IN FOREIGN POLICY"
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski today gave a major news conference on the foreign political activities of the Socialist Government during its first 100 days in office. He laid a special emphasis on the three priorities in this policy: European integration, regional stability, and regional cooperation and development. Back in the first days after the Socialist Party came into power, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov made a point of his view of "security through integration," the chief Bulgarian diplomat recalled. "As far as regional stability is concerned, the Government tried to work out a balanced position," Mr. Pirinski noted, summing it up in three points: a clear statement in favor of a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the region and concern over the danger of a dramatic escalation of the military conflict, the need to build regional stability by efforts to mitigate the economic effects of the sanctions, and readiness to cooperate with the Contact Group for achievement of a peaceful, lasting and just settlement of the conflict and, parallel to that, gradual lifting of the Yugosanctions. This Bulgarian stance met with support in Athens during a recent meeting of the foreign ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation countries. Five countries there signed a joint statement which was later on circulated at the UN. Mr. Pirinski stressed that the gist of this statement coincides with the view of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, expressed in Luxembourg on April 10 after the meeting of the EU and associated countries' foreign ministers. The third priority, regional cooperation and development, is also associated above all with economic and infrastructural cooperation, Mr. Pirinski observed. He cited as one specific result of the Socialist Government's foreign policy activities the initiated procedure at the US Congress for unconditional granting of a most favored nation status to Bulgaria. "We hope that in the coming months the US Congress will pass this resolution," the Minister said. He expressly pointed out that President Zhelyu Zhelev shares the credit for the matter going before Congress. As a second specific result, Mr. Pirinski pointed to the solution of the problem with the infringement of sound recording copyrights. In a report dated April 29 the Office of the United States Trade Representative at the Executive Office of the President "commends the Government of Bulgaria for taking these actions [to halt the unauthorized production and export of sound recordings, to raise penalties for copyright violations, and to set up systems aimed at protecting copyright holders against infringement of their rights] and expects this commitment to effective enforcement to continue." The April 10 decision of the Greek Government to grant Bulgarian businessmen doing business with Greece multiple-entry visas valid for one year was cited by Mr. Pirinski as a third specific result of the Government's activity. During its first 100 days in office, the Government has no serious grounds for disappointment in foreign policy. "But there is one general disappointment which it seems I am not the only one to share: foreign policy problems continue to be over-politicized, and domestic political capital continues to be made out of foreign policy matters," the Minister said, citing as an example the assessments on the Government's foreign-policy performance, contained in a declaration issued by the opposition Union of Democratic Forces at its national conference. "I think it is precisely in the sphere of foreign policy that there is enough ground for national consensus," Mr. Pirinski emphasized.
The first 100 days of the tenure of the new Bulgarian Government have demonstrated a clear positive tendency in addressing the main tasks facing the Bulgarian Army and the Ministry of Defense, Minister Dimiter Pavlov told a news conference today. He expressed his conviction that this tendency will become even more favorable with the recovery of the national economy. For the first time in four year, all assignments on the plan of the Bulgarian Army have been carried out during the winter period, including the exercises of all armed services, the target practices and the mobilization musters, the Minister emphasized. The army's combat and mobilization readiness has been secured as well, he assured his audience. The defense budget of 24,000 million leva within the 1995 draft national budget, to which the Defense Ministry agreed as a compromise, fully covers the maintenance of the army personnel and materiel throughout the year, Mr. Pavlov said. The share of current expenses is 2.2-fold larger than in 1994. The 3,500 million leva budgeted for maintenance support exceed the aggregate allocations in the entire 1991 - 1994 period. Up to 100 million leva, or more than eight times last year's figure, will be spent on research and development. Capital investment is doubled to 426 million leva. The Ministry's international activities have been intended to build national security by the methods of military diplomacy, Mr. Pavlov said. He described as "very important" Bulgaria's participation in bilateral and multilateral forms of cooperation during the period. It conforms to the changes in the military political environment and is pursued in view of the country's future integration into all present and future European and Euro- Atlantic security structures, through the Partnership for Peace initiative included. According to the Minister, the already held joint exercises with units of the armies of other partner countries and those planned for 1995 will be useful for the Bulgarian Army mainly because of the possibility to ensure future compatibility in the communications and terminology for possible coordination of joint operations. "We hope that the Defense and Armed Forces Act will be conclusively passed even before Parliament's summer recess," Mr. Pavlov said, stressing the importance of the legislation for the next stage of the military reform, scheduled to start in September 1995. The Ministry, the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army and other departments of the system have drafted and are drafting a number of statutory instruments which are supposed to ensure a further improvement of the efficiency of operation of all management units. The plan for the 1996 training year will be ready as early as this August - September, he said. Personnel and social policy were also listed among the Ministry's future priorities. Mr. Pavlov declared himself against "autocratic and forced solutions of personnel problems." Among the welfare measures, the Minister singled out the planned intensification of servicemen housing construction, the agreed currency-free exchange of vacationers with Greece, the Czech Republic, Russia and Hungary, as well as the negotiations on the matter with Austria and France.
To check the decline of farm production, to create favorable economic conditions for the promotion of agriculture, to complete the land reform and to take measures against partitioning of land and to provide state protection for farm producers are among the key objectives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba told a news briefing today. He reported the results from the work of his team during its nearly 100 days in office. During the period the Ministry managed to provide some 3,000 million leva for the spring sowing, to step up the land reform, to take measures and stabilize animal breeding and to introduce amendments in the foreign trade requirements. Despite all this, however, the Minister believes there is still much to do because of the dire straits experienced by agriculture. The grave situation of agriculture is not a recent phenomenon as it has been inherited by every new minister. What is new is the projected return of 85 per cent of the land to its previous owners by the end of 1996. According to earlier projections of experts of the Agriculture Ministry, the land reform was supposed to be practically completed by the end of 1995. Asked why this term has been extended, the Minister said that he can neither claim responsibility for statements made by his predecessors, nor give promises he is not able to fulfill. The Ministry of Agriculture has not only planned to stabilize the production of tobacco and to ensure its purchasing, but to ensure also realization of production, growth of sub-sectors, speeding up of privatization and drafting of a national system for offering scientific services to farm growers. The Ministry's privatization program envisages the denationalization of 66 companies, including 36 dealing in agriculture and 29 in food processing. Farm production is expected to grow as follows: milk and dairy products 2.2 per cent, pork 0.6 per cent, mutton 2.7 per cent, wool 2.5 per cent and eggs 20 per cent. According to Agriculture Minister, unlike the past few years, there is currently increased interest in farm production. In his view, the Ministry will take efforts that this interest persists by creating favorable economic conditions for farm producers.