Dimovska offers resignation
Last Friday, Minister of Internal Affairs Dosta Dimovska offered her resignation to Prime Minister Ljubčo Georgievski, due to the ongoing phone tapping scandal. While denying she was directly responsible for the phone tapping, she said she accepted a moral responsibility for things that happened in the Interior Ministry under her leadership, but still felt that she had been the victim of a witch hunt by the opposition.
Later in the week, Georgievski rejected the resignation, a stance which government spokesman Milošoski says was unanimously supported by ministers as they believe Dimovska bears no responsibility for the accusations against her. Instead, she has been given a new assignment; total reform of state security structures to be conducted in accordance with international principles of protection of human rights and the specifics of the Macedonian security system.
Name negotiations draw to a close
Matthew Nimitz, the UN negotiator involved in the name discussions with Greece and Macedonia, announced this week that a final decision would be made soon and stressed that both sides had been extremely cooperative during the process. As previously reported here, several options appear to be on the table. That favoured by Skopje is believed to be a dual naming policy; the constitutional name to be used internationally and an acceptable alternative employed in communication with Greece. Those believed to have been put forward by Greece use a prefix to modify the name: Upper or Northern Macedonia.
It is also widely reported that Greece is offering a comprehensive package of aid and support if one of its nominations is accepted, including support for Macedonia's efforts to enter NATO as well as economic assistance, abolishment of the visa regime for Macedonian citizens and the introduction of work permits for seasonal workers from Macedonia.
A large group of armed persons in camouflage uniforms are reported to have been trying to enter Macedonia since Sunday, across the border near the village of Tanushevci. There are reports of firing from the Kosovo side of the border, and later in the week reports emerged of groups of armed men wearing UÇK uniforms in the village. All are as yet unconfirmed.
In response, Macedonia has raised the level of combat readiness of ARM units and contacts between Macedonian state officials and NATO, KFOR and UNMIK intensified. KFOR Commander Carlo Cabigiosu pledged on Wednesday to step up patrols along the Macedonian border. It is widely believed that the incidents are related to current events in southern Serbia.
Pre-summit economic forum
Prior to the Skopje Summit on the Collaboration Process in Southeastern Europe, an Economic Forum was held. Economic and finance ministers requested faster realization of the Stability Pact economic package and are expected to enact an action plan for regional economic collaboration, mainly in the sphere of electric power connection, gas and oil pipeline systems. The session concluded that a free economic zone in the Balkan countries is a main precondition for joining EU structures.
And in other news...
- Ljubčo Georgievski had his first meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić on Monday in Belgrade.
- Police arrested a truck driver near the town of Gostivar on Saturday who was carrying 100 kg of hashish.
- A Macedonian delegation left for Slovenia's capital Ljubljana on Wednesday to continue talks on the division of federal assets of the former Yugoslavia.
- Police arrested 75 migrants from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine at the Macedonian border who were trying to cross illegally into Greece headed for other EU states.
Eleanor Pritchard, 23 February 2001
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