May 24 is marked in Bulgaria as the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture, of the Slavonic alphabet and its inventors, SS Cyril and Methodius, who wrote books in the Slavonic language, set up Slavonic schools and a Slavonic church. May 24 is the date of the death of St Cyril. The lifework of Cyril and Methodius was celebrated in Bulgaria already in the 9th century when they were canonized. May 24 was declared public holiday in 1956. On this day the Bulgarians remind the world that though they are a small and poor people, they have also given something to the world. Classic literary works have been written in the Slavic alphabet, Bulgaria had a Golden Age of culture and art (during the reign of King Simeon 843-927), its icon painters and singers have gained world renown. On this day Bulgaria voices its pride in its cultural achievements. The most popular song on this day is the hymn to Cyril and Methodius, written by poet Stoyan Mihailovski (1856-1927).
Rome, May 24 (BTA) - The observances of the Day of Slav Letters and Bulgarian Culture abroad started last night in Rome with an audience given by Pope John Paul II. The Head of the Roman Catholic Church received an official Bulgarian delegation led by Culture Minister Georgi Kostov. The fact that the audience was held on the Pope's rest day, in his private library and immediately upon his return from a tour abroad was assessed by Vatican observers as a gesture of great respect for Bulgaria's envoys. Pope John Paul II thanked for the invitation to visit Bulgaria and said he would do so gladly when the circumstances are most appropriate. According to reliable sources, the visit will take place already next year. The audience, which continued for 35 minutes, was also attended by the Bulgarian Ambassador to the Vatican, Mr Kiril Marichkov. The audience was followed by a reception given by the Bulgarian Ambassador to Italy, Dimiter Lazarov, at the Bulgarian Embassy which was attended by diplomats and official representatives of Italy and the Vatican. Today the official Bulgarian delegation laid a wreath at the grave of St Cyril in the San Clemente Basilica. Archimadrite Evlogi, Rector of the Plovdiv Ecclesiastical Seminary, conducted a memorial service. Speeches were read by Deputy Education Minister Stancho Stamov and by the Chairman of the Union of Bulgarian Writers, Nikolai Haitov. The delegation paid floral tribute to the icon of SS Cyril and Methodius in the Santa Maria Miggiore Basilica and at the grave of Archbishop Peter Parchevich in the church of Sant Andrea delle Frate.
The observances of May 24, the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slav Letters, started with a memorial service to SS Cyril and Methodius conducted at the Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. Later on President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov paid tribute to the monument to SS Cyril and Methodius in front of the National Library building. "May 24 is an occasion to consider our present life from the height of the achievements of the two brothers," Blagovest Sendov said. He recalled that "Bulgaria of Boris I and Simeon was civilized and strong, and that its culture and the church helped preserve the Bulgarians' national self-awareness in the centuries of Turkish domination. The National Assembly Chairman also reminded those present that the development of democracy in Bulgaria would be impossible without the solving of the problems experienced by education, science and culture. The Rector of Sofia University Prof. Ivan Lalov and other officials addressed a meeting in the ceremonial hall of Sofia University. It was attended by President Zhelev, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Sofia Mayor Alexander Yanchoulev and Metropolitan Neophit. Prof. Ivan Lalov and Prof. Luc Weber of the University of Geneva signed an agreement for cooperation between the two universities. More than 1,000 years ago SS Cyril and Methodius gave the Slavs their alphabet, enlightenment and culture, and, what is most important, a chance to take a worthy place in the civilized world," Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said addressing a rally in front of the National Palace of Culture on the occasion of May 24. "Today when cooperation and integration are the most reliable guarantees of progress and stability in Europe, we Bulgarians, should feel proud of our contribution to the roots of authentic European civilization and history," the Prime Minister went on to say. In a televised address Videnov said that the lifework of SS Cyril and Methodius has left its mark on the development of the Slav peoples and hence on the European Christian civilization and cultural and historical traditions." Videnov called for pooling efforts in overcoming the present crisis in Bulgarian culture, science and education. May 24 was marked nationwide with processions. Portraits of SS Cyril and Methodius were decorated with flowers. A concert was held at the National Palace of Culture with the participation of renowned Bulgarian musicians and singers. President Zhelyu Zhelev gave a reception at the Boyana Residence.
May 23 - The Government Committee on European Integration held a meeting today, presided by its chairman, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. The meeting discussed the first session of the EU-Bulgaria Association Council due on May 29, 1995. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski acquainted the Government Committee with this country's strategy for integration into the EU and with the regional cooperation and security issues to be discussed at the session of the Council. The session will also discuss the progress of the reform in Bulgaria, the White Book on legislation approximation, trade issues, transborder cooperation and trans-European networks. The interrelation between European integration and regional stability and European security are also on the agenda of the session. The Government Committee on European Integration discussed the stand of the Bulgarian delegation on the free movement of people between Bulgaria, as a associated country of the EU, and the EU-member states (the so-called "visa" issue). The Government Committee also discussed Bulgaria's participation infrastructure and communications projects as being of prime importance in this country's integration into the EU. The Government Committee approved the work of the ministries and other Government departments in negotiating and utilizing funds granted within the framework of the PHARE programme, totalling ECU 35.5 million in 1994 and ECU 82.5 million in 1995, the Government press office said.
May 23 - "Bulgaria advances to full membership in the European Union and by the year 2000 it can and it should become a full member of this organization," Roumen Gechev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, said on returning from Brussels today. Gechev attended the meeting of economy and finance ministers of the EU member-states. The six Central and East European countries associated with the EU and the three Baltic states which are holding association negotiations had been invited to the meeting too. The participants considered the EU White Paper on the harmonization of the associated countries' legislation and the preparations they should make to bring their legal frameworks into line with the law standards of the EU member-states. It was decided that Bulgaria would act as a coordinator for the associated countries. "This is a recognition for the processes in Bulgaria and a serious responsibility on the other hand," Deputy Prime Minister Gechev said. The meeting discussed the economic tendencies and the progress of market reforms in the East European countries. "Compared to 1994, in January-May this year Bulgaria has marked the greatest progress of the other countries associated with the EU," Gechev stated. He said he had informed the participants in the meeting about the lower rate of inflation, the tendency towards a reduction of unemployment and the acceleration of privatization going on twice quicker than last year. The participants showed interest in Bulgaria's foreign economic strategy. An agreement was reached to work for providing stimuli for the improvement of the composition of Bulgaria's export and import.
Berlin, May 23 - The 2nd session of the Bulgarian- German Cooperation Council took place today. It was attended by over 70 Bulgarian economic managers - deputy ministers and chief executives of companies and banks and Foreign Ministry officials. The Bulgarian delegation is led by Kiril Tsochev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation. His German partner is Dr Heinrich Kolb, parliamentary secretary of state of the Ministry of Economics. At today's plenary meeting the sides expressed their shared opinion that a new and good basis for bilateral relations was provided as a result of the entry into force of Bulgaria's Europe Agreement with the European Union on February 2 1995 and the decision of the European Council's Essen Summit in December 1994 to extend diagonal cumulation with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to Bulgaria. the same trade and political The fact that in 1994 Bulgarian-German trade rose 22.8 percent from 1993, adding up to DM 1,700 million, also gives ground for optimism. "One of the major tasks the Government has set itself to achieve in its 1995- 1998 Tenure Programme is to help in building up the foundations of a modern socially-orientated market economy," Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev, Co- chairman of the Bulgarian-German Cooperation Council, said in his introductory remarks. The gross domestic product is expected to grow up to 5 percent a year and to reduce inflation to 15 percent by 1998. "Private investments and the privatization of economy should have a key function in radical reforms intended to promote the economic development of Bulgaria and the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe," Dr Heinrich Kolb stated. In this connection he expressed certain concern about the restrictions on the free market of land and the free movement of capital in Bulgaria. The German side proposed, and Deputy Prime Minister hailed the idea, to replace gradually the Cooperation Council by regular intergovernmental consultations, provided reforms prove to be successful in Bulgaria; this is what Germany did with the Visegrad Four. The leaders of the Bulgarian and the German delegations signed a joint communique. It is the sides' shared opinion that the agreed framework conditions offer a good chance for the further extension of Bulgarian- German business relations and cooperation, as well as for expert assistance to the Bulgarian economy. It was decided to hold the next intergovernmental consultations in Sofia in 1996.
Berlin, May 24 - Talks were held in Potsdam today between Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev, and the Minister-President of the state of Brandenburg, Manfred Stolpe. The two sides discussed cooperation between Bulgaria and this largest state of Eastern Germany. Mr Stolpe praised Bulgaria's foreign and foreign economic policy, paying special attention to the course of parallel close cooperation with Germany and Russia. According to him, this course is determined by Bulgaria's geopolitical location and is in the interest of Bulgaria's future as a bridge between the East and the West. The German side also praised Bulgaria's efforts to contain inflation. The two sides discussed the experience of Brandenburg in privatization and agriculture. Kiril Tsochev presented Manfred Stolpe with an official invitation to visit Bulgaria which was received with satisfaction. The Minister-President of Brandenburg intends to visit Bulgaria accompanied by a large economic team in view of adopting a concrete programme for cooperation with Bulgaria.
May 23 - Today, Carlos Westendorp, Spanish Minister of State for European Integration, said at a news conference, that he was greatly impressed by Bulgaria's striving to national accord on issues of particular importance - security and European integration. "I have seen a real attitude of consensus among political forces in Bulgaria in relation with European integration," he told journalists. "This is an asset, which the country must keep," Mr Westendorp added. During his two-day visit he held talks with President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and with his two deputies - Stanimir Alexandrov and Konstantin Glavanakov, as well as with the leadership of the parliamentary foreign policy committee. Mr Westendorp described his visit as fruitful. He said he became well aware of Bulgaria's efforts towards prosperity and stability. His visit aroused great interest, because Spain will take over the EU presidency next July. Carlos Westendorp also heads the working group, set up to prepare the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference, expected to adopt important decisions on the future of the EU. The talks focused on the priorities of the Spanish presidency of the EU and Bulgaria's strategy for promoting the process of its association and integration into EU. The Spanish diplomat said that one of the goals of Spain's presidency will be to support the Central and East European countries in their accession to the EU. He expressed the hope that the preparations will be completed in time, so that Bulgaria could attain the objectives of European integration by the end of the century. Carlos Westendorp expressed satisfaction, that Bulgaria is seriously working on its accession strategy. At the news conference, the Spanish diplomat reiterated a statement he made here yesterday that the EU will not discriminate against any of the countries applying for full membership. He advised Bulgaria to seek to join the first wave of countries to enter the EU. "There is no attitude of different treatment in the EU vis-a-vis different countries," he explained. Asked about the Schengen agreement, discriminating between the Visegrad Four and Bulgaria and Romania, Mr Westendorp said he will approach his colleagues in the Schengen group to find a possible solution. Mr Westendorp also discussed the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference. "We discussed possibilities for our participation in the preparation of the Conference and exchanged information and ideas," Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Stanimir Alexandrov said. "The Conference will determine Europe's future and it is extremely important for us to be informed and to be heard when our common future is concerned," he added. Mr Westendorp also elaborated on Spanish experience in its integration into the EU and possibilities for Bulgaria drawing on this experience. Mr Westendorp said that Bulgaria and Spain resemble each other, because they "lived in the absence of democracy for a long time" and because they had "not very modern economies". An agreement was reached to maintain close contacts and concrete visits were scheduled. The two sides also discussed concrete issues of political dialogue, liberalization of trade and promotion of economic relations. Mr Westendorp informed of the heavy economic losses sustained by Bulgaria in the implementation of the sanctions against Yugoslavia. "We understand it is creating problems to Bulgaria," he said at the news conference and expressed the hope, that the situation will improve in the very near future.
May 23 - "Turkish President Suleyman Demirel will visit Bulgaria in the coming months and, as far as I know, he is looking forward to this visit," Turkish Minister of the Interior Nahit Mentese told a news conference here today. He is visiting Bulgaria at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Lyubomir Nachev. This is the first visit by a Turkish interior minister to Bulgaria. Minister Mentese said President Demirel's visit to Bulgaria is scheduled for July 2. Mentese stressed that the good relations between Bulgaria and Turkey would contribute to the development of contacts in the social, political and economic area. They will also contribute to stability and peace in the Balkan region, he said. The two interior ministers pointed out that Mentese's visit to Bulgaria would strengthen Bulgarian- Turkish ties in the field of security. "Our cooperation will expand, we will step up the exchange of information and experts," Minister Nachev said. He went on to say that the third meeting between the commissions of the two interior ministries will take place in Sofia in June. The implementation of the agreement between the two ministries of the interior, signed in Ankara in January 1993, the prospects for cooperation in the combating of international terrorism and organized crime, as well as for a crack-down on the smuggling of drugs, people and objects of historical and cultural value, were the subjects for discussion at a meeting between Nachev and Mentese yesterday. These issues were also on the agenda of the meeting between Mentese and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Videnov stressed at the meeting that Bulgaria attaches great importance on Bulgarian-Turkish relations in all spheres. He further stated a political will and determination for the further promotion of bilateral ties," said the Turkish Interior Minister. Bulgaria's Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior assured Mr Mentese that "Bulgaria's territory will never be used for terrorist or other activity threatening neighbouring Turkey." During the official talks the Turkish side briefed the hosts on the terrorist activity of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the operation launched against it both in and outside Turkey, and declared its determination to fight this terrorist organization, the Turkish Interior Minister went on to say. He further dwelled on the activity of the PKK and voiced a stand that it might jeopardize Bulgarian Turkish relations. Interior Minister Nachev said the Bulgarian side offered the Turkish guests the information it holds and assured them the PKK has no structures and does not operate in Bulgaria. Nachev further said that a total of 9,000 people of Kurdish origin are staying in this country, mostly citizens of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. He said there are two Kurdish organizations in Bulgaria - a Kurdish cultural society and a students' society - but they are not connected with the PKK and there is no information they are responsible for any terrorist activity. Interior Minister Nachev answered in the affirmative to a journalist's question if he was given guarantees that no actions will be launched on Turkish territory to infringe on the interests of Bulgaria. Interior Minister Mentese invited Prime Minister Videnov and Interior Minister Nachev to visit Turkey. "They gladly accepted the invitation," he told journalists.
Today the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations, Mr Slavi Pashovski, presented UN Secretary General Mr Boutros-Ghali a letter signed by him and the permanent representatives of Greece, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine on behalf of the foreign ministers of their countries. The letter sets forth specific economic problems experienced by these countries as a result of the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). The letter expresses the conviction that the requests of the five countries will be considered on an urgent basis and respective measures will be taken for their implementation.
President Zhelyu Zhelev visited students in journalism at Sofia University on the occasion of the Day of the Slav Enlighteners Cyril and Methodius. The lifework of the two brothers is being used for different political goals, the President said, but expressed the hope that this traditional Bulgarian holiday will once again unite the Bulgarians. According to the President, the day should be marked at the schools, as tradition requires, and not by march-pasts.
President Zhelev today congratulated the command and the cadets and instructors of the "Georgi Benkovski" Higher Air Force School on the occasion of the school's 50th anniversary. This year's graduates of Bulgaria's only school of aviation number 44.
"The invention of the Slavonic alphabet is one of the most remarkable events in the history of the Bulgarians, Slavonic culture and European civilization," Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said in an address on the national media on the occasion of the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and of Slavonic Writing. Further on he described the spreading of Slavonic writing as a real cultural revolution in the life of the then Christian world. Bulgaria's contribution to world history is indisputable, the Prime Minister said.
The Constitutional Court decided unanimously today to admit for consideration the two claims challenging the amendments to the Land Act. The justices will consider on their merits both the claim filed by President Zhelev, contesting five provisions of the amendments, and the claim filed by 51 MPs of the UDF, contesting the constitutionality of 51 texts.
A session of the National Committee for Marking the 50th Anniversary of the UN was held at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry today. It was chaired by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. The anniversary will be officially marked by Bulgarian Parliament and by an official meeting in Sofia which will be addressed by Foreign Minister Pirinski. The National Committee was set up last June.
Possibilities for promoting parliamentary contacts between Bulgaria and Iraq were discussed today at a meeting between National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and an Iraqi delegation. The delegation includes Iraqi First Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology An Baki and the Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Iraqi Parliament Prof. Kassiri. The delegation is visiting in connection with the preparations for the second session of the joint Bulgarian-Iraqi Commission for Cooperation and for specifying future contacts between the two countries at different levels. The guests informed Acad. Sendov of the steps taken by the Iraqi Government to convince the international public in the need to raise the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq. BUSINESS PRESS
The Bulgarian Commercial Industrial Bank (BCIB) posted 9 million leva losses in 1994, "Standart News" quotes BCIB chief Vassil Bozhkov as saying after the bank's general meeting. Bozhkov believes the poor performance is attributable to the investments in new buildings and banking equipment. The BCIB and the Mollov Commercial Bank are the two newly set up commercial bank ending less than one year of operation in the red, "Standart News" says. Bozhkov said that the BCIB will soon increase its capital from 200 million to 500 million leva. The banks' major shareholders are Bozhkov's Nove Financial House and the Orel Insurance Company chaired by Dobromir Goushterov. The Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) holds a 5 pre cent stake in the BCIB.
The freight cars on which the BDZ relies to boost Bulgaria's exports and help this country integrate into the European markets, will be falling apart any moment now, "Standart News" quotes forwarding agents as saying. According to official BDZ figures, in January 1995 this railway carrier had 31,100 freight cars of which 3,200 were discarded later. 10,650 freight cars that are still running are past their service life.
A total of 160 Bulgarian and Swiss companies are members of the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, "Standart News" says. Most of the joint-stock companies operate in the field of banking and finance, trade, and the chemical, pharmaceutical and food-processing industries.
Twenty-nine Bulgarian companies and just as many foreign firms will participate in the first Beer'95 international exposition due on May 25-28 in Plovdiv, "Troud" says. The Chairman of the Bulgarian Brewers' Union, Peter Paunkov, told this daily the 1995 beer output is expected to reach 550 million l. The annual capacity of Bulgarian breweries is 700 million l. The 1994 output was 65% - 70% of this figure. 30% of the brewing industry has been privatized up to now, "Troud" says. Almost all dailies run stories on this matter.
According to the the National Electricity Company , Bulgaria in 1995 will sell to Greece a total of 150 MW of electricity under a bilateral accord. Of them 100 million KWh have already gone to Greece, as the supply in the coming few months will be slightly increased. The proceeds from this deal is go for nuclear fuel for the Kozlodui nuclear power plant, "Douma" says.