Enter content here
More than 5,000 people from all over the country gathered in front of the "Alexander Nevski" Cathedral yesterday to protest against the close-down of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant. The people carried oil lamps, rattles, tin-whistles and posters. The protesters waved national flags and lifted slogans "Let Light Be" and "Yes to EU But Not at That Price". Young members of the IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) raised slogans "Why" in English, Russian and Bulgarian and joined the rally of the NPP employees. University professors, actors, singers and musicians backed the rally. Valia Balkanska opened the meeting singing the Bulgarian folk song which at the time, was sent into the open space. Photo Kiril Konstantinov
Alexander Raichev - Anniversary. Outstanding Bulgarian composer Prof. Alexander Raichev celebrated his 80th birthday last night with his family and students. BTA photo by Bistra Boshnakova
Bulgarian tennis player Max Mirnyi returns a ball to Spanish Carlos Moya during the quarter finals of the Estoril Tennis Open April 12, 2002. Max Mirnyi lost 7-6 4-6 6-3. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro
Rabbits and chicken have invaded the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Sofia. The management has arranged the picturesque lawn with hanging motley eggs on the occasion of the upcoming Easter holidays. Lyulin Stamenov/Sofia Echo
SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
The intensity of armed violations of the public order and peace has decreased overnight in Tetovo and Kumanovo-Lipkovo crisis region.
It is relatively calm in Tetovo and its area Friday morning, compared to late Thursday, when riffle and sporadic shots from various kinds of infantry weaponry violated the public order and peace with increased intensity from midnight till early morning Friday.
The armed provocations, as MIA's special correspondent reported, did not have any definite targets.
Flare missiles coming from the village of Odri and Dolno Orasje were registered overnight as well.
Series of riffle and sporadic shots came from the street of Vonvardarska, while some shots were also registered coming from the central town district, from the University of SEE, as well as from the settlements of Gorna Carsija, Kupenik, Teke, Sipad, Drenovec 2, and from different town districts.
According to the Interior Department in Tetovo, sporadic and riffle shots violated the public order and peace overnight in the villages of Odri, Neprosteno, Prsovce, Palatica, Trebos, Ozormiste, Mala Recica, and several other villages down the Shar Mountain.
No violations of the public order and peace were registered overnight and Friday morning in Kumanovo-Lipkovo region.
About 16 sporadic shots were registered Thursday afternoon by 17:00h, coming from the surrounding area of the villages of Lojane, Nikustak, Opae and Grusino.
The regular patrolling of the ethnically mixed police teams continues Friday in the villages included in the General plan for redeployment of the police forces in the crisis regions.
According to the announcement by the Media Activity Center at the governmental Coordinate Crises Management Body, the patrols failed to enter in the village of Vejce, due to the blockades by the local population.
The ethnically mixed police teams are currently patrolling in 53 villages in accordance with the redeployment plan, while according to the General plan, they are to enter another 20 villages. Conditions for 24 - hour regular patrolling activities have been created in 66 crisis regions' villages so far.
Makpetrol's Gas Station In Tetovo Robed.
Tetovo, April 12 (MIA) - Two armed persons robed a Makpetrol's gas station in Tetovo at 17.00h on Friday.
As MIA's correspondent reported, the robbers threatened to the three employees that they would kill them if they did not surrender the money. After getting the money they headed toward the Southeast European University.
This gas station was demolished few days ago and was target of robberies on several occasions earlier.
FILMING OF "SECRET BOOK" STARTS IN OHRID.
The shooting of the latest motion picture in Macedonian co-production "Secret Book" by Vlado Cvetanovski began Friday on Ohrid Airport.
The shooting in Macedonia will last until May 25, and will continue for another week in France. Ohrid, Bitola, Demir Hisar and Golem Grad island in Prespa Lake are chosen as filming locations.
The story in "The Secret Book" occurs in Macedonia and France in current times and many centuries back. It is an odyssey of an explorer from France, who goes on a quest for manuscripts, for which certain scientific researches state that they are situated in Macedonia. During his journey, he reveals mysterious facts about the existence of the Secret Book of the Bogomils, known in France as Kaians. The book survives through the centuries, it has been kept by the inquisition, but the original copy has disappeared somewhere in Macedonia.
Thierry Fremone, who played in Bryan De Palma's latest movie "Fam Fatal," plays the leading role in the movie, while the supporting roles are played by: Jean Claude Carierre, Labina Mitevska, Vlado Jovanovski, Kiril Risteski, Vladimir Svetiev, Meto Jovanovski, Arna Sijak, Gjorgi Jolevski etc.
The story is written by Ljube and Vlado Cvetanovski and Jordan Plevnes, Atanas Georgiev is the editor, Valentin Svetozarev is the scenographer, while Blagoj Micevski is the costume designer. Band Anastasia will make the music.
"The Secret Book" is a Macedonian-French-Dutch production, while KTV Media, "Vardar Film," "F-Production" and Dutch production house "A&T" appear as the producers houses.
General patron of the movie is the Macedonian Ministry of Culture, which confirms its commitments for development and affirmation of the film art in Macedonia.
Quake Shook Provadia.
at about 4.30 p.m. yesterday morning, measuring 2.4 on the Richter Scale. People felt the tremour. Some of them were panic-stricken to such an extent that rushed into the streets in pyjamas. It is a seismic region, there are often light tremours there, said Col. Mitko Georgiev, director of the regional Civil Protection State Agency.
5,000 Against Kozloduy NPP Decommissioning.
"NPP is safe", "NPP could work as long as 2010-12", said Prof. Stephan Vodenicharov, chairman of the NPP Civil Protection Committee, from the rostrum. The speakers appealed to the president, premier and the National Assembly to defend the national interests and let not Bulgarian nuclear power plant be closed down. Krassimir Karakachanov, leader of the IMRO, insisted the issue to be solved through a referendum. A written pledge with more than 400,000 signatures was submitted to parliamentary chairman Ognian Gerdjikov. The meeting adopted a special declaration the NPP decommissioning not to be allowed during the negotiations with the EU. Family Tonica and the girls of Neshka Robeva from the Twin Kingdoms group raised the morale of the rally.
MACEDONIA-BULGARIAN FILM SEASON.
Skopje, April 12 (BTA) - A Bulgarian film season opened in the Macedonian capital on Thursday. It is the first event organized in Skopje on this scale.
The opening was attended by the wives of the Macedonian and Bulgarian presidents, Vilma Trajkovska and Zorka Purvanova, MPs, filmmakers, cultural figures, journalists and friends of Bulgaria.
The delegation of Bulgarian filmmakers was led by Lyudmil Hadjisotirov, Director of the National Film Library. The three film categories were represented by directors Rangel Vulchanov (feature films), Eldora Traikova (documentaries) and Stoyan Doukov (cartoons). The season opened with screenings of their films: the cartoons "Wedding" and "February", "Neon Fairy Tales", a documentary, and Vulchanov's "The Unknown Soldier's Patent Leather Shoes".
Macedonian Deputy Culture Minister Stojan Dancevski said the film season was held in line with a cultural cooperation agreement, immediately after a successful performance by the Macedonian National Theatre at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia.
The cinema is the easiest and most comprehensive way to get to know Bulgarian or Macedonian culture, Dancevski said.
"Although it is going through certain difficulties, the Bulgarian film industry has a future because the artistic potential is there," Zorka Purvanova said. She called the first Bulgarian film season a major event designed to establish closer cultural contacts between the two countries.
The organizer, the Macedonian Film Library, helped by its Bulgarian counterpart, has chosen films representative of the last few decades of Bulgarian filmmaking. Six feature films, five documentaries and eight cartoons will be screened in Skopje and Bitola.
Vesna Maslarovic, Director of the Macedonian Film Library, said the first Bulgarian film season was preceded by screenings of Macedonian productions in Sofia and Plovdiv last December.
Part of the audience asked to listen to the Bulgarian soundtrack.
Nadezhda Mihailova to Deliver Speech in Salonika.
Nadezhda Mihailova will deliver a speech at the Democratic Forum on the Western Balkans, organized by the European Popular Party (EPP). The UDF leader was invited in her capacity of the deputy chairman of the EPP along with Chris Patten, EU External Affairs Commissioneer, Voislav Kostunica, Yogoslavia's President, etc.
US Under Secretary of State Grossman To Defence Minister Svinarov: Bulgaria Can Rely on US Support for NATO Membership.
Sofia, April 12 (BTA) - Bulgaria can rely on US support in its aspirations to join NATO, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman told Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov in Washington D.C., said the Friday morning newscast of the BBC.
It is the second day on Svinarov's two-day visit to the US. At the meeting with Svinarov, Grossman praised the Bulgarian efforts and timely action in the fight against world terror. He also thanked the Bulgarian authorities for their energetic response in the wake of September 11, when it acted as a de-facto ally of the North Atlantic Alliance.
Discussing with Svinarov the plans for NATO enlargement to the East, the US Under Secretary expressed the resolve of the administration of President Bush to support the admission of the largest possible group of countries at the Prague summit, and assured Svinarov that the US will readily support the Bulgarian efforts to get a membership invitation in Prague.
Several issues will be discussed in Prague, including the operational capacity of the allied forces, the adaptation of the new members, the problems in the process of eastward enlargement and the new approach in NATO's relations with Russia, said Grossman. He also spoke in positive terms of Bulgaria's performance within the UN Security Council.
The problems in, and prospects for, the eastward enlargement were also on the agenda of Svinarov's meeting with Senator Jim Bunning (Rep., KY), who is also on the Senate defence committee.
Meeting with Vann H. Van Diepen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation, Svinarov assured him that the SS-23 and Scud missiles that the Bulgarian army has will be destroyed this autumn.
During a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies earlier in the day, Svinarov said that the Bulgarian military industrial complex has to be recovered with the support of Western investment. This is also a way to reduce the high unemployment rates in the country, said the Defence Minister.
Summing up the progress of the military reform in his country, he said that it is not a temporary campaign but a long-term commitment to modernize the Bulgarian army.
The Bulgarian Defence Minister has more meetings scheduled in the US capital until the end of the day.
BULGARIA - GREEK MINISTER.
Sofia, April 12 (BTA) - Greece will step up cooperation with Bulgaria in the fight against terrorism in the region, and it spearheads the effort to support Bulgaria's bid for EU and NATO membership, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis assured President Georgi Purvanov on behalf of the Greek government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Chrysohoidis, who is paying a one-day visit here at the invitation of Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov, talked to journalists after his session with Purvanov.
The two interior ministries will strengthen their border control cooperation.
Three more border crossings will be built as planned. Cooperation will grow in the fight against drugs trafficking and organized crime, in information exchange and personnel training, Chrysohoidis and Petkanov told journalists.
Purvanov told the Greek minister he was extremely pleased that the two interior ministries were already working on concrete projects, and that Bulgarian-Greek contacts in general had been stepped up. Bulgaria is part of the global anti-terrorist coalition and will do its best to show solidarity with its efforts, Purvanov said.
Chrysohoidis turned over a donation at a ceremony in Sofia's Sveti Alexander Nevsky Square on behalf of the Greek Public Order Ministry. The Bulgarian police received 10 Opel and Citroen cars and 20 Suzuki and Yamaha motorcycles worth 260,000 euros. This is a token of support for the Bulgarian Police and Interior Ministry in the fight against crime.
"We live at a time when cooperation is more than necessary, especially in crime control and in the enhancement of our two countries' security and regional security," Chrysohoidis said after the ceremony. He noted that the Bulgarian Government has made significant progress in crime control and that Greece is open for cooperation in training and new technologies. "We feel obliged to assist Bulgaria in the field of security in the process of its integration into the European Union," the guest noted.
Petkanov accepted the donation and handed his colleague a statement of gratitude. He assessed the assistance as yet another step in the advancement of bilateral cooperation, as a friendly gesture and moral support in the fight against crime.
Nine of the cars and ten motorcycles will go to the Sofia Directorate of Internal Affairs, and one car will be used by the National Police Service Directorate. The Regional Directorates of Internal Affairs in Varna and Bourgas will receive five motorcycles each, BTA learnt from the National Police Service Deputy Director, Colonel Minko Braikov.
At the end of the visit, Petkanov and Chrysohidis assessed their talks as "very productive."
"In the light of bilateral relations and Bulgaria's accession negotiations with the EU and aspiration to join NATO, we discussed questions concerning cooperation in the fight against transnational crime, the drugs traffic, the traffic in women and border control," the Bulgarian Interior Minister said, seeing his guest off at Sofia Airport.
They also discussed the opportunities for joint field and specialized training, for arrangement of joint EU-financed seminars for employees of the two ministries.
The first such seminar will take place in Sofia in June 2002, Petkanov said.
Bulgaria will approach Greece for assistance in training border policemen for control of the country's blue border, the Bulgarian Interior Minister said. For its part, Greece will count on security cooperation with Bulgaria in the preparation and holding of the 2004 Athens Olympics, Chrysohoidis said.
The two ministers noted the need to exchange police liaison officers with the embassies in Sofia and Athens and for the establishment of a hotline between the interior ministries. Bulgaria already maintains such hotlines with Macedonia and Turkey and they produce tangible results, Petkanov said. The ministries will also be exchanging information on transnational criminal networks and rings.
The Greek Minister of Public Order noted that Friday's donation of ten cars and 20 police motorcycles is not a single move and that in future Bulgaria can also count on other technical assistance on the part of its southern neighbour.
"Even though after the lifting of the Schengen barriers some Bulgarians were found to overstay considerably their allowed period of residence in Greece, such a problem no longer exists," Chrysohoidis said. He added that Greece is preparing to introduce by legislation severe penalties for the organizers of traffic in human beings and above all in women so as to stop the white slave trade, this new type of slavery in the 21st century.
Iraqi Ambassador Excused Gerdjikov.
The problem with granting Bulgarian bases to NATO for a possible military operation against Iraq is not an issue and has not implications for Bulgarian-Iraqi bilateral relations, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign policy Stanimir Ilchev said after yesterday's meeting of the NMS PG Chaurman Plamen Panayotov with the Iraqi Ambassador Mahdi Salleh Hamudi. The foreign diplomat said that the issue concerning the statement of parliamentary chairman Ognyan Gerdzjkov in Bucharest 'was closed for him' and he has no motives to discuss it again. Later Gerdjikov said that urgent consultations between the parliamentary forces started to draft a concerted stand on the Middle East crises as well as on the intermediary role of this country for settling the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Bulgarian stand was discussed at a closed-door sitting of the Parliamentary National Security Commission for yesterday.
Day of Bulgarian Business to be Held in Amman.
Sofia, April 12 (BTA) - Deputy Economy Minister Milen Keremedchiev left Friday on an official visit to Jordan at the head of a delegation which will participate in the Days of Bulgarian Business in Amman April 14 to 17.
A Bulgarian-Jordan economic forum will take place at the Amman Chamber of Industry. During the forum Keremedchiev will present the possibilities and prospects for the development of Bulgarian economy and the conditions for investing and doing business in the country. He will meet with his Jordanian counterpart, the mayor of Amman and the director general of the Jordanian Investment Board, said the press centre of the Bulgarian Economy Ministry. A discussion is to be held in the Amman Chamber of Industry.
The Days of Bulgarian Business will feature an exhibition of Bulgarian goods and a business forum with the participation of businessmen of the two countries. The organizers' idea is to popularize Bulgaria's export potential and help businessmen establish direct contacts.
Bilateral economic and scientific cooperation, which date back to1960, was stepped up in the past two years.
In 1979 a joint committee for economic and scientific cooperation is set up in Amman. Its second session took place in 1984 in Sofia.
Following a 16-year interruption, the committee had its third session in Amman November 4 through 6, 2001.
During the session a Trade Agreement between the two countries' governments and an agreement for cooperation between the Centre for Promotion of Bulgarian Export and the Jordanian Corporation of Centres for the Promotion of Trade and Export were signed.
The visit of King Abdullah II of Jordan August 25 - 26, 2001 gave a fresh impetus to the deveopment of bilateral relations and to all spheres of cooperation, reads the press release of the Economy Ministry.
BULGARIA - MIDDLE EAST - STATEMENT.
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Calls on Palestinian Autonomous Authority, Government of Israel to Try to Overcome Crisis, Resume Peace Talks.
Sofia, April 12 (BTA) - In a statement released Thursday, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry voiced "deep concern" over the "unprecedented escalation of violence and terror in the Middle East."
"We deplore the bloodshed and call for its immediate cessation. We deeply regret the innocent loss of life on both the Palestinian and the Israeli side, and we express our deepest sympathies to their families. We call on the Palestinian Autonomous Authority and on the Government of Israel to spare no effort to overcome the crisis and resume the peace negotiations for achievement of a lasting solution in the best interests of their two peoples and of world peace and security," the statement reads.
It also voices strong concern over the recent attacks against Israel from Lebanese territory and calls for an end to the attacks and for respect of the UN-drawn Blue Line.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry welcomes the Middle East mission of US Secretary of State Colin Powell. "We support this energetic initiative, we expect it to produce a tangible result, and we insist that it get full cooperation from the Palestinian and the Israeli side," the statement says.
It notes that in its capacity as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Bulgaria is actively involved in the drafting of Resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403 and again calls for their immediate and comprehensive implementation.
"We appreciate the peace plan of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, which was adopted by the Arab League in Beirut, as an important contribution to the efforts to achieve peace in the region, including Syria and Lebanon. We call on Israel to cease hostilities and to comply with the principles and standards of international humanitarian law and to grant access to the humanitarian organizations. We join the demand of the international community that Israel make every effort towards a ceasefire, withdraw from the Palestinian settlements, and lift the blockade of the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat," the statement says.
The Palestinian Autonomous Authority is urged to "do what is necessary for cessation of the terrorist acts and for dismantling of the terrorist network."
Arafat is urged "to use his political authority for prevention of new extremist actions."
Bulgaria supports the Joint Statement by the EU, the US, Russia and the UN on the escalating confrontation in the Middle East, made in Madrid on April 10, 2002. "We believe that the two sides should immediately go ahead with implementation of the Tenet security workplan and the Mitchell recommendations, envisaging specific steps for resumption of the Middle East peace process," the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry says, concluding its statement.
Fight before President's Eyes.
The bodyguards of the president stopped a man-to-man fight of a cameraman and reporter.
President Georgi Parvanov handed a new military banner to the head of the Military Academy "Georgi Rakovski" yesterday on the occasion of the 90 anniversary of its establishing. Journalists fought a few metres away during the visit of the head of state to the Military Academy yesterday. Cameraman from the Bulgarian National TV Penko Parvanov grasped reporter Panayot Angarev from the "Dnevnik" daily and started strangling him. The fight started because of taking a better place while reporting on the visit. The cameraman started calling names another reporter who came to his colleague's rescue. The bodyguards of the National Security Service and the military police officers watched the fight in amazement, then interfered and put an end to the fight. After the incident was over all journalist were asked to leave. The president did not notice the fight because the guards hurriedly took him into the hall. The president thanked the military officers for their efforts to implement the reforms in the Bulgarian army in the recent years.
Sougarev Donated $500 to Rescue 'Democratzia' Daily.
Edvin Sugarev granted $500 to Plamen Oresharski on opening a donors' account to rescue the 'Democratzia' daily. The sum is absolutely insufficient, but in my situation of a jobless father of 6 children I can't afford more, Sugarev said. He appealed that all current and former UDF MPs, followers and people who acquired property during the UDF rule should do the same. Today the Managers' Board of the 'Democratzia' foundation, chaired by Ivan Kostov, will discuss the future of the newspaper. It should be 'emancipated from the UDF and become an independent right-wing newspaper, which could attract the attention of a wider audience', Sugarev recommended.
1.3 Million Households to Switch Over to Gas Consumption.
Each household will save 550 levs annually of thermal and electric energy.
The nationwide gasification plan of 'Overgas' company envisages 1.3 million households in this country to switch over to natural gas consumption. The program will be submitted to the Energy Ministry next week, said Mircho Milanov - director of 'Market Development' department in the company. The project will start from the Sofia suburbs - Boiana and Dragalevtsi. Sofia City Councillors will vote for the proposal as early as at the session to be held on Monday, Stanislav Ivanov from 'Marketing and Sales' department in 'Overgas' said. The project will comprise the southern districts of Sofia with investments to total $29 million. 80 industrial ventures, 150 hospitals, schools, kinder gardens and 70,000 households are envisaged for gasification. The endmost residential districts of Sofia will be gasified in several years. The industry will save 8 million levs annually after being gasified, while the hospitals, kinder gardens and schools - 5 million levs each, show 'Overgas' calculations. The annual per household saving from thermal and electric energy will account for 550 levs.
Banks to Allot $20 Million Credits on Gasification.
'Overgas' negotiates with several banks on granting preferential credits for the gasification of the households. The banks plan to allot up to $20 million as early as this year, said Boris Nanev - chief expert in 'Overgas' department - 'Household Gasification'. The complete gasification of Bulgaria will cost $3 billion, under the nationwide plan. Of them, $1.7 billion should be provided by the consumers, Mircho Milanov elaborated. If the program is to be implemented, the gas consumption in Bulgaria will up to 4 billion cub. m annually. According to the assessments, the savings will exceed $500 million, while in the household's sector only it will be $360 million. The 'Overgas' program envisages legislative amendments on alleviating the licence regime for the gasification to the population. Currently, 26 documents are necessary, while the certificates' issuing takes up to 6 months, Milanov said further.
Foreigners Are Buying Villas At the Black Sea.
Italians and Germans come for the exotic environment.
Foreigners buy intensively realties along the northern Black Sea coast. Strong interest is shown in villas in the villages of Tyulenovo, Kamen Briag and Douranloulak, Kavarna-based 'Nivo' agency released. Jobless and needy owners in the abandoned villages offer houses together with adjacent yards at the price of 2,000 to 3,000 levs. Italians and Germans examine the offered properties because of the exotic environment and the hunting opportunities in the northern Black Sea region, brokers elaborate. High interest is shown in villas in Balchik as well, sources from the local 'Agromark' real estate agency said. The offers for the mini-hotels in 4 or 5-km away from the coast, are the most attractive ones. The prices reach up to $100,000. Smaller, but more luxury villas are offered for $200 per sq.m. Buyers from Austria and Germany are highly interested in them. The Russians are also involved in the real estate trade along the sea, brokers commented. An owner of a blue-chip villa with air-conditioning, swimming pool and all extra- facilities, is selling it for $75,000. The weal-to-do from Russia and CIS, however, withdrew from the real estate's market at the BG Black Sea. The boom of their investments was 4 or 5 years ago, when they bought 20 to 30 hotels at a time.
Businessmen from Russia to be Issued 1-Year Visas.
Businessmen from Russia will travel to Bulgaria with pre-paid multiple visas for a 1-year term of validity, and up to 90 days of a single sojourn, envisages the Visa Regime Relief Agreement, which the cabinet approved yesterday. The tourist visas will also be given priorities, reads the document. Visa-free regime is to be imposed for marine and aircraft crews. Participants in interstate, scientific, education, sports or cultural exchange, as well as children under the age of sixteen, will be issued free visas. More employees will be appointed into the BG consulates in Ukraine and Russia, Deputy-Foreign Minister Ivan Petkov said. Currently, the new personnel undergoes training. A few days ago touroperators complained of the work of BG consulate in Ukraine and insisted on opening more consular offices.
Sofiyanski to Take Credit for New Busses and Trams.
Sofia Mayor Stephan Sofiyanski will take a 35-million euros credit on the urban transport's renovation. The agreement will be sealed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in May, the Mayor said at a seminar with town councillors in Sandanski yesterday. 100 new busses will be bought in September. New makes of Bulgarian trams and trolleys, produced in 'Transcar' company, will start travelling in Sofia by then. Presently, Sofia Municipality and the Ministry of Finance negotiate on the start of new Sofia airport constriction works in late May, or early June, Sofiyanski said. The mayor envisages to take a second loan from Bulgarian banks, with a 1-year reimbursement term.
EC Vice President Meets Is Flat Concernin NPP Kozloduy.
European Commission Vice President in charge of Relations with the European Parliament, Transport and Energy Loyola de Palacio met Thursday with Chief Negotiator with the EU Meglena Kuneva and Foreign Minister Solomon Passy. They discussed the progress of accession talks. Under a memorandum signed with the in 1999, Bulgaria is bound to define the deadline for the decommissioning of the reactors III and IV of the NPP by the end of 2002. The European Commission wants the four reactors closed down in 2006, De Placio was flat. De Palacio arrived on a visit here late Wednesday evening. She will meet with President Georgi Purvanov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and with Energy Minister Milko Kovachev.
The Cemetery near Tatul Was a Temple of Orpheus.
The rocky cemetery near the village of Tatul, Momchilgrad region is among the most interesting testimonies of the spiritual culture of the Thracians in the Bulgarian lands. This strange funeral site has the form of a truncated pyramid with graves dug in it. All the graves are exposed to the sun and the one on the top is lighted by the sun all day long. The legend of Orpheus tells that the urn of the King - priest, singer and prophet - was put on a high column, lit by the sun and accessible for pilgrimage from all sides. The cemetery of the unknown Thracian notables in Tatul is the only one, where the grave and the sarcophagus are not covered. May be this was a mausoleum, a place of ritual sacrifices, where the Thracians have professed their cult to the sun.
Curfew for Pupils Will Be Imposed.
in the discos. Teenagers who are not 14 years old will not be permitted to go to the discotheques after 8.00 p.m. in winter and 9.00 p.m. in summer. Those younger than 18 years will be allowed to stay for 1 hour more. From September 1 on, new pupil's IDs will be introduced containing information about the parents.
President Purvanov Calls on Majority to Reconsider Their Behaviour in Televised Interview.
Sofia, April 12 (BTA) - President Georgi Purvanov called on the parliamentary majority to reconsider a considerable part of their behaviour in an interview for the Panorama weekly political roundup show on Bulgarian National Television.
Asked about partnership between the institutions, the President said that such partnership already exists.
"My thesis is that stability of the institutions is the main criterion of the progress of reform and of achievement of the strategic goals we have set ourselves," Purvanov said.
"I have given sufficient proof of good dialogue with the Prime Minister, the executive and part of Parliament. Dialogue is a necessary but insufficient condition for political stability. Stability requires a working Parliament, tuned to the real problems of the people. A parliamentary majority that imposes its will over the will of the majority of the Bulgarian people haughtily and frequently out of spite with the guillotine of its vote is not working for stability," Purvanov said.
Asked whether he has the majority in the Bulgarian Parliament in mind, Purvanov said that there have been such cases and that is why he is appealing to the majority to reconsider a considerable part of their behaviour.
Asked about his view on the need to hold a referendum on the closure of the four older generating units of the Kozlodoui N-plant, Purvanov said the fate of the separate generating units is the responsibility of politicians, statesmen and experts as they are the ones who know to what degree these units meet safety standards.
Asked about his relations with the different political parties, Purvanov said he wished every party would approach him with concrete proposals, some of which he shares and could defend, regardless of their source. "At the same time I would categorically oppose attempts at unwarranted destabilization or destabilization pursuing narrow partisan, group, economic or other interests," Purvanov said.
Referring to the convening of a session of the Consultative National Security Council with the President on crime next week, Purvanov said that the results of the fight against crime are obvious "thanks to individual representatives of the executive." The President stressed the need to demonstrate the unity of the institutions in this field and his impression that the contradictions between the judiciary bodies have been overcome.
Asked about Bulgaria's expectations to receive an invitation to join NATO this November in Prague, Purvanov said: "The signals are encouraging, including the latest statement by President Bush. And yet we should realize that there is still a lot to be done in the military reform. Figuratively speaking, we are with one foot in NATO but some clumsy steps on our part may leave us outside. I have no doubts. I was one of the first to support the idea for sending a Bulgarian contingent to Afghanistan. Bulgaria should continue to be part of the world anti-terror coalition. Naturally there are things it would be better not to do. I have repeatedly stated in Brussels and elsewhere that I would never support Bulgaria's involvement in
military operations in Macedonia."
Asked whether his Balkan policy is active enough, the President answered in the affirmative saying that after Brussels (his first visit abroad as President) he visited Skopje and then attended the forum of the Process of Cooperation in Southeast Europe in Tirana Now he is due to visit Bucharest. "What is new is that thank God, history now belongs to the past and we are no longer arguing but seeking common stands to defend before our European partners. And concrete solutions. The time of declarations is over," Purvanov said.
In conclusion Purvanov said that he does not intend to be merely a representative figure, hiding behind the "President's feeble constitutional powers" but will set forth his stand as a politician and statesman on all topical issues. Asked why he leaves his secretaries to speak on his behalf, he said his secretaries talk on his behalf only when they have been authorized by him. "Do not expect the President to talk after each meeting. I do not want to wear the institution out. I want the President's voice to sound only when necessary and in a convincing way," the head of state said.
Parvanov: I Disapprove of Short-Lived Acts.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Georgi Parvanov
Georgi Parvanov, President
- How will you comment on the statement made by the Defense Minister that the lower retiring age for top officers was a temporary measure and that a new Defense Bill was being drafted to revoke it?
- I disapprove of the practice to draft short-lived acts. Acts being redrafted every trimester erode the influence of the parliament and of the ruling majorities.
- Did you discuss the appointment of new ambassadors with Foreign Minister Solomon Passy?
- Yes, we did in principle.
It's Too Early for Me to Land.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Miho Mihov
General Miho Mihov was born on February 1, 1949 in the village of Sennik, Gabrovo region. He graduated from the aviation college in Dolna Mitropoliya with straight A, then he graduated from the Military Academy 'Georgi Rakovski'. He graduated from the Russian General Staff Academy with a golden medal. He was trained in the USA, Great Britain and Italy. In 1991 he was promoted to the rank of general. He was a division commander, after that he became Commander of the Air Forces of Bulgaria. He has flied on five types of fighters. He has more than 2,000 flight hours. He is a I class military pilot. Gen Mihov is married and has two children.
Do forget me for several months, Gen. Miho Mihov said.
- Are you afraid of the day when your tenure of the chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army will be over?
- I served to the people and this country. I didn't make money. I'm rich with the cadets, officers, sergeants and soldiers I have trained.
- Which are the positive and negative results from your work as the Bulgarian No 1 military man that you would like to mention?
- I created a team of non-opportunists during this five years. We created units of real fighting capacity. We renewed the regulation base, theory and practices for army training.
- Will you make a farewell flight?
- For sure, if, of course, it doesn't come out that I have already done this. At any rate there wouldn't be a parade. It would be fine one to land at the place where one had taken off. I think that my last landing isn't fixed yet.
- How would you estimate the nominations for your post? If they asked you, whom would you recommend?
- Nobody is nominated for this 'post'. The officers in the army are honoured by responsibilities. My mission was this, too - to train many worthy people for this post. There are such people and they have been noticed already.
- Have you been angry at politicians who have expressed ungrounded stands about what to be done in the army?
- We do make difference between politicians and statesman, don't we? I've been angry and not only I. But in Bulgaria there still aren't democratic traditions. We all are building them for more than a decade already. The political class isn't created yet. We have a new generation of statesmen. That's why I'm more than sure that future statesmen would understand us better.
New liberal imperialism is making the world safe for terrorists.
What is needed is a new kind of imperialism, one compatible with human rights and cosmopolitan values: an imperialism which aims to bring order and organisation, argues New Labour foreign-policy guru Robert Cooper in his recent pamphlet Re-ordering the World: The Long-term Implications of September 11th.
Cooper distinguishes between two kinds of new colonialism that can save the world: the voluntary imperialism of institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, which provide help for states wishing to find their way back on to the global economy, and the imperialism of neighbours, when states intervene to sort out instability in their neighbourhood.
Cooper uses the humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and the subsequent establishment there of a protectorate as a shining example of how his new colonialism can bring order and organisation. As Cooper is so keen to talk of Kosovo, let us examine a little more closely the effect his imperialism of neighbours has had on the province.
Six years ago, Kosovo was at relative peace. Albanian demands for greater independence from Belgrade were channelled through the peaceful Democratic League party of Ibrahim Rugova, while the small groups of Albanian paramilitaries that did exist were disorganised, unco-ordinated and isolated. As late as November 1997, the KLA, having been formed as the hardline wing of a previous Albanian terror group, could, it has been estimated, call on the services of only at the very most 200 men.
At this point, Robert Coopers new colonialists started to get involved. Having at first declared the KLA to be a terrorist organisation, our new colonialists, with the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the fore, started to see in this motley array of fanatics, cut-throats and hoodlums a perfect vehicle for their long-desired aim to topple the politically incorrect regime in Belgrade that they and other humanitarian liberals so detested.
Instead of being treated as pariahs, the KLA were now to be given a makeover. Gone were the terrorist epithets; the KLA were now gallant freedom fighters, bravely defending their people from the brutal fascist regime in Belgrade. The fact that, during 1998, the KLA actually executed more of their people than they did Serbs was not widely reported in the media of Coopers post-modern states. CIA money was diverted, via Geneva, to fund KLA operations, while BND, the German secret service, provided uniforms, weaponry and instructors to knock the rag-bag KLA into shape. Britain, now under the leadership of enthusiastic new colonialists, was keen to play its part, too, diverting SAS units from their hunt for the Omagh bombers to send them instead to the mountains of northern Albania to do their bit in training the young bucks of the KLA to shoot Yugoslav postmen and, indeed, anyone else wearing the uniform of the Yugoslav state.
In siding with the KLA, it mattered not a jot to our new colonialists that they were joining forces with a group largely funded by trafficking in illegal narcotics. Ironically, on the very day that KLA hardliner Hashim Thaci (having discarded his Balaclava and combat fatigues for a designer suit) was being warmly embraced by Mrs Albright for signing the Rambouillet peace treaty, Europol was submitting a report for all European interior ministers on the connection between Thacis organisation and the Albanian drug gangs that were supplying Western Europe with more than 75 per cent of its heroin.
Not only were the KLA drug-traffickers, they were also linked incontrovertibly to Osama bin Ladens al-Qaeda organisation. When claims that al-Qaeda cells were active in Kosovo in the late 1990s were made by the then Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, they were, predictably, dismissed out of hand as Serb propaganda. But one doesnt have to take Slobos word for it when there is also available the testimony of J.T. Caruso, the assistant-director of the FBIs counter-terrorism division.
In his statement to a Congressional committee on 18 December last year, Caruso confirmed that al-Qaeda had supported Islamic fighters in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Chechnya. Al-Qaeda, continued Caruso, has active cells in 20 countries, including Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chechnya and the Philippines. Furthermore, according to a Deutsche Press report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA was channelled through the former Albanian chief of national security, Bashkim Gazidede, a man notorious for having strong links to Islamic terror groups.
So there you have it. Just three years before the Manhattan bombings, Robert Coopers new colonialist forces were working alongside Afghan and Turkish instructors in KLA camps, training mercenaries from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to wage holy war on the forces of another European state. One only hopes that if these erstwhile colleagues do happen to meet up shortly in an Afghan cave, they remember that they did once work together and at least exchange greetings before firing at each other.
Not surprisingly, given the massive support that they received from all quarters, the KLA were, in 1999, able to step up their campaign to remove Yugoslav forces from Kosovo. When the inevitable security backlash came from Belgrade, the redoubtable Mrs Albright was ready to hand out the ultimata, and, after the Rambouillet stitch-up, the new colonialists got the war against Slobo that they had long desired. After a 78-day, $7-billion bombing campaign, their dream of a protectorate over Kosovo was finally realised. Three years on, what now of Kosovo?
The province, previously so diverse in its ethnic composition, has seen, under the aegis of the international community, no fewer than 200,000 Serbs and Roma driven from their homes, with hundreds more murdered or gone missing. So much for Robert Coopers call for a new imperialism compatible with human rights and cosmopolitan values. The KLA, now officially disbanded, is once more being trained by the British, this time being transformed into the caring, sharing Kosovo Protection Corps. Once again, the new colonialists have provided the uniforms.
Meanwhile, the drug-running continues. The recent arrest of three ex-KLA freedom fighters in Norway, after the discovery of the countrys largest ever heroin haul, shows that old habits die hard. It is estimated that Kosovan/Albanian gangs now control 90 per cent of the Western trade in heroin, 15 per cent up on when the international community took control of the province.
However, its not all doom and gloom. New jobs have been created in Kosovo; not for the local inhabitants, but instead for worthy citizens of the post-modern world. As Robert Cooper proudly states, The international community provides not just soldiers but police, judges, prison officers, bankers and others. For others, Cooper is obviously referring to semi-retired politicians and diplomats, such as Pascal Fieschi of France, the new head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Kosovo, and our own Sir Paddy Ashdown, who has been widely touted as the new high commissioner of the province. Sir Paddy, though, is reported to be having second thoughts about taking on the job: perhaps he believes that stemming the multi-billion-dollar drugs trade and coaxing the Serbs and Roma back to the province so that Albanian snipers can take pot-shots at them is beyond even his prodigious talents.
In short, Kosovo is in a mess. But it is a mess that is entirely the making of the new colonialists. If Cooper and his disciples are to have their way, we must prepare for many more Kosovos in the years ahead. This might be good news for the numerous politicos and flunkeys keen to end their careers with a high-commissioner posting in some far-flung corner of the globe, but decidedly bad news for the rest of us. As the example of Kosovo shows, Coopers new colonialism, far from bringing stability and order, has done exactly the opposite.
The only thing that can truly save the world, is if all the states, whether post-modern, pre-modern or however Cooper wishes to label them, go back to minding their own bloody business.
World Crimes Tribunal to Debut.
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Despite vehement U.S. opposition, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal will come into force on July 1, after receiving more than the 60 needed ratifications Thursday from U.S. allies and nations around the globe.
Hundreds of supporters of the court rose to their feet in a standing ovation after 10 nations deposited their ratifications of the Rome treaty, which establishes the International Criminal Court.
But the U.S. seat in the crowded chamber was empty. The United States boycotted the ceremony, just as it has not attended meetings preparing for the court's operations since last year.
"Those who commit war crimes, genocide or other crimes against humanity will no longer be beyond the reach of justice," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a video statement from Rome. "Humanity will be able to defend itself responding to the worst of human nature with one of the greatest human achievements: the rule of law."
Many countries and organizations have campaigned for years for the court to fill a gap first noticed in 1948, after the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials of German and Japanese war crimes during World War II. Since then, laws and treaties have outlawed genocide, poison gas and chemical weapons, among other things but no mechanism has held individuals criminally responsible.
The United States has been the only vocal opponent of the permanent court, fearing its citizens would be subject to frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions. Washington has campaigned unsuccessfully to exempt U.S. soldiers and officials from the court.
Former President Clinton signed the treaty during his administration, but the United States has refused to ratify it. Two weeks ago the Bush administration said it was considering "unsigning" the treaty to stress that it won't be bound by its provisions.
"I urge all those states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Rome Statute as a matter of priority," U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson told a meeting in Geneva on Thursday.
After the ratifications were submitted, a U.N. legal official announced the court would come into force on July 1.
The court is expected to become operational soon after the states that ratified it meet in early 2003 to select a prosecutor and judges, said Philippe Kirsch, chairman of the commission preparing for the court's operation and Canada's ambassador to Sweden.
The court will step in only when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice themselves for the most serious crimes committed by individuals: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It will have jurisdiction only over crimes committed after the treaty enters into force.
Cases can come to the court through a state that has ratified the treaty, the U.N. Security Council, or the court's prosecutor, who must get the approval of a three-judge panel.
The 1998 Rome treaty has been signed by 139 countries and supporters have pledged to keep campaigning to make it universal.
The treaty needed to be ratified by 60 nations to come into effect. Ten countries submitted their ratifications Thursday Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia putting the total number at 66. All 10 nations will go down as number 60 to spread the honor.
Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, said "signs are good" that between 90 and 100 countries will have ratified the treaty by early next year.
"The International Criminal Court is potentially the most important human rights institution created in 50 years. It will be the court where the Saddam Husseins, Pol Pots and Augusto Pinochets of the future are held to account," Dicker said, referring to Iraq's president, Cambodia's late Khmer Rouge leader, and the former Chilean dictator.
Kirsch said he believes that once the court shows it will act in "a very judicial and nonpolitical way," there will be less opposition.
"In my view, given the United States' tradition of commitment to international justice, it is a matter of time before there is some form of cooperation developing between the United States and an institution of this importance," he said.
In the past 50 years, more than 86 million civilians died in some 250 conflicts around the world, and more than 170 million people were stripped of their rights, property and dignity, according to the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, which represents some 1,000 organizations and legal experts.
"Most of these victims have been simply forgotten and few perpetrators have been brought to justice," the coalition said.
International War Crimes Tribunal Turns Into Reality.
The treaty creating the world's first permanent court to try war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide became international law Thursday when 10 nations deposited their ratifications of the 1998 Rome Protocol in a ceremony at United Nations headquarters in New York that was boycotted by the United States.
The 10 brought the total number of countries that have ratified the Protocol to 66, six more than the minimum needed for the treaty to go into force. The new International Criminal Court (ICC), as it is formally known, is expected to open for business at the Hague in the Netherlands by early next year.
"The long-held dream of a permanent international criminal court will now be realized," said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Thursday's ceremony.
"Those who commit war crimes, genocide or other crimes against humanity will no longer be beyond the reach of justice."
Despite the U.S. boycott, the achievement was also hailed by U.S. human rights groups which campaigned for the ICC. "The ICC is potentially the most important human rights institution created in 50 years," said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.
"Today the world has taken a major step in ensuring that the future Pol Pots, Joseph Stalins and Idi Amins of the world are held personally responsible for their crimes," said Michael Posner, director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR), who described the ICC as the "direct descendant of the Nuremberg Tribunals" convened by the Allies after World War Two to try leaders of Nazi Germany.
Posner, like other U.S. human rights leaders, called on President George W. Bush to review Washington's opposition to the ICC. "Hopefully, as the ICC undertakes its work, the U.S. government will come to embrace and support its historic mission," he said.
Since the treaty was completed in Rome in mid-1998, 139 countries, including the U.S., have signed it. At the time, few observers believed that it would be ratified so quickly by more than 60 nations. The effort was led in large part by members of the European Union.
Under the terms of the treaty, the Court will have authority to prosecute the most serious international crimes committed after July 1, 2002, when it takes formal effect. While its scope will be limited to crimes committed on the territory or by a citizen of a country which has ratified the treaty or when the UN Security Council gives it a specific mandate, its main purpose will be to step in when national judicial systems of ratifying states are either unwilling or unable to prosecute violators of crimes against humanity.
As one of his last acts in office, former U.S. president Bill Clinton signed the treaty but stopped short of seeking Senate ratification due to what he said were serious flaws in its terms.
The Bush administration has gone much further in its opposition, however, and is now actively considering the unprecedented step of "unsigning" the treaty despite the fact that such a step is sure to increase tensions with its NATO allies, all of whom, including Washington's closest ally, Britain, have ratified the treaty.
Administration foes--concentrated primarily among the staffs of Vice President Dick Cheney and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld--strongly oppose the treaty, fearing that it compromises U.S. sovereignty and could be used to pursue politically motivated prosecutions of U.S. troops stationed abroad.
Their allies in Congress have rallied behind a pending bill, the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), that not only bars U.S. cooperation with the Court, but also bans U.S. military aid to non-NATO countries which ratify the treaty unless they explicitly agree to shield U.S. soldiers on their territory from the reach of the ICC. ASPA also bans U.S. troops from taking part in UN peacekeeping operations unless the Security Council exempts them from possible prosecution.
Asked about the administration's position Thursday, a State Department spokesperson reiterated Washington's concerns about the ICC, noting that "a full range of policy options is under discussion, but no final decisions have been made" regarding the administration's intentions.
ICC supporters, however, believe the administration's concerns are exaggerated because U.S. negotiators built strong protections into the treaty against precisely the kind of abuses it now says it fears.
"Unsigning" the treaty, according to the chief negotiator, Ambassador David Scheffer, would be "bizarre and dangerous," if only because other governments may take advantage of such a precedent to withdraw from other key UN treaties, such as arms-control agreements critical to the administration's "war on terrorism".
In a letter to Bush last week, LCHR's Posner argued that nullification would also "undermine U.S. moral authority and destabilize international relations while having no practical effect on the establishment of the ICC."
LCHR also released a survey taken by the Roper polling organization which found that some 54 percent of U.S. respondents believe Washington should support the ICC.
The Bush administration, however, is not alone in opposing the treaty. India and China have declined to sign it, as have several states on the administration's "terrorism" list, including Iraq, North Korea, Libya, and Cuba.
The 10 countries which deposited their ratifications Thursday included Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania, and Slovakia.