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President Georgy Parvanov opened the Week of the Forest and the national campaign for afforestation, planting an oak tree into the garden behind the National Palace of Culture. Photo Stoyan Nenov


RETRANSMISSION TO CLARIFY TOWER AT LEFT IS ONE OF THE TOWERS IN THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY COMPLEX--Smoke billows over the West Bank town of Bethlehem and one of the towers of the Church of the Nativity, left, Tuesday, April 2, 2002. Scores of Palestinian gunmen are hiding inside one of Christianity's holiest shrines, Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, seeking refuge from Israeli troops that invaded the city as part of an offensive aimed at crushing Palestinian militias in the West Bank. (AP Photo/Albert Facelly) MAGAZINES OUT

Ethnically mixed police patrols, around 11h Tuesday morning, entered in the village of Slupcane - the last large village in Lipkovo crisis region, known as one of the main strongholds of the Albanian terrorists during the last year's armed conflicts in the region.
The police patrols, accompanied by OSCE and NATO monitoring missions, Coordinate Crises Management Body and the local self - government, carried out the patrolling activities through the main street of the village of Slupcane, after which continued with their first three - hour patrolling.
Slupcane is the 14th Lipkovo village under control of the Macedonian police, while five - six villages, mainly small villages in the mountain bordering area with FR Yugoslavia not affected with war conflicts, remained out of control.
The representative of OSCE, Dan Predate, informed that the redeployment of the police forces in Slupcane and its acceptance by the local Albanian residents proves their willingness for peaceful co - existence. This, according to Predate, also proves that that OSCE spillover monitor mission to Macedonia along with the international community, completely support those who desire piece and implementation of the Framework Agreement, and that they are not going to tolerate the use of violence for political causes.
After a three-day brake, ethnically mixed police teams will resume their tasks Tuesday in the villages of Vaksince and Lojane in the Lipkovo crisis region.
These activities are agreed at a meeting of representatives of the Macedonian police, the Crisis Management Body and the international monitoring missions, held in Kumanovo on Monday.
Starting from Tuesday, teams of International Trust Foundation (ITF) will start the demining activities in the area of Matejce village, in order to create conditions for sooner return of the displaced persons to their homes.
Crisis Management Center, in collaboration with the Ministries of Interior and Defence, determined that the residential and auxiliary facilities, roads and agricultural properties will be priorities of their demining activities.
According to the report of the Media Activity Center at the governmental Coordinate Crises Management Body, Macedonian citizens will undergo training for to be able to join the demining project later on.
The public order and peace in Tetovo was violated with 40 sporadic and riffle shots Monday night, while in Kumanovo region over 10 shots were registered.
It is calm in Tetovo and its area Tuesday morning, compared to Monday night, when public order and peace was violated on several occasions.
As MIA's correspondent reported, series of shots were heard in Tetovo around 04:55h, which according to the report of the Interior department, came from the settlements in the southeastern part of the town.
Riffle and sporadic shots were registered also from the direction of Tetovo downtown, residential block of Lovec, villages of Trebos, Palatica, Ozormiste, Prsovce, Dobroste, Lisec and Gajre.
The shootouts had indefinite targets; the Macedonian security forces did not respond to the armed provocations.
No armed provocations were registered overnight in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region.
As MIA's correspondent reported, last shots of infantry weaponry were evidenced Monday afternoon, when around 50 shots were heard coming from the villages of Matejce, Opae and Grusino. The shots were directed towards indefinite targets.
Monday night around 23h, a group of ten uniformed persons moving towards the village was spotted northwest of the village of Vaksince. According to the agreement, the ethnically mixed police patrols are scheduled to start Tuesday the patrolling activities in the village of Slupcane. Macedonian police forces are expected to resume their patrolling in the villages of Loyane and Vaksince throughout the day, since it was temporally halted due to the road blockades by the locals, asking for the arrested Hasim Nuhiu from the village of Vaksince to be released.
Two detonations were heard consequently Tuesday night around 20h in Skopje village of Radusa.
As the Media Activity Center within the governmental Coordinate Crises Management Body informed Wednesday, that there are still no information regarding the causes or the eventual consequences of the detonations.
A total of 70 sporadic shots and 10 volleys of fire were registered overnight in Tetovo crisis region, while in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region, four sporadic shots and four volleys of fire were evidenced.
It is relatively calm in Tetovo and its area Wednesday morning, with no shootouts evidenced in the past several hours, MIA's corespondent reports.
Shots were heard coming from different directions overnight, from various town's districts, as well as from certain villages under Shar Mountain.
According to Tetovo Police Department in, some shots were registered coming from the villages of Gajre, Rasadiste locality, Dobroste, Odri, Lisec, Selce, Prsovce as well as from Mala Recica over the night till early Wednesday morning.
The shootouts in the town came mostly from the University of South Eastern Europe, settlement of Gorna Carsija and the central city area.
Shootouts with lower intensity were registered in Kumanovo - Lipkovo region Tuesday afternoon and overnight.
Five shots were heard coming from the villages of Vaksince, Matejce and the Bukurica locality, but they had no determined targets.
The police teams accompanied by OSCE representatives began their patrols Tuesday in Kumanovo villages of Slupcane and Tetovo villages of Sipkovica, Gajre, Rasadiste, Lisec, Brodec, Vesala and Bozovce, Media Activity Center within the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body announced.
According to the Center, the Plan for peaceful integration of entire Macedonia's territory will be completed soon.
The multiethnic police forces should enter soon in Alasevce, Strima, Gosince, Rankovce, Presnica, Dumanovce, Lukare, Beljanovce, Runica, Izvor, Gorno Zlokucane and Straka in Kumanovo area, Tanusevci, Malino and Bres in Skopje area as well as in Poroj, Dzepciste, Germo, Vejce, Semsevo, Ozormiste, Palatica, Trebos and Gugurnica villages in Tetovo area.
Three ethnically mixed police teams patrolled with no problems along the Tetovo-Popova Sapka road.
According to the Tetovo Police Department, OSCE reported that several ethnic Albanians still oppose to the police patrolling in the village of Vejce.
Starting from Tuesday, teams of International Trust Foundation (ITF) will start the demining activities in the area of Matejce village, in order to create conditions for sooner return of the displaced persons to their homes.
Crisis Management Center, in collaboration with the Ministries of Interior and Defence, determined that the residential and auxiliary facilities, roads and agricultural properties will be priorities of their demining activities.
According to the report of the Media Activity Center at the governmental Coordinate Crises Management Body, Macedonian citizens will undergo training for to be able to join the demining project later on.
Macedonian Police Seize Rebel Areas.
SKOPJE, Macedonia - Ethnically mixed police patrols have entered two former rebel strongholds in tense northern and northwestern regions, regaining control of more territory held for months by ethnic Albanian insurgents, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Under the watchful eye of international observers, lightly armed police units made up of Macedonians and ethnic Albanian officers entered the former rebel stronghold Slupcane in Kumanovo area, some 20 miles north of the capital Skopje, government spokesman Zoran Tanevski said.
Mixed patrols also entered the key rebel village of Sipkovica just outside northwestern Tetovo. There were no incidents, Tanevski said.
"We are about to complete the peaceful reintegration of crisis regions ... and now de-mining teams are expected to clear the areas and to create conditions for the return of displaced persons," Tanevski said.
The move to re-establish government control is based on a peace plan signed last August that ended an ethnic Albanian insurgency.
As part of the plan, ethnic Albanian rebels surrendered some 4,000 weapons to NATO in exchange for more rights and an amnesty law provided for by the peace plan.
Ethnic Albanians, who account for nearly a third of Macedonia's 2 million population, are mostly concentrated in the north and northwest of this tiny Balkan country. Dozens were killed in the insurgency that broke out last February and tens of thousands fled.
According to Tanevski, the government has restored its authority in 74 of 100 villages that were under rebel control.
Also Tuesday, Macedonian police announced that forensic experts had identified one of seven suspected terrorists gunned down by police last month as Ahmet Ikaz, 24, from Pakistan.
"Ikaz is a known criminal, and his identity was confirmed by Interpol," a statement said, adding the remaining six bodies had not been identified.
The seven were shot as they allegedly tried to ambush a police patrol near Skopje. Macedonian authorities claimed they were Pakistani citizens who had planned attacks on the U.S., British and German embassies in Macedonia.
Macedonian assembly chairman Stojan Andov, at the recess of the 100th assembly session announced that the forthcoming parliamentary elections should take place on September 22 of this year.
According to Andov, September 22 provides an opportunity for organizing of longer and successful campaign for the political parties, better preparation of the elections and appropriate participation of the international monitors who would come to Macedonia to monitor the elections.
He said that the elections in Macedonia would take one day after the elections in Kosovo, which will disable certain citizens to vote both in Kosovo and in Macedonia.
According to Andov, most important is the package of election laws to be adopted, i.e. the drafts for election of parliamentarians, the draft for election list, for territorial division of Macedonia and for determining of the boundaries of the municipalities. Then he will pass the decision for scheduling the parliamentary elections.
Albanian Flags Do Not Contribute To Confidence Building.
Reality Macedonia
By Irina Gelevska
Skopje April 2 -The International Community is pleased with the progress made in the process of returning of the ethnic mixed police patrols in the villages in Tetovo and Kumanovo regions.
According to the Spokespersons of NATO, OSCE and EU, Craig Ratcliff, Florin Pasniku and Irena Gjuzelova, the priorities now should be the reconstruction of damaged houses and the return of displaced persons back to their homes.
The reservists who served in the Macedonian Police or the Army will face problems during their return because of potential security risks by the ethnic Albanian villagers.
"Our regular patrols keep contact with the local population and will pay close attention to these security risks," said the NATO Spokesman, Craig Ratcliff.
"The Albanian flags waving in the villages do not contribute to the return of confidence," said the OSCE Spokesman adding that the observers from this organization have told that to the local authorities in the villages.
Asked whether the International Community will take some steps to prevent further damage to the monasteries and churches in the crisis regions, such as the Matejche Monastery, the OSCE Spokesman replied: "There are still acts of vandalism in some villages. We told the local villagers in Matejche to organize some kind of watch patrol at the Monastery there. We hope that the return of the police will contribute to its protection."
Holland is serious about taking over the lead role in the mission "Amber Fox" in Macedonia. At his last visit, the German Minister of Defense, Rudolf Scharping, said that decision will be considered in the middle of April.



The first bilateral meeting between the delegations of Macedonian and Greek Health Ministries took place Monday and Tuesday in Skopje.
The meeting was focused on exchange of staff, training and education, sharing experiences regarding the Public Health School, cooperation in the field of pharmacy, technology transfer, protection from infectious diseases, transboundary examination of passengers, hematology, food control systems and health ecology.
Macedonia expects assistance and support regarding these issues, while Greece hopes that it would receive support from Macedonia while Greek chairs the European Union in 2003 and the Olympic Games in 2004.
"Very good climate has been created. We are sure that this would be a beginning of very fruitful cooperation between the two ministries. This is a proof of Macedonian Government's efforts to integrate within EU and be assured that you will have our support," Greek deputy minister of health and welfare Hector Hazjokas said.
State advisor within the Health Ministry Andon Cebisev assessed the talks as successful and fruitful for both countries.
"We have accomplished consensus on all issues. We discussed many topics interesting for the Macedonian part and we received support from the Greek part. We expect assistance and cooperation in coordinating the Macedonian legislation with the one of EU, as Greek is its member-country," he said.
The training of the Macedonian staff in the Public Health School in Athens is agreed as well as the cooperation between Macedonian Bureau for medicines and Greek Organization for medicines and sharing of the experiences in the field of molecular biology and histocompatibility.
In the field of Protection from infectious diseases, they agreed to cooperate in following the situation of HIV/AIDS, as well as Macedonian experts to visit Greece in order to learn more about the network for observing, laboratory control and appropriate treatment of the diseased persons.
Macedonia also expects expert's support from Greece for developing the national strategy on tackling the bioterrorism and providing additional capacities in this field.
It was also agreed to enhance the cooperation in the field of hematology and blood transfusion that dates back since 1995.
Regarding the food control systems, the Greek delegation stressed that it was necessary to increase the vigilance and cooperation during the forthcoming Olympic Games in Greece in 2004, and therefore they requested assistance from the Macedonian part.
The Greek Liaison Office to Macedonia announced that the Greek delegation has offered cooperation to Macedonia in the field of health education, blood transfusion, transplantation of human organs, food control and health ecology.

Simeon Sent off to Madrid, NMS MPs Panic-Stricken.

We saw him fly off on board a helicopter from the roof of the Council of Ministers, listeners maintain.
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha stepped down from his post of the PM and left for Madrid this morning, Darik radio broke the news and caused panic among the NMS MPs. Nobody, however, dared to call the Council of Ministers for fear of incurring the premier's anger. The King's deputies decided to wait until the sitting scheduled for 5.00 p.m., which Simeon was expected to attend. Only after Simeon's statement that he would become the leader of the NMS party, the passions calmed down. The initiators of the joke from Darik radio said their telephones were almost blocked by enthusiastic listeners. Some of the people "informed" the radio employees that the premier left for Madrid from the Bozhurishte airport, others - that he left on board a helicopter from the roof of the Council of Ministers office building.

Pavlina Zhivkova
Velislava Krasteva
Simeon to Head His Party.

'I accepted to become the leader in order to meet the expectations of the majority. Besides, many statements backing the idea were made in the recent two months,' Simeon said after the sitting. To him, thus the intrigues against the NMS will be avoided. The Premier nominated Plamen Panayotov as the vice-leader before the NMS MPs and ministers who attended the sitting. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha asked Panayotov to take over his duties immediately. Ministers and MPs considered the draft documents of the future party till late at night yesterday. They decided the congress to be the supreme forum of the party and adopted the terms of admitting or expelling party members. They were flat that double membership would not be admitted.

Pavlina Zhivkova
Velislava Krasteva
Sofia, April 2 (BTA) - The Association of Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia staged a presentation for the media in Sofia on Tuesday. The Association's Chairman Lyuben Metodievski arrived here at the invitation of Plamen Pavlov, who until recently was President of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.
The Association approached the Agency after its presentation at the Bulgarian Embassy in Skopje. It is the first officially registered organization of Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia.
The Association has no political interests. It seeks protection of Macedonia's citizens of Bulgarian descent. The organization's objectives include strengthening of Bulgarian-Macedonian cultural and educational contacts and promotion of Bulgarian letters.
According to Pavlov, the establishment of the Association is not intended to find out whether the Macedonians are Bulgarians or not, but highlights the fact that there are people in Macedonia who identify themselves as Bulgarians.
"No statistics are available on the number of Bulgarians living in Macedonia, our purpose is to cast light on their number. If their number is declared, the authorities could be asked for Bulgarian-language airtime on radio and television and for an opportunity for young people to study the language," said the Association's Spokesman Vladimir Perev.
The Association of Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia was registered by the Skopje City Court on March 14, 2002. Part of its founding members are former members of the RADKO Citizen Association, whose registration was revoked by a judgment of Macedonia's Constitutional Court.
Sofia, April 2 (BTA) - Bulgaria has signed an agreement with the Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science but neither of its clauses refers to writing a common schoolbook, Bulgarian Education Minister Vladimir Atanassov told BTA Tuesday.
Atanassov was approached for comment on a report in Skopje's "Dnevnik" paper, which claims that "while Macedonian Education and Science Minister Nenad Novkovski is insisting on a schoolbook on the Macedonians' common history, Sofia is excited and Tirana is silent". According to the paper, "it never crossed the Bulgarians' mind that their children could study from a common textbook on Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania."
"Dnevnik" writes that Macedonian Minister Novkovski was the first to announce that such a textbook will be written, specifying that it will be introduced experimentally in schools as of September.
"It is a very good thing to have common textbooks - if such textbooks existed, now we would know what we are talking about, how we are talking and we would be looking in the same direction," said Atanassov.
Despite Wish to Join NATO, Bulgarians Are Sceptical about Invitation in November, Survey Shows.
Sofia, April 2 (BTA) - The public attitude to EU and NATO membership is mostly favourable, the National Public Opinion Centre said, summing up the findings of a national sociological survey, conducted among 1,240 people on March 20-25.
The survey found that the stated wish to join NATO increased by 10 per cent in 18 months, while the favourable attitude to EU membership, which is traditionally high, was shared by 80 per cent of respondents.
NATO membership is approved by 62.9 per cent of respondents, while 21.9 per cent are against it. The proportion of respondents for or against EU membership are 79.5 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively.
To avoid disappointment, 39.5 per cent of respondents remain sceptical about Sofia's prospects of getting invited to join NATO in Prague in November.
Young, educated, and well-off people predominate among the optimists, who are 31.8 per cent.
Approval of NATO membership and optimism about an invitation in Prague are interrelated: optimism is widespread among those in favour of joining NATO.

Interior Ministry Hosts Working Meeting on Counterterrorism.
Sofia, April 2 (BTA) - The leadership of the Interior Ministry held a working meeting on counterterrorism matters Tuesday, the Ministry said in a press release.
The meeting was chaired by Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov and was attended by Major General Dimo Gyaourov, Director of the National Intelligence Service, and Major General Dimiter Vladimirov, Director of the National Bodyguard Service, according to the press release.
"This was a routine seminar on matters concerning the coordination of Interior Ministry services," Major General Gyaourov told BTA after the end of the meeting.
Asked whether the participants discussed the security arrangements for the visit which Pope John Paul II is scheduled to pay to Bulgaria in May and whether measures to detect former Al Qaeda members among immigrants from Afghanistan were considered, the National Intelligence Service chief said that these matters did not figure on the agenda of the meeting.
MP Pays Congress Bills.
Matey Bonev

Vladimir Tserovski will pay the rent for hall No 3 in the National Palace of Culture this time, where the constituent assembly of the National Movement for Simeon II, (NMS) is to take place on April 6, Assoc Prof. Shterev - head of the parliamentary health committee, said yesterday in Stara Zagora. At the time Prof. Shterev paid with his own money for the hall's rent and the champagne. Both my and Tserovski's money are to be reimbursed, when the NMS coalition will be allotted the subsidy by the state, Shterev elaborated. The NMS structuring as a political party should improve its work and make it more efficient.
President Sang 'You Are Splendid, My Forest'
Elena Yaneva

President sang and the PM cried while listening to the song 'You are Splendid, My Forest' during the inauguration of the Week of the Forest in hall No 8 of the NPC yesterday. The anthem of the Bulgarian emigrants moved PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and he didn't conceal his tears. Together with the head of the state Minister of Agriculture Mehmed Dikme sang the song from beginning to end. Later Parvanov and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha opened of the national campaign for afforestation and planted an oak tree. 'Obviously it is not the first tree planted in their lifetime', foresters commented.

Better Paid, Better Working.
Gen. Vassil Vassilev, Director of the National Police Service
Achievements in combatting criminality are due to the higher activity of the police and the mobilization of the policemen. The new style in the work of Interior Ministry and Chief Secretary Gen. Boyko Borissov are of importance, too. We adopted a course of purging the corrupt and the people, who soil the reputation of the IM. I'm convinced that policemen will work even better, if their salaries are higher. I ordered an action 'Neat and Tidy Policemen', because our employees should be perfect. Nobody trusts baggy police officers.

Toxic Water to Run Down the Taps in Summer.

Sofia residents will drink a cocktail of iron and manganese, experts say.
Yuliana Uzanicheva

Toxic water could run down the taps in Sofia in 6 months, chief of the National Committee for Water Supply Improvement (NCWSI) Gancho Hitrov said yesterday. To him the level of the 'Iskar' dam will fall under the sanitary minimum of 200 mill. sq. m. This means that there'll be a danger of precipitation of iron, manganese and toxic organic substances in drinking water, NCWSI warned. With this consumption rates and the expected drought the sanitary minimum will be reached in half an year sharp, the NCWSI calculated. To the experts at the moment the poor quality of the water in some regions of Sofia is due to the carelessly made repairs of the water supply system.

Central Heating Prices to Up.

Radiator taxes to be paid in summer, too.
Victoria Seraphimova Annual bills for central heating will be higher, it transpired from the enforced enactment specifying the limit prices of thermal energy for household needs. Instead of 40.051 levs per megaWatthour of thermal energy, the bills will be calculated on the bases of a new tariff. It includes a permanent monthly capacity fee to cost 0.045 levs per cub.m. Monthly heating bills are to be calculated on the base of 34.05 levs per mWh. Taxes for radiators will be paid in the non-heating season (from May to October) as well. Actually, the annual costs increase. So far, some 2 megaWatthour heating energy were used by a 60 sq. m. flat, so the annual costs amounted to about 480 levs. Now, it will be some 448 levs. Furthermore, a tax of 39.6 levs in the non-heating season should be added to the abovementioned sum. Thus, the total annual bill boosts to 487 levs. The margins are more drastic for large apartments, since the permanent taxes are higher.
Insurances for Travelling Abroad to Up.

The 'Green Card' insurance which all drivers travelling abroad are obliged to have, will up by some 5 euros, or 10 levs, said participants in the promotion of the National Bureau of Car Insurers, which started working yesterday. Ten insurance companies are members of the bureau. These are: Bulstrad, Bul Ins, Alianz - Bulgaria, DZI (State Insurance Institute), Orel, Vitosha, Hanover Coop, Bulgaski Imoti (Bulgarian Estates), Euro Ins, and Jupiter. So far, Bulstrad was the only insurer offering that kind of insurance ever since 1971. Atanas Tabov - head of Alianz Bulgaria, chaired the new bureau. The firs 26,000 new 'Green Cards' are already released.

Simeon Turned Bulgarians into Citizens.

In a year only, predominantly political changes took place.
Tatiana Burudjieva

A year elapsed from the first address of Mr Saxe-Coburg to the Bulgarians. The change he talked about, took place predominantly in the political sphere. The problem both of the electorate and of Simeon is in that we have the unifier but we are in want of a unifying cause. For "moral" and "Bulgaria" are quite abstract and their perceiving in the daily grind is contradictory. So, the first decisive change after Simeon Saxe-Coburg showed up, was in turning the attention of the Bulgarians toward the unifying cause, rather than toward any partisan, or ideological or imaginary moral cause but toward the rational cause of interest, and of the country's interest at that. The second change affected the political parties. In 2001 the genuine transition to democracy took place - the electorate acted like citizens who were not under the sway of ideologemmas or propaganda, but thought like tax-payers. The results surfaced now, 10 months later, when it transpired that the UDF ranked third as a political force. Simeon's presence played a catalytic role in the processes of changes that took place within the BSP as well. The Socialist Party showed its ability to act in the environments of a market democracy for a first time. The changes are most conspicuous in the conduct of the electorate. If anyone is adequate in Bulgaria, it is the Bulgarian electorate. Now, a year later, in the aftermath of the total shift in the political space, the change is in that politicians are forced to vie for the recognition of their voters.

Fake Taxi-Cabs Hid.

The legal taxi cabs hardly succeed to drive all the willing clients and doubled the turnover.
Valentin Stoev

On Monday the queues of yellow cabs disappeared. Otherwise yellow groups of taxis hurried in the two directions on all big boulevards. Because all the fake taxi cabs had hidden and the legal - already with a hologram sticker on their front window, hardly succeed to serve all the willing clients. It turns out that, like in many other branches, there's a division of the territories among the taxi-drivers, too. For instance, the small square in front of the 'Pliska' hotel is a zone of the regulated taxi-cabs. At the south side of the building the 'fake' cabs are waiting. The illegal taxi cabs took the place where bigger profits are gained, because there the busses from the country stop and logically there are more clients.

Foreign Minister Passy Confers with China State Council Vice Premier Qian.
Beijing, April 2 (BTA) - On Tuesday, the second day of his official visit to China, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy conferred with the Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Qian Qichen, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Information Directorate said.
Qian assessed Monday's talks between the Bulgarian and the Chinese foreign ministers as particularly successful, stressing that regardless of the fundamental changes that have occurred in both countries in recent years, the friendly relations have been preserved and continue to be promoted.
China has always respected the Bulgarian people's choice, both in terms of domestic policy and in terms of the country's foreign policy orientation, which is why the Chinese Government is fully understanding and supportive of Bulgaria's desire to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic structures, Qian noted.
The situation in the Balkans and Bulgaria's Balkan policy was discussed at the meeting. Qian expressed satisfaction with the positive tendencies which have been manifesting themselves recently in Southeastern Europe and commended highly Bulgaria's contribution to the efforts towards achievement of lasting stabilization.
Passy assured the Vice Premier that Bulgaria will continue to play the role of a stabilizing factor in the Balkans. The chief Bulgarian diplomat noted that at this point, in the context of the need to build a modern infrastructure in the region, China could play a new, very important role.
The prospects opening to the two countries for promotion of their trade and economic relations were also discussed at the meeting, in the light of the forthcoming visits by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nikolay Vassilev to China in late April and by the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan to Bulgaria.
Later in the day, Passy left for Shanghai. Before his departure, at Beijing Airport he conferred briefly with EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, with whom he shared impressions of his visit to China. The two agreed in principle to meet at the earliest opportunity in Brussels or Sofia, the Foreign Ministry said in its press release.
On Tuesday, Passy also conferred with the leader of the Jewish Community in Beijing Shimon Freundlich.
Rousse (on the Danube), April 2 (BTA) - The wholly or partly Bulgarian-owned companies registered in Romania are 346, as against only 24 wholly or partly Romanian-owned companies in Bulgaria, BTA learned from Gheorghe Domuta, Minister Plenipotentiary for Economic and Trade Affairs at the Romanian Embassy in Sofia.
In 2002, Romanian statistics registered a surplus for Bulgaria in two-way trade for the first time since 1998. This is due to the export of Bulgarian agricultural products such as wheat, maize and barley via the Danube. Last year the drought destroyed the crops in Romania, Domuta said.
Bulgaria ranks 17th among Romania's foreign trade partners. It accounts for 1.37 per cent of Romanian trade, which is extremely unsatisfactory, the Romanian trade representative said. Mineral products account for 54 per cent of Romanian exports to Bulgaria and 32 per cent of Bulgarian exports. Further down the table are metals, chemicals and machinery.

Stoian Ganev Will Come Back.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Elka Anastassova


He established the NMS though his ideas have not been carried out as yet, independent MP Elka Anastassova maintains.

Velislava Krasteva

- Mrs Anastassova, do you feel as a part of the ruling after you were forced to walk out of the NMS PG?

- In any case, I am a part of the ruling. I'm going to do my best to urge the power-vested to keep their promises.

- Do you feel used?

- I would not let anyone use me. Furthermore, I would not let my electorate be used.

- Will there be a NMS party?

- The prime-minister is fond of springing surprises. It is always possible that he would come out with a surprise. Though may be this time the party is to be set up.

- You are close to Stoian Ganev. Do you still keep in touch?

- His ousting from the post of the director of the PM's office could not be a reason for us not to talk with each other. Yes, it's him who established the NMS. The major ideas belonged to him to a great extent: the forming of the movement, its philosophy and targets. I thought they were of the same camp with the prime-minister.

- Dr Tchirkov said that Stoian Ganev would come back.

- I'd be glad and I'm sure that he has his place in Bulgaria's politics, for the idea, he along with other cherished, has not be carried out as yet.

Russia to cut numbers of Balkan peacekeepers.
MOSCOW: Russia plans to withdraw two-thirds of its troops deployed in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo by July and pull out over half of its peacekeepers in Bosnia by June, the defence ministry said Tuesday.
The 2,000-strong contingent participating in Nato's Kosovo peacekeeping force KFOR will be reduced to 700, and the number of its vehicles, including armoured vehicles, cut from 400 to 250, the ministry said, as quoted by the Interfax news agency.
Around 200 men and 300 tonnes of equipment have already been flown back to Russia between March 6 and April 1, officials said.
Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said in February that the Russian presence in Kosovo was to be reduced since it now served little purpose.
The Russian contingent in Nato's Stabilisation Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina SFOR, already reduced last year from 1,300 to 600 men, is to be slashed to 270 by June, Interfax said, quoting military sources.
The area of northeastern Bosnia placed under the contingent's supervision will be reduced, the sources said.

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