Sofia, May 8 (BTA) Bulgaria today opened celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
The National Palace of Culture hosted a commemorative meeting and a concert. Attending were National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Deputy Prime Minister Doncho Konakchiev, Bulgarian Patriarch Maksim, MPs and cabinet ministers.
The participants held a minute's silence to honour the 11,000 Bulgarians who died in the second stage of World War Two.
"VE Day is a day for reflection and hope," Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov said in an address, stressing the role of the anti-Nazi coalition for the victorious outcome of the war. He further recalled the participation of Bulgarians in the Drava and Mursk operations. World War Two left 11,000 dead and 24,000 injured Bulgarian soldiers.
The Supreme Council of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the BSP parliamentary group today issued a declaration on the 50th anniversary of the victory over Fascism. "In the years of World War Two, Bulgaria had the most powerful mass resistance movement of all German satellite countries. With its direct military contribution, the Bulgarian nation has all grounds to voice a pride with its share in the total defeat of Fascism," the declaration reads.
An exhibition on "Bulgaria's Contribution in the Victory Over Fascism" is arranged at the National Museum of History in Sofia. The exhibition includes photos, colours, arms, uniforms and medals from Bulgaria's participation in the liberation of Macedonia, Eastern and Northern Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Eastern Austria. It also displays military trophies seized from the German army in military operations.
Five veterans of Third Ukrainian Front are here for the events marking the anniversary.
President Zhelyu Zhelev, who is taking part in the international celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the V-E Day, attended a luncheon, given yesterday by Her Majesty Elisabeth II, the Queen of Great Britain in honour of the guests to the celebrations, "Standart News" writes. Bulgaria's Head of State will participate today in the ceremonies in Paris and tomorrow he will go to Moscow to see the parade of the veterans of the Great Patriotic War and to meet President Yeltsin.
President Zhelev will not be present at the military parade at Poklonnaya Gora, the Moscow correspondent of "Continent" says. In this way the Bulgarian President will show his solidarity with the 24 heads of state which disagree with the Russian policy in Chechnya, the paper says. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, however, will attend the military parade together with representatives of the former Soviet republics, Israel, China, Cyprus, Mongolia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. "Once again we managed to show the world that Bulgaria pursues two foreign policies," a signed commentary in the paper says. "It is out of the question that Russia's operations in Chechnya do not deserve approval...A head of state, however, who places his country's interests in the first place, should weigh the pros and cons of a political demonstration of that kind," the author writes.
On the 50th anniversary of the victory over Fascism, "Douma" publishes interviews with Russian Ambassador Alexander Avdeyev, the US ambassador William Montgomery, French Ambassador Marcel Tremeau and with British Ambassador here Roger Guy Short. The paper runs two-page answers to questions in connections with the meetings in Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam, on the Cold War period and on contemporary European problems. Asked whether Bulgaria's association with NATO will provide a sufficient guarantee for this country's security, William Montgomery says that there is no country in the world whose security is fully and absolutely guaranteed He also said that the best Bulgaria can do to guarantee its national secirity, is to strengthen its democracy and economy on the basis of a free market. Russian Ambassador Avdeyev says that the paradox today lies in the fact that NATO gives guarantees against the Soviet Union which no longer exists. In his opinion NATO offers a restricted security scheme and that it is necessary to draw up a new security system, one which would provide full membership for the neutral states too.
Sofia, May 8 (BTA) - Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today left for Moscow to join the events marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
Videnov tomorrow will observe the marchpast of WWII veterans and the military parade, and will attend the opening of the Museum in the Hill of Tributes memorial complex. The Bulgarian Prime Minister and his wife are invited to Kremlin to attend a meeting of Russian President Boris Yeltsin with visiting heads of state and government leaders.
Before leaving for Moscow today, Zhan Videnov described the Moscow events as "an impressive demonstration of anti-Fascist solidarity that has global dimensions". He also said that once again anti-Fascism stands out as a pillar of modern world. The anniversary has a message to the young generation, who should not forget the morals of World War Two, he went on to say. According to him, world leaders are demonstrating their stand in a befitting way and it is good that Bulgaria is part of this world process. The celebrations in Moscow will also be attended by President Zhelyu Zhelev.
Zhan Videnov's Moscow agenda also includes meetings State Duma Chair Inav Rybkin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Videnov said he appreciates highly Rybkin and Chernomyrdin's gesture and sees it as a recognition of Bulgaria's contribution for the victory in 1945 and for today's stability in the Balkans, in Europe and across the world. "It is important for me that the hosts have time for Bulgaria," said the Bulgarian Prime Minister. He further said he expects from the meetings practical results pertaining to the forthcoming sessions of Bulgarian-Russian commissions and the Bulgarian visit of the Russian Prime Minister next week.
Sofia, May 8 (BTA) - In an interview for BBC President Zhelyu Zhelev stressed the threat of the emergence of controversies in Bulgaria's foreign political course, saying that it is absurd for a state to have two foreign political courses. "No one will respect us if different institutions or the political forces dominating these institutions strive to pursue a different foreign policy," the President said.
In response to a question about NATO, President Zhelev said that it would be very sad is Bulgaria is left at the tail end. "We are situated in the explosion-prone region of the Balkans. Any day Bulgaria may find itself under the threat of war, despite its moderate and balanced policy and despite the guarantees it has given that it would not interfere in this conflict," President Zhelev said, adding that under these circumstances Bulgaria needs clear national security guarantees. "For us the question of guarantees is not the latest fashion but a matter of vital importance," he added. "For me, to renounce such guarantees, to renounce NATO membership and a categorical announcement of [Bulgaria's] candidacy is tantamount to treason against the nation," Zhelev stressed.
Asked of his intentions for the presidential elections in 1997, Zhelev said that according to him, all the commotion raised around these elections recently in Bulgaria is aimed at distracting the attention of the democratic opposition from the local elections. The local elections due in October are of paramount importance, the President said.
Asked to comment on the interview, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov agreed that a country cannot have two foreign policies. He said, however, that the Constitution gives a clear answer as to how Parliament formulates and the executive implements home and foreign policy.
Referring to the renunciation of NATO membership, described as "treason" by Zhelev, Zhan Videnov said this issue will come to the fore after Bulgaria is invited to join NATO. A premature moral and emotional reaction can hardly advance a cause, especially a national cause, said Videnov.
"The Cabinet will start fighting impoverishment in 1996," "Douma", the daily of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) says in a leading article. To halt the impoverishment of the population is the principal task set in the Government's four- year programme, which was discussed yesterday at a joint plenary session of the BSP leadership and the parliamentary group of the BSP-led coalition. The document is expected to be finalized at a regular meeting of the Council of Ministers on Thursday. The programme envisages a continued downward trend in production in 1995, a zero decline in 1996 and 2 - 3 percent and 3 - 4 percent growth in 1997 and 1998 respectively. According to "Douma", Zhan Videnov has described the economic approach used by his Governement as "regulatory".
"Standard News" writes, that the plenary session of the BSP has supported the Prime Minister. "The parliamentary majority swallowed the Government's policy and approved it without criticism at the plenary session," the paper says. According to the daily, the programme has been abridged almost to half its initial size before being submitted to the session and all figures and data in it had been deleted. "The Government received a fair mark for its first 100 days of office," "Douma" reads. According to the same paper, the MPs mainly criticized the Cabinet's information policy and its still ineffective measures intended to curb crime. "This is the first time since November 10, 1989, that a Bulgarian Government is presenting a programme about its plans for the coming four years," a signed commentary in "Continet" says. The author says that Zhan Videnov's programme takes commitments to achieve efficient government of the state and to make life of ordinary Bulgarian people easier.
The opposition papers level criticism at the performance of the Government during its first 100 days. "Socialist Videnov postponed welfare for 1998," the paper of the Democratic Party "Zname" writes. "The party of the rich cannot and does not want to take care of the poor," "Zemedelsko Zname" writes on its front page. "Demokratsiya", the paper of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) notes that no serious criticism was targeted against the BSP Government yesterday and that "the performance of a Cabinet, which is dangerous for the country, was evaluated in positive terms and defined as a successive start in the implementation of the pre-election platform of the ruling party."
"Bulgaria outdistances the Visegrad Four in getting NATO membership," a signed commentary in "Standart News" reads. The author's optimism is prompted by the recent visit to Bulgaria of 27 envoys of NATO headquarters in Brussels, led by Christopher Donnaly, Special Advisor for Central and Eastern European Affairs at the Office of NATO's Secretary General. According to the NATO envoys, Bulgaria has emerged as the most serious candidate for a NATO membeship. Next week Bulgaria will receive the conditions for application. They do not include any requirements for setting up military bases or for deployment of nuclear weapons, the paper specifies. More than 60 NATO employees have visited Bulgaria since the beginning of the year. "None of the Visegrad Four countries can boast such an attention," the paper quotes experts as saying.
Sofia, May 8 (BTA) - The public Reconstruction and Development Fund was underused in 1994, lending money on a small scale, the Fund's Governing Board concluded today.
It was decided to set up a working group under the finance minister to draw up a project for improved efficiency in investment policies involving financing from the Fund, as well as for institutionalizing it, the government press office said.
The Governing Board considered applications for financing and decided to lend 3 million dollars to the Pirdop copper-producing factory for equipment and an overhaul, and to release 40 million Deutsche marks to Glavbolgarstroy as a bank guarantee for the housing projects in Tula and Rostov-on-Don and a residential district commissioned by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
In addition to interest payments on Bulgaria's foreign debt, in 1994 the Fund released the following loans: 230 million leva to Balkancar, 15 million dollars to the National Electricity Company, 1,000 million leva to the Energy Resources National Fund, and decided to allocate 500 million leva under the PHARE programme to the Agriculture Ministry, the government press office said.
Sofia, May 8 (BTA) - The founder of the Open Society Foundation, George Soros, today met National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Socialist floor leader Krasimir Premyanov and the leaders of the opposition Popular Union. He also visited the SS Cyril and Methodius National Library and presented a project financed by his Fund. He further pledged to finance the European Studies Centre to be set up with the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia.
George Soros came to Bulgaria on Saturday for the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Open Society Fund in Bulgaria. In these five years, the Foundation gave US$ 13 million in grant aids to Bulgaria's education and culture, to libraries and publishers. In 1994 alone the Fund spent a total of 311 million leva on 1,800 projects in the sphere of humanities and economy. Funds allocated for 1995 amount to 26,400,000 leva in grants to Bulgarian and foreign students and postgraduates.
Today's meeting between George Soros and Blagovest Sendov discussed Parliament's refusal to subsidize the Open Society Foundation. Soros told journalists after the meeting that the refusal could be seen as a symbolic act. Sendov said for his part that all accusations that Bulgaria is heading toward a closed society with its refusal to help the Open Society Foundation, are unjustifiable. "We appreciate what the Fund does but we cannot accept to be dictated what to do with Bulgaria's budget. I believe all this is a misunderstanding pre-designed by Bulgaria's ill-wishers," said the National Assembly Chairman.
The refusal of financial assistance for the Foundation from the budget was also discussed at a meeting between George Soros and the floor leader of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, Krasimir Premyanov. The sides, however, reportedly came to the common understanding that this decision of Parliament has been necessitated by the financial difficulties facing Bulgaria and does not go to manifest mistrust in the Foundation.
At meeting with the Rector of the St Kliment Ohridski University, Prof. Ivan Lalov, George Soros pledged to finance a European Studies Centre to start operating with the University. At the National Library, the guest presented a project for an automated national information network to be switched on with the assistance of the Libraries Fund with Open Society.
During his visit to Bulgaria, George Soros was received by Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev. At a concert on the Fund's anniversary last night, a letter was read by President Zhelev in which he thanked Open Society "for its assistance in building a civil society in Bulgaria".
The sailors of the Rotalia Ship, who arrived in Bulgaria a fortnight ago after a several months' strike in the Lerwick port, have been summoned to the court, "Standart News" writes, quoting the Seamen Trade Union. The sailors were on strike over unpaid wages, stretching back for more than a year. During the negotiations the sailors were promised not to be prosecuted. The crew sent a letter of protest to the European Parliament and it was decided that a representative of the Labour Party of Great Britain will arrive for the hearing of the case. For their part, the seamen will also initiate proceedings against the management of the Okeanski Ribolov Company, charging it with having deliberately left the ship unfit to sail in order to receive insurances.
Bulgarians will desalinize Black Sea water to save the European part of Istanbul from draught, "24 Chassa" writes. The desalinization will be implemented according to a licensed Bulgarian technology by the Elfitech Partnership of Stara Zagora (South Eastern Bulgaria).
Some 9,500 million dirty money were laundered in Bulgaria in 1994, a signed commentary in "Troud" reads. The author says that the margin between figures of the bank and customs statistics gives the amount of dirty money in circulation. It includes the value of commodities with unpaid taxes, customs and excise duties, embargo deals with third countries and profits from drug deals.
"Troud" writes about the intentions of former policemen to initiate independent actions against criminals. A reporter learned that the extraordinary measures are prompted by the fact that only four in every 100 criminals in Bulgaria are penalized by the law. If the idea is realized, however, the public order in Sofia may be blown up, the paper warns.
The MPs of the Popular Union and the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) on the Bulgarian parliamentary delegation visiting Belgrade will seek an explanation for the statements about the existence of a Serbian minority in Bulgaria, "24 Chassa" writes. They will protest before the Serbian parliament and before Yugoslavian Prime Minister Radoje Kontic in connection with the declaration, which was submitted to the UN a month ago. BSP represenative and Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy Nikolai Kamov will not join his collegues. The delegation will insisit on the observation of human rights in the western outlands of Yugoslavia, the paper quotes Nikolai Kamov as saying.
Bulgaria has been invited to take part in a UN peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara, "Standart News" says. Ivan Timnev, in charge of UN peace keeping operations at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry is quoted as saying, that according to projections, 10 military observers and 15 plain clothes policemen will be sent there. Bulgaria has 10 military observers and 10 plain clothes policemen in Angola at present, as well as 4 military observers in Tadzhkistan, the paper says.
Sofia, May 8 (BTA) - The banks have incurred 14,000 million leva of losses in 1994, the financial daily "Pari" says, quoting figures from the consolidated balance sheet of the trade banks and the State Savings Bank.
Bulgaria owes Poland some 150 million in transferable roubles, "Troud" says, quoting Polish Ambassador here Tadeusz Wasilewski as saying. The two states have already agreed on the scheme of payment. In 1994 the commercial exchange between Bulgaria and Poland was worth 71 million US dollars, the imports from Poland accounting for the larger part of it.
A batch of the new type of beer Almus Lux, manufactured in the town of Lom (on the Danube) has been sent to Brussels to take part in an international food exhibition Monde Selection, "Douma" writes. The new beer is made from organic products and is durable for one year. The product will apply for a golden award.
The cosmetic manufacturer Rubella from Roudozem (Northern Bulgaria) has closed deals worth 800,000 US dollars at the International Fair in Plovdiv. This is the ninth participation of the company in the fair on its own. The company showed the complete range of its 100 groups of products. Extradent tooth-paste was the product which most attracted the interest of foreign visitors.
The Balkancar-Erma company signed a 20 million leva exports agreement for Spain with the Spanish company ITM. The contract will guarantee smooth operation of the Bulgarian manufacturer of industrial truck chains.
The winery in Turgovishte (Northeastern Bulgaria) will send 1 million bottles of champagne to Moscow for the celebrations marking the anniversary of the V-E Day, "Douma" says. In addition to champagne, the special order includes 1 million bottles of cognac and 200,000 bottles of white wine.
The Constitutional Court will be approached in connection with the decision of the National Assembly to restrict the serving of budget payments to state-owned banks, "Standart News" says. Lawyers believe that this decision violates the rights of the private banks and may also impede payments, since the state-owned banks are not prepared to take up all accounts. The granted privilege is assessed as a blow against the three largest private banks by the Head of the Supervisory Board of the TSBank Emil Kyulev, quoted by the daily.
Glavbolgarstroi has won another tender for construction under the programme for Russian militaries returning from Germany, "Standart News" says. The Bulgarian construction company will take part in the enlargement of the settlement in Rostov on Don.
Sofia, May 8 (BTA) - Sofia is hosting an international conference on the protection of the geological heritage, organised by the European Association of Geological Heritage and the Institute of Geology with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The participating scientists and experts from Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Austria, Switzerland, England and Albania are discussing the coordination and preparation of criteria for placing under legal protection geological sites of particular significance to science, like rare minerals, unique fossils and others. They will also work out recommendations to the respective governments to take the necessary measures for the protection of the geological heritage.
The participants are also discussing the possibility to make up a catalogue of the geological heritage in the Balkans, which will be the first regional catalogue of that kind. The catalogue is intended to be included in the list of world's geological sites, which so far has featured as few as five sites from the Balkan states, Prof. Dr. Ivan Zagorchev of the Institute of Geology told a BTA reporter. He specified that the natural sites in Bulgaria under the protection of the law are 500, including some 60 geological ones.
Under the auspices of UNESCO and with its financial assistance, Sofia is also hosting an international conference on the development of information and library networks in the states of Central and Eastern Europe as part of the international information exchange.
Some 40 scientists and experts from Bulgaria, Great Britain, Macedonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the Netherlands are discussing the prospects for building library an information exchange networks between the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The participants in the forum, which is to last until May 9, will prepare recommendations to the international organisations and the respective governments to support the information and library systems as an element of the integration of the Central and Eastern European states in the international information exchange.
UNESCO granted 18,000 US dollars for the building of a national library and information exchange network in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. A team of Bulgarian experts is working on a project for the building of a natoional information system of that kind.