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Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), 97-01-24
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
24 January, 1997
 PRESIDENT STOYANOV RECEIVES DIPLOMATIC CORPSSofia, January 23 (BTA) - President Peter Stoyanov received on Thursday diplomatic mission heads and members, accredited to Bulgaria as well as representatives of international organizations having offices in Bulgaria. The meeting was held after new President Peter Stoyanov officially took office Wednesday. President Stoyanov greeted the 60 diplomats, headed by the doyen of the diplomatic corps, Ambassador of Libya Mohamed Farah Al- Gamudi. The diplomats were presented to President Stoyanov and Vice President Todor Kavaldjiev by Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Hristov.
 NEW PRESIDENT STARTS CONSULTATIONSSofia, January 23 (BTA) - In his first day in office, Bulgaria's new President Peter Stoyanov started consultations with the political forces on the formation of a new government and an outcome from the crisis. On Thursday morning he met in turn the leaders of the United Democratic Forces (the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), Popular Union and the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms), and of the ruling Democratic Left coalition (including the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the Eco-Glasnost Political Club and an agrarian union). Later in the day he met leaders of the Bulgarian Business Bloc (BBB), the smallest parliamentary faction.
The the ruling coalition and the opposition confirmed their known stances on the way to handle the crisis. The opposition still insists on urgent early general elections, while the Left insists on forming a new government with the mandate it has under the Constitution, plus negotiations with the political forces.
ëWe told the President we understand it is his obligation to ask the Democratic Left to form a cabinet, but the Left must decline it because of the people's protests, and our denial of this cabinet will stand against it, í said UDF Leader Ivan Kostov. We want urgent elections because an end must be put to Bulgaria's agony, said the UDF leader.
The stance of the new President remains unchanged. I am sure he will give a mandate for the formation of a second government to the Left,í BSP Leader Georgi Purvanov, told journalists after meeting the Head of State. The Bulgarian Constitution place the President to appoint a prime minister- designate of the biggest parliamentary group to form a government but does not specify a period for doing this.
'We stated categorically before the President that there is no chance for the Left to decline to form a new cabinet,í Purvanov said. In the past few weeks the Left made considerable efforts to achieve consensus, he noted. ëIn my view we have reached the limit of reasonable compromises,í the BSP Leader stated, adding that he hopes that when the political forces sit at the table of negotiations, each of the sides should be ready to make a compromise because it is really important to form a strong cabinet.
According to Purvanov, a procedure for the immediate dissolving of Parliament is not provided for in the Constitution; if this happens, laws that are urgently necessary for Bulgaria would not be passed, a currency board not introduced, the 1997 budget bill not adopted and the structural reform not be given the go ahead.
The Left MPs will undoubtedly support a new government, Purvanov said. He added: ëI am sure that the new Cabinet, if representative and strong enough, will enlist the support not only within the parliamentary group of the Left, but of other parliamentary groups too.'
Ivan Kostov expressed doubts whether the Left's nominee for prime minister, outgoing Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev, is suitable to head a new government. A government led by Nikolai Dobrev will be a purely Socialist one, Kostov stated. He said that, though being the most popular person in BSP, Dobrev was the man who personally directed police actions, which led to clashes and violence. BSP leader Purvanovís assessment was just the opposite: ëIt has become clear that Dobrev passed a serious, practical test in the night to January 11 (when protests in front of Parliament escalated to violent clashes with the police) and has proved he is worthy for the position of a prime minister of Bulgariaí.
Asked whether a solution to the crisis is possible through the formation of a new cabinet on the mandate of a third parliamentary group Kostov said that at present the consultations are not at such a stage. ëOur stand is clear: BSP should not evade the responsibility in this extremely complex period. This responsibility should be assumed by the Democratic Left because it has provoked and provokes at the moment all these events, as well as the disintegration of the Bulgarian market. We think that it does it deliberately to leave behind itself a devastated country,í the UDF Leader said.
Later on Thursday, following a sitting of the parliamentary group of the Left, Purvanov was asked the same question. He answered that this is a makeshift idea and added the Left will consult experts on constitutional law on this issue. ëThis version is difficult to apply politically. The idea to form a caretaker or a similar type of government is unrealistic,í he added.
President Peter Stoyanov backs our stand that a task-force government should be formed having the support of all parliamentary forces and a mandate to implement a definite program, Yasho Minkov, Spokesman for the BBB parliamentary group, said after consultations of the BBB parliamentary group with the Bulgarian President. It does not matter which parliamentary group will be asked to assemble the task-force cabinet or who will head it, the important thing is that the political forces rally behind a single program, Minkov stated. According to Minkov, pre-elections should not be held earlier than September or October.
 PROTESTS AT NATIONAL TVSofia, January 23 (BTA) - In a declaration issued Thursday, strikers at the Bulgarian National TV (BNT)say the management's statement on preliminary talks with the trade unions ignored the negotiations with the strike committee and the demand for a general meeting of strikers.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the acting chief of the BNT Ivan Tokadjiev said this institution is subject to political pressures coming from absolutely all political forces. He also blamed politicians for turning their back to the national TV particularly after the Constitutional Court revoked some provisions of the Law on national TV and radio. Tokadjiev's statement was prompted by increasingly frequent accusations against the national TV of failing to provide complete and objective coverage of the protests against the ruling Socialist party and particularly of the events of January 10-11 when protesters clashed with police in front of the Parliament building.
The strike committee says the sides in the dispute have adopted a draft agreement on eliminating censorship at the Bulgarian National TV. The concluding part of the negotiations is due on Friday, the declaration also says.
 INTERNATIONAL HELSINKI FEDERATION ACCUSES THE GOVERNMENT OF BRUTALITYVienna, January 23 (BTA) - The Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) Thursday accused in a press release the Bulgarian Government of ëdeliberate crueltyí during the clashes between security forces and demonstrators around Parliament building in Sofia on January 10 to 11. According to this organization, the outgoing Socialist Government has ëlong preplanned and coordinatedí this ëwell orchestratedí attack in which ësome 300 people were injured, of whom eleven severelyí.
The investigation now conducted by the Prosecutor General of the Republic, ëmust not rule out a possible involvement of the Minister of the Interior, the Prime Minister or other officials in charge,í the press release says. According to it, such ëpolice violenceí is inconsistent with the humanitarian standards of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which Bulgaria is a member.
 FACTIONS IN BSP ON THE OUTCOME OF THE CRISISSofia, January 23 (BTA) - The Alliance for Social Democracy (ASD) in the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) believes the Democratic Left should suggest a coalition cabinet after President Peter Stoyanov asks it to form a government, ASD leader Chavdar Kyuranov told a press conference on Thursday. According to Kyuranov, no political party can at this time govern alone.
The only solution is an immediate agreement on economic measures, according to ASD's Andrey Bounjoulov who announced last week he was leaving the party. According to him, political stability is a necessary condition for carrying out reforms.
The Marxist Platform in the BSP spoke for a new government of the Left which should be given a year to deal with the crisis. An agreement by the BSP leaders to immediate elections, would mean a capitulation and will lead to a catastrophe of the nation, the leader of the Marxist Platform, Mincho Minchev MP, told a press conference on Thursday. He said the rank and file would not follow a leadership that does that.
 COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONSSofia, January 23 (BTA) - The Council of Ministers will soon move to the National Assembly amendments to the Concessions Act, allowing the cabinet to grant concessions for natural resources without asking parliamentary consent, cabinet spokesman Nikola Baltov told journalists Thursday.
The government today approved the first privatization deal in this country involving a concession- it granted several cement plants (undergoing privatization) concessions for six lime and marl quarries. This country has some 4,000 such quarries and granting concessions for all would place a big burden on the National Assembly, said Baltov.
The outgoing cabinet decided in principle to improve coordination among various departments combatting terrorism. The decision was motivated by an Interior Ministry inspection which found fault with the implementation of a Council of Ministers decree passed last year on additional anti- terrorist measures, Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Tsvyatko Tsvetkov told journalists after the meeting. The cabinet is planning to change arms trade rules, Tsvetkov said.
The outgoing ministers approved a package of 23 projects included in the indicative programme for Bulgarian-Greek crossborder cooperation through 1999. The projects include interaction in improving communications in border regions, the environment, water supply, community development, small and mid-size business, etc. The PHARE Programme will grant an aggregate 115 million ECU to the projects.
The outgoing cabinet decided to propose to Parliament to ratify a loan agreement between the Government and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the project for social security administration. The USD 24.3 million loan is to be paid in 20 years with a five-year grace period at the bank's interest rate.
The outgoing cabinet issued a decree liberalizing exports regulations in trade with EU member states. The document abolishes a requirement under which the exporter had to pay cash deposit at the customs office until they prove that the exported goods are for a EU member state.
 TWO DIFFERENT, NEW LEFT FORMATIONSSofia, January 23 (BTA) - ëA new Left, called 'Euro-Left,' will take political shape in mid-February. In the coming days we will send out letters to all parties in the Socialist International - SI, which will probably be followed by visits to SI fora,í the leader of the extraparliamentary Civic Alliance for the Republic (CAR) Alexander Tomov told a news conference Thursday. Mr Tomov chairs an organizing committee for Bulgaria's new united Left. ëThe effect surpassed our expectations: in the last couple of days people of various political forces have expressed interest in the ways to join us,í Mr Tomov said.
The idea to organize the new Left came at a meeting of representatives of a dozen or so left-wing parties and organizations last Saturday. Four Socialists - members of the reformist Alliance for Social Democracy, left a week before the BSP, also attended that meeting. Two of them, Dimiter Yonchev and Rossen Karadimov, were BSP MPs in the previous parliament, and the other two, Andrei Raichev and Andrei Boundjoulov, are political scientists. The meeting was initiated by CAR whose leader believes that the left end of the political spectrum is realigning.
Part of the participants in the meeting subscribed to an address proposed by CAR. The address listed demands for early elections within reasonable time, for a nonpartisan government of experts enjoying the confidence of a broad range of political forces. The programme of such a government would include immediate conclusion of an agreement with the IMF on a currency board and resolute measures to stabilize the banking system. It must launch a sweeping privatization programme in full transparency and crack down decisively on corruption and crime, the address emphasizes.
Commenting on the present socio-political situation, Mr Tomov said that the emerging formation will be ready to negotiate with on emergence from the crisis. ëOur position will be principled and public rather than horse- trading for ministerial portfolios,í he said, adding that Bulgaria is drawing near pre-term elections. Mr Tomov stressed the Euro-Left's desire to enter the next parliament. ëWe set ourselves two targets: to enter parliament and to hold the balance there,í he added.
Breaking up the current bipolar political model and filling the vacuum in the left end of the political spectrum is the idea of the Popular Patriotic Left Front which was instituted Wednesday, a member of the formation's organizing committee Mincho Minchev told a news conference Thursday. Mr Minchev chairs the Fatherland Party of Labour, one of eleven organizations which formed the Front. Others include the Movement for Protection of Pensioners, Unemployed and the Socially Disadvantaged Citizens, the Communist Party of Bulgaria (itself an amalgamation of five communist parties, formed December 16, 1996), the Bulgarian Communist Party - Bolsheviks, the Fakel Political Club, the BSP Veterans Club and the Nassoka Movement. ëWe favour a consolidation of the Left forces inside and outside the BSP because there are dangerous restoration tendencies in society,í Mr Minchev said. The Front wants early parliamentary elections within the Constitution.
 UDF LEADER KOSTOV RECEIVES ITALIAN MPSSofia, January 23 (BTA) - Eight members of the Lower House of the Italian Parliament, led by the Vice Speaker of the House Clemente Mastella, leader of the Christian Democratic Centre, arrived in Bulgaria Thursday afternoon. They attended the opposition rally and then conferred with the leader of the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) Ivan Kostov and the coalition's Deputy Chairman Vassil Gotsev.
ëIt is time that conditions were created for genuine democracy in your country. When the situation is so complicated, however, the opposition must be up to the mark,í Mr Mastella said after the meeting. He described the political situation as ëdramaticí and said he saw a ëmajor popular movementí Thursday evening.
ëWe expect the Italian MPs to support the actions and demands of the Bulgarian opposition,í Mr Kostov said. ëThey are fascinated by the enthusiasm they saw in Sofia,í he said. The trip reciprocates a visit which Bulgarian opposition leaders paid to Italy last summer.
On Friday, the eight Italian MPs are scheduled to meet President Peter Stoyanov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov.
 17TH DAY OF PROTESTSSofia, January 23 (BTA) - If the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) tries to form a new cabinet, the united opposition will respond with national protest and industrial action, says a declaration adopted Thursday, at a joint meeting of the United Democratic Forces (UtdDF), the Podkrepa Labour Confederation, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), the Promyana alliance for national trade union and civil action, the Coordination Protest Student Union and the Organizational Committee of the Academic Community.
The declaration was read by Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) leader Ivan Kostov at the 17th protest rally in Sofia. The rally is a sign of solidarity and support for demands for early parliamentary elections now, the only way out of the political crisis in Bulgaria, said Kostov. According to him, the BSP will not form a new cabinet.
The rally was attended by a group of Italian MPs. ëWe saw a nation fighting for its freedom. We will be fighting with you,í said the deputy leader of the lower house of the Italian Parliament Clemente Mastella. The representative of Forza Italia Antonio Taiani greeted the demonstrators, assured them of the support of the party's leader Silvio Berlusconi and expressed certainty the UtdDF effort will be successful.
The Thursday protests of the Sofia students started with the ëBetter a Discontented Person than a Contented Pigí play of the ëCx4í Studio-Theatre staged in front of the library of the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia. The students sang Bulgarian and English songs after which they marched in the Sofia streets.
Sofia medics took part in a protest march, organized by the Bulgarian Medical Association and the medics' trade unions affiliated to CITUB and Podkrepa. The protestors gathered in front of the Health Ministry raising demands for the establishment of health insurance, pensioners' and unemployment funds. They insisted that those funds get advance financing by the budget before the introduction of a currency board.
Trade union protests are going on nationwide, says a CITUB press release. According to data of the miners' federation with CITUB protest actions are being held in the mines based in Zlatograd, Roudozem and Kurdjali. Token strikes were staged in several energy plants.
One-hour strikes have been held for two weeks now at the Dinamo plant in Sliven (Southern Bulgaria). One-hour strikes were staged Thursday at the Rekord and Kristal 91 plants and the Ivan Vazov National Library of Plovdiv. Protesting motorists drove in columns in Kurdjali (Southeastern Bulgaria) and the crossroad in front of the bus station was blocked.
Teachers in over 100 schools in Sofia are ready to start indefinite strikes, the CITUB press office said. Procedures for launching effective strikes have started in many schools in Bourgas (on the Black Sea), Pazardjik (Southern Bulgaria) and elsewhere.
Workers of Kremikovtsi, this country's largset steel works, staged a rally supporting the opposition's demand for holding early elections. The rally was organized by the local chapters of the Podkrepa Labour Confederation and the Promyana alliance.
The Council of Ministers received information which said that more than 500 miners staged industrial actions. One-hour protest actions were organized in 540 schools across the country. Seven enterprises of the mechanical engineering sector staged effective industrial actions. The Council of Ministers said only two of the 522 enterprises of the industry sector staged effective strikes.
 ACADEMY OF SCIENCES TO RESUME USE OF RESEARCH NUCLEAR REACTORSofia, January 23 (BTA) - The Institute of Nuclear Research with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) will use its research IRT- 2000 nuclear reactor, the outgoing cabinet decided at its session on Thursday. The reactor is defined as ënonpower engineering installationí, L.Kostov, Chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy, said at a briefing on Thursday. The cabinet's decision was made under the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy Act and complies with the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. Bulgaria strictly observes its obligations under the Vienna Convention, L.Kostov said. The IRT-2000 research nuclear reactor was built in 1962 and was one of the first research installations in this field in Bulgaria, L.Kostov said. In 1990-1991 it was stopped for reconstruction and upgrading and the problem of its exploitation remained open, Kostov recalled.
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