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ST.GEORGE'S DAY - DAY OF VALOUR. The Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim sprinkles with holy water today, May 6,the official personalities taking part in the celebrations, marking St. George's Day - Day of Valour and the Bulgarian Army. PRESSPHOTO - BTA Photo: Bistra Boshnakova

The Stabilization and Association Agreement signed between Macedonia and the European Union is of great political and economic significance for the country and is a frame for Macedonia's integration into Europe.
This was one of the conclusions in the Report of the Committee on Foreign and Political Issues within the Swedish Parliament in which the proposal of the Swedish Government submitted to the Parliament for ratification of the Agreement was unanimously supported.
According to the document all states in the stabilization and association process, including Macedonia are potential candidates for gaining membership in the European Union considering their specifics and the successful implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement by each country.
The Report also says that the Swedish financial support to Macedonia has increased to 6,5 million Euro in 2001, and the Swedish support is expected to continue.
The Law on ratification of EU-Macedonian Agreement in the Swedish Parliament will be passed in normal procedure and the ratification should be enforced in June.
Macedonia needs the presence of the international forces until the end of 2002, because there are still incidents in the crisis regions and along the border, although the overall situation has improved, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said Monday at a joint press conference with his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt.
At the meeting, the Prime Ministers discussed the extension of the Task Force "Amber Fox" mission to Macedonia, as well as the possibility for the European Union to take over the command over this mission from NATO.
"The topic, whether EU or NATO will be in charge of the mission, has already been discussed and Macedonia will accept the agreement that these two international organizations are to reach," Georgievski said.
He extended his gratitude to Belgium for its participation in the peace mission in Macedonia and the economic support to the country, underling the significance of further international community support for the regional security.
Georgievski and Verhofstadt also discussed the economic cooperation between the two countries. In that respect, the officials agreed for a delegation of Belgian businessmen to soon visit Macedonia.
"Belgium and the EU are interested in the stability of Macedonia and the region," Verhofstadt said.
He underlined the significance of total implementation of the Ohrid agreement, reached through the active assistance of the EU.
"Belgium and the EU will keep participating in the international mission to Macedonia as long as necessary. I've also told PM Georgievski that Belgium will send its monitors to the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the country," he said.
Confirming that Belgian business delegation would visit Macedonia in October or November, Verhofstadt said that Belgium was interested to invest in and to develop good economic relations with Macedonia.

Consecration of Colours, Tenth Military Parade Held on Day of Valour, Day of Bulgarian Army.
Sofia, May 6 (BTA) - President Georgi Purvanov, who is also Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, National Assembly Chairman Ognyan Gerdjikov, MPs, ministers and many members of the public attended the consecration of the colours and the military parade on May 6, celebrated as the Day of Valour and the Bulgarian Army.
Patriarch Maksim officiated at the consecration. This is the first such occasion in several years, when the ritual was not performed due the rift in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Major General Kalcho Tanev, commander of the parade, saluted the President in the Alexander of Battenberg Square. Purvanov bowed to the flags which have seen historic battles and saluted the troops. This was the tenth military parade in a row after the celebration of May 6 as the Day of Valour and of the Bulgarian Army was resumed in 1993.
"I believe that not only the Bulgarian army, but society as a whole, is convinced of the need for the reforms we are implementing - not because we want to please someone abroad, but because we do not want to be left behind the deep changes in the armed forces," Purvanov said, addressing the participants in the parade.
Bulgaria is carrying out this reform because it needs a modernized, fighting-fit, strong army that can guarantee military security.
Views on national security changed dramatically all over the world after September 11, 2001. Bulgaria joined unconditionally the actions of the world anti-terror coalition, Purvanov said.
The President recalled that this year is decisive for the attainment of Bulgaria's strategic goal to join NATO. "This is a task of the whole nation, whose performance depends on all of us: the President, the Government, Parliament, all institutions, parties and organizations."
Purvanov saluted the march of the representative units: the Guards brass band, cadets from the higher military schools, units from Sofia, Plovdiv and Sliven, representatives of the special task force, the Air Defence Corps and the Navy.
May 6 was celebrated across the country.
Georgi Purvanov Congratulates Jacques Chirac on Re-election.
Sofia, May 6 (BTA) - President Georgi Purvanov congratulated Jacques Chirac on his election to the French Presidency, Purvanov's Press Secretariat said on Monday.
"Please accept my heartiest congratulations on your re-election as President of the French Republic," Purvanov wrote.
"Your clear-cut victory in the second round of voting is compelling proof of the tremendous commitment of the French to their own fate, their strong wish to continue to defend the principles and values of freedom and democracy, and build our common European future along with the other nations," Purvanov said.
The Bulgarian President is convinced that relations between the two friendly countries and nations will expand, and that Bulgaria can rely on Chirac's and France's support for its bid for integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
Macedonian Lamb Meat Traders Outmarket Bulgaria in the EU.
Sofia, May 6 (BTA) - Bulgarian lamb meat traders have been outmarketed in the EU by Macedonia, which subsidizes exporters with 1 Deutsche mark per kilo of meat. Bulgaria exports lamb meat at about 3.5 euros/kg, while Macedonian traders have lowered its price to 3 euros. The purchase price in Bulgaria is about 4.5 leva/kg of live weight.
The Bulgarian Association of Sheep and Goat Traders says exports to Italy for the Western Easter were less than 200 tonnes, as against about 800 t last year.
Association Chief Secretary Teodora Ivanova told BTA that very little lamb meat had been exported to Greece. The two countries are the main buyers of Bulgarian lamb meat in the EU.
A mere 10.7 per cent of the EU quota for sheep and goats and meat thereof has been filled, according to Economy Ministry figures. The Association says the EU no longer links a possible increase in Bulgaria's duty-free quota with meeting it 100 per cent.
The remaining 20 per cent of the duty-free quota will be distributed in June and the Association is pressing for amendments to the ordinance on the terms and procedure of issuing documents of origin in the export of sheep and goats and meat thereof to the EU. They insist that the government scrap the requirement for a 100-dollar deposit per tonne of meat from the quota, which goes to the exchequer if the stipulated amount fails to be exported. This is a second penalty on exporters, who lose their rights as traditional exporters if they fail to meet the annual quota.
The Association holds that traditional exporters should be set equal quotas.
The existing ordinance does not allow them to apply for a larger quota even if they have proved they can increase exports.
Eighty per cent (5,600 tonnes) of the EU tariff quota for sheep and goats and meat thereof was distributed in January. The annual quota was set at 7,000 t of slaughter weight. Traditional exporters get 80 per cent of the quota, and newcomers get the remaining 20 per cent. In 2001, 98.42 per cent of the quota was filled.
Veliko Turnovo (Northern Bulgaria), May 6 (BTA) - "It is our duty to preserve folk songs and dances, which are our precious treasure and the mainstay of Bulgarian lifestyle and culture, of the Bulgarians' unique image, creative genius and collective spirit," Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha wrote in a letter to the participants in the Balkan Folk '02 Balkan Range Gathering, which opened on Sunday with a big Easter chain dance near the monument to Mother Bulgaria in central Veliko Turnovo.
Several hundred singers, dancers and musicians from some 70 Bulgarian ensembles celebrated Easter in the streets of the medieval Bulgarian capital. A church choir from the Russian town of Tver, which is twinned with Veliko Turnovo, groups from Croatia and Portugal lend variety to the performances.
Until May 19, as many as 14,000 performers from 650 groups for folk songs, dances and rituals, 150 groups for old city songs, tourist and patriotic songs, and 22 church choirs will appear on the festival's six stages.
Sofia, May 6 (BTA) - Anyone can manage on their own, but life is better with your neighbours by your side: this is the motto of "Literary Balkans", a quarterly published by the Balkani Publishers.
Nobel Prize-winners such as Ivo Andric and Greek writer George Seferis, as well as Nobel Prize nominees, feature in the first issue of the almanac.
The almanac carries two acceptance speeches delivered at the Swedish Academy of Sciences, Andric's "On Being a Man" and Seferis's "Language and the Monster". Also published is Gencho Stoev's acceptance speech at the presentation of the Hemus All-Balkan Prize in Thessaloniki, awarded for his novel "The Price of Gold".
The almanac also includes Albanian writer Ismail Kadare's "Aeschylus or the Eternal Loser", Svetoslav Milarov's "Memoirs from the Constantinople Dungeons", Toncho Zhechev's last study "Bulgarian Sacred Places in Constantinople" and an article by Gancho Savov on contemporary Bosnian writer Josip Osti. An excerpt of Osti's "Sarajevo's Book of the Dead", written during the siege, is published in the quarterly's first issue.

Greek Police Strikes a Blow to Albanian Heroin Mafia.
2 Albanians Caught for Possession of Heroin in Greece.
ATHENS, May 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Police in Salonika [Greek: Thessalonica, Macedonian: Solun], northern Greece, on Monday arrested two Albanians with nearly 10 kilograms of heroin in their car, reports reaching here said.
The two, identified as Buzar Spagiu, 30, and Izet Beta, 30, were stopped on the Salonika-Kilkis [Mk: Kukush] highway.
The police found 20 parcels of heroin, amounting to 9,761 grams,on the back seats of the car, reports said.

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