"The present and future generations of Bulgaria should not forget that whatever external security guarantees we seek and receive, the real guarantee of Bulgaria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity is the Bulgarian Army," President Zhelyu Zhelev said in a congratulatory address on the eve of May 6, the Day of the Bulgarian Army, also marked as the Day of Valor. President Zhelev said this year it would be celebrated on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the victory over fascism in World War II, to which the Bulgarian Army also contributed. President Zhelev pointed out that the difficulties experienced during the transition to a democratic society and the problems that arise every day are testing the endurance of the military and their families, as well as that of millions of Bulgarians. Zhelev stressed that Bulgarian officers, NCOs and soldiers, with their conduct and attitude to their constitutional duty, set an example of national dignity and moral stamina. In his address President Zhelev expressed a hope that the state institutions, political forces and society as a whole would seek a solution to the Army's problems guided by a sense of national responsibility, so as to have an army adequate to the Balkan military political realities.
President Zhelev today signed decrees on new appointments to senior positions and promotions of military officers. Rear Admiral Hristo Kontrov was appointed Navy Commander and was promoted Vice Admiral.
The cabinet approved the position Bulgaria will maintain at the first session of the Intergovernmental Bulgarian-Russian Committee on Cooperation in Special Production, which will be held in Sofia from May 19 to 22. Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev will be chairman for Bulgaria.
In connection with the upcoming visit by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on May 18 and 19, the cabinet approved a draft program for educational, scientific and cultural cooperation between Bulgaria and Russia in 1995-98. The draft program envisages academic exchanges, direct cooperation between similar institutions in the two countries, etc.
The cabinet today discussed a program for urgent crime control measures submitted by Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov and Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev. At a special news conference next week the two ministers will highlight parts of it, government spokesman Nikola Baltov told the press.
The cabinet approved a proposal by Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov to commemorate Bulgarian soldiers who fell in the Second World War with a minute of silence and a three- minute wail of sirens on May 9. A draft declaration on the anniversary was approved. A committee consisting of government officials and public figures is expected to come up with a detailed plan for the VE ceremonies.
EU External Relations Commissioner Hans van den Broek, who arrived on a two-day visit here this afternoon, met consecutively with President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, as well as with members of the government committee on European integration. The talks focused on the processes of Bulgaria's integration with the EU, the progress of reform in Bulgaria and the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Prime Minister Videnov raised the issue of seeking possibilities for compensating the losses sustained by third countries as a result of the Yugosanctions. The meeting with President Zhelev was tete-a- tete and continued for almost an hour and 50 minutes - about 20 minutes longer than scheduled. "I said how much the EU is committed to work together with Bulgaria on the integration process towards a European Union. We discussed the situation in this country, the political and economic reform that is taking place and we spoke about the international situation and notably also in the former Yugoslavia, where I think both Bulgaria and the EU share the serious concern for further escalation and spillover," Commissioner Hans van den Broek told journalists after the meeting. The meeting with Prime Minister Videnov also continued longer than planned and was attended by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. According to Government spokesman Nikola Baltov, the talks discussed the general political disposition of the EU and Bulgaria to address with the necessary seriousness the issue of the implementation of Bulgaria's association agreement and subsequently the issue of this country's accession to the EU as a full member. The two sides also devoted considerable attention to the White paper of the EU on the approximation of the legislation of the associated countries to that of the EU. The two sides discussed issues related to infrastructure problems, trade negotiations between Bulgaria and the EU and the PHARE program. In the course of the discussions Commissioner Hans van den Broek was acquainted with the objectives and the intentions of the Government in privatization and land restitution, Nikola Baltov said. The Prime Minister informed Commissioner Hans van den Broek of the negotiations between Bulgaria and Romania on a concrete infrastructure project the construction of a second bridge across the Danube connecting Bulgaria and Romania. Prime Minister Videnov raised the issue of the Yugosanctions and their effect on the economies of third countries on which the UN Security Council has imposed no sanctions. Videnov said that Bulgaria is seeking ways for solving its specific embargo- related economic problems. Tomorrow this topic will be further discussed during the meeting between Commissioner Hans van den Broek and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Commissioner Hans van den Broek also met members of the government committee on European integration, including two- thirds of the members of the Cabinet. Tomorrow Commissioner Hans van den Broek's visit will continue with meetings with National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, MPs, with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations Kiril Tsochev, with Transport Minister Stamen Stamenov and with Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski.
A delegation of the German Bundestag, led by the deputy floor leader of the parliamentary faction of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, Mr. Rudolf Seiters, arrived here today. "Germany has always showed interest in developing its contacts with Bulgaria and has tried to help this country on the road to democracy and reform, as well as in achieving economic stability," Seiters said upon his arrival. Bulgaria's relations with NATO and this country's economic development were the central topics of the meeting between Bulgarian National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and the German guests. "Bulgaria has not come out with a common stand on NATO membership, there are the positions of separate institutions only," Sendov said. He told the German MPs that two drafts on this issue have been moved in Parliament. "This country made a number of mistakes in its transition to market economy and the reform in agriculture was a total disaster," Sendov said. "The new cabinet is seeking to correct these mistakes. We can already observe a slight improvement of the situation in this country," he added. A meeting between the leadership of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee and the German MPs discussed issues related to Bulgaria's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Tomorrow the German delegation will meet President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and three opposition leaders: Ivan Kostov, of the Union of Democratic Forces, and Anastasia Moser and Stefan Savov of the Popular Union.
SUPPORT FOR U.N. PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS
One of the main objectives of the two-day international scientific conference on "Military Medical Support for Peace- Keeping Operations of the UN" is "coordination, evaluation and discussion of the views on the organization of medical support for the contingents committed to UN peacemaking operations, their integration and contributions to a multinational system meeting the requirements of the World Body," said Colonel Prof. Milan Petrov, President of the Military Medical Academy, opening the forum here today. The opening ceremony was attended by Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov, MPs, Government ministers, defense, health and interior ministry officials and the military attaches of 18 countries in Europe and America which are represented at the meeting. Forty-two generals and other officers, who have been involved in Operation Desert Storm, in UN missions in Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Falklands etc., are taking part in the conference which is held under the auspices of President Zhelyu Zhelev and Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov and is organized by the Military Medical Academy within NATO's Partnership for Peace initiative. "The conference is of substantial importance and is a practical expression of Bulgaria's policy of opening to the democratic world, through participation in the UN peacekeeping operations included," reads a welcoming address to the delegates from President Zhelev. Speaking at the opening ceremony, the NATO Allied Command Europe Medical Advisor, Brig. Gen. J. J. Laliberte, discussed the importance of coordination between partner countries in peacekeeping operations in the light of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Greetings were also offered by representatives of the Health Ministry and the Atlantic Club in Bulgaria. Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Army, has contributed to a report on the need of conducting peacekeeping operations in the world, which the participants will hear today along with a report summing up the experience of a Bulgarian battalion in the UN peacekeeping operation in Cambodia. A total of 33 Bulgarian and foreign papers will be delivered at the forum. On May 6 the delegates will attend the military parade on the occasion of Bulgarian Army Day and will lay wreaths at the Monument of the Unknown Warrior and at the Monument of Russian military medics who fell in the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War of Liberation.
At its regular closed session today the parliamentary National Security Committee voted down the proposal for officially proclaiming April 16 a day of the struggle against terrorism and political violence. On April 16, 1925 the communists bombed the St Nedelya Cathedral in downtown Sofia killing 150 and wounding 500 people.
At today's regular closed session of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Minister Pirinski reported of the steps undertaken by the Cabinet in pursuing this country's foreign policy priorities in its first 100 days in office.
National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov received an invitation today to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran during his meeting with Iranian Ambassador here Mr. Mohammad Ali Kormi Nouri. The invitation was from his Iranian counterpart - the Speaker of the Iranian Consultative Assembly.
Academician Blagovest Sendov received today the Ambassador of Vietnam here, Mr. Ho Xo Viet. The two sides discussed the measures undertaken by Vietnam for curbing inflation and for attracting foreign investment. A Vietnamese delegation will visit Bulgaria to acquaint itself with Bulgarian experience in the legislative sphere.
Prof. Theodoris Pangalos, member of the Greek Parliament, read a lecture on the topic "The European Union and the New Balkan Democracies" here today. "The European Union is no heaven and you should be fully aware of this. Bulgaria will by no means be given markets for nothing," Prof. Pangalos said. He also spoke of what he believes to be NATO's adverse role in the Yugoslav conflict as well as on the establishment of interstate relations making it impossible for NATO to impose decisions from a distance. Prof., Pangalos is visiting Bulgaria at the invitation of the National Association of International Relations.
Bulgarian minister plenipotentiary Ivan Maksimov at this country's permanent representation at the UN, was elected Chairman of the UN Information Committee with a two-year mandate.
Sixty British companies, ranging widely in their lines of business and volume of investment, are currently operating in Bulgaria through their offices or representations. The total amount of British investments here has not been precisely calculated, but is approximated at some 200 million US dollars, "Standart News" says in its today's issue. Among the larger British companies, operating in Bulgaria, are British Gas, which prospects for oil and gas in the Black Sea, Shell, which has invested 10 million US dollars in petrol stations around Bulgaria, Rover Group, which has been setting up a plant for assembly of Maestro cars and pick-ups, the Radio Telecommunication Company which has installed and is managing the national network of mobiphones and wireless telephones, ICL, which has been key supplier of hardware and software products since 1968, as well as the companies Rank Xerox and Betcom. Bulgaria's chief imports from Great Britain include brand whisky, specialized machines, vehicles, chemicals, office equipment and research equipment. Bulgaria exports for Great Britain wines, clothes, yarns, textiles and shoes. The British Government has been assisting Bulgaria on a series of programs for expert and social assistance, as well as through the fund for technical assistance (the know-how fund). Since it was set up in 1991, the fund has financed over 100 projects in Bulgaria, worth some 5 million pound sterling. It is through that fund that the British government has been encouraging British companies to invest in Bulgaria. The fund has been working out schemes for pre-investment research and has been sponsoring specialized training of the Bulgarian personnel of British companies. Thousands of Bulgarian experts have passed various types of training and qualification courses in Great Britain.
Todor Vulchev, Governor of the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB), and his advisor Emil Moutafchiev left for Erevan to attend a meeting of the Netherlands group of countries of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), "Douma" writes. The participants will discuss the role of central banks in the development of the banking system in a period of transition. Prof. Vulchev will speak on "Bulgaria's Monetary, Lending, Financial and Foreign Exchange Policy: Goals and Achievements." He will meet Armenian President Levon Ter- Petrosyan.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) may terminate unilaterally all agreements extending loans for the Bulgarian power engineering, "Pari" writes, referring to a letter of the EBRD to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. The paper recalls that the loans negotiated so far amount to ECU 40 million, designed mainly for the construction of Unit 8 of Maritsa-Iztok Thermo-electric Power Station. According to EBRD experts, nothing has been done to meet the requirements of the Bank, namely, to increase electricity prices and adjust them to inflation on a regular basis. "Pari" specifies that at present the price of electricity is less than 0.2 US dollars/kWh and recalls that some time ago the World Bank insisted on a price hike up to 0.35 US dollars/kWh. The EBRD proposed to the National Electricity Company (NEC) to mark up electricity prices by 17 percent as from June 1, 1995 and by another 20 percent from September 1, 1995. The EBRD requirement is justified, "24 Chassa" quotes NEC Chairman Nikita Shervashidze as saying. According to him, the letter is not an ultimatum but another suggestion to settle the problem. "24 Chassa" writes that the Government should finally decide whether to meet the EBRD price requirements or give up the idea of getting the ECU 40 million loan.
In 1994 the commodity exchange between Bulgaria and Hungary totaled 55 million US dollars, the dailies write citing Vera Mesterhazy, commercial counselor at the Hungarian Embassy in Sofia. Hungarian exports to Bulgaria increased by 38 percent, compared to previous years, Bulgarian exports to Hungary went up by 10 percent.
Greek exports to Bulgaria amounted 450 million US dollars in 1994, "Douma" quotes Greek commercial representative in Sofia Georgios Doudoumis as saying. Bulgaria stands a good chance to rank sixth in the list of largest importers in Greece. Until four years ago (in 1991) Bulgaria ran a trade deficit with Greece. According to Doudoumis, Greece accounts for 11 percent of total investments in Bulgaria.
The National Statistical Institute (NSI) projects a growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of 1.5 to 3.5 percent in 1995, "Troud" writes. According to the NSI, this year inflation will not exceed 60 to 70 percent, and 40 to 50 percent in 1996. Unemployment will keep to its 1994 level - about 19- 20 percent, with a downward tendency over the next few years, the NSI says.
Thirty Bulgarian businessmen will go to Turkey to attend 12-day business courses in June and July; the arrangements have been made by the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), "Douma" says referring to Mehmed Djafer, leader of the MRF local structure in Razgrad (Northeastern Bulgaria). According to him, for four years now the MRF Economic Department maintains close contacts with the Center for Development and Promotion of Small and Medium-Size Businesses in Turkey.