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.