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News  BulletinNo1, January 2000

VMRO-DPMNE entrenches itself in the Government | Rearrangement of the Political Forces | The Economy Is Stirring Up

According to the publications in the mass media from January, social life in R Macedonia is saturated with significant political events. By animated political activities Government, political parties and public organizations try to reassess their roles and positions after the presidential elections from last year and are in search of opportunities for revenge in the forthcoming local elections this year. 

VMRO-DPMNE entrenches itself in the Government

Formed at the end of December 1999 the new government of R Macedonia marks only the distribution of the ministerial posts among the participants in the coalition “For changes”. On its session, first for the new year 2000, the government approves the vice-premiers Dosta Dimovska from VMRO-DPMNE, V.Tupurkovsky from DA and Bedredin Ibrahimy from ADP. Before them a task is set – to present their ideas regarding formation of governmental commissions at the next governmental sitting. This is announced on 12 of January by Vecher newspaper and the rest of the media in the country. Vecher n. again, from 18 Jan, informs about a second session of the government held the previous day, on which occasion the governmental commissions proposed by the vice-premiers are approved as operative ruling bodies. This time impresses that commissions, in contrast to last year, are mainly leaded by ministers or high governmental activists from VMRO-DPMNE. Personnel changes at the higher levels of the governmental administration are under way too.

On the occasion of one of these changes – the discharge of five highly positioned officers of the Ministry of Defense, including the chief of the military counter-intelligence, effectuated according to a proposal by L.Georgievsky – the opposition press makes efforts to reveal “the Bulgarian trace”. In Dnevnik from 12 Jan a news is published that the discharge of the high-ranked militaries from the Ministry of Defense is due to an incident - a lorry carrying Bulgarian explosive is caught at a border check-point with Yugoslavia, after sent from a Macedonian explosive-producing plant in the town of Samokov (R Macedonia) and destinated to Yugoslavia. This news is repeated by the other newspapers in Macedonia, also in Bulgaria. It is an indisputable sensation – as an infringement of the embargo still emposed against the above-mentioned country on import of weapons and military materials. The fact that Macedonian newspapers readily take up the version of the “Bulgarian trace” is explicable. It’s not the same when referring to the Bulgarian newspapers – such as Duma, Democratzia, Monitor,Sega, from 13 Jan, and the rest of them – which do not resist the temptation to echo the such a news. By the way, this is lately part of a trend in our media - each time more evident – they do not pay careful attention before reflection, subsequently, on the events in R Macedonia. The minister of Defense, Prof. Klussev, expresses a categorical opinion in Dnevnik from 15 Jan that the changes in his Ministry are just part of the personnel changes planned at this stage by the government and that they are not related to any “explosive” case at the border with Yugoslavia. In connection with the personnel changes at the highest administrative levels, replacement of the director of the Intelligence Agency, Dr Alexa Stamenkovsky is expected also. The agency is subordinate to the president B.Traikovsky. According to an announcement in Vecher from 13 Jan, VMRO-DPMNE starts changes and replacements among the directors of enterprises of its quota – it refers to the ones who did not show efficient results. There are changes also in bodies and departments of the Ministry of Interior. Such a personnel policy is expected to go on. Back to top

Rearrangement of the Political Forces

In January the camp of the political forces is bubbling with ambitions. New parties appear; there are attempts new factions to be formed in the already existing ones. Efforts toward programme reorientation are visible.

In the camp of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE serious intentions are observed for consolidation of the organization in the center as well as locally. In the party, as reported by Vecher from 14 Jan, internal party elections are initiated which will continue during 3 months and will originate, according to the stated intentions of the leaders, changes in the Executive and Central committees of the party. The culmination of the intended personnel changes during the election campaign is related to the insatisfactory valuation for the work of the party bodies and organizations during the presidential elections and the preparatives of the forthcoming local elections. 

At the same time the Skopie’s media pay attention also to an eventual formation of a faction of party activists dissatisfied with the actual party leadership. This is reported in Vecher, Nova Macedonia, Dnevnik and others from 12 – 14 Jan. As sources of information are indicated the names of an ex general secretary of VMRO-DPMNE, Boris Zmeikovsky, and the recently substituted minister of finances of R Macedonia, Boris Stoimenov. Also are mentioned Liubisha Georgievsky and members of the Intellectuals’ Council at the party. Pretensions refer to the way in which the party is ruled and are specially addressed to Dosta Dimovska who’s responsible for the personnel issues of the party. It is well known since long ago that among the members of the party there is discontent regarding a range of administrative issues. It is mostly related to the formation and work of the ruling coalition. But still, for the time being, the threat of faction formation in the party is improbable. 

The biggest opposition party in R Macedonia, the Social Democratic League of Macedonia (SDLM), prepares for the forthcoming local elections. At its party conference, held on 24 Jan, in Skopie, the SDLM considers the results of the presidential elections its own victory although being deprived of it because of falsifications of the election results by the ruling forces. But despite it, in the speech of the party secretary, Georgi Spassov, a message is outlined – that the SDLM will make efforts to clean itself of the accusations in Albanophobia and proserbian orientation – such accusations were used during the election campaign by the parties ruling today. So, it intend to change its image. Nova Macedonia, from 25 Jan, Utrinsky vestnik and Dnevnik of the same day pay attention also to the decision taken at the SDLM’s conference – a “government in the shade” to be formed. It will be undertaken by the ex premier Br.Tzarvenkovsky whose activities as a party leader got the approval of the conference. Representatives of the ruling coalition, interviewed by Utrinsky vestnik, do not believe that a similar idea is feasible, at least at the present moment in R Macedonia. An intention outlined at the conference proves somehow illogical – SDLM will improve its work regarding Bulgaria, more precisely regarding the Euro-left-wing. By now there is not information published about any contacts between the two parties.

The interest of the media during the month of January is activated by reports about creation of a new political party in R Macedonia – the Democratic Union. Pavle Trayanov, the recent minister of interior, and a group of intellectuals, among whom the owner of Forum magazine, Nikola Mladenov, initiated said formation. P.Traianov defines the party as orientated toward centralism. The latter will pretend, as reported by Nova Macedonia, Vecher, Makedonia denes, Utrinsky vestnik and others from 12 and 20 Jan, to take a position between VMRO-DPMNE and SDLM in the political life. The Democratic Union (DU) intends to recruit members among the circles of the Democratic Alternative (DA), the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and even among the members of VMRO-DPMNE and the small parties derived from it. The programme requests of the new party embrace: euro-orientation of the country, NATO membership, programme of accelerated economical development, promotion of national security etc. In fact, the same are the requests launched by all the parties in the country. And this party intends to create a “government in the shade” as a corrective of the actual executive authorities. But Utrinsky vestnik from 25 Jan, comments said intention and the SDLM’s “government in the shade” as being a means of blocking the work of the actual government. For the time being it’s not clear how the promotion of the new party will work and if it will become a factor of political centralism. But the claim raised is clear. The Sofia newspapers Sega and Monitor from 21 Jan, also report about the new party and its intentions.

Far more serious are the processes undergone by the LDP in the month of January. For some time last year, it was a partner of the ruling coalition “For changes” from which it goes out after internal struggles in the eve of the presidential campaign. It nominates its own candidate for presidency – the well-known political activist Stoian Andov. In the party appear two subdivisions. One of them, leaded by St.Andov wants a separate participation of the party in the political life. The other, leaded by the Skopie’s mayor Risto Penov, is orientated toward the today’s opposition. The participation of St.Andov at the presidential election made the differences deepen. Mainly because of the above-mentioned reasons but the subdivisions differentiate also regarding organization principles. The formation headed by St.Andov goes out of the party and restores the ex Liberal Party. According to reports of Nova Macedonia from 11 Jan, the Committee for Initiatives which carries out the splitting of the liberals into a separate party, is headed by the eminent businessman Risto Goushterov who is also a candidate for its leadership.

The splitting up of the LDP and the formation of a new Liberal Party is a serious event in the political life of the country as it concerns an already established political force. Its candidate for the presidency, St.Andov, got more than 100 000 votes at the first election round. Besides, the LDP has four representatives in the parliament, three of them pronounce themselves to be on the side of the newly formed party. On the other hand, in various settlements in the country, LDP has massive local organizations. Some of them, such as the ones in Radovish, Prilep etc, as reported by Nova Macedonia from 21 and 24 Jan, pronounced themselves to take the side of the liberals. Besides, certain eminent figures of the DA apply for membership in the newly formed Liberal Party. 

The new party declares that it will act in the political center, as the Pavle Traianov’s Democratic Union. It’s obvious that the contradiction between the VMRO-DPMNE and SDLM leave room in the center of the political sphere. And the above-mentioned new forces will try to take it and to overcome the two-pole model dominating since the beginning of the 90-ies in R Macedonia. Time will show if this is the way. 

According to reports in the Macedonian media similar activation is observed also among the Albanian political parties. The newspapers Dnevnik from 15, Nova Macedonia from 17 and 20, and Vecher from 21 and 25 of January watch closely the development of the internal party struggles in the biggest, until recently, Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP) leaded by Abdulrahman Ality. The struggles are focused around two issues: insatisfactory participation of the party in the presidential elections – about which is blamed the present party leaders, and the attitude of the party toward the actual rulers – if the party has to stay in opposition or to join the authority; if the chairman of the party is to be elected by a party assembly or by the party leaders after elected by the party assembly. According to Dnevnik from 15 Jan, around these issues two groups are formed struggling for dominating the party. From 17 members of the leadership of the PDP, 14 already resigned. At two meetings held by the leaders in January there is no move further regarding the controversial points. It seems that events still lie ahead. Anyway, PDP is no longer a serious factor among the Albanian population.

According to a report in Vecher from 21 Jan, in the circles of the Macedonian Albanians a new political party is under way. It will be called the Democratic alliance of the Albanians in Macedonia. Prominent intellectuals initiate said creation. About 15 000 signatures are gathered to support it and the official proclamation of the new party will occur when 30 000 signatures will be attached. By what is already known the initiative for new party formation is directed against the Tetovo’s monopoly in the political activities of the Albanian population (both PDP and the other Albanian party, the ADP, have their head-quarters in Tetovo). No more details are known, though. It is reported that another Albanian party is to appear too – a Party of the Albanians’ Democratic Unity. Its initiators are from the Skopie’s quarter of “Chento”. But, in this case too, it is not clear enough what is the matter about. It’s a noticeable fact that in the generally-speaking stable political camp of the Albanians in R Macedonia – as it proved to be during the presidential elections – there is a stirring up too. The question is – in what direction will this animation vent.

These are only few of the most perceptible phenomena in the Macedonian political reality. But there are others too. The leadership of the Students’ union - having about 28 000 member-students in the country - passed under the influence of the SDLM during the leadership elections held in January. Nova Macedonia from 11 and 12 and Vecher from 20 Jan, as well as Utrinsky vestnik from the same days, observe closely the battle for influence over said youth organization – battle between the main political forces in the country. The smaller political parties show indications of reorientation too. The question is how the ruling VMRO-DPMNE can take advantage of the animation among the political forces ...or this will be done by the opposition. Back to top

The Economy Is Stirring Up

Publications in the Skopie’s press from January testify a serious economical animation too. It regards mostly the introduction of foreign investments in the economy - orientation of fresh money in there, as well as the positive trade development recently. In an interview of the Macedonian radio, from 16 Jan, the premier L.Georgievsky points out that till the end of 1999 the gross national income of the country amounts to 2,7 per cent despite the forecasts of negative balance. If, in his opinion, this tempo of the economy development is kept up, then growth of 6 per cent can be achieved – as forecast by the International Monetary Fund when defining the macro framework of the budget for the year 2000. 

The share of the Greek investors in R Macedonia is the biggest. In January concluded negotiations between the Greek National Bank and the Economic Bank in Skopie. The Greeks collaborate with the European Bank for Innovation and Development and an International Financial Corporation. The contractual price of the Economic Bank, the largest private bank in the country, amounts to DEM 98 millions. Apart of this transaction which concludes in midst of January i.e. by that time, the Greek investments in R Macedonia amount to more than USD 230 millions, according to data of the Thessalonike’s agency MIA. It occurred mainly last year by considerable transactions like the one of the purchase of the OKTA, the Macedonian refinery, last autumn and by some 40 or 50 more. On 20 Jan, in Belimbegovo, near Skopie, the Greek firm “Nikas and Co” opens a modern factory for production of sausages, in which DEM 15 millions are invested and between 100 and 200 work positions are created. The inauguration of the factory, as reported by Vecher from 21 Jan, is attended also by the premier of R Macedonia, L.Georgievsky.

Other investments are expected after finished the negotiations of purchasing some of the largest enterprises in the country. “Imperial-metal”, an American firm which intends to buy the losing enterprise “Feny” is expected to pay USD 5 millions for the purchase and some 30 millions more for investment in the enterprise, within a term of three years – for a respective reconstruction and modernization. Transactions for selling a range of big enterprises also are under way – to buyers such as “Reinische vaser”, a German company, “Deimpler”, an international concern, “Kreisler” etc. These news are reported by Nova Macedonia from 21 Jan.

Some publications in the newspapers reveal other opportunities of investments in the Macedonian economy and of influx of capitals. According to Vecher from 21 Jan, only one transportation firm in Debar, last year, servicing with NATO and KFOR, made profits of DEM 600 000. The international forces are clients also of the entire trade and production structure of the country. So, money they spend in R Macedonia, is far much more.

Vecher from 17 Jan informs that to the animation of the Macedonian economy contribute also the activities of the Macedonian biggest building companies. Although the statute of Kossovo is still pending – regarding customs etc – which represents an obstacle for a larger installation of Macedonian firms in the region, a great part of them, separately or as sub-agents of foreign companies – already operate there. In this way contacts with foreign companies extend continuously. A considerable part of the industries of building materials, food products and others are already set in full progress. There is one more source of funds for the economical sphere. Within the framework of the so-called Clinton’s initiative for development of the South Balkans, i.e. the corridor East-West, the Macedonian Government is expected to sign a contract with the American State Agency of Gratuitous Aid for a sum amounting to USD 2 187 000 destined to the needs of the Macedonian railways. On the other hand, the government of Taiwan offers aid free amounting to USD 3 millions for the purchase of two electrical engines/locomotives. Details of the agreement with Taiwan are already set into action. All this justifies the premier L.Georgievsky when stating that R Macedonia is “assaulted” by foreign investors.

In this connection remains the question of the building by Taiwan of a free industrial zone on “Bounardjika” near Skopie, as agreed already last year. In a statement for radio Skopie on 23 Jan, the vice-premier V.Toupourkovsky declares that before the government is to be set immediately the question of forming a coordination body for a direct administration of the construction works. The vision of the Taiwanese Government is voiced too – regarding a speeded building of the zone and the obstacles arised in this respect, mainly of administrative origin. As already known, this is a project worth more than USD 200 millions which one should open about 20 000 work positions.

All this is fine but the Macedonian Government cannot pass over the lack of agreement on a credit from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank last year. Such an agreement has not been signed for the present year 2000. During the negotiations with said institutions in November and December 1999 a specific agreement was not reached mostly due to the fact that R Macedonia did not manage to restructure some 10-12 big losing enterprises i.e. it could not sell or liquidate them and in such a way it missed to effectuate the structural reform in the economy. At present, the Government tries to settle this problem and according to a schedule prepared by it, till the end of February, the fate of 7 of said enterprises will be decided. As reported by Dnevnik from 26 Jan, by the midst of this year, the prospective of contested mines will be known; and by the end of the year five more of the largest losing enterprises will be sold or liquidated together with four more, not completely privatized.

On 26 Jan, in Skopie, a mission of the IMF arrives but not to negotiate on the credit agreement but to check the fulfilment of the memoir compiled during their previous visit. The Skopie’s newspapers from 25, 26 and 27 of January inform that continuous and difficult negotiations lie ahead. Eventually they might end in June this year, which means that the expected credits from the IMF and the World Bank (going together with the Fund) might be granted only in the second half of this year, if not later. Back to top