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News  Bulletin No1, January 2000

R Macedonia Initiates Negotiations with the EU | Meeting in Hissaria without Neckties  | Meeting in Skopie of the Signatories of the Stability Pact  | Working Meeting in Ohrid | Will Skopie Recognize Cyprus ?  | I wish Macedonia to be integrated into NATO as soon as possible | New Steps in the Good-neighbourly Relations between Skopie and Athens  | President B. Traikovsky in Berlin | Other Political Initiatives

In January, L.Georgievsky’s Government, eased after the emotions run high during the elections, pays more attention to a series of foreign-political initiatives with the aim of implementing its strategic task - R Macedonia to be integrated in the structures of the European Union, to consolidate and develop the regional collaboration and stability etc.

R Macedonia Initiates Negotiations with the EU

The Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, without any discussions or remarks, gives mandate to the European Commission to undertake negotiations with R Macedonia for signing a Contract on stabilization and association. Thus the republic becomes the first country of the five states of the so-called Western Balkans to which a similar contract has been offered. The European Commission expects that a successful conclusion of the negotiations will be a good example for the rest of the countries in the region. This is a deserved award for R Macedonia’s courage, decisiveness and patience during the Kossovo crisis and its aftermaths; for its efforts to build together with the numerous Albanian community a democratic society; to set off with determination toward a market economy way of development facing its challenges.

If R Macedonia proves to be well prepared for performing and undertaking the relevant reforms, the negotiations can finish by the end of this year. Afterwards it will pass under the procedure of ratification on part of the parliaments of the EU member-countries as well as of the Macedonian Assembly. Such a procedure can take not more than three or four years.

When the contract becomes effective it will be grounds for deepening regular political dialogue between R Macedonia and the EU. Such a contract means an obligation for the country to adapt gradually to the legislation of the EU, including when the internal affairs and law are concerned. From the democratic and reforming efforts depends, at a great extent, whether Macedonia will get a further invitation and statute of a country applicant for membership to the EU. Of course, the political will of Europe and the stabilization process in the region will have their relevant impact.

The central point of the new contract refers to the obligation – in the future including – of a regular contribution granted to the regional stability and regional collaboration. This requirement on part of the EU, is exposed in details in the political directives of the draft-contract. It contains most concrete ideas for R Macedonia. They are a result of the quick reaction on part of Europe to the events in Croatia which originated fears in Skopie to be deprived of the leading role in the reluctantly eligible group of states of the West Balkans. The European Commission insists, the first countries which are to conclude contracts with it, previously to have signed bilateral agreements on collaboration. For R Macedonia is assigned Croatia which quickly reorientated itself off nationalism and totalitarism toward the European values and the higher European life standard.

Another distinction of the contract of association and stability is a gradual adoption of evolutionary clauses under which, in case of best issue of the processes in the country as well as of the negotiations, R Macedonia will be allowed to get a statute of anticipating country-applicant for EU membership. In three or four years, a relevant successful stabilization of the country and of the region would transform the signing of contract on association and stability into an instrument of forwarding the country into the group of states more advanced in the negotiations. 

The premier L.Georgievsky defines the decision of Europe to invite R Macedonia to sign a Contract on stabilization and association as a “historical” event directing the country into its future development. As a leader of the team which will conduct the negotiations, the vice-premier Vassil Toupourkovsky is appointed. This is a move predetermined in the new coalition contract signed between VMRO-DPMNE and DA. 

In connection with the invitation by the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs a mandate to be given to the EC for signing a contract on stability and association with R Macedonia, the press and the electronic media raise the question of the “leadership” between the Balkan states on their way toward Europe. Skopie reacts quite jealously to the invitation addressing Bulgaria and to its role of regional leader each time more strengthened in the process of settling a series of common problems. When commenting the fact that Bulgaria will be relieved of the monitoring and the visa regimes, Nova Macedonia and the rest of the press prove quite jealous when referring to our country. The opposition press stirs up an antibulgarian hysteria and levels attacks against the Government. 

Meanwhile the European Commission undertakes decisive steps the new financial instrument to be introduced by the end of March – which one is to replace PHARE in subsidizing the West Balkan countries. Through it the financing of projects of common interest for R Macedonia and EU will continue and thus the country will be helped quicker and easier to assume the European processes of integration and to adapt its legislation respectively. 

By now the European commission still hasn’t defined accurately how the financing from the West Balkan Fund will be proceeded for the period till the year 2006. In this respect, Patrick Reno, responsible in the EC for the new financial programme, gives detailed explanations for the Skopie’s press. (see Dnevnik from 12 Jan; Nova Macedonia from 21, 25 Jan; 24 hours from 26 Jan; Democratzia from 26, 29 Jan; Vecher from 20 Jan)

In connection with the efforts made by R Macedonia in its aspirations for EU membership, at the end of the month, Skopie is visited by the Ambassador and Head of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for R Macedonia, Carlo Ungaro. He is received by the Minister of Interior Dosta Dimovska and the Chairman of the Republic Boris Traikovsky. During the talks both parties jointly agreed upon a necessity for the international community to improve the economical situation in the country and the region. It is pointed out that the setting around the Republic has a negative impact on its economical situation. The killing of three policemen as an extreme form of criminality is jointly condemned. B.Traikovsky highlights the necessity of “operationalization” of the Stability Pact by ensuring its priority in the economical activities which will evolve into development of the democratic processes in the countries of the region. With Dosta Dimovska assistance on part of the OSCE is agreed upon - regarding the struggle of the Ministry of Interior against the organized criminality (Nova Macedonia from 21 Jan). Back to top

Meeting in Hissaria without Neckties

Suggested by Ivan Kostov, the Prime-Minister of Bulgaria, on 21 and 22 Jan, a meeting of the premiers of the countries having boundary with Yugoslavia is held in Hissaria. It is attended by the premiers of Romania - Mougour Izaresku, of Albania – Ilir Meta, of R Macedonia – Lubcho Georgievsky, of Hungary – Victor Orban, of Croatia – Zlatko Matesha and of Bosna and Herzegovina – Harie Silaidjich and Svetozar Mihailovich. At the meeting is present too the High EU representative on security and foreign affairs, Havier Solana and the NATO deputy general secretary Sergio Balanzino. At Hissaria, the forum discusses the situation in South East Europe and the Stability Pact without making any specific decisions. This is an informal amicable meeting, without any previous angagements or expectations any documents to be approved. The meeting is held with the approval of NATO and the EU.

For the first time, after the Kossovo crisis has been overcome, heads of states-neighbours of Yugolavia meet without previously fixed agenda. This is fairly evaluated by a Bulgarian diplomatic source as a proof of the increasing authority of Sofia in the region. 

As a continuation of the two-day discussions of the premiers of the countries neighbouring with Yugoslavia an exhaustive exchange of opinions is conducted regarding the actual situation on the Balkans. At a press-conference immediately after the plenary session is finished, Ivan Kostov informs about the proposals made. In his opinion the premiers suggest free navigation on the Danube to be ensured; they urge the implementation of the amendments of the Stability Pact which have been approved with delay. No categorical stand is established regarding the cancellation of the sanctions against Yugoslavia; but it has been confirmed that said sanctions are wrongly focused and have negative consequences for the country-neighbours which practically “participate in financing them”. An agreement is reached - the efforts of the Serbian opposition to be supported with the aim of democratization of the country by involving the minorities in this process. Monte Negro has been a focus of discussions too, without any specific reference, but regarding a question whether a “referendum” for separation from Serbia is to be conducted or not. In the message made by the meeting parties and addressed to the Serbian opposition and the Albanian leaders in Kossovo, although not directly, it is suggested that their unsolved problems create huge difficulties for the neighbouring states. 

Apart of the joint messages of the meeting in Hissaria referring to the slow tempo of the implementation of the Pact for Stability in South East Europe and for Democratization of Yugoslavia, differences appear in the approach of settling the basic problems which are different for each one of the countries participating at the forum. Such a distinction has become evident regarding Iv.Kostov’s proposal for revising the sanctions against Yugoslavia. It remained not comprehended by the other neighbours of SRY, by H.Solana and S.Balanzino as well. 

On the eve of the meeting, premier Kostov has declared that the embargo against Yugoslavia should be directed toward those who caused the crisis of the country and not to influence negatively the ordinary Serbs; the sanctions confirm Miloshevich’s thesis that by them the world punishes the Serbian people. Obviously the participants at the meeting haven’t been ready for a similar radical measure and that’s why, most of them do not even express any statement respectively. At the end the dominating opinion is in favour of the sanctions considering them an important political instrument “having its price”, Iv. Kostov explains later.

Despite the differences on the question of the sanctions all the participants making a statement at the meeting confirm that said sanctions are a common concern without any compensations whatever. “If the Brussels’ conference on donations, in March, will not achieve any success this will result into a deep dissatisfaction in the Balkan states”, declares L.Georgievsky. At the same time he expresses his concern on the fact that in Kossovo no significant restoration works are initiated. “If there is any positive consequence of the Kossovo crisis it is the unity achieved among the Balkan states” underlines the premier of R Macedonia.

Against the background of the expectations of every body for a substantial financial support for the region, H.Solana’s words that “all” must pay for the Stability Pact sound completely dissonant.

Referring to the Serbian opposition L.Georgievsky expresses his doubts whether it will be able to overcome Miloshevich’s mistakes. He states that the home problems of Serbia become Macedonia’s too and as an example mentions the increasing rate of criminality.

The meeting in Hissaria is evaluated as being successful for the states participating in it, as being a new and decisive step on the way of collaboration between them in consolidating peace and stability. It proves successful also for the EU on the way of integrating said countries toward the European and North Atlantic values. It has been decided that next meeting will take place in Budapest by the end of February this year (on the meeting in Hissaria, see Nova Macedonia from 21, 22, 23 and 24 Jan; Vecher from 21, 22, 23, 24 Jan; 24 hours from 21, 22, 23, 24 Jan; Monitor from 24 Jan; BTA-Balkans from 24 Jan). Back to top

Meeting in Skopie of the Signatories of the Stability Pact

The Skopie press from 11 Jan informs about a forthcoming meeting on 13 Jan in Skopie, between representatives of the states – members of the Stability Pact. It will focus on the business relations between the countries, within the framework of a work-tabling of the issues of economical reconstruction, development and collaboration as part of the Regional table on South East Europe. The latter is a mechanism of the Stability Pact assigned to coordinate the activities of the work tables on democratization and human rights, economical reconstruction, development and collaboration and on the security issues. The work table on economical reconstruction, on its part, covers the respective collaboration in the region of South East Europe as well as the cooperation between the region and the rest of Europe and the world related to the improvement of free trade, energy supply, infrastructure, business development of the private sector; the issues referring to the ecology, the reintegration of refugees and other questions representing a special concern for the participants. 

The agenda of the meeting includes formation of working groups on elimination of the trade barriers and then a presentation of the actual trade regimes of the countries in South East Europe is forseen. A representative of the European Commission will present the efforts on the development of the business collaboration between the signatories of the Stability Pact. At a one-day session customs problems will be examined as well as improving the custom regime and easing the frontier crossing and the necessity of larger exchange of information in the field of commerce (Nova Macedonia from 11 Jan).

In the activities during the Skopie’s meeting take part representatives of the countries of South East Europe, of the EU, the European Commission, USA and from international financial organizations and financial institutions as well as from the Work table on issues of economical reconstruction, progress and cooperation within the Stability Pact (Utrinsky vestnik from 13 Jan). The meeting is organized by the Ministry of Commerce of R Macedonia. The representatives making statements assess as unsatisfactory the current condition of the trade operations between the countries in South East Europe. This circumstance has its impact on the economical progress of the entire region. This situation is to be improved and the obstacles of business development – to be eliminated. 

For stimulating the trade growth between the countries of South East Europe, the conference indicates as a priority a further liberalization of the trade relations within the framework of the region as well as promoting competition, providing new technologies etc. The problems of the transport infrastructure, information matter, measures for border relieves and improvement of custom servicing are also examined. 

Within the work range respectively representatives of the signatories of the Stability Pact focus on the actual business practices of R Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia. Together with the conclusions drawn at the meeting, a working group is formed which one is to prepare an action plan for realization of a programme for starting the process of more intensive economical collaboration in the region and for overcoming the barriers impeding the promotion cycle (Vecher from 14 Jan; Nova Macedonia from 14 Jan; Utrinsky vestnik from 13 Jan). Back to top

Working Meeting in Ohrid

On 18 Jan in Ohrid a meeting between the prime-ministers of R Macedonia, L.Georgievsky, of Albania, Ilir Meta and of Monte Negro, Filip Vouyanovich, is held. The meeting is conducted by initiative of the Macedonian premier. The three of them discuss the regional cooperation, the economical links and the Stability Pact in the framework of South East Europe. The status of the opposition in Serbia is treated too. Despite that Monte Negro is not an independent international factor, Skopie demonstrates before the premier from Podgoritza that it considers important the processes in the remaining Yugoslavia. Joint projects of common interest within the Stability Pact are discussed too.

The meeting in Ohrid coincides with a very intense start of the activities of the Macedonian Government aiming at a formation of Balkan policy of initiative.

L.Georgievsky assesses the talks in Ohrid as a valuable contribution for a future “clearance of the blockade” in the infrastructure of the three countries. According to the Albanian premier Ilir Meta the political, economical and ethnical problems between the three countries have a solution and the meeting is a good start in such direction. Meta invites his two colleagues to visit Tirana for continuation of the talks. F.Vouyanovich considers the meeting as an opportunity for a subsequent connection at the level of the infrastructures of the three countries and for the provision of effective civil and business communications. He expresses a hope for a forthcoming opening of the corridor between R Macedonia and Monte Negro through Kossovo (Democratzia from 18, 29 Jan; Vecher from 20 Jan; Nova Macedonia from 15 Jan). Back to top

Will Skopie Recognize Cyprus ?

In the diplomatic circles in Skopie, each time more persistently lately, the problem of recognition of R Cyprus is tabled. The main argument for such a step, according to the first diplomat, Minister Alexandar Dimitrov, is the trend of R Macedonia toward establishing diplomatic relations with more states. Together with it he states that this idea is up-to-date but will not be realized in the near future.

The news of the intentions of the Government to establish diplomatic links with Cyprus excites the spirits and reminds of the Taiwan case from last year. Many of the Macedonian politicians and intellectuals have a negative stand regarding a similar diplomatic move. According to them Macedonia will achieve nothing and this act neither will influence in any way Greece to recognize the constitutional name of the country nor it will be of any benefit whatsoever. Again the “Taiwan case” is discussed – because of the Taiwan’s recognition Macedonia has lost its mighty ally, China, and according to sporadic statements has put obstacles in front of its own attempts to integrate the EU considering that a recognition of said ex part of China is unacceptable. Despite the fact that on part of Turkey there is no official reaction, in some political circles is estimated that Macedonia risks to lose another mighty ally and amicable party like Turkey which has offered moral and material support tothe country and has put some investments in the Macedonian economy. 

According to Dnevnik from 19 Jan, the Macedonian economy will suffer serious damages if Cyprus is recognized and if diplomatic relations are established respectively. If, because of it, Turkish businesses leave Macedonia, this will cause considerable economical perturbations because Turkey is a powerful business partner – such a position is formed in the Economical Chamber in Skopie. The actual trade with Turkey amounts to USD 40 millions – 31 millions of them originate from the import from Turkish companies and only 7 millions result from export of Macedonian goods. Specialists state that additional difficulties will arise also in connection with the contract of free trade signed last year and ratified by the Turkish party. On the one hand, the Turkish companies threaten, if such a recongnition becomes reality, to leave Macedonia. On the other hand, if, most probably the Turkish Government closes its Embassy, there will be no protection for their interests. We shall expect to see the further development of this foreign-political issue in the forthcoming months. (Vecher from 24 Jan). Back to top

I wish Macedonia to be integrated into NATO as soon as possible

Without Macedonia’s support and conprehension of the NATO mission, the peaceful situation in Kossovo was impossible, declares for the Macedonian radio general Bob Rut, commander of the NATO forces stationed in R Macedonia. He points out that among the Alliance circles an immense respect toward Macedonia is reigning bordering sentimentality in the understanding of all what happened recently. The general has good hopes that the efforts of the Government to integrate the state into the structures of the North-Atlantic community will succeed. He underlines that a quicker economical progress is an important prerrequisite for it. (Nova Macedonia from 11 Jan)

In connection with the efforts of L.Georgievsky’s Government for a faster integration with NATO, last steps of restructuring the army according to NATO standards are under way. Nova Macedonia from 25 Jan informs that the Chairman of the Republic, Boris Traikovsky, recieves and has talks with the Ambassador of the USA in Skopie, Michael Ainick and with his assistants. Thoughts are expressed and exchanged regarding the process of army restructuring in compliance with the Action plan for NATO membership, as well as regarding the recent implementation of the program for building up and restructuring the army upon NATO standards.

During the talks the Chairman Traikovsky expresses his satisfaction with the collaboration between R Macedonia and the USA in the field of defense and regarding the level of consensus on the army restructuring. Confidence is voiced that some pending questions in the Action plan of R Macedonia for its membership in NATO will be settled too. 

In connection with the promotion of the relationship with NATO, in January meetings between representatives of the Government and KFOR are activated for fixing the fees that NATO has to pay to R Macedonia for the use of military bases. According to a report in Vecher from 24 Jan, remain to be arranged the bills for paying fees to the civil airports and the issues of the eco-contamination and the roads damaged. The calculations referring only to the use of the military bases by KFOR are expected to benefit R Macedonia with DEM 30 millions annually.Back to top

New Steps in the Good-neighbourly Relations between Skopie and Athens

On 21 Jan the Skopie radio informs about a celebration organized by the General director of OKTA, Anastas Karahalios on the occasion of the building up of the first ten kilometers of oil pipelines Skopiek-Athens. The celebration is attended by L.Georgievsky and the minister of Thrace and Macedonia Y.Magristis.

B.Traikovsky, L.Georgievsky and Y.Magristis attend also the inauguration of a sausages shop of the Greek firm “Nikas”. The shop has a capacity of 20 tons of processed meat daily. In the speeches pronounced this fact is indicated as an example of Greek capitals coming in R Macedonia which is recommended to be followed by other foreign investors.

On 20 Jan the director of the Macedonian radio and TV, L.Yakimovsky, and the director of the Greek TV ERT-3, D.Kansontonis, sign a contract of collaboration. The contract forsees exchange of TV programmes and teams, broadcastings of joint programmes and nights and readings dedicated to culture. A visit of MANU is arranged as a first contractual manifestation. The Greek guests get acquainted with the respective project – a Council of the National Academies on the Balkans to be formed in order more intense contacts between them to be stimulated.

The Chairman of the Republic B.Traikovsky receives the Chairman of the North Atlantic Association of Greece, T.Georgiou. The latter is given a special award for his contribution to the contacts established with said association.Back to top

President B. Traikovsky in Berlin

The Skopie dailies Nova Macedonia and Vecher, and others, from 12 Jan, inform their readers about the visit of the Chairman of the Republic Boris Traikovsky in Berlin. The official visit is the first after his election and is made upon invitation of the German Chairman Johanes Rau. Both have talks on the condition and the perspectives of the bilateral relations, as well as about the situation in the region and the realization of the strategical objective of R Macedonia to join the EU and NATO and the German assistance in this regard. 

In Berlin B.Traikovsky is received by the Chairman of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Tirze; he meets the managing body of the “European Academy” Institute. In front of eminent figures from the political and academical life here he reads a lecture on the topic “The way of R Macedonia in the European institutions”.

Both chairmen exchange statements on the successful development of the bilateral relations and plan measures for their further beneficial development. It is confirmed that UR Germany is and will remain a powerful pillar supporting R Macedonia in the implementation of its aim – joining and integrating the EU and NATO. J.Rau commends the policy of the R Macedonia directed toward activating relations with neighbouring countries as well as the position of the Government during the Kossovo crisis. The attention of both is drawn mostly toward the prospective of deepening and improving the economical relations on the grounds that Germany is the biggest foreign-political partner of Macedonia. (Skopie press from 14 Jan)

Vecher from 14 Jan informs that during the visit of B.Traikovsky in Berlin, in Skopie an agreement on realization of three projects is signed between the Ministers of Development and Finances and the German Ambassador in R Macedonia. The projects are entitled: “Ecological protection of the Ohrid lake”, “Loan for development of micro and small private businesses” and “Fund for studios and specialists”.

Monitor from 14 Jan reports about a military aid for the army on part of Germany, forwarded to Skopie. It comprises 20 armoured transporters, jeeps, hospital equipment and weapons. Back to top

Other Political Initiatives

The press and the electronic media are full of information on a range of other foreign-political initiatives of the L.Georgievsky’s Government. They refer mainly to the further development of the trade with Iran (Iran commerce from 5 Jan); the visit of the Foreign Minister, Al.Dimitrov in Slovakia (Vecher from 13 Jan; Nova Macedonia from 13 Jan; Pravda (Slovakia) from 14 Jan). Mass media focus attentively on the arrival to Skopie of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, David Endrews. During the talks respectively at a summit level he promises an Irish support for Macedonia before NATO and the EU. (Vecher from 20 Jan; Irish times from 20 Jan; Nova Macedonia from 21 Jan). Nova Macedonia and Vecher from 21 Jan inform that the Chairman B.Traikovsky has received and held talks with the Ambassador of Russia, P.Dobroserdov. They both have discussed the bilateral relations. Traikovsky is officially invited to Moscow. Back to top