President Zhelyu Zhelev and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov are in Moscow to attend the VE Day celebrations. The Prime Minister is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Viktor Chernomyrdin and State Douma Chair Ivan Rybkin. "24 Chassa" writes that as part of the stringent security measures during the Moscow celebrations, Bulgarian journalists are barred from the meetings in spite of the request of the Bulgarian Embassy there.
The press provides extensive coverage of President Zhelev's interview for the BBC in which he dwells on Bulgaria's foreign policy. "Zhelyu Zhelev Accuses BSP of Treason" reads a headline in "Standart News". A signed commentary in this daily says "there is hardly another Head of State who has made so many statements on such important domestic issues while abroad." "Douma" runs a commentary on the interview headlined "Zhelyu Zhelev Waves Finger at Bulgaria from London". "Demokratsiya" quotes Dr. Zhelev as saying a country cannot have two foreign policies. "NATO again puts at odds President and Prime Minister, " says "Continent".
17 documents have already been drafted and are ready to be signed by the two countries. Among them is an agreement on the construction of a pipeline from Russia to Greece via Bulgaria, on the settlement of Russia's US$ 100 million debt to Bulgaria, on bilateral trade and customs tariffs. Videnov stressed that Bulgaria is interested to have at least half of Russia's debt repaid with supplies of special equipment, and particularly spare parts for the Bulgarian army. He believes that the two countries' governments could cooperate successfully, adding that a favourable factor are his relations with Chernomyrdin.
The 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two was also on the meeting's agenda. "I believe that European, world policy, is the product of joint efforts. Moscow and its place in Europe's life cannot be questioned and the atmosphere of the parade this morning proved it, " said Zhan Videnov.
Later today the Bulgarian Prime Minister met the Chair of the Russian State Duma Ivan Rybkin to discuss Bulgaria's view on NATO. Zhan Videnov said after the meeting that while Bulgaria has already made its choice on this matter, NATO is a hot issue for the State Duma with Russian MPs discussing Russia's joining the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. He further recalled the difficulties Russia faced during the debates on the accession to European structures. Videnov believes it is only natural to discuss collective security on the day celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
Bulgaria and Russia share the view that building collective security should not result in a new division of Europe. The Bulgarian Prime Minister reiterated his view that PfP offers the best formula for this particular moment. The Russian Parliament, however, attaches greater importance to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "The most important thing is that we see collective security as a future process, as developing and changing what exists, rather than making it perpetual, " Videnov said.
GOVERNMENT: 100 DAYS IN OFFICE
APPROXIMATION TO COMMUNITY LAW" Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - "Bulgaria may qualify as a state governed by the rule of law and develop in compliance with the established model of constitutional democracy only when it is run by statutes rathern than subordinate legislation. We intend to make the Council on Legislation with the Ministry of Justice the principal authority drafting and coordinating bills which will then be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval and to Parliament for voting, " Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov said today at a news conference, summarizing his Ministry's performance in its first 100 days in office.
During that period, the Ministry of Justice focused on strengthening the law-making procedure and approximating Bulgarian and Community law. This requirement is set in the draft EU White Paper, which will be adopted in Cannes this June. At the European Council meeting in Luxembourg in April, it was noted that Bulgaria does not lag behind the Visegrad Group in this respect, Mr Chervenyakov said.
During his first 100 days in office, Mr Chervenyakov has submitted to the Government 19 bills, which have already gone before Parliament. They include the bill on securities, stock exchanges and investment companies, which will set rules for the capital market, bills intended to enhance national security and public order: a bill on defence and national security, a bill on the Central Service for Organized Crime Control, a bill amending the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Execution of Punishments Act.
With the participation or under the guidance of the Council on Legislation, 23 bills, concerning ownership, units of territorial administration, on the residence of aliens in Bulgaria.
Bills on insurance, on state employees, on the Social Security Fund intended to separate it from the budget, on money launderning, on gambling and notaries are to be worked out. The tendency will be to set up a private notary's office and the only difficulty is in the fact that Bulgaria has never had such an institution, according to Mr Chervenyakov.
In connection with the work of law courts the Justice Ministry is preparing a programme for training of judges and prosecutors. Courses were held for bailiffs and workshops for patent law judges and on summing up the judicial practice in criminal and civil matters.
Mr Chervenyakov also reported on the performance of the Penitentiary Administration. A programme was adopted for promotion of re-integration of former prison inmates through vocational training and retraining. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology organized a joint practical conference on the role of teachers of learners in prison. There are 400 persons in custody who have enrolled for comprehensive education this academic year.
In the sphere of international legal interaction and assistance, Bulgaria signed agreements on legal assistance in civil and criminal matters and extradition with Armenia and an agreement for legal assistance on criminal actions with China. Negotiations were held with Azerbaijan for the signing of such am agreement. Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Egypt, Moldova and Belarus are also among the countries with which negotiations will be held in this area. Bulgaria is also going to ratify the European Agreement on transmission of legal assistance requests and will initiate a procedure for accession to some of the Hague Conventions on private international law.
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - The Ministry of the Environment has been working in three directions during the Government's first 100 days in office: attainment of priorities in the National Environmental Protection Strategy, monitoring and prevention, and international cooperation, Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev told a news conference here today.
Six bills have been drafted in pursuance of the National Environmental Protection Strategy: on mitigation of the harmful environmental impact of household, construction and production waste, on the purity of atmospheric air, on waters, on the protection of the marine environment, on protected wilderness tracts and on medicinal plants. The bills are consistent with the legal standards of the European Union, Mr Georgiev emphasized.
In line with monitoring and prevention, environmental evaluations have been made of 141 state- owned enterprises earmarked for privatization. Expert examinations have been conducted for state subsidization of waste treatment facilities. Fifteen penalty orders have been issued for detected violations and environmental pollution.
The Ministry of the Environment is preparing for the third Environment for Europe conference, which will be held in Sofia in October. At this conference, Bulgaria will present a report on a study of its environment and the efficiency of its environment policy.
Within international cooperation, Bulgaria keeps honouring its commitments assumed under a series of international programmes, projects and conventions. This country has ratified the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Mr Georgiev attended the World Conference on Climate and Greenhouse Effect in Berlin.
The working out of a National Programme for Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions continues. It is financed by the US Department of Energy. The National Strategy for Conservation of Biological Diversity, financed by the US Agency for International Development, has been completed.
Within the agreements reached between Bulgaria, Romania and the EU on reduction of transboundary pollution in the Danube basin, joint work has started with Dutch consultants DHV on a study and preparation of a programme for remodelling of the industrial polluters in Bulgaria and Romania.
For implementation of the national programe for reduction of the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, Bulgaria has received a 11.9 million US dollars grant under the Convention on phasing out ozone-depleting substances at the session of the Global Environment Facility in New York in early May. The money will be invested in Bulgarian enterprises manufacturing refrigerating equipment, electronics, machines and chemicals. Deputy Minister Yordan Ouzounov said the problem with the use of ozone-depleting substances in Bulgaria will be solved within two years.
A protocol on a 20 million Swiss franc debt-for- environment swap was signed with Switzerland in March. The agreement will be formalized this coming autumn, before the conference in Sofia. Mr Ouzounov said that now it is possible to finance Bulgarian environment policy not just by loans but by grants as well, something which did not exist in swap deals so far. The second advantage which Bulgaria gets is discretion in managing these funds. The Swiss Government only wants to share in the decision- making process, Mr Ouzounov said.
Dailies provide detailed footage of yesterday's meeting between National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and visiting founder of the Open Society Foundation George Soros. "The meeting was difficult and not very pleasant, " "Troud" quotes Sendov as saying. Soros demanded explanation for Parliament's refusal to allocate 42 million leva to the Foundation. Open Society's founder believes this refusal could be seen as a manifestation of the negative attitude to the Foundation on the part of Bulgarian institutions.
"The statements George Soros made constitute an attempt at interference in Bulgaria's internal affairs, " Sendov said quoted by "24 Chassa".
"The Foundation should be open to the Bulgarian reality, " Education Minister Prof. Ilcho Dimitrov told "Douma". "We appreciate all assistance in the spiritual sphere provided that it does not infringe on the national interests and dignity, " the Culture Minister went on to say.
Interviewed by "Demokratsiya", George Soros says he is pleased with the performance of the Foundation in Bulgaria. "I am impressed, " he said adding that Parliament's stand would not reduce his support.
Asked by "Standart News" is there is a danger for the students studying abroad on Open Society grants never to come back to Bulgaria, George Soros says it depends on Bulgaria, on whether it will be open or not, and not on him.
George Soros further tells an interviewer of "Troud" that some Bulgarian journalists stick to the 50-year-old tradition of fanning up facts.
The Bulgarian parliamentary delegation visiting Belgrade without representatives of the UDF, was received by the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Radoe Kontic, writes "Demokratsiya". The host extended an invitation to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov for a visit to Yugoslavia. This daily also says that a visit to Belgrade by Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski has already been arranged.
"Douma" writes about the upcoming May 17 visit here of Azerbaijan's President Geidar Aliyev. During the two-day official visit, the sides are expected to sign a treaty on friendship and cooperation and a package of 14 additional agreements, most of them in the sphere of economy. Aliyev will be the third President of a Caucasian republic visiting Bulgaria, this daily recalls.
The Ilinden United Macedonian Organization is preparing to register at court, writes "Troud". A secret meeting of this organization discussed the statutes with which Ilinden hopes to get official registration. The registration application will reportedly be submitted this week.
A story in "24 Chassa" on the cabinet's four-year programme writes that while the first draft laid an emphasis on providing preconditions for the development of a middle class, the final version "pushed to the background the people expected to become the backbone of the society after four years". The cabinet's programme was adopted by the Sunday plenum of the BSP and its coalition partners. There are, however, lavish promises for the poor, jobless, handicapped and young.
"Troud" continues to run stories on "the dirty money" in Bulgaria, which, this daily believes, amount to US$ 9, 500 million. "Dirty capitals nourish the new Bulgarian society, " writes the author.
Interviewed by "Troud", former prime minister Andrei Loukanov, now MP of the BSP, voices concern over the possibility for human rights to be curtailed in the combat against crime. This statement was prompted by cabinet's decision last week to adopt urgent measures to fight crime. "Some of the actions provide a good start. But the public expects more efficient and, in a certain respect, more stringent measures, " Loukanov says. He further attacks the assumption that the combat against crime can be effective only when it is accompanied by curtailed civil rights.
A signed commentary in "Continent" says crime will be the hardest test for the incumbent cabinet.
Dailies run extensive interviews with Andrey Konchalovsky, who is visiting Sofia for the Partnership for Peace film festival.
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - Bulgaria's foreign exchange reserves rose to US$ 1, 300 million, "Standart News" writes citing a central bank release. Dealers expect the US dollar to persist at some 65 leva. More pronounced fluctuations are likely in the summer because of the forthcoming foreign debt payments.
The Association of Private Hoteliers opened the summer season in Nessebur and Vlas, on the Black Sea, yesterday.
Bulbank extended a 200 million leva credit line for the Sunny Beach resort on the Black Sea, writes "Pari". It further says the funds to be utilized by the end of June are unlikely to cover the traditional pre-season repairs.
The Ambassador hotel complex, near Sofia, opened on Monday to become the first private hotel of the TBS Hotels chain. Ambassador has 60 double rooms, 12 suites, a restaurant for 120, a summer terrace, a wine cellar and a lounge bar. It also boasts a gym, sauna, conference hall. The hotel's guest can also use free bus service to downtown Sofia and the Sofia Airport.
80% of the timber processed in 1994 went top foreign markets, "24 Chassa" writes quoting the Forestry Committee. The extensive export of logs and other timber after primary processing will leave Bulgarian furniture producers without raw materials, experts say. Furniture plants each year are 200, 000 cu m of timber short of exporting ready products to markets in which they have established positions, the daily writes.
A Bulgarian-Russian investment bank set up last year, starts operating today, writes "Standart News".
Sagem of France won a tender of the European Union for building the telecommunications network of the emergency medical service in Bulgaria.
In 1994 Bulgaria exported to the European Union member states a total of 2, 714 t of goose meat. This is four times up the 635.5 t quota initially allocated to Bulgaria, says "Standart News".
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - The Dutch ING Bank will advertise Bulgarian enterprises abroad through its operations in the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands and Germany. In June the Privatization Agency will be given the chance to advertise its activity to potential investors in those countries. ING Bank will also cooperate with the Privatization Agency as an intermediary in individual privatization transactions. Jos de Vit, Director General of the ING Bank Sofia Office, confirmed that his bank will sell shares of Bulgarian enterprises.
ING Bank, which opened its Sofia Office about a year ago, makes a specialty of trade in debt bonds and their use in privatization deals. Purchasing Brady bonds and offering them to the bank's customers abroad and consulting on the prospects for debt-for-equity swaps under the agreement with the London Club creditors will be among the priorities of the ING Office in Sofia, the chiefs of the office said when it was inaugurated in January 1995.
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - Among the key objectives of the Bulgarian International Business Association (BIBA) is to create the necessary conditions for normal functioning and integration of the international business into the Bulgarian economy as a step in Bulgaria's integration with the European and world economic structures, said BIBA President Philip Brley at a news conference on the third anniversary since the foundation of BIBA. Another task BIBA has set itself it to represent Bulgaria before prospective foreign investors. Mr Burley, who is also a permanent representative of Rover company here, said that the protection of the interests of international companies here to a great extent exemplifies the protecton of the principles of market economy and entrepreneurship. He added that BIBA has been cooperating with the Bulgarian National Assembly and the Government on the realization of the economic reform and overcoming the consequences from the economic crisis in Bulgaria.
The association has been doing extensive charity, the biggest event in that framework being the charity ball, held in June 1994 under the auspices of President Zhelyu Zhelev, said Chairman of the BIBA Charity Committee Kevin Duffy. The charity ball raised a fund of 50, 000 US dollars, which was used for the reconstruction of a home for mentally retarded children in the region of Veliko Turnovo (North-central Bulgaria), worth 25, 000 US dollars and opened on May 3, 1996, as well as to finance an oncology and haematology consulting office for children in Plovdiv (Bulgaria's second largest city) and a home for mentally handicapped children in the region of Blagoevgrad (Northwestern Bulgaria).
In reply to a reporter's question, BIBA President said that in Bulgaria the problem with corruption is more explicit compared to other states. Security and corruption are mutually related problems which BIBA is concerned about, Mr Burley said. The news conference was told that a meeting between BIBA representatives and Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev is at hand which will discuss the security of foreign businessmen in the country.
BIBA was founded in April 1992 in Sofia by seven enterprises: British Gas, the Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund, ICL, Price Waterhouse, Rank Xerox, Shell Bulgaria and the Sheraton Hotel - Sofia. Since it was founded, the BIBA has grown rapidly and already has over 100 members from all of the major western countries and much of Asia. BIBA has been holding regular discussions with representatives of the legislative and the executive powers in Bulgaria. The organisation has planned to hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski at the end of May. On the agenda will be foreign political aspects and their effect on the business climate in Bulgaria, BIBA Executive Director Ilian Vasilev said.
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - There are now tangible preconditions for expanding the economic cooperation between Bulgaria and the Netherlands, Dutch Ambassador here Frans W.J.M. Brouwers said at the opening of a Bulgarian-Dutch business meeting. The forum is co- organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Dutch Council for Promotion of Trade. Attending are officials of the Ministries of Industry, of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation.
The head of the Dutch delegation voiced his hope that the business contacts between Bulgaria and the Netherlands will continue to develop.
Dutch imports in Bulgaria in 1994 amounted to US$ 165 million, up by US$ 60 million from the previous year. Bulgarian exports to the Netherlands in this period rose by some 18% to reach a total of US$ 87 million, said the head of the Dutch delegation. He also said that businessmen in his country are mostly interested in Bulgarian farming and food processing industry.
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - The top prioroties in the activity of the new leadership of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) will be the restitution of land ownership, resistance to politically motivated purges, and close observation and criticism of the Government's performance, UDF leader Ivan Kostov told a news conference today.
At its first meeting, the National Executive Board (the body running the day-to-day business of the largest opposition force, including the UDF Chairman, the four deputy chairmen, the chief secretary and the floor leader of the coalition) distributed the functions among the deputy chairmen as follows: Vasil Gotsev in charge of foreign policy, Peter Stoyanov of domestic policy, Alexander Bozkkov of economic policy, and Nadezhda Mihailova of information policy. The first meeting of the National Cordinating Council (UDF's top policy making body, consisting of 160 members) is scheduled for May 16.
At the same news conference Peter Stoyanov said that deputy chairmen of the UDF and the Popular Union will meet, probably this week. The sides will discuss the principles of a future agreement between the two opposition forces in connection with the autumn local elections. According to Mr Stoyanov, the relations between UDF and the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms are a step ahead because the two forces have already exchanged views on the principles of interaction in the forthcoming elections.
Asked about the "Troud" allegations that dirty money amounting to some 10, 000 million US dollars are in circulation in Bulgaria, Ivan Kostov said that this is not true. "Indeed, there are large amounts of dollars in Bulgaria through which illicit operations are carried out, but their amount is anybody's guess."
Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - The Institute of Hygiene and Epydemiology in Sofia found that 12.6 per cent of the 888 samples of drinking water tested between April 15 and 30 do not meet the Bulgarian State Standard. According to a news release, circulated by the Health Ministry, the most frequent admixtures in water are nitrates and ammonia and water is often muddy and oxidizable. 5.8 per cent of the samples fail to comply with the microbiological standards. A total of 664 intestinal diseases were registered over the same period, however they were not found to be directly related to the quality of drinking water. Sofia alone accounts for 25 registered cases of intestinal infections, but there is no evidence showing their relation with the quality of water. The tests conducted in May showed lower levels of iron and manganese content compared to early April.
The Ministry of Territorial Development and Construction will do its best to suspend the water rationing in Sofia in July and August, Deputy Minister in charge of waters Ivan Gadzhev told a news conference today. In September, however, the ratioining will probably be re- introduced, since the amount of water in Sofia's main reservoir, the Iskar dam, is not sufficient to provide a lasting solution to the water crisis, Mr Gadzhev said. According to the Ministry's estimates, water rationing will probably be terminated in three years' time in case of average rainfalls, the news conference was told.
The sixth this year industrial accident in the Septemvri mine in the region of Madan (Southern Bulgaria) occurred today, the local BTA correspondent quotes the mine saving services as saying. One was killed and two received light injuries in the accident.
This year's edition of the spring fair in Turgovishte (North-eastern Bulgaria) was opened today. The fair will be accompanied by a number of cultural, sports and other events, organised by the municipality until May 14.
The first in Bulgaria technical bureau of the association of independent experts in technical supervision of the province of North Rhine-Westphalia was opened today in Rousse (on the Danube). The bureau intends to introduce quality systems for industrial products on the bases of the international standards. The bureau will train Bulgarian manufacturers how to observe the technical norms, established in international trade. The establshment in Rousse has been prompted by the willingness of European industrialists to expand their manufacture to Eastern Europe, as well as by the opening of the western markets for East-European industrial goods, a representative of the bureau told BTA.
Association "Bulgaria" (formed by patriotic public organisations) assessed in negative terms the performance of the Government during its first 100 days in office. According to association representatives, the period was marked by several severe price shocks, worse crime than ever and fight for domination in foreign policy.
The nationalist Fatherland Party of Labour circulated today a declaration, stating that Turkey's actions in Northern Iraq represent an economic genocide and application of a double standard in terms of human rights. Citing a statement of the Turkish President Demirel about the need to correct the Turkish border with Iraq, the declaration expresses hope, that the global community will not let another application of the 1977 Cyprus model.
Georgi Petrov, leader of the group of Nikola Petkov Bulgarian Agrarian National Union, which split from the opposition Union of Democratic Forces, told a news briefing today that his party will join the Agrarian Union, led by Anastasia Mozer (in parliamentary coalition with the Democratic Party). He specified, however, that the decision should be taken at a party congres.
The visit of a Bulgarian parliamentary delegation in Belgrade is a gesture intended to please the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, Deputy Chairman of the Radical Democratic Party (RDP in the UDF) Asparuh Panov told a news conference. He praised the decision of the parliamentary group of the UDF not to include its representative in the delegation. RDP's other Deputy Chairman Mihail Nedelchev did not agree with this view and said that the UDF representatives should establish contacts with the Serbian opposition formations and expressed hope that this will be done by the MP of the Popular Union on the delegation.
At the invitation of Minister of Culture Georgi Kostov, Jason Burman, Chairman of the U.S. Association of Sound-Recording Industry is paying a visit here, the Foreign Ministry's Spokesman said. Mr Burman will be familiarized with the Government's measures intended to protect intellectual property rights in Bulgaria. On the agenda are the prospects for cooperation between Bulgaria and the United States in the protection of copyright and other rights of the kind.
Ambassador Thomas O'Sullivan, Head of Delegation of the European Commission for Bulgaria hosted a reception here today on May 5 the day of Europe.
Bulgaria hosts the second European meeting of the states, signatories to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Samsar Convention). The meeting is attended by 80 ornitologists from 40 European states. They will discuss measures for preservation of wetlands of international importance and their reasonable usage. Four Bulgarian sites have been included in that list: the Sreburna biosphere reserve (on the Danube), the Black Sea reserves Arkutino and Lake Atanasovsko and the natural landmark Durankulak. Bulgaria will demand the inclusion in the list of cape Shabla on the Black Sea, as this is the place where the endangered red-breasted goose spends the winter. In 1993 with the cooperation of the Bureau of the Ramsar Convention, Bulgaria worked out and publushed a national plan, which outlined priority actions for the preservation of wetlands.
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will depart tomorrow for Strassburg to attend the regular session of the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Foreign Ministry's Spokesman said.
Hewlett Packard granted 5.5 million leva worth of equipment to the laboratory of chromatography with the Department of Chemistry of the Sofia University "St. Kliment of Ohrid". The donation was made at the opening of the four-day forum Analytica'95, organised by TIM Ltd, dealer for Bulgaria of Hewlett Packard's analysis equipment. TIM Ltd has been on the Bulgarian market since 1992.
Chairman of the Supreme Muslim Theological Council in Bulgaria Nedim Gendzhev greeted the Bulgarian Muslims on the national television tonight with the second great Muslim holiday Qurban Bairam. Under a Government's decision since the end of 1994 the Muslims are allowed to have two days-off for the holiday.