Source: `Zeri i Popullit', Tirana, in Albanian 28 May 95
The congress of the National Democratic Party (NDP), the second largest political party of the Albanians in Macedonia, opened in Tetovo on 27th May, the Albanian newspaper `Zeri i Popullit'reported. A delegation of the Albanian Socialist Party headed by its deputy chairman, Mr Luan Hajdaraga, attended. The congress report, a detailed analysis of that party's four years of activity since its foundation, was read by the party chairman, Ilijaz Halimi. "Our activity," he pointed out, "is not aimed and has never been aimed at harming the interests of anybody, much less the interests of the Macedonians. Our party is determined to follow this road and fight to the end to satisfy the just demands of the Albanian population in Macedonia."
The congress was greeted by Hajdaraga, who said: "Our parties, wherever they are, in the Republic of Albania, Kosovo, in the former yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or in Montenegro, are Albanian parties and thus constantly have in common the national question. This unites and should unite us still further." The delegates approved the congress resolution and elected the party chairman, secretary and deputy chairmen. BBC MONITORING SERVICE: CENTRAL EUROPE & BALKANS
Source: `Koha Jone', Tirana, in Albanian 3 Jun 95 p 7
Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski has said that his country is undergoing an economic crisis for the same reasons as other former Yugoslav states are, but also because two of its four borders are closed. The following is the text of an interview with Fiqiri Sejdiaj on p 7 of the Albanian daily `Koha Jone' of 3rd June entitled "Maybe the lake is to blame":
[Sejdiaj] There is increasing talk of a crisis in your country today. Is this the case? If so, how is it apparent?
[Crvenkovski] If you are talking about an economic crisis, Macedonia [former yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - FYRM] is indeed undergoing a crisis. You know that Macedonia was once part of the Yugoslav federation. This was a socialist federation, with a system that generated crises. Now all these countries are undergoing a transition period and, therefore, they are experiencing common difficulties. Of course, such problems as privatization, the rise in unemployment, the decline in production, and social tensions are only some of the problems Macedonia is encountering. What is worth emphasizing is that Macedonia is overcoming these difficulties under adverse conditions. Of the four borders of this republic, two are closed. You know that the northern border with Serbia and Montenegro [as published] is closed because of the UN-imposed sanctions and embargo. The southern border has also been closed unilaterally by the Greek government. This further complicates relations and the situation in our country. Macedonia has suffered losses to the tune of 4m US dollars from the embargo alone. This is no small sum for a small economy. Nevertheless, we are not abandoning the reform that we have begun, even though some people are of the opinion that it should be left for better days. Experience shows that better days never come. The opposite happens. Every situation that arises is more complicated than the last, and the price for delay is very high.
[Sejdiaj] A small state has every chance of being governed easily. Nevertheless, the opposite may also be the case, and a false step by the government may plunge the country into the deepest misery.
[Crvenkovski] I do not agree with the notion that a large country has large problems and a small state has small problems. The opposite is often the case. Solving the problems of small states is more complicated. But let us return to your question. The danger exists, and the question would be better phrased to ask what steps will avoid plunging the country into misery. If one looks at the markets of Europe, for we are a European country, we see processes of integration that one may join, if one competes on terms of quality, This rule is even more clear for small states. The chances of small states are even smaller if they pursue a policy of isolationism. It is precisely such a policy that would plunge the state into misery. We must, without fail, go out into the world's markets and find our feet. This is the sole alternative.
[Sejdiaj] How has the international aid your republic has received been used?
[Crvenkovski] So far, we have had agreements with the World Bank, the IMF, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. All the aid and credit that has been obtained from these banks has been used for reorganizing our payments. We now have various specific projects for the infrastructure. For example, work is proceeding on the Tetovo-Gostivar highway, which is part of the East-West corridor. An agrarian project is in progress for private farms, and work is in progress on the hydroelectric system and on Skopje Airport. Work has therefore concentrated on the infrastructure. This will improve the climate for the successful development of the Republic of Macedonia.
[Sejdiaj] Can you say what the levels of unemployment and inflation are?
[Crvenkovski] According to official figures, the number of unemployed is about 200,000. This is indeed an alarming figure. As for inflation, I can say that it was 54% last year. This year, we are aiming to bring it down to 18%, no more. For the first five months of this year, we have had inflation under 14%, which is good.
[Sejdiaj] How do you consider the demand of the opposition in Macedonia for early elections?
[Crvenkovski] This is the stand of the opposition, isn't it? I am very sorry that some parties boycotted the parliamentary elections. This threatened the construction of democracy in our country. It would have been better for the general situation in Macedonia if these parties had taken part. However, this was their viewpoint. Apart from the harm they did to the general situation, they did the greatest harm to themselves.
[Sejdiaj] Are you satisfied with the work of the Albanian ministers who are taking part in your cabinet?
[Crvenkovski] I have been pleased with the work of all the ministers that have taken part in the cabinet that I head, and therefore also with the work of the Albanian ministers. In the last analysis, I as prime minister carry responsibility for the everyday work of each one. If there is a proposal to restructure the government, that is a different matter; however, I myself am satisfied with the work of this government.
[Sejdiaj] The Albanian population in FYRM believes that they should assume a greater role in state institutions, and especially in the army, the police, the Foreign Ministry, the justice organs, etc. What do you think of such a demand?
[Crvenkovski] Such a demand is understandable. It is clear that, in some ministries, there is a low level of participation of the Albanians living in Macedonia. However, this is not only true of the Albanians, but also other nationalities, and I think that our efforts must go towards improving this general structure. However, this involves improving the quality of cadres and not national character. The participation of the nationalities in administrative structures must be achieved on the basis of professional calibre.
[Sejdiaj] The Party for Democratic Prosperity has criticized you for returning people who served the previous regime to leading positions. As an example, they cite the return of the chief of the Albanian-language editorial board of Skopje Television. If this is true, how would you justify this step?
[Crvenkovski] Appointments at Skopje Radio-Television are not made by the government or any political body. I, for example, am 33 years old, and if the old cadres are returning to their old jobs, I would be the first person who would have to move. In other words, to go back to where I came from. As for the example you mentioned, it has no connection with the attitude of the government, because the government has no responsibility in this sector. The Radio- Television conducts its own personnel policy. All the managers at Skopje Radio-Television are new. It is a mistake if we take a single instance and generalize from it, considering it to be a tendency of the government.
[Sejdiaj] How do you consider relations between our two countries?
[Crvenkovski] If we compare relations between Albania and Macedonia in the last four decades with those in the last four years, we notice an astounding development in these relations. It is no secret if we say that, for 40 years, the Albanian-Macedonian border was one of the tightest in Europe. Now any foreign traveller arriving at the Albanian- Macedonian border will be amazed at the heavy traffic of travellers, goods, and vehicles. There is good political, economic, and social cooperation. Personally, I do not think that this is enough or at the level our two countries and peoples demand. There are still fields in which we must cooperate more and which we must exploit to the utmost. In the last analysis, we have many common interests. The problems that we confront are almost identical: the economic reform, the transition, privatization, finding a place in the EU, security, etc. We have a large market in the East- West corridor that is acquiring a special priority for the EU. This corridor is in the interests of Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Italy, and Turkey. It is our destiny to find ourselves half way along this corridor. With common efforts, I think that we can acquire more support from the international community. For instance, no railway or highway links our two states. Until yesterday, we did not even have any communications links. Our hydroelectric systems were not connected, etc. Do you see how much remains for us to do?
[Sejdiaj] How then do you explain the fact that neither Berisha nor Gligorov, neither Meksi nor Crvenkovski has crossed Lake Ohrid? None of them have paid visits to Tirana and Skopje respectively.
[Crvenkovski] I had the good fortune to visit Tirana before I became prime minister. As for the question, perhaps Lake Ohrid is to blame. It is a very lovely lake, and therefore meetings have been held in Ohrid or Pogradec. They were high- level meetings, and were very fruitful. There is no reason why we should not make official visits to Tirana and Skopje. If your question is an encouragement to these visits, then I am in agreement with it. Let it be an encouragement to both sides.
[Sejdiaj] How do you explain the fact that few agreements have been signed between Albania and FYRM?
[Crvenkovski] I do not know. Indeed, I do not know where we must look for the reason why this has happened. Common sense tells us that the two sides have common interests. Let us set aside Balkan complexes. It is not worth raking over history; as I said, let us look to the future. For example, I do not accept the logic whereby the Albanians recognize Macedonia under another name, I would say a ridiculous one, the "former yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." When we bear in mind Albania's relations with the FRY, Albania must be perhaps the first state to understand that we do not deserve that prefix. The failure to sign some of these documents can be ascribed precisely to the use of this title.
[Sejdiaj] What do you think that Macedonia must correct in its relations with Albania, and, vice versa, what must Albania correct in its relations with Macedonia in order to enable both these neighbouring states to further increase their cooperation and to look towards the future?
[Crvenkovski] I will reply to only one half of the question, the part regarding Macedonia. Ask Tirana about the other half. Common sense says that it is in Albania's interest for her neighbour to be stable. This stability is in the interest of the entire region. We have the interest, inclination, and good will to increasingly develop relations with Albania, even beyond bilateral cooperation. We wish, for instance, to make joint approaches to the international community over such issues as those connected with the East- West corridor. A large percentage of the population in Macedonia is Albanian, and, for me, Albania's attitude to the status of the Albanian population living here is very much justified, just as is our concern for the Macedonians living in Albania. The important thing is for us to rely on international norms and principles, so that we will not exceed our responsibilities, i.e. not interfere in the affairs of the other state. This is an attitude that both sides must cultivate. The Albanians in Macedonia are citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. It is, first of all, the Albanians living in Macedonia themselves who will decide their own destiny and future, and not somebody else outside Macedonia. It is on these principles that good relations of cooperation between our two states may be established. BBC MONITORING SERVICE: CENTRAL EUROPE & BALKANS
Source: Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0739 gmt 6Jun 95
Japan agreed on 6th June to give Macedonia grant-in-aid totalling 500m yen to help the former Yugoslavian republic promote its economic structural reform and ease its debt burden, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported, citing Japanese Foreign Ministry officials. Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski exchanged documents on the Japanese aid at the ministry in Tokyo. The aid, offered in response to a Macedonian request, is the first Japanese grant-in-aid to the country, which is troubled by economic difficulties due to the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and the economic blockade by Greece, the officials said. Kono pledged the aid when he met Crvenkovski in Hungary last month. BBC MONITORING SERVICE: CENTRAL EUROPE & BALKANS
SKOPJE, June 7 (Reuter) -The National Bank of Macedonia (NBM) fix for Thursday:
DEM 100 - 2,645.1915 USD 1 - 37.3157 CHF 100 - 3,214.3045 ATS 100 - 376.1462 Trading volume for Wednesday: n.a. The NBM calculates the denar's rate against the German mark on the basis of the information submitted by banks during the morning. Denar rates against other currencies are worked out from the Frankfurt fixing rates, issued around 1500 local time. -- Sofia Newsroom, 359-2-328101 REUTER NEWS SERVICE
By Gareth Boreham, Canberra.
The row over the State Government's decision to rename the Macedonian language has flared again, with the Premier, Mr Kennett, condemned by a senior federal minister but supported by four Greek state Labor MPs. In a letter to Mr Kennett, the Immigration Minister, Senator Bolkus, accused him of inflaming ethnic tensions by changing the name of the Macedonian language to "Macedonian (Slavonic)". But Greek state Labor parliamentarians, including the deputy leader, Mr Dollis who was best man at Senator Bolkus's wedding last year have contradicted the minister. In a statement supporting the change, they said the "distinction is necessary to promote harmony in the community". Mr Dollis, Mr Theo Theophanous, Mr Alex Andrianopoulos and Mr John Pandazopoulos said it was their strong belief that the former yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) language was "Slavonacedonian or Macedonian (Slavonic)". "The view is shared by a large number of our colleagues and is based on expert advice provided to us," they said. But Senator Bolkus said Mr Kennett was deliberately inflaming the debate. In the past he has labelled Mr Kennett a "social pyromaniac", and yesterday he said the renaming of the language showed he had "not run out of matches". In March, Mr Kennett took an internationally unprecedented step of renaming the Macedonian language. The change was made after complaints from Greeks angered by the use of the word "Macedonian" in language spoken by FYROM people. Senator Bolkus said Mr Kennett was treating Greek Australians with contempt, and the Commonwealth strongly rejected the use of the term "Slavonic" when referring to the republic's language. Mr Kennett claimed the name change was consistent with national Macedonian policy, but the Foreign Minister, Senator Evans, disagreed. AGE (MELBOURNE)
ATHENS, June 7 (Reuter) - The state National Bank of Greece said that an internal circular about commercial transactions with Skopje repeated earlier guidelines about the republic's official name of FYROM. It said in a statement that the term commercial transactions covered banking transactions that were not included in the government's embargo on FYROM. Commercial transactions were implemented via Thessaloniki's first customs office, and no National Bank branch was involved in illegal dealings, the statement said. The bank was responding to allegations made in a newspaper report today. --Dimitris Kontogiannis, Athens Newsroom +301 3311812-4 REUTER NEWS SERVICE
By Douglas Hamilton
JABLANICA, Bosnia, June 7 (Reuter) - Serb gunfire on the only road into Sarajevo is the final obstacle for hundreds of former refugees determined to return to the besieged Bosnian capital come what may. They wait in makeshift accommodation set up in mountain towns southwest of the city after a journey overland at the weekend from camps in Macedonia, through Albania to the Adriatic coast and by sea to the Croatian port of Split. "We are going home to see my father," said Eldin Rastoder, a calm and intelligent boy of 13, who is returning to his homeland with his sister and their mother Hamida. "Our father is in the army, he can't come out here to fetch us," sister Janet, 16, said. "What's it like in Sarajevo now?"
The Rastoder family was part of a group of 733 refugees who returned to Bosnia this week after fleeing the war which began 37 months ago, the biggest repatriation so far. "The UNHCR is always in favour of the return of refugees when the time is right, but in the case of Sarajevo at the moment, the time is not right," said Robert Sadlier, representative for the United Nations refugee agency in Jablanica, on the main road to Sarajevo from the coast. Nevertheless, the UN agency was providing assistance. He said three of 14 busloads of refugees had already gone on to their hometowns in central Bosnia, Tuzla and Zenica, and 10 families had continued right into Sarajevo over the perilous Mount Igman route. About 400 were still waiting for the "right moment" to try to enter the city.
The route down from Mount Igman to the Sarajevo suburb of Hrasnica can be fired on at any time by Bosnian Serb forces to the immediate north. Two French journalists who crashed their car after coming under fire were its latest casualties on Monday. The refugee children are bright, active and unafraid. They are eager to rejoin parents, family and friends. "It's okay here, but it's not home yet. We're impatient to get back to Sarajevo," Janet Rastoder said in halting English. But older people, now they have come this far and witnessed the terrible destruction on their route into the breathtaking landscape of the Bosnian interior, are clearly nervous about the last stage of their homeward trek. Moslem women in traditional dress squatted in the shade of an acacia tree and old men sat smoking in a separate group. The talk was, as ever, about "the situation". They are guarded about their plans. But most can be expected to attempt the Igman route by night, travelling in vehicles without lights until they reach the hand-dug tunnel that will take them under the runway of Sarajevo airport to the western fringes of the city. Once home, they will experience a Sarajevo totally changed by the relentless siege warfare of the Serbs whose big guns long dominated it from the mountains above. After a long period of relative safety, the city is again plunged into the nightmare of daily sniping and random mortar blasts which have already traumatised its 400,000 people.
Those returning will find little in the way of security or comfort. The airport has been closed to vital aid flights for two months because of Serb threats to shoot down transport aircraft. The last land convoy got in two weeks ago and the city is down to its last few bags of flour to make bread. "One road into Sarajevo from Kiseljak is mined and the other over Igman is being targeted. We have the food and the vehicles, we're ready to go, but we can't get in," UNHCR logistics chief Enda Savage told Reuters in Metkovic, Croatia. REUTER NEWS SERVICE
Tokyo, June 6 (Jiji Press)-Foreign Minister Yohei Kono Tuesday pledged more financial assistance for Macedonia to help keep the conflict in the former Yugoslavia from spilling over to that country. In talks here with his Macedonian counterpart Stevo Crvenkovski, Kono stressed the need to stabilize the situation in the Balkan Peninsula. He also voiced his concern about increasing tension in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Tokyo will continue financial and technological assistance for Macedonia from the point of view of preventive diplomacy, said Kono, who doubles as deputy prime minister. Before the meeting, Kono and Crvenkovski exchanged notes on grant aid of 500 million yen from Tokyo to alleviate the financial hardship of Macedonia. JIJI PRESS NEWSWIRE
Source: ITAR-TASS news agency (World Service), Moscow, in English 0730 gmt 2 Jun 95 Text of report by ITAR-TASS news agency Beijing, 2nd June: "We hope that conditions will very soon be ripe for a Russo-Macedonian summit," Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski, currently paying an official visit to China, said here today. "This question is now being thrashed out," he added. The Macedonian minister stressed during an interview with ITAR-TASS that " the Russian Federation was among the first countries to recognize the Republic of Macedonia as an independent state and to establish diplomatic relations with it."
The Russo-Macedonian political relations have developed most successfully of late. "The potential possibilities for further expanding our bilateral cooperation are huge," the minister noted, " since contacts and cultural relations between the two countries have a many-centuries-long history." At the same time, the minister expressed concern about the shrinking volume of commercial and economic exchanges between the two countries "resulting from the current crisis". Crvenkovski expressed the hope that the previous volume of bilateral economic cooperation would be quickly restored. " Russia had been Macedonia's most important economic partner and we hope it will be such a partner in the future, too," the minister stressed. BBC MONITORING SERVICE: FORMER USSR