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Kosovo, Macedonia Back Off from Trade Row

Kosovo on Saturday lifted a ban on imports from neighboring Macedonia, further defusing a trade row between the Balkan countries.

"The decision (on the ban) of the import from Macedonia will be repealed from this midnight," (2200 GMT), the trade ministry said in a statement.

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Macedonia Remembers Tiny Jewish Community

Macedonia on Monday marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of nearly its entire Jewish community to a Nazi death camp during World War II, while a U.S.-based diaspora group called on neighbor Bulgaria to apologize for its role in the Holocaust.

Culture Minister Elizabeta Milevska led the memorial to honor the 7,144 people who were deported. Only about 50 of them survived.

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Macedonian MPs Brawl over 2013 Budget

A brawl broke out in Macedonia's parliament Monday between opposition and ruling lawmakers over next year's budget, as rival supporters clashed outside and pelted each other with stones and bottles.

Six people, including two lawmakers, briefly needed hospital treatment for injuries from the clashes, while 11 police officers were also slightly injured, police said.

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European Court Orders Macedonia to Pay Damages to Lebanese Man in Kidnapping Case

Europe's top rights court Thursday ordered Macedonia to pay 60,000 euros ($78,000) in damages to a Lebanese-born German who claims the CIA abducted him there in 2003 and flew him to Afghanistan to be tortured.

Khaled el-Masri, 48, says he was abducted by CIA operatives under the so-called extraordinary rendition program while on holiday in Macedonia and then taken to a secret Afghan prison for brutal interrogation.

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Macedonia Reports First West Nile Virus Fatality

A person infected with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus has died in Macedonia and two other people are undergoing treatment in a Skopje hospital, the health ministry said Thursday.

The death was the first of a virus carrier in the Balkans country, but four other people have died in the region since the start of the month.

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Three Injured in New Macedonia Inter-Ethnic Violence

Three people were injured in violent incidents in Macedonia overnight, reflecting rising tensions between Macedonian and ethnic Albanian communities, police said Saturday.

Three Macedonian teenagers, aged between 15 and 17, were attacked by four people, one of whom had a metal bar, in the capital Skopje, a police statement said.

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Macedonia Asks to Join NATO despite Greek Opposition

Macedonia on Saturday urged NATO leaders to accept it as a member when the alliance holds a summit in Chicago in May, despite Greek opposition due to a long-running row over its name.

Athens says the use of the name Macedonia suggests a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name. Skopje says that changing the name would be a denial of its national identity and language.

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Macedonia Seizes 22 Kilos of Heroin, Detains Four

Macedonian police seized some 22 kilograms of EU-bound heroin, worth up to three million euros, and detained four smugglers, a minister said on Saturday.

The heroin was seized on the Macedonian border with Greece on Friday and the drugs were to be transported to Western Europe, Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska told reporters. She did not elaborate.

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Macedonia Inaugurates Triumphal Arch

A lavish triumphal arch resembling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was inaugurated in Skopje Friday in a move that could stoke Macedonia's row with neighboring Greece over its identity.

The marble "Porta Macedonia", inaugurated by Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska, has carved motifs from Macedonia's history up to the 1991 independence and images of historical figures, including Alexander the Great.

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Ghetto Hope': Music Opens Doors to Gypsy Children

Discordant brass notes escape from a rehearsal room in Sliven's gypsy ghetto, as 15 local boys prepare for band practice and take a break from the poverty-stricken life of the slum outside.

"Now boys -- one, two, three...," band leader Angel Tichaliev calls out and the tunes merge into a bold, lively melody that resonates in the room barely bigger than a one-car garage.

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