Kostov assists Macedonian President Trajkovski
At Friday's meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen,Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov presented a proposal in which all Macedonian parliamentary parties would begin negotiations. Guided by Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, the negotiations would be used to find a solution to the crisis in the country.
According to the government's public relatins officer, Albena Ivaylova, the Bulgarian idea will be presented at the Stockholm summit meeting of the European Union by Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, with whom Kostov is permanently in touch. Kostov reportedly voiced hope to Verheugen that the Stockholm forum would help reach a strong European position on the Macedonian crisis.
Stoyanov offers support to Trajkovski
President Petar Stoyanov held a telephone conversation with his Macedonian colleague Boris Trajkovski on 22 March. The President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) informed Stoyanov that in a conversation earlier that day with EU High Representative Javier Solana, EU Commissioner Christopher Patten, and the foreign ministers of Belgium and Sweden, he had again expressed his concern over the possible escalation of the conflict, and the ethnic division of Macedonian society.
Petar Stoyanov assured Boris Trajkovski that Bulgaria is following the developments in the FYROM very closely and with great concern and that Bulgaria is prepared to help by all admissible means in resolving the problems.
NATO transit route permitted through Bulgaria
On 21 March, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Bulgarian Defense Minister Boyko Noev and NATO Secretary General George Robertson signed an agreement for the transit of NATO troops through Bulgarian territory. The agreement clearly delineates cooperation between the Bulgarian authorities and NATO, should the need for NATO troops to pass through or deploy forces on Bulgarian territory emerge.
At the same time, the issue of specific permission for the passage or deployment of NATO troops within the framework of specific operations will continue to be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Bulgarian Constitution.
Elections to be held by 17 June
The Bulgarian dailies published Constitutional Court's ruling determining that parliament should be dissolved on 19 April and that parliamentary elections should be held on 17 June at the latest. The daily Trud reproted: "Elections by June 17," whilst the daily Novinar headline read: "Parliament dissolved on April 19."
Novinar also cites a source from the Central Election Commission as saying elections will be held on 10 June. Ten of the judges of the Constitutional Court voted in favor of the stance that Parliament's mandate should commence on the date of the elections.
Bulgarian diplomats ordered to leave Russia
Russia has ordered three Bulgarian diplomats to leave the country by Friday. Bulgaria's ambassador in Moscow, Ilian Vassilev, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear the announcement. Correspondents say the move is in retaliation to an expulsion order handed last weekend to three Russian diplomats based in Sofia. In a statement yesterday, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said the Russians had seven days to leave.
The dispute follows the arrest earlier this month of two senior Bulgarian military intelligence staff accused of handing classified information to Russian diplomats.
Journalist taken off air
On 19 March, Acting State Radio Director Hristo Brazitsov canceled a newscast and took four journalists off the air. Approximately 500 journalists who have been protesting for more than a month the appointment of Ivan Borislavov as state radio director.
Brazitsov later told the Associated Press that the four were taken off the air "because they declared civil disobedience... There is no such term in Bulgarian law. They must do the job their employer pay them for or face the consequences." Brazitsov also said some of the protesting journalists may be fired.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 23 March 2001
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