Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Scrap to Profitable Business - Growth of the Recycling Industry in Macedonia

In 2005, young entrepreneur Mihail Mateski recognized the new USAID Plastic Recycling Project as an excellent entry point for kicking off the new recycling line of Greentech-Romania in Macedonia. In a country that had no previous history of recycling waste, the Plastic Recycling Project was working to create a plastic collection network that would supply recycling companies with raw PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) materials.

Greentech officially began activities in Macedonia in 2007 with an initial investment of 150,000 euros. The company only set up lines for sorting and shredding plastic bottles; it employed 15 workers and had the capacity to recycle up to 100 tons of plastic waste per month. With a USAID grant in 2008, Greentech-Macedonia conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment and obtained a waste-water treatment facility and safety clothing for all employees.

In 2009, Greentech became the first recycling company in Macedonia to operate in accordance with EU environmental standards. It is the only such company with its own waste-water treatment plant, which allows it to continually reuse the water expended for washing the PET. Greentech’s activities were assessed for environmental impact and standards compliance in 2009, and received an award from the City of Skopje for being the most eco-friendly company in the city.

In the first two years of its operations, Greentech-Macedonia recycled nearly 5000 tons of plastic PET waste. Currently, the company has four processing lines for bailing, separation by color, washing and flaking the PET, and an extruding machine that uses high temperature and pressure for hard plastics. The flakes are shipped to Romania to be recycled into final products. In 2009, Greentech unveiled its own final product: packaging strap made from recycled PET. More recently, the company began recycling hard plastics in addition to soft plastic bottles, producing granulate which it sells to domestic factories that produce irrigation pipes. Greentech’s locally produced granulate has completely replaced those companies’ imports.

As the demand for recycled PET waste increased, the number of Greentech employees increased and is now 90. The company employs vulnerable minorities, primarily Roma. Greentech legally registers each of its employees, enabling them to take full advantage of health and social security benefits. In addition, the company fully complies with safety standards in its processing facility.

Greentech buys PET waste from public utility companies, private and informal collectors, and through the various collection mechanisms developed by the Plastic Recycling Project. The company buys close to half of all bottles collected in Macedonia, significantly contributing to the fact that Macedonia recycles between 45 and 59 percent of all plastic bottles sold in the country, which is considerably more than the EU target of 22.5%. Greentech’s strong position on the domestic market and well-developed links with international buyers of PET flakes helped this company and all entities engaged in the supply chain survive the harsh 2008/2009 period when the price of plastic dropped significantly due to the global economic crisis and other recycling companies in Macedonia had to close their operations.

But now that the market has stabilized, Greentech is extending its collection activities in the Southern Balkans through its branch in Macedonia.

Macedonia, Greece reiterate commitment to name talks

Macedonia and Greece remain dedicated to continuing their name talks under the mediation of UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou said on Thursday (June 17th), after meeting in Brussels on the sidelines of an EU summit. They reiterated they are ready to find a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute that would not harm the interests of either country. They also discussed problems related to the global economic crisis and the European and Euro-Atlantic integration efforts of countries in the region. Earlier in the day, Gruevski met with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.

FM Milososki meets Enlargement Commissioner Fule

Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki met Tuesday in Brussels with Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, in the framework of the Macedonia-EU dialogue regarding a decision for beginning of accession negotiations following last year's European Commission recommendation.

Fule and Milososki referred to reforms related to the fulfillment of Copenhagen membership criteria, in light of the seventh meeting of the Macedonia-EU Stabilization and Association Council on July 20 and the EC recommendation on the country acceding in the second stage of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) implementation.

"EC invests efforts for such a decision at some of the coming political meetings of the EU Council, whereas Macedonia provides its input in the decision with the reform process and proper SAA implementation", FM Milososki told media.

According to him, the Fule meeting demonstrated that Macedonia and EU were allies in the Euro-integration process.

"It is of essential importance for Macedonia and the EC that the July 20 Council meeting passes in a positive atmosphere, including productive discussion on Macedonia's reforms in administration, judiciary, political dialogue, as well as laws concerning the country's energy market", added Milososki.

He claims the Euro-integration process is still high on EC and Fule's list of priorities.

"This gives us optimism that we can, despite the interference of certain bilateral issues by one member-state, keep the spirit of enthusiasm in Macedonia's society and use that capital in the reform process", underlined FM Milososki.

Fule and Milososki also tackled the issue of allocating an appropriate budget for implementation of the Roma Decade program.

Employees in industry decrease by 5% in May compared to April

The number of Macedonia employees in industry in May 2010, in comparison with the same month of the previous year, decreased by 6.5%

According to the State Statistical Office data, the index of the number of employees in industry in May 2010, in comparison with the same month of the previous year, was 93.5.

The number of employees in industry in the section Mining and Quarrying in May 2010, in comparison with May 2009, decreased by 3.2%, in Manufacturing industry it decreased by 7.5% and in the section Electricity, gas and water supply it decreased by 0.5%.

In May 2010, the number of employees in industry in the Republic of Macedonia, in comparison with the average number of employees in industry in 2005, decreased by 16.0%.

The index of the number of employees in industry in the Republic of Macedonia in the period January - May 2010, in comparison with January - May 2009, was 92.9. Source; National Statistics Office

Sofia abuses with issuing of passports to foreigners

"Official Sofia continues issuing Bulgarian passports to foreigners and is doing abuse of the ethnic origin of the new Bulgarians, the World Macedonian Congress (WMC) announced, cited by a Macedonian media. CMS urged the Macedonian Government to return the Act of 2002 and “to continue issuing citizenships to Macedonians nationals by origin”.

"Despite despair attempts of Sofia to seek Bulgarians in Albania, CMS will take all measures at the upcoming census in Albania Macedonians to express freely their ethnic, linguistic and religious affinity," the release of CMS says.

Greek optimism for name dispute

I expect a solution to the name dispute between Athens and Skopje soon, Elsa Papadimitriou, a Greek MP from the opposition New Democracy, says in an interview with Deutsche Welle, Macedonian Vecer daily writes.

“I hope and believe the two countries will make progress concerning the geographical attribute to the name Macedonia. This does not endanger anyone and the two states can win much, especially the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” says Papadimitriou.

The article in Vecer daily is titled “Greek optimism for the name issue – solution to the dispute soon?”

Macedonian Opposition Rallies For Snap Polls

Macedonia’s biggest opposition party, the Social Democrats, along with thousands of supporters, began its battle for early general elections at a rally on Sunday evening in front of the government building in Skopje.

The party called for the parliament to be dissolved directly following the NATO summit scheduled for November. Elections before that date could harm the country’s chances to join the alliance and make progress in its EU bid if there is a breakthrough in the name talks with Greece, party representatives said.

"Regardless of the outcome of the NATO Summit, whether the negotiations with Greece are successful or not, our goal in November will be for the Assembly to disband so that we can get out and meet the citizens [at elections]," the head of the Social Democrats, Branko Crvenkovski, said at the rally.

Before some 30 thousand supporters gathered under the slogan” We Are For Winning Macedonia”, Crvenkovski accused the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party of ruining the country’s prospects.

The SDSM meeting was held in front of the Governmnt building

The country's EU and NATO bids are blocked, the economy is shattered, citizens' rights have been set back and interethnic relations are deteriorating, Crvenkovski claimed. The opposition leader sent a message to Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski that he will be held accountable for allowing crime and robbery to infiltrate the state during his term.

Crvenkovski blamed the government for not doing enough to solve the name spat. He said that a more pragmatic approach rather than Gruevski’s “false patriotism” would do more to help untie the long standing problem.

“Faced with defeat and failure on all fronts, unable to achieve any results, Gruevski decided to play on a single card of dividing patriots from traitors,” the opposition leader said. "Gruevski and the VMRO-DPMNE persistently paint a false picture of themselves- that they are the only ones who defend the constitutional name. This is an absolute lie. No Macedonian wants to change the country's constitutional name.”

Crvenkovski condemned Greece for abusing its veto rights as a member of NATO and the EU to block Macedonia’s bids to join the same structures. He said this was an “unfair, undemocratic and non-European policy” towards Macedonia.

The opposition rally comes after many announcements that the party would increase its activity and was seen as a barometer of the party's current strength.

After his return to the party helm last year, Crvenkovski announced reforms to the political grouping, which has lost every consecutive general, presidential and local election in the country since 2006. He now promised that the party is reformed, internally stronger and more democratic, honest and open to the people.

Opposition sympathizers

Various other smaller opposition parties, some civil initiatives and representatives of farmers, sacked workers and others joined the meeting.

The Social Democrats and their coalition partners currently hold some 30 seats in the 120 seat parliament, while VMRO DPMNE has roughly double that number. Various opinion polls show that the party at the moment has considerably less popularity than VMRO DPMNE but Crvenkovski and his party colleagues said they are confident they will seal an election victory.

Old habits never die

After proving to the Greeks, a hundred times over, that Macedonians do exist and have existed since Neolithic times, or as my friend Tone from Slovenia would say "the Macedonians lived in Macedonia uninterrupted for at least 40,000 if not 70,000 or even 100,000 years!", we still have Greeks "insisting" that Macedonians do not exist and that the only people that can call themselves Macedonians are Greeks who live in Macedonia!

How does one interpret this and what does one make of it? Allow me to say that, the way I see it, Greece and most Greeks have not changed a bit since their Philhellene patrons sent them on their way and gave them their "fake" Modern Greek identity. Greece is like a sailing ship without a rudder and no amount of "wishing" or in this case "providing proof" can change its course or attitude towards the Macedonians. What is truly "changing", especially lately, is not the Greeks but the general population´s understanding of Greece and its treatment of the Macedonians.

Macedonians like me, born and raised in Greece, understand perfectly well where they stand with regards to Greece. What Greece has done to us is so bizarre and unbelievable that even fellow Macedonians from the Republic of Macedonia have difficulty accepting it. Many think we made things up! One of the most hurtful things to hear from them is "it couldn´t have been that bad, could it? Nobody does that to people!"

It took me more than four years to get through to them, to make them understand that our plight in Greece is "real" and that indeed we were treated miserably. Think of it this way; we did not change our personal names voluntarily. We did not rename our place names voluntarily. We did not stop speaking our Macedonian language because we wanted to. We did not drink castor oil voluntarily when we were caught speaking Macedonian. We did not leave our lands and abandon our homes because we felt like it. All these things were forced upon us by Greece, the same Greece which today you call "democratic" and the "cradle of democracy". Yes, people do "bad" things to other people and yes they were done to us Macedonians in Greece!

I suspect that my Macedonian compatriots believed me only because Greece began to show its belligerence towards the Republic of Macedonia. Then ironically, these same people began to tell me their problems with Greece and that Greece had no right to do "bad things" to them, especially since they had done nothing wrong to Greece! All I can say to them now is "welcome to my world"!

It has always been my intention to "inform" the "uninformed" Macedonians and let them know who they are dealing with, with regards to Greece. It has also been my aim to lead the Macedonians away from their "defensive" role of having to "justify themselves and their existence", especially to the Greeks.

The Greeks, through their bizarre and unsubstantiated accusations, have become good at putting Macedonians on the defensive. All the Greeks have to do is say: "Macedonians do not exist", "you are not Macedonians, Macedonians are Greeks", "Tito created the Macedonian identity", "you are Slavs who came to Macedonia during the 6th century AD", "you are communists", "you are autonomists", "you are Skopjans", "you are filthy Gypsies", "you are Bulgarians", "you are Fyromians", etc. and you can be sure that, instead of walking away, Macedonians will take the defensive and respond to the accusations!

After being "shocked" by such ridiculous claims, Macedonians immediately take the defensive and, in spite of the ridiculousness of the claims, try to prove the opposite. Using factual and historical information they again and again prove to the Greeks that "yes Macedonians do exist" and here is the evidence in history books, gravestones, old newspapers, etc., which proves it. Unfortunately there is never enough "proof" or evidence to satisfy the Greek desire.

It has been my experience that Greeks "couldn´t care less" if God himself stood before them and testified that "Yes Macedonians do exist and here they are!" because the Greeks are not after "finding proof". They just want Macedonians to "go off on tangents" and idly spin their wheels. That way they can control what Macedonians do!

I have personally watched Greeks demand proof of the Macedonians for over forty years and from what I have learned from history, they have been doing this for over two centuries. It has always been a "Greek ploy" to put Macedonians on the defensive because Greeks know that this way they can control the Macedonians! But I believe it is more complicated than that. I believe it is also an assimilation method, a technique of turning Macedonians into Greeks. No matter how much "proof" Macedonians produce, it is never enough! So there is a tendency for people to simply "give up", accepting that the Greeks may be right and that Macedonians indeed may not exist!

You see, besides making the "existence of Macedonians" very elusive and impossible to prove, Greeks have made it easier for people to believe that they are "Greeks" because no Greek will ever question or ask a Macedonian for "proof" or ridicule them if they say they are "Greek"!

Seeking acceptance from the Greeks (I don´t know why people would want it but they do) is not "the be all and end all" of our problems as some people may think. But it does have its benefits. Seeking proof of their existence forces Macedonians to think and learn more about themselves, which has been of great benefit to me.

Macedonia´s enemies had an entire century to distort Macedonia´s history and to prove to the world that Macedonians don´t exist, implying that the only heirs of the Macedonian heritage are the Greeks, Serbians, Bulgarians and Albanians. But to do this they had to use lies and deception and now that Macedonians appeared literally "out of nowhere" Macedonia´s enemies are stunned and don´t know what to say so they continue with their policy of denial insisting that, in spite of the "Macedonian presence" before them, Macedonians still don´t exist!

But, as long as Macedonians "keep taking the bait" over and over and assuming a "defensive" role, they will never break the "Greek shackles"! The Greeks "have the Macedonians where they want them" and no amount of proof will convince the Greeks to release them because frankly that is not their aim!

That is why it has been my mission to take this "war of words" away from the Greeks and deploy it in a new strategy;

(1) Continue to expose Greek (and Bulgarian) lies and propaganda about the Macedonians, and

(2) Open a new front and expose the Greek lies about themselves.

If Macedonians want to "play" on a "level playing field" with the Greeks then they must learn to go beyond always taking the defensive and once in a while take the offensive and "challenge" the Greeks regarding the validity of their identity!

By now all my readers should know that the Greeks are a "fake" identity, artificially created by the Western Philhellenes and, in spite of their lies and falsehood, they still have the "upper hand" on the Macedonians! Why is that?

Macedonians have no defense against this because as long as they continue to take the defensive, Greeks will lead them and take them where they want them to go! Case in point; "name negotiations"! We all know Greece couldn´t care less about "the name" it only cares to "destroy the Macedonian identity" but here we are "negotiating" about "the name" because Greece led us to this!

Greeks will continue to lie and deny the Macedonian right to exist as long as the Macedonians let them, as they have done in the past. The best defense for Macedonians is to take control of the situation away from the Greeks and themselves lead this "war of words". Macedonians must learn to demand from the Greeks what the Greeks demand of them. Macedonians must challenge the "Greek right to existence" as the Greeks have done to the Macedonians!

There was "never" a need to reply to Greek demands for "proof" of our God given right to exist!

Since Macedonians are challenged on this subject, they now have the right to challenge the Greeks right back and demand of them "proof" of their existence.

Let us demand of them, what they have demanded of us for years, to "prove" that they are Greeks! Let´s attack their "Greek identity" as they have attacked ours.

It is only fair that we deliver to the Greeks what they have been delivering to us for over a century!

I also have a warning for all Macedonians to "beware" of "Greeks" and "Bulgarians" bearing gifts. Our enemies have consolidated their forces and have invaded our space. They come dressed in Macedonian clothing, call themselves "Macedonians", speak the words we want to hear and are all around us but we cannot see them for who they are! Their motives are to divide and weaken us, to take our power away from us. So please be vigilant, trust no one and always be suspicious of everyone. This is not a joke. If we are to survive we need to look beyond what is before us; we need to be able to spot a Trojan horse and to foresee and understand the consequences associated with "offers" being made to us! Words are cheep; we need to look beyond the "sweet patriotic" words whispered in our ears!

If Greece and Bulgaria will go as far as "publicly" denying our existence then you can´t even imagine how far they will go "privately" to do us harm in every possible way!

Greece and Bulgaria are prepared to offer Macedonia entry into the European Union, if the Macedonians voluntarily change their own country´s God given name. So what is wrong with "changing" your country´s name "just a little bit", they ask? You will still be Macedonians. Right?

Why should Macedonians do that? How is changing their own name going to benefit the Macedonians? What will be the consequences and what will the Macedonians face in the future if they do that? And most importantly, how will this benefit Greece, since Greece, our worst enemy, is the only country asking for this?

If it were up to me I would not do anything Greece asks of me because I don´t trust Greece, as my experience has shown, "nothing good for the Macedonians has ever come out Greece"! In fact, I am willing to go a step further and say that Greece has been the "worst" tormentor of the Macedonian people in Macedonia´s history!

If we rush into things because we are being challenged and put on the defensive by Greece, we will make "regrettable" mistakes.

The fact that Macedonian authorities today are in the process of "negotiating" with Greece over our name IS one such "regrettable" mistake.

It is imperative that we think very carefully before we act and be suspicious of any and all offers put before us, especially by our enemies, so that in the future we can avoid being trapped! And if we want to eliminate any risk of "making even a bigger mistake" we need to "stop" the "negotiations" with Greece NOW and immediately withdraw from these talks.

If Greece has made it its mission to destroy the Macedonian identity, what makes you think Greece will stop "if we give in a little" on our God given name?

If there is pressure from the International Community to "settle" the so-called "name dispute" as soon as possible and if Macedonian authorities do "give in" to this pressure, what makes you think this same International Community will not come back in the future again and again pressuring Macedonia to make more concessions?

The "world" usually follows "precedents" and once a "precedent" is set, Macedonia, even by another name, will have no choice but to "give in" to International pressure again and again because "Macedonia by another name" will be known as the country that "gives in" to demands. And what will "Macedonia by another name" gain by giving up its God given biblical name? Will it gain entry into the dysfunctional European Union, a union which may or may not exist in the next five years? It may or may not but are the sacrifices worth it?

Living in the Diaspora, I cannot even imagine the humiliation that Macedonians will have to endure from the Greeks, Bulgarians and their supporters if Macedonia changes its name. And what will our ancestors, who spilled blood to defend our Macedonia, say if they could speak? Will they approve of this change?

Countries like Greece and Bulgaria, which refuse to recognize the Macedonian identity, could not possibly have anything good to offer the Macedonians.

Greece and Bulgaria will continue to lie and deceive the world about the Macedonians because it is in their best interest to do so. So it us up to us Macedonians to not only expose their lies and deceit but to also expose their "motives" towards us, our lands and our country. And as a friend recently reminded me, "Greeks and Bulgarians" or rather "Grkomani and Bulgaromani" have become friends not because they want to partition the Republic of Macedonia in some future time. They have become friends because "they have already agreed to partition the Republic of Macedonia"! It will only be a matter of time if we let them!

There is hope for name dispute solution, says Macedonian PM

UN Special Representative for the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece, Matthew Nimetz, intensified actions and contacts with the two countries, which raises hopes that the issue might be solved, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said, as cited by Macedonian Vecer daily.
Gruevski’s statement comes as a respond to the thesis of Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, who believes that the name row will be solved in several weeks.
“We keep regular contact with Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou so as to improve the situation and the relations between the two countries and to create favorable grounds for UN mediator Matthew Nimetz to make a proposal that is acceptable for both parties,” Gruevski remarked.

Police bust Bulgarian-Macedonian ATM manipulation

Police busted 8-member Bulgarian-Macedonian criminal group, which used to manipulate and drain ATMs in Macedonia, Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik daily informs.
Only for a week, the group managed to steal more than MKD 1 million (MKD 61 = EUR 1) with the use of forged bankcards.
The group consists of 5 Macedonian and 3 Bulgarian nationals and used to operate mainly in Skopje, Ohrid, Stip, Radovis and Veles.
The criminals were arrested on Saturday.
The Prosecution Office in Stip has brought charges against the defendants.

Macedonia ready for solution to name dispute

THE FORMER Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is ready to resolve the name dispute with Greece that has kept the Balkan country out of Nato as long as the solution does not undermine FYROM national identity, President Gjorge Ivanov said on June 21.

The dispute dates from FYROM’s 1991 independence from Yugoslavia. Greece says use of the name Macedonia implies territorial claims on its own region with the same name, and has blocked FYROM’s efforts to join Nato since 2008 while threatening to do the same at the European Union.

“We need a compromise in which there will be no winners and losers and which will be equally acceptable for all citizens. We are ready to reach such a solution,” Ivanov told reporters after holding talks with Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus, who was in Skopje on a two-day visit.

“Macedonia [FYROM] is ready to reach a solution that would be mutually acceptable,” Ivanov said.

Police bust antiquities smuggling ring

Macedonian authorities said Friday they had broken up an antiquities smuggling ring and recovered thousands of exceptionally valuable artifacts in the country's largest-ever crackdown on the illicit trade.

Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska said police had charged 29 people, including two police officers and a former mayor, with belonging to an organized ring attempting to sell ill-gotten antiquities abroad.

A police sweep of eight towns early Thursday netted about 4,000 artifacts, some at least 2,000 years old, Jankulovska said.

Culture minister Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska wouldn't speculate on the artifacts' value, but said they were "of exceptional cultural, historical and archaeological value for this country."

Police had initially detained 48 people, including local politicians and archaeologists, but Jankulovska said criminal charges were filed against only 29. The suspects, aged 26 to 84, will appear before an investigative judge in Skopje's district court later Friday.

Police raided more than 60 homes and confiscated items including about 3,000 coins mainly from Roman times, 20 stone, bronze, copper and marble figurines of various sizes and 160 pieces of bronze jewelry such as bracelets, rings, pendants.

Police also seized old guns and sabers, metal detectors, night-vision goggles, archaeological maps and weapons allegedly used by members of the group.

Police said the suspects planned to sell the illegally excavated artifacts in Greece, Italy and Austria. Police had kept the suspects under surveillance since October.

Antiquities theft is a major problem for Macedonia, which has some 6,000 archaeological sites.

Borders come down in four Balkan countries

Leaders of Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo on Saturday said they had established a "free-movement" CANADA zone between their states as a sign of their readiness for further European integration.

"The countries have implemented a mini Schengen regime," said Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu, referring to the borderless zone created by 25 European Union member countries.

The move, which would enable citizens of the four Balkan SAVINGS countries to travel through their territories without visas, has "demonstrated our maturity for wider integration FROM processes," said Sejdiu, who hosted the summit.

"We are sending the message to the Schengen zone that citizens of these four countries should also enjoy free movement toward its countries," said Montenegro's President Filip Vujanovic.

Cable operators in Macedonia in trouble for broadcasting World Cup

Macedonia’s Council of Radio Diffusion (RDC) will press charges against cable operators for illegal rebroadcasting of the World Cup 2010. The Council made the decision at its latest session, after monitoring the cable operators which rebroadcast programmes.

“We will press charges against cable operators, which dare to rebroadcast entire programme packages, which haven’t been registered in the Radio Diffusion Council. Being the regulatory body we won’t tolerate breaking the law provisions,” the President of RDC, Zoran Stefanoski, said.

The Radio Diffusion Council pointed out that Macedonian Radio Television (MRT) is the one and only holder of the exclusive rights for rebroadcasting the World Cup 2010 in Macedonia.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Name issue to be solved within few week

Forthcoming Belgium EU Presidency has information that the name issue would be solved within next few weeks. This is what Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere stated, cited by Macedonian Vecer daily.

“I held meetings with top officials in the field of the foreign policy. They are all clear that discretion in talks is in high importance in order representatives of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to take a decision. We have to be discreet and it is something that would be solved in next few weeks. I would not make statements that could impede the process, but I believe a decision would be found”, Mr. Vanackere said.