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Pope John Paul II is helped by a bishop to board a helicopter on his return to Ciampino airport from Bulgaria May 26, 2002. Pope John Paul returned from the 96th foreign tour of his pontificate on Sunday, after a five-day trip to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria. REUTERS/Vincenzo Pinto

Series of gunshots from the area of villages Dzepciste, Neprosteno, Trebos, Palatica, Ozormiste, Mala Recica, Gajre, Lisec, Strimnica, Prsovce, Odri and Dobroste were registered in Tetovo and its surrounding in the course of the night.
According to police and army sources, gunshots were also registered from the Juvenile Reformatory Home, settlements Vonvardarska, Sipad, Kupenik, Gorna Carsija, Drenovec 2, railway, as well as bigger building complexes in the town.
At the request of the expelled local population from Varvara, an OSCE team will visit Sar Mountain and mountain Ploca, in order to register the damages in the water supply system for this village.
Several gunshots from the direction of villages Vaksince, Nikustak and Vistica were registered in Kumanovo-Lipkovo region in the course of the night.
The patrolling of mixed police teams in the villages of the region is going on according to the envisaged plan and without any obstacles.
In the area around the watchtower of Tanusevci, a group of terrorists attacked the lines of ARM vehicles, but luckily with no danger upon the lifes of the members of Macedonian army, reeds the announcement from Macedonian Defence Ministry.
The attack happened around 14: 55 h, when three missiles of "bazooka" and several shots from infantry weaponry hit the watchtower in Tanusevci. Except for the small material damage inflicted on one of the hermelin military vehicles and a terrain vehicle also, there are no other consequences suffered by the Macedonian security forces.
Macedonian army responded immediately after the attack happened, when a larger group of terrorists has been disbanded and made to withdraw deeper in the forest area.
The lines of ARM vehicles, without any harder difficulties, around 16:55 h arrived at the watchtower of Tanusevci.
The announcement bu the Defence Ministry also states that during the shootout, which happened in the area of Belgium military camp, several advisers of NATO Ambassador to Macedonia Nikolas Biegman, and two colonels from Belgium contingent, were in the circle of the clashes and felt the seriousness of the incident. They, along with the Macedonian soldiers, identified the shrapnels of the fired missiles on the side of the terrorists.
The first international pedagogical meeting "Teacher of the 21st Century" ended in Ohrid Sunday afternoon, with the participation of around 500 representatives of educational institutions from Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine.
There were more than 150 lectures on different topics from the area of education.
It was concluded that Macedonia did not fall behind other countries in the region in the area of education, but with necessary additions in the education process.
"The teacher must change his relation towards the curriculum in this century, but also towards the student. He must not be a passive conveyor of knowledge, but also a creator, while the student should be an active subject, with the opportunity to present its individual qualities", it was emphasised.
Greater inclusion of parents in the education process is also needed, as well as the need for training of talented students, but also with students, who have special needs.
Furthermore, the teacher of this century must establish a dialog with the students, with an exchange the role student-teacher between the subjects in the curriculum.
As it was said, the mission of the profession teacher "should be directed towards creation of an individual access towards the child, in order to create opportunities for its maximum achievements in education".
In organization of University of "St. Kliment Ohridski" in Bitola, the International Pedagogical Meetings started Friday night in Ohrid.
Welcoming the participants at the international conference, Macedonian Education and Science Minister Nenad Novkovski underlined that the present conditions of development of the latest means of communication, changed the role of a teacher in a great deal, but that it still remains to overcome the barriers from the past period and to establish better in-between communication.
Macedonian Minister of Education and Science Nenad Novkovski after Friday's opening of the International Pedagogical Meetings in Ohrid stated that demands of the employees in the elementary schools for determination of the lowest salary are justified.
"I hope that this issue will be solved adequately in the government," he said and explained that governmental commission already works on this problem. Minister said that the international financial institutions will be satisfied by solving of this issue, which "are delighted from the economic stability of the country."
"By determination of the minimum salary which will be much higher than the current one, the social demands will be solved. The salaries in the education are at the very low level since there is a stoppage of their increase for longer time. The salaries are lower in relation to similar professions and in relation to the employees with the same education," Novkovski said.
Minister mentioned that rights of the students must be respected. That's why he requested to meet with the Syndicate for Education, Science and Culture aimed at reaching an agreement for providing the needed minimum of functions for successful ending of the school year.
"The aim is not to prolong the school year but to end in June and students that continue with higher level of education to have time for needed deadline enrolments," Novkovski said, adding that the decision for prolongation of the school year was not his.
He said that several problems occurred this year, which complicated the regularity of work and hoped that problems will be surpassed in best possible way by mutual understanding between Syndicate for Education, Science and Culture and the Government.
Macedonian Parliament will hold an urgent session on Monday regarding the draft-declaration on the situation at part of Macedonian northern border towards Yugoslavia, submitted by Cedomir Kraljevski from VMRO-DPMNE, Slobodan Danevski from Liberal Party, Risto Spanakov from New Democracy and Nikola Popovski from the Social Democratic League of Macedonia.
More than 80 deputies supported the draft-declaration so Parliament's Speaker Stojan Andov believes that the session should be held on Monday as the signatures reflect the mood in the Parliament, which according to the number of deputies that stand behind it, is dominant.
For Andov the draft-declaration has very moderate and good text. According to him it is necessary to adopt this declaration "in order to show that we really want to implement Framework Agreement."
He thinks that the Parliament should adopt a position regarding that matter and to put it aside in order not to interfere with the session scheduled on May 29, whereat the package of election laws arising from Framework Agreement would be discussed.
Andov does not see a reason the deputies of the Albanian political block not to support the declaration. He expressed assurance that they would vote in favour of it, as the issue on state border is the most important one.
EU special envoy Alain Le Roy and US Ambassador to Macedonia Lawrence Butler, who had a meeting with Andov focused on the draft-declaration, consider it as moderate document and think that it is good such document to be adopted by the Parliament.
Prior to the parliamentary session, the Committee on Foreign Policy will also review the declaration. At Friday's session of the Committee it was decided the draft-declaration to e discussed on Monday in the presence of its submitters.
The draft declaration once again asks the Assembly to conclude that the borders of the Republic of Macedonia with all neighboring countries have been clearly defined, along with international bilateral agreements, with no disputable issues by neither of the neighboring countries.
"The Assembly is on the opinion that the opening of the issue of validity of the northern border towards Kosovo by a subject, which is a UN protectorate, passed on May 23, 2002, is an opening of a issue for determination of inter-state relations by an entity that does not have an internationally recognised state-legal subjectivity", the draft declaration states.
It is also stated that the Macedonian Assembly "firmly rejects the Resolution of the representative body of the temporary institutions in Kosovo, which is a well-thought blow on the implementation process of the Framework Agreement, as well as preparation for creation of presumptions for future rearrangement of border relations".
The employees in the public sector continued Monday the general strike, which began last Monday requesting the lowest salary in this sector to be determined.
The strike is carried out on the job positions in compliance with the guidelines by the branch trade union organizations of the educational, medical, cultural and judiciary institutions in the country. The employees in the defense also joined the strike, but according to Macedonian Army's Law on Strike they can strike three days in a row and then should make five-day break.
According to the information from the Trade Union the strike is carried out successfully although the usual obstructions and pressures are still present.
The general strike will continue Tuesday on the job positions, but in the mean time protests will be organized in Kumanovo, Stip and Kocani where it is expected the employees of the loss-making companies to join.
Unless the lowest salary is determined by Friday i.e. after Tuesday's talks between the representatives of the Government and the Trade Union and after the negotiations between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that should be over on Thursday, the Trade Union will organize mass protest in Skopje where it is expected more that 100,000 to participate.
Despite determining the lowest salary in the public sector, the Trade Union also requests the draft-law on employment and insurance in case of unemployment to be adopted, the draft-law on health care to be revised and Law on army service to be passed.

Pope John Paul II Ends Visit, Dismisses 'Bulgarian Connection' in Assassination Attempt.
Sofia, May 26 (by Ekaterina Kazasova of BTA) - Bulgaria's exoneration from the death plot against Pope John Paul II is the most important message of the four-day official papal visit here which ended Sunday, according to prominent Bulgarian artist Professor Svetlin Roussev.
The Pontiff left Bulgaria at 7.03 p.m. with an Al Italia flight.
This first visit by a head of the Roman Catholic Church to Bulgaria became a fact 21 years after Mehmet Ali Agca shot at Pope John Paul II in May 1981 and 19 years after then Communist leader Todor Zhivkov invited the latter to visit. After the 1989 democratic changes Bulgaria extended several invitations to the Pope, but they were all declined except for the last one - by an organizing committee of intellectuals, including Foreign Minister Solomon Passy.
The visit had three main highlights. Firstly, and most importantly, the Pope dismissed the accusations of Bulgarian involvement in the attempt at his life.
Pope John Paul II said he had never believed in the so called 'Bulgarian connection'. Secondly, opportunities were created to step up dialogue between the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. And thirdly, the Papal visit coincided with the session of NATO's Parliamentary Assembly and could influence positively Bulgaria's chances for NATO and EU membership.
Foreign Minister Passy described the visit as the greatest achievement in the Bulgarian foreign policy since WWII, after the Pope discharged Bulgaria of all responsibility for the assassination attempt.
"Pope John Paul II's visit is our real Easter," Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said after meeting him in the Rila Monastery.
Not many hoped the Pope would make a categoric statement about the 'Bulgarian connection' during his visit. The public expectations were that he would either avoid the issue, or would dismiss the accusations against Bulgaria with general statements. His first words on Bulgarian land - that he had never ceased to love the Bulgarians - seemed to confirm the expectations. At the meeting with President Georgi Purvanov, however, he described as insinuations the country's involvement in the assassination attempt. "I have never believed in the so called 'Bulgarian connection,'" he told the President.
Thus, 21 years later, he cleaned Bulgaria's name from the stigma.
The Bulgarian intellectuals and politicians were overjoyed by the Pope's words. Dimiter Panica, a prominent intellectual and chairman of Free and Democratic Bulgaria foundation, said this was "fantastic". Former president Zhelyu Zhelev said he was very pleased because the Pope's confirmed what he has said seven years ago, namely that the 'Bulgarian connection' should be wiped off. "We should thank the Pope for his courage and responsibility, for putting an end to a baseless accusation that was never proved," said former prime minister Dimiter Popov. According to another former prime minister, Filip Dimitrov, it is clear that His Holiness does not wish the assassination attempt to be wed with Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, a number of papers asked why did it have to take so long to hold this visit and if this was the right time for it. "I knew that the Pope very much wanted to visit Bulgaria. And he knew it was precisely the visit to this country that would be the best place and the best time to make this sacral announcement [concerning the country's involvement in the assissnation attempt]," Passy said.
The press commented that the papal visit closed a chapter of the Cold War history and cleaned Bulgaria's name from any suggestions that it might have been involved in the death plot.
Press reports described as "cool" the meeting between the Pope and Patriarch Maksim. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church did not join the invitation to the Pope to visit. However, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said it would welcome the Pope with all due respect. Surprisingly, Patriarch Maksim attended the official welcoming ceremony at St. Alexander Nevski central square and had a 45-minute eye-to-eye meeting with the guest. Later President Georgi Purvanov described this as a clear signal that the Holy Synod is ready for an active dialogue.
The Pope was welcomed cordially by the monks at the Rila monastery. The monastery's hegumen, Bishop John stressed in his address to the Pope that the split between the Orthodox and the Catholic churches has lasted ten centuries.
"But the walls between them do not reach the skies and are temporary - men erected them and men will pull them down," said he.
The dialogue between the two churches is very important for Europe's future integration, said Cardinal Walter Casper, Chairman of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians. In his words, the relations between the Orthodox and the Catholic churches are intensive and are being stepped up.
Bulgaria's chances for EU and NATO membership were also commented in the light of the Papal visit. NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Rafael Estrella was the first to make such connection. Upon his arrival in Sofia he said that the NATO-PA session in Sofia and Pope John Paul II's visit are positive initiatives connected with overcoming the 50-year period of confrontation during the Cold War.
For his part, Pope John Paul II called Bulgaria a bridge between the East and West and a spiritual crossroad, and wished that the efforts for social renovation find deserved reception and support from the European Community.
Pope Sang in Bulgarian.

The mass ended with "Ahead, Resurrected People" and "Long Live"
For one day Plovdiv looked like Rome. The solemn mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II gathered at the Central Square about 8,000 worshippers from all over Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Greece, Chroatia, Hungary, Canada and the USA. A group of Italians that almost always accompanies the Pope, also arrived in Plovdiv. Vatican TV and Radio, as well as RAI 1, Intervision, CNN and German ARD and ZDF broadcast live the solemn mass. The Holy Father arrived in the square at 10.00 a.m. sharp. Minutes before his arrival the crowd witnessed the successive sign indicative of his visit in Bulgaria - the rain stopped all of a sudden. Pope John Paul II said he wished to pay tribute to all who suffered for their faith during the communist regime. He beatified Kamen Vichev, Pavel Djidjov and Yosofat Shishkov, three Bulgarian Catholic priests who were executed by firing squad on November 12, 1952 together with the blessed Bishop Evgeni Bossilkov, at an open-air solemn mass in Plovdiv's central square. The success of our earthly pilgrimage depends on whether we respond to God's love, the Pope said, serving the mass. He added that the three priests beatified by him were fully aware of this truth. The Pope celebrated the Holy Mass in Bulgarian. The Pope said that beatifying the three Bulgarian Catholic priests, he also wished to pay tribute to all martyrs of the Eastern Orthodox faith during the communist regime. Their strong faith in Christ has brought together the two communities of the Christian Church in Bulgaria, the Holy Father said. The Pope called on the Bulgarian Church to seriously consider the possibility of opening of a Catholic seminary in Bulgaria to train young priests. At the beginning of the Mass the Pope greeted Metropolitan Arseniy of Plovdiv who attended the Holy Mass. He said his presence was a sign of hope that we may some day rejoice over full unification. The Pope also addressed those professing the Islamic religion who also "worship, though in a different way, the only Almighty God". The Pope also greeted the representatives of the state authorities, thanking them for their contribution and said that without this contribution his journey to Bulgaria would have been impossible. Turning to the Mother of God icon placed at the altar, Pope John Paul II asked the Holy Virgin to watch over the Bulgarian people. At the end 100 priest administered Holy Communion to 300 children of 8. The crowd sang Bulgarian hymn dedicated to May 24 "Ahead, Resurrected People" and "Long Live".
Plovdiv Airport
Sunday, 26 May 2002
Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Sisters and Brothers in the Lord!
1. My visit to the beloved land of Bulgaria, although brief, has filled my heart with emotion and joy. The Pope has been given the opportunity to meet the Bulgarian people, to admire their virtues and qualities, to appreciate their great talents and generous energies. I give thanks to God who has granted me the possibility of making this pilgrimage during the very days on which the memory of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slav peoples, is celebrated.
The expression of my gratitude goes to all who have contributed to making this visit pleasant and purposeful. In the first place, I thank the President of the Republic and the Government Authorities, who invited me, worked efficiently in planning the visit and have honoured me by their presence at the different venues.
My heartfelt thanks go also to His Holiness Patriarch Maxim, to the Metropolitans and Bishops of the Holy Synod, and to all the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria. Not so long ago, both Catholics and Orthodox underwent harsh persecution for their fidelity to the Gospel: may so many sacrifices make the witness of Christians in this country bear much fruit and, with the grace of God, may they hasten the day when we shall be able to rejoice in the rediscovered fulness of unity among us!
I extend a cordial greeting also to the followers of Islam and to the Jewish community: may worship of the one Most High God inspire in everyone intentions of peace, understanding and mutual respect, and a commitment to build a society founded on justice and solidarity.
2. With particular affection, my farewell is addressed to my dear Brother Bishops and to the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church: I came to Bulgaria to celebrate together with you the mysteries of our faith and to acknowledge the sublime gift of martyrdom with which Blessed Eugene Bossilkov, Kamen Vitchev, Pavel Djidjov and Josaphat Chichkov confirmed their fidelity to the Lord. May their example be for you all a powerful incentive to generous consistency in the practice of the Christian life.
In the light of their glorious witness I exhort you: "In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). In this way you will effectively serve the cause of the Gospel and contribute with particular creativity to the true progress of Bulgaria.
3. One last word to all the beloved Bulgarian people, without distinction. A word that echoes what was said by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John XXIII, when he left this country in December 1934. On that occasion he referred to an Irish tradition according to which, on Christmas Eve, every house places a lighted candle in the window, as an indication to Joseph and Mary that inside there is a family awaiting them at the fireside. To the crowd that had come to bid him farewell, Archbishop Roncalli said: "If anyone from Bulgaria should ever pass by my house, at night, amid lifes difficulties, he will always find the candle burning in my window. Let him knock, let him knock! He will not be asked whether he is Catholic or Orthodox: he is a Bulgarian brother and that is enough. Let him come in: two brotherly arms and a friends warm heart will welcome him to the feast" (Christmas Homily, 25 December 1934).
These words are repeated today by the Pope of Rome, who, as he takes leave of this beautiful Land of Roses, keeps before his eyes and in his heart the images of his meetings with all of you.
God bless Bulgaria, with the abundance of his grace may he make its people feel my affection and gratitude, and may he grant to the Nation days of progress, prosperity and peace.
Estrella: Europe and NATO's New Architecture Would be Incomplete without Bulgaria as Full Member.
Sofia, May 26 (BTA) - Bulgaria sees in its NATO membership a solid guarantee for its national security and for Europe's security, President Georgi Purvanov said in his address to the delegates to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly spring session during a cocktail which he gave in their honour Sunday.
"We see in Bulgaria's membership in NATO a solid guarantee for our national security. We have the ambition to strengthen not only the Alliance's southern wing, but to contribute to security in Europe in general," said the Bulgarian head of state.
In the past couple of years Bulgaria acted as a de facto ally of the Alliance in all the challenges in the Balkans and in all hot sports worldwide, Purvanov added. He assured the NATO-PA delegates that Bulgaria will stick to this policy irrespective of the outcome and decisions of future fora, the Prague Summit in particular.
The Bulgarian president said he was pleased to greet all the participants in the NATO-PA session in Bulgaria, as they can assure themselves on the spot of the hospitality of Bulgarians and the considerable progress which the country has made towards market economy, building democratic and strong institutions and active civil society.
"I believe you have become convinced of the strong public support, lasting public and parliamentary consensus on Bulgaria's membership in NATO, and the progress in specific areas connected with the army reform, the legislation and meeting the other NATO membership criteria," said Purvanov.
The construction of Europe and NATO's new architecture would be incomplete if Bulgaria is not a full member, NATO-PA President Rafael Estrella said taking up a question. He thanked the Bulgarian president and the Bulgarian people for their hospitality and the excellent conditions for the session.
Estrella commended the country for playing host to the NATO-PA session in a moment of such importance as the visit buy Pope John Paul II here.
Bulgaria has set its main aim - full membership in NATO - and is taking serious steps in this direction. As a member it would contribute to stability and security in the Balkans, in Europe and the world, said Estrella and added there is no need to discuss the issue any further as his stand is clear.
Bulgaria is already a contributor of stability and security in Europe, said the NATO-PA President. He illustrated his words with specific examples, including the country's close cooperation in the Balkans and participation in the NATO operations in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.
Bulgaria pursues its main aim - integration in the Euro-Atlantic organization - with admirable unanimity, Estrella said. He stressed that the consensus between all political forces is the most important factor, which allows the country to carry out successfully serious and ambitious reforms in politics, the institutions, the army, the defence and the legislation.
Estrella said he was convinced that the NATO-PA delegates can see and appreciate the country's efforts and resoluteness.
He said that by the end if the year NATO-PA will probably send a message which will help a future Europe of stability and security and will make it possible to build a new architecture of Europe and NATO, which would be incomplete without Bulgaria as a full member.

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