Saturday, September 29, 2007

Parliamentary dispute turns physical in Macedonia

Prolonged political tensions erupted into a brawl at the Macedonian Parliament on Tuesday (September 25th). It happened at the end of a heated session concerning changes to the election code. Speaker Ljubisa Georgievski announced a break after a fierce verbal exchange between the leader of the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP), Abduladi Vejseli, and members of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI). Immediately afterwards, Vejseli was punched by DUI member Sadula Duraku.

The PDP, an ethnic Albanian party, is a member of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's ruling coalition. The DUI is the largest party representing ethnic Albanians in the country.

Menduh Taci, leader of a third ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, then appeared during the break. Along with a few other members of his party, he allegedly attacked DUI member Teuta Arifi, who asked for medical assistance. By then, the halls of parliament were in chaos. A reporter from A1 Television was slapped in the face by DUI party security, and a crew from TV ALSAT was detained while filming police intervention outside the building.

The same evening, police detained nine people who were found in possession of two pistols outside parliament. Pistols, machine guns and bullets were also found in cars.

The following day, a TV ALSAT cameraman was beaten by police on the way to Tetovo. He had been filming the police as they stopped a vehicle containing two DUI members of parliament. The car with the MPs was allowed to go, but the police attacked the journalist and broke his camera. According to the City Hospital in Skopje, the man has two broken ribs and contusions on his back and chest.

The DUI has now convened an emergency meeting and decided to freeze its participation in the work of the parliament. The party also requested formation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the incidents. The opposition Social Democrats and Liberal Democrats have called for the resignations of the interior minister, deputy interior minister and parliament speaker.

Gruevski condemned the incidents and urged party leaders and MPs to resolve their disagreements peacefully and in a democratic manner. After meeting with the leaders of several parties, he said the first priority is to calm political tensions, after which an investigation should be launched.

Social Democratic leader Radmila Sekerinska, however, said the meeting with Gruevski had produced no results. She said her party had warned that the situation in parliament was escalating and that the parliamentary majority was provoking trouble. Instead of reining in those responsible, Gruevski simply complied with them, she said.

The events have drawn international condemnation. The EU warned that the situation reflects on the image of the country and shows the need for improved political dialogue. NATO said verbal and physical intimidation in institutions is unacceptable, especially at a time when agreement on reforms is within reach.

The OSCE and the Journalists' Association of Macedonia condemned the attacks on journalists. The ombudsman has begun an inquiry, and the interior ministry had pledged to conduct an internal investigation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Number of poor people in Macedonia growing

Sofia. There are more and more poor people in Macedonia. Poverty grows among unemployed people in particular, as well as among people without university/ college education, or without any education at all, and among elderly people, the Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik writes.
According to the latest data of the State Institute of Statistics about 30% of the country’s population, or over 600,00o people, live under the poverty threshold in the period 2004-2006.
In the meantime the state strategy for fighting poverty, which was drafted a few years ago with the support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has given no result so far. According to the strategy the problem could find solution in decreasing the unemployment rate and increasing the level of education among the poor social layers. However, no obvious results have been achieved in this direction by any of the governments since the implementation of the strategy, the newspaper comments.

Macedonia warns of risks of partitioning Kosovo

Macedonia warned on Thursday against partitioning Kosovo in an effort to solve the impasse between the West and Russia over the breakaway Serbian province, saying it would embolden radicals across the region. The country's highest security body asked the government to follow closely fresh talks on the fate of the Albanian-majority territory "and inform us in time of the need to react". The West fears a partition of Kosovo between ethnic Albanians and Serbs could revive Albanian insurgencies in neighbouring Macedonia and Serbia's Presevo Valley. But the option remains on the table as a possible middle ground between the Kosovo Albanian demand for independence and Serbia's insistence the province remain within its borders. "Any eventual division can only be done along ethnic lines, and that would encourage the numerous radical structures in the region," President Branko Crvenkovski said after chairing a meeting of the country's National Security Council. "We cannot underestimate the risks that it would produce," he told reporters. The Council convened after the European Union's envoy to fresh Kosovo talks said this month the major powers would endorse any deal reached by Serbs and Albanians, including the previously taboo option of partition. Wolfgang Ischinger has since repeated the West's opposition to partition, but his remarks caused concern in Macedonia where a 25-percent Albanian minority dominates the north and west. An ethnic Albanian guerrilla army battled Macedonian government forces for seven months in 2001, until NATO and the EU brokered a peace accord granting Albanians greater rights. ALBANIAN QUESTION Tensions remain, and ethnic Albanian leaders in the Balkans warn any division of Kosovo to satisfy the Serbs would reopen the "Albanian Question" in the region. Partition would be likely to keep Kosovo's northern slice -- where about half of the territory's 100,000 Serbs live -- as part of Serbia. Albanians say they could claim the same right in Macedonia and the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia. Serbs and Kosovo Albanians have rejected partition, but have also offered no concessions on the bottom line -- independence. The two sides go to Vienna next week for separate meetings with a troika of envoys from the United States, Russia and the European Union, after 13 months of sterile U.N.-led talks. Russia has blocked the adoption at the U.N. Security Council of a Western-backed plan for EU-supervised independence. Kosovo has been run by the United Nations since NATO bombed in 1999 to drive out Serb forces and halt atrocities against Albanians in Belgrade's two-year war with Albanian guerrillas. The West fears major unrest if the deadlock continues much longer, potentially spilling over into Macedonia and Presevo. Kosovo has threatened to declare independence unilaterally by the end of the year, potentially splitting the 27-member EU.

Fake doctor cons many in Bitola

Bitola's police are searching for a fake doctor from Skopje, who swindled many Bitola residents in the last three months, reports Makfax correspondent.

The fake doctor, who presented himself as Dr. Vasil, physical medicine specialist, promised full recuperation from heavy diseases, brain strokes, disability and other diagnoses, charging 400 Euros per session.

The owners of the apartment that the fake doctor rented were also defrauded. He did not pay for the rent or for the costs that incurred, and also borrowed 5.000 Denars from them. At the same time, Vasil promised them employment of one family member in the alleged office he was preparing to open in Bitola.

It is not known when did the doctor leave Bitola, and none of the defrauded citizens could track him.

Some of the conned reported the case to Bitola police, and the exact number of defrauded citizens is still being determined.

It is suspected that this is the same person that in May this year conned residents of Kumanovo by promising them healing from heavy diseases.

NATO membership means solving issues related to Macedonian sovereignty

Skopje. Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski has announced that Macedonia’s NATO membership will mean finally solving all issues related to the territorial entirety and sovereignty of the country, Macedonian agency Makfax reported. That’s why Macedonia has a historic chance that should not be missed, the Head of State announced upon marking the day of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. The president believes that Macedonia will have the right to expect NATO membership invitation in April 2008 in Bucharest.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Ilirida" and Macedonia's federalization brought up again

Declaration of Republic of Ilirida and federalization of Macedonia was promoted today by an Albanian National Movement "Ilirida" (ANDI), an organization unknown even to the Albanian population living in Macedonia.

Violation of rights of Albanians as "third class citizens" is stated as the main reason for federalization of the country in the press release composed in a highly dilettante fashion.

Besides advocating federalization, the alleged movement claims it was founded in 2004, has president, shadow government and a senate, then a map containing internal borders as well as a constitution of the Republic of Ilirida.

The movement calls the Albanian deputies in the Macedonian parliament to resign and set up a parliament of Republic of Ilirida in Tetovo. All Albanians employed in the state administration are urged to leave their positions and come to their "parent Republic".

The announcement also appeals to all employees on the territory of the so-called Republic of Ilirida to resign from their posts until its constitution.

Until "the final showdown", the territory of the Republic of Ilirida will be defended by its own defense troops and internal control, concludes the ANDI's announcement.

Aged man ends up in coma after bandits break into his house

Bitola. An aged man ended up in coma after receiving multiple stabs, while his wife was severely beaten.
Marija and Vidan Boshevski, both aged 77, have been hospitalized in the Bitola's Clinic, after two robbers attacked them in their home in the Mariovo's village of Makovo at about 2 am last night, Makfax's correspondent reported.
The assailants left Vidan with brain hemorrhage, fractures on three ribs and a stabbing wound in the right lung lobe. He has been put at the intensive care department, while Marija, who sustained somewhat lighter injuries, is being treated at the surgery department.
Tashko Trajkovski, 25, from the village of Makovo and Nikola Todorovoski, 18, from Bitola, knocked on Boshevskis' door last night, and jumped on Vidan and Marija right after persuading them to let them in.
The thugs strapped the elderly spouses and harassed them, demanding money. They ransacked the house and enraged from finding only 600 denars, continued beating the old man and woman, stabbing Vidan several times.
Leaving the Boshevski spouses strapped, the bandits headed for the adjacent village of Oreovo to spend the night at their friend's.
At about 05:00 hrs in the morning, Tashko Trajkovski turned himself to the Police. An ambulance was dispatched to the victims' house, which ferried them immediately to the Bitola Hospital.
The Police placed the two bandits in custody pending formal accusations.

Papadopoulou: Constructive cooperation for solving the differences

The new Greek Ambassador to Macedonia, Alexandra Papadopoulou, on Wednesday in Skopje stated her hopes for "constructive cooperation" to solve the name differences between Macedonia and Greece.

"I stated my hope for constructive cooperation that will allow solving the existing differences and promoting the cooperation between the two countries", said Papadopoulou after the meeting with chief of Macedonian diplomacy, Antonio Miloshoski.

She added that "she believes all efforts should be undertaken in order to reach a solution on the name issue under UN supervision".

Papadopoulou said that this will be "within building good friendly and neighborly relations, as a basic parameter for Euro-Atlantic and European cooperation".

The Ambassador on Wednesday met minister Miloshoski and presented the letter by which chief of Greek diplomacy Dora Bakoyianni appoints her for Ambassador and Head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje.

Alexandra Papadopoulou - new Greek Ambassador to Macedonia

The new Greek Ambassador to Macedonia is Alexandra Papadopoulou, announced the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje.

Papadopoulou (50) is a career diplomat with prior duties in USA, Canada, Amman, and later in Pristina.

She took over the new office from the position of Greek Representative to the United Nations.

Papadopoulou is a lawyer with Master’s Degree in International Relations and speaks two languages - English and French. She is a widow and has one daughter.

Papadopoulou was appointed in place of Theodora Grosomanidou, recalled by Athens because of her statement for "Financial Times" when she said that Greece should face the reality that more than a half of the world countries have already recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name.