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Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy meets Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres who is here on a two-day official visit. PressPhoto BTA Photo: Vladimir Shokov
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, left, and his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Pasi shake hands prior to their talks Monday, June 17, 2002, in Sofia. Peres arrived for a two-day visit to Bulgaria. (AP Photo/Dimitar Deinov)
The folk choral group of old ladies from the village of Busmantsi was singing the whole day yesterday in front of the entrance to Vrana residence awaiting Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The women wanted to wish happy birthday to the Premier personally. The group was led by former marine captain Georgi Ivanov. Photo Stoyan Nenov
Dnevnik: Xhaferi And 'Commander' Leka Wish To Federalize Macedonia?
Dnevnik - Reality Macedonia
By Aleksandar Damovski
Translated by Aleksandra Ilievska
Will "commander" Leka start shooting again? On this photo, he attends a commemoration to NLA achievments.
Intelligence sources say Ahmeti turned his back to commander Leka who insisted on calling a referendum in liberated territories on joining Kosovo.
In Arben Xhaferis statement about an in-depth transformation of Macedonia and radicalization of the DPA as against the alleged moderate stance of Ali Ahmetis party, one can discern the project for federalization of Macedonia, intelligence sources and sources in ethic Albanian parties contend. In their opinion, Xhaferis chief associate in the implementation of this project will be Daut Rexhepi, alias commander Leka.
Once Daut Rexhepi broke off cooperation with his former fellow fighter Ali Ahmeti, Xhaferis party opened wide the doors of his party to former NLA commanders in order to keep up with the new developments. The discord between the former fellow fighters broke out when Ahmeti refused to allot Rexhepi a more serious role in the now dismantled Coordination Council because Leka wanted the Coordination Council to call a referendum in the liberated territories on joining Kosovo. Ahmeti dismissed the idea, so Leka has recently become a member of the DPA. This is also related to the recent decision of the so-called KLA Directorate in Prishtina for acceleration of the process for independent Kosovo. Kosovos president Ibrahim Rugova is supposed take charge of the process by calling a referendum for independence following the local elections in the [occupied Serbian] province.
The armed attacks on Macedonian border guards at the Strazha watchtower a few days ago demonstrated that former NLA commanders still operate in the territory of Macedonia. Intelligence sources confirmed that the assailants were, in fact, members of the NLA units that transformed themselves into the so-called Albanian Protection Corps [replicating the pattern of KLA transforming itself into KPC], which is still under Leka s command.
The prime responsibility of this corps is monitoring the Ohrid agreement implementation, protection of the so-called liberated territories from possible incursions by Macedonian police, exerting pressure for including NLA commanders in government security structures and guarding [sic!] Macedonia-Kosovo border.
The notorious commander of the NLA brigade 112,* commander Leka, plays the main role in the corps. Recently, he has also become president of the DPAs branch in Tetovo. The two mujahideen groups in Lekas 112 brigade are still believed to be hiding in Macedonian territory, in some of Tetovos suburbs and in a village near Kumanovo. The mujahideens are headed by Al Said Hamdi and Abdula Musa, both of them veterans from the Bosnian war. Today they have counterfeit IDs of the Republic of Macedonia hiding behind the identities of killed NLA fighters.
* Dont let the high number fool you, NLA has two brigades: 112 in Tetovo region, and 113 in Kumanovo region.
SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
Frequent shootings have been heard in Tetovo overnight, MIA's corresponded reports.
Police sources say that they were coming from the settlements Gorna Carsija, Kupenik, Sipad, Ciglana, Drenovec 2, the city center, larger residential buildings, the locality Teke and the Juvenile Correction Institution.
Fire was also opened from the villages Lisec, Gajre Sipkovicko Teke, Poroj, Mala Recica, Germo, Neprosteno, Glogi, Trebos and Strmnica.
It was peaceful in the Kumanovo-Lipkovo region overnight. Ethnically mixed police teams carry out their tasks without any difficulties.
SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
In Kumanovo - Lipkovo crisis region, the public peace and order have been interrupted by gunfire Monday night, in several occasions.
Occasional shootings and automatic gunfire occured in the area of the villages of Slupcane, Matejce, Opae, and in Bukovica locality, reported MIA's correspondent.
Starting Tuesday, the mixed police teams will stop patrolling in the villages of Strima, Duma, Lukare and Gosince, because conditions for normal police activity for 24 hours is acheived.
So far in Lipkovo crisis region Macedonian Police is back in all villages except for the small mountain village of Gorno Zlokukane.
Gunfire has been heard Monday night in Tetovo crisis Region from the town area and the surrounding villages, MIA's correspondent reported.
According to police and army sources, automatic fire and occasional shootings have been registered in the settlements Drenovec-2, Ciglana, and Vonvardarska, as well as from the larger apartment blocks, the localities Strmovo and Rasadiste.
Gunfire occurred from from the villages of Lisec, Gajre, Mala Recica, Otusiste, Neprosteno, Trebos and Dobroste, but has not been directed at specific targets.
In last 24 hours movement of armed groups of people dressed in black uniforms have been noticed in the neighborhood of Selce, Lavce, locality Strmovo, above city stadiums and Germo village.
EU ministers reject calls to revise Kosovo-Macedonia border.
LUXEMBOURG - European Union foreign ministers stressed their full support Monday for an agreement on the border between Macedonia and Kosovo which had been challenged by Kosovo Albanian lawmakers.
The EU ministers backed a decision by the United Nations to overturn last month's resolution by the Kosovo assembly that questioned the validity of the border with Macedonia.
Kosovo Albanian lawmakers said a deal last year between Yugoslav authorities and Macedonia gives 2,500 hectares (6,100 acres) of Kosovo land to Macedonia.
Instead of questioning the border, EU ministers said Kosovo's lawmakers should "concentrate their efforts on strengthening the rule of law and improving the economic situation."
The EU is concerned a border dispute could increase tension in a region that remains volatile despite the August peace agreement that ended last year's uprising by ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia.
"That issue increases the fragility of the situation," Alain Le Roy, the EU's special envoy to Macedonia told reporters.
THE WORLD BANK IS SATISFIED WITH RECONSTRUCTION OF ENTERPRISES IN MACEDONIA.
Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski had a meeting Monday with World Bank Director for Southeastern Europe Christian Portman, focused on the new bank's program for Macedonia.
The officials also discussed on releasing of the second instalment of the FESAL-arrangement.
"I cannot tell you the exact date. However, it is not important whether the instalment will be released today or tomorrow, but that the program for reconstruction of enterprises is making progress," Portman said.
Answering to journalist's question, he said that the public administration reform was not addressed at this meeting. The talks referred to the next year World Bank program for Macedonia, Portman said.
The Finance Ministry said in a press release that Portman expressed great satisfaction with the realization of the project FESAL-2 for financial restructuring of enterprises, whose goal is to launch many reforms in banking system, payment turnover, legal framework for introduction of direct foreign investments and resolving of the status of the largest loss-making companies through privatization.
He also expressed satisfaction from the progress achieved by the Macedonian Government in regard to the reforms in the public administration, for which the World Bank approved US $15 million.
The emphasis was put on the Poverty Reduction Strategy, developed by a Macedonian expert's team in cooperation with a World Bank team. The final text of this strategy will be soon published.
Regarding the World Bank program for financing projects that are in the interest of the Republic of Macedonia, Gruevski and Portman reviewed a list of possible projects that could be financed by the World Bank.
The World Bank is also developing a new one-year program for support to the transition, in which framework Macedonia will receive assistance of $50 million for various projects.
INFORMAL MEETING ON SUCCESSION OF FORMER YUGOSLAVIA PROPERTY.
The Committee for succession of the former Yugoslavia's property held Monday its first informal meeting in Skopje.
Vice-Premier Zoran Krstevski, chief of the Macedonian negotiating team, said the meeting was informal because all successor countries did not ratify the Succession Agreement, signed last year.
"This Committee is entitled to convene informal meetings and discuss on any problems that other committees have been facing, " Krstevski said, expressing satisfaction that Macedonia, as the first country that ratified the agreement, hosted this meeting.
Today's discussion was focused on the ratification process in other successor-countries, results of the separate committees' work and plan for the future activities.
Next meetings would be organized in accordance with the need and the Succession Agreement, Krstevski said.
WEU PARLIAMENT DELEGATION VISITS MACEDONIA.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski received Monday a delegation of the Western European Union Parliament, led by Klaus Buller, chairman of the temporary European assembly for security and defense.
The officials discussed on the political process in Macedonia, implementing of the Framework Agreement and preparing of the parliamentary elections, the President's Cabinet said in a press release.
Trajkovski underlined the country's need for economic development and foreign investments. Referring to the security situation in Macedonia, Trajkovski said that redeploying of police in the crisis-affected area was almost completed. The process for restoring of the rule of law in the whole country was also accelerated, he added.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, at a meeting with the WEU delegation, expressed readiness for deploying of large number of monitors who will monitor the elections on every polling stations, stressing that the only open issue is that the entire Macedonian territory has not been reintegrated yet and that not all IDPs have returned to their homes.
In the debate on the Framework Agreement, it was pointed out that Macedonia has fulfilled all agreed obligations. The two sides agreed that faster economic development is crucial for overcoming of the consequences from the crisis. For that purpose, the realization of the projects from the Stability Pact ought to be enhanced.
Buller expressed readiness to support Macedonia's integration in the European Union.
The delegation meeting with Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Popovski was focused on the priorities of Macedonia's defense, cooperation with the international community and its role in surpassing of the crisis.
In that context, it was also discussed about the activities of the Defense Ministry and the Macedonian Army for integration of all ethnic structures in the defense, especially in the Army, as a defense system for all Macedonian citizens.
Starting from the need of border security, Popovski outlined that this sensitive issue is closely related with the internal safety, first of al due to the fact that the security crisis in Macedonia was caused and urged by various terrorist organizations outside the country. In that context, he underlined the significance of the OSCE, EU and NATO "Amber Fox" mission, which, as he said, ought to remain in the country at least until the end of this year in order to enhance the inter-ethnic trust.
Popovski also reported on the Ministry's specific activities of for introduction of proportional participation of members of the ethnic communities in the Macedonian Army.
Another Recognition of Macedonian Film Achievment.
The film "Portrait of a Young Artist in the 21st Century", directed by Bojan Zafirovski from Macedonia, is a recipient of the first award at the International Short-Film Festival in Hamburg.
The Festival jury, comprised of German and Canadian experts, said that Zafirovski was awarded because of "the complexity of presented material and harsh criticism of the film industry."
Dozens of Plovdiv Residents Had Sun Strokes.
Doctors hardly manage to bring to senses all fainted pensioners and chronically ill.
Dozens of Plovdiv residents suffered from strokes and heart attacks caused by the unbearable heat during the last two days, sources from the Emergency Aid Center said. Over 30 people fainted because of heat strokes. The temperatures in the city reached 34 C in the shadow yesterday. The doctors hardly managed to give emergency aid to all patients. The risk is greater in the 80,000 prefab apartments in the city, which turned into real saunas. Critical is the situation in the hospitals which face south. The temperatures in Sandanski reached 34 C during the weekend, in Pleven - 33 C, in Vratza - 32 C. The temperature in Sofia was about 30 C.
Six Bulgarian Medics Are Well, Will Be Questioned in Coming Days, Libyan Lawyer Says.
Tripoli, June 17 (BTA) - The six Bulgarian medical workers accused of intentionally infecting with HIV about 400 Libyan children are well and their condition remains unchanged, their Libyan lawyer Osman Bizanti told BTA on Monday. He met with the accused early last week and talked with them about the Arraignment Chamber's decision to return the case for further examination to the Tripoli prosecuting office. The Arraignment Chamber also ordered further questioning of the accused.
Bizanti said the questioning had not begun and was expected to start in the next few days. He said last week that the number one accused, Palestinian Ashraf al-Hadjudj, whose confessions formed a basis for most charges against the Bulgarians, had been questioned again.
Bizanti said last week the questioning of the Bulgarian doctor and five nurses would start any moment.
The six Bulgarians were arrested in Libya in February 1999.
A year later they were charged with conspiracy against the Libyan State, intentionally infecting Libyan children with HIV and breaking the conventions of life in Libya.
The case was tried by the People's Court, which quashed the conspiracy charges on February 17, 2002, and transferred the case to a criminal court.
On June 3, the Arraignment Chamber in Benghazi decided to postpone deciding whether to institute proceedings in the criminal court against the six Bulgarians and the Palestinian accused of intentionally infecting Libyan children with HIV. The next hearing was scheduled for July 15. The prosecuting office in Tripoli has until then to carry out further investigation.
Kozlodoui, June 17 (BTA) - Experts from the nuclear safety inspectorate of the Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy started on Monday a check on the readiness of Kozlodoui N-plant's unit 3 to be brought back on stream. The unit was shut down on February 15, 2002 for planned repairs and refuelling; it also underwent a program for technical measures to modernize the plant's VVER-440 type reactors.
EC: Bulgaria Has Made Great Headway in Judicial Reform.
Sofia, June 17 (BTA) - The European Commission (EC) recognizes the great progress Bulgaria has made in reforming its judicial system, a roundtable discussion on Bulgaria's headway in meeting the political EU membership criteria was told by EC delegation representative Milena Damyanova.
Representatives of various institutions and NGOs attended the forum organized by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry and the Institute for European Studies and Information.
Damyanova said the EC has taken into account the actual anti-corruption measures and steps to reform the judiciary that have been taken in the period which its annual report on Bulgaria will cover.
The reform of the public administration is a bit off schedule but actual forward steps have been made there as well, Damyanova said, assuring that Bulgaria's progress in meeting the political membership criteria will be reflected in the EC report.
"Bulgaria is a fledgling democracy and there is still a temptation for the incumbents to meddle in the work of the judiciary and expert political pressure on it which serves partisan puposes and corporate and otherwise lobbies," said Supreme Judicial Council member and acting director of the Special Investigative Service Rumen Georgiev.
The Euro-reports document the complaints of the various judicial departments against each other's work which leaves the impression of an ongoing conflict within the system and this results in severe criticisms, Georgiev said, adding that the Bulgarian judiciary is no worse then the rest.
The government should pay more attention to the judiciary; the latter has a substandard annual budget amounting to less than 1% of the GDP; 99% of money for the training of magistrates is provided by NGOs, Georgiev said.
Investment in the judiciary should be on the government's priority list, said Simona Milanezi, coordinator of Open Society Foundation's law program. She suggested a system for out-of-court settlements to alleviate the courts' backlog of work and said the Justice Ministry and the Supreme Judicial Council should come up with a joint concept for the training of magistrates.
The anti-corruption strategy adopted by the government in February is the first tangible effort to coordinate the anti-corruption efforts of the various institutions, said Katya Hristova, executive director of Transparency International.
Corruption is still rife in the health care and education systemw, she noted, citing 2001 data that puts Bulgaria's domestic level of corruption on a par with that in the Czech Republic.
Dalai Lama Greeted Simeon for His Birthday.
Politicians and businessmen sent to 'Vrana' limos with flowers for the PM.
Strange people came to the 'Vrana' residence to congratulate PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on his birthday. In the morning about a 70-year-old man appeared in front of the gates of the park and introduced himself as Galilei. A cyclist with sun glasses, who presented himself as the Bulgarian Dalai Lama, joined him. Former captain Georgi Ivanov brought in front of the residence the folk chorus group of grannies from the village of Busmantsi. The three women sat in front of the residence gates and started singning awaiting Simeon. Not a single politician came to greet the PM in person. All day long cars with bunches of flowers and presents came in the residence. Vessela Draganova and Tosho Peykov sent flowers and presents. Head of 'MobilTel' Rumyana Kyuchukova also sent a huge bunch of red roses. Kamelia Kassabova and the Bulgarian section of 'Safari Club International' sent greeting letters.
Plovdiv, June 17 (BTA) - The command of the Plovdiv-based Southeast European Brigade (SEEBRIG) will participate in a command and staff exercise in Turkey between June 23 and July 5 under the codename Southern Star 2002, said the press office of the Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe (MPFSEE) in Plovdiv Monday.
The exercise is being prepared by the command of the Turkish Land Forces and the Third Corps of the Turkish army. The main participants are units of the Turkish Third Corps, the Fifth Corps and the European command of the US army, and the SEEBRIG command.
SEEBRIG will act as a organizational centre with limited staff (18 officers) who will be representatives of the seven MPFSEE member states.
The exercise aims to improve the operational capacity of SEEBRIG and the interoperability between its command and other organizational nuclei within NATO and other international organizations.
Shimon Peres Expects Bid News about Middle East by September Sofia, June 17 (BTA) - Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres expects big news about the situation in the Middle East by September 2002 when Bulgaria takes over the presidency of the UN Security Council.
Peres is here on a two-day official visit at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Passy. After his arrival, he conversed for half an hour with Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov who was at the Sofia Airport to commence a trip to Slovakia and Poland.
Peres said they are trying to reach peace in the Middle East. The situation has not improved but is not getting worse either, he said. Peres said Israel is anticipating the position of the US, Russia, EU and the UN on a possible Middle East conference that would mark the beginning of negotiations with the Palestinians.
"Why not?", was Peres' answer to the suggestion that Bulgaria could host peace talks.
The US, Russia, EU, UN and the Arab world expect the Palestinians to reform and be in charge of their arms, money and justice and, ultimately, be a partner in the peace talks, he said.
Peres said they are trying to reach a ceasefire, to improve the economic situation among the Palestinians and to start direct talks with them. The only way to security is through peace and political agreement, he said.
Asked about the fence Israel is building to protect itself from terrorist attacks, Peres said building fences solves nothing.
He described as friendly and warm bilateral relations and said their potential should be enhanced. Bulgaria was careful to condemn terrorism and encourage peace and took a stand of its own in the UN and Israel appreciates that, Peres said.
Later on Monday, Peres is scheduled to meet with parliamentary speaker Ognyan Gerdjikov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Passy.
No Increase of Water Prices Expected This Year.
Sofia, June 17 (BTA) - The price of drinking water will not be hiked before the setting up of a regulator in the water sector, the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Kostadin Paskalev said after a meeting with of government members and the leaders of the Simeon II National Movement and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms Monday. At the meeting Paskalev presented a government strategy for the development of the Bulgarian water sector.
The legislation necessary for the establishment of the water regulator will be ready in late 2002.
The increase of water prices will pay for investment, which only for the replacement of water mains in the next 10 years adds up to a total of 2,100 million leva. The government programme for capital investment has 17 million leva. With this rate of investment it will take about 150 years to solve the problems in the water sector, Paskalev said.
The new regulator will control the price and the quality of services in the water sector.
The plans are that the price of water is based on the actual investment in, and the condition of, the water sector equipment. The regulator will have the power to reject projects for investment which it finds unfeasible or socially unacceptable.
The strategy for the development of the sector includes measures to attract private capital through privatization, build-operate-transfer and management contracts or concessions.
The final version of the strategy will be ready in three weeks' time.
Bulgaria has got the World Bank's consent for a 9- to 12-month extension of the water loan, said the Regional Development Minister.
The time is needed to complete successfully the procedure for awarding a concession for the Varna and Shoumen water companies and to prepare a bill for the water sector regulator.
The contracts for use of the assets of the Bourgas, Veliko Turnovo and Sliven water companies will be referred to the court in case the private companies which benefited from these contract oppose to Paskalev's order for nullifying them and returning the water companies' assets to the government.
It emerged Sunday that Paskalev had ordered for the contracts to be cancelled for violation of the law.
Islamic Countries Interested in BG Marine.
Businessmen from Malaysia want to build ships in Bulgaria.
Islamic group "Semeako" is a prospective buyer of the Bulgarian Marine. "Semeako" is an association of businessmen from Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is going to compete for the majority share of the fleet. Another company - "Segazko" - wants to buy from the BG Marine the Varna Shipyard. The company has already placed in an official offer with the Minister of Transport Plamen Petrov. The Indonesians offer $35.5 million plus 38,000 levs as VAT. The candidates hope to become owners of the shipyard before the end of July. It is expected that by the end of the current year they will employ 1000 people.
We Initiated Law Suit to Defend "Kozloduy"
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Atanas Semov
We'll prove that Europe has no grounds for the decommission of our reactors, says Atanas Semov.
- Mr. Semov, what are your chances to win the case against the European Commission?
- This case offers the opportunity to prove Europe and the world that their demands for the decommission of smaller reactors in the Bulgarian nuclear power plant are not grounded.
- What made you initiate this law suit? Do you see it as your last chance to defend the N-plant?
- We think that this measure of defense is imperative. First, we have to protect our national interests and dignity, second, our economy.
- What arguments have you put forward to keep intact the small reactors in "Kozloduy"?
- The demands for the premature decommission of these units have no grounds whatsoever. No expert conclusion made by an competent international organization has been presented to confirm the claims the European Commission dares putting forward. The first is that our reactors cannot be modernized. This is simply not true. The second is that they must be closed. None of the nuclear experts has ever made such a statement. So, neither have we grounds to decommission them before schedule nor to close them after the expiry of the deadline set decades ago.
- How many people will lose their jobs, if these reactors are decommissioned?
- Over 5 thousands. And not only in the nuclear power plant. Many other people in Bulgaria will become jobless.
- Have you made any calculations to estimate how much will the price of electricity rise if the reactors are decommissioned now?
- It will definitely grow considerably, by several dozens percent.