Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Sofia to impede Skopje’s Euro intentions?

The Bulgarian authorities submitted on 5 May a protest note in relation to the incident with the Ambassador to Skopje, Ivan Petkov.

On Friday, the Bulgarian Ambassador and his delegation were attacked and not admitted to the grave of the revolutionary Gotse Delchev, in order to bring flowers and commemorate the 109 anniversary of his death, a long-standing tradition of the Bulgarian representatives in Skopje.

The president of the country, Rosen Plevneliev, identified the incident as ‘inadmissible’. In addition, he also said that Bulgaria welcomed and would support the European aspirations of every state and that Bulgaria ‘will work for Macedonia's accession to the European Union’.

However, in turn, the former Yugoslav republic and its people had to show that they also support. Furthermore, the president stated that ‘if any country wants to be a member of this family, it must show by deeds not just words that it likes the other countries’.

The minister of foreign affairs of Bulgaria, Nikolay Mladenov, also named the act ‘inadmissible’ and added that it was ‘in conflict with the European principles and norms of respect for the memory of individuals who contributed to the freedom and dignity of a nation’. Mladenov also expressed hope that this incident would remain an isolated case because ‘ the ensuring of smooth celebration of historical dates and events is a sign of acceptance of European values ​​and the desire to develop good neighbourly relations in the region - the main condition for the adoption of EU countries’.

The Bulgarian prime minister, Boyko Borisov, said that Skopje ‘probably does not realize how much support they need from Bulgaria for their European membership’ and that ‘to hinder the country in its European aspirations would be a historical mistake’ because of the close cultural and historical ties between the two countries and their people.

It seems, however, that besides the Bulgarian authorities’ intention to leave behind the incident as soon as possible for the common brighter future of the both nations, the issue will not remain without a reaction on European level, either. The Bulgarian MEP, Andrey Kovatchev, issued a statement in which he expressed his deep disappointment of the action. The Head of Bulgarian EPP Delegation mention that what happened ‘did not correspond to the European spirit’. Moreover, Kovatchev also said that it was time for Skopje to put an end to the incitement to hatred against Bulgaria which was an unacceptable and retrograde practice from the time of Tito, Stalin and Georgi Dimitrov and which continued to hold hostage the European future of the country.

The Bulgarian MEP planned to deliver a speech during this week’s EP Plenary in order to inform the MEPs about the case.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Muselmaniacs in Macedonia Scream Death to Christians, Demand Killers of Christians be Released

“Killing infidels is a small matter to us”-  Tabari 9:69
The 7th century tradition continues while any attempt to raise awareness is instantly attacked by kwality journolists, Islamic headbangers and our complicit elites with cries of “racist-bigot-Islamophobia…..”

Quintuple murder suspect says “plan was to attack police”

According to court sources, the suspect said this in front of several people but it is unknown whether he repeated it to investigative judges.

Makfax news agency has reported that all court appointed defense lawyers, including some of the most prominent Macedonian attorneys, refused to represent the suspects for the murder of five young Macedonians and a 45-year-old man on April 11 near Skopje.

The news agency has learnt that the arrested persons who decided to give their statements to the investigative judges said that they were only a part of the criminal group because they were poor and needed the money.

Skopje-based daily Utrinski vesnik writes that the investigation now focuses on how long the group was preparing the murders, whether it planned new attacks and who helped the perpetrators financially and logistically.

20 radical Islamists were arrested in the Operation Monster on May 1. Five of them have been charged with terrorism.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Only in Macedonia: Let's protest over arresting killers

Hundreds of mostly young ethnic Albanians protested in Skopje on Friday because of the arrests of people suspected of killing five near Lake Smiljkovsko, and several small incidents happened during the protest.

The protesters went from the Yahya Pasha Mosque at around 1:30 p.m. CET, after the prayer had ended, towards the government headquarters. While the crowd was shouting that they did not want framed cases, that Albanians were not just Muslims and that they were not terrorists, a group of protesters turned over dumpsters in the street, while another threw stones at the police and shouted offences against Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and DUI leader Ali Ahmeti.

A nearby bus stop was vandalized and protesters threw shoes at one police vehicle. The protest, according to the participants, was organized to express disapproval with government claims that the suspects for the murders at Lake Smiljkovsko in mid-April were radical Islamists.

The protesters carried Albanian and Turkish flags, as well as a flag of Saudi Arabia. The protest ended at around 3 p.m. CET, when the protesters returned towards the mosque.

The police had arrested 20 radical Islamists as part of the Operation Monstrum, who are all thought connected with the murder of five people near Lake Smiljkovsko. It is presumed that the culprits are among the 20.

According to Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska's statement at the time, they were suspected of terrorism and, according to information obtained by the police, members of radical Islamist groups, and some of them had been to battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the questioning, the police filed charges against five of the arrested, while 2 other suspects are still at large.

Skopje issues warrant for two suspects,releases 10

The Macedonian Interior Ministry issued Thursday a central and international Interpol warrant for two suspects for the recent murder of five men near Skopje, and released 10 persons who were arrested in the Monstrum (Monster) operation.

Criminal charges of terrorism were brought against Alil Demiri (27) and Afrim Ismailovic (32), who are charged with committing the murders together with Agim Ismailovic (33).

After a 48-hour custody during which their alibis were verified, the remaining ten persons arrested in the operation Monstrum were released. According to the Basic Court in Skopje, the Public Prosecutor's Office has not submitted a request for investigation against them.

Four men aged between 18 and 20 were killed in Radisani, near Skopje on April 12. Their bodies were found near an artificial lake, together with the body of a 45-year-old man. They all had gunshot wounds.

Former commander threatens with partisan war to protect Albanian population in Macedonia

Former partisan commander from the National Liberation Army Xhezair Shaqiri, commander Hoxha, has said he will start a partisan war to protect the Albanian population in Macedonia and the valley of the Morava River, Tribuna reported.

According to website the former partisan commander and MP in the Macedonian parliament held meetings with former commanders from the National Liberation Army and Kosovo Liberation Army and discussed the need to protect the Albanian population in Macedonia and South Serbia against ethnic cleansing and counteract the Serbian and Macedonian special services.

Tribuna claims commander Hoxha revealed the plans of the Albanian paramilitary formations to focus on Tetovo and close to Serbia’s border with Kosovo.

Commander Hoxha was born in the village of Tanusevci where an armed conflict sparked a civil war in Macedonia in 2001.

Days of Macedonian Culture in London

The concert of piano virtuoso Simon Trpceski with London's Philharmonia Orchestra at the "Royal Festival Hall" will open Thursday the Days of Macedonian Culture in London, held until May 14.

The event is organized within the Cultural Olympiad, in light of the Summer Olympics in the British capital.

Trpceski will perform Piano Concerto No.2 by Franz Liszt, under the baton of Philippe Jordan. The concert is part of his UK tour, including performances in Cheltenham, Bedford and Warwick this week.

"I am glad that my concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra will enrich the image and represent Macedonia at the Cultural Olympiad. Macedonia is a country that has culture and art as its flag-bearer. I hope my performance will deserve an encore and everyone will enjoy the event", said Trpceski at last week's press conference.

Days of Macedonian Culture also include exhibition "Made in Macedonia", including works by 13 contemporary artists, play "Henry VI" produced by the Bitola Theatre, performance of Stevce Stojkovski's folk ensemble, and promotion of edition "130 Volumes Macedonian Literature" in English language. 

Radical Islam in Macedonia - Video

Bulgarian ambassador to Skopje prevented from laying flowers in memory of Gotse Delchev

Hooligans have prevented the Bulgarian ambassador to Macedonia to lay flowers on the 109th death anniversary of Gotse Delchev in Saint Spas church in Skopje.

The Bulgarian delegation which is headed by Sofia’s newly appointed ambassador in Skopje Ivan Petkov and local Bulgarians tried to lay flowers at the sarcophagus that holds the bones of the apostle of the struggles of Bulgarians in Macedonia and Edirne region, Gotse Delchev.

Outside Saint Spas church the Bulgarian group was assaulted by an organized group of hooligans.
Bulgarian Dragan Popov, who was an eyewitness, said that the group of Bulgarians was barred from laying flowers at the grave and the Bulgarian ambassador did not lay any. According to him the Macedonians were from the antique wing of VMRO-DPMNE.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev described the case in Skopje as intolerable.

The Macedonian ambassador in Sofia will be summoned to explain the case in Skopje when the Bulgarian ambassador was not allowed to lay wreaths and flowers at the monument of Gotse Delchev on his death anniversary, President Rosen Plevneliev said in the southwestern Bulgarian town of Gotse Delchev.

Macedonia's central bank cuts rate to 3.75%

Macedonia's central bank announced May that it cut its key central bank bills rate to 3.75% from 4% due to the sufficient level of foreign exchange reserves, newswires reported, citing a statement from the bank.

The bank also cut its projections for the country's GDP growth in 2012 to 2% from 2.4%, although the bank added that it expects an acceleration to 3.7% in 2013.

Bike video tour of Ohrid

Tour of Ohrid city and Lake Ohrid on bike.

1,500 protest in Macedonia after murder arrests

About 1,500 people have joined a protest by ethnic Albanians in Macedonia to demand a fair trial for five people suspected of murder in a case that has raised ethnic tension in the tiny country.

The five have been charged with terrorism-related offenses over the murder of five Macedonian fishermen last month. Two of the suspects remain at large.

The government has described the suspects as radical Islamists.

Protesters at Friday's rally in the capital Skopje chanted "God is Great" and "Albanians are Muslims, not terrorists."

Several youths threw rocks at police, but no injuries or arrests were reported.

10 000 Ethnic Albanians Rise against Macedonian Govt over Lakeside Murders

More than 10 000 ethnic Albanians protested in Macedonia's capital Skopje on Friday to demand a fair trial for five people suspected of murder in a case that has raised ethnic tension in the tiny country.

The five detainees have been charged with offenses related to terrorism and radical Islamism over the murder of five Macedonian fishermen near Skopje last month. Two of the suspects remain at large.

Protesters at Friday's rally in the capital Skopje chanted "Allah is Great" and "Albanians are Muslims, not terrorists." Youths threw rocks at police, but no injuries or arrests were reported, according to the BGNES news agency.

Some of the chants targeted Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, "Gruevski Is Terrorist", while others mentioned the Kosovo Liberation Army that fought an uprising against Serbia in 1998-99 in the ethnic Albanian province that is now an independent republic.

The Macedonian police on Tuesday arrested 20 ethnic Albanians in an operation in several villages around the capital in relation to the murder of five men near Skopje on April 12. The court later ordered 30 days' detention for nine of the arrested.

The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12 near Zelezarsko Ezero on the northern outskirts of the capital Skopje. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was also found nearby.

Protestors in Skopje hurl stones at police, smash bus stop

The protesting Muslims in Macedonia’s capital Skopje have started hurling stones at the police, the local news agency Makfax reported.

The protest kicked off outside Jaja Pasha Mosque in Skopje and the incident occurred outside the government’s building.

The demonstrators also managed to smash the windows of a bus stop. Insulting words were voiced against Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and ruling Albanian party Democratic Union for Integration of Ali Ahmeti.

The group is now moving towards Gotse Delchev bridge in Skopje.

Macedonia may develop even outside EU, NATO, says German ambassador

“Macedonia’s development does not depend on the membership in the EU and NATO. The progress and the reforms may continue even outside these organisations,” said German Ambassador to Skopje Gudrun Steinacker, writes Macedonian Vecer daily.

In her words, Macedonia deserves the EU and NATO membership and the country has met all the criteria, but Germany cannot react in separation to all the rest of the member states.

“Geographically speaking, Macedonia belongs to Europe and it is a member of many European organisations,” Steinacker said further.

New USAID Project - Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture

USAID launched Thursday its new Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture project which will promote adaptive agricultural practices and raise awareness of the forthcoming challenges of climate change and the need for joint, community level responses.

Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture will be implemented by the Rural Development Network (RDN), the USAID said in a press release.

"Real progress to safeguard our natural resources for future generations will ultimately depend upon positive action at the community level by farmers, rural dwellers, and other local groups that have a stake in preserving their source of livelihood," said Joseph Lessard, USAID Macedonia Economic Growth Office Director.

He added, "I commend RDN's grassroots development approach that takes into account the needs and priorities of people at the local level."

The project will focus on the Mediterranean zone, including the Vardar region with parts of Strumica and Gevgelija, as this is the Macedonian region most affected by climate change.

Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture will target family farms that market most of their output as well as semi-subsistence farmers. The project will test and monitor techniques to find out what works best under certain conditions so that lessons learned can be replicated in more communities throughout the targeted regions, thereby helping to minimize some of the expected adverse global warming impacts on crops

Roadmap on goals from Macedonia-EU accession dialogue presented in Parliament

Vice PM in charge of EU integration, Teuta Arifi presented on Thursday a three-month report on past and future achievements made with respect to the process of EU integration. The report was presented before members of the National EU Integration Council and Parliament's European Affairs Commission.

Arifi underlined the launch of a high level dialogue with the EU as the most important event in recent months, announcing that EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule was due to visit Skopje where he was to hold a working meeting with members of the Macedonian Parliament.

Referring to the roadmap on goals stemming from the Macedonia-EU accession dialogue - which can be found on the web site of the Secretariat for European Affairs - Arifi focused on topics included in chapters 23 and 24 covering issues such as freedom of expression and media, rule of law, measures to combat against corruption and economic criteria.

The operational roadmap consists of over 140 targets related to the five key areas from the high level accession dialogue with the EU. Some of them need to be completed by June i.e. September and the rest should be closed by year's end.

Considering freedom of expression and professional standards, it is envisaged the dialogue with media representatives to continue, consultation meetings to be held with Council of Europe experts about changes to laws involving freedom of expressions. Special training are also planned to be organised for judges working on defamation cases.

With respect to rule of law, Vice PM Arifi pledged that the efficiency and capacities of the courts would be improved through various activities.

In view of anti-corruption measures, provisions have been envisaged for checking the contents of declarations of interests and a plan and dynamics for checking previous declarations for conflict of interest on elected and appointed persons. This segment also covers issues on the financing of political parties.

Advancement of the dialogue amongst communities is also envisaged, which is under the jurisdiction of the Secretariat for the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement.

Several issues stemming from the roadmap refer to reforms in administration, electoral regulation and revision of the voter's list.

Vice PM Arifi stressed that the government was not the sole responsible institution in the process and that the parliament, NGOs, citizens and other factors in the society needed to take part. "As soon as we become a member of the EU, each and everyone of us will feel the benefits. This is a great chance that needs to be used and a motivation for reforms needed to be implemented," Arifi noted.

SDSM's Jani Makraduli said the Parliament should be more involved in the drafting of the roadmap.

VMRO-DPMNE's deputy Antonio Milososki assessed the report as an objective picture pointing out that Macedonia had made a positive step in the EU integration process.

The chairman of the European Affairs Commission, Hajrula Mesini welcomed the pre-accession dialogue saying the process showed that Brussels had once again lent a hand to Skopje.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Everything Except The Trout at Ohrid

Macedonia’s Lake Ohrid is famous for its trout.  In the chilly, mountain depths of these waters, theohridska pastrmka (pastrmka means trout) has swum since time immemorial, and has been fished here since Neolithic times. It’s one of the only European fish to have existed since before the last ice age, and the species is probably some million years old.  Reportedly, it’s delicious.  The problem is, it’s almost extinct.  That doesn’t stop restaurants here from serving it.  Neither do the police, though it’s officially illegal to fish for it or sell it.

This is the “Macedonian Riviera,” and the eating here in Ohrid town has been almost uniformly excellent, with lots of cheap, pleasant restaurants dotting the waterfront and the side streets. We’ve been avoiding ohridska, but eating just about every other watery fauna we can get our forks into.  Here’s a look at what’s on offer in Ohrid that’s not endangered.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Macedonian court orders 30-day detention for 5 suspects in fishermen killings

A court in Macedonia’s capital has issued 30-day detention orders for five men, including two who are still at large, suspected of killing five fishermen in April.

The fatal shooting of the fishermen near Skopje last month fueled tension in the Balkan country between ethnic Macedonians and the ethnic Albanian minority.

The Interior Ministry has issued an international arrest warrant for the two suspects still at large, identified as 32-year-old Afrim Ismailovic and 27-year-old Alil Demiri, both from Skopje.

The other three were among 20 people identified as radical Islamists arrested Tuesday in connection with the killings. All five have been charged with terrorism. Another four among the 20 were also remanded in custody for 30 days on weapons charges, while the rest were released.

Macedonia Reveals Suspects in Lakeside Murder Case

Macedonian media have revealed the identity of the suspects for the brutal murder of five men that took place last month near Skopje.

27-year-old Alil Demir, 32-year-old Afrim Ismailovic and his brother, 33-year-old Agim Ismailovic are the alleged shooters, according to the Macedonian Utrinski vestnik daily.

54-year-old Fejzi Aziri and 24-year-old Rami Sejdu have allegedly transported the shooters to the crime scene and subsequently helped them to escape the country by entering Kosovo.

All five suspects face terrorism charges.

It is believed that the suspects are members of a criminal group that has committed various crimes, including terrorism, illegal manufacture, possession and trade of weapons and explosive materials, the Macedonian Information Agency has said.

On Tuesday, a total of twenty alleged radical Islamic militants were arrested over the murder of five  men in Macedonia on April 12, the worst case of mass murder in the tiny Balkan country since it gained independence 21 years ago.

The victims, all ethnic Macedonians, were found shot dead on April 12 near an artificial lake at Butel. Four were in their 20s, and the fifth was in his 40s. Media identified the dead as Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Tsvetanco Atsevski, Kire Trickovski and Borce Stefanovski.

Macedonia’s Plea for a Seat in NATO Falls on Busy Ears

More than two decades after an independent Macedonia was born from the bloody ethnic wars in the Balkans, its desire to join NATO remains stalled by an old question: “What’s in a name?”

Greece, an alliance member since 1952, was vehemently opposed to initial desires of its neighbor to adopt the name Republic of Macedonia, saying it implied territorial claims to the Greek province of the same name, an assertion Macedonia has publicly disavowed.

To remove that hurdle, the government in the capital, Skopje, years ago said the country would apply to international organizations under an interim name until the bilateral dispute was resolved. It has since joined the United Nations and applied to NATO and the European Union as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a name usually reduced to its acronym, Fyrom.

But as NATO presidents and prime ministers prepare for a summit meeting next month in Chicago, the ascent of new members is not even on the agenda. Meetings will focus on the future of the alliance war effort in Afghanistan – mostly how to end it — and ways to reshape member militaries around a concept called “smart defense.”

Macedonia’s foreign minister, Nikola Poposki, is in Washington this week to make the case for Fyrom. He cites a list of statistics to prove that his tiny nation – with just 2 million people – already is giving more than its fair share to NATO missions, even as just an aspirant to membership.

On a per-capita basis, Macedonia is the fifth-largest contributor of forces to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, providing about 175 people responsible for providing security around the NATO headquarters in Kabul and across the Afghan capital’s diplomatic zone, which includes the American Embassy. Macedonian troops also are training Afghan security forces.

The effort eats up about 10 percent of the republic’s defense budget. (Macedonia previously contributed about 500 troops to the American-led effort in Iraq.)

“We are an exporter of security forces to NATO,” Mr. Poposki said in an interview on Thursday. “But we are in the waiting room for membership.”

He pledged that Macedonian troops would remain in Afghanistan until the formal end of the NATO mission, now set for December 2014, and said that there was no pressure in Parliament for an early withdrawal, as there is in some member nations.

He said Greece’s security would be only enhanced by dropping its objections, as adding a NATO member to its borders would bind Macedonia to all the articles of the alliance’s mutual-defense pact. “We are no threat to the territorial integrity of Greece,” Mr. Poposki said.

There are few indications of movement on the issue, however. Greece is in the midst of a financial crisis, hoping to avoid becoming the first member nation of the European economic zone to default.

In such an environment, there is little incentive within the Greek political system to resolve an international dispute over its neighbor.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Extremists among those detained in Macedonia massacre

Macedonian police on Tuesday arrested 20, allegedly radicalised, Muslims in an operation in several villages around the capital. The police believe that the murderers are among those arrested.

After spending the night in a police station in Skopje, they were brought before court this morning.

Police said the motives of the men, some of whom were Macedonian nationals, was to spread fear in the country.

“The arrested men are radical Islamists who have been fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan against NATO and they will be charged with terrorism,” Police Minister, Gordana Jankulovska said.

The police say that as part of the operation named “Monster” it searched 26 sites in Aracinovo, Suto Orizari, Cair and Cento, all areas in and around Skopje. Over 800 police officers participated in the arrests.

The Interior Ministry said they found an automatic gun, four pistols, a bomb, bullets and ammunition for grenade launchers as well as camouflage uniforms and tactical vests. Literature associated with radical Islam was also found.

The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12 near Zelezarsko Ezero on the northern outskirts of the capital, a popular fishing destination. All had gunshot wounds.

The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was a short distance away from the rest.

Eyewitnesses said they were found by a local fisherman and the victims were believed to be fishermen too.

The bodies had been lined up and appeared to have been executed with firearms. Two cars were found in the vicinity with open doors.

The news of the killings raised tensions in the ethnically divided country between Macedonians and country’s largest Albanian minority.

Tensions peaked four days after the murder when the police prevented a mob of Macedonian youngsters from moving across the Vardar River towards an area of the capital mainly populated by ethnic Albanians.

Former police intelligence chief Kire Naumov said if the police claims about cells of Islamist terrorists proved true, the country faced a serious challenge.

“If all this prove true, then this looks like the organized terrorist cell of a radical Islamist organization… then Macedonia has a serious problem”, he told Deutsche Welle.

Meanwhile, Rade Slavkovski the father of one of the victims, 19-year-old Filip Slavkovski told media that he would feel satisfied if the police had indeed arrested his son’s killers.

“Nothing will return Filip but it is good if the justice is done” he said on Tuesday.

The first political party to react on Wednesday was the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

“Albanians cannot accept collective responsibility for the killing of children, a crime that has never happened in their history, not even during times of war,” said Bujar Osmani, the DUI spokesperson.

He said that no matter the nationality of the perpetrators, “They remain murderers and nothing else”.

Macedonian police file charges in fishermen deaths

Macedonian authorities have filed terrorism charges against five men in connection with the shooting deaths of five Macedonian fishermen in mid-April, Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska said.

Two of those charged were still at large, while the other three were among 20 people identified as radical Islamists who were arrested in connection with the case Tuesday.

The killings of the fishermen near the Macedonian capital Skopje last month fueled tension in the Balkan country between majority Macedonians and the mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority.

State Prosecutor Ljupco Svrgovski told media Wednesday that if found guilty of terrorism, the suspects faced life imprisonment sentences.

The remaining 17 of those arrested during an early-morning raid on Tuesday were being interviewed by an investigative judge. They are being investigated on suspicion of terrorism, helping commit the murders and illegal possession and trade of weapons.

Jankuloska did not specify whether the suspects all belonged to the same ethnic group. She previously said most of them were Macedonian citizens.

About 800 police were involved in Tuesday's operation, called "Monster," raiding 26 houses around Skopje and seizing weapons, bulletproof vests and Islamic literature, police said.

Jankuloska said the 20 suspects arrested Tuesday were followers "of radical Islam, which is a danger not only for Christianity, but also for Muslims and others."

The ethnic Albanian coalition partner in the conservative government, the Democratic Union for Integration, or DUI, described the killing of the fishermen as "the biggest crime in the history of Macedonia."

DUI spokesman Bujar Osmani said his party "remains on the position that the killers are simply killers by name and surname, regardless of their ethnicity and nationality".

Tensions between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians have simmered since the end of an armed rebellion in 2001, when ethnic Albanian rebels fought Macedonian government forces for about eight months, seeking greater rights for their community. The conflict left 80 people dead and ended with the intervention of NATO troops.

Ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million. Most Macedonians are Christian Orthodox.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/05/02/macedonian-police-file-charges-in-fishermen-deaths/#ixzz1tlbh2Ajg

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Skopje Faculty of Pharmacy gets two new labs

Premier Nikola Gruevski, accompanied by Ministers of Education, Science and Health Care, Pance Kralev and Nikola Todorov respectively, formally set into work Sunday two new labs at Skopje Faculty of Pharmacy.
The two labs, worth EUR1,7 million, will test the quality of drugs and make biomolecular pharmaceutical analysis.
"The Government has been investing in all spheres - economy, agriculture, education, health care, tourism...Even in this difficult period of debt crisis in Europe, we are making attempts to keep investing in spheres we believe are in urgent need," Gruevski said at the opening ceremony.

Videos from Macedonian Police Regarding Operation "Monstrum"

Radical Muslim group involved in Macedonia murders arrested

Macedonian police announced Tuesday that they arrested 20 radical Muslims, suspected to be members of a terrorist group which has been linked to the murder of five Macedonians in early April.

“The ministry of the interior found the perpetrators of the horrific killings at Smilkovsko lake” near Skopje, Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska told a press conference.

Twenty radical Muslims, mostly Macedonian citizens, some of whom had been “fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan against NATO soldiers”, were arrested. They were nabbed on Monday after a massive security operation involving some 800 police officers and other interior ministry officials.

The minister described the suspects as “Skopje followers of radical Islam” but did not reveal their names or ethnicity.

“Among those 20 people a few are directly involved in the horrific killings and for some we do not have details,” Jankulovska said.

On April 12 five men, one 45 years old and the others aged between 18 and 22, were found dead from gunshot wounds at a popular fishing pond near Skopje.

“The interior ministry will file terrorism charges against them,” she added, explaining that their motive was “to incite fear and insecurity”.

The authorities said they seized weapons and radical Islamic literature.

The murders sparked fears that tensions between Macedonians and minority ethnic Albanians could flare up again.

The atmosphere has for some time been tense in the former Yugoslav republic, where relations between the two main communities remain scarred from a 2001 armed conflict between government security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels.

A peace deal was signed in August 2001, when Albanians, who make up some 25 percent of Macedonia’s population of two million, were given improved rights.

In March, more than a dozen people were injured in inter-ethnic clashes in Skopje and the Albanian-dominated northwestern town of Tetovo, highlighting the worsening of relations between the communities.

Islamists arrested in Macedonia fishermen deaths

Police arrested 20 radical Islamists for the murder of five ethnic Macedonian fishermen in an early morning raid Tuesday, authorities said. The killing last month fueled tension in the tiny Balkan country between majority Macedonians and the mostly Muslim Albanian minority.

The suspects have been charged with terrorism, Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska said. She did not specify whether they all belonged to the same ethnic group, saying simply that they were all Macedonian citizens.

The victims were not directly connected with the suspects, Jankuloska told reporters.

"The intention of this crime was to create a sense of insecurity and fear among the general population," she said.

Tensions between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians have simmered since the end of an armed rebellion in 2001, when ethnic Albanian rebels fought Macedonian government forces for about eight months, seeking greater rights for their community. The conflict left 80 people dead, and ended with the intervention of NATO troops.

Ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million. Most Macedonians are Christian Orthodox.

About 800 police were involved in Tuesday's operation, called "Monster," raiding 26 houses around the Macedonian capital of Skopje and seizing weapons, bullet proof vests and Islamic literature, Jankuloska said.

All of the suspects had fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan, she said.

The suspects were followers "of radical Islam, which is generally a danger for Christianity," she said. "They all have the capacity to commit such a horrible act."

She did not offer more details, saying the investigation is not yet complete.

Police posted a video of armed policemen raiding a house, arresting at least two suspects, one of them sprawled on the floor, and displaying a number of cellphones and SIM cards.

The title of the video describes the arrested as "Wahhabis," a fundamentalist branch of Islam.

The five fishermen, all but one in their 20s, were found dead, shot with at least three different firearms, north of Skopje on April 13.

Rumors spread quickly that the killings were ethnic-related, forcing authorities to appeal for calm.