Thursday, June 18, 2009

NATO chief urges Macedonia to solve name row with Greece

NATO Secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Friday urged Macedonia to solve its name row with Greece, saying it's the only obstacle on its way to NATO.

"Unfortunately NATO can't play any role in this matter. We wish to see it settled as soon as possible," de Hoop Scheffer, who is on a farewell visit to Macedonia, said after meeting with the country's leaders.

According to reports reaching here from Skopje, the NATO chief reaffirmed that NATO's door is always open to western Balkan countries, because the region's integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is the only recipe for its lasting stability and security.

Macedonia's NATO bid was thwarted by Greece over the 19-year-long name dispute between the two neighbors at the alliance's summit in Bucharest last April.

Athens has contended that the former Yugoslav state's determination to call itself Macedonia has concealed territorial ambitions over its own northern province of the same name.

De Hoop Scheffer expressed satisfaction with the fact that nine new members joined NATO on his watch as Secretary-general, hoping for Macedonia to become the 10th.

His mandate as NATO chief will soon come to an end. He will be succeeded by former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is going to take office on Aug. 1.

Albanian diplomat arrested in Turkey on suspicion of drug trafficking

Turkish police had arrested Agim Haxhia, deputy secretary of the Albanian Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, in western Turkey on May 2, AP quoted the Albanian Foreign Ministry statement as saying in a statement.

Haxhia, being held in a prison near Istanbul, has been stripped of his immunity and will face prosecution in Turkey, the agency added.

He was arrested after police found 65 kilograms of heroin in his car, which carried diplomatic plates, AFP reported, citing Albanian television station Top Channel.

Until three years ago, Haxhia had worked as a journalist, the station reported.

Haxhia entered Turkey via neighboring Macedonia and Bulgaria without being stopped by customs or police officials in either country, Albanian police sources told AFP.

Macedonia turns to universal health insurance

Thousands of Macedonian citizens, who previously had access only to emergency health care and certain hospital services, are now eligible to receive free primary care through the government. Coverage now extends to vulnerable segments of the population, such as the homeless, the elderly and the unemployed.

The change stems from an amendment to the Law on Public Health that went into effect last month. The new law targets these "marginalised groups", Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said.

Minister of Health Bujar Osmani affirmed that, with these reforms, the government for the first time has satisfied a main principle of the Macedonian Constitution: coverage and protection of the health of all citizens.

The government will underwrite the newly eligible patients' coverage, enabling them to receive health care services on the same footing as those who are employed and pay for health insurance.

Universal health insurance covers unlimited visits to a personal primary care physician, preventive care and examinations and treatment abroad. Patients with specific contagious diseases will also be able to receive treatment under the plan, unless they have other insurance. They still have to pay for any medications.

Deputy Health Minister Vladimir Popovski explained that the new law harmonises even the terminology with that of the EU member states. Macedonia's federal Department for Public Health will now be called the Institute for Public Health and its regional offices centres of public health.

According to initial financial projections, this new health care system will cost more than 5m euros to implement.

While society generally welcomed the expansion of medical care, some doctors criticised the impending burden on the federal budget. Funds, they say, should also go to many dilapidated hospitals that lack adequate medical supplies or equipment.

According to Dr Gjorge Jovanov, "With the funds that the government is now providing, many of the patients who were not able to receive health care will have coverage, which is a very good thing. On the other hand, part of this money can be used to improve conditions for patients who already have insurance."

Congressmen push US on Macedonia

Fifteen members of the US Congress have appealed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help break the deadlock in the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name so that the tiny Balkan state can join NATO, it was revealed yesterday.

In a joint letter the 15 senators, led by Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Republican Mark Souder of Indiana, urged Clinton to recognize FYROM as “a staunch ally and trusted partner” and to review the state’s “contribution to stability in the southern Balkans and its contribution to America’s foreign policy objectives in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Middle East.”

The Congressmen also appear to press Clinton to take a stand on the name dispute. “We look forward to working with you... to reach a speedy and equitable resolution on issues such as the name dispute,” the letter said.

Greek diplomats said yesterday that they believed the FYROM lobby in the US had prompted the initiative in a bid to revive interest in stalled talks on the name issue.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Switzerland will respect free visa regime for Macedonia

Switzerland will apply a possible decision of the European Commission (EC) on annulment of visa requirements for the citizens of Macedonia, as although non EU country it is a member of the Schengen visa system, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said Monday after meeting his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey.

Milososki briefed his counterpart on Macedonia's progress in the visa liberalization process and the country's expectations for the desired result to soon enter into effect, local media reported from Bern.

- We have pointed out that Macedonia is a leader in the region in terms of meeting the visa liberalization criteria, which if approved by the EC and other European institutions, will be applied by Switzerland - very significant move for Macedonian citizens living there and for the communication of the peoples of both countries, Milososki said.

Milososki and Calmy-Rey expressed satisfaction with the solid political relations of the two countries and urged for boosting of the economic cooperation.

The Ministers also discussed on developments in the Balkan region, its European prospect, as well as forthcoming engagements of Switzerland and Macedonia as holders of the Council of Europe Presidency.

They shared opinions on possibilities for revising the 1996 bilateral agreement on air-traffic that would offer better services and prices.

Macedonian snipers third best in the world

1.Russia, 2. Ukraine, 3. Macedonia.

These are the top three countries at the latest Sniper World Cup for Police and Military held in Budapest, Hungary. Eagle eye, nerves of steel ... is something that best describes a snaperist. Mistakes aren't allowed, the tiniest of mistakes can be very costly.

Macedonian elite police and military sniper units have been competing at the Budapest sniper world cup since 2004. For six years in a row Macedonian elite unit "Tigers" have placed in the top 10 in the world.

In 2008, the Tigers placed third in the world, right behind the Russians and the Ukrainians (Berkuti). The Tigers are known as the toughest unit for urban fighting in Macedonia, though some may have arguments for the Wolves and the Red Scorpions. They are not the same. The Wolves and Red Scorpions belong to the Army, while the Tigers are a police commando unit.

Each day of a "Tiger" member is planned out from morning to evening. Every minute of the day, including meals, training and tasks are planned months ahead. Their primary duties are to cover VIP persons, free hostages, deal with criminals and terrorists on moments notice etc.

The Tiger's sniper unit is also known in being able to take out targets at 1,500 meters distance with 100% accuracy which makes them one of very few units in Europe and the only ones in the Balkans that can do that.

"Suitcase Trade" on Bulgarian border with FYROM increases

The cases of suitcase trade at the Gueshevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian border with FYRMacedonia, has increased, the chief of the customs at the checkpoint, Georgi Vladimirov, told Focus on Friday.

According to him it comes down to small traders who cross several times a day the limit for imported food. The reason is that prices of many goods in Macedonia are still lower.

‘The phenomenon cannot be stopped, as it exists everywhere. It is a time of crisis and everyone seeks a cheaper deal – Bulgarians shop in FYRMacedonia, Greeks shop in Bulgaria, Englishmen shop in France, Italians in Switzerland…’

As long as the imported goods are not in big quantities they cannot be handled by the customs officers. Even so, since the beginning of the year some 180 kilos of chicken legs have been confiscated.

Fines for companies without HACCP system as of May

No concrete data on the number of domestic companies that have implemented the HACCP food safety system, a legal obligation since January, are available yet. It is being considered so far that about three, five or ten percent of the total number of registered capacities have met the obligation, even though experts deem the figures are inaccurate.

Inspection teams in the first four months were mainly tolerable towards food operators, giving advices without fining them. Rigid control and fines amounting between Euro 500 and 5.000 and even closure of production plants or stores will be introduced as of May.

All large industrial capacities involved in food and beverages production that place their products abroad have already implemented the HACCP system. The sales benefit is obvious not only abroad but also at home because its has boosted their competitiveness, the Food Directorate says.

FYRMacedonia's legislative defines that producers, salesmen, restaurant owners, hotel-keepers and artisans, who are in any way involved in the production, transportation and commerce chain of food and beverages, are bounded to observe and apply provisions stemming from the rulebook on hygiene-sanitary conditions of food safety and the law on food safety, based on the HACCP system.

Macedonia's journalists to stage protests

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) will organize protest Monday in downtown Skopje on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, May 3.
The protest will begin at 11:30 hrs at the AJM's premises and later the journalists will march across the streets to the city's central square "Makedonija".
The aim of the protest is to raise the voice against the bad situation that Macedonian journalism is undergoing, convictions for journalists, pressures, political influence, journalists' salaries etc.
In the media freedom report by Freedom House, Macedonia was ranked 98th in the group of partly free countries in terms of freedom of the media.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Gruevski - Macedonia deserves Europe's solidarity

Macedonia demands the same rights as the countries that have been joining the European Union previously, prime minister Nikola Gruevski said today at the European People's Parties' Congress.

During his address at the second day of the Congress taking place in Warsaw, he asked for support of Macedonia's integration in EU, Alsat-M TV Station reported.

"The positive opinion and the wish of the Macedonian people for inclusion in EU are not sufficient. We have to show to our people that Europe is worthwhile for us to be a part of it," Gruevski said.

Macedonian prime minister said that denying Macedonia an invitation for membership in NATO, despite Alliance's commendations about the country's achievements, delivered a severe blow to the solidarity.

"We are still hoping we will become a member, because we believe in the principles of freedom. Our vision is mutual respect and inclusion of all citizens, communication among the European countries and regions, regardless of how different they are - Europe for all. We ask for no more, just solidarity," Gruevski said.

After the end of the Congress tonight, PM Gruevski is scheduled to meet with his Czech counterpart Jan Fischer in Prague.

Macedonia, CERN sign co-operation agreement

In what is regarded as a major victory for the Macedonian government, a delegation headed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski signed a co-operation agreement with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) on Monday (April 27th) in Geneva.

The pact "opens up opportunities for education and research as well as for the receipt of grants, equipment, transfer of knowledge and technology", explained Gruevski.

It provides a framework for Macedonia's long-term participation in experimental and theoretical physics, engineering, detection technology applications and computing.

Macedonian students and scientists will now be able to attend various CERN schools -- such as for accelerators and computing -- to study, train and conduct research. This summer, the first group of Macedonians will visit the prestigious research centre.

CERN Director-General Rolf-Dieter Heuer -- who signed the agreement with Gruevski -- hailed it as a great chance for Macedonian researchers to contribute to the development of their country and the world.

Macedonia has paid greater attention to science in recent years. It has doubled its spending on education, opened several new colleges and raised student enrollment quotas. The government even paid tuition at the Skopje-based Ss. Cyril and Methodius University physics department for scientists who can later perfect their knowledge at CERN.

However, Macedonian scientists believe the government can do more. Last year, it allotted about 2.5m euros for science and research, and the EU awarded the country 6m euros for that purpose.

Aspiring Macedonian researchers can vie for grants from two EU programmes: 1) FP7, the EU's 2007-2013 Framework Programme to encourage research and technical development, and 2) the Competitiveness & Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).

Two scientists, Zlatko Dimcovski and Jovan Mitrevski, are rare Macedonians with long-term work experience at CERN. Dimcovski -- a CERN veteran of 42 years -- said it was a boon for Macedonia to gain all of CERN's privileges without having to contribute financially.

Established in 1954, CERN is the biggest and one of the most prestigious research centres in the world. It began its work as one of Europe's first joint ventures but today numbers 20 member states and collects 751m euros annually in membership fees.

Gruevski said he hopes Macedonia will upgrade its status in CERN after a certain period of time.

S&P Cuts Ratings On Macedonia On Worsening Liquidity

Standard & Poor's cut Macedonia's credit ratings on Thursday on concerns that deteriorating external liquidity may force the government to abandon its exchange rate peg to the euro, further hurting the economy.

Macedonia's "large current account deficits and reduced availability of external funding threaten to reduce levels of international reserve assets significantly," S&P's credit analyst Kai Stukenbrock said in a statement.

The country's exchange rate peg to the euro could be undermined as a result, unless the government reduces external imbalances and secures financing to close the external funding gap, he added.

A forced devaluation of the currency would disrupt the economy, the analyst warned. He added that S&P could lower Macedonia's ratings again if external liquidity indicators and foreign reserves deteriorate further.

S&P downgraded Macedonia's long-term, foreign-currency sovereign rating to BB from BB-plus. The country's long-term local-currency rating was cut to BB-plus from BBB-minus. The outlook on the ratings is negative.

The agency also revised the recovery rating on Macedonia's foreign-currency debt to 3 from 2, which resulted in a downgrade of the country's outstanding 150 million euro bonds maturing in 2015 by two notches, to BB from BBB-minus.

‘Suitcase Trade’ on Bulgarian Border with Macedonia Increases

The cases of suitcase trade at the Gueshevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian border with Macedonia, has increased, the chief of the customs at the checkpoint, Georgi Vladimirov, told Focus on Friday.

According to him it comes down to small traders who cross several times a day the limit for imported food. The reason is that prices of many goods in Macedonia are still lower.

‘The phenomenon cannot be stopped, as it exists everywhere. It is a time of crisis and everyone seeks a cheaper deal – Bulgarians shop in Macedonia, Greeks shop in Bulgaria, Englishmen shop in France, Italians in Switzerland…’

As long as the imported goods are not in big quantities they cannot be handled by the customs officers. Even so, since the beginning of the year some 180 kilos of chicken legs have been confiscated.

Macedonian border remains one of the most risky for smuggling cigarettes

Macedonian border remains one of the most risky borders for smuggling of cigarettes, chief of the customs border control at Gueshevo border checkpoint Georgi Vladimirov said in interview with FOCUS News Agency.
Our border with Macedonia remains risky for smuggling of cigarettes, because it is close to countries such as Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro, which are the hatchery of the Balkan smuggling, he explained.
"It is normal some numbers of cigarettes to enter Macedonia and from there to Bulgaria. We have seized many shipments last year. We are trying to assume the 99 percent control of the trucks. However, that hinders us Macedonians too much, because the trucks are starting to run without seals and this makes us to believe that each driver may go on the market in Skopje to buy one or two boxes or to hide in the cabin or in the truck”. Georgi” Vladimirov added.

Macedonian Journalists' Association calls members to attend protest

The Macedonian Journalists' Association (MJA) will organize an action dubbed "Five Minutes of Loud Silence" and a massive protest on the occasion of 3rd May - Freed of the Press Day.
This year's edition of the action "Five Minutes of Loud Silence" will be held Sunday under the slogan "For journalists' dignity, for dignified profession." It will be comprised of five-minute recess of the news programs aired by electronic media across the country.
MJA called the journalist and employed in the media to take part in a massive protest, scheduled for the next day - 4 May at the Skopje's main square "Macedonia".
"We except from you to take part in the parade, so we can raise our voice against the bad situation in the Macedonian journalism, including the court verdicts, pressures, political influences, salaries..." says the statement released by MJA.

Macedonia has to wait until end of year: Olli Rehn

Macedonia has to wait until end of year so to get recommendation for starting negotiation on accession in EU. This is what European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said in Prague on Friday, A1 informs.
Rehn pointed free elections, reform in state administration, resolute fight against corruption and organized crime are needed for positive recommendation.
“Results must be reached in all these sectors. We have to wait until the end of the year so to announce the recommendation," Rehn said.

No swine flu case detected in Macedonia

Macedonian health authorities dispersed fears for presence of the new - swine flu - in the country, after the results of the tests carried out on a patient that was preventively held in a hospital, turned negative Makfax informs.
Daniela Aleksoska, a spokesperson of the Health Ministry, told Makfax that the patient was released for a home treatment after he was tested negative on the A type influenza.
Previously, the Macedonian health authorities said that an individual who arrived in Macedonia from Italy via Bulgaria, was preventively held at the Skopje Infective Clinic, after showing flu symptoms.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two arrested in ProCredit bank robbery

Macedonian police have arrested two persons in connection to the robbery of ProCredit Bank-Skopje, which took place on 10 April.

The police believe that one of the detained bought the two vehicles used in the robbery, while the "biological traces" of other one, a man with double citizenship - Kosovo and Croatia's - matched those found on the vehicle. In addition, an operation for tracking down of the third person believed to have been involved, is underway.

The arrested B.T. (29) from Skopje bought the vehicles Golf 3 and Alpha Romeo 155 used in the robbery, from the used car lot "Guri" in the beginning of 2009.

In his testimony before the police, he said that his cousin A.T. (31) from Skopje, who is still on the run, ordered him to buy the vehicles. B.T. also said that his cousin kept constant contact with a man from Kosovo.

The armed group managed to steal 50,000 euros from the bank located in downtown Skopje in a daring operation. In the shootout with the police, two officers and a bypasser were wounded.

Alexander The Great Bisexual

Macedonia’s bisexuals are delighted that their hero, Alexander the Great, will soon break the macho monotony of their country’s capital.

A prank press release in support of the Macedonian government initiative to erect a giant statue of Alexander the Great, “the greatest bi-sexual in the history of the world”, as stated, appeared recently on Facebook.

This joke aimed to rile the patriotic feelings of Macedonia’s hard-line nationalists who see this ancient warrior king as the symbol of their national pride, and was signed by a fictional citizens’ association, named “Alexander Bi-Macedonian”.

“We, the bisexuals have always been rejected by society in all possible ways, including symbolically.
Skopje and Macedonia are full of macho heroes. Even women are excluded from the Macedonian symbolic universe,” the association states.

The conservative VMRO DPMNE-led government’s bid to plant a statue of Alexander in Skopje’s main square is a “significant step towards emancipation, offering us a person that will unify us on much higher level”, the release continues.

“We have always seen Alexander as an iconic figure for our bisexual lifestyle. We look on him as a man who beside conquering and unifying the world unified people of different sexual orientations as well,” the release further writes.

Beside affirming sexual diversity, the monument will make the country a top tourist destination as “every bisexual from Europe will be delighted to take his picture in front of the statue”, it continues.

I still remember how scandalized people were in both Macedonia and Greece after watching the Oliver Stone blockbuster “Alexander”, which portrayed the young hero as in love with his mate Hephaestion.

Partly out of curiosity and partly out of some hidden suicidal drive I deliberately started conversations on this issue with people from both countries who I thought were notably patriotic. I somehow survived to tell the tale!

First they would start blushing, while trying to stay calm and explain to me that I had been surely misled.
They would nervously clasp their hands together in a prayer-like position.

But soon they snapped, losing their tempers and attacking the “commies, masons and who knows who else” for plotting a conspiracy against their national hero.

The reactions were identical. The only thing these people could not agree upon was who was stealing whose history – Macedonians or Greeks?

Ok, heroes are heroes and their rightful place is on city squares, to remind the people of their glorious achievement or ideas.

I can even to some extent understand why people tend to worship stereotyped “horse-mounted” egoists and slaughterers like Alexander or Napoleon – more than some really deserving scholars, for example.

But that is not the point here.

As far as I know, there is no hard proof that Alexander was truly a bisexual although various circumstantial evidence does point to that theory.

But that is also not the point.

The point is that, unfortunately, the fight against numbing stupidity in the Balkans is still waged only through the irony and wit of a few.

And they have to remain anonymous, of course, just in case them find themselves in the way of some “patriot”.

National Bank of Macedonia prepares new measures to protect denar

National Bank of Macedonia has announced possible new tightening of monetary policy, Macedonian A1 television channel informs.
Everything depends on the foreign currency reserves, whose balance runs to EUR 1,2 billion now.
If planned measures prove to be insufficient, the bank will take additional ones, said bank governor Petar Gosev.
In the last four months National Bank of Macedonia has spent some EUR 300 million of the foreign currency reserves to secure the protection of the exchange rate of denar, the channel says.

Macedonian pork is safe, say producers

Domestic pork is healthy and safe, whereas consumers can use it freely, stated Wednesday Macedonian producers and processors.

They complained of suffering enormous losses due to the citizens' misinformation, thinking that the swine flu is transferred through food.

"The disease that recently appeared in Mexico is not transferred through consumption of pork and its processing, but from one human to another. This is a mutation of the swine, human and bird flu, but of humane, not animal type. Therefore, we ask that term 'swine' is replaced with 'North American'", stated members of the Group for Production of Pork and Processing.

According to them, since the news on the global spreading of the swine flu, pork sales in Macedonia have reduced by 50 percent.

Veterinary Administration director Dejan Runtevski stressed that the ban for import of live pigs, which entered into force on Tuesday, would be applied as long as necessary.

Scheffer - Macedonia fulfills criteria for membership in NATO

Macedonia has fulfilled all criteria for membership in the Alliance and what remains now is to resolve the dispute with Greece over the name of Macedonia, NATO chief said today.

At the meeting with the outgoing Macedonian president Branko Crvenkovski, NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer said that he expected for negotiations aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solutions to intensify once the elections in both countries are over.

The interlocutors agreed that the in the following period, the efforts should focus on creating an atmosphere of good-neighborly relations between the two countries.

Macedonia seeks for economic cooperation with United Arab Emirates

The Minister of Foreign Trade of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, will pay a working visit to Macedonia on Thursday.

Her visit to Macedonia comes as part of the European tour, and is aimed at improving the bilateral cooperation, above all in the economic field and other areas of joint interest.

According to the agenda, the UAE minister will meet with Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, Economy Minister Fatmir Besimi and Environment Minister Nexhati Jakupi.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Macedonian milk producers expects Swed milk to pay their money off until Monday

Macedonian milk producers do not know whether Swed Milk Company had started the procedure on paying off the money for the milk. Despite it was agreed on the last meeting with the governing team half of the money to be paid off until the end of the week, Macedonian A1 television informs. They said on Friday’s conference they even do not know who the new owner is.
A1 reminds Swed Milk Company owes more than EUR 3.5 million to about 3000 milk producers.
The other part of the money has to be paid off until the end of February.

Macedonian race for next president

A total of seven candidates, three of them ethnic Albanians, will run in the March 22 ballot, with the ruling VMRO-DPMNE represented by Djordje Ivanov.

The opposition candidate and, according to analysts , the election's front runner, is Ljubomir Frchkoski.

However, former Interior Minister Ljube Boshkoski is emerging as "the most interesting candidate", our reporter in Skopje says.

He spent four years detained at the Hague Tribunal, undergoing a trial there accused of 2001 murder of ethnic Albanians, but was acquitted of all charges last year.

Both Boshkoski and Frchkoski spoke for B92 on Saturday.

Boshkoski said he is not hiding his disappointment over the fact that VMRO-DPMNE, a party of which he is a member, did not choose him to run.

"I have four years of Hague solitude behind me. In a room sized 2.5 square meters I had time to think about Macedonia's future. Even during the first days after my departure I realized that the situation in Macedonia was alarming and that my country was extremely isolated. You know, although I returned from jail, I am in this way imprisoned again, and I cannot allow for that to happen."

"I disagree with some moves made by Premier [Nikola] Gruevski, but what worries me the most is his insistence on the Macedonians' ancient roots. This Aryan theory is something we don't need at all," Boshkovski said.

Frchkoski, on the other hand, sees it as his "personal challenge" to stand against "the authoritarian rule that has isolated Macedonia managing to push in into a Balkan corner".

"After twenty years of independence we are once again setting up the basic security issues, of whether or not Macedonia will face internal federalization and whether Albanians will separate in local municipalities."

"We cannot expect fair elections, the most we can expect is for them to be calm. Unfortunately these are the election criteria just like in Africa," said he.

Meanwhile, it is already clear that ethnic Albanian votes from the first round will go to the Macedonian bloc candidate that will be most accommodating to Albanian conditions and demands, our reporter says.

Kosovo PM on secret visit in Skopje

Kosovo Prime Minister /PM/ Hashim Taci was on a secret visit in Skopje, Macedonian A1 television informs.
“The aim of the visit and with whom he talked with remains a secret. TV’s team saw Taci in Skopje’s restaurant. He refused to say what the aim of his visit was. Taci’s cabinet press office in Pristina claimed he did not go anywhere.
There are cars with Albanian registration in front of the restaurant where he had lunch,”A1 informs.

Government makes kitsch patriotism: former PM

The patriotism, which is realized in Macedonia these days, is kitsch patriotism. The whole national policy reduces to a mass propaganda, which aim is to turn people into ancient Macedonians, former Macedonian Prime Minister Lubco Georgievski said, Macedonian Spic newspaper informs.
“This is a patriotism, which bases are very weak sections. We make extra problems with Greece,” Georgievski said.
In reference to his political ambitions Georgievski said that they are at the field of analysis and examination. In his words Macedonia has to be flexible in reference to name dispute.

Macedonia to receive EUR 3.5 million for education

Macedonia will receive EUR 3.5 million for education from the regional pre-accession funds for 2008 in the frames of Tempus program, which is focused on the development of education, FOCUS News Agency correspondent in Skopje informs.
“The Tempus program stimulates the mobility not only among students but also among lecturers. They have greately contributed to the development of the high education," Macedonian Minister of Education Pero Stojanovski told a press conference.
He added that representatives of the countries taht are now joining the program are visiting Macedonia to get acquanted with the program's functioning in the country.

Macedonia may heed Bakoyannis advice

Few days ago Greek FM Bakoyannis, in Belgrade as part of her OSCE journey, issued a statement that Macedonia should follow Greece's example.

At the time, it wasn't clear what precisely did the Greek FM had in mind.

This morning, it appears as there is a good chance the government in Skopje will follow Athens' advice. No, it has nothing to do with minorities or cooking financial books, something Athens is an expert in.

A French Army delegation has signed an agreement with Macedonia for training Macedonian helicopter pilots in France. Because of this, the possibility of Macedonia purchasing French helicopters has greatly increased.

The Macedonian pilots are already trained on Russian/Ukrainian/Israeli helicopters. The only reason they would train on french helicopters is, if they are buying some.

Skopje has already decided to send a military attache to France, to be a liaison between the two armies. Greece bought their political support from France earlier this year, by agreeing to purchase fighter planes worth few billion euros.

Macedonia may join the French friendship bridge, in "Greek" style.

EC Report on Macedonia due in November

From within the EC in Brussels they informed that the report on Macedonia will be announced in November. “The conditions for Macedonia obtaining date for start of negotiations remain the same – meeting of the political criteria and the benchmarks.

Olli Rehn encourages the country to focus on progress in these key areas,” stated EU Enlargement Commissioner Spokesperson Krisztina Nagy for Kanal5 TV.

From within CoE they said it was still early to tell whether date for start of the negotiations with the EU will be granted as the conduct of the elections remained to be seen.

Nevertheless, they reminded that the possible decision for start of accession negotiations should be made by the EU Ministerial Council via consensus. A solution to the name issue remains to be found, they said from within the CoE.

UMD Strongly Condemns Sofia Mayor Borisov´s Plans to "Buy" Macedonia

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) categorically condemns Sofia mayor Boris Borisov´s recent statements in Chicago advocating an effective "buyout" of Macedonia by Bulgarians to ensure "friendly relations" between the two states. "Such a statement by a leading politician of an EU and NATO member is deeply troubling and reveals a fundamental ignorance of the principles on which both organizations were founded," stated UMD President, Metodija A. Koloski. Plans to effect a "buyout" of Macedonia by Bulgarians violate one of the EU´s most important principles, "promoting respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders." They are tantamount to economic extortion, not unlike the 1995 embargo that Greece imposed on Macedonia to create a "friendly atmosphere" among Macedonians.

UMD regards Mr. Borisov´s reasoning that Bulgaria, through economic and political isolation, will foster "friendly relations" with Macedonians as laughable on its face, if not dangerously mischievous. Although the UMD deplores Mr. Borisov´s remarks, the United Macedonian Diaspora promotes and encourages friendly, positive and mutually productive relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia.

UMD believes that Mr. Borisov´s stated goal of friendly ties would best be achieved not through economic extortion and enforced "bulgarianization" of Macedonia´s economy, but rather through the prompt registration of OMO-Ilinden PIRIN (Political Party of the Macedonian Minority in Bulgaria) as a legitimate political party representing ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria. "Rather than resort to economic extortion, the Republic of Bulgaria would be well advised to recognize the sizable Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. And rather than ignore the very founding principles of NATO and the EU, the Republic of Bulgaria might even wish to issue a formal apology for the deportation of nearly 9,000 Macedonian Jews to Hitler´s death camps," added Koloski.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wages long overdue, banks waive late payment fees

Commercial banks in Macedonia will earn millions of denars from daily interest charge on late payment amid imbroglio caused by Public Revenue Office's master software collapse while computing the gross wages.

About 600.000 working people in Macedonia owed averagely 1.788 euros to banks till November 2008. Simple calculation shows that banks will earn at least 10.000 euros per day through charging daily interest on late payment of installments provided that the fixed penalty for late payment was set at 1 denar a day, Nova Makedonija daily said.

Banks charge 19.5% interest rate on late payment on annual basis.

In the headline "Banks don't care about UJP problem", the local daily Utrinski Vesnik says "the citizens will pay high price for state's error prompted by collapse of the software of Public Revenue Office (UJP)". The working people cannot collect their monthly wage due to software collapse.

Who will pay the price given the fact that bankers don't care whether the citizens receive their wages in due time. Moreover, banks don't care about the reason why the citizens have been put in such a situation although some companies have no financial worries, Utrinski Vesnik said.

Editorial commentary in Dnevnik daily raises the issue of accountability. The relevant authorities should be held accountable for the collapse of the so-called gross wage concept. In normal countries, such omissions result in resignations by those responsible.

Those who ignore the responsibility probably want to confirm that our country is not among normal countries, Dnevnik daily said.

Ljube Boskovski’s nomination returned for correction

Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission has returned the nomination of the independent presidential candidate Ljube Boskovski for a correction, the Macedonian Nova Makedonija daily writes.
The mover of the nomination has to determine whose initials will be put down on the nomination – Boskovski’s or subscriber’s. The mistake has to be corrected immediately or within 48 hours after the nomination was submitted.

Headscarved Pupil Pushes Limits In Macedonia

The case of a teenage girl who wants to wear her headscarf to school is creating waves in Macedonia, with educational authorities, local officials and teachers locked in a tug-of-war over religous freedom and the right to education.

The girl, who attends a high school in the western Macedonian town of Tetovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian area, wanted to wear her head scarf over her school uniform. After several warnings, the head master Ljatif Ismaili banned her from class until she removes the headscarf during school hours.

The girl then complained to Tetovo mayor Hazbi Lika, who used his authority to sack Ismaili

But once the State Education Inspectorate reviewed the case, it ordered that Ismaili be reinstated immediately to his post, saying he was right to act in accordance with school regulations, passed by the parents' association, banning religious and national marks inside school building.

“If the mayor does not comply, we will take away his competence (to appoint and fire headmasters)” the head of the Inspectorate, Robert Georgiev, told local Vreme daily on Wednesday.

Macedonia's Tetovo area was the site of an uprising by the Albanian minority in 2001, and ethnic relations are still fragile. Almost all ethnic Macedonians are Orthodox Christians, and the 25-percent Albanian population is mostly Muslim, generally more devout than the highly secular Albanians in Kosovo and Albania proper.

The Inspectorate conceded that the law does not specifically prohibit wearing religious marks in schools. However, it added, since the pupils in that particular school are from different ethnicities and religious denominations, the headmaster thought that such an overt display of faith would harm the cohesion of the school, so he acted according to the statute that the parents themselves approved.

Commenting on the Inspectorate's decision, the head of the sector for religious education of Macedonia's Islamic Community, Jakup Selimovski, disagreed, arguing that the schools regulations cannot overrule the state law on freedom of religion and the right to education.

“The scarf is a religious mark," Selimovski said. "A (Muslim) woman is obliged to cover her head and no one should prohibit a Muslim girl from education because of this.”

Macedonia's constitution sets the country as secular, strictly separating church and state.
The conservative VMRO DPMNE government introduced religious education in primary schools last years, creating controversy and attracting criticism by opposition parties and several local NGO’s.

The right of Muslim women to wear headscarves is a hot topic in many European countries with minority or immigrant Muslim populations, as well as in Turkey, where the state is secular but most of the population is devoutly Muslim. France for example insists on secularity and bans wearing headscarves in state institutions.

Bakoyannis: Skopje's provocative stance undermines confidence

Greece is committed to finding an all-win solution, but unfortunately the provocative attitude of Macedonia hinders creation of a climate of mutual confidence, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said.

She made the statement in an interview for Monday edition of Politika daily.

According to Bakoyannis, such an attitude makes the chances for a timely UN-brokered solution to the name issue rather obscure.

"I would like to stress once again that a mutually acceptable solution will bring benefit to FYROM (Macedonia) and will also strengthen regional stability in Southeastern Europe, and at the same time it will boost the country's EU prospects," Bakoyannis said.

Bakoyannis, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, arrived in Belgrade today, on her first trip to Serbia since Greece assumed the OSCE presidency.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Macedonia with record trade deficit in 2008

The amount of Macedonia’s export for 208 is USD 2.87 billion and the export- USD 6.85 billion, Macedonian Dnevniknewspaper informs. That means the country ended 2008 with record trade deficit at the amount of 2.87 billion, which is with billion more than in 2007.
The reason for the record deficit is the expensive import of energy carries, edition informs.

Every third in Macedonia looks for job

Every third person fit for work in Macedonia is unemployed, the Macedonian Spic daily writes.
The Employment Agency says 270,000 people in Macedonia are looking for a job. Economists warn that in 2009 unemployment rate will jump. At the end of the last year 340,000 people were registered in the Agency. 20% of them were registered to use health insurance.

New 162 mumps cases registered in a day

New 162 mumps cases have been registered yesterday, including 34 in Radovis, 29 in Prilep, 238 in Stip, 16 in Skopje, 14 in Tetovo , 9 in Kavadarci and 9 in Bitola.

The total number of registered cases with Monday inclusive climbed to 1.787, the State Healthcare Protection Agency announced today.

Majority of mumps patients are from Skopje - 381, followed by Kavadarci and Prilep.

A nation-wide action of extraordinary mumps vaccination has begun today

Macedonia Name Deal Not Close - Greece

Athens is committed to finding a win-win way out in the row with Skopje over the name 'Macedonia', but Skopje’s provocative attitude is dimming chances of a UN-sponsored solution, Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Monday in Belgrade.

Greece and Macedonia are due to attend a fresh round of UN sponsored talks over their 18-year dispute in New York in mid-February, but analysts say prospects of a deal are slim as both sides are locked in their positions and also battling it out at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Bakoyannis noted that Athens felt provoked by the government in Skopje renaming the country’s main highway to “Alexander of Macedon” after the ancient conqueror claimed by both countries. She said such moves inhibit the creation of a climate of mutual confidence.

"I would like to stress once again that a mutually acceptable solution will bring benefit to the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia," she said using Macedonia’s provisional name in the United Nations, "and will also strengthen regional stability in southeastern Europe, and at the same time it will boost the country's EU prospects," Bakoyannis told Belgrade daily Politika.

Altough never near cordial, relations between the two states sank to a new low last April, when Greece blocked Macedonia's NATO invitation because of the dispute. Greece says the use of the name implies territorial claims over its own northern province called Macedonia. In retaliation, Macedonia sued Greece in the ICJ arguing that Athens broke its pledge in a UN-sponsored Interim Accord regulating bilateral ties.

Bakoyannis stopped in Serbia during a Balkan tour as part of Greece assuming the presidency of the Organization for Stability and Cooperation in Europe.


A1, Kanal 5, Alsat, Sitel, and Tetovo TV house Art will be charged with misdemeanor for presenting presidential candidates before the start of the election campaign, Broadcasting Council Chairman Zoran Stefanovski informed on Sunday. These TV houses will be fined between 3,000 and 5,000 euros for breaching the Election Code and the Book of Regulations on media representation during election campaigns. The managers and the editors-in-chief of these TV houses do not agree with the new regulations on media representation, assessing them as a form of censorship.

“I hope that these offenses were not intentional and that they were the result of lack of information by the editors-in-chief,” Stefanovski stressed.

No talks for Macedonian EU membership during the Czech EU Presidency

Talks for Macedonian EU membership would be reopened during the Czech EU Presidency, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomash Poyar said, cited by Makfax.
In his words the Czech Republic would welcome eventual reopening of the talks with Skopje but that wouldn’t be agreed and is not included in the EU strategy. According to Tomash Poyar the EU would watch closely the coming presidential and local elections in Macedonia not only because of the results but also over the way they would be held.

EU keeps silence about erasing Macedonian language

EU council relied on the temporary agreement between Macedonia and Greece to name the country, Macedonian Utrinski vesnik informs.
“We name the country in accordance to the temporary agreement between Macedonia and Greece from 1995, which is still in force. We support and hope the name dispute will be solved soon in the frames of the negotiations in UN,” Secretary-General of the Council of the EU and High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana cabinet press office informs.
They did not say why the official language of Macedonia, international code and the name of the nation is “FYROMized”

Government in Macedonia predetermines national identity: president

The government on Macedonia use cheep populism, media manipulations and violations with patriotic feelings of the citizens to realize a systematic operation. They do don use it for saving but for predetermining of national movement and identity, Macedonian President, Branko Crvenovski, said in the frames of the conference entitled “Macedonia- challenges and perspectives,” Macedonia Dnevniknewspaper informs.
“Whole historical periods, at which our national existence is based on, are dropped and ignored. WE can be proud with it before the whole world. Everything has been connected only to one part of the history- ancient Macedonia,” Crvenovski pointed.

Dangerous odyssey

Government in Macedonia undermines, deliberately or not, their own very important projects and help Geek ones. The time when Greeks will finish the capital projects is not that far. They will become leader of the region and Macedonia will remain with its cheep mythological populism,” Mersel Biliani writes in author’s article Saturday, Macedonian Dnevnik newspaper informs.
“This government has all the chances to enter the history as catastrophic due to the fact that the country suffers historical defeats, which breaks its main branches. The first one broke when the government misses the chance Macedonia to become NATO member state,” author writes in the article entitled “Dangerous odyssey”.

EBRD cuts Macedonia's growth forecast

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said growth in Macedonia is unlikely to exceed three percent this year.

This marks 1.7 percent fall compared to last November's forecast, when EBRD predicted 4.7 percent growth in Macedonia this year.

According to the statement released Tuesday, the bank slashed its growth forecasts for 30 countries receiving investments from EBRD to 0.1 percent for 2009. The November forecast was 2.5 percent.

As to the EBRD region, the estimated 2008 growth of 6.3 percent is now reduced to 4.8 percent.

Southeastern Europe expected to show growth of 1.9 percent, 1.5 down from November's predictions.

Growth forecast slash applies to all countries in the region.

According to EBRD's estimates Albania's growth will stand at 4 instead of the previously forecasted 5 percent, while Bosnia-Herzegovina will mark 1.5-percent growth, 3 percent down from last November's prediction.

Forecasts for the other region's countries are as follows. Bulgaria: 2.0 percent (1.8 percent down); Montenegro 3.0 percent (2.0 percent down) Serbia 2.0 percent (1 percent down).

EBRD's report said the deterioration in the overall forecasts is mainly due to the extent of the global financial downturn and accelerated economic slowdown in the region's countries in the last months of 2008. /end/ nv

Copyright 2008 makfax. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

Macedonia Industrial Output Drops

Statistical data shows the world economic crisis is ruining Macedonia’s heavy industry, the backbone of its economy, while businessman fear the worst is yet to come. Macedonia's Statistics Office said industrial output dropped 10 percent in December 2008 compared with the same month in 2007. The largest drop in production of 60 percent was recorded in the metal industry, a sector that contributes over 40 percent of the country’s annual exports.

The latest Statistics Office report is pessimistic about the short-term economic outlook, conveying the worries of business leaders that they could face a sharp drop in demand and very low prices on the market. Some of the factories have already laid off workers.

The economic downturn led the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development this week to revise its forecasts for the whole South Eastern Europe region, now expected to post annual growth of 1.9 percent, some 1.5 percentage points less then the projection made by the bank in November. The projected economic growth of Macedonia is now wound back to 3 percent from 4.7 in November.

Despite the grim projections, Macedonia's Finance Minister Trajko Slaveski said there is no need for the country to revise its growth forecast yet, set by the 2009 budget at a relatively high 5.5 percent.
In 2008, the country posted 5.7 percent of growth.

“We are at the beginning of the year and it is too early for any conclusions yet”, Slaveski told local VREME daily.

Macedonians bought record number of cars in 2008

17.744 new motor vehicles were sold in Macedonia in 2008 and compared to 2007, when 13.973 cars were sold, indicates the sale of cars last year increased by 27,32%.

According to the Group of Vehicle Importers within the Association of Chambers of Commerce, the figures show a record sale of new motor vehicles since Macedonia gained independence.

- The increase in car sales is a result of the stable economic policy taking place in Macedonia in the past two years, as well as of the increased competitiveness of conditions for crediting and leasing, said Group's president Zlatko Kalenikov.

The sale of cars rose in early 2008 and began to slide in the following months due to the consequences of the global financial crisis.

According to statistics, about 51% of the vehicles were bought in cash and 49,3% were sold on credit and leasing

Macedonia's parliament endorsed 262 laws, only 16 MPs attend session regularly

Since the constitution of the current Macedonian Parliament in 2008, the incumbent lawmakers held 81 session adopting 262 laws.

As little as 16 MPs had been present at all sessions, and 14 have never took the floor for a discussion, showed the results of the study conducted by the civic association MOST, which were published today in the report entitled "My Representative".

Jani Makraduli tops the list of the most active MPs with 117 discussions and 68 retorts, whereas MP Cvetanka Ivanova is ranked first in terms of the number of procedural interventions (53).

Hisen Xhemaili holds the first place in terms of unjustified absences from the sessions, whereas Arben Xhaferi and Menduh Thaci are the deputies with the most justified absences.

MOST's public opinion survey conducted in early January, showed that majority of citizens (38.2%) rarely watch the parliamentary sessions, 24% said they never watched them, 14.1% said they followed the lawmakers' activities on a regular basis, while 13.3% said they watched live broadcasts of the legislature home sessions at least two times a week.

The average grade on the parliament's activities given by the citizens, is 2.43.

Most of the respondents (42.1 %) said the parliament is fully dependant from the government in the decision-making process, 25.6% said the dependence is only partial, and 8.6% believe the lawmakers make their decision independently of the government.

According to 60.5% of those polled, Macedonian deputies are not fulfilling their duties properly, while 76.3% said they never had a meeting with a deputy from their electoral unit.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What's In A Name? You Wouldn't Ask That Question If You Lived In Macedonia

In searching for the perfect ancient hero to arouse a sense of national identity in their modern-day citizens, Macedonian officials have settled on a provocative spokesperson -- Alexander the Great.

The image of the ancient Greek king and warrior, who at the time of his death in 323 BC had conquered most of the known world, beams intently down on residents from billboards with the message "You are Macedonia."

A lengthy television ad depicts him on the eve of a crucial battle, calling on his fighters -- in the fluent South Slavic strains of contemporary Macedonian -- to be decisive and unafraid of the challenges ahead.

Even Skopje's tiny international airport is in on the act. Until recently, the hub of national carrier Macedonian Airlines' two-plane fleet was called Petrovec Airport. Now it is the Alexander the Great Airport.

Travelers at the airport walking past a massive bust of the ancient conqueror appear indifferent to the encroaching hellenization. But the rebranding frenzy is raising tempers in Greece.

'Expression Of Our Identity'

Athens has spent the past 17 years in a standoff with its northern neighbor over the right to claim the king -- and the name Macedonia -- as its own. Greece has blocked Skopje's NATO entry over the bitter row, and has threatened to scupper its EU bid, as well.

But Sefik Duraki, a Macedonian government spokesperson, appears unrepentant.

"We see this [revival of our ancient Greek past] as an expression of our identity, a kind of nation-building exercise, and a confirmation of our statehood," Duraki says. "It’s not our intention to be provocative."

Officials in Athens might disagree. Buildings, roads, and squares in Macedonia are renamed on an increasingly frequent basis to honor the ancient king and his forebears.

Duraki himself this month announced at least two such rechristenings. A major north-south trans-European highway was to be renamed Alexander of Macedon highway. And a Skopje football stadium will now be called the Philip II football arena -- in honor of Alexander’s father.

Alexander the Great was born in Pella, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. That heritage, Skopje says, gives it the right to claim the warrior's image as its own. But Pella is located in what is now Greek Macedonia, and Athens argues that the only country with the right to Alexander's legacy is Greece.

Powerful Lever

The issue has divided the two countries since the early 1990s, when the Socialist Republic of Macedonia split from Yugoslavia and constitutionally anointed itself the Republic of Macedonia.

By focusing the public’s attention on the glories of the past, [the government has] found the perfect way to provide an escape from reality.
Greece objected, and insists on using the provisional reference of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in its official dealings with Skopje.

It has also exercised a far more powerful lever in blocking Macedonia's NATO and EU bids unless Skopje adopts a name that is acceptable to the Greek leadership.

Officials in Macedonia announced in November it would take Greece to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for blocking the NATO invite, which it says contravenes a 1995 interim accord between the two countries.

In the meantime, Skopje continues to keep its ties with the military alliance warm, with the commander of NATO's allied joint force command, Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, arriving in Macedonia on January 30 for a two-day visit.

Many Macedonians say they are tired of their government's grandstanding, which has only grown more pronounced as the country approaches presidential and local elections on March 22.

Biljana Vankovska, a political science professor at Skopje University, says she worries the dispute with Greece is doing their country irreparable harm by blocking the path toward Western integration.

"By focusing the public’s attention on the glories of the past, [the government has] found the perfect way to provide an escape from reality,” Vankovska says.

The unremitting dispute between Macedonia and Greece has also proved a mounting source of irritation to the international community.

The United Nations has appointed a special mediator in the quarrel, and is urging Skopje to accept the "Republic of Northern Macedonia" for international purposes -- and pressing Athens to drop its veto threats at NATO and the EU if Skopje does.

The EU, which is struggling to slowly herd the Balkan countries onto a membership track, has appeared almost exasperated with the dispute, and signaled particular frustration after Skopje's decision on the Alexander of Macedon highway.

Hellenization Campaign

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank this month issued a report warning the name dispute may undermine efforts to stabilize the western Balkans, and called on both Athens and Skopje to take steps toward repairing the relationship.

The ICG called on Macedonian officials to accept the UN's name proposal, and to reverse its hellenization campaign and restore the original names to the Skopje airport and other buildings and roads rechristened in recent years.

It also urged other NATO and EU members to "actively encourage" Greece to drop its NATO and EU objections and to "respond positively" to any concessions by Skopje on the name issue.

Some Macedonians say they would welcome an opportunity to strip their country of some of the government's overreaching attempts to co-opt Alexander the Great.

After all, says Todor Cepreganov, the director of the National History Institute at Skopje's Saints Cyril and Methodius University, there is more to Macedonian history than ancient history.

“I don’t agree that in our search for identity Macedonia should only look back to ancient times," he says. "Yes, we have our roots in ancient times, but we shouldn’t abandon our Slavic roots, either."

Macedonia must solve name dispute to become NATO member state: NATO Commander

Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters Naples arrived in Skopje for a two-day working visit. He expressed his regret Macedonia did not become NATO member state despite it made the necessary reforms, Makfax agency informs.
Fitzgerald said at a meeting with Macedonian President Branko Crvenovski the problem with the name dispute with Greece is the only issue, which is registered as an obstacle for Macedonia to become NATO member state. He expressed his hope the name dispute will be solved.

Alexander the Great

President Barack Obama said "the time has come to set aside childish things". Evidently the leaders of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia weren't listening.

They have just done an unbelievably childish thing and named their section of an important north-south trans-European highway - known in Eurospeak as "Corridor 10""- after Alexander the Great. In 2007, they renamed Skopje airport after him.

Now, as we know, Alexander certainly had a taste for travel. He extended his empire as far as India. But these persistent efforts to attach his name to modern European transport systems are, I'd say, beginning to stretch the point.

The Macedonians in Skopje think their state has a rightful claim on Alexander's memory because of his connections to their territory in ancient times. But the authorities in Athens regard Alexander as an exclusively Greek warrior-hero.

The result: Greece has made clear it won't pay one euro towards the cost of the Macedonian part of Corridor 10. And relations between Athens and Skopje are in yet another mess.

In Brussels, European Union officials are beside themselves with frustration as they watch this dispute jeopardise their carefully laid plans for the EU's slow but steady enlargement into the Balkans. The argument over what former Yugoslav Macedonia should call itself has dragged on for almost 20 years, and a solution seems no closer now than when it first broke out.

Of course, the dispute arouses great passions on both sides - as shown in the posts to this story on But the way it's being handled would be enough to make the great Alexander turn in his grave.

Memorial House of Mother Teresa in Skopje

The Memorial House dedicated to Mother Teresa, the great humanist and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will be promoted and consecrated in the Skopje centre on Friday.

The consecration of the Memorial Home, which has been erected in the very location of the once Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church, will be serviced by the Bishop of Skopje and Apostolic Exarch in Macedonia, Monsignor Kiro Stojanov.

The construction of the Memorial Home is a project of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia carried out by the Ministry of Culture. The activity is a part of the events intended to mark jubilee 100 years since Mother Teresa’s birth. With her commitment to help people irrespective of their national and religious affiliation, she left an eternal mark in the history of mankind as the symbol of benefaction and humaneness.

PM Nikola Gruevski, Minister of Culture Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska, and Bishop of Skopje and Apostolic Exarch in Macedonia Monsignor Kiro Stojanov will give addresses. The attendees will be also addressed by Mother Teresa’s spiritual father, Dr. Leo Maasburg who is arriving from Vienna especially for the event.

Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to an Albanian family in 1910 in Skopje. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in India, where she ministered over 40 years. In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work and, following her death in 1997, was beatified – a step before being canonised as a saint, and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

SDU proposes outcome of the crisis with milk producers

Social Democratic Union of Macedonia /SDU/ deposed proposal to the government to repurchase the dept to the milk producers, FOCUS News Agency correspondent informs.
The proposal is government to pay the sum the milk manufacturing company Swedmilk owes to the farmers and to sell the company. According to the party the government will become Swedmilk creditor this way.
This principle is known in the world. More aim will be reached with it, SDU said. Farmers will get their money, the company will continue to work, blockages of the roads will stop and the milk market will normalize, chairman of the Agriculture Committee Dragan Goshevski /SDU/ said at today’s press conference.

Ohrid mayor kidnapped, told police a month later

The police arrested two persons suspected of having kidnapped the Mayor of Ohrid and his driver, who reported the incident a month after it had happened, the Interior Ministry announced Thursday.
According to the same source, neither the Mayor nor the driver explained how come they reported the incident with one-month delay.

The two suspects were taken in late Wednesday, pending questioning aimed at establishing the reasons for the "kidnapping". As to the possible motives, the police's assumptions reportedly range from extortion to unpaid debts.

According to the official report sheet, the kidnapping took place after one of the suspects had demanded from the mayor to pay him 15,000 euros.

Although the suspects refuse to give any testimony relating the case, the police said they had information that the two victims paid a portion of the demanded money to their kidnappers. However, this assumption raises another question, namely, how come the mayor never reported the case to the police and what his connection is to the kidnappers

Macedonia gears up for presidential, local elections

With presidential and local elections set for March 22nd, all of Macedonia's major parties have announced their nominees. The two largest parties both nominated political science professors, one of whom served in the governments of the 1990s.

George Ivanov, a professor at the University of Skopje, secured the nomination of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE by a landslide margin at the party convention. He defeated rival Todor Petrov 1,016 to 91. "VMRO-DPMNE ... under the leadership of [Prime Minister] Nikola Gruevski has ... created an atmosphere that unites Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Roma, etc.," Ivanov said.

Before the two VMRO-DPMNE candidates addressed the party convention, Gruevski denounced outgoing President Branko Crvenkovski for allegedly stealing the last presidential election and not seeking re-election.

"He is afraid to face the citizens and ask for a second term, which is the practise of every president finishing a first term," Gruevski scoffed.

The main opposition party, SDSM, chose Ljubomir Frckovski, who also enjoys support from the smaller New Social Democrats. Frckovski, now a political scientist, served as interior and foreign minister in the 1990s.

"Gruevski chose a candidate he can easily control and opted for political confrontation. We are focused on defeating this harmful and isolationist policy," said SDSM party head Zoran Zaev after the selection of Frckovski.

Other parties advanced their own candidates. The ruling ethnic-Albanian party, DUI, nominated Agron Budjaku, a former transport and communications minister. The opposition Albanian party, the DPA, nominated Mirushe Hodza, a professor. She and independent Slagjana Taseva are the two female presidential candidates this year. A third Albanian party, PDP, nominated Nevzat Halili, its former head.

New Democracy, meanwhile, nominated its own leader, Imer Selmani. He served as a minister of health in the VMRO-DPMNE-DPA coalition government of 2006 to 2008.

The Liberal Democrats nominated Nano Ruzin, a former ambassador to NATO. Ruzin agreed to run after Srdjan Kerim, a highly regarded former foreign minister and president of the UN General Assembly, declined to run as the SDSM candidate.

The most notorious candidate is former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, who spent more than three years in The Hague's custody for alleged war crimes before being acquitted. Boskovski is running as an independent.

Macedonia will take in Guantanamo inmates?

Macedonian might be on the list of countries that will take in prisoners from the U.S. Guantanamo detention camp, the Macedonian Spic daily writes, citing its own sources.
The newspaper claims U.S. diplomatic officials were touring Europe, looking for countries that could take in inmates if the decision of U.S. President Barack Obama closes Guantanamo center. It is about prisoners the U.S. considers to be “terrorists” and “unwelcome on U.S. soil on security grounds.”
Unidentified diplomatic sources say the U.S. has received a positive answer from Germany, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Britain and Switzerland, which have said they do it in the name of the fight against terrorism.
Austria, the Netherlands, as well as Macedonia have not given an answer yet. Besides Macedonia, U.S. officials have talked with other countries in the region, including Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, the daily writes.

International Greek Organisations Enraged by Macedonia’s New Ad Campaign

Macedonia’s new advertising campaign shown on CNN enraged Greek organisations around the world.

Greek unions in the US, Australia, Canada, Europe and Africa protested against the advertisements’ perceived theft of cultural identity and its use of Greek symbols and archaeological finds, the Greek newspaper Naftemporiki newspaper reported today.

In a letter to Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the international unions’ heads claimed that the new advertisement campaign which twisted historical truths entered the homes of millions of people worldwide.

The video clip promoting Macedonia as a tourist destination premiered on CNN and other international television stations on Christmas of 2008. Shot by renowned Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski, the clip cost the government 190,000 euro to make and “untold millions more for broadcasting between [December 2008] and April,” as blogger Christopher Deliso wrote.

The one-minute clip, consisting mostly of a series of stills of various landmarks around the country and archaeological artefacts, didn’t just enrage the Greek community around the world. Earlier, as Deliso wrote, the advertisement faced domestic criticisms as well – some regarding technical faults and others aimed at its content. Albanians, for example, complained that there was no image of a mosque in the video, a fact at odds with the Macedonia’s aim to attract more tourists from Turkey. According to another accusation, the clip bears an uncanny resemblance in theme to an earlier video created by the Republic of Georgia, to which Manchevski responded by saying he had not seen it.

The video can be downloaded here

Lazarov sets handball scoring record at worlds

Kiril Lazarov's 15 goals for Macedonia in a 32-31 win over South Korea gave him a handball world championship record 92 in nine matches on Thursday.

Yoon Kyuns-shin of South Korea previously held the record of 86 goals in nine matches at the 1995 world championship in Iceland.

Lazarov said he was "satisfied, proud and happy," and thanked his teammates because, "I wouldn't have made it without them."

Macedonia, competing in its second worlds, finished 11th. South Korea, the only non-European team to make the main round, was 12th.

Defending champion Germany finished fifth after defeating Hungary 28-25.

Haunted in Macedonia, With a Wolf at the Door

Milcho Manchevski’s quasi-religious ghost story, “Shadows,” is an unwieldy hybrid of historical allegory and supernatural mystery. The historical part deals with suppressed memories of the little-known persecution of Aegean Macedonians in the early 20th century. In this Balkan fusion of “Hamlet” and “Macbeth,” the spirits of persecuted victims return to haunt the living and demand a proper burial.

The mystery is a supernatural romance and detective yarn indebted to “The Sixth Sense,” “The Others” and “Ghost,” embellished with abundant nudity and heavy-breathing sex. If the movies weren’t already inundated with stories of the undead, this fusion of genres might not seem so unintentionally silly. But the history is too sketchy to resonate. We hear of atrocities that were committed, but not who committed them, why or when.

In his director’s statement, Mr. Manchevski, who won international acclaim with his 1994 film, “Before the Rain,” declares that “Shadows” imagines “what would happen if Lady Macbeth had lived today and survived to have a grown-up son, who might try to come to terms with her overbearing presence and her transgressions of the past.”

But Vera Perkova (Sabina Ajrula-Tozija), a famous doctor and the imperious stand-in for Shakespeare’s dragon lady, is only a minor character. And her crimes, when revealed, are not as horrifying as you are led to expect.

“Shadows” begins with a car crash in which Vera’s son, Lazar Perkov (Borce Nacev), a young Macedonian doctor who works in the same hospital as his mother, nearly dies. Lazar (note the deliberate echo of Lazarus) is nicknamed Lucky, not only for his narrow escape but also for his privileged existence. His wealthy parents have a villa in Macedonia’s lake region; he is handsome (Mr. Nacev resembles the young Al Pacino), with a beautiful wife and a young son.

A year after the accident, while his wife and son are on vacation, Lazar comes home from work to discover a wizened crone (Ratka Radmanovic) cleaning his kitchen floor. Speaking in a dialect he cannot understand, she reaches up to touch his face; he panics and ejects her from the house. Gazing anxiously out the window, he sees her on the street, intently peering up at his apartment, a wolf by her side.

The old woman is the first of several otherworldly manifestations who begin stalking Lazar, materializing suddenly, then disappearing, only to return. Another persistent stalker is a scowling, craggy-faced neighbor (Salaetin Bilal) who carries a little boy in his arms and leaves bloody tracks as he wearily trudges up the stairs.

The most mysterious is Menka (Vesna Stanojevska), a seductive young woman with severe bruises on her neck and arms, who shamelessly throws herself at Lazar when he examines her injuries. He resists her, but not for long. Menka, who falsely claims to be the wife of a noted linguist whom Lazar consults while seeking to translate the old woman’s words, explains what they mean: “Return what’s not yours — have respect.” But he has no idea how that dictum might apply to him, since he has no recollection of having stolen anything.

As “Shadows” vacillates between the historical and the occult, you may snicker at the way hackneyed horror movie conventions are redeployed for more serious ends. But you won’t be bored. The movie is well acted (especially by Ms. Stanojevska) and very sexy. Fabio Cianchetti’s opulent cinematography skillfully uses reflections in mirrors and windowpanes to give “Shadows” a surreal dimension.

The story doesn’t culminate in the kind of “gotcha” revelation that ended “The Sixth Sense” and “The Others.” Instead it offers a sentimental dilution of the Orpheus-Eurydice myth. History is forgotten as “Shadows” is overrun by the ghosts of “Ghost,” “Heaven Can Wait” and a hundred other movies in which passion beckons from beyond the grave.

Police use force against protesting farmers: opposition in Macedonia

Opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia /SDSM/ has accused the police of dispersing protesting farmers with force, Focus News Agency’s correspondent in Skopje reported.
“Five milk producers from Bitola have been admitted to a hospital. We have information that eight vans of police officers dispersed the farmers near the village of Miladinovce, Skopje. Let’s go to the hospital in Bitola now. If we find a hospitalized farmer, you will resign,” MP from SDSM Vesna Bendevska addressed Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
For his part the Macedonian Prime Minister refuted the claims that the police used force against the farmers.

Ljube Boskovski collects necessary number of signatures for his presidential nomination

The former defense minister Ljube Boskovski has collected 17,000 signatures supporting his presidential nomination, Focus News Agency’s correspondent in Skopje reported.
The law states that a candidate shall collect 10,000 signatures or secure the support of 30 MPs.
“During the first two days we collected 10,000 signatures. The rest of the people put down their signatures in the next two-three days. Residents of Lipkovo and Tetovo, who were affected by the 2001 conflict, put down their signatures as well,” Boskovski said at a press conference on Thursday.
He says he meets all requirements for a presidential candidate – he has turned 48, has been living permanently in Macedonia for 10 years and has a Macedonian citizenship.
In my election campaign I will call for an internal unification of all people in Macedonia, he said.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Macedonia’s candidate for president George Ivanov got 18 000 signatures for 3 hours

Macedonia’s candidate for president George Ivanov managed to collects the needed 18,000 signatures for 3 hours, Macedonian Vreme newspaper informs.
VMRO-DPNE press office said this fact definitely proves citizens see Ivanov's capacities. The party decided to confirm his nomination this way, despite it could do it in the parliament with the support of 30 MPs.

Strasburg to watch closely elections in Macedonia

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe / PACE/ announced it will send it mission to watch closely the next elections in Macedonia. Monitoring committee will watch closely the situation before, during and after the elections, Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik informs.
Chairman of PACE Luis Maria de Putch expressed his hope the conclusions of the mission will be different from those for the former elections, especially those in June 2008. it is necessary politics, political parties an authorities to be responsible for the implementation of the elections; to make them “clean” and the lection campaign to be “real celabration”, chairman proposed.

Macedonia model of multi ethnical co-existence, according to OSCE commissioner

The model of multi ethnical co-existence is positive example for the region a outside it. Ohrid frame contract has an essential contribution to that, high commissioner of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Knut Volebek said, cited by Dnevnik newspaper.
Volebek said this at a meeting with Macedonian President Branko Crvenovski. Commissioner expressed his hope Macedonia will integrate in EU and NATO, which wille be significant fort he country and the region.
Knut Volebek also met with Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Miloshovski.
The development of the international dialogue, the process of establishing confidence among all various of society, which accent is education, were among the main subject at the meeting.

Macedonia PM ‘Nationalist, Provocative’ - Greece

The politics of Macedonia’s conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski are sparking nationalism and provoking Greece, undermining efforts to resolve the two countries’ name dispute, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Monday.

Speaking at the think-tank Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, Bakoyannis criticized Skopje’s recent move to rename its main highway to ‘Alexander of Macedon’, after the ancient conqueror whose origin and heritage is claimed by both countries.
This move indicates that Gruevski “does not believe in the [United Nations sponsored] negotiations underway” on this issue, Bakoyiannis stressed and accused Gruevski of resorting to “short-sighted populism” in order to consolidate his political position.
“There must be a mutually acceptable solution that reflects the geographic reality without winners and losers,” she said. Bakoyiannis expressed concerns about Skopje’s attempts to “monopolise” use of the name “Macedonia’.
In April, Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO invitation arguing that Macedonia must change its name. Athens says that Skopje’s use of that name implies territorial claims over its own northern province also called Macedonia.
Since then, the UN sponsored talks on this issue have intensified but without a breakthrough.A new round of talks is set for February but few expect more than diplomatic pleasantries, as both sides battle it out at the International Court of Justice in Hague.
In November Macedonia sued Greece in the ICJ arguing that Athens broke its pledge in the UN sponsored Interim Accord not to block the country from entering international organizations under its provisional UN mane, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.
Bakoyiannis stated that her country will endorse every effort for ensuring that the citizens of Skopje, as Athens usually refers to Macedonia, have better communication with the EU, something Macedonian media interpreted as a signal Athens will not obstruct the current visa liberalisation process.

TAV Airports Holding to Operate Airports in Macedonia

TAV Airports Holding has won the bid to operate the Alexander the Great Airport in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia and the most important center of the Balkans, St Paul the Apostle International Airport in Ohrid, and the new cargo airport in Shtip.

TAV Airports Holding's offer to operate Alexander the Great airport and St Paul the Apostle International Airport for the next twenty years as well as to build and operate Shtip's New Cargo Airlines was announced as the winning bid by the Macedonian government.

The operations contracts were finalized on September 24th in Macedonia. The President & CEO of TAV Airports Holding, M. Sani Åžener, the Macedonian Minister of Transportation and Communications Mile Janakieski, and various other Macedonian government officials were present.

M. Sani Sener, the CEO of TAV Airports Holding, which in addition to becoming a regional brand in airport management has also become a global company due to its business character, said, "We are very happy to be operating an airport in Europe and that we have been successful in this project that we have been working towards for a very long time. The Macedonian contract also carries the mission to open the door to Europe for TAV Airports Holding, a company that already operates airports in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and North Africa. Another important point for us is that along with the airport operations in Macedonia we have reached our aim of "10 Airports in 10 Years' in only eight years. We are proud to have reached our goals ahead of schedule."

Åžener stated that the operation of airports in Macedonia will serve to further open TAV Airports operations into Europe. Åžener said, "With our projects in Macedonia, which holds a very strategic place in both the world and politics and with which we have shared a 500 year common past, we have said, "Hello, Rumelia*" We have been very successful in this project, which we have worked towards for a very long time. With this project TAV Airports has clinched its place in the international arena, both in the financial and the aviation field."

TAV Airports Holding was the only company, among such global giants as Hochtief (Germany), Egis - Kaupthing Vienna (Austria), and Singer & Friedlander (French - British partnership), which had all passed the first phase of the bidding, to have made it to the final phase and to have been able to meet all of the criteria.

In 2007, 680 thousand passengers used Alexander the Great airport in the capital city of Skopje and St Paul the Apostle International Airport in Ohrid. TAV Airports aims to increase both the passenger and the airline numbers at both of these airports after taking over operations. At the same time it is foreseen that a restructuring will take place that also includes the modernization of the technical infrastructure.

TAV Airport Holding will operate Alexander the Great and St Paul the Apostle International Airport for 20 years. The Shtip Cargo Airport construction is expected to be finished in the second half of 2011.

TAV Airports, an international player in the field of airports management in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucus, operates Istanbul Ataturk, Ankara Esenboga Domestic and International Terminals and Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport in Turkey; its overseas operations include Georgia Tbilisi Airport and Batumi Airport and Monastir Habib Bourguiba Airport in Tunisia. TAV Airports also holds the rights to operate Antalya GazipaÅŸa Airport and Enfidha Zine Abidine Ben Ali International Airport in Tunisia.

EBRD will help improve Macedonian roads

The EBRD is lending €50 million to Macedonia to finance the improvement and upgrade of more than 400km of regional and local roads.

These roads form part of key regional network and provide connections to international road corridors. The investments will address an urgent need for road repairs, helping to improve transport links inside the country and support the development of areas to which there is currently limited access.

The construction of the road sections will facilitate local development and regional integration by rehabilitating and upgrading the transport links, increasing access and improving road safety.

The regional component will cover at least 160km of both asphalt and gravel roads in the south, east and west of the country, while the local component will cover approximately 250km of local roads across the country.

- The improvement of these road links will contribute not only to the economic development of Macedonia and its important agricultural sector, but will improve links and trade with neighbouring countries and the EU, reads EBRD press release.

This project is a continuation of the Bank’s financing of road sector improvements in Macedonia. It will support the ongoing road sector reform in the country, including institutional strengthening of Agency for State Roads, the state entity responsible for the operation and maintenance of roads in the country, and road maintenance reform.

The programme will address a plan for road maintenance, road planning and road protection, aimed at improving the efficiency of road transport services and encouraging the use of competitive tendering for both periodic and routine maintenance.

The EBRD loan will be provided in two tranches of €25 million each, with parallel financing by the World Bank of €70 million, which is already committed. Additional technical cooperation has been provided by the EBRD Western Balkans Fund, the EBRD Special Shareholder Fund and the Central European Initiative, totalling more than €3 million.

Sue Barrett, EBRD’s Director for Transport, said that this project demonstrates the EBRD’s continuing commitment to Macedonia and its help to upgrade important segments of the road infrastructure in the country and the Western Balkan region.

Projects like these are key for regional integration, especially given the importance of trade for spurring economic growth and making the country more attractive for investment, Elena Urumovska, the Head of the EBRD office in Skopje, added.

Dr. Trajko Slaveski, Macedonian Minister of Finance, said that the EBRD is an important partner for the country in a number of significant projects. The realization of this project comes at a very opportune time for the country, considering its need for in investments in road infrastructure. The project should create improved living and working conditions for the citizens. Minister Slaveski added that as with earlier projects financed by the EBRD, this loan includes a component for strengthening the capacity of Macedonian institutions which will be directly involved in the realisation of the project.

The Bank has been engaged in the Macedonian road sector since 2003, when it provided a €40m loan to upgrade a section of Corridor X from Smokvica to Gevgelija which was completed in March 2006 and the second phase of the Skopje Bypass which was opened to traffic in July 2008.

Active in Macedonia since 1993, EBRD investments to-date amount to more than €460 million and the Bank has helped generate a further €496 million from its partners. The majority of investments are in sectors including power and energy, general industries, financial institutions and the private sector