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A displaced Macedonian couple, who did not wish to be identified, looks out from their bedroom, one of the many created with thin panels and curtains in a former classroom at an agricultural school in Dolno Konjare, just north of Kumanovo, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Macedonia's capital Skopje, Wednesday, June 19, 2002. The couple fled from their home in the village of Matejce during last year's clashes between ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian security forces. Ten months after the signing of the peace accord in Macedonia, there are still thousands of Macedonians who cannot return to their homes. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Elderly Macedonian women Kata Avramovic, 95, left, and Anica Milkova, 80, watch as seven-year-old Marija plays with her stuffed friend at a health resort where the displaced are being housed near Kumanovo, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Macedonia's capital Skopje, Wednesday, June 19, 2002. The women fled with their families from their homes in the village of Matejce during last year's clashes between ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian security forces.Ten months after the signing of the peace accord in Macedonia, there are still thousands of Macedonians who cannot return to their homes. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Elderly displaced Macendonian women watch as a child plays with a tricycle at a health resort where the displaced are being housed near Kumanovo, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Macedonia's capital Skopje, Wednesday, June 19, 2002. From left to right, Kata Avramovic, 95, Jelica Avramovic, 70, and Anica Milkova, 80. The women fled with their families from their homes in the village of Matejce during last year's clashes between the ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian security forces. Ten months after the signing of the peace accord in Macedonia, there are still thousands of Macedonians who cannot return to their homes. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
British Secretary of State for Defence Geoffrey Hoon (right) arrived on an official visit here at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Svinarov. Pressphoto - BTA photo: Tihomir Penov
A group photo of foreign minsiters of SEECP-South-East European Cooperation Process, taken Wednesday, June 19, 2002 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Front row, left to right: Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, Albanian Foreign Minister Arta Dade, Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija and Macedonia's Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule. Back row, from left to right: Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Petkov, Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, civilian administrator in Kosovo Michael Steiner, Croatia's Deputy Foreign Minister Vesna Cvjetkovic Kurelec and Greek Foreign Ministry Secretary General Dimitris Dollis. (AP PHOTO / Srdjan Ilic)
500,000 Euros For Information On Kidnapped Persons.
By Irina Gelevska
Skopje - The Macedonian government offered a reward of 500,000 euros for information about the 12 kidnapped Macedonians from Tetovo region.
The 12 Macedonians have been kidnapped about a year ago, during the crises in Macedonia between March and August 2001.
The families of the 12 kidnapped Macedonians are still hoping that their loved ones are alive. Their relatives have been residing and protesting in the Parliament since 8 months ago.
Unofficially, Albanian terrorists sent the wife whose husband was kidnapped on their wedding his right hand and left ear. She still believes that her husband is alive. But she doesn't want to speak in public because she believes that Commander Leka will release her husband after the elections in September.
According to witnesses on that bloody wedding, the groom pulled a gun on Leka, so he cut his hand and ear as a revenge. So called Commander Leka is now chief of the Tetovo branch of Arben Xhaferi's DPA.
NATO sources in Macedonia think that the kidnapped persons are dead.
Sources of Reality Macedonia high in the Macedonian Government claim that these people were massacred and in order not to jeopardize the implementation of the Framework Agreement, their bodies will be discovered after the elections.
A witness of killing of 6 to 8 of the kidnapped persons, an ethnic Albanian from the village Neproshteno (near Tetovo) informed the police about the place where the victims were buried. According to him, he saw two brothers been killed and one older person with a bicycle. The eyewitness said that Commander Hohxa was doing the killing with a mattock.
American KFOR troops previously saved this Commander Hohxa from Arachinovo and treated of his wounds in U.S. Military Hospital in Base Bondsteel in Kosovo. According to Dnevnik, Americans keep the NLA warlord Hxavit Hasani in Bondsteel too. He is wanted for attempted murder in Macedonia, but the rulers of Bondsteel haven't told the Macedonian officials about him.
It is still unknown why the Police waited so long to start the exhumation in Neproshteno and how the NLA knew the exact time of passing of the police patrol, an information which lead to an ambush and killing of three policemen.
Sources in Hague Tribunal say that this court will soon open an investigation against Commander Leka for war crimes.
Displaced People of Tetovo Beg Not to Be Driven Out of Shelters.
Dnevnik - Reality Macedonia
By Emil Zafirovski
Translated by Aleksandra Ilievska
Refugees from Tetovo have no place to live, except from the shelters.
We dont want either food or humanitarian aid. All we need is shelter so as not sleep in the streets because theres no more life for us in Tetovo.
In response to information that some of them will be deprived of their displaced persons status, the displaced persons of Tetovo sent a message to the Government and the Red Cross that they will not allow not matter what to be driven out of the Stiv Naumov dormitory and be taken back to the uncertainty of their Tetovo homes. They believe no one has the right to make them go back putting their lives at stake.
We dont want either food or humanitarian aid. All we need is shelter. If they throw us out, well sleep in the streets, but we are not going back to Tetovo unless they guarantee safety. Do they have any idea where they are urging us to go? There are shootings every single night and it is Macedonian houses that are getting riddled. We have but one life to live. The rule of UCK governs there. We dont know why they are keeping this a secret, people from Tetovo explain.
Albanians, they say, extort money from Macedonians by rackets.
We pay 300 denars a month in guarantee that our houses will be safe. The most hard-line Albanians put on police uniforms and pose to be guarding us.
Government officials lie when saying they have control of the region. Police is nowhere to be found and when ethnically mixed police patrols enter villages they have to ask permission from UCK for every step they take. Transformed or not, UCK is still in control of Tetovo. Who wants to live in a someone elses cubby-hole rather than in the comfort of their own house? But we dont dare return. Those of us who could, took up arms defending our villages and we are all on UCK black lists now, a man from Tetovo recounts.
According to the Macedonians from Tetovo, the aim of the local Albanians is to rerun the familiar Kosovo scenario and make Macedonians sell their properties at minimum cost.
Unless the Government helps us, this may well happen. They want to take us back and create a false image of reality. Donors, they say, wont give us any money unless the number of displaced persons gets reduced. And what about those thousands of Kosovars that still go reported as refugees in Macedonia and live in Tetovo. For them theres humanitarian aid, and even financial aid every month although they put on UCK uniforms and forced us out of our homes, displaced Macedonians complain.
International Red Cross officials said displaced persons were to re-register these days whereby some 5,000 people would lose the status of displaced persons and would be wiped off the lists for food and humanitarian aid. They said that had to be done because displaced persons misused the status in order to become entitled to free food and humanitarian aid although conditions were created for their safe return home. Only those whose homes are heavily damaged and are still in poor condition, those who come from crisis regions, as well as the elderly and sick who cannot be looked after back home will maintain the status of displaced persons.
FM CASULE'S ADDRESS AT SEECP MEETING.
I believe that this meeting is an opportunity for open exchange of opinions on improvement and consolidation of good neighboring relations, efforts for transformation of Southeastern Europe into a region of peace, security, stability and cooperation, as well as for further intensifying of this regional cooperation, Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said in his address Wednesday at a ministerial meeting of the member countries of SEE Cooperation Process in Belgrade.
"Last year, Macedonia has surpassed the most dangerous crisis since its independence. The threat with armed violence and terrorism and the attempt to use them for criminal interests, attacking the country's peace, stability and democracy, did not succeed. Thanks to the democratic forces in the country, supported by Macedonian citizens and the active help of the international community, we manage to avoid the worst. We managed to bring back the country on the path towards realization of its agenda - continuation of the transition processes, strengthening of democracy and rule of law, and the country's full-fledged membership into the Euro-Atlantic institutions, " Casule said.
According to him, the main task at the moment, along with implementing of the Framework Agreement, is completion of the police units' redeployment in the crisis regions, which actually presents a confidence building test. "The initial results are optimistic. Macedonian authorities are implementing the plan for reintegration of these regions together with NATO, OSCE and the European Union," Casule said.
He underlined the fact that the crisis caused serious economic repercussions and stopped all developing tendencies in the country. Therefore, "the means from the Donors' Conference will help a lot in the efforts to surpass the difficulties and to implement a part of the Framework Agreement."
"But, regretfully, I have to say that some forces, burdened with the past, are still present in the region. They nourish their great nationalistic dreams about changing the borders and establishing great states. These forces have to be publicly condemned and decisively eliminated by all of those who want the best for Macedonia and the region," Casule said.
Referring to the regional situation, Casule underlined that Macedonia welcomed an agreement for rearranging of the relations between Serbia and Monte Negro. "Its meaning is even more significant, considering the fact that it has been reached by the good will of both republics to stabilize their relations.
With this agreement, also supported by the international community, one of the hottest issues in the region is settled and a step ahead is made towards the region's stabilization," Casule said. He expressed hope for complete implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
Regarding Kosovo, Casule said that Macedonia fully supported the efforts of UNMIK and KFOR missions and the activities for stabilizing the situation.
In this respect, Casule reminded to the obligations from the Resolution 1345 concerning the collection of arms in Kosovo.
"Macedonia's leadership welcomes the successful elections in 2001 and the establishment of local government. We are also supporting the efforts for building functional, democratic, multiethnic society in Kosovo. But I would like to repeat that we will not tolerate any attempts, no matter where they come from, for challenging of the Macedonian-Yugoslav Border Delineation Agreement, signed between two sovereign countries, members of the UN," Casule said.
He informed that Macedonia, despite the difficulties, was continuing with implementation of the obligations from the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union and the activities for NATO membership.
"The European orientation and full-fledged membership in the European and the Euro-Atlantic institutions remain the country's firm commitment, which along with the efforts for building of friendly neighboring relations, is raised to the level of national priority," Casule said.
Simultaneously with signing of free trade agreements with almost all SEE countries, Macedonia was negotiating a convention for cooperation with Croatia in accordance with SAA, Casule said. Such documents have already been offered to all other countries in the region, included in the SA process.
Macedonia's negotiations on its membership into the World Trade Organization were in the final stage, Casule said.
"Actually, Macedonia has been working on its commitment for further strengthening of the corporation with the countries in the region by its active participation in the existing regional initiatives, including the Stability Pact. We see the regional partnership and cooperation as an opportunity to exploit mutual advantages and geographic vicinity logic in all spheres of mutual interest," he added.
According to him, it is very important for the SEE countries "to offer encouraging European prospective on the long and hard road to see us through the complex economical and political reforms towards the integration with Europe."
Casule concluded that the ongoing processes were neither easy nor simple.
"Therefore, SEE needs regular European and Trans-Atlantic support. We need an approach that all transition countries can feel - an approach that is to function as a virtual membership which will enforce the certainty of integration and the motivation for overcoming the difficulties, otherwise, no real democratization of the whole region is possible," Casule said.
SP SPECIAL COORDINATOR BUSEK: STABLE REGION IS A PRECONDITION FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENTS.
Running of the pre-election campaign is neither mine nor the responsibility of the Stability Pact (SP). But we are expecting an outcome that guarantees stable government and development of Macedonia, because situation in the country has an impact on the entire region, Stability Pact Special Coordinator Erhard Busek said Wednesday to MIA.
He considers that the pre-election campaign is the responsibility of the politicians, the media and the civil society to create a stable situation as gaining of foreign investments is connected with the stability of the region.
He underlined that SP, according to its principles, did not participate in election processes, including the preparations for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Macedonia.
"SP cannot interfere in an election process, which is a daily-political affair.
However, we have done something about this matter at the recent congress of the International Press Institute in Ljubljana, and we shall do it again before the elections. What we can do is to call on dialogue and understanding among the citizens of Macedonia," Busek said.
Asked about a possibility for the SP assistance to Macedonia's economy, whose development was hindered by the last year crisis, Busek said the help was presented by the free trade agreements among the countries in the region, infrastructure projects and combat against organized crime.
"Macedonia started so well in 1996, when the initiative for cooperation in Southeastern Europe was launched, and what happened during the last year was a set back. The latest data on economic development in the region present a growth rate of about 4%, but unfortunately not in Macedonia, which is a result of the political situation. You have to understand that SP and democracy are not working like a music box, to put money in it and expect for peace, democracy and stability to come out. We can only help by programs and activities for more intensified regional cooperation, because, despite the unsolved issue on the Kosovo future, we have to look how the trade, transport, transborder cooperation and energy sector development are running in the region," Busek said.
SA would invest 5,4 billion in the region till the end of 2002, Busek said, adding that not money but projects are the problem.
"You can build a highway, but preconditions for that are developing of a project, settling of issues connected with ownership rights of the ground, where the highway is to be constructed etc. These problems are also connected with the Donors' Conference, at which a significant amount was collected, but now there is a problem how to spend it. The system - here is the number of my account, please send the money - is not the right way for solving of the problems. Rules must be followed, because funds cannot be allocated before meeting of certain preconditions, such as avoiding of corruption, which is very important matter, " Busek said.
Asked about Macedonia's share from the SP financial package for the region, Busek said it was a wrong approach, as setting of certain percentage was not the appropriate way for dividing of the funds.
"The list of projects Macedonia has submitted to SP is not bad. But this matter should not be looked from the national point of view, as it makes no sense.
We have to look at projects that are important for the region's development.
Such principles are applied for the Corridor 8 and 10, which have a cross point in Skopje. Macedonia is a small country, but two important roads are passing through its territory, which is good. These projects are justified, because important crossing point has to be here, " Busek said.
The SA mandate depended on developments in Southeastern Europe, he said.
"As soon as it is possible for the region to gain stability, then SP has to finish its work. But, it requires meeting of several preconditions, such as promoting of regional ownership, meaning we have to transfer the responsibility from Brussels to the countries in the region, particularly for local affairs and transborder cooperation. Therefore, we have transferred the Center for combat against crime in Bucharest, we are trying to establish a center for energy cooperation in Sofia or Skopje, while the Office for collection of small arms and light weapons is based in Belgrade," Busek said.
He considers that the neighboring relations in the region are improving in general.
"Now we can talk openly about all problems, which means that the situation is improving, " he added.
Referring to name dispute between Macedonia and Greece, Busek said the matter was being discussed on an international level, between the two countries and the United Nations.
"The only contribution I and SP can do has already been done," Busek said.
Military Plant Blasted.
At 9.25 a.m. yesterday 150 kg of gunpowder blasted the military workshop of a private firm called 'Elovitza', situated 15 km away from Gabrovo. The blast killed Toncho Vanev (45) on the spot. His colleague Vitko Zehirov is hospitalized with many injuries. Doctors from the 'Emergency Aid' came almost immediately after the incident. They found the workshop completely destroyed. Rescuers have been looking for the body of the killed man for over 6 hours.
Dobri Dzhurov to Be Buried with Honors.
President Parvanov sent condolences from Slovakia, he will come for the funeral.
Former minister of defense Dobri Dzhurov, who died on Monday will be buried with military honors, said sources from the Ministry of Defense yesterday. According to doctors, the reserve general, who commanded the Bulgarian army for over 30 years, died of a heart attack. President Parvanov sent his condolences to the family. The name of Gen. Dzhurov is associated with the changes that occurred in our country on November 10, 1989 and the development of Bulgaria after the onset of democracy, wrote the head of state. Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov and Chief of the General Staff Gen. Nikola Kolev also expressed their condolences. Leader of the BSP Sergey Stanishev sent a telegram to the grieving family. We have lost one of the most eminent politicians and a notable statesman, says the mortuary by the Supreme Council of the BSP and the left-wing parliamentary group. The General made his last appearance in public ten days ago at the 45th congress of the BSP.
Geoffrey Hoon: U.K. Wants to See Bulgaria Invited to NATO in Prague.
Sofia, June 19 (BTA) - The U.K. is a strong supporter of NATO's enlargement and wants to see Bulgaria invited to the Alliance at the Prague summit, said British Secretary of State for Defence Geoffrey Hoon after meeting with Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov at whose invitation he arrived on an official visit Tuesday evening.
"Bulgaria has demonstrated consistently its contribution to international operations, including the ISAF operation in Afghanistan," said Hoon. In his words, this is a "tangible demonstration of the success of the reform in the army".
The British Secretary of State for Defence said he was pleased to hear about the progress that is being made in the modernization of the army. He told journalists he was delighted with the existing bilateral military relations, adding that the U.K. wants these relations to flourish allowing the armed forces to work together in international operations.
Hoon said that Britain will continue to assist the training of Bulgarian officers and its consultants will continue to help the Defence Ministry and the army's general staff.
Later on Wednesday Hoon is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and National Assembly Chairman Ognyan Gerdjikov, and to deliver a lecture before The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria.
UK Backs Bulgaria Bid to Join NATO.
SOFIA (Reuters) - British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said on Wednesday his country backed Bulgaria joining NATO and wanted to see an invitation extended to the Balkan state at the military alliance's Prague summit in November.
Hoon's statement was seen as a positive signal to both Bulgaria and Romania, which have joined forces to persuade NATO that their membership will stabilize a region still reeling from a decade of wars.
"The United Kingdom is a strong and consistent supporter of the enlargement of NATO and we want to see Bulgaria as a member of NATO, we want to see invitation being issued to Bulgaria at the Prague summit," said Hoon, on a one-day visit to Sofia.
"Bulgaria has demonstrated consistently its contribution to international operations, most recently by its contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan, which is a tangible demonstration of the success of the reforms in the army," Hoon told a news conference after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Svinarov.
Bulgaria and Romania have made every effort to match the help offered to the United States by NATO members since the September 11 attacks on America.
Bulgaria sent 31 troops to Afghanistan in February to take part in the multinational International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) set up to protect an interim government there and earlier this month offered to send another 21 troops.
Last November, it allowed U.S. forces to use an airbase on the Black Sea as part of the U.S.-led campaign to oust the ruling Taliban movement.
"We are hoping that from very good partners, we will become very good allies within NATO," Svinarov said.
President Purvanov's Official Visit to Poland Begins.
Warsaw, June 19 (BTA spec. corr. Vanya Ivanova) - President Georgi Purvanov's official two-day visit to Poland started with an eye-to-eye meeting with his counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski. The welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace was attended by over 60 Polish officials.
In its Wednesday issue Polish highest circulation daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" runs an interview with Purvanov in which he voices hope that Bulgaria will enlist Warsaw's support for its NATO membership bid.
Purvanov's visit started with a delay after his plane had to circle over Warsaw for 20 minutes because of heavy air traffic over the Polish capital.
After their one-to-one meeting Purvanov and Kwasniewski are expected to join the plenary talks between the two delegations and attend the signing of a bilateral agreement on cooperation in crime combat. For Bulgaria, the agreement will be signed by Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov, who is on Purvanov's delegation.
In the afternoon the Bulgarian president will meet with Polish Sejm Speaker Marek Borowski and Senate Speaker Longin Pastusiak.
PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Leaves on Working Visit to Denmark.
Sofia, June 19 (BTA) - Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha left Wednesday morning on a one-day working visit to Denmark at the invitation of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Asked whether during the Danish presidency of the EU there may be a change in the "10+2" formula for the EU candidate countries, the Prime Minister recalled that there was similar talk before the Spanish presidency. "We should stick to reality and be prepared, everything else is up to the EU to decide," Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said. Bulgaria's preparations for EU membership are making good progress and its efforts and hard work are being appreciated by Brussels, the Prime Minister added.
In Copenhagen Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will meet at the Danish Parliament with the president of the European Issues Committee Klaus Larsen-Jensen. The meeting will also be attended by representatives of the parliamentary political groups, members of the Foreign Policy Committee and mission leaders of EU member and candidate countries.
Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is accompanied by European Issues Minister Meglena Kouneva, Bulgaria's Chief Negotiator with the EU, National Assembly Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Stanimir Ilchev, the Prime Minister's Chef de Cabinet, Radi Naydenov and Bulgaria's Ambassador to Denmark, Dimo Dimov.
Bulgaria Expects Clear Signal about Future as EU Applicant Country during Danish Presidency.
Copenhagen, June 19 (BTA) - Bulgaria's efforts in the negotiating process deserve high marks, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told his Bulgarian counterpart Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The two talked at Marienborg, the prime minister's summer residence, on Wednesday during Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's one-day working visit. They discussed the prospects of Bulgaria's accession to the EU and NATO and of bilateral relations, the Council of Ministers' Information and PR Directorate said.
Rasmussen expressed hope that the countries which are not ready to join the EU with the first wave would get a clear signal about their prospects at the end of the Danish presidency. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha reaffirmed Bulgaria's readiness to keep up the quick pace in its progress to EU membership. He stressed that the signal of the European Council in Copenhagen would be extremely important to motivate Bulgarian society.
During the plenary talks, Meglena Kouneva, Minister for European Affairs and chief negotiator with the EU, emphasized Bulgaria's wish to close five more chapters in its accession negotiations during the Danish presidency: Financial Control, Customs Union, Transport Policy, Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Home Affairs, and Energy. Kouneva, too, stressed the need for a clear message about Bulgaria's future as an applicant country.
Rasmussen confirmed his country's support for the Bulgarian bid for NATO membership. Up to seven countries, Bulgaria included, will be invited to join the Alliance in Prague in November, according to him. The Danish prime minister said the NATO-Russia agreement reached in May was a very good sign. It emerged at the talks between the two delegations that Maersk, one of Denmark's biggest companies, was interested to invest in Bulgaria. It wants to participate in the construction of a railway for container transportation between Thessaloniki and Sofia. This will send a positive signal and attract Danish entrepreneurs to Bulgaria, Rasmussen said.
Denmark is ready to carry on its environmental investment projects in Bulgaria, it emerged at the talks. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha presented to his host a non-paper, by which the Bulgarian government thanked Copenhagen for its support for environmental protection. The Environmental Support Fund for Eastern Europe of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency was launched in 1993 and more than 59 projects were drawn up by 2001. The document stressed that Bulgaria was interested to continue its active bilateral cooperation in environmental protection with a generally recognized leader like Denmark.
Bulgaria expressed a wish to be included in the Danish environmental protection programme after 2003.
The two prime ministers discussed the measures taken by the Bulgarian government to fight corruption and continue reform.
Rasmussen conveyed to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha the Queen of Denmark's special greetings and good wishes. She regretted that she was abroad and could not meet him.
Denmark backs Bulgaria's bid to join NATO and eventually the European Union.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday pledged his country's support for the former communist country of Bulgaria to join NATO and eventually the European Union.
"Denmark is in favor of an ambitious decision including Bulgaria as a future member of NATO," Fogh Rasmussen said after he met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski.
At NATO's November summit in Prague, the Czech capital, the 19-nation alliance, which includes Denmark, will decide whether to expand eastward and southward deeper into the old Soviet bloc.
The Danes also have put top priority on plans to accept new members in the EU during its six-month presidency of the 15-nation bloc that begins on July 1.
During that time, EU leaders are expected to wrap up negotiations with Cyprus, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Estonia for membership in 2004.
Discussions with candidates Romania and Bulgaria also will be on the agenda at a December summit in Copenhagen, although the two countries may not join until 2007.
Sofia, June 19 (BTA) - St Stefan Church and the Bulgarian metochion (monastery) in Istanbul, Turkey, and Mouradie Mosque in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, will be reconstructed on joint funding, according to the programme for cooperation between the two countries signed by culture ministers Bozhidar Abrashev of Bulgaria and Istemihan Talay of Turkey.
The programme covers a period of two years and maps out specific practical actions aimed to conserve the Bulgarian graveyard in Istanbul, the graveyard church called after the name of St Dimiter, as well as SS Constantine and Elena Church and St George Church in Edirne.
"Through this programme we will take care of our cultural heritage since the cultural identity is one of the key components of our national awareness," Abrashev said.
"The maintenance and protection of ou common cultural heritage is a way of serving world culture," Talay said.
An expert group of specialists from the two countries will prepare a proposal to UNESCO to include St Stefan and Mouradie Mosque in its list of World Heritage Sites.
Three expeditions will be organized under the programme to explore other monuments of culture, too. They will be included in the next two-year programme.
Vidin (Northwestern Bulgaria, on the Danube) - Zajcar (Serbia), June 19 (BTA) - A working meeting of the founders of the Danube 21st century Euro-region took place in the Serbian town of Zajcar Tuesday.
The Euro-region was set up in the beginning of the year.
Representatives of the municipal administrations of Vidin, Calafat (Romania) and Zajcar drafted the Euro-region administrative structure's rules of procedure, set up working commissions, determined their composition, and specified the means of funding.
The partners of the border regions of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia discussed their future membership in the Association of European Border Regions.
Vidin Mayor Ivan Tsenov, on whose initiative the Euro-region was set up, said that Bulgaria should enter the EU with strong local government, adding that transborder cooperation can help the municipalities in this department. The Euro-region will become a model of a mini-state without borders and hurdles for cooperation in all areas, said the Vidin mayor.
Zajcar Mayor Goran Petrunovic said the Euro-region serves as an example to the other border regions in his country for its active transborder cooperation in the name of a better life of the local population. He added that the Euro-region makes possible the implementation of transborder projects funded by various European structures.
YUGOSLAVIA-SEEC-DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER PETKOV.
Belgrade, June 19 (BTA exclusive by Teodora Encheva) - The first plenary sitting of foreign ministers of the countries participating in the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEEC) was devoted to the situation in the region.
Taking the floor, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Petkov discussed the new dynamic of the situation and the tendency towards overcoming the consequences of recent conflicts. He emphasized that the democratically elected governments of the SEEC countries clearly express the political will for cooperation, and that those countries have been taking full-fledged part in the processes of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
Petkov expressed the opinion that the EU's broader participation in SEEC is particularly important for the stabilization of the SEEC countries. He emphasized that the EU should come up with a clear road map for the integration of the applicants for membership of the European community.
Petkov emphasized Bulgaria's position that NATO's decisive commitment to security in the region and the Alliance's presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia are indispensable factors in guaranteeing peace and stability. He recalled that in a geostrategic context Southeastern Europe has an important role in the Euro-Atlantic processes as a link between the different trans-European infrastructure corridors, including the ones ensuring access to the energy resources of Russia and the Caspian Sea. "That is why the Southeast European countries should avail themselves to the maximum degree from this reality and should turn their geostrategic location into a key factor in the achievement of prosperity and stability," Petkov said.
He discussed the responsibilities facing the countries in combatting terrorism and organized crime, especially after the terrorist attacks in the US on september 11, 2001.
Later on Wednesday Petkov and the remaining eight leaders of delegations to the SEEC ministerial were received by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.
Parliament Ratifies International Agreement to Set Up International Organization of Vine and Wine.
Sofia, June 19 (BTA) - Parliament ratified Wednesday an international agreement to set up an International Organization of Vine and Wine based in Paris. It will be an intergovernmental research organization in the sphere of vines and vine products.
Permanent committees on viticulture, enology and viti-vinicultural economy have been set up with the organization. Membership fees will be determined each year.
The organization will replace the International Office of Vine and Wine (OIV) which was established in 1924. Bulgaria is OIV member since 1935.
Bulgaria's accession to the agreement will show that it is a vine and wine producer and will allow the country to participate directly in the development of the sector, the sponsors' reasonings read.
I Expect Reshuffles in Power Because of Corruption.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Nikolai Buchkov
I've handed over all the papers to prosecution, NMS deputy Nikolai Buchkov says.
Nikolay Bouchkov is an MP from NMS. He was born in Plovdiv in 1947. He is a construction engineer. Bouchkov is a member of a the parliamentary commission for local self-government. The day before yesterday he caused a scandal in the parliamentary group of the NMS saying that there are signals about corruption among the ruling majority. I mentioned three flagrant cases of financial infringements of the Premier, he said. Further he insisted that the NMS deputies who violated the law should go to prison.
- Mr Buchkov, why did you choose this very moment to speak about corruption?
- It is not so. I'm talking about corruption as early as from September last. I have a lot of information about corrupted representatives both of the executive and legislative powers.
- How do you proceed with the information you are given?
- Immediately after receiving such information, I usually send copies to the prosecution, investigation and respective ministries. I've already submitted to the jurisdiction all the papers I had at my disposal.
- Do you think that reshuffles in the cabinet are possible just now - in summer, say, in August?
- The premier can't be indifferent. So, yes, reshuffles could be expected any moment now, both in the cabinet and at all administrative levels.
- Do you find that putting certain people in certain offices is also a form of corruption?
- Yes, it is the most refined form of corruption, for there is no evidence left in such cases. At the face of it, the motives look as if noble, but in fact they are not.