Colston: Macedonia made significant progress for NATO

Macedonia made significant progress regarding the implementation of NATO standards, and 2007 will be crucial for all countries seeking rapid membership to the Alliance.

This was said on Friday in Skopje by NATO Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, John Colston, after his meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

"NATO and allies are impressed by the steps of Macedonian Government in crucial areas, defence, judiciary, police and economy", said Colston.

He added that NATO praises Macedonia's commitment to participation in international peacekeeping operations and Macedonia's contribution in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.

NATO also commends Macedonia's positive contribution to regional security and stability, both through practical support of KFOR mission and through constructive political attitude with Pristina and Belgrade.

Colston said that "2007 will be very important year for the countries that are seeking early invitation to join the NATO alliance."

"It is important to show constant progress in key areas of reforms that are going to be important this year", Colston said.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that the Government has presented its activities and the activities of the NATO coordinative body, headed by himself, on preparations for membership to the Alliance.

The Prime Minister pointed the cases from the area of combat against crime and corruption that the Government worked on in the last months and shown eagerness to solve.

"This year we will finish the remaining reforms in the defence, police and other sectors, because this year is crucial for our entry to NATO", said Gruevski.

"After the Riga summit, all is in our hands", says the Prime Minister.

Implementation of the Framework agreement and regional issues, including the Kosovo one, were also discussed by Gruevski and Colston.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Presentation of Krste Misirkov's Diary in Bulgaria

A presentation of the recently uncovered Diary of Krste Petkov Misirkov was held in Sofia today - a week after the presentation in Skopje - which was attended by the heads of the Bulgarian and Macedonian State Archives.

The diary is in the form of manuscript authored by the founder of the Macedonian national history, literary language and orthography, Krste Petkov Misirkov. It was uncovered by a Bulgarian expert on Balkan's history in late 2006.

Last week, the diary was presented in Skopje, when the State Archive of the Republic of Macedonia and the Archives Administration with the Ministerial Council of the Republic of Bulgaria agreed to issue a single edition of the diary in both languages.

Zoran Todorovski, the director of the Macedonian State Archive, said today in Sofia that the diary was first presented in Skopje because Misirkov is one of the most prominent figures in the Macedonian history.

"Misirkov is the founder of the Macedonian literary language and of the Macedonian national idea", Todorovski said.

When asked by the Bgnes agency's journalists whether he felt uneasy because of meddling of politicians in the discovery, Todorovski said "it is normal for the politicians to get their hands onto historiography", adding that Archives consider the science to be autonomous therefore they would act accordingly.

"We will do our work and let the politicians do theirs", Todorovski stated.

"The cooperation between the State Archive of the Republic of Macedonia and the Archives Administration with the Ministerial Council of the Republic of Bulgaria has been executed with no external influences whatsoever", confirmed Borjana Buzhashka, the Head of the Archives Administration with the Ministerial Council of the Republic of Bulgaria.

The manuscript, including 381 pages written in Russian language, is dating from 1913. Misirkov wrote it in Odessa's nearby town of Klimentovo, where he lived and worked at the time. It contains also articles and excerpts from the Russian press of that time.

New round of talks for EU visa regime alleviation

Macedonia and the European Commission on Thursday in Brussels started a new round of talks on visa regime alleviation for Macedonian citizens, confirmed for Maxfax sources in MoI and MFA.

The two-day round is expected to bring about motion in the negotiations for simplification of the visa procedure and the re-admission agreement, started by Skopje and Brussels at the end of last year.

European Commission, in this phase of the negotiations, is to inform which of the demands in the visa policy submitted by the Macedonian side are acceptable, which would need additional consultations and the manner of further negotiations on accomplishing a unified re-admission agreement, which is one of key conditions for alleviation of visa regime.

On achieving re-admission agreement between Macedonia and the European Union, on Thursday the negotiations are continued by a team from the Ministry of Interior (MoI), led by chief negotiator Antonio Sanev.

In the part of visa regime alleviation, the negotiations will continue in Brussels on Friday by the team of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), led by Agneza Rusi.

Macedonia requests the European Commission to simplify the visa procedure for as much of Macedonia citizens as possible and to receive concrete perspective on full liberalization of the visa regime.

Macedonia To Prepay Up To $104 Mln Of Its Paris Club Debt

The government of Macedonia and the representatives of the Paris Club of sovereign creditors have agreed that Macedonia may prepay up to $104 million of its Paris Club debt, the club said in a press release Wednesday.

The agreement is reflects the strong financial recovery of Macedonia in recent years.

Macedonia will be able to prepay its debt at par between Jan. 31 and April 30, after the conclusion of bilateral implementation agreements by participating creditors.

The members of the Paris Club that are creditors of Macedonia are Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

In addition, Kuwait, which is a significant creditor of Macedonia and which took part in the 1995 Paris Club rescheduling, was associated with the negotiation.

Radmanovic on two-day visit to Macedonia

Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Presidency, Nebojsa Radmanovic, on Thursday starts his two-day visit to Macedonia.

Radmanovic comes to Skopje upon invitation from Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, is said in the communication from the President's cabinet.

During the visit, Crvenkovski and Radmanovic are set to talk about further improvement of bilateral cooperation, with special emphasis on intensity of economic relations, and the two collocutors will share their views on the latest situation in the region, Euro-Atlantic perspectives of the two countries.

After the visit, Radmanovic will visit the Museum of Macedonia, followed by short stroll through Skopje's city centre.

According to the protocol, Radmanovic is set to visit the grave of late President of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, on Skopje cemetery Butel.

High NATO delegation in Macedonia

A high NATO delegation is starting its two-day official visit to Macedonia on Wednesday, for the purpose of evaluating the implementation of the plan for membership to the Alliance.

John Colston, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning is leading the team, accompanied by Brigade General John Durance, High NATO representative for Macedonia and Gabriel Cascogne, Liaisons Officer for Macedonia.

During the two-day visit, NATO team will estimate the status of implementation of the Action Plan for NATO membership and obligations contained in the Annual National Programme of the Republic of Macedonia for membership in the period 2006-2007, is said in the communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Colston is set to meet the President of the Republic of Macedonia, the Government President, Deputy President of the Government for the Ohrid Framework Agreement and the relevant Ministers connected with the NATO integration of the country.

The expert part of the NATO team will have consultations with expert working groups from relevant Government sections engaged in the preparation of Republic of Macedonia for Alliance membership, regarding political and economic issues, defence and military issues, defence resources, security of classified information and legal questions, is said in the communication.

A part of the NATO team will simultaneously work on harmonization of the text of the document for the Process of Planning and Review (PARP) and the Partnership Goals of the Republic of Macedonia for 2007.

Previously, the delegation was announced to arrive at Wednesday, 24 January.

Crvenkovski: R.Macedonia does not insist on exclusivity to Macedonia

President of the Republic of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski, said that the country does not insist to have exclusive right to the "term Macedonia" and to the historical heritage of ancient Macedonians.

"Republic of Macedonia has never insisted, neither will insist, on the exclusivity of the term Macedonia or on the exclusivity stemming from historical heritage of ancient Macedonians."

Crvenkovski said this in response to journalist question on Wednesday's statement of Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis in Strasbourg, that he and another 2,5 million Greeks are at the same time Macedonians.

"Therefore, if Prime Minister Karamanlis feels as a Macedonian, we will respect that. However, we expect the Republic of Greece to show the same respect towards the feelings of Macedonian people and citizens of the Republic of Macedonia", said Crvenkovski in Skopje on Thursday.

Memoirs of Krste Misirkov Exhibited First in Macedonia Where He is Popular

Sofia. “The memoirs of Krste Misirkov, which were recently found, was first exhibited in Macedonia, where he is very popular”, Boryana Buzhashka, chair of the General Department of Archives at the Council of Ministers, said in an interview with FOCUS News Agency. She was asked to explain why the document was first exhibited in Macedonia and not in Bulgaria instead. Buzhashka said that before the memoirs were presented, a poll was conducted among Bulgarian journalists about the popularity of Misirkov. Only one in ten journalists said they had heard the name. According to Boryana Buzhashka, this result is due to political factors.
The book of memoirs will be published both in Bulgaria and Romania. The manuscript will be translated and published in April or May.
Krste Misirkov was a philologist and publicist born in 1874 in the then Ottoman Empire region of Macedonia. His ethnic self-identity and views are a matter of dispute between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia.

Transfers galore in FYR Macedonia

There has been a frenzy of transfer activity involving the top four clubs in the Prva Liga as they prepare to start the second half of the season.

Four contenders
With just six points separating the four frontrunners, each club has made changes to its squad in the hope of finding the formula that will provide the decisive advantage. Currently, FK Rabotnicki and FK Makedonija GP Skopje have 37 points from their 18 matches with FK Vardar three points behind and FK Pobeda in fourth position.

Brazilian trio
The most frantic dealings occurred at Vardar where several players joined but an incredible 12 players departed. The Skopje side signed Burhan Emrulahu from FK Shkendija 79 and goalkeeper Pece Korunovski from FK Pelister, while the biggest intrigue surrounds Vardar's capture of three Brazilian stars - Carlos Filho, Claudio Franca and Daniel Da Silva.

Striker departs
Weighed against those incomings, the loss of prolific goalscorer Riste Naumov to Cypriot outfit AC Omonia and talented Under-21 international forward Ivan Trickovski, who became a free agent, were major blows to Vardar's hopes. Also quitting the club were Vladimir Despotovski, for Belgian team KVC Westerlo, and young star Vladmir Medić, who has inked a deal with rivals Rabotnicki.

Makedonija disrupted
Makedonija have also been disrupted after their leading marksman Filip Ivanovski switched to Polish side Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski, where he will appear alongside Macedonian colleagues Vlade Lazarevski and Pance Kumbev. The striker said: "I've come to a club with big ambitions and hope my goals will help my new team." Ivanovski's replacement at Makedonija is FK Napredok frontman Aleksandar Stojanovski.

Champions bolstered
Champions Rabotnicki added two players to their squad as they look to regain the title. Bojan Kraljević has arrived from Montenegro's FK Zeta and former FK Radnicki Niš player Nemanja Milosavljevic also signed up. But forward Ardijan Nuhiju left for KS Dinamo Tirana and midfielder Zekerija Ramadan went to PFC Belasitsa Petrich, while striker Zoran Miserdovski and Cameroonian Armand Dubois Jankep were released.

Double capture
Pobeda, meanwhile, snapped up two players from FK Baskimi - Ilir Elmazovski and Dimitar Kapinkovski - and lured Bosnian Bojan Golubović from FK Leotar, though those singings were tempered by the news that U21 international defender Vance Sikov transferred to Greek giants Olympiacos CFP. Elsewhere the chase for the league's top scorer, Boban Jancevski, is hotting up after the 18-goal starlet left Baskimi as a free agent.

ulgaria drafts a black list of Macedonian journalists

Skopje. Viktor Cvetanovksi, journalist from the Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik newspaper and a correspondent of Nova Makedonija in Sofia, Dragan Pavlovic Latas from Vecer newspaper, Branko Georgievski from Dnevnik daily, Goran Momirovski from A1 TV channel, are part of the Macedonian journalists for whom it is demanded to be included in the black list of Bulgaria, the Macedonian Spic writes today, citing information provided by A1 TV channel.
The suggestion is for about ten Macedonian journalists, who write about the attitude of the Bulgarian authorities to the Macedonian issue, to be included in the black list.
The Bulgarian party VMRO-Bulgarian People’s Movement was set to send in the coming days a demand to the Bulgarian government and parliament. This demand would be under the form of a declaration with the explanation that Macedonian journalists should be banned to enter Bulgaria since they were part of the anti-Bulgarian hysteria in Macedonia.
The thesis supported by the Bulgarian nationalists is that part of the journalists in Macedonia want to part the two countries in favor of the Serbian secret services, Spic writes.

Croatia’s FM hopes for prompt launch of Macedonia's negotiations with EU

Skopje. Croatia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations Kolinda Grabar-Kitanovic expressed hopes for quick start of negotiations for Macedonian membership in the Union, the Macedonian Makfax reports
This is said in the announcement released after yesterday's meeting between the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, and the Croatian Foreign Minister.
Grabar-Kitarovic emphasized the need of deepening the economic cooperation and put a special focus on the direct foreign investments of Croatian companies to Macedonia.

Greece’s Support for Skopje’s EU integration will not be without reserves: Karamanlis

Strasburg. Greece’s Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a harsh message to Skopje from the tribune of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Greek Naftemporiki reports.
Karamnlis has pointed out that there is no place for one-sided actions (hinting at the renaming of Petrovec airport in Skopje to Alexander the Great airport) in the procedure on finding a mutually acceptable solution Macedonia name issue, held under the auspice of the UN.
In the frames of the strive towards strong bilateral relations with all the neighboring states, as well as towards stability in the region, Greece supported the decision of the Council of Europe for giving Macedonia the status of a candidate member state, Karamanlis said. He further stressed that this support will not be without reserves. The Prime Minister has said that the EU has set certain requirements including regional cooperation and good neighborly relations, and that Greece pays special attention to these requirements.

Ljupco Svrgovski is new Macedonian public prosecutor

Ljupco Svrgovski is new Macedonian Public Prosecutor, voted the Parliament on Wednesday.

Svrgovski, who comes to office from the position of deputy public prosecutor of the City of Skopje, was elected with 61 votes "for" and none "against" due to opposition boycott of the voting.

The discussion for Svrgovski's election started on Wednesday, after moving the item into the agenda.

During the discussion, the opposition at first disputed the order of items of the agenda, and afterwards - the procedure itself, stating that the voting is illegal due to it being performed by the old Law on Public Prosecutor.

Ljupco Svrgovski was chosen by the Government as a candidate for Public Prosecutor's office among 13 applicants to the public announcement.

Svrgovski replaces Aleksandar Prcevski, released last October by the Parliament upon Government's request, explained with Prcevski's alleged unprofessional and poor performance.

SCC management disassociates from SB's statement

The management of the Skopje Clinic Center (SCC) has disassociated itself from the statement released Tuesday by the Steering Board (SB) of the Center containing protest against Health Ministry's intention to divide up the biggest healthcare facility.

Clinic Center's SB voiced strong protest yesterday over the plan for transformation of the Center, which was presented last week, when a Division Balance Commission, chaired by the Director of Cardiology Clinic, Sahko Kedev, was formed.

"The statement released by the Steering Board expresses their view only. Nonetheless, we are convinced that a transformation of the Clinic Center is necessary. We won't allow under any circumstances for the health and lives of the patients to be put at risk", said the Director of the Clinic Center, Borche Georgievski, responding at SB's accusations that such a decision "might result in loss of human lives".

He added that "a Commission comprised of experts is scrutinizing the modalities for achieving thorough decentralization and autonomy by establishing a functional link between the Clinics and the Faculty of Medicine".

Georgievski unveiled plans for introduction of supplementary private practice of the doctors employed at the Clinic Center. Pursuant to the amendments to the Law on Healthcare Protection, the decision will take effect as of 1 February.

Starting from the next month, all doctors with seven-year working experience will be allowed to engage in eight hours of private practice on a weekly basis. Patients that will opt for using their services will make payments to doctors' individual accounts.

"The Clinic Center will by no means meddle in the funds generated by the supplementary practice, provided that no materials or machines belonging to the Center are used", Georgievski said.

EU project on efficiency in combating crime, corruption

The start of the twining programme aimed towards increasing state efficiency in combat against organized crime and corruption is to be announced by the European Union (EU) on Wednesday in Skopje.

As announced by the European Reconstruction Agency, the project worth 1,4 million Euros is aimed towards strengthening the capacity of the new Special Department for combat against organized crime and corruption within the Public Prosecution office.

The activities of the twining project, led by the European Reconstruction Agency, will be implemented during a period of 24 months through partnership between Macedonian Public Prosecutor's office and the Ministry of Justice of Italy, supported by International High Criminology Institute from Syracuse, Italy, and with participation of several experts from Italian Directorates for Combat with the Mafia.

The Wednesday's presentation of the project will be addressed by Minister of Justice Mihajlo Manevski, Italian Undersecretary of Justice Alberto Mariatti and European Ambassador Erwan Fouere.

Long Lines for Bulgarian Visas outside Bulgarian Consulate in Nis

Skopje/Nis. Outside Bulgarian consulate in Nis every morning there are long lines of citizens who need Bulgarian entry visas, the Macedonian Vecer newspaper writes.
The edition comments that the crowd is even bigger with Turkish truck drivers waiting for transit visas outside the consulate for hours.
It is awful. This is the third time that I come from Surdulica to Nis and I cannot get a visa even though I have a firm registered in Bulgaria, Petar Stefanovic said, cited by the paper.

Friday, January 26, 2007

"Invest to Macedonia" - international Government campaign

"Invest to Macedonia - New business heaven in Europe" is the media campaign for attracting foreign investments to Macedonia, announced by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Wednesday.

The campaign that started on 19 January and would last until 1 March is envisaged to promote Macedonia as a business destination in 50 newspapers in more than 35 countries, with overall circulation of more than 9 million copies.

"The goal of the campaign is to attract investors. Macedonia, finally, after 16 years will enter the investors' maps in Europe and the world", said Gruevski.

According to the Prime Minister, the campaign is expected to raise investors' interest, which is the first step, and the Government would have to respond positively.

Main benefits of Macedonia for attracting foreign investors in the campaign are: the flat tax of 10 per cent, tax deductions for re-invested profit, access to markets of around 650 million consumers, gross salary of 370 Euro, macroeconomic stability with 3,1 per cent inflation, three-day registration of companies, EU and NATO candidate status, as well as good infrastructure.

Prime Minister, answering a journalist's question, said that Greek daily newspapers Kathimerini and Ta Nea refused to publish the advertisement under the name Republic of Macedonia in any form and that the Government considers its further actions.

Gruevski refused to specify the cost of the campaign, but stated assurance that the money would not exceed 1 per cent of the first foreign investment that would come due to this campaign.

NATO delegation visits Macedonia

Skopje. A high-ranking NATO delegation is paying a three-day official visit to Macedonia, starting Wednesday, Makfax reports.
The team is lead by John Colston, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, accompanied by NATO Director of Force Planning, Frank Boland.
During the three-day visit, the NATO team will estimate the status of implementation of the Action Plan for NATO membership and obligations contained in the Annual National Programme of the Republic of Macedonia for membership in the period 2006-2007, is said in the communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Colston is set to meet the President of the Republic of Macedonia, the Government President, Deputy President of the Government for the Ohrid Framework Agreement and the relevant Ministers connected with the NATO integration of the country.
The expert part of the NATO team will have consultations with expert working groups from relevant Government sections engaged in the preparation of Republic of Macedonia for Alliance membership, regarding political and economic issues, defence and military issues, defence resources, security of classified information and legal questions, is said in the communication.
A part of the NATO team will simultaneously work on harmonization of the text of the document for the Process of Planning and Review (PARP) and the Partnership Goals of the Republic of Macedonia for 2007.

Macedonia does not Change its Stand on Kosovo Issue

Skopje. Two days before the proposal on Kosovo’s final status is announced in Vienna, Macedonian Security Council has held a session. After the sitting President Branko Crvenkovski and PM Nikola Gruevski said the country’s stability and security were not infringed. Despite that, the institutions will monitor the situation in the Macedonia, the Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik writes.
The PM refused to state Macedonia’s stand on Kosovo issue but President Crvenkovski said the country retained its position, i.e. Macedonia will support international community’s proposal, which should be accepted by both Belgrade and Pristina.

Croatian FM hopes for prompt launch of Macedonia's negotiations with EU

Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations, Kolinda Grabar-Kitanovic, expressed hopes for quick start of negotiations for Macedonian membership in the Union.

This is said in the announcement released after yesterday's meeting between the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, and the Croatian Foreign Minister.

Grabar-Kitarovic emphasized the need of deepening the economic cooperation and put a special focus on the direct foreign investments of Croatian companies to Macedonia.

Mirel: Macedonia should focus on reforms demanded by EC

Macedonia should focus on the reforms pointed out by the European Commission (EC) in the latest report, in order to intensify EU approximation.

This was said on Wednesday on a meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski by Pierre Mirel, Director in the General Directorate for enlargement of the European Commission, responsible for Western Balkans countries.

Gruevski and Mirel, as reported, have reviewed the recent progress of Euro-integration process in Macedonia and further steps that would lead towards approximation to the European Union.

On the meeting, Mirel commended recent activities of Macedonia and praised comprehensive initiatives towards European integration, says the communication from the Government's press service.

Macedonia arranged buyout of debt to Paris Club

Macedonia reached an agreement with representatives of Paris Club of creditors for buying out the debt of 104 million dollars, at a nominal value.

As announced by the Ministry of Finance, this was agreed on Wednesday in Paris by the Macedonian delegation led by Minister Trajko Slaveski and representatives of governments of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.

The agreement was reached upon a proposal of Minister Slaveski, accepted by the Paris Club.

The buyout will be realized in the period between 31.01.2007 and 30.04.2007, when Macedonia would sign bilateral agreements with the 13 countries - members.

"The operation of premature buyout of Macedonia's inherited debt towards the Paris Club contributes towards improving the credit rating of the country and Budget savings in 2007 of around 2,7 million Euros, due to reduced interests", is said in the communication.

Minister Slaveski, during his visit to Paris, also met the Governor of the Development Bank of Council of Europe (CEB) Rafael Alomar, where the realization of CEB-financed projects was discussed.

The two collocutors reached general agreement for future financing of two projects - one from the area of education (building sport halls in schools), and the second one for improving the conditions in penitentiary institutions in the Republic of Macedonia.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Macedonian Airport Lifts Name Dispute to New Heights

Decision to rename terminal after Alexander the Great marks new phase in tug of war with Athens.

By Vladimir Mirceski in Skopje (Balkan Insight, 18 Jan 07)

The UN mediator for resolving the dispute between Greece and Macedonia flew into trouble last weekend - literally - after touching down at an airport whose new name has brought the conflict to new heights.

Matthew Nimitz landed at Skopje airport just as the Macedonians were about to formally rename it after Alexander the Great, the 4th century BC warrior whom Greeks see as the epitome of classical Greek heroism.

Although the airport still bore the old name Airport Petrovec when he landed, as Nimitz drove towards the Macedonian parliament he could hardly miss the sight of new road signs to the airport proclaiming the name of the mighty conqueror whose empire stretched practically all the way to the Punjab.

Nimitz brought an angry message from Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, complaining that the move violated the Interim Agreement regulating relations between the two countries.

After a two-hour meeting in Skopje, Nimitz maintained the move was “not a major event here”, adding, however, that the issue was “between two neighboring countries and has to be dealt with great sensitivity”.

Behind the scenes, the conversation may have been tougher. Sources have disclosed to Balkan Insight that Nimitz warned the Macedonian government of Nikola Gruevski that Greece may scrap the Interim Agreement altogether, reflecting the anger felt by the Greek prime minister, Kostas Karamanlis. The agreement regulates all issues between the two countries except for the vexed question of the name.

FIFA and UEFA concerned by situation in FYR Macedonia

Zurich, 23 January 2007 - FIFA and UEFA sent a letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the FYR of Macedonia yesterday after the Macedonian FA offices were closed on 15 January and some members of its management were detained at the Ministry of Interior for several hours.

FIFA and UEFA are surprised by the Macedonian Ministry of Interior's action, in a move that violates the principles of autonomy that apply throughout the sports movement.

FIFA and UEFA are asking the Macedonian government to restore the normal situation and to stop interfering immediately in running the football association.

In the coming days and weeks, FIFA and UEFA will determine what action to take in response to the situation that has occurred in Macedonia should the Macedonian government continue their interference, which contravenes article 17 of the FIFA Statutes.

Macedonia President Warns Of Risks Ahead Of UN Kosovo Proposals

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP)--Macedonia's president warned Tuesday that stability in neighboring Kosovo is still at risk as the U.N. prepares to unveil its plans for the future of the disputed province, with extremists still at large.

"The capacity of Kosovo institutions is weak. We must not underestimate the risks and our institutions will remain vigilant and will closely monitor the developments in the region," said President Branko Crvenkovski.

Many extremists and criminals were still at large in Kosovo, he said.

Crvenkovski was speaking after a National Security Council meeting, convened ahead of a report by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari on the future of Kosovo. The province of 2 million people has been under U.N. administration since 1999.

The proposals, due to be unveiled early next week, are widely expected to propose conditional independence for Kosovo. Serbia wants to keep Kosovo as part of its territory and has offered broad autonomy to its citizens, 90% of whom are ethnic Albanian and want independence.

Macedonia wants to settle an ongoing border dispute before Kosovo's final status is determined. Kosovo claims more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land in Macedonia.

Macedonia government must back off

ZURICH, Switzerland -- FIFA and UEFA have demanded that the government of Macedonia stop interfering with the country's football association.

The call follows a raid on the Macedonian FA last week by the country's interior ministry in which a number of sporting officials were detained.

"FIFA and UEFA are surprised by the Macedonian Ministry of Interior's action, in a move that violates the principles of autonomy that apply throughout the sports movement," the world and European governing bodies said in a joint statement.

The organizations demanded that the government "restore the normal situation" and "stop interfering immediately in running the football association."

Refusal to do so could entail further measures against Macedonia as the government's actions contravened the FIFA statutes.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski said they had not yet received the letter, and added that police were acting appropriately in their capacity to fight corruption and organized crime.

"The Interior Ministry did not prevent the Macedonian Football Federation from functioning and cannot understand this reaction when institutions are simply doing their job," Kotevski told The Associated Press.

"Indeed, we expect the federation leadership to support all efforts to shed light on the current situation."

FIFA has been taking a tough line on governments it suspects of interfering in the running of their soccer federations, often suspending national teams from taking part in international competitions until demands are met.

Macedonia are currently fifth in Euro 2008 qualifying Group E level on points with England and Israel, but trailing leaders Croatia and Russia.

Their next group game is away to Croatia on March 24.

Steering Board protests against disassociation of Clinic Center

The Steering Board (SB) of the Skopje Clinic Center (SCC) voiced protest against Health Ministry's decision for "disassociation" of the biggest healthcare facility in the country.

SB members issued a statement today, saying they did not understand the purpose of such a decision.

"The importance of SCC is much too serious to serve as a testing ground for somebody's ideas. Unbalanced transformation is bound to result in collapse of the healthcare system. We are not talking about some bankrupted bank or factory, the price of such hasty decisions will be far more dramatic as human lives are at stake", the SB's statement says.

The Steering Board explained they reject the announced transformation because there is neither solid elaboration of the project nor it was initiated by World Bank as the strategic partner in healthcare reforms. Furthermore, they argue, there is no similar example in any of the neighboring countries undergoing transition process.

"This decision will only produce collapse of some of the clinics, shutting down of entire medical sections and surge of medical services' prices", the statement says.

Relations with Greece are Stable: Antonio Milososki

Skopje. Macedonian government does not intend to take provoking steps, such as naming Skopje airport Alexander the Great, Greek Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki told MPs in the parliament, cited by the Greek Naftemporiki newspaper.
The minister stated the government wants to develop good neighborly relations, especially with EU and NATO member states, such as Greece and Bulgaria.
“Relations with Greece, despite the different stands we have on the airport name, are stable; they develop constantly,” the minister said.

New Bulgarian Consulate in Bitola

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivajlo Kalfin is due to open the Bulgarian Consulate in Bitola today, Focus Agency reported. The new Bulgarian Consulate set up a free telephone line providing information to the citizens on the required documents for visa issuance application.
The Bulgarian Embassy in Skopje and the Consulate in Bitola already started to issue visas.
The Consulate is intended to provide services to the residents of Bitola, Struga, Krushevo, Kichevo, Prilep, Kavadarci, Gevgelija, Strumica, Valandovo and Berovo.
Naum Kajchev has been appointed as Bulgarian Consul in Bitola. His career history includes professorship at the Department for Recent History of the Balkans at the University of Sofia and member of the Sofia-based Macedonian Scientific Institute. In the 1999-2003 period, Kajchev held the post of Bulgarian Consul in Canada.

Dnevnik, Macedonia: Students “blocked” at the Bulgarian Consulate

Skopje. About 5,000 Macedonian university students that study in Bulgaria would not be able to show up at exams in January and will not be able to attest their term attendance since they are waiting to receive their visas for Bulgaria. Students in state-run universities are panicked since they have received information their exam session will not be delayed, the Macedonian daily Dnevnik writes today.
“I had to start the procedure on receiving a visa about two or three months ago but I had to take an exam and I could not come back to Macedonia. I came back before the end of the year and I called the Bulgarian Consulate to make an appointment. I had to have a visa before the end of the year. And now I have exams to take. Additional pressure is the fact that if we take a tourist visa now, we will not be able to take a student’s visa after that”, a student from Bitola, who attends a private Ukrainian university in Sofia, had said.
Another student, who has graduated the Faculty of Law in Sofia, has said that he would miss his opportunity to start work now because he cannot take his diploma.
The Macedonian Foreign Ministry has stated that no one has filed a complaint so far regarding the procedure on receiving visas for Bulgaria.
“We were told that Macedonian students will receive visas according to a short procedure. They just need to prove they are students and the embassy will give them tourist visas so that they could keep up with their engagements. Then they could start a procedure for receiving students’ visas, which lasts for about 30-40 days”, the Macedonian Foreign Ministry has stated.
Bulgarian Embassy in Skopje refuted the information that there is some short procedure for visa issuing, the newspaper adds.
“There are students that come to us on Friday and want their visas be ready on Monday because they have exams to take. We are sorry, but this is impossible. We cannot make exceptions. Why didn’t they start the procedure in December? The 30-40 days procedure is just the same as the one that was valid before the official introduction of the visas”, the Bulgarian embassy has stated.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Large fire broke out in Prilep

The fire that broke out early Sunday in City Pub restaurant in old bazaar in Prilep burnt to ground more than 1.000 square meters of restaurants and shops.
Milorad Bacanov, night watchman of City Pub noticed the fire and requested from EVN branch in Prilep to cut off the electricity in the facilities.

The fire was localised after two hours and the reasons for the fire will be additionally determined.

FYROM denies hidden agenda

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) did not rename its main airport after Alexander the Great in order to provoke Athens but believes that the move could help resolve the dispute over the official name of Greece’s neighboring country, FYROM’s foreign minister told Sunday’s Kathimerini.

“There is no hidden agenda or intention to provoke the Greek government behind the decision to rename Petrovec Airport,” said Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki.

Last month’s renaming of the Skopje airport after Greece’s 4th century BC military hero led to criticism from Athens, which saw it as a blow to relations between the two countries.

“Bilateral relations with Greece are so stable, especially in the areas of trade, tourism and business investments, that the issue of the [airport’s] name cannot put these in any great danger,” the minister said.

Milososki added that the renaming “could provide a challenge... to reassess our attitude about what can be disputed and what cannot.”

FYROM’s foreign minister suggested looking at Alexander the Great through a “European prism” and seeing him as a figure who unites rather than divides countries.

Greece and FYROM held separate talks earlier this month with UN negotiator Matthew Nimetz to discuss the dispute over Skopje’s insistence at being known as “Macedonia.”

Milososki said that Skopje will keep insisting that there be a dual-name solution in which Athens uses a different name from other countries in its dealings with its neighbor.

The minister claimed Athens had “fabricated” the name dispute and said a solution could be found more easily if all sides adopted a “logical” approach.

Crimes Against Albanians Go to Court

The trial of Ljube Boskoski and Johan Tarculovski, charged with the crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians in Ljuboten village near Skopje, is scheduled to start on April 16, 2007.

Boskoski and Tarculovski are indicted for the attack on Ljuboten, a village near Skopje, on 12 August 2001. The village was attacked by the Macedonian special police unit.

As alleged in the indictment, seven Macedonian Albanians were killed, 14 houses were burned down and more than one hundred villagers were arrested in the attack.

Ljube Boskoski was the interior minister at the time. The charges against him are that he knew about the crimes, yet did nothing to prevent them or to punish the perpetrators.

Johan Tarculovski, his former bodyguard, is charged with commanding the Ljuboten attack.

The pre-trial conference in the Boskovski and Tarculovski case is scheduled for April 12, 2007 before the chamber presided by Judge Kevin Parker.

Anti-Bulgarianism in Macedonia

The commemoration of the 79th anniversary of the death of Mara Buneva, a Bulgarian rebel who fought against Serb terror in Macedonia in the late 1920s, turned into a scene of anti-Bulgarian activities in the centre of the Macedonian capital Skopje on January 13.

About 30 hooligans with masks and sticks attacked participants in her memorial service, which took place at Buneva’s memorial stone near a bridge in the city. Among the participants were Bulgarians, Macedonians with Bulgarian identity and representatives of Bulgaria’s Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO). The attackers threw stones chanting “Bulgarians, Tartars” and “Die, Bulgarians, it’s Macedonia here”.

The Macedonian Interior Ministry initially reported that only one person had been injured and hospitalised. But the hospital in Skopje reported that four or five people were harmed in the attack. That same night, Buneva’s monument was pilfered and all the flowers and wreaths around it were burnt. According to witnesses, the Macedonian police not only didn’t interfere in the fight, but watched from the side. IMRO accused the Macedonian government in organising the attack.

The Bulgarian newspaper Standart reported that, according to Skopje-based journalist Victor Kazunov, in the evening of January 12 there had been a controversial TV show on the channel Sky Net . It called on the public to send text messages in support of stopping the “the celebrations of the Bulgarophiles for Mara Buneva”.

According to Kazunov, this campaign meant that the attack had been planned in advance. According to the journalist, during the past few months there has been “an incredible, hysterical, anti-Bulgarian, chauvinist campaign” in the local media. Reportedly a group of Macedonians of Bulgarian descent sent a protest letter to the Bulgarian ambassador to Macedonia, Miho Mihov. In it, they asked that Bulgaria respond to the pressure being put on Bulgarophiles in Macedonia.

The media mentioned the attack. But the media played down the incident. The Macedonian daily Utrinski Vesnik rejected accounts that four or five people were injured. Instead, the paper reported just two victims, Dragan Popov, and Miroslav Rizinski, an MP candidate during the most recent Macedonian parliamentary elections.

According to the paper, police called a number of suspects for interrogation, but so far no one has been recognised by witnesses at the commemoration. Suspects were thus released and the police still haven’t detained anyone, the Macedonian newspaper Dnevnik added.

Macedonian television A1 reported that Bulgaria wanted an official explanation on the incident from the Macedonian embassy in Sofia.

However, according to the A1 report, the Macedonian foreign ministry still had not commented on the incident. Only A1 mentioned that the Bulgarian-Macedonian relationship could suffer as a result of the attack. Bulgarian and Macedonian leaders said the relationship between the two countries was improving, but the incident showed otherwise, A1 said.

The reaction in Bulgaria was stern. On January 15, Macedonian ambassador to Bulgaria Abdiraman Aliti was called to the Interior Ministry. There, the director of Europe 1 Directorate in the Foreign Ministry Kossyo Kitipov gave Aliti a verbal note.

Moreover, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin said he expected the Macedonian authorities to take quick actions to solve the case. He added that he would make the same demand at the Macedonian embassy in Bulgaria, Focus news agency reported. The Macedonian media artificially and unnecessarily contribute to anti-Bulgarian feelings in Macedonia, said Kalfin on Nova TV on January 14. Kalfin said the Macedonian government wanted to maintain a good dialogue with Bulgaria. But at the same time, he said: “We would like to see a more serious engagement from the Macedonian politicians to stop this anti-Bulgarian campaign”.

The incident in Skopje is considered part of a ongoing anti-Bulgarian campaign in Macedonia, said former Bulgarian ambassador to Macedonia Angel Dimitrov.

The incident was a proof that certain circles in Macedonia continued their attempts for leading active propaganda against Bulgaria, said the spokesman of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, Dimitar Tsantchev. He added that it was obvious that some people in Macedonia still preferred to live in the past and remain closed to European values and standards.

IMRO’s reaction on the incident was also uncompromising. In a special declaration, the party called for an immediate cease of dialogue between the Bulgarian government and the authorities in Skopje regarding Macedonia’s possible accession to Nato and the European Union.

“The political position the Bulgarian Government so far has had toward Macedonia – to close their eyes to such incidents in the name of maintaining a good relationship between Sofia and Skopje – is obviously in vain. They have the exact opposite effect in Skopje. This position is accepted in the anti-Bulgarian circles in Skopje as indecisiveness and a lack of interest in Bulgaria towards the rights and interests of its citizens living on the territory of Macedonia,” the declaration read.

A new Macedonian encyclopaedia includes the Bulgarian towns of Blagoevgrad, Petrich, Melnik and Sandanski as Macedonian land.

The encyclopaedia includes Thessaloniki, Skopje, Kavala, Bitolja, Tetovo, Kumanovo and others as part of these territories.

“The provocations are not accidental,” Bulgarian historian professor Bozhidar Dimitrov told Focus news agency. According to Dimitrov, Macedonian nationals seek to distance Macedonia from the EU and Nato, because the country’s membership in the international organisations would put an end to claims on its neighbours’ lands.

Bulgaria has been supporting Macedonia’s bid to join Nato and the EU. It was also the first country to recognise Macedonia as an independent country in 1991. Bulgarian visas were made free for Macedonians when Bulgaria had to introduce a visa regime to its neighbouring countries, which are now the EU’s external borders.

Bulgarian officials may speak of good and improving relationships between the two countries. But some people in Macedonia think differently.

Leadership of opposition SDSM discusses own problems

The broader leadership of the main opposition party in Macedonia, SDSM, late Monday is discussing the problems within the party arisen from the differences between the current and the previous leader.

On the session of the Central Board (CB) of the Social-Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM), which started around 18,00 hours on Monday, it is discussed about the demands from the group around former leader, ex-Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski, for direct party elections, for possibility of party factions and for other changes in the party's statute.

According to local TV reports, Buckovski is pessimistic about CB and the president Radmila Sekerinska would listen to the demands of Buckovski's group which, among others, includes former chief of diplomacy Ilinka Mitreva and former Parliament speaker Ljupco Jordanovski.

Two days ago, Buckovski denied the possibility of himself forming a new party if the differences become too wide.

However, Monday's Macedonian newspapers continue with unconfirmed information about possible regrouping in the Parliament and joining MPs loyal to Buckovski to the ruling majority.

SDSM has 27 MPs, including 8 that are presumably under Buckovski's control.

Disagreements between Buckovski and Sekerinska came about after the defeat on parliamentary elections in July 2006, followed by Sekerinska becoming new president of SDSM on extraordinary party congress in November.

A regular congress of the party is scheduled for February this year.

Dragan Pavlovic Latas: Macedonia will become EU member state because it has better possibilities than Bulgaria

Dragan Pavlovic Latas, editor-in-chief of the Macedonian Vecer daily newspaper, in an interview with FOCUS News Agency

FOCUS: Mr Latas, regarding your today’s article that calls on Dosta Dimovska to Knock down Krasimir Karakachanov so that Pirin Macedonia could be set free, I’d like to ask you what do you mean with the words about the “freedom of Pirin Macedonia” and is Krasimir Karakachanov the factor that impedes this “freedom” that you write about?
Dragan Pavlovic Latas: Firstly, this is a thesis put on a preliminary thesis of part of the Bulgarian society… I read the Bulgarian Trud daily last week, whose article was published in the Macedonian Utrinksi Vesnik, and while I was in Bulgaria I read other papers too, and they still speak about Macedonianism, and not about Macedonian people. They still write that they are our brothers; we can see that neither the language is recognized; and with the presentation of a series of reasons they deny the existence of the Macedonian nation. This is a respond to all that and claims that all that is a slavery to the Serbian dominance in Macedonia. As a response to this, we, the people in Macedonia (…) Dosta Dimovska, and Ljubco Georgievski, is that this part of Macedonia is free, it has its nation, its state… And the fact they often abuse Pirin and Aegean Macedonia, under the same criteria – these are their criteria, and we define that this part of Macedonia is not free. It is about placing the issue on an absurd level so that we can explain it.

FOCUS: How would you recommend your idea about Mrs Dimovska to eliminate Karakachanov be interpreted – as a journalistic fiction, or as an appeal towards “hardening” the relations between our two countries?
Dragan Pavlovic Latas: If something becomes a senseless polemics, you can try explaining it in a way that may be absurd. Personally, I do not think that Mara Buneva is a national heroine. Mara Buneva deserve no attention. Howevr, someone persuades me that she deserves such attention. If this is a good example that should be mentioned and celebrated, than you can apply it once again. And since it cannot be applied again – this case, placed in today’s modern conditions, shows that it is all about a simple murder, in which there is nothing heroic. Well, this is made in such a context so that we can explain that Mara Buneva is nothing. Of course, it cannot be realized, and it is not an agitation to ‘knock down’ Karakachanov or something like that, but to explain the absurd of the framed-up heroine of Mara Buneva.

FOCUS: Do like holidaymaking in Bulgaria? How many times have you visited Bulgaria over the last couple of years and do you like Bulgaria in general?
Dragan Pavlovic Latas: I have not come to Bulgaria for 10 years now. I am personally glad that Bulgaria has joined the EU because if your neighbor is OK, you’ll be OK too. Unfortunately, when Bulgaria joined the EU, and after the several-year silence on the claims to the Macedonian nation. The issue was raised once again. Now, Bulgaria has no impediments for the EU. Before they were silent because they had to.

FOCUS: How do you see Macedonia’s future in the next five years and in 10 years, if it fails to join both NATO and EU?
Dragan Pavlovic Latas: Macedonia will become an EU member state, at least because it has better possibilities than Bulgaria. Macedonia has higher wages than Bulgaria – the average monthly payment in Macedonia is EUR 200, while the average salary in Bulgaria has not reached this level yet; Macedonia has a speedway, while Bulgaria doesn’t; Macedonia has Western culture, which has been accumulated for 60 – 70 years with the free travel abroad, which something that is not a fact in Bulgaria yet… This means that Macedonia has a better capacity and will join the EU.

Serbs in Macedonia voted for radical changes in Serbia

Skopje. Serbs national in Macedonia voted yesterday in the parliamentarian election in Serbia, the Macedonian Kanal 5 TV channel informs.
They were able to exercise their voting right in the embassy of Serbia in Skopje. Some of them have stated they voted for radical changes in Serbia aiming to overcome poverty, unemployment, crime, and corruption. According to them the biggest challenge for Serbia is Kosovo issue. They expect that the winners at these elections will be the parties who have promised in their elections campaigns that Kosovo will not be separated from Serbia.

Rupel Assures Macedonia to Get Date for EU Talks by Mid-2008

Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel assured officials in Skopje on Friday, 19 January that Slovenia had made it one of the priorities of its EU presidency in the first half of 2008 to launch negotiations with Macedonia. This means Macedonia has a lot of work ahead, Rupel said.

Addressing a press conference following their talks, Rupel and his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki labelled the visit as a harbinger of more good cooperation between the two countries; Prime Minister Janez Jansa is due in Skopje in a month along with a strong business delegation.

"Prime Minister Jansa mentioned the possibility in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 17 January that as EU president Slovenia would encourage the start of talks between Macedonia and the EU, which does not mean Macedonia will wait for Slovenia's presidency, but it has a lot of work ahead," Rupel said.

Milosovski thanked for the statement made by the Slovenian prime minister, saying it was not just an expression of support, but an encouragement to Macedonia to carry out reforms.

Macedonia was given the status of a candidate for EU membership in December 2005, but it has not been given the exact date for the launch of accession talks. At the presentation of the successive 18-month presidencies in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 17 January, Jansa said Macedonia would get a date during Slovenia's presidency at the latest.

Minister Rupel reiterated Slovenia's readiness to share its experience with Macedonia and in this way to continue to assist the country in its progress towards the EU and NATO. Rupel also underscored that Macedonia should continue its reform process.

Milososki said Rupel's visit was important in what was a vital time for Macedonia's bid to join the EU and NATO. He highlighted that the Slovenian embassy in Skopje took over as the NATO contact embassy in the country on 1 January.

The Slovenian and Macedonian ministers signed an agreement on consular assistance, which Milososki described as a "symbol of strategic partnership between the countries".

Under the agreement, Slovenian diplomatic missions in Tokyo, New Delhi, Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires will provide certain forms of consular assistance to Macedonian citizens.

The two ministers also discussed the wider situation in the region, including the parliamentary election in Serbia and the status of the province of Kosovo. Asked by a reporter whether the pair also touched on the demarcation line between Macedonia and Kosovo, Rupel said the issue was not brought up specifically, but that it was a serious problem which needed to be tackled.

Milososki said this was a technical issue, which was being worked upon. According to him, Macedonia expects the final proposal for the status of Kosovo to be presented by UN special envoy for Kosovo status Martti Ahtisaari would determine the players, the manner and the deadline for the demarcation.

Minister Rupel also met Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Speaker of Parliament Ljubisa Georgievski.

Macedonia’s Deputy Prime Minister Stavrevski Meets with WB Representatives

Skopje. A Macedonian team led by the Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Stavrevski will hold a plenary working session with representatives of the World Bank, the Macedonian Makfax reports.
The session is aimed at reviewing the Macedonian progress in meeting the requirements set by the WB's Programmatic Development Policy Loan - PDPL 2.
WB's team is expected to voice opinion on the implementation of reforms in the fields spanning judiciary, labor market, finance sector, business regulations, public administration, healthcare and decentralization.
Bruce Courtney will lead the WB's mission at the meeting with the Macedonian delegation comprised of Finance Minister Trajko Slavevski, Health Minister Imer Selmani, Labor and Social Policy Minister Ljupco Meshkov, Justice Minister Mihajlo Manevski, Local Self -Government Minister Zoran Konjanovski and Economy Minister Vera Rafajlovska.
Petar Goshev, President of National Bank of Macedonia, Aleksandar Geshtakovski, Director of Agency for Civil Servants and Georgi Trenkovski, Director of the Healthcare Insurance Fund, are also expected to attend the meeting.

5 policemen in Macedonia arrested for people smuggling

SKOPJE, Macedonia-Five Macedonian policemen were arrested on suspicion of involvement in a criminal ring smuggling illegal migrants from neighboring Kosovo to other countries, authorities said Monday.

The suspects allegedly provided immigrants at Skopje airport with stolen Macedonian passports, Deputy Interior Minister Voislav Zafirovski said.

"We believe that the suspects are part of a large ring that operated for years," Zafirovski said. "It was a well-organized scheme."

He said the policeman were arrested after authorities at Vienna airport last week deported six Albanians from Kosovo caught trying to enter Austria with stolen passports.

If convicted, the officers face up to four years in prison.

Western diplomats have warned Macedonian authorities to fight migrant smuggling if the small Balkan country is to achieve its aim of joining NATO and the EU.

CGI Allocates Grants to 16 NGOs

A total of 1,450,000 Denars in grants were allocated to 16 non-governmental organizations from southwest region of Macedonia, at the signing ceremony organized last week by the Centre for Civic Initiatives from Prilep.

”This is the first signing of grant agreements in Prilep. We hope to continue this practice of support for NGOs and their activities”, said Goce Todoroski, Executive Director of the Centre for Civic Initiatives.

The agreements were concluded under the “Strengthening Local Community Partnerships” project, implemented by CCI and financed by the Institute for Sustainable Communities. The project aims to assist local development, through promotion of partnerships between civic organizations, public institutions and the private sector.

A total of 57 projects from Prilep, Bitola, Krusevo, Krivogastani and Dolneni municipalities applied in the grant competition. The projects that won support include activities in rural and urban areas, in the fields of education, healthcare, social services, economic development, environmental protection and rural development.

The second competition for support for projects was announced by CCI to take place in February of this year.

Firefighters contain blazes in Bitola area

All fires that broke out in Bitola area last night have been put under control, Makfax's correspondent reported.

A firefighting crew is still operational near the village of Kishava, situated in the vicinity of Greek border.

"The crew has localized the fire at Kishava also, however, large areas of low-growing and beech trees are destroyed", said Zlatko Sovreski, the Head of Bitola's Firefighting Brigade.

Authorities raised sessions that all 14 blazes that broke out yesterday at different locations in Mariovo area, Pelister Mountain foothill and around villages situated along the Greek border, might have been set intentionally.

"Fire outbreaks are unusual for this time of the year, however, it is common practice among the live-stock breeders to burn scrub down to create better grazing land", Sovreski said.

Last night, a forest ranger crew caught two framers as setting fire near the village of Srpci. Bitola's Police is currently investigating the case.

14 Fires raging for a second day in a row at the Baba Mountain near Bitola, Macedonia

Bitola. 14 fires are being raging for a second day in a row in the Baba Mountain near the town of Bitola, Macedonia, FOCUS News Agency’s correspondent in Macedonian reported.
So far the police have arrested two men suspected of having deliberately set the fires. A huge number of firefighters are being working at the site.

Publications about Paid Bulgarian Visas are Lies: Bulgarian Ambassador to Skopje

Skopje. Bulgarian ambassador to Skopje Miho Mihov refuted the media publications that annual visas for Bulgaria cost 120 euro and three-month visas – 60 euro.
“Visas for Bulgaria are free of charge,” Miho Mihov told Focus Agency.
“There is only one paid visa – a student visa type D, which costs 50 euro. You had to pay for it even before the visa regime and now the price is the same,” Miho Mihov stated.
“When I read some of the prices mentioned in the publications it was clear this is an ignorant provocation,” the ambassador added. According to him the logic is elementary – to make something up at any time. First, when there were many people outside the embassy they wrote about “chaos”. Now when things are under control they made something else up – the paid visas.
Answering a question where such publications come from, the ambassador suggested this was the latest attempt to create tension.
“The aim is to create tension among Macedonians. When they read such publications they will feel physical and financial hatred towards Bulgaria,” Mihov said.

Commission for Macedonia’s NATO Integration Holds its Fifth Sitting

Skopje. Commission for Macedonia’s NATO integration held yesterday its fifth sitting, which was presided over by PM Nikola Gruevski, the Macedonian Makfax agency reports.
Gruevski presented the actions taken by the government in relation to the state's NATO integration. The focus was Macedonia’s preparation days before the visit of the NATO team from Jan. 24th to 26th.

Neighborly Matters

Skopje. The Skopje-based newspaper Vecer published today an article entitled “Neighborly Matters” whose anonymous author in a very vulgar way comments on the claims that a Bulgarian visa for Macedonians costs EUR 120. The author says that it’s too expensive and Macedonians can spend the same amout of money on a vacation in Greece instead in Bulgaria. According to the anonymous author, Bulgaria is not interested in watching Macedonians “dawdling on its territory, which will now become a Promised Land for drunken English fans, who will be able to drink, stick their bottoms out and rest for little money”. The author uses the same style further on in the article when commenting on the Bulgarian passports issued to Macedonians. The author claims that the Bulgarian state issues passports so that it can prove in the future that the Macedonians are Bulgarians and argue that there are many Bulgarians in Macedonia.
By getting Bulgarian passports, Macedonians also get the right to vote in Bulgaria. Thus, they can vote in favor of OMO Ilinden – Pirin (United Macedonian Organization: Ilinden-Pirin) or in favor of a Macedonian who has been nominated for an MP. The author also comments on the case about the registration of OMO Ilinden – Pirin and criticizes the passiveness of the Macedonian ambassador in Sofia. At the end of the article, the author argues that the time will come for retribution for the bad and inadequate attitude of the Bulgarians and Greeks to the Macedonians. Then, the Bulgarians and the Greeks will recognize the existence of the Macedonian nation, the author says.

Slovenian FM Rupel visits Macedonia

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel is due to pay Friday an official visit to the Republic of Macedonia. He is scheduled to meet with his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki, as well as President Branko Crvenkovski, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Parliament Speaker Ljubisa Georgievski. Milosoki and Rupel on behalf of the Macedonian and Slovenian foreign ministries will sign an agreement on mutual assistance of diplomatic and consular offices of both countries abroad to their citizens.

The Macedonian Foreign Ministry in a press release announced that FM Rupel's visit to Macedonia will reaffirm Slovenia's support and assistance to Macedonia with respect to realisation of integration strategies into Euro-Atlantic structures. The meeting is to focus on discussing opportunities for cooperation improvement in various fields, first and foremost in economy. The situation in the region will also be covered in the course of the meeting.

On occasion of Rupel's visit to Macedonia, Slovenian Embassy to Skopje will arrange Friday afternoon ceremony reception, which will also observe Embassy's taking over of a two-year role as NATO Contact Point for Macedonia.

Macedonia Citizens’ Attitude is Unacceptable: Bulgarian Foreign Minister

Sofia. We will also benefit if the whole south-eastern European region joins the EU and NATO, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin said in an interview for Darik Radio.
Regarding last week’s incident at the memorial plaque of Mara Buneva, Kalfin said the Foreign Ministry had sent a note and undertaken tougher measures. “It is important to understand that Macedonian citizens’ attitude is unacceptable,” Kalfin specified.
According to him Bulgaria should do its best to make Macedonian citizens’ travel to Bulgaria as easy as possible.

Temporal agreement functions well and is met by both parties

Macedonia hasn't received direct announcement for possible withdrawal of the temporal bilateral agreement due to renaming the Skopje airport into Alexander the Great, said Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki answering journalist question after opening the Greek language center for Macedonian Army (ARM) members in Ilinden army barracks. - I believe the temporal agreement functions well and it is met by both parties. We expect its resumption in the years to come, said Milososki.

Commenting the recent statements by his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis, Milososki said the statements were normal for both the Macedonian and Greek side.

- The statements are normal, there's no major difference between the Macedonian and Greek ones. However, I would like to emphasise that the opening of Greek language center in ARM, aims to demonstrate that countries' cooperation potential is much bigger than the potential of misunderstandings. I'm certain nothing can change our firm cooperation with Greece, said Milisoski.

The Greek Ambassador to Macedonia Theodora Grosomandiu, answering Wednesday a journalist question on whether the renaming of the Skopje airport into Alexander the Great had made an impact on the Macedonian-Greek relations, had said that the issue implied historic symbols, which had been treated by Greece with great sensitivity.

- Greece's position has been clear enough. I would reiterate what Dora Bakoiyanni has said i.e. people from the Balkans should commit themselves to building future, not returning to the past. I believe both countries will demonstrate maturity in avoiding mutual provocations, thus committing to hospitable neighbouring relations, stated Grosomandiu after opening the Greek language classroom in Ilinden army barracks.

Sofia Calls for Correction of Macedonian History

Skopje. The leader of the Bulgarian VMRO called for making corrections in the Macedonian history schoolbooks by omission of qualifications on the Bulgarian occupation during the WWII, the Macedonian agency Makfax reported.
"Removing ideology from the textbooks in order to get rid of the falsified facts about the national character of the historic figures belonging to the Bulgarian majority in the population that lived in the region of Macedonia in 1944", reads the draft-declaration tabled in the Bulgarian Parliament by the leader of the Bulgarian VMRO, Krasimir Karakachanov.
The document was tabled in response to the recent attack in Skopje against a group of Bulgarian citizens who gathered to mark the 79th anniversary of Mara Buneva's death.
Karakachanov, who uses the acronym FYROM when referring to Macedonia, demands that Bulgaria impose measures aimed at protection of the Bulgarian minority and cultural and historic heritage in Macedonia.
"Forming a commission comprised of European officials, tasked to monitor and present annual reports on the progress of the democratization process in FYROM, and reform of the repressive special services, inherited by the totalitarian Yugoslav regime", Karakachanov says.
The leader of the Bulgarian VMRO explained that Macedonia's "disrespect of the basic human rights" prompted his move.

Skopje’s Municipal Councilors Condemn Incident at Mara Buneva’s Memorial Plate, but not Unanimously

Skopje. Skopje’s municipal councilors condemned an incident, which happened on January 13, when participants in a service in memory of Mara Buneva were attacked by a group of citizens in central Skopje, the Macedonian television A1 reported. However, not all the councilors condemned the incident and the session included discussions on the issue, contrary to the expectations of Vlatko Stamatovski, municipal councilor from VMRO-DPMNE. Stamatovski said such an act of violence could not be but condemned.
“I think that as a country applying for the Euro Atlantic structures Macedonia has to condemn chauvinism”, Stamatovski said.
“Each act of violence has to be condemned, but I find it difficult to condemn this act”, Georgi Marjanovic, leader of the League for Democracy Party, said. “The guys had patriotic motives thinking that if they beat the people, Macedonia would join the EU more easily”, Marjanovic added.

Nimetz: Commercial reasons behind airport renaming

Matthew Nimetz, the UN's special representative in negotiations on the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, visited Skopje on Saturday (January 13th). He met President Branko Crvenkovski, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki and the Macedonian negotiator for the name issue, Nikola Dimitrov.

"There are no new proposals on the name. I didn't receive any new proposal. We had a diplomatic dialogue and will continue to discuss the issue," Nimetz said.

The envoy, who was in Athens the day before for talks with Greek officials, conveyed their displeasure over the renaming of Skopje's airport in honour of Alexander the Great.

"I heard the Macedonian case for the decision," he said. "The fact is that the issue of the symbols has always been a sensitive issue for both countries. This is also an issue between two neighbours that must be approached with great sensitivity."

"I was informed that this is a commercial decision -- that the renaming had more of a commercial goal," Nimetz added.

Dimitrov confirmed no name proposals were being floated. He said Nimetz's visit was primarily an opportunity to meet the new Macedonian government.

"We reasserted the government position calling for a double formula and heard Greek criticism about the renaming of the airport. We faced their arguments with ours. It is important that the process of talks is continuing," Dimitrov said.

Nimetz visited Macedonia a year and a half ago, presenting his last proposal for resolution of the name dispute. Under that proposal, the so-called double formula, the Republic of Macedonia could use its constitutional name in bilateral relations with various states. The name Republika Makedonija, in Latin script, would be used internationally.

The Macedonian side accepted the proposal, but Greece rejected it.

Cornerstone of Skopje Theatre to be laid on Epiphany Day

Cornerstone of the Skopje Theatre, which is to be constructed upon the model of the old theatre that was destroyed by the 1963 earthquake, will be laid on Friday (Epiphany Day). Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski will mark the beginning of works, followed by addresses of Minister of Culture Ilirijan Bekiri and State Secretary Elizabeta Kancevska.

Jovan Stefanovski-Zan and team of authors from “Euro Arch Design” are the project’s creators. Construction activities will be divided in several stages: first the exterior, then the interior, followed by lighting-acoustic.

According to Government’s initial assessments, the theatre’s construction will cost about Euro 6 million, scheduled for completion in 2009.

Charges Pressed against Four People over Skopje Incident

Skopje. Macedonian police have pressed charged against four of the people who were arrested in an incident at the memorial plaque of Mara Buneva on January 13 in Skopje, FOCUS News Agency correspondent in Skopje reported. The charges are about involvement in a battery.
Last evening six people from Vardar FC’s fan club, a.k.a. “komiti” (revolutionists), were arrested.

What Happened at Memorial Plaque of Mara Buneva is Primitivism

Interview of Macedonian ambassador to Bulgaria Abdurahman Aliti for FOCUS Agency

QYour Excellency, what is your evaluation for the relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia?
AEven from the beginning of my mandate, when I gave evaluation for the Bulgarian-Macedonian relations I have used the term “very good”. They are even excellent considering the fact that these relations have ascending role of development.
Q Do you think there is some kind of change in the relations between the two states in the context of the latest events?
A I don’t think that the latest events could be a reason for any changes in the relations between the two states. This is an isolated event, incident for which we all have our regrets and we are working in order not to allow similar incidents to happen in future and the guilty ones should face the consequences.
Q Is it true that there are six people arrested?
A I heard that there were arrested and the police is working on identification of those who had taken part and they will face trial.
Q What is your comment about what happened on 13th January?
A Mara Buneva is a historic personality and that is why there is a memorial plaque at the Vardar Rover quay. Every normal person no matter of his/her ideological orientation, national belief should respect the people who contributed for the freedom of their own nation or for the humanity as a whole. It is anti civilized act to desecrate such a monument.
Q From what circles does the anti Bulgarian campaign come?
A The things cannot be perfect and we shouldn’t idealize them in our conversations. I have just said that the Bulgarian – Macedonian relations are excellent and I stick to that point of view. However this does not exclude separate group of people with different motives to have more different thinking from that. I do not know their motives but I am not interested in thesm at the moment. In all cases this is primitivism.
It is very important to pint out that the larger majority of the citizens and the authorities in Republic of Macedonia have positive attitude to Bulgaria and the citizens are really happy for the accomplishments of Bulgaria on its way to Euro- Atlantic integration.
Q There was willing for co-operation at level of ministers, entrepreneurs, MPs last year. Which are the real practical results from the good intentions?
A The good intentions exist. I even claim that after the general elections in Republic of Macedonia and the formation of the new Parliament and cabinet the bilateral wishes for continuation and intensification of the co-operation renewed. There is a political will and all participants in the establishment of politics and the business circles create these good intentions.
Q Do you think that there will be a solution for Kosovo's status and what the Macedonian point of view will be on that matter?
A Macedonia is interested in solving the issue with Kosovo’s status. Macedonia is not a factor that solves what that status will be. That is why Macedonia is supporting the efforts of the contact group and of the UN Special Envoy Marti Ahtisaari in this process. It is of exceptional importance for Macedonia that there should be stability in Kosovo, for democratic rule there which will have the capacity to control the situation in respect of human and national rights.